Evaluating George Gordon Meade’s Leadership in the Aftermath of the Battle of Gettysburg – A Letdown to the Army, to the Country, and to George Meade

Was George Gordon Meade aggressive enough in chasing Robert E. Lee’s army after the Battle of Gettysburg? No

By Steve Pettyjohn
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2024, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: The subject of the annual Dick Crews Memorial Debate at the January 2024 Roundtable meeting was: “Was George Gordon Meade aggressive enough in chasing Robert E. Lee’s army after the Battle of Gettysburg?” Four members made presentations on the topic; the article below was one of those four presentations.


While not trying to be anti-climactic, the title of this debate suggests the answer. If Meade had been aggressive enough, we probably would be having a far different topic for our debate. Perhaps the topic would be something along the lines of “was poor U.S. Grant the forgotten hero of the Civil War?” We would be discussing the question of whether Grant’s contributions in the West were far overshadowed by “MEADE OF GETTYSBURG!” We would note that Meade eclipsed all other Civil War generals. We would laud Meade and praise how he had conducted a very skillful defense at Gettysburg for three days and then followed up with a series of counterattacks and overall pursuit of Lee’s army that resulted in Lee being trapped against the raging floodwaters of the Potomac River a week later. We would be celebrating Meade and the Army of the Potomac’s twin victories at Williamsport and Falling Waters, where the Army of Northern Viriginia was crushed and crippled as it attempted to cross the Potomac and flee into western Maryland. This would be followed by Meade’s triumphant march to Richmond where he ended the rebellion.

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Evaluating George Gordon Meade’s Leadership in the Aftermath of the Battle of Gettysburg – As Much or More Than Could Be Expected

Was George Gordon Meade aggressive enough in chasing Robert E. Lee’s army after the Battle of Gettysburg? Yes

By Chris Howard
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2024, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: The subject of the annual Dick Crews Memorial Debate at the January 2024 Roundtable meeting was: “Was George Gordon Meade aggressive enough in chasing Robert E. Lee’s army after the Battle of Gettysburg?” Four members made presentations on the topic; the article below was one of those four presentations.


I stand for the proposition that “Meade WAS aggressive enough in pursuing Lee after Gettysburg.” Let me first summarize some key issues, and then I will describe some aspects of Meade’s pursuit of Lee in more detail.

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General Lee’s Standing in the South after Gettysburg

By Daniel J. Ursu, Roundtable Historian
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2023-2024, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: This article was the history brief for the February 2024 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


General George Gordon Meade (one of my favorite Union generals and the nautical surveyor of the Great Lakes) was the tactical and strategic victor of the Battle of Gettysburg, arguably the most important battle of the war. In spite of this, Meade conversely faced harsh criticism at the January 2024 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable. At that meeting, the Roundtable held its annual Dick Crews Memorial Debate, which in 2024 involved opposing opinions regarding Meade’s post-Gettysburg pursuit of the defeated Confederate army. As affirmed by vote of the attendees at that meeting, the unfavorable opinion of Meade’s actions was considered the appropriate point of view. So be it.

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Fort Stevens

By Daniel J. Ursu, Roundtable Historian
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2023-2024, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: This article was the history brief for the October 2023 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


The Union’s panicked and disorganized retreat from the First Battle of Bull Run laid bare an obvious danger to the North. The Union capital of Washington, D.C. was vulnerable to attack from a Confederate army. But for the Confederate’s own disorganization after their victory, the very first major battle in the Eastern Theater of the war could have resulted in the capture of the Union’s government. Accordingly, it was soon determined that substantial fortifications around the capital needed to be deliberately, quickly, and diligently constructed.

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First Bull Run Union Division and Confederate Brigade Commanders

By Daniel J. Ursu, Roundtable Historian
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2023-2024, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: This article was the history brief for the September 2023 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


As Ed Bearss recounts it in his book Fields of Honor, “McDowell was under political pressure to do something dramatic…enlistments of the Union Army’s 90-day volunteers were about to run out. When he complained to the President that his men were ill prepared to assume the offensive at this point, Lincoln famously replied, ‘You are green it is true, but they are green also; you are all green alike.'” And so it was that the First Battle of Bull Run would ensue shortly thereafter.

