How Hateful Can You Be?

NC Minute Masthead

Have you ever heard of Montgomery Meigs? What about Robert E. Lee? For Lee, I bet you said yes. Well, both men had many things in common, both were Southerners, Megis (Georgia) and Lee (Virginia). Both were graduates of the United States Military Academey, and both were engineers. After graduation Meigs served under Lee. But this is where being in common stopped.

At the beginning of the Civil War, Lee resigned his commission and returned to Virginia to fight under the Confederate flag. Meigs remained with the Union as he was a die-hard against secession.

By 1862 all the cemeteries around Washington were being filled with Union soldiers who died in battle. Meig,s as Quartermaster general of the Army, was in charge of burials. Additional space was needed as dead soldiers piled up every day. Someone suggested that the Lee Mansion with large open-space near Washington was a most suitable place. Meigs jumped on this idea as he wanted to humiliate Lee for Union deaths and siding with the Confederate States.

As the dead were being buried some distance from the mansion, Meigs wanted to make sure Lee never returned home again so he personally watched as over twenty soldiers were buried in Mrs. Lee’s rose garden. With that graves circled the mansion.

By 1864, more than seven thousand soldiers had been buried at Arlington even Meigs’ own son. Today Arlington National Cemetery is, to most people, the most hollowed-ground in the United States.