Friday, March 20, 2009

Meade's Pyramid

I had the afternoon off the other day (courtesy of the crappy economy), so we decided to check out Meade’s Pyramid, off of Lee Drive in the Fredericksburg-Spotsylvania National Military Park. I hadn’t heard about this Fredericksburg oddity until fairly recently (thanks, Nancy K., for the tip)—am I the last to know about this?

The 30 ft. square, 23 ft. high pyramid sits alongside the railroad tracks, and marks the place where Union Gen. George Meade’s troops broke through Stonewall Jackson’s Confederate lines during the Battle of Fredericksburg in December of 1862. The Union troops were ultimately beaten back by the Confederates, and as all Fredericksburgers know, the battle ended badly for the North.

In the decades following the war, the Confederate Memorial Literary Society wanted to commemorate significant Civil War sites along the tracks, to be seen by train riders as they made their way through the area. The project didn’t go very far, with this pyramid being the only one completed, probably dating to 1897. It’s modeled after a monument in Richmond’s historic Hollywood Cemetery, and contains over 17 tons of Virginia granite.

To check out the pyramid, drive to the parking area at the end of Lee Drive in the battlefield park that starts off of Lafayette Blvd. in the city. There you’ll find displays about the Battle of Fredericksburg, including cannons and artists’ renderings, plus a short trail that leads to Hamilton's Crossing, a former railroad depot that played a significant role in the war. You can see the pyramid in the distance from Lee Drive, where there is an informational display about it. We walked across the field to get a close up view. It sits on the other side of the tracks, but DO NOT CROSS the tracks, please. Instead, stay safely back, and enjoy the sight and sound of the train that is sure to come by while you’re there.

The battlefield displays at the end of Lee Drive:

The trail down to Hamilton's Crossing:

If a tree falls on your Civil War sign, does it make a sound?

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