George Gordon Meade and the War in the East (Civil War Campaigns and Commanders Series)by Ethan S. Rafuse
Even though he defeated Robert E. Lee in the Civil War's greatest battle, George Gordon Meade has never enjoyed a prominent place in the pantheon of Union war heroes. To most students of the Civil War, he is merely the man who was lucky enough to benefit from Confederate mistakes at Gettysburg, but whose shortcomings as a commander compelled Abraham Lincoln to
Even though he defeated Robert E. Lee in the Civil War's greatest battle, George Gordon Meade has never enjoyed a prominent place in the pantheon of Union war heroes. To most students of the Civil War, he is merely the man who was lucky enough to benefit from Confederate mistakes at Gettysburg, but whose shortcomings as a commander compelled Abraham Lincoln to bring in Ulysses S. Grant from the West to achieve victory.
In this, the first book-length study of the general to appear in a generation, Ethan S. Rafuse challenges the notion that Meade was simply the last in a long line of failed Union commanders in the East. Instead, George Gordon Meade and the War in the East offers a balanced, informative, and complete, yet concise, reconsideration of the general's life and career. It also provides keen analysis of the military and political factors that shaped operations in Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania, and delineates the sources of tension between Washington and the Army of the Potomac high command that played such an important role in shaping the war in the Eastern Theater. This study will appeal to anyone with an interest in Meade and the politics of command in the Civil War, and encourage reconsideration of traditional interpretations of the Union war effort in the East.
Read an Excerpt
Affluence and luxury abounded in the home in Cadiz, Spain where George Gordon Meade spent the first months of his life. Despite the distraction of the Napoleonic wars that had just come to an end when his son, the future general, was born on December 31, 1815. Philadelphia merchant Richard Worsam Meade had found Spain to be a highly favorable place to build on the considerable fortune he had inherited from his father. In 1816, however the Spanish government imprisoned him over a series of disputes involving his finances. Fortunately by then his wife, Margaret, had already returned to Philadelphia with their children. When Richard Meade's release was finally secured through the diplomatic efforts of the U.S. government in 1820, George was already attending school in Philadelphia. The young Meade's performance in his studies at the American Classical and Military Lyceum just outside the city inspired his father to think that he might do well at the U.S. Military Academy. Unfortunately Richard Meade died in June 1828, three years before Pres. Andrew Jackson would approve his son's appointment to West Point.
Meet the Author
ETHAN S. RAFUSE is the author of A Single Grand Victory: The First Campaign and Battle of Manassas (2002), and more than a hundred articles, essays and reviews in scholarly and popular history publications, including Civil War History, Lincoln Herald, Civil War Times Illustrated, and Ohio History. He has taught history at the University of Missouri in Kansas City and the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York.
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