Somewhere it must
be written how Meade got its name, but at this point in time we can only
guess at how it came about. Everyone we asked seemed to know that our
county (and town) was named for a famous general from the Civil War, but
couldn’t tell us much more about the man, so we decided to search him
Gordon Meade was born in Spain, December 31, 1815. He graduated from the
United States Military Academy in 1835, and served as a second
lieutenant in Florida during the Second Seminole War. After serving a
year in the Army he resigned and worked as a civil engineer, mainly in
survey work. Rejoining the Army in 1842, he was put into the
topographical engineers and assigned to a survey of the northeastern
boundaries. This was followed by service in the Mexican War (1846-1848),
during which he was cited for gallant conduct at Monterey. After the war
he returned to military engineering and survey work, becoming a captain
In 1861, when the
Civil War began, Meade was commissioned a brigadier general of
volunteers and put in charge of a unit assigned to help build the
defenses of Washington, D.C. Under Gen. George B. McClellan, in the
Peninsula Campaign in late June 1862, he led his brigade in the Seven
Days’ Battles at Mechanicsville, Gaines’ Mill, and Frayser’s Farm
(Glendale), where he was badly wounded.
he rejoined his brigade in late August, just in time to take part in the
Second Battle of Bull Run (Manassas). He distinguished himself in
temporary command of a division at South Mountain, and when Gen. Joseph
Hooker was wounded a few days later at Antietam, Meade led the 1st
Corps for the rest of the battle. In November he was made major general
of volunteers, and after the Battle of Fredericksburg in December, he
was given command of the 5th Corps, which he led effectively
at Chancellorsville in May, 1863.
resigned his command of the Army of the Potomac June 28, 1863, Meade was
named to succeed him and retained this command for the remainder of the
war. Meade was forty-seven years of age at this time, described as tall,
gaunt, bearded and balding, with wire-rimmed glasses that failed to
conceal the dark pouches beneath his eyes. He was ordinarily of a quiet,
bookish nature, yet noted more than anything else for his hair-trigger
temper. He had risen to a reputation of toughness and reliability and
admired for his courage and leadership skills.
military achievement was his victory over Gen. Robert E. Lee in the
crucial Battle of Gettysburg July 1-3, 1863. Though he later was
criticized for allowing Lee to escape, he had won a major battle in a
command new to him with hastily gathered forces on an unplanned site.
The Battle of Gettysburg is said to have been the greatest single battle
of the war, a terrible and spectacular drama, costing the lives of
twenty-three thousand on the Union side and almost as many in the
overshadowed thereafter by Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, who led the pursuit of
Lee through Virginia as commander in chief of all Union forces, Meade
served him with skill. He and the Army of the Potomac fought under Grant
through the Battle of the Wilderness (May 1864), the 10-month siege of
Petersburg, and on to Appomattox and the end of the war. On Grant’s
recommendation, he was made a major general in the Regular Army in
August 1864. After the war, except for a year in Atlanta, Ga., he
commanded the Military Division of the Atlantic, with headquarters in
Philadelphia, where he remained until his death, November 6, 1872.
Meade County was
established March 20, 1873. It disappeared on February 22, 1883, when it
was absorbed by Finney, Ford and Seward Counties. It was re-established
March 13, 1885, with the same boundaries it has today. The town of Meade
Center, established in 1885, derived its name from the county, and later
was shortened to “Meade.”
We assume that the
county was named by the surveyor or other planners who laid out the
southwest portion of Kansas. The Civil War was fresh on everyone’s mind
at this point and those who named the counties in our portion of the
state were obviously “pro-union.” William Henry
was a Cabinet Officer during the war years, Ulysses S.
of course, a famous general. Horace
was the famous editor of the New York Tribune which brought details of
the war to every part of the nation. James H.
was a senator from Kansas was an early Unionist leader, Edwin
was Secretary of War, Oliver P.
was “Indiana’s alarmist war governor.” Winfield
was another Union General and Thaddius
was a radical representative from Pennsylvania instrumental in forming
the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War. All famous names far
removed from the Kansas prairie where they were eventually planted.
George G. Meade (in all likelihood), never sat foot in our county, he
seems a noble namesake; one who should serve as a fine example to our
leadership and an inspiration to our citizens.