Has History Been Fair to General Meade?

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#21
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.
Might as well say Sherman had a free ride through Georgia. Some say great, I say not so great.
Grant never did learn about piecemeal frontal attacks. Meade kept him from ruining the Union Army. Took 6 Months to build his army back up after Cold Harbor. The breakout at Petersburg was an invention of Upton from the battle of Spotsylvania. I wonder who set that play for him, Meade?
 

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Andy Cardinal

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#22
Might as well say Sherman had a free ride through Georgia. Some say great, I say not so great.
Grant never did learn about piecemeal frontal attacks. Meade kept him from ruining the Union Army. Took 6 Months to build his army back up after Cold Harbor. The breakout at Petersburg was an invention of Upton from the battle of Spotsylvania. I wonder who set that play for him, Meade?
I think Upton was responsible for his own invention.
 

matthew mckeon

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#23
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.
I didn't know that. I seem to remember it was Meade's division that was the only Union outfit to actually seize a section of the Confederate line at Fredericksburg, although they couldn't keep it.
 
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#24
Might as well say Sherman had a free ride through Georgia. Some say great, I say not so great.
Grant never did learn about piecemeal frontal attacks. Meade kept him from ruining the Union Army. Took 6 Months to build his army back up after Cold Harbor. The breakout at Petersburg was an invention of Upton from the battle of Spotsylvania. I wonder who set that play for him, Meade?
Can't seem to get things straight this am. Change it to this- I wonder who set that play for Grant, Meade?
Cat keeps fighting to get on my lap. Been a rough morning on the iPad. :yellowcarded:
 

Andy Cardinal

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#25
"I'm not sure the Overland route was Grant's first choice either."

Can you expand on this statement?

Thanks, Norm
In the winter of 1864-65 (before becoming commander in chief) Grant suggested detaching a large force from the Army of the Potomac to strike in North Carolina and operate against the railroad lines south of Richmond. His proposal was overruled by Halleck. Political realities did not permit a move of that nature. Butler's campaign in the spring of 1864 was a residue of that original plan (although a miserable failure). Also, Grant indicated an intention to join up with Butler's army and operate south of the James as early as April 1864 if his Overland Campaign was not successful.

Grant understood that the only way to win the war was to destroy the enemy's army. He also understood that the best and easiest way to do that was to destroy the logistical network that supported the enemy's army. This was how he won at Vicksburg.
 

Tom Elmore

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#26
Concerning Gettysburg, Meade was brand new to command and had a full plate just juggling the principal members of his orchestra into playing roughly the same composition. His decision to call a Council of War on the night of July 2 was very helpful in achieving buy-in and involvement of his key players. However, the best he could manage was to defensively counter Lee's initiatives, and perhaps considered himself fortunate to eke out a victory and compel Lee to recross the Potomac, even if the President wanted much more.

I am not qualified to discuss his post-Gettysburg performance, but his reactive stance at Gettysburg reinforces in my mind the apparent affliction that affected the previous Union commanders in the East, namely an inordinate fear of Lee, who had effectively conditioned his opponents into being cautious and wary. It would take an offensive-minded General from another theater who was not deterred or awed by a formidable opponent to break this mindset. Still, I do credit Meade for reducing the destructive political influences in the army that had previously hampered its effectiveness. In simplest terms, Meade refined the tool that enabled Grant to break Lee.
 

Northern Light

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#27
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.
He was also the only one who had a break through at Fredericksburg but, as I recall, he was not supported and it was soon repulsed.

Meade had a prickly personality, but it can be traced back to his youth. He came from a family that had deep roots in Philadelphia society, but due to his father's bad financial decisions, he was not able to follow his own career choices and ended up at West Point because it was free. He did not want an army career, but financial circumstances forced him to follow that road. He was initially rejected by his future father-in-law because of his poor financial prospects, but Sargeant was later won over by Meade's firm character and his obvious love for Margaretta. He was easily hurt by real or perceived slights because of his marginalized place in his own milieu.

Meade was seriously wounded in the arm, leg, and back at Glendale during the Seven Days Battles and suffered from the back wound for the rest of his life. The results of this wound eventually caused his early death.

I'd be crabby too.

Despite this acerbic personality, Meade was a good soldier, who accomplished the tasks he was assigned. He deserves to be recognized as more than the just the guy to whom Lee lost at Gettysburg. He won the battle, despite Dan Sickles', Ptooey , best efforts to lose it on Day 2.
 

