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George Meade

MEADE, George, merchant, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 29 February, 1741: died there, 9 November, 1808. He was one of the signers of the non-importation resolutions of 1765, and during the Revolution took an active part in all measures to advance the patriot cause, giving largely to it on one occasion, in the trying year of 1780, subscribing £2,000 toward supplying the destitute army at Valley Forge. After the establishment of the independence of the United States he continued to be identified with the progress of Philadelphia. His views were liberal, he was hospitable and charitable, and noted for his strict integrity, holding many places of trust and honor. He was a stanch Catholic, and one of the founders and trustees of St. Mary's church, in Fourth street, the oldest Catholic church, save one, in the city. In concert with the Reverend William White (afterward bishop of the Protestant Episcopal church) he assisted, with Mathew Carey and others, in organizing in Philadelphia a system of First-day or Sunday-schools, presided over respectively by a Catholic, an Episcopalian, and a Friend. He was one of the original members of the Society of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, and one of the original members of the Hibernian society.--His son, Richard Worsam, merchant, born in Chester county, Pennsylvania, 23 June, 1778; died in Washington, D. C., 25 June, 1828, was educated in Philadelphia and entered the counting-house of his father. After a tour through England and France in 1795-'6 he engaged in business on his own account in Philadelphia. In 1794 he served as a private soldier in one of the Philadelphia companies, to aid in the suppression of the whiskey insurrection in the western counties of Pennsylvania. He went to Spain in 1803, and became a merchant and ship-owner in Cadiz, and from 1805 till 1816 was United States navy agent for that port. During the peninsular war he entered into many contracts with the Spanish government, imported supplies into Cadiz and frustrated Victor's attempts to starve out the allied garrison, and in 1810 his vessels carried thither 250,000 barrels of flour. During the siege of Cadiz by the French his presence in the city was regarded by the Spanish junta as a support to the Spanish cause, through the moral and material aid that it represented. The indebtedness of the country to him was so generally recognized that the Spanish cortes, assembled in 1811-'12, offered him the honor of citizenship, which he declined, declaring that his highest desire was to remain an American citizen. Soon after the restoration of the Spanish government, through the return of Ferdinand VII. to the throne of Spain, the finances of the country being low, through the drain of the peninsular war, Mr. Meade found it impossible to collect the amounts due him, and he also became involved in litigation growing out of his having been appointed assignee for an insolvent agent of an English house doing business in Cadiz. Although all the action he had taken in this last matter had been under the direction of the proper authorities, the result of the suits was his incarceration, on 2 May, 1816, in the prison of Santa Catalina, Cadiz, where he remained for two years, until released by royal mandate, obtained through the interposition of the United States minister. Upon his release, although he was anxious to return home, and had already sent his family to Philadelphia, he was compelled to remain in Spain to attend to his large monetary interests. Meanwhile the treaty of 1819 between the United States and Spain, known as the treaty of Florida, remitted to the United States, in return for the cession of Florida by Spain, the payment of all just claims of American citizens on Spain, whereupon Mr. Meade at once returned home. The case that has since been celebrated as the Meade claim grew out of the losses incurred by him at this time and the ruin of his business consequent upon his long imprisonment. In 1819 a special tribunal, appointed by the Spanish government, awarded him a certificate of debt, which was signed by the king, for $491,153.62. In 1822 the commission appointed at Washington to consider such claims declined to receive this certificate, demanding the original vouchers; but before these could be procured the session expired, and the fund was distributed among other claimants. All attempts to obtain another hearing of this case were fruitless, though the most celebrated lawyers were retained, including Webster, Clay, and Choate. A bill has twice passed the senate, and once the house of representatives, but not both bodies in the same session, whereby it has failed to become law. Supported although it is by the treaty and by documentary proofs, by the special affirmation of the cortes, and by the royal sign-manual, neither Mr. Meade nor his heirs have been able to obtain payment. After the institution of the court of claims, subsequently to his death, the claim was disallowed, though with a dissenting opinion. Mr. Meade possessed a fine private gallery of paintings and statuary, which contained the only bust of Washington taken from life, and he is said to have been the first to import merino sheep and sherry wine into this country.