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George Meade
Civil War Encyclopedia >> People - Union Military
December 31, 1815 George Gordon Meade born, Cadiz, Spain
June 26, 1862 Battle of Mechanicsville [CS]
Battle of Beaver Dam Creek [US]
Battle of Ellerson's Mill [Alternate]
Battle of Ellison's Mill [Alternate:misspelling]

Daniel Harvey Hill [CS] attacks Fitz-John Porter [US].
Virginia
  Seven Days Retreat
  George McClellan
  Battle of Beaver Dam Creek
  Fitz-John Porter
  A. P. Hill
  Robert E. Lee
  John Reynolds
June 27, 1862 Battle of Gaines Mill [US]
Battle of First Cold Harbor [CS]
Battle of the Chickahominy [Alternate]

John Bell Hood [CS] and George Pickett [CS] breakthrough Fitz John Porter's [US] line, forcing Union troops south of the Chickahominy River and severing McClellan's supply line to Eltham's Landing (White House, West Point)
Virginia
  Seven Days Retreat
  John Bell Hood
  Battle of Gaines Mill
  Daniel Harvey Hill
  A. P. Hill
  Fitz-John Porter
  Gouverneur K. Warren
  George Pickett
  John Reynolds
June 30, 1862 Battle of Frayser's Farm
Battle of White Oak Swamp [Alt.]
Battle of Glendale
Many other names

Robert E. Lee's [CS] last chance to cut the Army of the Potomac in two. George McClellan [US] withdraws to Malvern Hill.
Virginia
  Seven Days Retreat
  Battle of Glendale
  Samuel Heintzelman
  Joseph Hooker
  James Longstreet
  A. P. Hill
September 17, 1862 Battle of Sharpsburg (Confederate)
Battle of Antietam (Union)
Army of the Potomac under McClellan [US] defeats the Army of Northern Virginia under Lee [CS], resulting in the bloodiest day in American history.

Union losses:12,401 men
2,108 dead
9,540 wounded
753 missing
Confederate losses:10, 406
1,546 dead
7,752 wounded
1,108 missing
Maryland
  Bloodiest Civil War battles
  Robert E. Lee
  George McClellan
  Stonewall Jackson
  Army of Northern Virginia
  Army of the Potomac
  Lafayette McLaws
  Antietam
  Edwin Vose Sumner
February 5, 1863 General Joseph Hooker reorganizes the Army of the Potomac appointing J. F. Reynolds, Darius Couch, Dan Sickles, George Meade, John Sedgwick, W. F. Smith, Franz Sigel and Henry Slocum in command of individual corps. George Stoneman is named his cavalry chief. Smith's Ninth Corps is assigned to Newport News to increase pressure on Richmond
  Joseph Hooker
  Army of the Potomac
  William Farrar Smith
  John Sedgwick
May 22, 1863 Abraham Lincoln offers command of the Army of the Potomac to Darius Couch. Couch refuses, but recommends George Meade.
  Darius Couch
  Abraham Lincoln
June 28, 1863 George Meade [US] assumes command of the Army of the Potomac, replacing Joe Hooker.
  Army of the Potomac
  Battle of Gettysburg
  Joseph Hooker
  The Gettysburg Campaign
July 1, 1863
July 3, 1863
Battle of Gettysburg

General Robert E. Lee [CS] advances into Pennsylvania where he meets George Meade [US]. First battling north of the city, by the second day Union forces had retreated south, forming a strong line as men arrived almost continuously. On the third day, the infamous Pickett's Charge marked the end of the Confederates hope for a victory

The bloodiest three days in American history
Pennsylvania
  Bloodiest Civil War battles
  Robert E. Lee
  John Bell Hood
  James Longstreet
  Army of Northern Virginia
  Army of the Potomac
  J. E. B. Stuart
  Lafayette McLaws
  Winfield Scott Hancock
  George Armstrong Custer
  Battle of Gettysburg
  Richard Ewell
  George Pickett
  John Reynolds
  The Gettysburg Campaign
  Early action at Herbst Woods
  James Archer
  George Armstrong Custer
  Jubal Anderson Early
September 13, 1863 Sensing a change in Lee's lines, George Meade [US] pushes the Army of the Potomac to the Rapidan River Virginia
October 10, 1863 George Meade [US] withdraws to the Rappahannock River Virginia
October 14, 1863 Battle of Bristol Station

