George Gordon Meade Biography


Who is George Gordon Meade? Information about George Gordon Meade biography, life story and military career.

George Gordon MeadeGeorge Gordon MEADE, American general: b. Cadiz, Spain, Dec. 31, 1815; d. Philadelphia, Pa., Nov. 6, 1872.

Graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1835, he served as a second lieutenant in Florida during the Second Seminole War, but after a year resigned from the Army and worked as a civil engineer, mainly in survey work. Rejoining the Army in 1842, he was put into the topographical engineers and assigned to a survey of the northeastern boundaries. This was followed by service in the Mexican War (1846-1848), during which he was cited for gallant conduct at Monterey. After the war he returned to military engineering and survey work, receiving his captaincy in 1856.

In 1861, when the Civil War began, Meade was commissioned a brigadier general of volunteers and put in charge of a unit assigned to help build the defenses of Washington, D.C. Under Gen. George B. McClellan, in the Peninsula Campaign in late June 1862, he led his brigade in the Seven Days’ Battles at Mechanicsville, Gaines’ Mill, and Frayser’s Farm (Glendale), where he was badly wounded. Barely recovered, he rejoined his brigade in late August, just in time to take part in the Second Battle of Bull Run (Manassas). He distinguished himself in temporary command of a division at South Mountain, and when Gen. Joseph Hooker was wounded a few days later at Antie-tam, Meade led the 1st Corps for the rest of the battle. In November he was made major general of volunteers, and after the Battle of Fredericksburg (December), he was given command of the 5th Corps, which he led effectively at Chancellors-ville (May 1863). When Hooker resigned his command of the Army of the Potomac, Meade was named to succeed him (June 28, 1863) and retained this command for the rest of the war.

Meade’s greatest military achievement was his victory over Gen. Robert E. Lee in the crucial Battle of Gettysburg (July 1-3, 1863). Though he later was criticized for allowing Lee to escape,

he had won a major battle in a command new to him with hastily gathered forces on an unplanned site. Somewhat overshadowed thereafter by Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, who led the pursuit of Lee through Virginia as commander in chief of all Union forces, Meade served him with skill. He and the Army of the Potomac fought under Grant through the Battle of the Wilderness (May 1864), the 10-month siege of Petersburg, and on to Appomattox and the end of the war. On Grant’s recommendation, he was made a major general in the Regular Army in August 1864. After the war, except for a year in Atlanta, Ga., he commanded the Military Division of the Atlantic, with headquarters in Philadelphia.

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