Regrets (April 12, 1863)

Lt. Arthur Dehon, who was serving as Meade's aide when he was killed at Fredericksburg (Courtesy Rick Lawrence).

Lt. Arthur Dehon, who was serving as Meade’s aide when he was killed at Fredericksburg (Courtesy Rick Lawrence). You can learn more about Dehon here.

Meade opens today’s letter on a mournful note. Arthur Dehon and Hamilton Kuhn were aides who had been killed in earlier battles, Dehon at Fredericksburg and Kuhn at Glendale, the same fight in which Meade had been wounded. Dehon’s father had even visited Margaret in Philadelphia. Back on January 2 Meade had written to Margaret, “I send you a piece from a Boston paper on poor Dehon, sent to me by some friend or relative. It does no more than justice to Dehon, who was a gallant officer and clever gentleman. I have felt his loss even more than poor Kuhn’s, because, in his case, I was directly instrumental in placing him where he received his death wound, though at the time I sent him I had no idea of the great danger attending his mission. Kuhn, you know, was not with me when he fell, and I have never been able to ascertain whether he fell before or after I was wounded, but think it must have been very near the same time, and that he could not have been very far from me, though I did not see him.”

I am not sure to which scandal of Hooker’s Margaret had referred but Hooker was not unacquainted with scandalous behavior regarding women. It’s interesting to see that Meade defends him against drunkenness, one charge that many others were willing to throw at the current army commander.

Meade continues to be concerned about the fate of William Franklin, his former corps commander whom the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War had criticized for his actions at Fredericksburg.

I feel very sad when I think of young Dehon and Hamilton Kuhn, both so full of life and promising so much; to be cut off in the way they were, is truly mournful, and I feel sometimes as if I was individually responsible, and in some measure the cause of the misfortune of their friends.

I have had another hard day’s work. No sooner had the President left, than a Major General Follarde, of the Swiss army, comes down here, with orders to Hooker to show him every attention, and as he does not speak English, and I have some pretensions to speaking French, Hooker turned him over to me, and I have, to-day, been taking him all through my camps and showing him my command. He seems like all foreign officers of rank, intelligent and educated. He expressed himself delighted and wonder-struck with all he saw, and says our troops will compare favorably with the best troops in Europe, and he has seen them all. If he goes back to Philadelphia, I will give him a letter to you, for I think he will interest you.

I note what you say of General Hooker. I think he will outlive that scandal, for it most certainly is a scandal. Whatever may have been his habits in former times, since I have been associated with him in the army I can bear testimony of the utter falsehood of the charge of drunkenness.

I spoke to the President when here about Franklin, and endeavored to convince him that the whole affair turned on a misapprehension, Burnside thinking he was saying and ordering one thing and Franklin understanding another. I know that Franklin did not, nor did any of those around him, believe or understand that Burnside intended our attack for the main attack, which Burnside now avers was always his intention.

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. 365-6. Available via Google Books.

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1 Comment

  1. Rick Lawrence, MSgt., USMC/USAFR(RET)

     /  April 12, 2013

    Arhur Dehon was the son of a prominent Boston attorney and minor real estate speculator, William Dehon. The Dehon family was very prominant in pre-Civil war Boston and young Arthur was destined to follow in his father’s footsteps. The volley of Confederate bullets that were fired at Arthur also killed General Conrad Feger Jackson with a round through his skull. General Jackson’s aid, Captain T. Brent Swearingen, was by his side but faired better as he only had his horse shot out from under him during the fusillade of bullets that rained down upon them. There is a street in Boston named after this family.

    Reply

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