Grace Episcopal Church, the Civil War, and the Confederate Marker

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Grace Episcopal Church was founded at this location in 1855. At the time of the Civil War, Maryland was a border state, and one of the four slave states that did not secede from the Union in 1861. The church, as divided as the nation itself, included Union supporters and Confederate sympathizers.

In the summer of 1864, Confederate General Jubal Early and his troops invaded Maryland. The men were stopped by Union soldiers at Fort Stevens, a few miles south of here. Confederate soldiers who died in the battle were buried in the fields nearby, and fallen Union soldiers were buried at Battleground National Cemetery, 6625 Georgia Avenue, NW, in the District of Columbia.

In 1874, the Rector of Grace Church coordinated the exhumation of the remains of 17 Confederate soldiers, many unidentified, to be buried in a common grave in the Grace Church cemetery at the corner of Georgia Avenue and Grace Church Road. In 1896, the Washington, Woodside and Forest Glen Railroad and Power Company obtained a 12 foot Right of Way from Grace Church. This required the bodies to be moved to their current grave, and a monument was erected on the spot to mark the soldiers’ final resting place.

In 1967, the Veterans of Foreign Wars built a brick wall around the monument.

The members of Grace join countless others who continue to raise concerns about statues and memorials to the Confederacy. We understand and reject the central cause of slavery for which Confederate soldiers fought. We also understand that these soldiers received a Christian burial in consecrated ground, just as their former opponents received at Battleground National Cemetery.

At Grace, we know that we must be true to our past and learn from it, both the good and the bad. We strive to be that “City on a Hill” where people of all races and cultures come to build their relationships with God and others. The outreach of this vibrant, diverse parish is centered on social justice.

It is in this context that we dedicate ourselves to learn from our past, and to truly seek reconciliation through Christ. Let this marker be a reminder of our painful past of slavery and division and how far we have often fallen from God’s plan for us.