--Richard Worsam's son, George Gordon, soldier, born in Cadiz, Spain, 31 December, 1815; died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 6 November, 1872, attended school in Philadelphia and afterward Salmon P. Chase's school in Washington, D.C., and Mt. Hope institution near Baltimore, Maryland, from which he went to the United States military academy, where he was graduated in 1835. He was assigned to the 3d artillery, and ordered to Florida While he was serving in the war against the Seminoles his health failed, and he was detailed to conduct a party of Seminoles to Arkansas, and then ordered to Watertown arsenal, Massachusetts, and was on ordnance duty there till 26 October, 1836, when he resigned. He was engaged as assistant civil engineer in the construction of the railroad at Pensacola, Florida, till April, 1837, then, under the appointment of the war department, made a survey of the mouth of Sabine river, and afterward assisted in the survey of the delta of the Mississippi till February, 1839. In 1840 he was employed in the astronomical branch of the survey of the boundary-line between the United States and Texas, and in August of that year became civil assistant in the survey of the northeastern boundary between the United States and British North America. On 31 December, 1840, he married Margaretta, a daughter of John Sergeant. On 19 May, 1842, he was appointed a 2d lieutenant in the corps of topographical engineers, and continued on duty in the survey of the northeastern boundary till November, 1843. In 1844-'5 he was engaged on surveys in Delaware bay. In September, 1845, he joined the staff of Gem Zachary Taylor at Corpus Christi, Texas. He took part in May, 1846, in the battles of Pale Alto and Resaca de la Pahna, and in the occupation of Matamoras, and later, under General William J. Worth, led the assault on Independence hill at Monterey, for which he was brevetted 1st lieutenant, and shared in the march to Tampico. In the siege of Vera Cruz he served on the staff of Gem Robert Patterson. Then returning home, he was engaged in 1847-'9 in constructing light-houses in Delaware bay and in mapping surveys of Florida reefs. He served in the field against the Seminoles in 1849-'50, was on light-house duty in Delaware bay in 1850-'1, was commissioned 1st lieutenant of topographical engineers on 4 August, 1851, and for the next five years was engaged in the construction of light-houses at Carysfort Reef, Sand Key, Cedar Key, and Coftins's Patches, in the Florida reefs. He was promoted captain on 19 May, 1856, served on the geodetic survey of the northwestern lakes in that year, and in 1857-'61 was in charge of all the northern lake surveys Soon after the beginning of the civil war Captain Meade was appointed brigadier-general of volunteers, dating from 31 August, 1861. and assigned to the command of the 2d brigade of Pennsylvania reserves, in the Army of the Potomac. On 18 June, 1862, he was promoted major of topographical engineers. In the peninsular campaign he commanded his brigade in the battles of Mechanicsville and Gaines's Mills, and at New Market Cross-Roads, otherwise called Glendale, where he was severely wounded. He was taken to Philadelphia, but, soon recovering, rejoined the army in time to render service against the enemy then advancing toward Washington, and took part in the second battle of Bull Run. In the invasion of Maryland he commanded the division of Pennsylvania reserves, in the absence of General John F. Reynolds, at the battle of South Mountain and at Antietam, where he flanked the enemy from the right, and so signalized himself by his skill and intrepidity that he was placed, by Gem McClellan, on the field of battle, in command of the 1st corps after the wounding of General Joseph Hooker. In this engagement Gem Meade's horse was shot under him. In October and November, 1862, he marched to Falmouth, Virginia, in command of his division, which at Fredericksburg was opposed to the troops of Stonewall Jackson. It alone, of all the army, drove everything before it, and broke through the enemy's lines, finding itself, as General Meade expressed himself in testifying before a commission, "in the presence of the enemy's reserves." During the action two horses were shot under him. For want of timely support, the division was finally forced to fall back. General Meade was now promoted major-general, his commission dating, from 29 November, 1862, and on 25 December was placed in command of the 5th corps. He commanded this corps at the battle of Chancellorsville, and on the first day was pressing forward on the left, meeting with some resistance, but successfully overcoming it, when he was recalled and ordered to retire to his former position before Chancellorsville General Meade was placed in command of the Army of the Potomac on 23 June, 1863. The change of commanders was made while the corps were on the march in pursuit of an enemy who had pushed far into the invaded country. The general had yet to learn everything of the positions of the enemy and of his own separated corps, of personnel and materiel at his command, and to gain all the essential knowledge that a commander possesses