Fredericksburg (Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park)

Confederate Memorial (Meade's Pyramid)

Confederate Memorial (Meade's Pyramid) (41K)

Image 1: Confederate Memorial (Meade's Pyramid), from Prospect Hill. Sitting along the Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Potomac Railroad line is the Confederate Memorial, also known as the Meade Pyramid. The pyramid is close to the location of the far left of Meade's line just as it entered the woods. The woods that Meade assaulted through, and marked the farthest advance of the Federals during the battle, can be seen on the left side of the phtograph. The view is towards the north northwest.

This memorial has one of the strangest histories of all Civil War monuments. It's ostensibly a memorial to the Confederacy, but why is it named after a Union general, especially one best known for winning the Battle of Gettysburg?

The memorial was commissioned by the Confederate Memorial Literary Society in 1897. They wanted to commemorate historic Civil War sites, and went to the railroads to ask them to put up signs to these sites. The president of the Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Potomac Railroad preferred a more lasting memorial. Fredericksburg was the only battle along this piece of railroad. A 90 foot high pyramid was built along the railroad near the battlefield. The Confederate Memorial Literary Society files state that they erected the pyramid "...for the purpose of this memorializing the headquarters of General Thomas Jonathan Jackson 1862-63."

The problem is that Jackson's headquarters was two miles away from this site. The position of the marker was, coincidentally, near the left flank of the Union division that came close to penetrating the Confederate line. The Union division was commanded by Major General George Meade.

Regardless of the purpose of the pyramid, after the military park was opened the pyramid was mostly used to identify the position of the Federal assault. Sometime between the park opening in 1927 and the 1940s, the pyramid came to be called "Meade's Pyramid". Today a sign stating "A Southern Memorial" is located near the pyramid, a monument to the Confederacy that also acts as a Union unit marker.

For a more detailed explanation, see The Meade Archive.

Confederate Memorial (Meade's Pyramid), close up (35K)

Image 2: Close up of the Confederate Memorial (Meade Pyramid), taken from Prospect Hill. The "A Southern Memorial" sign can just be seen in front of the pyramid.

These photographs were taken with a Nikon F-601 autofocus SLR, using a Nikkor 24mm - 50mm f2.8 wide angle zoom lens or a Sigma 150mm - 300mm f5.6 telephoto zoom lens. The image was captured on Kodak Gold 200 film.