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George Meade in the Overland Campaign

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  • George Meade in the Overland Campaign

    The purpose of this post is to help me understand the command arraengement that was worked out between Grant and Meade during the Overland Campaign. From what I understand, although Meade retained command of the AOP it was Grant who called the shots and Meade was relegated to functioning more like a Corps commander in an army rather than as a commander of an army.

    How accurate, or inaccurate, is this observation?
    "I think I understand what military fame is; to be killed on the field of battle and have your name misspelled in the newspapers." William Tecumseh Sherman

  • #2
    Originally posted by Jack Torrance View Post
    The purpose of this post is to help me understand the command arraengement that was worked out between Grant and Meade during the Overland Campaign. From what I understand, although Meade retained command of the AOP it was Grant who called the shots and Meade was relegated to functioning more like a Corps commander in an army rather than as a commander of an army.

    How accurate, or inaccurate, is this observation?
    Meade exercised more tactical control than a corps commander. The Battle of Cold Harbor was largely his doing (something he bragged about to his wife in a letter). Grant's presence did hamper Meade's authority when it came to dealing with subordinates. Notably, Grant prevented Meade from punishing Sheridan after the latter's act of insubordination by essentially making Sheridan an independent commander by separating the Cavalry Corps from the Army of the Potomac.
    "Hit hard when you start, but don't start until you have everything ready." - Lt. Gen. James Longstreet

    Pyrrhus Travels West:
    Hanno the Infamous, General of Carthage, Rb Mhnt of Sicily

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    • #3
      From the get-go, Grant had things screwed up as far as staffwork, going from his staff to Meades and his staff to Burnside without Meade knowing what Burnside was doing- Let me tell you, Meade had a lot more experience with Burnside than Grant.
      This was a recipe for disaster and Sheridan's whole glory hunt arose because he could hide behind Grant's skirts (something he couldn't do with Rosey). In effect, the AOP was without cavalry screen for the remainder of the war.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by semperpietas View Post
        Meade exercised more tactical control than a corps commander. The Battle of Cold Harbor was largely his doing (something he bragged about to his wife in a letter). Grant's presence did hamper Meade's authority when it came to dealing with subordinates. Notably, Grant prevented Meade from punishing Sheridan after the latter's act of insubordination by essentially making Sheridan an independent commander by separating the Cavalry Corps from the Army of the Potomac.

        It seemed Grant still had faith in Meade. I read that he was the 1st choice for leading the troops against Early but it was Lincoln who said no.

        I do feel for Meade though he was in a horrible situation and made the best of a bad situation.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by History fan View Post
          It seemed Grant still had faith in Meade. I read that he was the 1st choice for leading the troops against Early but it was Lincoln who said no.

          I do feel for Meade though he was in a horrible situation and made the best of a bad situation.
          Meade accepted it as a good soldier, but did not like the arrangement--who would? Burnside ranked Meade, so Grant had to give Burnside orders until Burnside voluntarily said he would be subordinate to Meade.

          My hat's off to Meade for making the best of a bad situation.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by grognard View Post
            Meade accepted it as a good soldier, but did not like the arrangement--who would? Burnside ranked Meade, so Grant had to give Burnside orders until Burnside voluntarily said he would be subordinate to Meade.

            My hat's off to Meade for making the best of a bad situation.
            I agree with you. For some reason, I like Meade. He took a hell of a lot of bossing from Washington and I think that gave him problems instead of helping him!! BUT, whats new?
            In all my perplexities and distresses, the Bible has never failed to give me light and strength.
            Robert E. Lee

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            • #7
              Originally posted by B7B Southern View Post
              I agree with you. For some reason, I like Meade. He took a hell of a lot of bossing from Washington and I think that gave him problems instead of helping him!! BUT, whats new?
              I like Meade, but I don't rank him as one of the greats of the Civil War, maybe first in the second tier, however.

