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While researching Searching for George Gordon Meade: The Forgotten Victor of Gettysburg, author Tom Huntington visited a severed leg, a buried arm, and a horse’s head. He also hiked across Civil War battlefields, recited the names of fallen soldiers at a candlelit ceremony at Gettysburg, and drank a champagne toast in a Philadelphia cemetery on New Year’s Eve. It was all part of his quest to learn more about the man who commanded the victorious Union army at the Civil War’s Battle of Gettysburg, yet has been unfairly overlooked by history in the years since.
Although in command of the Army of the Potomac for a mere three days before the battle, Major General George Gordon Meade managed to defeat Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia during three days of vicious fighting. The cantankerous general remained in command of the army for the rest of the war even as he watched his reputation decline. “I suppose after awhile it will be discovered I was not at Gettysburg at all,” he griped in a letter to his wife.
Searching for George Gordon Meade is not your typical Civil War biography. While Huntington does tell the story of Meade’s life, he also provides first-person accounts of his visits to the battlefields where Meade fought and museums that cover the Civil War. He includes his conversations with experts, enthusiasts, curators, park rangers and even a Meade impersonator to get their insights. The result is a compelling mash-up of history, biography, travel and journalism that touches both past and present.
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