Quartermaster Gen. Montgomery C. Meigs’ story is one of 15 in a series of markers the Georgia Historical Society will erect to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.
“We wanted to tell some new stories about the Civil War that had not been told previously in a public way through markers,” said Todd Groce, the president of the Georgia Historical Society.
Meigs’ story will help tell the story of Southerners who sympathized with the Union.
Support for either side moved back and forth, Groce said. Sometimes people switched sides based on who was winning, or as people began to lose faith. Meigs was born in the South, but never wavered in his support for the federal government and the Union.
“He had a huge impact on the history of the United States,” Groce said.
Meigs was born in the 600 block of Broad Street, near where the marker now stands, on May 3, 1816. His father, Charles Delucena Meigs, was in residency at the time and later became an renowned obstetrician. (His grandfather, Josiah Meigs, had become the first president of the University of Georgia 15 years earlier.)
While Montgomery was still very young, the Meigs family moved to Philadelphia.
Meigs graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and was assigned to the Army Corps of Engineers, where he designed many of Washington, D.C.’s, well-known engineering feats, among which were the Washington Aqueduct and the Cabin John Bridge, the longest single masonry arch in the world until the 20th century, according to the Georgia Historical Society.
He also engineered the wings and the dome on the U.S. Capitol building.
During the Civil War, Meigs became quartermaster general and was responsible for supplying the Union Army with food and clothing.
When the estate belonging to Robert E. Lee’s wife was confiscated by the federal government for delinquent property taxes, Meigs ordered the grounds to be turned into a national military cemetery. His intention was to ensure Lee never returned to his former home and Lee never attempted to reclaim the property.
It became Arlington National Cemetery and is where Meigs and his son are now buried.
“I think it’s just an interesting story,” Groce said.
Meig’s great-great-great nephew, also Gen. Montgomery Meigs, will speak at the dedication ceremony, which will be held at noon Friday.
“It’s an honor to come down and be part of the memorial ceremony and give him more credit for what he did,” Meigs said.
The marker’s text and location, along with that of all historical markers across Georgia, can be found in the Georgia Historical Society’s database at www.georgiahistory.com. Visitors to the site can create a custom designed driving tour based on a variety of topics, such as military history. Or, they can download an app that will pinpoint nearby historical markers.