Fallout (May 10, 1863)

Did Meade really believe there was no possibility that the Administration might elevate him to command of the Army of the Potomac? Perhaps he truly did.

Darius Couch, who commanded the II Corps at Chancellorsville did, in fact, say he would not serve under Hooker. He received command of the Department of the Susquehanna, with headquarters in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The traces of fortifications, hastily thrown up on hills on the opposite side of the Susquehanna from Harrisburg and named Fort Couch, still remain in the town of Lemoyne. The Camp Curtin Historical Society and Civil War Round Table erected a fine monument there a few years ago.

Darius Couch, who had had enough of Joe Hooker (Library of Congress).

Darius Couch, who had had enough of Joe Hooker (Library of Congress).

There is a great deal of talking in the camp, and I see the press is beginning to attack Hooker. I think these last operations have shaken the confidence of the army in Hooker’s judgment, particularly among the superior officers. I have been much gratified at the frequent expression of opinion that I ought to be placed in command. Three of my seniors (Couch, Slocum and Sedgwick) have sent me word that they were willing to serve under me. Couch, I hear, told the President he would not serve any longer under Hooker, and recommended my assignment to the command. I mention all this confidentially. I do not attach any importance to it, and do not believe there is the slightest probability of my being placed in command. I think I know myself, and am sincere when I say I do not desire the command; hence I can quietly attend to my duties, uninfluenced by what is going on around me, at the same time expressing, as I feel, great gratification that the army and my senior generals should think so well of my services and capacity as to be willing to serve under me. Having no political influence, being no intriguer, and indeed unambitious of the distinction, it is hardly probable I shall be called on to accept or decline. I see the papers attribute Hooker’s withdrawal to the weak councils of his corps commanders. This is a base calumny. Four out of six of his corps commanders were positive and emphatic in their opposition to the withdrawal, and he did it contrary to their advice. Hooker, however, I should judge, feels very secure, and does not seem concerned. I have no idea what his next move will be. For my part it would seem that all projects based on pursuing this line of operations having been tried and failed, we should try some other route. Yet the Administration is so wedded to this line that it will be difficult to get authority to change.

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. 373-4. Available via Google Books.

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