Sucking Up (April 11, 1863)

On April 9, 1863, Alfred Waud sketched President Lincoln as he and various Union generals reviewed the Army of the Potomac. Someone has clipped off Joe Hooker's head. Click on the image for a larger version (Library of Congress).

On April 9, 1863, Alfred Waud sketched President Lincoln as he and various Union generals reviewed the Army of the Potomac. Someone has clipped off Joe Hooker’s head. Click on the image for a larger version (Library of Congress).

George Meade was an ambitious man. That’s obvious even in his edited letters, which appeared in print as The Life and Letters of George Gordon Meade, Major-General United States Army in 1913. The unedited versions show even more clearly how much Meade aspired to reach a position to which he felt entitled. He often expressed his ambitions in his letters to his wife. In this one he amusingly details some of his efforts to ingratiate himself with Abraham Lincoln when the president visited the Army of the Potomac. (It’s possible that Meade is the only person to refer to Mary Todd Lincoln as “amiable.)

The Lancers are the cavalry regiment to which Meade’s son, George, belonged. Stoneman was George Stoneman, commander of the army’s cavalry corps.

Major General George Stoneman, who commanded the cavalry corps (Library of Congress).

Major General George Stoneman, who commanded the cavalry corps (Library of Congress).

The President has now reviewed the whole army, and expresses himself highly delighted with all he has seen. Since our review, I have attended the other reviews and have been making myself (or at least trying so to do) very agreeable to Mrs. Lincoln, who seems an amiable sort of personage. In view also of the vacant brigadiership in the regular army, I have ventured to tell the President one or two stories, and I think I have made decided progress in his affections. By-the-by, talking of this vacancy, I have been very much gratified at the congratulations I have received from several distinguished general officers on the prominence that has been given my name in connection with this appointment. The other day, Major General Stoneman came up to me and said he was very glad to hear I was so much talked of in connection with this vacancy; that he hoped I would get it, and that he believed the voice of the army would be in my favor. Coming as this does from those who are cognizant of my services, some of whom are themselves candidates, I cannot but regard it as most complimentary and gratifying, and I am sure it will please you. Stoneman also told me that, hearing I had a boy in the Lancers, he had sent for him and introduced him to Mrs. Stoneman. Stoneman also spoke very handsomely of the Lancers, and said he intended they should have full chance to show what they were made of.

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. 364-5. Available via Google Books.

Advertisements
Leave a comment

1 Comment

  1. Christopher Stowe

     /  April 11, 2013

    The original ms of this letter, located of course at the Hist. Soc. of Pa., contains slightly different phrasing than the version published in the L & L. This phrasing makes an interesting episode all the more, you know, colorful.

    “In view also of the vacant brigadiership in the regular army, I have ventured to tell the President one or two dirty jokes.”

    One can only imagine what Old Four-Eye might have said.

    “So, Mr. President, these two hookers walked into a bar . . .”

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: