Saving History Saturday: Myer’s Hill

On May 14, 1864, Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant was moving the Union V and VI Crops from the right flank of the Army of the Potomac’s position in Spotsylvania, to the left flank. He was hoping to either attack the Army of Northern Virginia’s right, of move down the Massaponax Church Road and draw Robert E. Lee out into the open and a new fight.

Bleak Hill, also known as Myer’s Hill (for the Myer’s family who owned it) to the locals overlooked the new Union positions as well as Massaponax Church Road. Confederate cavalry had been spotted on the hill and needed to be driven off.

The 91st Pennsylvania and 140th New York were the first two units to attack, and quickly captured the hill. Newly minted Brig. Gen. Emory Upton quickly arrived with his brigade to reinforce the position, and quickly started digging in.

Alfred Waud sketched “Meade’s Close Call”

Army of Northern Virginia’s Third Corps commander, Maj. Gen. Jubal Early put together a counterattack to retake the hill. At the same time Maj. Gen. George Meade decided that he want to look at the newly captured position for himself. Early’s attack drove Upton’s men from the hill just as Meade was arriving. The Confederates were moving so fast that Meade was almost captured and had to make a daring escape.

Meade, irate at almost being captured, directed the VI Corps to retake the hill. This was accomplished, and as the day ended the Union Army was in possession of the hill and was able to use it throughout the remainder of their time at Spotsylvania.

In 2018 the Central Virginia Battlefields Trust (CVBT) purchased, and preserved 73.34 acres of Myer’s Hill, including the Myer home site. In 2021, due to a donation from a local developer, CVBT acquired another 17.75 acres, including the area that the 95th Pennsylvania occupied as part of Upton’s attack.

You can find out more about CVBT, and the preservation of Myer’s Hill at www.cvbt.org.

About Terry Rensel

Terry is currently the Executive Director of the Central Virginia Battlefields Trust (CVBT), located in Fredericksburg, Virginia. He has Bachelor of Arts degrees in History/Political Science and Broadcast Communications from the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford in Bradford, PA. and a Master of Public Administration from the University of Alaska Southeast in Juneau, AK. Prior to joining CVBT he spent 12 years living and working in Alaska.
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