Meade was commissioned second lieutenant in the Marine Corps 14 June 1862. He commanded a battalion of marines during the suppression of the New York City draft riots in July 1863. He took part in the daring boat attack against Fort Sumter 8 September and was later brevetted for gallant and meritorious service. During the Spanish-American War he served as fleet marine officer in New York and participated in the Battle of Santiago de Cuba. Promoted to colonel 3 March 1899, he served in China during the Boxer Rebellion and participated in the Battle of Tientsin.
For distinguished conduct and public service, he was appointed brigadier general, by brevet, 13 July 1900.
He retired June 29, 1906 and died at Lexington, Massachusetts, February 11, 1910.