Hamanassett Bed and Breakfast was built in 1856 by Charles Delucea Meigs, a prominent physician. For more information on Dr. Meigs, visit our history page on the website of Hamanassett Bed & Breakfast. When he passed away, the property was left to his oldest son, Montgomery Meigs. However, there is no record of his actually living here.
According to some historians, Montgomery Meigs may have been the most important bureaucrat in American history. Meigs, who was educated as an engineer at West Point, the first engineering school in the nation. After graduating fifth in his class, he was in the Army Corps of Engineers and was appointed to the position of Quartermaster General by Abraham Lincoln in May of 1861. Throughout the war he was a huge help to Lincoln as a bureaucrat who built the machine that ultimately defeated the Confederacy. By the end of the war he was known for far more than just his military prowess. At a time when the Confederate army was going hungry and barefoot, Meigs was able to send a ship loaded with comforts for the over 62,000 Union troops. This was sent to Savannah, Georgia to greet Sherman’s men at the end of their march to the sea. These Comforts included boots, shoes, shirts, socks, underwear and trousers. There were greatcoats and blankets, cooking equipment, and even needles and threads. In July 1864 he helped stem the tide of panic when Washington was threatened by Confederate troops led by Jubal Early.
When Lincoln was shot, Meigs spent the night near his bedside. However, earlier in the evening he had been called to the home of Secretary of State William H. Seward, who had also been attacked. Seward had been found on the floor suffering from knife wounds. His son, Frederick W. Seward, had also been attacked and was in a coma.
Before his war activities, Meigs had been involved in the construction of the Washington Aqueduct as well as the reconstruction of the Capitol. It was he who designed the addition to the Smithsonian Institution which is today called the Arts and Industries Building. The National Building Museum was also designed by Meigs. Further, he was responsible for other projects in the nation’s capital including the expansion of the Capitol, the Post Office Building and improvements to Fort Madison in Annapolis.
Another task was supervising the building of a new dome on the Capitol Building. However, he took this task to heart in terms of advancement of art in the country and spent a fortune on tiles, stained glass and murals and bronze doors.
It was during the War Between the States that Meigs’ value really stood out. He is credited with getting supplies to the Union troops where they were needed when they were needed. He was one of Lincoln’s most trusted advisers. Further, when more space was needed for burials, Meigs took the land situated across the Potomac from Washington, DC. This was the home of the wife of the Southern general, Robert E. Lee. It is now known as Arlington National Cemetery.
Why not visit the home of General Meigs’ father and mother and learn more about him. Check out our website to see availability and all that the Brandywine Valley has to offer.