Searching for George Meade - The Forgotten Victor of Gettysburg, Tom Huntington

Searching for George Meade - The Forgotten Victor of Gettysburg, Tom Huntington

General George Meade was one of the most important Union generals of the Civil War, responsible for the Union victory at Gettysburg, a successful corps commander before that and command of the Army of the Potomac to the end of the war. Despite his senior position he is one of the less familiar figures of the Civil War, overshadowed by his unsuccessful predecessors, by US Grant and by the defeated Confederates.

This book has two strands. The first is a biography of Meade, following his army career from his early peace-time experiences, to the Mexican War and on to the Civil War. We then follow Meade as he rises through the ranks, peaking with his command of the Army of the Potomac at Gettysburg. Although U. S. Grant tends to dominate accounts of the later fighting, Meade actually retained command of the Army of the Potomac and served under Grant for the rest of the war. Huntington had produced a good biography of this important figure, admiring without being to obvious biased in his favour and with interesting material on other officer's view of Meade.

The second strand of the book is a travelogue, following the author around the key sites in Meade's early life and his civil war battlefields in an attempt to find out how he is remembered, both in the human memory and physically in the form of memorials. Meade has been rather badly served here - there are of course many monuments to him, but far fewer than he deserves, and they often seem to be overshadowed by monuments to his defeated enemies (this is perhaps inevitable given that most of his battles were fought on Confederate territory, but it does seem rather unfair that even Forte Meade in Florida, built on a site selected by Meade, has a memorial to Stonewall Jackson, who merely served there for a short period). I was impressed by how much effort still goes into remembering the Civil War, with a wide range of parks, memorials, guides and re-enactments, all supporting a thriving group of businesses.

The two strands to the book combine nicely to produce an interesting biography of Meade and a look at the sometimes selective nature of the historical memory.

Chapters
1 - The Early Years
2 - War!
3 - Civil War Redux
4 - Back to Bull Run
5 - The Maryland Campaign
6 - Fredericksburg
7 - Chancellorsville
8 - Gettysburg
9 - The Old Brute
10 - The Pursuit
11 - Back to Virginia
12 - Troubles in Washington
13 - Know-it-Alls
14 - The New Boss
15 - On to Richmond
16 - Before Petersburg
17 - On to Appomattox
18 - The Final Years

Author: Tom Huntington
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 416
Publisher: Stackpole
Year: 2013


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