Anxiety (September 30, 1863)

Sir Henry Holland, travel writer and Royal physician (via Wikipedia).

Sir Henry Holland, travel writer and Royal physician (via Wikipedia).

In an earlier letter Theodore Lyman mentioned Sir Henry Holland, the British Royal Physician who was visiting the Army of the Potomac. Besides being a medical man who attended the British royal family, Holland was also a noted travel writer whose books included Travels in the Ionian Isles, Albania, Thessaly, Macedonia, &c. During the Years 1812-1813. He died in 1873. (To see what Holland wrote about his visit, see below.)

Meade obviously had other things than British visitors on his mind, as this letter to his wife indicates.

I am sorry to see you so anxious about me, because it is impossible to keep you constantly advised of what is going on, and your imagination undoubtedly makes matters worse. You must try and be resigned, and not anticipate evil, but wait for its actual arrival. My position is of course liable to misconstruction so long as the public are ignorant of the truth, but the time will come when they will be enlightened, and then I shall be all right. Of course, if people believe that Lee has no army, and that I have an immense one, it is hard to expect them not to inquire why I do not do something; but when they come to know that just as I was about trying to do something, my army was suddenly reduced to a figure a little greater only than Lee’s, and that he occupies a very strong position, where the natural advantages in his favor more than equalize the difference in our forces, they will understand why I cannot do anything. I have remained here to offer Lee battle if he chooses to come out of his stronghold, and to prevent by my threatening attitude his sending any more troops to Bragg. Whether I will get any credit for this is perhaps questionable. The whole matter, however, reverts to what I have always told you, that I intend to act up to the French motto, “Faites bien, laissez dire.”

I don’t think I wrote to you that I had a very pleasant visit from a General Cortez, of the Mexican army, who came here with letters from the Secretaries of State and War. He spent a day with me, and I took him around the camps and showed him different portions of the army, and he went away much gratified. I also had a visit from Sir Henry Holland, physician to the Queen of England. He was a very agreeable, intelligent gentleman, over seventy years of age, who had crossed the Atlantic fourteen times. He seemed greatly interested with everything we showed him.

To-day Gouverneur Paulding and a Dr. Young, of Cold Spring, New York, have been here to present General Warren with a sword. Paulding I have known from a boy, and Dr. Young married a daughter of old Parson Hawley, of Washington. They also have been delighted with their visit.

Here’s Lyman’s letter from September 29. He touches on some of the same topics, but in a much livelier style. He also mentions Seth Williams, the army’s assistant adjutant general. Like me, Williams was born in Augusta, Maine. He was apparently much liked in the army for I never found anyone who had a bad word to say about him. Lyman also mentions General Henry Benham, whom we have encountered on this blog before. From this brief mention it does not appear that Benham had cleaned up his act since his disgraceful appearance during the Chancellorsville campaign. Channing Clapp was one of Lyman’s Harvard classmates.

Seth Williams of Augusta, Maine (National Archives).

Seth Williams of Augusta, Maine (National Archives).

