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Union general gets Civil War marker near birthplace

The Civil War was more than just a battlefield conflict.

It affected nearly every aspect of people's lives, but 90 percent of Georgia's 1,000 Civil War markers were about battles and Confederate military leaders.

That prompted the Georgia Historical Society to erect 150 historical markers across the state to tell lesser-known stories of the conflict.

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"There was virtually nothing about African-Americans, about women, about the homefront, about Unionists, and there was an opportunity for us to tell the story of the war in its fullness and all of its diversity," said Todd Groce, the president of the organization.

The latest marker in the series was unveiled and dedicated Friday in Augusta, Ga., near Union Gen. Montgomery C. Meigs' birthplace. The marker describes Meigs' accomplishments in engineering some of Washington's most important landmarks and his efforts during the war.

"This is a really interesting man," said Montgomery Meigs, a third-great-nephew of the Civil War general.

Meigs, himself a retired four-star general, was the keynote speaker at the dedication ceremony.

The first Meigs was the grandson of Josiah Meigs, an early president of the University of Georgia. He lived with his family in Augusta for only a couple of years before his father, Charles, moved the family back to Pennsylvania.

It has been said that Charles' wife, Mary, couldn't stomach the institution of slavery.

As an adult, Meigs engineered the Washington Aqueduct to provide the city with clean water. Then he built Cabin John Bridge, the longest stone arch in the world at the time, to cross it. He also built the dome on the U.S. Capitol.

As quartermaster general in the Union Army, Meigs oversaw the feeding and clothing of the army.

When the plantation that belonged to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's wife -- Arlington -- was confiscated by the federal government, Meigs declared it a national military cemetery to discourage Lee's return.

Meigs was buried there when he died in 1892.

His descendant said he was honored to be a part of the dedication ceremony.

"Thank you for what you're doing in this state to keep the history alive," Meigs said.

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