Orders (June 27, 1863)

Maj. Gen. Henry Halleck, a.k.a. "Old Brains." His orders placed Meade in command of the Army of the Potomac (Library of Congress).

Maj. Gen. Henry Halleck, a.k.a. “Old Brains.” His orders placed Meade in command of the Army of the Potomac (Library of Congress).

Major General George Gordon Meade had reached the outskirts of Frederick, Maryland, on June 27, 1863. Meade established his headquarters on land owned by Robert McGill near Ballenger Creek. You can see the farm today next to modern Rt. 85, just south of town. Back in Washington, general-in-chief Henry Halleck prepared the orders that would put Meade in command of the Army of the Potomac. Col. James Hardie left the capital that day on a train to Frederick. Here are the orders he carried:

Headquarters Of The Army, Washington, D. C., June 27, 1863. Major General G. G. Meade,

Army of the Potomac. General:

You will receive with this the order of the President placing you in command of the Army of the Potomac. Considering the circumstances, no one ever received a more important command; and I cannot doubt that you will fully justify the confidence which the Government has reposed in you.

You will not be hampered by any minute instructions from these headquarters. Your army is free to act as you may deem proper under the circumstances as they arise. You will, however, keep in view the important fact that the Army of the Potomac is the covering army of Washington, as well as the army of operation against the invading forces of the rebels. You will therefore manoeuvre and fight in such a manner as to cover the Capital and also Baltimore, as far as circumstances will admit. Should General Lee move upon either of these places, it is expected that you will either anticipate him or arrive with him, so as to give him battle.

All forces within the sphere of your operations will be held subject to your orders.

Harper’s Ferry and its garrison are under your direct orders.

You are authorized to remove from command and send from your army any officer or other person you may deem proper; and to appoint to command as you may deem expedient.

In fine, General, you are intrusted with all the power and authority which the President, the Secretary of War, or the General-inChief can confer on you, and you may rely on our full support.

You will keep me fully informed of all your movements and the positions of your own troops and those of the enemy, so far as known.

I shall always be ready to advise and assist you to the utmost of my ability.

Very respectfully,

Your obedient servant,
H. W. Halleck

A modern view of Arcadia, the farm owned by Robert McGill where Meade established V Corps headquarters on June 27, 1863.

A modern view of Arcadia, the farm owned by Robert McGill where Meade established V Corps headquarters on June 27, 1863.

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