A. P. Hill strikes George Meade as he withdraws to the Rappahannock River. Meade had strongly fortified his rear guard defenses, easily repelling Hill's corps.
Virginia
  A. P. Hill
November 7, 1863 Battle of Rappahanock Station
Battle of Kelly's Ford

George Meade, re-armed and re-supplied, crosses the Rappahannock and begins advancing on the Army of Northern Virginia. Although only two engagements were large enough to be called battles, heavy skirmishing marked the day.
Virginia
March 10, 1864 Grant meets George Gordon Meade, commander of the Army of the Potomac, in Virginia.
  Ulysses S. Grant
March 23, 1864 Some congressmen request George Meade be removed as commander of the Army of the Potomac
  Army of the Potomac
April 9, 1864 Ulysses S. Grant issues campaign orders. He tells George Meade [US], "Wherever Lee goes, you will go there." Similar orders are issued to William Tecumseh Sherman
  William Tecumseh Sherman
  Ulysses S. Grant
April 27, 1864 Northern armies break winter camp in preparation for the Spring campaigns
  William Tecumseh Sherman
  Ulysses S. Grant
  Overland Campaign
  Atlanta Campaign
May 31, 1864
June 12, 1864
Battle of Cold Harbor

Robert E. Lee [CS] defeats General Ulysses S. Grant [US] and General George Meade [US]
Virginia
  Army of Northern Virginia
  Robert E. Lee
  Ulysses S. Grant
  Gouverneur K. Warren
April 6, 1865 Battle of Sayler's Creek (Sailor's Creek)

George Meade [US] defeats John Gordon [CS], Dick Ewell [CS], and R. H. Anderson [CS]. Anderson and Ewell accidentally became separated from the main body of Lee's Army. 8,000 Confederate soldiers are forced to surrender
Virginia
  John B. Gordon
  Richard Ewell


George Meade

Full name: George Gordon Meade

Born in Cadiz, Spain, in 1815 George Meade moved to the United States in 1817. Although the family was wealthy when his father was living, after his father died in 1828 the family had little to live on. George attended a school near Philadelphia run by Salmon P. Chase. College was no longer affordable for the Meade family, so his mother sought an appointment to West Point for George. After graduation (19th out of 56 in the Class of 1835), George Gordon Meade joined the Topographical Corps. One of his first assignments was the survey of the Long Island Railroad. After a trip to the West Indies he landed in Tampa just after the massacre of Francis Langhorne Dade and 200 men by Micanopy, a Seminole. Meade joined a company as Lieutenant and served shortly, but was forced to leave following a prolonged low-grade fever. He was assigned to lead a group of Seminole Indians to Arkansas before he resigned his commission on October 26, 1836.

Strangely, he returned to Florida and accepted a position surveying the Alabama, Florida and Georgia Railroad. After completing this work Meade mapped the mouth of the Sabine River in 1840, continuing north to establish the border between the Republic of Texas and the United States. After marrying his wife, Margaretta, on his 25th birthday, Meade returned to the military as a lieutenant, resurveying the border between Canada and the United States in the Northeast, to establish a boundary negotiated by Winfield Scott. Although still a civilian, Meade decided to reenlist, mostly because of the depressed economy following the Panic of 1837. After completing the survey in the Northeast United States, he returned to Philadelphia where he was reassigned to mapping coasts and building lighthouses.

In August, 1845, Meade was reassigned to Zachary Taylor, then commanding an occupation force in South Texas (Taylor was ordered to occupy disputed land north of the Rio Grande). Arriving at Corpus Christie on September 14, Meade performed reconnaissance missions while under the command of Taylor, including Pal Alta, Resaca de la Palma, and Monterey. He was reassigned to join Winfield Scott at Vera Cruz, also as an engineer, but following the surrender of the garrison by the Mexicans, Meade requested reassignment.

Once again returning to Florida, Meade selected a site for a fort on the west coast of the peninsula near present-day Port Charlotte on the Peace River (known as Pease Creek in the 1840's). He would become First Lieutenant in May, 1851. In 1856, following a promotion to captain, Meade was given his biggest assignment to date, a survey of the entire Great Lakes. With Lieutenant Orlando Poe, Meade set out for Detroit. The survey would be completed just prior to the outbreak of The Civil War.

