On July 3, 1863, Meade was promoted to brigadier general in the regular Union Army. He continued to lead the Army of the Potomac throughout the fall and winter of that year. In the spring of 1864, however, Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant decided to accompany the Army of the Potomac. As the chief of all Union forces, Grant assumed leadership of the army. His arrival dropped Meade to second in command. But the hero of Gettysburg handled the new arrangement with dignity. He carried out Grant's orders with efficiency, and in August 1864, Grant arranged Meade's promotion to the rank of major general.
During the final months of the war, Meade assisted Grant as he slowly squeezed the life out of the disintegrating Confederate armies. He fought with distinction in several battles. In addition, he helped Grant develop the siege of Petersburg, Virginia, a maneuver that trapped Lee's army in the city
Major General George G. Meade stands in front of his tent in June 1864.
(Reproduced by permission of the National Portrait Gallery.)
for months. By the spring of 1865, it was clear that the Confederacy was on the verge of collapse. In April 1865, General Lee finally surrendered the battered remains of his army to Grant, bringing the war to a close.
After the war, Meade spent two years as commander of the Military Division of the Atlantic and the Department of the East in Philadelphia. In January 1868, he was reassigned to Atlanta, Georgia, where he enforced federal Reconstruction policies in a fair and reasonable manner (Reconstruction was the period in American history immediately following the Civil War when the nation struggled to resolve its differences and readmit the Southern states into the Union). He died in Philadelphia on November 6, 1872, as a result of pneumonia and the lingering effects of old war wounds.
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