In order to understand fully the battle of Gettysburg
, and to appreciate General Meade
's services on that occasion, it will be necessary to refer briefly to some of the preceeding events.
Two great battles had been recently fought between the contending forces in Virginia-at Fredericksburg
and at Chancellorsville-both resulting in the defeat of the Army of the Potomac.
, that army, under the command of General Burnside
, assaulted the enemy in a position naturally strong and thoroughly fortified, and was repulsed with heavy loss.
, in this action, won great distinction.
Holding the left of our line with his noble division, the Pennsylvania Reserve Corps, he made an impetuous assault on the enemy's right, broke into his lines, and drove him from his works for over a half mile, capturing over two hundred prisoners, and several standards.
In this advanced position, in which General Meade
was left without support, he encountered heavy reinforcements of the enemy, who poured into his lines a destructive fire of infantry and artillery, not only in front but also on both flanks.
, unwilling to abandon the advantage he had gained, called repeatedly and earnestly for reinforcements, but in vain, and after a loss of nearly forty per cent. of his command, he was compelled to fall back, which he did without confusion.
The history of the war does not contain the record of a more gallant assault, and by his brilliant conduct on this occasion, General Meade
added to his already high reputation in the army.
Soon after, in the latter part of December, 1862, he was promoted to the command of the Fifth Army Corps.