Has History Been Fair to General Meade?

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#1
It seems to me that Meade proved a very capable and integral commander in the Northern victory yet as far as mainstream history goes, he tends to be relegated to a footnote. Even in terms of Gettysburg, most of the discussion revolves around what Lee and the Confederates did wrong rather than what Meade did right. Pickett’s famous line “the Yankees had something to do with it” aside, do you think General Meade doesn’t get the credit he deserves?

As Lee said on the eve of Gettysburg, “General Meade will commit no blunder on my front, and if I make one he will make haste to take advantage of it.” (Coddington The Gettysburg Campaign pg. 196- reference: George Cary Eggleston, A Rebel’s Recollection, pg. 130)

If Lee held such a high opinion of Meade, why does it seem he’s been consigned to the dustbin?
 

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WJC

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#5
"Has History Been Fair to General Meade?" Absolutely not!
I believe one can make the case that Meade was a better General than Grant. Certainly, the plan Grant eventually implemented that cut off rail supply lines to Richmond and led to victory was the very same plan suggested by Meade at the start of the Overland Campaign. Had Grant implemented Meade's suggestions, Union losses would have been far less and success might have been achieved earlier.
Meade's greatest 'fault' was that he was not politically adept.
 
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#8
Meade was appointed to the task that he himself felt would have been accomplished better by others. He proved himself wrong. The commanders all made mistakes. At Gettysburg he made the fewest. As to his not chasing after Lee, was it a mistake? I think not. His men had just gone through the same hell as Lee's men had. Everyone needed to resupply and recover. It would have been wonderful if it all ended at that point in time.
 

Andy Cardinal

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#10
Meade has not been given the praise he deserved for his victory at Gettysburg, partially due to the lies from Sickles---dying 30 years earlier than Sickles---and being overshadowed by Grant. Meade was not a public speaker and disliked politicians and reporters.
Regards
David
I agree -- in the battle of history, Meade believed he would be vindicated. Unfortunately, Sickles & Butterfield won that battle.
 

Andy Cardinal

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#11
"Has History Been Fair to General Meade?" Absolutely not!
I believe one can make the case that Meade was a better General than Grant. Certainly, the plan Grant eventually implemented that cut off rail supply lines to Richmond and led to victory was the very same plan suggested by Meade at the start of the Overland Campaign. Had Grant implemented Meade's suggestions, Union losses would have been far less and success might have been achieved earlier.
Meade's greatest 'fault' was that he was not politically adept.
I don't disagree with you. I believe Grant was a superior general strategically (He and Sherman were by far better than the other Northern commanders with the possible exception of McClellan). Meade was very good tactically, and I believe Grant recognized this, and Meade excelled at "handling 100,000 men," which Grant also recognized.

I'm not sure the Overland route was Grant's first choice either.
 
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#13
I don't disagree with you. I believe Grant was a superior general strategically (He and Sherman were by far better than the other Northern commanders with the possible exception of McClellan). Meade was very good tactically, and I believe Grant recognized this, and Meade excelled at "handling 100,000 men," which Grant also recognized.

I'm not sure the Overland route was Grant's first choice either.
In a previous thread it was pointed out that Grant submitted a written an to invade Virginia via North Carolina most likely through New Berne. Not sure how to find that thread . Cash had some good sources but he is not with us anymore.
Leftyhunter
 
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#14
The Narrative is about Grant, not Meade. Grant did everything right. He was a hero.

Everyone else is chopped liver, that's the way it is.

Come to think of it, what would He have done in the face of Picket's Charge? Call Sherman on his cell phone and ask what to do? Probably.
 

E_just_E

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#15
If Lee held such a high opinion of Meade, why does it seem he’s been consigned to the dustbin?
I think that History has probably been more fair to Meade than the opinion of his contemporaries. He received an honorary doctorate from Harvard and a distinction from the American Philosophical society. He was on the $1K note in the late 1890s. After he died, the City of Philadelphia gave his widow a house to live in. Most 20th and 21st century books regard him pretty highly as a general.

However, during his lifetime he was not a really likeable guy. He had a temper, was opinionated, and selfish. Did not know how to win friends and influence people, other than with pulling rank. His inferiors did not like him, and, unlike Jackson, his bosses did not like him either. That's a bad combination.

But I don't think that History did Meade wrong...
 

Norm53

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#16
I don't disagree with you. I believe Grant was a superior general strategically (He and Sherman were by far better than the other Northern commanders with the possible exception of McClellan). Meade was very good tactically, and I believe Grant recognized this, and Meade excelled at "handling 100,000 men," which Grant also recognized.

I'm not sure the Overland route was Grant's first choice either.
"I'm not sure the Overland route was Grant's first choice either."

Can you expand on this statement?

Thanks, Norm
 

Norm53

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#17
I envy the ability of CWT posters to assess the overall merit of military leaders. That requires a thorough study of their intimate roles in complicated unit movements of many battles.

Thank you all for your poignant and edifying posts.

Norm
 

JPK Huson 1863

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#18
Meade has not been given the praise he deserved for his victory at Gettysburg, partially due to the lies from Sickles---dying 30 years earlier than Sickles---and being overshadowed by Grant. Meade was not a public speaker and disliked politicians and reporters.
Regards
David

This. He was an honest ( please no one throw the thread onto the Honorable bonfire ), military man. IMO you get the idea he didn't feel he should have to play the silly PR game, it was beneath his personal code. Talk about re-writing history, thank you Dan.


Everyone else is chopped liver, that's the way it is.
I'm not disagreeing. We tend to do this ' thing ' where one person is allowed that place in history, like there's only room for one. They get to represent everyone else. See it all the time with women in the war- Clara or maybe Mother Bickerdyke are nurse, Belle's our spy, there was only one female soldier and really, no one was married to anyone famous. Just the two Mary's and they get surgically seperated from Lee and Lincoln. It's all a little weird.
 
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#19
Please correct if mistaken but wasn’t Meade’s Corps making the most progress east of Chancellorsville toward Lee’s rear when Hooker decided to go on the defensive? I seem to remember the it was he who was most distressed of all Corps commanders about that decision. Meade showed aggressiveness there and had he had his way Gettysburg likely would never have happened.
 



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