Beached (August 23, 1863)

Meade’s letter from August 23, 1863, provides a glimpse of vacations 1863-style. It doesn’t sound much different from what families do today. Taking the train to Cape May was, indeed, something new, for the line had just opened that summer. You can read more about it here.

It must be very strange, traveling to Cape May in a railroad car, though I have no doubt, after you get there, everything, as you say, looks like old times. I wish dearly I could be with you, to enjoy the breeze and the luxurious bathing in the surf, to say nothing of the great fun of building forts in the sand with dear Willie, Sarah and Henrietta. But such happiness is denied me, and all I can do is to hope you will enjoy yourselves and benefit by the trip.

To-day is Sunday. I attended service this afternoon, held by the chaplain of the regiment attached to my headquarters. It was a mongrel sort of service, being made up from our service and the Presbyterian. He made a short and pertinent discourse. We never have had the right kind of men for chaplains in the army. They mostly come apparently only for the pay, and either do nothing, or else make themselves obnoxious by interfering in matters they have no business with.

Meade’s correspondence taken from The Life and Letters of George Gordon Meade, Major-General United States Army, Vol. 2, (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1913), pp.144-5. Available via Google Books.

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