Portrait of George G. Meade

Major General George G. Meade commanded the Army of the Potomac throughout the Gettysburg, Bristoe, Mine Run, Overland, Petersburg, and Appomattox Campaigns. [Wikimedia Commons]

George Gordon Meade - Facts

December 31, 1815 - November 6, 1872

Key facts about Union General George G. Meade.

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Full Name:

  • George Gordon Meade

Birth Date:

  • December 31, 1815

Birth Location:

  • Cadiz, Spain

Parents:

  • Richard Worsam and Margaret Coats (Butler) Meade

Education:

  • United States Military Academy (1831)

Occupation:

  • Military officer
  • civil engineer

Career Summary:

  • Major General (USA),
  • Army of the Potomac commander

Spouse:

  • Margaretta Sergeant (1840)

Nickname:

  • Old Snapping Turtle

Place of Death:

  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Date of Death:

  • November 6, 1872

Place of Burial:

  • Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Significance:

  • George G. Meade was the eighth of eleven children of Richard Worsam Meade and Margaret Coats Butler Meade.
  • George G. Meade’s father was a wealthy Philadelphia merchant serving in Spain as a naval agent for the U.S. government at the time of Meade’s birth.
  • George G. Meade’s father died while Meade was a teenager, leaving the family with serious financial problems.
  • George G. Meade entered the United States Military Academy in 1831.
  • George G. Meade graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1835, 19th in his class of 56 cadets.
  • After graduation, George G. Meade served one year in the army fighting in the Second Seminole War (1835 – 1842) in Florida.
  • On October 26, 1836, George G. Meade resigned his commission in the United States Army to pursue a career as a civil engineer.
  • In 1842, George G. Meade returned to the army as a second lieutenant in the Corps of Topographical Engineers.
  • George G. Meade served in the Mexican-American War (1846 – 1848) and was brevetted to first lieutenant for gallant conduct at the Battle of Monterrey.
  • After the Mexican-American War (1846 – 1848), George G. Meade remained in the military as an engineer and was promoted to captain in 1856.
  • George G. Meade was promoted to brigadier general of volunteers on August 31, 1861, a few months after the start of the American Civil War.
  • Early in the Civil War, George G. Meade was responsible for the construction of defenses around Washington, D.C.
  • George G. Meade was severely wounded in the arm, back, and side at the Battle of Glendale (June 30, 1862) while serving with the Army of the Potomac.
  • George G. Meade recovered from his wounds in time to lead his brigade at the Second Battle of Bull Run (August 28 – 30, 1862), while assigned to the Army of Virginia.
  • In September 1862, George G. Meade became a division commander, reassigned to the Army of the Potomac.
  • George G. Meade was wounded in the thigh at the Battle of Antietam (September 17, 1862).
  • Following the Battle of Fredericksburg (December 11–15, 1862), George G. Meade was promoted to major general of volunteers because his division was the only one to break through General “Stonewall” Jackson’s corps. The promotion was effective unti November 29, 1862.
  • George G. Meade became a corps commander prior to the Battle of Chancellorsville (April 30–May 6, 1863).
  • When General Joseph Hooker resigned from command of the Army of the Potomac, President Lincoln named George G. Meade as the Hooker’s replacement.
  • Only three days after assuming command of the Army of the Potomac, George G. Meade confronted General Robert E. Lee at the Battle of Gettysburg (July 1 – 3, 1863) and defeated the Army of Northern Virginia in what was the turning point of the Civil War.
  • After the victory at Gettysburg, President Lincoln criticized George G. Meade for not pursuing Robert E. Lee’s army as it retreated to Virginia.
  • Despite President Lincoln’s criticism of George G. Meade after the Battle of Gettysburg, Meade was promoted to brigadier general in the regular army.
  • On January 28, 1864, George G. Meade received the thanks of Congress “for the skill and heroic valor which, at Gettysburg, repelled, defeated, and drove back-broken and dispirited beyond the Rappahannock, the veteran army of the Rebellion.”
  • When Ulysses S. Grant was appointed commander of all Union armies in March 1864, Grant made his headquarters with George G. Meade for the rest of the war diluting Meade’s authority.
  • Although George G. Meade was less willing than Grant to sacrifice troops in a war of attrition, he dutifully followed Grant’s orders and performed effectively for the most part.
  • Prior to the Battle of the Crater (July 30, 1864), George G. Meade changed Ambrose Burnside’s plan to lead the attack with a well-trained African-American division that was highly drilled just for this action, instructing him to take a politically less risky course and substitute an untrained and poorly led white division. The resulting defeat was one of the great fiascoes of the war.
  • George G. Meade was promoted to major general of the regular army on August 18, 1864.
  • After the war, General George G. Meade had command of the Military Division of the Atlantic until August 1866, when he took command of the Department of the East. General Meade was subsequently placed in command of the military district comprising Georgia, Florida, and Alabama, with headquarters at Atlanta.
  • George Gordon Meade died from pneumonia on November 6, 1872, in Philadelphia.
  • Meade is buried in Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia.
  • The United States Army’s Fort George G. Meade in Fort Meade, Maryland, is named for Meade.
  • George G. Meade received an honorary doctorate in law (LL.D.) from Harvard University, and his scientific achievements were recognized by various institutions, including the American Philosophical Society and the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences.
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Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title George Gordon Meade - Facts
  • Coverage December 31, 1815 - November 6, 1872
  • Author
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date July 27, 2021
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update April 29, 2021
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