2nd Manassas - Aug. 1862
Battle of 1st Fredericksburg - Saturday, December 13, 1862
Meade's Attack & The Commemorative Pyramid

Meade's Pyramid at Fredericksburg Battlefield

On this ridge, Confederate soldiers of Lt. General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson's Corps awaited the assault of Major General George Gordon Meade's lone Division of between 3,800 and 4,500 Pennsylvanians. According to General Meade, "The heights along the crest were wooded. The slope to the railroad from the extreme left for the space of 300 or 400 yards was clear; beyond this it was wooded, the woods extending across the hollow and in front of the railroad. Owing to the wood, nothing could be seen of them, while all our movements on the cleared ground were exposed to their view." Meade temporarily broke through Jackson's line but was hurled back, sustaining 40% casualties, in part due to lack of support and a ferocious Confederate counterattack.

The Pyramid near Prospect HillGeneral Meade would later write of his casualties this day, "Accompanying this report is a list giving the names of the killed, wounded, and missing, amounting in the aggregate to 179 killed, 1,082 wounded, and 509 missing. When I report that 4,500 men is a liberal estimate of the strength of the division taken into action, this large loss, being 40 per cent., will fully bear me out in the expression of my satisfaction at the good conduct of both officers and men. While I deeply regret the inability of the division, after having successfully penetrated the enemy's lines, to remain and hold what had been secured, at the same time I deem their withdrawal a matter of necessity. With one brigade commander killed, another wounded, nearly half their number hors du combat, with regiments separated from brigades, and companies from regiments, and all the confusion and disorder incidental to the advance of an extended line through wood and other obstructions, assailed by a heavy fire, not only of infantry but of artillery--not only in front but on both flanks--the best troops would be justified in withdrawing without loss of honor." [5]

Despite the Union's eventual repulse, the South lost a popular General in Brigadier General Maxcy Gregg who was shot during Meade's assault. While resting in a Confederate hospital but knowing that he was dying, General Gregg said, "I yield my life cheerfully fighting for the independence of South Carolina." [C]

As for the pyramid itself, a former NPS marker near the site described it as a "30-foot square, 23-foot high pyramid...R. F. & P railroadmen used unhewn Virginia granite to erect the pyramid in 1903 for the Confederate Memorial Literary Society which sought to memorialize the battle in a location visible to train travelers." [C]