who directs a movement from its inception. He was ordered to relieve General Hooker, without warning, in the night of 27 June, 1863. His army lay encamped about Frederick, Maryland, while Lee's had marched up the Cumberland valley. Meade determined to follow the enemy in a parallel march on the opposite side of South mountain, dispose his troops so as to guard the passes of the mountain and prevent a descent on Baltimore and harass Lee, with a view of bringing on a general engagement. The troops began to move on the morning of 29 June, and by two forced marches gained positions that would enable them to deploy along the line between Westminster and Waynesborough. When Lee began to concentrate east of South mountain, Meade ordered his columns to occupy the slope along Pipe creek, and advanced his left wing to the neighborhood of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, making his dispositions so as to face either north or west. The advanced forces at Emmettsburg and Gettysburg were only expected to delay the march of the Confederates until the concentration could be accomplished on the selected line, fifteen miles in the rear of those positions. On the morning of 1 July, National cavalry came into collision with the head of a Confederate column near Gettysburg. General John F. Reynolds sent infantry to support his cavalry, and at first gained an advantage, but the Confederates soon came up in overwhelming force, and drove the National troops through the town to the hills. General Winfield S. Hancock, who, after Reynolds had fallen, was sent by Meade to conduct operations at Gettysburg, found the Confederate army approaching by the roads that led to that village, and sent word to General Meade to bring forward his forces to the heights near Gettysburg, on which he posted the remnants of the two corps that had been engaged. Meade, after hearing the report of Hancock, who returned to Taneytown in the evening, was convinced of the superiority of Gettysburg as a defensive position, and ordered a concentration there. During that night and the following morning his troops came up and took position on Cemetery ridge, while Lee posted his on Seminary ridge farther west, both commanders deferring an attack until their main force was on the ground. General Meade arrived at the front soon after noon. The battle was opened at four o'clock in the afternoon by a vigorous attack on the 3d corps forming the left and left centre, and soon became general along the entire line. The 3d corps was routed, but the line was not broken, because the National troops, strongly re-enforced from the right, fell back to the ridge more directly connecting the wings of the army, while, after a desperate conflict, they gained possession of Little Round Top, a position of vital importance, which they had neglected to occupy before the battle. The partial defeat impelled General Meade to make preparations for a retreat. Generals Abner Doubleday and Alfred Pleasonton, who were intrusted with the arrangements, subsequently represented that their commander had already given up the hope of holding the position, but he denied, with solemn protestations, before the congressional committee on the conduct of the war, "ever having intended or thought, for one instant, to withdraw that army unless the military contingencies which the future should develop during the course of the day might render it a matter of necessity that the army should be withdrawn." In the evening he called a council of war, which advised him against either retreating or attacking, in which opinion he coincided, though expressing the belief, it is said, that the position was bad. Flushed with the success of the day, and relying on the prestige gained at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville, General Lee determined to renew the attack on the National army in its strong position on the following day. In the morning Meade took the offensive against Ewell, and drove him from the intrenchments that he had captured on the right, nearest the town. At one o'clock the Confederates opened fire with 145 guns, to which the National artillery replied with 80, which was all that could be advantageously planted on their ridge. When the National fire ceased, after two hours, General George E. Pickett's division charged Meade's centre under a heavy artillery and infantry fire, poured in from all sides, and was nearly annihilated; a few of them reached the breastworks, only to fall there or be made prisoners. General Meade then ordered an advance on the left, and drove back General John B. Hood's division. Both armies remained in their positions until the evening of the next day, when Lee retreated to the Potomac, and was there obliged to intrench until the waters subsided. Meade followed slowly by a longer route, and when he came up to the Confederates, on 12 July, intrenched himself, postponing an attack, in deference to the decision of a council of war, until he could make a reconnoissance. An advance was ordered to be made on the morning of the 14th, but during the night the enemy had crossed the river. The Confederate force engaged at Gettysburg was about 69,000 men, while the effective strength of the Army of the Potomac was between 