May 29, 1880
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


MR. PRESIDENT, LADIES, AND GENTLEMEN: -- I thank the Comrade of this Post of the Grand Army for the opportunity they have given me to take part in this meeting in aid of the fund for the erection of a monument in honor of General Meade.  The other great commanders of the Union armies who have passed away, have been remembered by their comrades and fellow-citizens, and their monuments may be seen in the beautiful parks of the national capital.  You will see there the monument of that noble model old soldier, the veteran of three wars, --a monument that fitly commemorates the services and achievements of General Scott.  You will see there a monument for the rock of Chickamauga, General Thomas.  You will see there also a monument to that gallant son of my own State and county, the lovable and beloved General McPherson.  But as yet Pennsylvanians, Philadelphians, no suitable memorial of General Meade has been built.  This meeting, as I understand, is to do something to correct that.  And surely there are reasons enough why a monument should be built in honor of General Meade.  I do not wish to repeat what has been far better said than I can say it in the eloquent address to which we have just listened, and yet you will, perhaps, bear with me while I try to emphasize two or three points in relation to General Meade. 

He commanded at the very crisis of the war that great army which we are accustomed to hear, and glad to hear, spoken of as “the grand old Army of the Potomac.”  He commanded that army at a time when its defeat and destruction meant, humanly speaking, the ruin and the loss of the national cause.

Again, it may be truthfully said of General Meade, that in every station he ever held, from the lowest to the highest, he was always adequate to the duties of his place; that he was always able, faithful, and conscientious, and that he never, under any circumstances, failed to do his whole duty.

General Meade was withal one of the most fortunate of commanders.  Under him, and perhaps I may say under him alone, the Army of the Potomac never knew defeat or serious disaster; and it was his fortune to be its commander in the great decisive battle, that battle which will be of unrivaled interest in our history as long as that history shall be known.  If that battle had gone against our cause, the taunt of the hostile Englishman that “the bubble Republic is busted” would have been true.  But now, Meade’s name and fame and memory are forever safe.  They are linked in adamant with Gettysburg, and Gettysburg is linked in adamant with the salvation of the Republic.

When we build a monument to Meade it will require no explanation.  No words should be wasted in inscriptions.  We shall read upon its ample sides the simple inscription:

“In memory of George G. Meade, the Commander of the Union Army at Gettysburg.”