Richard Kidder Meade was a Virginian whose grandfather had been the governor of North Carolina. He was educated at the Harrow School, one of the oldest and most respected schools in England. A scholar, strong and rugged outdoorsman, and excellent horseman, Meade was commissioned as a Captain in the 2nd Virginia Regiment in October 1775.
Meade’s appointment as one of Washington’s aides-de-camp came in March 1777. He was frequently used by the commander-in-chief to deliver important dispatches and orders. It was during his time on Washington’s staff that Meade became a good friend of Alexander Hamilton.
At Valley Forge, Meade was assigned the task of showing a model cabin and construction areas to the officers who were to supervise the building of the huts. He was also sent to meet Martha Washington’s coach near the Susquehanna River as she approached Valley Forge, and he escorted her the rest of the way to camp.
Meade left Washington’s staff in 1780 to get married for the second time in Virginia. Shortly thereafter, British forces under the command of General Benedict Arnold invaded Virginia. Meade remained there to assist General von Steuben, and he commanded American troops in that theater until the end of the war. He then returned to farming and visited his former commander-in-chief at Mount Vernon on occasion. Meade eventually died in 1805, apparently from gout and the effects of many years of military life.