Wednesday, February 2, 2011

George G. Meade

Early on the morning of June 28, 1863, General George Gordon Meade was awakened by a messenger with a letter from Abraham Lincoln. The President, the letter said, had appointed Meade the new commander of the Union’s Army of the Potomac. Five days later, the general won the greatest Northern victory of the Civil War, the Battle of Gettysburg.

Meade was born in Spain, where his father was a US naval agent, and graduated from the US Military Academy in 1835. The next year, he resigned from the army to become a civil engineer. But he returned to duty during the Mexican War of 1846-1848, and then the Civil War broke out in 1861, he was given command of the brigade of Pennsylvania volunteers. An able leader and brave soldier, Meade fought in many of the war’s early battles and was severely wounded in one of them. When Lincoln put Meade in command of the Union army in June, 1863, the South’s General Robert E. Leehad just invaded Pennsylvania. Meade and Lee met at the small crossroads town of Gettysburg on July 1.

There the battle raged for three days, after which the defeatedLee was forced to retreat. “I think I have lived as much in this time as in the last thirty years,” Meade wrote his wife about the fierce struggle at Gettysburg. He continued to lead the Armey of the Potamac until the Confederate surrdender in April, 1865.

Meade died in 1872 from complications related to wounds he received during the Civil War.

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