March 7, 1863

The Alexander Coxe whom Meade mentions in this letter was a Philadelphian who had served as one of the general’s aides. Back in January Meade had written to Margaret with delight about a conversation Coxe had overheard on a street in Washington when a couple of passing men spotted Meade.  “What major general is that?” asked one of them.

“Meade,” his companion replied.

“Who is he?” asked the first man. “I never saw him before.”

“No, that is very likely, for he is one of our fighting generals, is always on the field, and does not spend time in Washington hotels.”

William Jay would return to Meade’s staff, after serving for a time with George Sykes. He was the grandson of John Jay, the first chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. The paper linked below includes this quote from a letter Jay wrote during the Overland Campaign: The papers seem to give all the credit of the campaign to Grant which is an immense mistake. He looks on and puts in his oar occasionally I suppose, but General Meade commands the army… It is not enough that you should give all the credit to Grant, but history will give General Meade an equal if not larger share of the honor of this campaign. If it does not, it ought to.”

Before this reaches you, you will have seen Alexander Coxe, who left this morning for home. I am most truly sorry to lose him, for he has not only rendered himself most useful to me, but has attached himself to me as a friend, from his manly character and social qualities. I sincerely hope he will be benefited by rest and medical treatment at home, and will be able to return.

Captain [William] Jay has joined me, and seems quite a clever gentleman. We have also had at our mess John Williams, who has been taken away from Ricketts and ordered to report to this army for duty, but who has not yet been assigned to any general.

The bill amalgamating the two corps of Engineers has passed, so the old Topographical Corps is defunct, and I shall have the honor of being borne on the register as a Major of Engineers. The bill makes one brigadier general (Totten), four colonels (of which Bache will be one), ten lieutenant colonels, twenty majors (of whom I shall be the tenth), thirty captains, thirty first lieutenants and ten second lieutenants. It don’t make much difference to me, if the war lasts as long as I expect it to and I survive it.

Meade’s letter taken from The Life and Letters of George Gordon Meade, Major-General United States Army, Vol. 1, (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1913), pp. 356. Available via Google Books.

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