SEE WHAT GEORGE MEADE WROTE ABOUT HIS EXPERIENCES IN THE ARMY OF THE POTOMAC EXACTLY 150 YEARS AGO. CHECK THE ARCHIVES FOR THE LATEST POSTS!
ADVANCE PRAISE FOR SEARCHING FOR GEORGE GORDON MEADE!
“Searching for George Gordon Meade is a splendid book! Well-researched, well-reasoned and well-written, it’s a timely and vital addition to the all-too-meager literature on this neglected American hero. Strongly recommended for serious historians as well as for a general readership. Excellent!”
—Ralph Peters, author of Cain at Gettysburg
“Despite his great victory at Gettysburg and his command of the army that forced Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, George Meade saw his fame eclipsed by that of Lee, Grant, and other Civil War generals. This book does a great deal to redress that historical injustice. Tom Huntington has invented a new genre of biography that shifts between past and present as he tells the story of Meade’s life and describes his own pilgrimage to the key sites of that life. The result is an engrossing narrative that the reader can scarcely put down.”
—James M. McPherson, author of Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era
“Much more than another Civil War biography, Tom Huntington’s gripping personal ‘search’ for George Gordon Meade is unique and irresistible: a combination life story, military history, travelogue, and cultural commentary that brings us closer than ever to the old general and his strange reputation—and also opens new windows to our own unending search for an understandable national identity.”
—Harold Holzer, Chairman, Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation
History has pretty much given George Gordon Meade a bum deal. He helped save the Union as the commanding general at Gettysburg, but no one has written a major biography of him in years. Sure, he has a statue at Gettysburg, but the memorial to the man he whipped, Confederate General Robert E. Lee, stands atop a pedestal that looks to be twice as high as Meade’s. In fact, history has been pretty good about putting Lee atop pedestals, despite the facts that he fought against a country to which he had sworn loyalty, to sustain a government that considered human slavery as its cornerstone. For many, Lee will always be the greatest general of them all. Except Meade beat Lee at Gettysburg.
Meade, it seems, is the Rodney Dangerfield of Civil War generals. He gets no respect. Ulysses S. Grant became president and occupies the $50 bill. Civil War soldiers Hayes, Garfield and McKinley also reached the White House. As for Meade: after the battle of Gettysburg President Abraham Lincoln wrote him a letter to chide him about not immediately counterattacking Lee’s army.
Adding insult to injury, later in the war Meade had to testify about his generalship at Gettysburg before a Congressional Committee, mainly because the man who had almost cost him the battle—General Daniel Sickles—was busy spreading rumors that Meade had intended to retreat from the battlefield.
In the last year or so of the war Meade also had Grant, now the general-in-chief of the Union armies, looking over his shoulder. And he had to deal with a conspiracy among newspaper reporters, who banded together and agreed not to mention Meade in their dispatches.
Meade didn’t get a statute in Washington, D.C., until 1927. It was one of the last Civil War memorials erected in the nation’s capital, and it got there only after years of bureaucratic wrangling.
There just ain’t no justice.
In Searching for Meade, I combine travel and history into an engaging mix that informs and entertains as I investigate the life and times of George Gordon Meade. Stackpole Books published it in February 2013, just in time for the 150th anniversary of Meade’s greatest triumph, the Battle of Gettysburg.
On this blog I’ll share a few of the things I learn as we build up to the book’s publication.
You can also find a preview of the book in this article from the June 2011 issue of Civil War Times magazine.
Here’s what Meade’s contemporaries had to say:
“General Meade will make no mistake on my front, and should I make one, will be quick to seize upon it.” —Confederate General Robert E. Lee
“Meade was one of our most dreaded foes; he was always in deadly earnest, and he eschewed all trifling.” —Confederate General D.H. Hill
“Meade is a rough customer when under fire.” —A Union soldier at Fredericksburg
“He is a slasher, is the General, and cuts up people without much mercy.” —Theodore Lyman
Read all the blog posts, including the most recent, by going to the Archives. (You can link to the Archives from this page’s right-hand bar.)