Montgomery C. Meigs, quartermaster general of the Union army, was judged by Lincoln, Seward, and Stanton to be an indispensable architect of the Union victory. Civil War historian James McPherson calls Meigs "the unsung hero of northern victory."
Born to a prominent family in 1816, Meigs graduated from West Point and joined the Army Corps of Engineers. He worked to improve navigation on the Mississippi River under Lieutenant Robert E. Lee and later built forts in the North. In Washington, D.C., he created the city's aqueduct, including the longest stone arch n the world. and oversaw the design, construction, and decoration of the new wings and iconic dome of the U.S. Capitol.
As Lincoln's quartermaster, Meigs showed logistical genius as he created a vast, unprecedented supply system for Union armies. He and his department supported Ulysses S. Grant's Overland Campaign and resupplied Sherman's forces after the March to the Sea. Meigs also created Arlington Cemetery - on land that had been Robert E. Lee's home. William Seward and others gave much credit to Meigs for the Union victory: "Without the services of this eminent soldier, the National cause must either have been lost or deeply imperiled."
Robert O'Harrow Jr. is an award-winning investigative reporter at The Washington Post. Author of No Place to Hide, he lives in Arlington, Virginia, with his wife and children.