Readings About Meade


The literature of the American Civil War is immense. Items in OCLC’s WorldCat, a union list of over 72,000 libraries in 170 countries and territories, number 177,000. The subject heading for items on George Gordon Meade totals 398, far too many to list here. Following is a selected list of items on George Gordon Meade that society members have found interesting.


Tom Huntington. Searching for George Gordon Meade; The Forgotten Victor of Gettysburg. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2013. [See his website:]

“Despite his great victory at Gettysburg and his command of the army that forced Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, George Meade saw his fame eclipsed by that of Lee, Grant, and other Civil War generals. This book does a great deal to redress that historical injustice. Tom Huntington has invented a new genre of biography that shifts between past and present as he tells the story of Meade’s life and describes his own pilgrimage to the key sites of that life. The result is an engrossing narrative that the reader can scarcely put down.” —James M. McPherson, author of Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era

Ralph Peters. “Victor of Gettysburg: George Gordon Meade, America’s Most Underrated General” Armchair General, September, 2011.

[Permission to reprint graciously given by Armchair General, September 2011.]

“Major General George Gordon Meade decisively won the greatest battle fought in the Western Hemisphere. If any general in blue may be credited with saving the Union at a crucial point, it was Meade. Thrust into the command of a scattered army a mere three days before a fateful battle, he grasped the reins and made one correct decision after another while his storied opponent, Robert E. Lee, lost control of his own army and blundered catastrophically. Meade’s contemporaries recognized his achievement.”

Richard Meade Bache. Life of General George Gordon Meade: commander of the Army of the Potomac. Philadelphia, H.T. Coates & Co., 1897.

Edwin B. Coddington. The Gettysburg Campaign: A Study in Command. New York: Scribner’s, 1968.

Freeman Cleaves. Meade of Gettysburg. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1960.

The best one-volume study of General Meade’s life and military career, with an emphasis on Meade’s conduct of the Battle of Gettysburg.

Edward J. Stackpole. They Met at Gettysburg. Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 1959.

Reprinted many times since 1959, this is considered an original on the subject. Many reviewers found it rewarding and informative despite its date of publication.

Theodore Lyman; George R. Agassiz; Oliver Wendell Holmes Collection [Library of Congress]. Meade’s headquarters, 1863-1865 : letters of Colonel Theodore Lyman from the Wilderness to Appomattox. Boston: Atlantic Monthly Press, 1922.

Based on the diary of Colonel Theodore Lyman, an aide on General Meade’s staff. Colonel Lyman’s descriptions of the Army of the Potomac’s military leadership are fascinating. Originally published in 1922, the book was recently reprinted under the title With Grant and Meade from the Wilderness to Appomattox.

Lyman contains anecdotes, concise vignettes of officers, and lively descriptions of military campaigns as witnessed by this key figure in the Northern war effort that “may well be the finest chronicler of the day-to-day experiences of a staff officer in the Civil War, and his notebook entries have an immediacy, coming as close to real-time reporting as possible. As combat raged, Lyman penciled notations into his dispatch books, including exact times when Meade issued orders and when units deployed. He later transformed his notes into a coherent, historically accurate narrative, filling the account with personal and military details that few others were in a position to observe and including his sketches and hand-drawn maps showing the positions of the army after every significant movement.”

Published later as a new edition: Theodore Lyman. Meade’s army: the private notebooks of Lt. Col. Theodore Lyman. Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 2007,

This is edited by David W. Lowe, who “has completed a task that should have been undertaken long ago: a proper and scholarly editing of Lyman’s journals. The publication of this significant resource will give historians and students of the Civil War a clearer understanding of the last great campaigns of the Army of the Potomac and of the men who led it.”

Richard Allen Sauers. A Caspian Sea of Ink: The Meade-Sickles Controversy. Baltimore, MD: Butternut and Blue, 1989.

This unprecedented study of General Sickles’ move to the Peach Orchard line largely vindicates General Meade’s actions on July 2, 1863.

Isaac Rusling Pennypacker. General Meade. New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1901.

This one volume biography of General Meade is part of the “Great Commanders” series published by D. Appleton and Company in 1901. Recently reprinted by Olde Soldier Books, Inc. In 1987.

Meade, George Gordon, 1815-1872. The Life and Letters of George Gordon Meade: Major-general United States Army. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1913.

This two volume set is the primary source for General Meade’s view of his role in both the Mexican and Civil Wars. Originally published by Charles Scribner’s Sons in 1913, the collection was reprinted by Butternut and Blue in 1994 and is available in the public domain on the internet.

Ethan S. Rafuse. George Gordon Meade and the War in the East. (Civil War Campaigns and Commanders Series.) Abilene, Texas: McWhiney Foundation Press, 2003.

“ … the first book-length study of the general to appear in a generation, Ethan S. Rafuse challenges the notion that Meade was simply the last in a long line of failed Union commanders in the East. Instead, George Gordon Meade and the War in the East offers a balanced, informative, and complete, yet concise, reconsideration of the general’s life and career. … This study will appeal to anyone with an interest in Meade and the politics of command in the Civil War, and encourage reconsideration of traditional interpretations of the Union war effort in the East.”

Professor Rafuse taught Civil War and military history at the U.S. Military Academy in 2001-2003, and has written eight books and over a hundred articles on the Civil War.


John Duke Merriam. Meade’s reprise : a novel of Gettysburg, war, and intrigue. Chevy Chase, Md.: Posterity Press, 2002.

Meade’s Reprise enables us to consider the implications of a military victory that would have had unforeseen political consequences. Just how Meade managed not only to defeat Lee but to drag him off the battlefield, figuratively, in shackles is a fascinating story replete with black spies, nightriders, a journalist who gives Meade a lesson in public relations, the duplicitous Major General Dan Sickles, and a resourceful Union major who captures Confederate generals and runs off with a hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold. Merriam gets the political and military subtexts right. It’s an entirely fresh approach, and a book well worth reading and contemplating.

Ralph Peters. Cain at Gettysburg: a novel. New York: Tom Doherty Associates, 2012.

A most well-received novel about the battle, Peters’ book is compared to the great Civil War novelists, Michael Shaara and Shelby Steele.