Question of the Week for March 24, 2014

Major General George Meade is often the forgotten army commander. Throughout most of 1864-1865, he lived in Grant’s shadow. What are your thoughts on Meade as a combat leader? (Feel free to explore his brigade, division, or corps command, as well).

Major General George G. Meade
Major General George G. Meade


6 Responses to Question of the Week for March 24, 2014

  1. In some ways, he was better than Grant. Throughout the Overland Campaign, Grant made insufficient allowances to preparations when he ordered an attack. Conversely, Meade tried to be as meticulous as possible when preparing for an assault. Cold Harbor was the exception, but in that instance the Ohioan was breathing down the Philadelphian’s neck. However, whether Meade, without Grant’s accompaniment, would have maneuvered around the Army of Northern Virginia instead of remaining in the Wilderness or worse, retreating back across the Rapidan, is questionable. Perhaps, in that scenario, Grant would have given Meade revised orders in his telegraphic correspondence with him, and the campaign would have had a similar outcome… or an even more successful result than it did.

  2. More than adequate. Victim of the AOP politics. Gets a lot of criticism for not following up at G’burg and Mine Run. Don’t think all of it is fair.

  3. You are right–definitely neither one of those was fair. He won key battles in both instances (Bristoe Station during Mine Run campaign).

    Grant himself repeatedly failed to pursue a defeated foe (Shiloh, Missionary Ridge, etc.) but excoriated others for not doing so. After Corinth he even went so far as to order Rosecrans back from his pursuit of Van Dorn, even though Rosy pleaded to continue it, then censured Rosecrans for not pursuing!

  4. I love the comment from Henry Abbott of the 20th Mass. He said that Meade and Grant made the perfect combination: “the next thing to having a man of real genius at the head.”

    Tom Huntington’s “Searching for George Gordon Meade” did a good job exploring the intertwined relationship between the two men. I just recently finished the book and really liked it. Ryan Quint reviewed it here at ECW not too long ago.

  5. Grant and Meade made a good team, Grant giving strategic direction to the campaign and Meade carrying out the movements as commander of the AoP. That Meade doesn’t get much credit is in part his own fault. After what they perceived as his mistreatment of a reporter, the other reporters made it a practice to never mention Meade’s name in print in a positive way. Thus the public came to perceive the AoP as entirely Grant’s army. Grant certainly credited Meade, naming him, along with Sherman, as one of the two officers most fit to command a large army.

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