Confirmation (March 12, 1863)

George Meade, like all officers in the Union army, was very aware of his rank and where he stood in comparison to other officers in the army. The confirmation he mentions in this letter is his promotion to major general in the volunteers. At the Battle of Fredericksburg Meade had carried his letter from Secretary of War Stanton regarding his promotion in his pocket and he cited his new rank when he ordered David Birney to send troops to support Meade’s Pennsylvania Reserves. Now Congress had finally put its seal on the promotion.

John Fulton Reynolds

John Fulton Reynolds

The Reynolds he mentions is his division commander, Maj. Gen. John Reynolds. Meade and Reynolds had a decent relationship, although one that was sometimes strained by events. For example, after the Battle of Fredericksburg, where Meade felt Reynolds had not given him the necessary support, he wrote to Margaret, “He knows I think he was in some measure responsible for my not being supported on the 13th as he was commanding the corps & had the authority to order up other troops—and it was his business to have seen that I was properly supported, and the advantage that I had gained, secured by promptly advancing reinforcements.” Yet Meade retained his affection for Reynolds. “He is a very good fellow, and I have had much pleasant intercourse with him during the past eighteen months, and considering how closely we have been together and the natural rivalry that might be expected, I think it is saying a good deal for both that we have continued good friends.”

You will see by the papers that we have all been confirmed, with the dates of our appointment.

You have never mentioned Reynolds in your letters. He has been off on ten-days’ leave, and I presumed he would be in Philadelphia. Did you hear of his being there? I have not seen him since his return to ask. I was invited to his headquarters yesterday to dine, it being the anniversary of the organization of the First Corps; and as I had for a time commanded the corps, and also a division in it, I was honored with an invitation. The dinner was given by the staff.

This evening Captain Magaw, of the navy, with his mother, wife and a young lady friend, made their appearance at headquarters, and asked hospitality. He commands the gun-boat flotilla in the Potomac. His wife is quite a sweet, pretty woman, is the daughter of a navy officer, and was born at Pensacola when my sister, Mrs. Dallas, was there, and is named after her and Margaret. The young men on the staff turned out with alacrity and fitted up a tent in which they are quite comfortable.

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), p. 357. Available via Google Books.

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