Meade, George Gordon

Meade, George Gordon,

1815–72, Union general in the American Civil War, b. Cádiz, Spain. Graduated from West Point in 1835, he resigned from the army the next year and became a civil engineer. In 1842, Meade reentered the army in the corps of topographical engineers. He served in the Mexican War and on various engineering projects. In the Civil War he was made a brigadier general of volunteers (Aug., 1861). In the Seven Days battles (1862), he was severely wounded at Frayser's Farm (or Glendale), but he recovered in time to lead his brigade ably at the second battle of Bull Run. In the Antietam campaign, in the battle of Fredericksburg (1862), and in the battle of Chancellorsville (1863) he distinguished himself further. Meade took command of the Army of the Potomac on June 28, 1863. Several days later he won the important battle of Gettysburg (see Gettysburg campaignGettysburg campaign,
June–July, 1863, series of decisive battles of the U.S. Civil War. The Road to Gettysburg

After his victory in the battle of Chancellorsville, Confederate general Robert E. Lee undertook a second invasion of the North.
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). This brought him a brigadier generalcy in the regular army. He was criticized, however, for not following up his victory. Meade commanded the Army of the Potomac until the end of the war, but Ulysses S. Grant really directed his army in the Wilderness campaignWilderness campaign,
in the American Civil War, a series of engagements (May–June, 1864) fought in the Wilderness region of Virginia. Early in May, 1864, the Northern commander in chief, Grant, led the Army of the Potomac (118,000 strong) across the Rapidan River into the
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 and subsequent operations. He was promoted to major general in the regular army on Grant's recommendation in Aug., 1864. After the war Meade commanded various military departments.


See G. Meade, The Life and Letters of General George Gordon Meade (2 vol., 1913); biography by F. Cleaves (1960).

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Meade, George Gordon

(1815–72) soldier; born in Cadiz, Spain. The son of a U.S. naval agent, he graduated from West Point (1835), saw action in Mexico, served as a military engineer, and received command of a Pennsylvania brigade at the outbreak of the Civil War; he assumed increasingly larger commands in many major battles—the Peninsular Campaign, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville. After Gen. Joseph Hooker resigned his post abruptly, Meade was assigned command of the Army of the Potomac on June 28, 1863; three days later his army found itself engaged at Gettysburg. Meade has been praised for his handling of troops on the defensive at Gettysburg and criticized for failing to pursue the beaten Confederates in the aftermath of the battle. Although he retained his command when Ulysses S. Grant came east in the spring of 1864, Grant took effective operational control of the army and Meade performed loyally in a difficult situation. After the war, he commanded the army's Division of the Atlantic, with a brief interruption to command the then military district that included Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. He died of complications from a wound he sustained during the Peninsula campaign of 1862. His blunt, often intemperate manner did not endear him to his fellow officers, but he gained a reputation as a serviceable soldier.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
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