MEADE George Gordon 181572

George Meade (see Plate El) was born in Cadiz, Spain, on 31 December 1815, I he son of a wealthy American merchant who was wiped out financially by adhering to Spain's cause in the Napoleonic Wars. Returning to the United States, Meade attended Mount Hope Institution and then the US Military Academy, from which he was graduated in 1835. I le saw service in Florida and at the Watertown Arsenal before resigning in 1836 to work as a civil engineer. He returned to the army on 19 May 1842 as a second lieutenant in the Corps of Topographical Engineers, thereafter working mostly on building lighthouses and breakwaters and doing coastal and geodetic survey work. He saw action in the Mexican War, being breveted a first lieutenant.

At the outbreak of the Civil War, Capt. Meade was made a brigadier-general of volunteers and given command of a Pennsylvania brigade, which he led in the Peninsula campaign. He was badly wounded at Glendale (30 June 1862), one of the defensive battles fought by dispersed Union corps as they retreated to the James River. Recovering in time for Second Bull Run (Manassas), he was given command of a division in I Corps at Fredericksburg (13 December 1862); shortly thereafter he was given V Corps. He was named to replace Joseph Hooker as commander of the Army of the Potomac on 28 June 1863, just three days before Gettysburg. The army's fifth commander in just ten months, his personal contribution to the Union's great victory in that battle has always been a matter for discussion, and he was criticized for failing to pursue the retreating Confederates vigorously. Marsena Patrick noted in his diary on 16 November 1863 that Meade was "profoundly ignorant of the wants & necessities of the Army," adding that he would probably "never learn."

Staff officer Frank Haskell described Meade as "a tall spare man, with full beard, which with his hair, originally brown, is quite thickly sprinkled with gray - has a romanish face, very large nose, and a white, large forehead, prominent and wide over the eyes, which are full and large, and quick in their movements, and he weal's spectacles. His fibres are all of the long and sinewy kind. His habitual personal appearance is quite careless, and it would be difficult to make him look well dressed."

Meade was terribly short-tempered. While leading a column of prisoners to the rear during the lighting in the Wilderness, Patrick noted in his diary that he "met Meade, who was in a terrible stew & declared that I was on the wrong road & going directly into the enemy's lines - I soon cooled him off however & in a huff was told to 'Go my own way', which I did, keeping the prisoners on the road they started, all right."

Although Lincoln was unhappy that Lee was allowed to escape from Gettysburg, Meade retained his army command right through to Appomattox. He was named a brigadier-general

General Lee Saylers Creek

George Meade, standing center right foreground, facing left; the general in the bowler-type hat and open-necked coat standing behind Meade at right is John Sedgwick. They are seen here with their staffs at their headquarters in Falmouth, Virginia, in late 1863.

in the regular army on 7 July 1863, and a major-general lale in the war. He held commands of various departments after the war, eventually I being in charge of the Division of the Atlantic. He died at his headquarters in Philadelphia on 6 November 1872, and is buried in Laurel Hill Cemetery there. After the war, Grant wrote:

"General Meade was an officer of great merit, with drawbacks to his usefulness that were beyond his control. He had been an officer of the engineer corps before the war, and consequently had never served with troops until he was over forty-six years of age. He never had, I believe, a command of less than a brigade. He saw clearly and distinctly the position of the enemy, and the topography of the country in front of his own position. His first idea was to take advantage of the lay of the ground, sometimes without reference to the direction we wanted to move afterwards. He was subordinate to his superiors in rank to the extent that he could execute an order which changed his own plans with the same zeal he would have displayed if the plan had been his own. He was brave and conscientious, and commanded the respect of all who knew him. He was unfortunately of a temper that would get beyond his control, at times, and make him speak to officers of high rank in the most offensive manner. No one saw this fault more plainly than he himself, and no one regretted it more. This made it unpleasant at times, even in battle, for those around him to approach him even with information."

(continued on page 41)

George Meade, standing center right foreground, facing left; the general in the bowler-type hat and open-necked coat standing behind Meade at right is John Sedgwick. They are seen here with their staffs at their headquarters in Falmouth, Virginia, in late 1863.

George Porter ArmyDaniel Sickles Unifrom

JUNE 1863

1: Major-General George Meade 2: Major-General John Reynolds 3: Major-General Daniel Sickles e

CAVALRY COMMANDERS OF THE ARMY OF THE POTOMAC

1: Brigadier-General George Stoneman 2: Major-General Alfred Pleasonton 3: Major-General Philip Sheridan

Union Major General Sack Coat
Brig.Gen. Alfred Pleasonton wears a typical field uniform of a sack coat and a broad-brimmed hat in this photograph taken in April 1863.
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