Montgomery C Meigs tomb – looking W – Arlington National Cemetery – 2011
Image by dctim1
Looking west at the tomb of Montgomery C. Meigs, founder of Arlington National Cemtery. The tomb is located in Section 1 of the cemetery, which is located in Arlington, Virginia, in the United States. In the foreground of the tomb is the grave marker of Meigs’ son, John Rodgers Meigs.
Montgomery Cunningham Meigs (May 3, 1816-January 2, 1892) was a Georgian who graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1836. He entered the Corps of Engineeers, and oversaw numerous civil engineering projects in and around Washington, D.C., (including the construction of the Capitol Dome). He was promoted to Brigadier General on May 15, 1861, and appointed Quartermaster General. Meigs successfully proposed that the grounds of Robert E. Lee’s estate in Arlington, Virginia, be transformed into a cemetery for Civil War Dead. The first burial there was made on May 13, 1864. Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton approved the establishment of a military cemetery on June 15, 1864. During his tenure as Superintendent of Arlington National Cemtery, Meigs erected the Memorial to Civil War Unknown Dead, the Old Amphitheater, enclosed the cemetery in a low sandstone wall, constructed roads and pathways, and erected the McClellan Gate (on which he had inscribed his own name). Meigs was forced to retire as Quartermaster General in 1882.
Meigs picked out the plot for and designed his own tomb. It sits on a 2 foot, 6 inch high base of rough rectangular gray granite stones mortared together like bricks. The tomb itself is in the shape of a 3 feet high, 6 feet long white marble sarcophagus. It is oriented along an east-west axis. On the south side of the tomb is an inscription to Meigs’ wife, Louisa. She was the daughter of U.S. Navy Commodote John Rodgers.
However, before Meigs or his wife had died, another burial occurred alongside their plot. Their son, John Rodgers Meigs, was a lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers. He was killed near Harrisonburg, Virginia, in October 1864. Meigs designed a marker for his son’s burial site. A 2 foot high base of green marble supports a bronze bas-relief image of the younger Meigs in full Union Army uniform and gear, lying dead in a muddy road. Discarded Confederate military gear lies alongside him. The prints of horses’ hooves can be seen in the mud, implying that John Rodgers Meigs was trampled by fleeing Confederate troops.
Meigs had his grandfather’s remains moved to lie next to his own tomb. His grandfather, Samuel William Meigs, died in 1818 and was buried in Congressional Cemetery. The original tombstone, a 2 foot square stone block set on two rectangular bases, was moved as well. Buried with Samuel was his father and Montgomery C. Meigs’ grandfather, Josiah Meigs. Josiah was president of the University of Georgia from 1800 to 1811. Bronze plaques on the tombstone commemorate both me.
Buried northwest adjacent to the Meigs tomb are Montgomery Meigs Macomb and his wife, Caroline. Macomb was Montgomery C. Meig’s nephew (son of his wife Lousia’s sister, Ann Minerva Rodgers Macomb). He served as Montgomery C. Meigs’ aide-de-camp from 1875 to 1876. He himself rose to be a brigadier general, served in the Spanish-American War and World War I, and was military governor of Hawaii after it was forcibly annexed by the U.S.