Civil War Book Review: Searching for George Gordon Meade

by James Durney on December 2, 2013 · 0 comments

Searching for George Gordon Meade: The Forgotten Victor of Gettysburg
by Tom Huntington

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Stackpole Books; 1ST edition (February 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811708136
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811708135

The invisible general

Searching For George Gordon Meade: The Forgotten Victor Of Gettysburg by Tom HuntingtonEvery Civil War General seems to have a group of dedicated and vocal supporters.

With few problems, I can find:

  • Reasons why Rosecrans should have left the field at Chickamauga.
  • Why Hood made the right choice in attacking at Atlanta.
  • That the charge at Franklin was not a bad idea.
  • That McClellan was an aggressive fighter who could have won the war.
  • Joe Johnston’s strategy of trading land for time would have won the war.

The things that is almost impossible to find is Meade doing the right thing anywhere.

The popular conception is Meade failed to destroy the Army of Northern Virginia after Gettysburg.

That he should have ordered attacks at Williamsport and Mine Run.

If Grant had not been with the Army of the Potomac, Lee would never have been defeated.

Even his victory at Gettysburg has questions.  Did his generals force him to stay and fight?

Did he plan to pull back from the Gettysburg area to Pipe Creek?

The one certainty is that Meade is almost invisible.

Tom Huntington admits he is not a Civil War expert but became fascinated by Meade’s invisibility.

This book is the result of this fascination and we are all richer because of it.

This is a difficult book to describe.

  • It is a biography of Meade concentrating on the war years.
  • It is a history of the Army of the Potomac’s internal politics.
  • It is a study on relationships between politicians and general and between generals.
  • It is a look at and a commentary on living history.
  • It is a look at how we remember the war and the people that fought it in our parks.
  • It is a look at how we have preserved or failed to preserve relics of the war.
  • It is a commentary on political power and how it can be used and abused.

The author packs all of this into the book, along with things I failed to mention, in a readable, informative and entertaining way.

Moving from the battlefield to Washington, we understand how party politics, assumed slights and influence undermined Meade’s excellent performance.

We see how Grant’s people overshadowed Meade, slowly taking much of the credit he deserved.

While Grant tries to be fair, his friends came first even as the anti-Meade clique takes full advantage of the situation.

The author traveled to most of the sites associated with Meade.

His comments about preservation and remembrance ceremonies make interesting reading.

This is an excellent book that will be a valued addition to your library.  It is highly recommended both as history and commentary.

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