President William McKinley urged the federal government to assume the responsibility of maintaining Confederate graves in an 1898 speech. Congress authorized the Army to designate a section of Arlington National Cemetery for Confederate casualties in 1900. Numerous remains were reinterred at Arlington from cemeteries located around Washington, D.C. Secretary of War William Taft authorized the placement of a memorial in the new section and the United Daughters of the Confederacy raised the required funds. The cornerstone was laid in 1912. President Woodrow Wilson dedicated the monument in 1914.
The monument designed by Confederate veteran Moses Ezekiel stands over 32 feet tall. The top of the memorial is the figure of a woman. She looks toward the south with a laurel wreath in one hand. In her other hand, she holds a plough stock and pruning hook. The plough and hook symbolize the passage from the Book of Isaiah etched beneath her feet about transforming weapons of war. Surrounding the monument is a frieze depicting 32 life-sized Confederate soldiers going off to war and their poignant return. The seals of the states that seceded from the Union are carved above the figures. The south face of the memorial bears a dedication to the dead. The north face contains a sentiment by Dr. Randolph Harrison McKim, a Confederate veteran who became the rector of Washington’s Episcopal Church.