About the Two Cemeteries
St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington, DC has two cemeteries where soldiers from the Civil War are interred. The Civil War cemetery on the West Campus has approximately 300 graves. White and African American soldiers from the Union army and soldiers of the Confederacy are interspersed throughout this cemetery.
On the East Campus of the hospital grounds is the John Howard Cemetery that includes Civil War veterans as well as veterans from World Wars I and II, the Spanish American War, a lone veteran of the War of 1812, and the grave of a Negro Scout from the Seminole War.
We have been privately honoring those buried at St. Elizabeths since 1992 when we first learned of the Civil War cemetery by caring for the graves, cleaning up the grounds, and researching their stories. Every military holiday would find us at the cemeteries placing a flag or a wreath and remembering these fallen few. The Civil War and John Howard cemeteries are not National Cemeteries so the graves are not decorated individually with flags like those at the National Cemeteries around the country.
At first we were able to go on the grounds nearly any time we wished, however, in our post-9/11 world access has been restricted. The West Campus has been off-limits to us for nearly two years and it has been only recently that we are able to once again visit the East Campus.
In the nineteenth century, it was customary to hang a wreath on the door of the residence of the deceased so we carry on that tradition by placing at the cemeteries a wreath always decorated with the American flag.
After a disapointing two years of not being allowed on the grounds, we were heartened to see our two previous wreaths, weathered and storm-stripped of their adornments, their hanging wires long since rusted, draped over the fence of the Civil War cemetery by someone respecting our efforts.
It is our desire to bring to light the stories of the soldiers buried at St. Elizabeths. We will post here our research as it becomes available and welcome your contributions.