But if the soldiers were green, it necessarily implies that their commanders were also green and it is worthwhile to explore how they fared. A lot has been written about First Bull Run army commanders Irvin McDowell, P.G.T. Beauregard, and Joseph Johnston throughout the war, so instead this history brief is a brief look at the lesser-known Union division commanders and the Confederate brigade commanders engaged in the battle, not so much to analyze the things that they did or did not do due to their greenness, but rather more so what they did after Bull Run. This history brief highlights one of the Confederate commanders and two Union commanders.

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Doubleday’s Revenge

By Brian D. Kowell
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2023, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in The Charger in April 2023.


If you stand on the ramparts of Fort Moultrie in South Carolina and look down the beach west of the fort’s massive guns, in the direction of Mount Pleasant, you will see the place where 162 years ago there once stood a luxurious beachfront hotel. In the evening, with a little imagination, you might see its bright lights and hear the sounds of music and laughter of the well-to-do people dancing at one of its extravagant balls, or sitting along its wide veranda, or strolling along its sandy beachfront.

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Cheney and the 21st OVI

By Dennis Keating
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2023, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in The Charger in January 2023.


At the final hearing of the Congressional Committee investigating the January 6 insurrection, Congresswoman Liz Cheney began by invoking the memory of her great-great-grandfather, who joined the 21st Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment to save the Union. At the end of the war, Captain Samuel Fletcher Cheney commanded the regiment.

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Pig-ett’s Charge: George Pickett’s Pre-Civil War Service in a Porcine-Provoked Conflict

By David A. Carrino
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2023, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in The Charger as two parts in February 2023 and March 2023.


As most fans of science fiction know, Star Trek was a television series that appeared in several iterations and was set in the future. In the original Star Trek series, one of the episodes featured a character named Dr. Richard Daystrom. Daystrom was a brilliant computer scientist who, at the young age of 24, invented the duotronic elements that were essential for the functioning of Federation starships. In spite of his revolutionary invention and the fame that came with it, 20 years after his invention Daystrom had become a terribly despondent person, because he felt that he had come to be known for only that one accomplishment. Even though he was the recipient of widespread acclaim for his invention, Daystrom was deeply unhappy and spoke of how he had spent the 20 years since his invention “groping to prove the things I’d done before were not accidents” and of giving “seminars and lectures to rows of fools who couldn’t begin to understand my systems.” He was anguished because he thought that others saw him as “the boy wonder” who had developed a phenomenal invention, but had not contributed anything else since then. Here was someone who had done something that revolutionized his society, yet he was miserable because that was the only thing he was known for. The lesson of the fictional Dr. Daystrom is that while association with a historic event of immense magnitude can bestow on someone a place in history, that historic event, specifically because of its immense magnitude, can become the only thing that that person is known for.

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A Zouave Summer in Cleveland

By Brian D. Kowell
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2022, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in The Charger in December 2022.


“They have paraded and drilled and in so doing have astonished and delighted beyond measure thousands of spectators.”1 And now they were coming to Cleveland, Ohio.

In 1860, Cleveland had a population of 43,417, making it the 19th largest city in the United States. It was a bustling commercial city. With its Port of Cleveland on Lake Erie and goods transported via the Cuyahoga River and the Ohio & Erie Canal, in addition to its train connections with New York, Chicago, and the South, commerce was booming. It became an important city not only in Ohio, but in the nation.2

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A Bit of Robert E. Lee in That State Up North

By David A. Carrino
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2022-2023, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in The Charger as two parts in December 2022 and January 2023.


On display at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio are a number of outfits that were worn by iconic figures of rock and roll. Among these are the yellow military-style outfit that John Lennon wore on the album cover for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, matching frilly-bottomed shapely dresses worn by the Supremes, a sleeveless jumpsuit with a plunging neckline that was worn on tour by Mick Jagger, Elvis Presley’s suit from his 1968 television special, a loose-fitting and suitably neon-colored outfit worn by Jimi Hendrix, Michael Jackson’s Thriller jacket, a bright red outfit with broad pointed shoulders and a flashy blue and white lightning bolt that was worn by David Bowie, and, more recently, some outfits that were worn by Beyonce. It is a mark of prestige that Cleveland is the home of clothing that was worn by so many iconic figures of rock and roll. But a city in Michigan (or “that state up north” as it is known to Ohioans) is the location of an article of clothing that is the Civil War equivalent of the rock and roll outfits in Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. This is because this article of clothing once belonged to the person who is unquestionably the most prominent military figure of the Confederacy.

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