Biography of George Gordon Meade
Celebrated American Biographies





GEORGE GORDON MEADE, a famous Union general, was born at Cadiz, Spain, December 30. 1815, his father being United States naval agent at that port. After receiving a good education he entered the West Point Military Academy in 1831. From here he was graduated June 30, 1835, and received the rank of second lieutenant of artillery. He participated in the Seminole war, but resigned from the army in October, 1836. He entered upon the profession of civil engineer, which he followed for several years, part of the time in the service of the government in making surveys of the mouth of the Mississippi river. His report and results of some experiments made by him in this service gained Meade much credit. He also was employed in surveying the boundary line of Texas and the northeastern boundary line between the United States and Canada. In 1842 he was reappointed in the army to the position of second lieutenant of engineers. During the Mexican war he served with distinction on the staff of General Taylor in the battles of Palo Alto, Resaca de la Palrna and the storming of Monterey. He received his brevet of first lieutenant for the latter action. In 1851 he was made full first lieutenant in his corps; a captain in 1856, and major soon after. At the close of the war with Mexico he was employed in light house construction and in geodetic surveys until the breaking out of the Rebellion, in which he gained great reputation. In August, 1861, he was made brigadier general of volunteers and placed in command of the second brigade of the Pennsylvania Reserves, a division of the First Corps in the Army of the Potomac. In the campaign of 1862, under McClellan, Meade took an active part, being present, at the battles of Mechanicsville, Gaines' Mill and Glendale, in the latter of which he was severely wounded. On rejoining his command he was given a division and distinguished himself at its head in the battles of South Mountain and Antietam. During the latter, on the wounding of General Hooker, Meade was placed in command of the corps and was himself slightly wounded. For services he was promoted, November, 1862, to the rank of major general of volunteers. On the recovery of General Hooker General Meade returned to his division and in December, 1862, at Fredericksburg, led an attack which penetrated Lee's right line and swept to his rear. Being outnumbered and unsupported, he finally was driven back. The same month Meade was assigned to the command of the Fifth Corps, and at Chancellorsville in May, 1863, his sagacity and ability so struck General Hooker that when the latter asked to be relieved of the command, in June of the same year, he nominated Meade as his successor. June 28, 1863, President Lincoln commissioned General Meade commander in chief of the Army of the Potomac, then scattered and moving hastily through Pennsylvania to the great and decisive battlefield at Gettysburg, at which he was in full command. With the victory on those July days the name of Meade will ever be associated. From that time until the close of the war he commanded the Army of the Potomac. In 1864 General Grant, being placed at the head of all the armies, took up his quarters with the Army of the Potomac. From that time until the surrender of Lee at Appomatox Meade's ability shone conspicuously, and his tact in the delicate position in leading his army un:der the eye of his superior officer commanded the respect and esteem of General Grant. For services Meade was promoted to the rank of major general, and on the close of hostilities, in July, 1865, was assigned to the command of the military division of the Atlantic, with headquarters at Philadelphia. This post he held, with the exception of a short period on detached duty in Georgia, until his death, which took place November 6, 1872.


FROM:
A Biographical Record
Of Schuyler County, New York
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company
New York and Chicago 1903.


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