Meade at Gettysburg: A Study in Command

Univ. of North Carolina. Jun. 2021. 448p. ISBN 9781469661995. $35. HIST
Historian Brown (Retreat from Gettysburg) takes on the highly contested scholarship about the generalship of George Gordon Meade (officer in the Union Army during the U.S. Civil War)at and after the Battle of Gettysburg. Much of the existing scholarship casts Meade as a reluctant fighter who was slow to follow up his victory at Gettysburg with a vigorous pursuit of Robert E. Lee’s defeated Confederate Army. Relying heavily on a close rereading of military records, soldiers’ diaries and memoirs, and Meade’s revealing letters to his wife, Brown argues that Meade was an astute general in terms of both operational and tactical command. He makes the case for Meade by giving much attention to the importance of supply and logistics in the Union Army and Meade’s methods for managing his officer corps. With rich detail, Brown writes that shortages in food and ammunition informed Meade’s command decisions. He also points to Meade’s savvy about the strategic importance of military intelligence and positioning of his troops and resources, on the battlefield and in the larger context of the Civil War. Brown provides an almost moment-by-moment account of the fighting, which reveals the constant complications and complexity of leading and managing a large army.
VERDICT An instructive book about Civil War generalship that will engage and inform anyone interested in the dynamics of command from the perspective of those in charge.
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