The Capture—and Preservation—of Myer’s Hill

May 14 is the anniversary of the 1864 fight for Myer’s Hill during the battle of Spotsylvania Court House. Ulysses S. Grant planned for a massive assault against the Confederate right flank there, but poor roads delayed the movement of his army.

Instead, the 91st PA and 140th NY chased away the 9th Virginia Cavalry. Then, newly minted Brig. Gen. Emory Upton’s brigade arrived to hold the position. Nervous, he called for reinforcements, and the 2nd and 10th NJ came to bolster his forces. Shortly after their arrival, a Confederate counterattack drove the Federals from the hill and nearly captured Maj. Gen. George Gordon Meade in the process. Meade counter-counterattacked, but by then, Robert E. Lee had ordered his men to abandon the position.

In 2018, the Central Virginia Battlefields Trust (CVBT) undertook an effort to preserve Myer’s Hill. Earlier this week, I took the opportunity to talk with CVBT’s executive director and assistant executive director—Terry Rensel and Sarah Kay Bierle—about the Myer’s Hill story. You can watch that interview on ECW’s YouTube page:

CVBT is still raising money to help preserve Myer’s Hill. You can support that effort here.

For more on the history of Myer’s Hill and the preservation efforts there, check out these posts from the ECW archives:

A Word on Behalf of Myer’s Hill on the 155th Anniversary (May 14, 2019)

Preservation News: The Work To Save Myer’s Hill Continues (Dec. 1, 2018)

John Henry Myer of Myer’s Hill (Nov. 1, 2018)

Breaking Preservation News: CVBT to Expand the Story of Spotsylvania Court House with Newest Battlefield Acquisition (Sept. 29, 2018)

Myer's Hill CVBT Map
CVBT map by Edward Alexander

6 Responses to The Capture—and Preservation—of Myer’s Hill

  1. It astonished me how many Union movements during the Overland Campaign were allegedly spoiled by that old chestnut “bad or muddy” roads. One wonders if the more effective use of Cavalry for reconnaissance would have accurately determined the status of the roads the infantry was expected to rapidly navigate.

    1. For sure, Sheridan’s absence severely hampered Union movements at Spotsy. His absence was a dereliction of duty, but Grant gave him a pass because they were buddies.

      But the rain that started on May 11 came down pretty continually, and pretty hard, for days, so in this case, anyway, it’s a legit issue. Grant was pretty unrealistic at times about how quickly he could get the AoP to move, too, even under good conditions.

      1. The Byzantine command structure of the AOP certainly didn’t help. But how Grant could support an insubordinate Sheridan over Meade floors me. Perhaps he was still grateful for Sheridan saving his professional bacon on Missionary Ridge ?

  2. Great article and YouTube interview! What does the Myer’s house site (ruins) look like now? Any pictures?

  3. Lt. Col. Charles Wiebecke of the 2nd New Jersey was killed at Myer’s Hill on May 14, 1864, probably the highest ranking officer killed during the engagement. I have seen conflicting accounts of him being buried at Laurel Hill, Myer’s Hill, was eventually buried at the National Cemetery in Fredericksburg, and in 1870 relocated to Fairmount Cemetery in Newark, New Jersey. I know John Cummings has done excellent research on Wiebecke’s life and death.

    I’m not exactly certain when the quarry was put in on the north side of the Ni River (mid-1990s?), but Meade’s headquarters was at the Anderson House and one could visit the house site at one point.

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