Returning to his wife in Philadelphia, Meade was offered command of a brigade in the Pennsylvania Reserves, a division being formed by George McCall at the request of Pennsylvania Governor Andrew Curtin. Although he was a brigadier general of volunteers, Meade did appreciate the jump in rank. He also knew his fellow commanders, John Reynolds and Edward O. C. Ord. The Reserves, intended to defend Pennsylvania should the state be invaded, were called to Washington following the disaster at Bull Run.

Guarding southwest of Washington, McClellan slowly moved the Pennsylvania Reserves west as he got more comfortable. They established a camp at present-day Langley, Virginia and patrolled as far west as Dranesville. Although they missed the Battle of Ball's Bluff, when General McCall received reports of foraging near Dranesville two months later he detached one of Meade's regiments and sent it and Ord's brigade to meet the enemy. The battle is considered indecisive, but Meade's men had performed well.

During the advance on Richmond, Virginia in the Peninsula Campaign, Meade's brigade did not see action. About the middle of June, 1862, McCall's Division was ordered to protect communication with White House, McClellan's supply port on the York River. McCall established an entrenched line east of Beaver Creek. Held in reserve by Fitz-John Porter, commander of the Fifth Corps, at the start of the Battle of Beaver Creek Dam, George Meade's men were inserted into the Union line where needed by his commander, McCall. Although many of his men were engaged during the battle, they were not under his command at the time.

During the battle of Beaver Dam Creek, three of Meade's regiments were preparing Porter's fallback position at Gaines Mill. After the battle, Porter began moving his corps to the new location and discovered something unusual about George Meade - his ability to navigate at night. Meade had learned to read the stars to determine his position and since much of the Seven Days Retreat marching would be at night, the brigadier general was invaluable. Meade led the Pennsylvania Reserves from Beaver Dam to Gaines Mill.

Chosen by Chief Engineer John Barnard, Gaines Mill represented one of the strongest positions held by the Union army in the entire Civil War. McCall's division, including Meade's Brigade was held in reserve about half-a-mile behind the front line near Powhite Creek. When fighting started, Meade and Truman Seymour, the commander who replaced Edward Ord, moved forward as brigades but their men were inserted into the lines as regiments. This time, Meade chose to join a regiment that was inserted into George Morrell's line near the Watt House. While this regiment benefited from Meade's advice, two other regiments were captured when Rebels got behind them after being inserted further north.

During the Battle of Glendale, Meade's brigade was covering Long Bridge Road just west of the town. James Longstreet and A. P. Hill came down this road to attack the Army of the Potomac's line. Much of the fighting centered on Meade's artillery battery commanded by Lieutenant Alanson Randol, where Meade lost an entire regiment trying to protect the position. Meade's brigade was then nearly destroyed by repeated assaults of A. P. Hill and James Longstreet, he was wounded and his commanding officer was taken prisoner. For George Meade, the Seven Days was over, but at Glendale, his brigade played a key role in protecting McClellan's retreat to Harrison Landing.

Badly injured in the arm and torso, Meade was taken to Haxall's Landing and he sailed north in Chesapeake Bay to Baltimore, then further north to Philadelphia. With his wife helping, George Meade recovered in time to join his men near Fredericksburg, Virginia on August 21, 1862. John Reynolds had been assigned command of the Pennsylvania Reserves in Meade's absence, and they were marching to join Irwin McDowell's corps. Now as part of John Pope's Army of Virginia, Meade's brigade would be among those trapped by the Confederates at Second Bull Run. They fought on Henry Hill, securing for the Army of Virginia an escape route from the vise James Longstreet and Stonewall Jackson were trying to close around Pope. As the Union Army withdrew towards Washington D. C., Robert E. Lee moved west to the Shenandoah Valley before turning north into Maryland and Pope's army was combined once again with the Army of the Potomac.

McClellan, who had a copy of Lee's orders, split his army in three to defeat the Rebel invaders. George Meade's brigade was assigned to Joe Hooker's corps. Hooker had been given Turner's Gap in South Mountain to capture and on the approach, Fighting Joe saw the weak spot in Daniel Harvey Hill's position, a knoll to the north of the National Road (called the National pike in orders) overlooking the gap. From there, the Yankees could control most of the gap with artillery.