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              • #8
                After Grant and Sherman, Meade was probably the best general the Union had. He gave a mixed showing in the Overland Campaign, but Grant still seemed to think fairly well of him. Indeed, Meade was one of Grant's first choices for dealing with Early.
                "Liberty and Union, now and for ever, one and inseparable!" -Daniel Webster

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Viperlord View Post
                  After Grant and Sherman, Meade was probably the best general the Union had. He gave a mixed showing in the Overland Campaign, but Grant still seemed to think fairly well of him. Indeed, Meade was one of Grant's first choices for dealing with Early.
                  I like Meade, but I would still put him behind Rosecrans based on Rosecrans' operational ability.
                  "Hit hard when you start, but don't start until you have everything ready." - Lt. Gen. James Longstreet

                  Pyrrhus Travels West:
                  Hanno the Infamous, General of Carthage, Rb Mhnt of Sicily

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by semperpietas View Post
                    I like Meade, but I would still put him behind Rosecrans based on Rosecrans' operational ability.
                    On the other hand, Meade was definitely a better battlefield commander than Old Rosey, who tended to work himself to exhaustation and send out lots of unnecessary and confusing orders. I'd also say he performed better in a subordinate role. But I can certainly see the case for Rosecrans.
                    "Liberty and Union, now and for ever, one and inseparable!" -Daniel Webster

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Viperlord View Post
                      On the other hand, Meade was definitely a better battlefield commander than Old Rosey, who tended to work himself to exhaustation and send out lots of unnecessary and confusing orders. I'd also say he performed better in a subordinate role. But I can certainly see the case for Rosecrans.
                      Meade was definitely a better tactician. But then again I don't see Rosecrans pulling a Cold Harbor either. Rosecrans was as an operations artist and strategist better than Meade, and I rate the Tullahoma Campaign as the third best campaign of the Civil War, following Second Manassas and Vicksburg.
                      "Hit hard when you start, but don't start until you have everything ready." - Lt. Gen. James Longstreet

                      Pyrrhus Travels West:
                      Hanno the Infamous, General of Carthage, Rb Mhnt of Sicily

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by semperpietas View Post
                        Meade was definitely a better tactician. But then again I don't see Rosecrans pulling a Cold Harbor either. Rosecrans was as an operations artist and strategist better than Meade, and I rate the Tullahoma Campaign as the third best campaign of the Civil War, following Second Manassas and Vicksburg.
                        Can't argue with rating the Tullahoma campaign, and don't forget Meade argued to change Burnside's crater plan, and Grant backed him. I think it would have worked had Meade backed Burnside's original plan--and if Grant overruled Meade, that would be a point in Meade's favor instead of a point against Meade.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by semperpietas View Post
                          Meade was definitely a better tactician. But then again I don't see Rosecrans pulling a Cold Harbor either. Rosecrans was as an operations artist and strategist better than Meade, and I rate the Tullahoma Campaign as the third best campaign of the Civil War, following Second Manassas and Vicksburg.
                          I certainly can't disagree here.

                          I think it would have worked had Meade backed Burnside's original plan
                          In defense of Meade, let's not forget that whichever of them led the assault, Ferrero (Who commanded the USCTs) and Ledlie would most likely have been getting drunk behind the lines regardless. I've also seen it questioned how extensive this training of the division of USCTs really was.
                          "Liberty and Union, now and for ever, one and inseparable!" -Daniel Webster

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Viperlord View Post
                            I certainly can't disagree here.

                            Of course I have failed to factor in opponents. Lee was certainly a better general than Bragg, and did have better subordinates (with the exception of the period where Longstreet and his corps were transferred to Bragg).
                            "Hit hard when you start, but don't start until you have everything ready." - Lt. Gen. James Longstreet

                            Pyrrhus Travels West:
                            Hanno the Infamous, General of Carthage, Rb Mhnt of Sicily

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Viperlord View Post
                              I certainly can't disagree here.


                              In defense of Meade, let's not forget that whichever of them led the assault, Ferrero (Who commanded the USCTs) and Ledlie would most likely have been getting drunk behind the lines regardless. I've also seen it questioned how extensive this training of the division of USCTs really was.
                              The point is he changed a subrodinates's plans and training at the last minute, he didn't loomk into the training at all.

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