I see such flocks of generals now, that I do not always take the pains to describe them. On Sunday there arrived General Benham, one of the dirtiest and most ramshackle parties I ever saw. Behind him walked his Adjutant General, a great contrast, in all respects, being a trig, broad-shouldered officer, with a fierce moustache and imperial and a big clanking sabre. I gazed at this Adjutant General and he at me, and gradually, through the military fierceness, there peeped forth the formerly pacific expression of Channing Clapp! There never was such a change, Achilles and all other warlike persons; and is much improved withal. That same evening enter another general (distinguished foreigner this time), El General Jose Cortez, chevalier of some sort of red ribbon and possessor of a bad hat. He was accompanied by two eminent Senors, Mexicans and patriotic exiles. We were out riding when they came; but, after our return, and in the midst of dinner, there comes an orderly with a big official envelope, proving to be a recommendation from Mr. Seward. “Oh,” says the General, “another lot, hey? Well, I suppose they will be along to-morrow”; and went on quietly eating dinner. Afterwards I went into the office of General Williams (or “Seth” as they call him here) and there beheld, sitting in a corner, three forlorn figures. Nobody seemed to know who they were, but the opinion prevailed that they were a deputation of sutlers, who were expected about that time! But I, hearing certain tones of melancholy Spanish, did presently infer that they were the parties mentioned in the big, official envelope, and so it proved! They were speedily entered into the General’s presence and, after a few compliments, anxiously asked when the next train left for Washington; for it appears that they had supposed Culpeper was a pleasant jaunt of about fifteen minutes from the Capitol, and was furnished with elegant hotels and other conveniences; consequently they had brought no sac de nuit, and had had nothing to eat since early morning, it being then dark! Their surprise was considerable, after a weary ride of some hours, to be dumped in a third rate village, deserted by its inhabitants and swarming with dusty infantry. John made ready with speed, and, after a meal and a bottle of champagne, it was surprising to see how their barometers rose, especially that of small Sefior, No. 2, who launched forth in a flood of eulogium on the state of civil liberty in the United States. Our next care was to provide them sleeping-accommodations; no easy matter in the presence of the fact that each has barely enough for himself down here. But I succeeded in getting two stretchers from the hospital (such as are used to bring in the wounded from the field) and a cot from Major Biddle; three pillows (two india-rubber and one feather) were then discovered, and these, with blankets, one tin basin, one bucket, and one towel, made them entirely happy. Really, how they looked so fresh next morning was quite a marvel. Then, after a good breakfast, we put them all on horseback (to the great uneasiness of the two Sefiors) and followed by a great crowd of a Staff (who never can be made to ride, except in the higglety-pigglety style in which “Napoleon et ses Marechaux” are always represented in the common engravings), we jogged off, raising clouds of red dust, to take a look at some soldiers. … El General was highly pleased and kept taking off his bad hat and waving it about. Also he expressed an intense desire that we should send 50,000 men and immediately wipe out the French in Mexico.

“Why doesn’t Meade attack Lee?” Ah, I have already thrown out a hint on the methods of military plans in these regions. But, despite the delays, I should have witnessed a great battle before this; if, If, IF, at the very moment the order had not come to fill up the gap that the poltroonery of two of Rosecrans’ Corps has made in the western armies. I do believe that we should have beaten them (that’s no matter now), for my Chief, though he expressly declares that he is not Napoleon, is a thorough soldier, and a mighty clear-headed man; and one who does not move unless he knows where and how many his men are; where and how many his enemy’s men are; and what sort of country he has to go through. I never saw a man in my life who was so characterized by straightforward truthfulness as he is. He will pitch into himself in a moment, if he thinks he has done wrong; and woe to those, no matter who they are, who do not do right! “Sir, it was your duty and you haven’t done it; now go back and do it at once,” he will suddenly remark to some astonished general, who thinks himself no small beer. Still I do wish he would order the Provost-Marshal to have a few more of the deceased horses buried. The weather here is perfect—could not be finer.

Here’s what Sir Henry Holland wrote about his visit to the United States during the Civil War, which he published in Recollections of Past Life (D. Appleton & Co., 1872, and available via Google Books. This passage is from pp. 64-66.)

In travelling through Holstein and the Danish Isles in 1848, I saw something of the petty war of Germans and Danes then going on, since followed on the same field by events of so much higher import. At a later period (in 1863), when 75 years of age, I was an active spectator—I will not say an actor—in the midst of the great civil war then raging in America. At the headquarters of the Federal army in Virginia, and with the advanced division on the Rapidan in front of General Lee’s army, and still more in the country through which I passed to reach the army, I saw warfare on its largest scale of action and devastation. Twice before I had traversed this part of Virginia, then very different in aspect—a happy and flourishing country, where the evils of slavery were mitigated by various social conditions more or less peculiar to this great State. The contrast of scene, as I saw it in the heat of war, was saddening to the eye and to the mind. But in a region so variously favoured by nature, time and tranquillity will restore what has been lost. The too sudden advance of the Negro to political power may retard this restoration, but cannot prevent it. Eight weeks of absence from my own house in Brook Street comprised this extraordinary spectacle of American warfare, with much besides of political and social interest, to which my several preceding visits to the United States gave me access. Living in the hospitable house of my excellent friend Mr. Seward at Washington, and seeing much of President Lincoln, I enjoyed facilities which few travellers can obtain. Mr. Staunton [sic], then Secretary of War, sent Adjutant-General Townshend with me to the army of the Potomac; an accomplished soldier and admirable companion, to whom the expedition was a luxury, as he had hitherto known the war only through his heavy official duties at Washington. General Meade, the recent victor at Gettysburg, was at this time in command of the army. By him, and the other generals and officers at head-quarters, as well as those at the advanced posts, I was received with a courtesy which I cannot readily forget. Such interludes are not common in the life of a London physician. But I have already confessed to a certain pleasure, whether rational or not, from these sudden contrasts; and in the instance just given, this taste, such as it is, was amply satisfied.

