General Meade, American soldier, c 1860s.
© NRM / Pictorial Collection / Science & Society Picture Library
George Gordon Meade (1815-1872) was born in Spain of American parentage. He joined the American Military Academy in 1831 but resigned in 1836 to pursue a career in civil engineering. He rejoined the army in 1842 and was appointed second lieutenant in the Corps of Topographical Engineers. From then until 1861, he was employed as a military engineer. During the American Civil War (1861-1865), Meade fought for the Union States at Bull Run and Antietam, after which he was promoted to major-general of volunteers. He led troops at Fredericksburg and at Chancellorville, and in 1863 was given command of the Army of the Potomac. He defeated General Robert E Lee (1807-1870) at Gettysburg, but was criticised for failing to pres home his advantage.