Andy Cardinal

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#28
In simplest terms, Meade refined the tool that enabled Grant to break Lee.
I think that's a good way to put it. I do not think Meade won the war for the Union. Grant did that. Meade won at Gettysburg, which was a good 1st step. In the fall of 1863 Meade countered Lee more effectively than any previous commander had done. Lee was trying recreate 2nd Manassas when Meade successfully countered his move at Bristoe. Mine Run was well-conceived but failed. I think Grant probably would have ordered the attack that Meade called off. Interestingly, Meade wanted to withdraw toward Fredericksburg and establish the army there for the winter. He was ordered specifically not to do that. If he had been allowed to it wouId be interesting to see how that would have impacted Grant's plans for the 1864 Campaign.

Once Grant came east, Meade served a vital role for Grant that not too many others could have done. I think Meade was more important to Grant than most histories say.
 
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#29
I didn't know that. I seem to remember it was Meade's division that was the only Union outfit to actually seize a section of the Confederate line at Fredericksburg, although they couldn't keep it.
That was Fredricksburg, Dec. ‘62. In April ‘63 Meade’s Corps was in the lead on the river road approaching Lee’s rear as part of Hooker’s flanking of the ANV. Hooker lost his nerve when contact was made with Jackson and after protest from his Corps cmdrs., pulled back into the Wilderness at Chancellorsville crossing.
 
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#30
That was Fredricksburg, Dec. ‘62. In April ‘63 Meade’s Corps was in the lead on the river road approaching Lee’s rear as part of Hooker’s flanking of the ANV. Hooker lost his nerve when contact was made with Jackson and after protest from his Corps cmdrs., pulled back into the Wilderness at Chancellorsville crossing.
Sounds like an interesting “what if” scenario.
 

Andy Cardinal

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#31
Despite this acerbic personality, Meade was a good soldier, who accomplished the tasks he was assigned. He deserves to be recognized as more than the just the guy to whom Lee lost at Gettysburg. He won the battle, despite Dan Sickles', Ptooey , best efforts to lose it on Day 2.
Horace Porter (I think) described Meade as "perfectly subordinate," meaning he obeyed orders to the best of his ability and executed them well. This was his greatest strength as a soldier. He was aggressive in that situation. He was a bit more uncertain when he had to create his own orders, in my opinion.

Meade's relationship with Halleck was a big factor in Meade's performance as an army commander after Gettysburg. Meade wanted Halleck to give him orders. Halleck was not the kind of general in chief to actually give orders. ["If you have any orders to give me, I am prepared to receive and obey them, but I must insist on being spared the infliction of such truisms in the guise of opinions as you have recently honored me with, particularly as they were not asked for."] Meade's frustration grew.

In Grant, Meade found someone who gave clear orders, which was the situation where he was most comfortable. Meade appreciated the fact that so many of Grant's views coincided with his own. Although their relationship grew rocky at times (I believe due to the stress both were under, which only made Meade's notorious temper worse), I believe they had for the most part a solid relationship based on mutual respect.
 

Norm53

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#32
I read elsewhere that Meade was removed from command as they approached Appomattox because of Meade's illness. Was there anything more involved than that?

Norm
 

JerseyBart

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#35
Meade seems to have been overshadowed to a certain extent in Civil War history. I believe he is even quoted as saying that he'd be forgotten about at Gettysburg. But he was a successful leader there, before and after. Some of that is definitely Grant coming to power and trusting his longtime subordinates but that is what would be expected...trust your people. that does send Meade to the back especially in the final months of the war. But he did himself no favors with the press either. He had an adversarial relationship with some of them. They were going write about him. How did he expect those stories to go?
 
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#37
"History" is not fair or unfair. It just is what it is. Historians, on the other hand...! Re. the post, I think some--perhaps many--historians have not given Meade the credit he deserves for his role in the Civil War, particularly at Gettysburg. Maybe that's because he himself was pretty spare with his praise of others.
 
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#39
I think I heard an internet rumor that historian Rob Andrew Jr. from Clemson University (I think) is working on a bio of Meade. He's already written a good one of Wade Hampton, so my hopes are high we get something worthwhile from him.
 
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#40
I think I heard an internet rumor that historian Rob Andrew Jr. from Clemson University (I think) is working on a bio of Meade. He's already written a good one of Wade Hampton, so my hopes are high we get something worthwhile from him.
I didn’t hear this, but someone on the boards (may have been you) recommended his Hampton biography to me. I haven’t had a chance to read it yet but am looking forward to it.
 



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