1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Meade, George Gordon

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MEADE, GEORGE GORDON (1815–1872), American soldier, was born of American parentage at Cadiz, Spain, on the 31st of December 1815. On graduation at the United States Military Academy in 1835, he served in Florida with the 3rd Artillery against the Seminoles. Resigning from the army in 1836, he became a civil engineer and constructor of railways, and was engaged under the war department in survey work. In 1842 he was appointed a second lieutenant in the corps of the topographical engineers. In the war with Mexico he was on the staffs successively of Generals Taylor, J. Worth and Robert Patterson, and was brevetted for gallant conduct at Monterey. Until the Civil War he was engaged in various engineering works, mainly in connexion with lighthouses, and later as a captain of topographical engineers in the survey of the northern lakes. In 1861 he was appointed brigadier-general of volunteers, and had command of the 2nd brigade of the Pennsylvania Reserves in the Army of the Potomac under General M’Call. He served in the Seven Days, receiving a severe wound at the action of Frazier’s Farm. He was absent from his command until the second battle of Bull Run, after which he obtained the command of his division. He distinguished himself greatly at the battles of South Mountain and Antietam. At Fredericksburg he and his division won great distinction by their attack on the position held by Jackson’s corps, and Meade was promoted major-general of volunteers, to date from the 29th of November. Soon afterwards he was placed in command of the V. corps. At Chancellorsville he displayed great intrepidity and energy, and on the eve of the battle of Gettysburg was appointed to succeed Hooker. The choice was unexpected, but Meade justified it by his conduct of the operations, and in the famous three days’ battle he inflicted a complete defeat on General Lee’s army. His reward was the commission of brigadier-general in the regular army. In the autumn of 1863 a war of manœuvre was fought between the two commanders, on the whole favourably to the Union arms. Grant, commanding all the armies of the United States, joined the Army of the Potomac in the spring of 1864, and remained with it until the end of the war; but he continued Meade in his command, and successfully urged his appointment as major-general in the regular army (Aug. 18, 1864), eulogizing him as the commander who had successfully met and defeated the best general and the strongest army on the Confederate side. After the war Meade commanded successively the military division of the Atlantic, the department of the east, the third military district (Georgia and Alabama) and the department of the south. He died at Philadelphia on the 6th of November, 1872. The degree of LL.D. was conferred upon him by Harvard University, and his scientific attainments were recognized by the American Philosophical Society and the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences. There are statues of General Meade in Philadelphia and at Gettysburg.

See I. R. Pennypacker, General Meade (“Great Commanders” series, New York, 1901).