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Myer's Hill
Spotsylvania Battlefield Education Association

May 14, 1864: Here began week two of the fighting at Spotsylvania Court House

The Federal Fifth and Sixth Corps struggled through rain and mud on Saturday morning, May 14, 1864, making their way down the Fredericksburg Road. Their mission was to assault Lees vulnerable right wing. Most of this journey was undertaken during the previous evening in an "Egyptian night" which made the route all the more difficult.

4:00 am was Grants designated hour of attack but very few of the weary Federals were in position by this appointed time. General Warren, commanding the Fifth Corps, made his headquarters at the Beverly house, just South of the Ni River. From there it was apparent that the intended secrecy of the plan was foiled. Confederate artillery and dismounted troopers were observing the movement from an elevation known as "Myers Hill", one mile to the south/east.

Warrens artillery commenced shelling the hill, followed by the advance of approximately 400 men from the 91st Pennsylvania and the 140th New York Infantry Regiments. Moving in skirmish formation up a gradual 110 foot incline, the Federals easily drove the Confederates off. At 9:30am, a brigade of the Sixth Corps, commanded by Colonel Emory Upton, who would soon be breveted for his prior tactics against the main Confederate salient, relieved the tired Fifth corps Zouaves. Those soldiers would resume their position on the Beverly property.

Uptons men assembled breastworks surrounding the Myer house and proceeded to make themselves comfortable. After noon, General George Gordon Meade, commanding the Army of the Potomac, joined Upton to survey the region. Around 4:00pm two brigades of Confederate infantry emerged from the trees south along Massaponax Church Road, supported by cavalry in a clearing to the east. After a valiant stand the Federal line crumbled against the superior numbers and they retreated in a wild panic back across the Ni River. General Meade barely escaped capture in the mad rush.

By evening, with help again from Ayres Brigade, the Sixth corps regained control of the heights. The next day the Federals would burn the Myer house and its outbuildings in retaliation for a hostile shot fired by a "tenant" of the property by the name of "Jett".

In January of 1866 the true owner of the 400 acres, John Henry Myer, sold the land at a tremendous loss, having owned it for a little over two and a half years. It is apparent that Mr. Myer had purchased the home in April of 1863 to remove his family from the dangers of downtown Fredericksburg where his business and residence stood near the devastated intersection of Caroline and William streets. Myer would return to the ravaged city after the war to re-establish his successful confectionery and bakery. In 1867 he formed a partnership with fellow immigrant Frederick Brulle. Their Germania Flour Mill would endure into the first quarter of the next century. A thirty year member of the Fredericksburg City Council, John Henry Myer would die at the home of his extended family on Caroline Street in 1909.

 

Today, 73 acres of the Spotsylvania property remain intact, nestled between the subdivisions of Plantation Forest East and Gunnery Hill Estates. The house site is in an excellent state of preservation. Its dry laid stone foundation is impressed on the now wooded summit. The garden still blooms each spring. Also remaining are the ice house hole and well. South of the house there can be seen the traces of breastworks and a 6th Corps trenchline running parallel to the period road which led to the house.

 

In its ranking system for area cultural resources the National Park Service lists Myers Hill as a "Priority I" site, acknowledging its extreme historical significance to the second week of fighting at Spotsylvania Court House.

The current landowners are ready to develop single family homes on the hill unless someone steps forward to preserve it.

 

 

 Why should we save Myers Hill?

German born John Henry Myer was one of Fredericksburgs most prominent and successful citizens. This is the dramatic story of his familys hardship during the devastation of the American Civil War.

His Spotsylvania home was of strategic importance during the fighting of May 14, 1864.

George Gordon Meade, commanding the Army of the Potomac, was nearly captured in the fighting there.

Myers Hill is a testament to the second week fought at Spotsylvania and the only remaining property south/east of Route 208 to effectively tell that story.

The pristine condition of the site begs for future interpretation and study. The archeological potential is enormous.

 

Please join us, get involved, and help us in preserving this sacred land while there is still time.