Hooker chose George Meade for the task. On the knoll sat Robert Rodes brigade, reinforced with regiments from Nathan Evans. While the position was strong, it would be impossible to maintain a line of retreat against a superior Union force, and both Rodes and Meade recognized the weakness. Rodes placed the men of Shanks Evans to his right to protect against such a maneuver, so Meade decided to make a general advance against the outnumbered enemy. After coming out of some woods into an open field, Meade's division moved up the knoll slowly but steadily. As Truman Seymour's brigade gained the top of the knoll, Confederate reinforcements counterattacked but failed to dislodge the Pennsylvanians. At nightfall Meade controlled the knoll, forcing Daniel Harvey Hill to withdraw from Turner's Gap.

In writing about that day 30 years later in The Century magazine, Hill would recall, "Meade was one of our most dreaded foes..." His own commander, Joe Hooker, who he would replace in the field as commander of the Army of the Potomac less than a year later wrote "I desire to make special mention of Brigadier-General Meade for the great intelligence and gallantry displayed by him."

At Antietam, Meade was in the front of Hooker's Corps as it marched down the Hagerstown Pike towards Sharpsburg late in the day on September 16. He engaged forward elements of John Bell Hood's Division in a sharp skirmish and withdrew at dusk. The following day, with Hooker's two other division's and Joseph Mansfield's 12th Corps supporting him, George Meade's division led the attack on Rebel positions in the Cornfield. When Hooker was shot in the foot, George Meade assumed command of the corps. As Edwin Vose Sumner and Joseph Mansfield moved on the battlefield with the 12th Corps, Meade withdrew his men to regroup and was injured when a ricochet grapeshot stuck his leg. From this point on the fighting moved south, west of Antietam Creek. George Meade became a division commander again on September 29 when John Reynolds returned from detached service.

Under the uninspiring command of Ambrose Burnside, Major General George Meade was assigned to Joe Hooker's Center Grand Division. During the battle of Fredericksburg on December 13, 1862 Meade's division came up against Stonewall Jackson's men and made the best show during the Union disaster, coming close to turning the Confederate right.

As Robert E. Lee moved north into Pennsylvania in June, 1863, the Army of the Potomac was in turmoil. Abraham Lincoln responded to Lee's movement with a dramatic reorganization of his largest army, the third in 9 months. Joe Hooker was gone and George Meade, his able lieutenant from Pennsylvania stood ready to impose his army between Lee and Washington while trying to save his state from the Rebel invasion. The order appointing Meade (dated June 27, arrived June 28, of rank, June 29) gave him broad powers to reorganize his command and he did just that, relieving Cavalry commander Major General Julius Stahel and replacing him with Alfred Pleasonton.

From June, 1863, George Gordon Meade commanded the Army of the Potomac in every battle. General Ulysses S. Grant, as General-in-Chief, U. S. Army kept his field office with Meade's Army of the Potomac and the two devised strategy together. Meade had angered reporters assigned to cover his army, so they informally agreed to credit Grant with good things that happened while they blamed Meade for the bad.



According to Phil Sheridan, Meade had a "peppery temper."

Additional information:
George Meade Society

George Meade archive

Links appearing on this page:

1836
A. P. Hill
Abraham Lincoln
Ambrose Burnside
Antietam
Army of Virginia
Army of the Potomac
August 21
August, 1862
Battle of Ball's Bluff
Battle of Beaver Creek Dam
Battle of Glendale
Daniel Harvey Hill
December 13
December, 1862
Edward O. C. Ord
Edwin Vose Sumner
Fitz-John Porter
General-in-Chief, U. S. Army
Irwin McDowell
James Longstreet
Joe Hooker
John Bell Hood
John Pope
John Reynolds
Lee's orders
October 26
Panic of 1837
Peninsula Campaign
Pennsylvania
Phil Sheridan
Richmond, Virginia
Robert E. Lee
Salmon P. Chase
Second Bull Run
September 29
Seven Days
Seven Days Retreat
Stonewall Jackson
The Civil War
Washington D. C.
Winfield Scott

Civil War Encyclopedia >> People - Union Military

George Meade was last changed on - October 23, 2007
George Meade was added in 2005



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