On this day in 1815, George G. Meade was born in the port city of Cádiz, Spain. His father, Richard W. Meade, was an agent for the United States Navy, and the elder Meade soon sailed his family back to Philadelphia, where young George was raised. Described as looking like a “goggle-eyed snapping turtle,” he eventually went on to lead Union troops to victory at the Battle of Gettysburg.
Cádiz, as you can see from the image above, presents a slightly more beautiful face than did General Meade, and the city appears in the encyclopedia more than just this once. For instance, Cádiz figured in the long, sixteenth-century privateering war between England and Spain. In June 1596, an English fleet actually sailed right up to the Spanish coast and sacked the city! It was the maritime equivalent of knocking on Philip II’s palace door and, when he answered, punching him in the face.
The English fleet was under the joint command of Robert Devereux, second earl of Essex; Charles Howard, baron of Effingham and England’s Lord High Admiral; and our old friend Sir Walter Raleigh. It was the dashing earl of Essex, however, who was Queen Elizabeth‘s favorite at the time (poor Raleigh!), and he attracted to his side young proteges like Thomas Gates, whom Essex knighted for gallantry at Cádiz. Essex was always doing that—knighting his friends and then forcing the queen to confirm it later. She got her revenge, though, lopping off Essex’s head in 1601 for conspiring against her.
As for the new Sir Thomas, he set off for Jamestown in 1609, aboard the ill-fated Sea Venture, a freshly minted governor of Virginia.
PS: Happy birthday, too, to George C. Marshall.
IMAGES: General Meade, from a photograph by Mathew Brady (Harper’s Weekly, July 11, 1863); Cádiz, Spain, with the cathedral in the background (right) (C.I.R.I.-EDISTUDIO)