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George Gordon Meade, U.S.A.
Major-General George Gordon Meade, U.S.A.
Major-General George Gordon Meade was born at Cadiz, Spain, December
31, 1815, his father, Richard W. Meade, being at that time U. S. naval
agent there. His grandfather, George Meade, a wealthy merchant of
Philadelphia, had contributed liberally for the support of the
Revolutionary army. The grandson graduated at the Military Academy in
1835, and entered the artillery service. He participated in the war
against the hostile Seminole Indians, in Florida, but resigned in October,
1836, and became a civil engineer. He was engaged in a survey of the
mouths of the Mississippi; and afterwards on the boundary line of Texas,
and on that of Maine.
In 1842 he re-entered the army as second lieutenant of topographical
engineers, and during the Mexican War he served with distinction on the
staffs of Generals Taylor and Scott. He was afterwards employed in
light-house construction, and on the geodetic survey of the great lakes.
In August, 1861, he was appointed brigadier-general of volunteers, and
commanded the Second Brigade of the Pennsylvania Reserve Corps.
In McClellan's Peninsular campaign, Meade fought at Mechanicsville,
Gaines' Mill, and Glendale, being severely wounded in the latter
engagement, Second Bull Run. He afterwards commanded a division at
Antietam, and when General Hooker was wounded there, succeeded temporarily
to the command of the First Corps of the Army of the Potomac.
||General Meade was appointed
major-general of volunteers, and in December, 1862, led the attack
which broke through the right of Lee's line at Fredericksburg, but,
not being supported, was obliged to fall back. He was placed in
command of the Fifth Corps, and, though much esteemed by General
Hooker, was not called into action at Chancellorsville.
On the 28th of June, 1863, after Lee had crossed the Potomac, on his
way to Pennsylvania,
President Lincoln placed General Meade in chief command of the
Army of the Potomac, then hastening to oppose Lee, wherever the two
armies should strategically meet. This occurred at the town of
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and after three days of severe fighting,
the Confederate army, under its ablest leader, was forced to retreat
into Virginia. For this victory he was made a brigadier-general in
the regular army.
In the spring of 1864, Lieutenant-General
Grant being placed in command of all the Union armies, General Meade
entered the field with the Army of the Potomac. He, however, still
retained the immediate command of this army till the close of the war,
discharging the duties of his difficult and delicate position to the
entire satisfaction of General Grant. In the bloody battle of the
Wilderness, and the subsequent campaign, the Army of the Potomac suffered
In June, 1864, it was transferred to the south side of the James, in order
to capture Petersburg, the main defense of Richmond on that side; but
General Lee saved the place by prompt reinforcements. The siege of
Petersburg lasted ten months, and at its close Richmond had to be
evacuated, and General Lee, after being pursued from Petersburg to
Appomattox Court-House, with constant and severe fighting, surrendered
April 9, 1865.
General Meade was appointed major-general U. S. Army August 18, 1864.
After the war, General Meade had command of the Military Division of the
Atlantic until August, 1866, when he took command of the Department of the
He received the thanks of Congress, January 28, 1866, "for the skill and
heroic valor which, at Gettysburg, repelled, defeated, and drove
back-broken and dispirited beyond the Rappahannock, the veteran army of
General Meade was subsequently placed in command of the military district
comprising Georgia, Florida, and Alabama, with head-quarters at Atlanta.
He died in Philadelphia November 6, 1872. His fellow-citizens of that city
had presented him with a house, and after his death raised a fund of one
hundred thousand dollars for his family.
General Meade had the degree of Doctor of Laws conferred on him by Harvard
College, Massachusetts, in 1865. He was a member of the Historical Society
of Pennsylvania, and of the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences.
Source: Officers of the Volunteer Army and Navy who
served in the Civil War, published by L.R. Hamersly & Co., 1893, 419
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