Sullivan Amory Meredith was born in Philadelphia on July 5, 1816. He was one of eleven children of William Tuckey Meredith, an attorney and president of Schuylkill Bank, and Gertrude Gouverneur Meredith (née Ogden), a writer and poet who was a granddaughter of Gouverneur Morris. Sullivan’s oldest brother William was Secretary of the United States Treasury under President Zachary Taylor in 1849-50.
Sullivan graduated from William and Mary college and made two voyages to China as a young man. He joined the California Gold Rush in 1849. Returning to Philadelphia in the decade before war, he was involved in the coal business.
With the outbreak of the Civil War Sullvan raised a company of men and on April 26, 1861 was commissioned colonel of the 10th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, a three months service regiment. The regiment joined Patterson’s Army at Chambersburg and advanced briefly into Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley before mustering out at the end of July.
Meredith immediately became involved with raising a new regiment, and on March 6, 1862 was commissioned colonel of the 56th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. The regiment left for Washington and served in that city’s defenses while it completed its organization and training. In May it was assigned to Doubleday’s Brigade of the Department of the Rappahannock, guarding the railroad bridge at Potomac Creek. In April it was assigned to the 2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, 3rd Corps, Army of Virginia and took part in John Pope’s campaign in Northern Virginia.
Colonel Meredith was badly wounded in the Second Battle of Bull Run on August 30, 1862. While convalescing he was promoted to brigadier general for gallantry in the battle, effective November 29, 1862.
Still not fully recovered from his wound, in July of 1863 he was sent to Fort Monroe as the commissioner for the exchange of prisoners. He was relieved by department head Benjamin Butler in January of 1864 and ordered to St. Louis to report to the commander of the Department of Missouri, William Rosecrans. Meredith never returned to field command, and mustered out on August 24, 1865. He moved to Buffalo, New York, where he partnered with Dr. David Ransom in a wholesale medicine business.
Meredith married Julia F. Towne. His first son, also named Sullivan Amory, was born in October of 1865 and would be followed by five other children, Julian Francis, Gertrude Louise, Mabel Estelle, and Grace Ethel.
Sullivan Meredith died in Buffalo on December 26, 1874 and is buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo, New York.