|Cemetery notes and/or description:|
The Government Hospital for the Insane was organized in the Department of the Interior by an act of March 3, 1855 (10 Stat. 682; 24 USC 161-65), pursuant to the Civil and Diplomatic Appropriation Act of August 31, 1852 (10 Stat. 92), to provide care for the insane of the District of Columbia and the U.S. Army and Navy. The name of the institution was changed to St. Elizabeths Hospital by an act of July 1, 1916 (39 Stat. 309; 24 USC 165). Noted social reformer Dorothea Lynde Dix (1802-1887) was instrumental in establishing St. Elizabeths to provide the most humane care and enlightened curative treatment of the insane of the Army, Navy and the District of Columbia." Dr. Charles Henry Nichols was the hospital's first superintendent and oversaw the construction of the oldest buildings on the site as well as the design of the St. Elizabeths West Campus Cemetery. The West Campus Cemetery was originally established for "friendless patients" who were to be interred "without ceremony", according to Dr. Nichols in a letter to the Secretary of the Interior. Researched records indicate the cemetery has approximately 300 military graves (of which less than 200 are marked with a headstone) and approximately 160 civilian graves (none of which are marked with a headstone). White and African American soldiers from the Union army and soldiers of the Confederacy are interspersed throughout this cemetery. The graves are located on a hill near I-295 and overlook the Potomac River and Washington, DC. Eagles and deer have been sighted there as well as wild turkey.