82,000 and 84,000, but its numerical superiority was in a measure neutralized by the fatigues of its long marches. General Meade was commissioned brigadier-general in the regular army on 3 July, 1863 After the advance of the Army of the Potomac into Virginia the detachment of large forces caused comparative inactivity, which was followed in the autumn by the actions at Bristoe's Station, Kelly's Ford, and Rappahannock Station, and the operations at Mine Run in December. The army experienced no reverse while General Meade was commander-in-chief, and he was continued in the command of the Army of the Potomac after General Ulysses S. Grant had been made commander of all the armies of the United States and assumed the direction of the operations in person. He was made major-general on 18 August, 1864. During two years, or more than half the period of its existence, General Meade was in immediate command of the Army of the Potomac, and, having been in every campaign of the army since its formation and "in all of its battles except two, commanded in the grand review that took place in Washington after the close of the war. During the time that intervened before the southern states resumed regular political relations with the government he commanded the military division of the Atlantic. From August, 1866, till January, 1868, he commanded the Department of the East, then till August, 1868, the military district embracing Georgia and Alabama, next the Department of the South, comprising the same states with South Carolina and Florida, and from March, 1869, till his death, he was at the head of the military division of the Atlantic again. He received the degree of LL. D. from Harvard in 1865, and was a member of the American philosophical society, of the Pennsylvania historical society, and of the Philadelphia academy of natural sciences, and one of the commissioners of Fairmount park. His death was caused by pneumonia, aggravated by complications resulting from the gun-shot wound that he had received at New Market Cross-Roads. He was buried with imposing military honors. An equestrian statue of General Meade, designed by Milne Calden, was dedicated in Fairmount park, Philadelphia, on 18 October, 1887. The allegation that Gem Meade planned a retreat on the second day at Gettysburg is controverted in a pamphlet by George Meade, entitled " Did General Meade desire to retreat at the Battle of Gettysburg?" (Philadelphia, 1883).--Another son of Richard Worsam, Richard Worsam, naval officer, born in Cadiz, Spain, in 1807; died in New York city, 16 April, 1870, entered the United States navy as a midshipman on 1 April, 1826, and passed that grade on 14 June, 1834. He became a lieutenant on the reserved list, 20 December, 1837, commander on the active list, 14 September, 1855, and captain on 16 July, 1862. In 1861 he took command of the receiving-ship "North Carolina," which vessel he greatly improved, and in 1864 he commanded the steam sloop-of-war "San Jacinto," which was wrecked and lost on one of the Florida reefs. He was retired with the rank of commodore on 11 December, 1867.--The second Richard Worsam's son, Richard Worsam, naval officer, born in :New York city, 9 October, 1837, entered the United States navy as a midshipman, 2 October, 1850, passed that grade, 20 June, 1856, became a lieutenant, 28 January, 1858, lieutenant-commander, 16 July, 1862, commander, 20 September, 1868, and captain, 13 March, 1880. He served during the civil war on the Mississippi river, and in the South Atlantic and Western Gulf blockading squadrons, being highly commended in the official despatches for "skill and gallantry."--George Gordon's son, George, born in Philadelphia, 2 November, 1843, was educated in Philadelphia, and in September, 1862, enlisted as a private in the 8th Pennsylvania militia regiment, and served in the ranks during the Antietam campaign, after which he was honorably discharged. In October he was appointed 2d lieutenant in the 6th Pennsylvania cavalry (Rush's lancers), and served in the Army of the Potomac in the Fredericksburg campaign, and in Gem Stoneman's cavalry raid of April and May, 1863. He was promoted to the rank of captain and aide-de-camp in June, 1863, and appointed to the staff of his father, who then commanded the 5th corps, Army of the Potomac, and he served continuously on the staff until the surrender of General Lee. In November, 1865, he was appointed a 2d lieutenant in the 9th United States infantry, and in July, 1866, promoted to captaincy in the 31st infantry. Upon the consolidation of the army in 1869 he was transferred to the 22d infantry, after being brevetted major and lieutenant-colonel, United States A., for gallant and meritorious services during the civil war. He continued on the staff of General Meade most of the time until the death of the general, and resigned from the army in October, 1874. Colonel Meade was the only one of his father's sons that was associated with him in the army, his elder brother being in ill health, and his other brothers too young. He is the author of the pamphlet mentioned above and of various articles and letters that have appeared in the daily press regarding his father's career.

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