While George Gordon Meade is obviously normally identified with the military post in Anne Arundel County that bears his name, the people of Washington, D.C., are also reminded of his accomplishments when they walk down the 300 block of Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., and pass by the U.S. Courthouse.
That’s the home of a grandiose and ornate 17-foot cylindrical marble and granite memorial to the career U.S. Army officer and civil engineer, the base of which states, “The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to Major General George Gordon Meade, who commanded the Union forces at Gettysburg.”
Meade was known for fighting with distinction in the Seminole War and Mexican-American War. During the American Civil War, he served as a Union general, rising from command of a brigade to the Army of the Potomac. He is best known for defeating Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee at the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863; in 1864–65, Meade continued to command the Army of the Potomac through the Overland Campaign, the Richmond-Petersburg Campaign and the Appomattox Campaign — but he was overshadowed by the direct supervision of the general in chief, Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant.
Upon its initial unveiling, the memorial was formally dedicated on Oct. 19, 1927, near 3rd Street, N.W., in Union Square, a public park on Capitol Hill. It was close to the large Ulysses S. Grant Memorial and was also one of the last Civil War monuments erected in Washington.
But in 1969, the memorial was dismantled and placed in a storage facility at 42nd Street and Hunt Place, N.E., when the Capitol Reflecting Pool was built atop Interstate 395’s 3rd Street Tunnel. It remained in storage for several years, and members of the public gradually began inquiring why the memorial had not been replaced.
At one point, Pennsylvania Representative William Goodling contacted the memorial coordinator for the National Capital Region of the National Park Service (NPS), while members of the Gettysburg Civil War Round Table (GCWRT) made inquiries into repairing the sculpture, which had cracked in several places.
At that time, the GCWRT also contacted Maryland Representative Marjorie Holt, who had requested the memorial be placed in her congressional district at Fort Meade. However, after the memorial was repaired in 1983, it was placed at its current home. A formal rededication took place on Oct. 3, 1984.