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General Meade

The Illustrated London News, vol. 43, no. 1215, p. 117.

August 1, 1863


Major-General George G. Meade, the new Commander of the army of the Potomac, was born in Spain, about the year 1815, of American parents. He entered West Point Military Academy as an appointee from the State of Pennsylvania during September, 1831, and graduated on the 30th of June, 1833 [i.e., 1835]. Meade was appointed to the army from the district of Columbia, and entered the service as brevet Second Lieutenant of the 3rd Artillery on the 1st of July, 1835. He did not receive his full commission until the 31st of December, 1835, when he was made a full Second Lieutenant. On the 26th of October, 1836, he resigned his connection with the United States' army, and was engaged in private pursuits until 1842. On the l9th of May, 1842, he was reappointed to the United States' military service as a Second Lieutenant of Topographical Engineers. In this capacity he joined the troops engaged in the Mexican War. His conduct in Mexico was marked by determination and bravery, and at the battle of Palo Alto he won great reputation. During the several conflicts of Monterey, on the 21st, 22nd, and 23rd days of September, 1846, he again distinguished himself, and for his bravery was breveted a First Lieutenant, to date from the 23rd of September, 1846. This brevet was awarded in May, 1847. During the month of August, 1851, he was promoted to a first lieutenancy of his corps, and on the 19th of May, 1856, was further promoted to a captaincy.

When the war broke out, and President Lincoln called for three hundred thousand volunteers, the Pennsylvania Reserve Corps was raised and placed under the charge of General M'Call, as division commander, and Generals Reynolds, Meade, and Ord, as brigade commanders. Meade was appointed a Brigadier-General of volunteers, with a commission to date from Aug. 31, 1861. He was then placed in charge of the second brigade of that division, and proceeded to organize it at Tennallytown, near the waters of the Potomac, and in this vicinity wintered during 1861-2. When the army of the Potomac began to move upon Manassas, during March, 1862, the division in which General Meade served was attached in the first corps, then under General M'Dowell. With him they remained north of the Rappahannock until after the battle of Hanover Station, when they were added to the army of the Potomac, occupying part of the right wing, with division head-quarters in the vicinity of Mechanicsville. About this time--viz., June 18--he was promoted to a majority in the Engineer Corps, which rank he still holds in the newly-organised Engineer Corps of the regular army. On the 26th of June he took part in the famous battle of Mechanicsville, where General Stonewall Jackson made such a terrible dash upon General M'Clellan's right wing, and Generals M'Call, Reynolds, and others were taken prisoners. His bravery on this occasion was particularly noticed. The next day he was engaged, under General Fitz-John Porter, in the battle of Gaines' Mill, and was so distinguished that he was nominated for a brevet of Lieutenant-Colonel for services during that battle. He also took part in some of the subsequent engagements of the seven days' fight. At the battle of New Market Cross Roads he was severely wounded; but, under skilful treatment, he recovered, and almost immediately returned to the army, where he took command of the division until the return of Generals M'Call and Reynolds from captivity in Richmond. When the Confederates invaded Maryland and Pennsylvania, after the defeats of General Pope's army, General Reynolds, who had commanded the division, was detached to organise the Pennsylvania Militia, and General Meade was placed in command of the division of Pennsylvania Reserves. He led these troops during the eventful battles of South Mountain and Antietam; and when, at the latter battle, General Hooker was wounded and had to leave the field, General Meade for a short time had charge of the ninth army corps, formerly under General Reno.

After General Burnside had been placed in charge of the army of the Potomac, General Reynolds, who formerly commanded the Pennsylvania Reserves, after the retirement of General M'Call, was ordered to command the whole of the first army corps, and General Meade was formally placed in command of the division of Pennsylvania Reserves. At the battle of Fredericksburg, Dec. 13, l862, he again distinguished himself, and his division lost very heavily, the brigade commanders and several field officers being placed hors de combat during the attack on the Confederate right. The whole loss of the division was 1624, being the greatest division loss during the whole of that disastrous fight. On

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the 15th of December, two days after this eventful battle, he was ordered to command the fifth army corps, formerly under General Fitz-John Porter, and more recently under General Butterfield. To enable him properly to hold that position he was appointed by the President a Major-General of volunteers, and was regularly nominated to the United States' Senate during January, 1863. The Senate making certain objections to the lists of appointees, it was revised, and General Meade's name again sent in by the President. During March, the Senate, in Executive Session, confirmed the appointment, and General Meade took his rank and commission as Major-General of United States' volunteers, from the 29th of November, 1862, and assumed the command of the fifth army corps.

When General Hooker assumed command of the army of the Potomac and reorganised the same, he retained General Meade as the commander of the fifth army corps, General Butterfield having obtained a position on the Staff of the commanding officer. During the advance upon Chancellorsville General Meade's corps formed part of the right wing of Hooker's army. The corps started on its march on the 20th day of April, 1863, and arrived at Kelly's Ford on the 28th. The next day it crossed the Rappahannock by that ford and the Rapidan by Ely's Ford. It then pushed on to Chancellorsville, where it arrived on the 30th and engaged the skirmishers of the Confederates, taking their rifle-pits and temporary works. During the fearful contests of May 2, 3, and 4 General Meade's corps played its part in the same distinguished manner that had characterised the troops under his special command since the commencement of the war. It bore its part manfully, and in the end covered the retreat of the whole of Hooker's army. During the subsequent heavy forced march General Meade's troops bore up under the burning rays of nearly a tropical sun; and, although other corps straggled and hung back, Meade's corps held its own.

On the morning of June 28 Colonel Hardie arrived by special train from Washington, as bearer of despatches relieving General Hooker from the command of the army of the Potomac and appointing Major-General Meade his successor.

The despatches from America recently published show that General Meade is equal to the duties of his high position. Starting in pursuit of the Confederate army, under General Lee, which had invaded Maryland and Pennsylvania, the rival forces met at Gettysburg. A series of fierce assaults made by the Confederates on the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd of July were repelled; General Lee was constrained to fall back on the Potomac, and, as we learn this week, has withdrawn his army into Virginia, leaving a brigade of infantry, with two guns, in the hands of the Federals.

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