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. 151-2. Available via Google Books.

Theodore Lyman’s letter is from Meade’s Headquarters, 1863-1865: Letters of Colonel Theodore Lyman from the Wilderness to Appomattox, pp. 23-4.Edited by George R. Agassiz. Boston, Massachusetts Historical Society, 1922. Available via Google Books.

Advertisements

Relations (September 27, 1863)

Henry Wise, the former governor of Virginia and George Meade's brother-in-law (Library of Congress).

Henry Wise, the former governor of Virginia and George Meade’s brother-in-law (Library of Congress).

In this letter Meade mentions the Wises. He’s speaking of Henry Wise and his family. Wise was a relative—his first wife (deceased) had been Magaretta Meade’s sister, making Henry Wise Meade’s brother-in-law. He was also the former governor of Virginia—in fact, it was Wise who signed John Brown’s death warrant after the radical abolitionists failed attempt to spark a slave insurrection at Harpers Ferry. He was a fiery secessionist who waved his pistol when he took the podium at Virginia’s secessionist convention in April 1861 and demanded that his state leave the Union. Once war began Wise joined the Confederate army and, as a brigadier general, led his troops to a successful defense of Petersburg when the Union army attempted to capture it in 1864—a battle in which Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain was badly wounded.

Chamberlain later wrote of an encounter he had with Wise immediately following Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. Hearing a Confederate general railing at his own troops, the Union general decided to ride over and offer him some words of solace. He saluted and remarked on how well the men on both sides were responding to the surrender. “This promises well for our coming good-will,” he said. “Brave men may become good friends.”

“You are mistaken, sir, we won’t be forgiven, we hate you, and that is the whole of it,” Wise snapped at Chamberlain. He gestured towards his chest. “There is a rancor in our hearts which you little dream of. We hate you, sir.”

According to another story, Robert E. Lee once took Wise aside to gently chastise him about his strong language. Wise claimed he cut Lee off and said, “General Lee, you certainly play Washington to perfection and your whole life is a constant reproach to me. Now I am perfectly willing that Jackson and yourself shall do the praying for the whole army of Northern Virginia; but, in Heaven’s name, let me do the cussin’ for one small brigade.”

Lee laughed. “Wise, you are incorrigible,” he said.

We are having lovely weather at present; our camps are beautifully situated at the foot of the Blue Ridge, with the mountains in view, with pure air and plenty of good water; the best country in Virginia we have yet been in.

I had a visit yesterday from the Rev. Mr. Coles, Episcopal minister at the village, who told me he had seen Mr. Wilmer some few weeks since, and he had talked a great deal of me, and told him I had been his parishioner. He says Mr. Wilmer is not connected with the army, and has no church, but occupies himself in works of charity, and when he saw him he was on his way to visit the sick and wounded of the Confederate army, after its return from Pennsylvania.

I have tried, but unsuccessfully, to get some news of the Wises. Mr. Wise’s command undoubtedly went with Longstreet to Tennessee, but whether he went I am not able to ascertain.

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), p. 151. Available via Google Books.

Meetings in Washington (September 24, 1863)

In his letter of September 24, Meade tells his wife about the events that led to the XI and XII Corps being taken from his army and sent to reinforce the Army of the Cumberland under Maj. Gen. William Rosecrans in Chattanooga following the Union defeat at Chickamauga. (The administration also sent Joe Hooker with the two corps, answering the question of what to do with Meade’s predecessor in command.) This move cost the Army of the Potomac some 16,000 men.

Secretary of War Edwin Stanton (Library of Congress).

Secretary of War Edwin Stanton (Library of Congress).

The last time I wrote I told you of my having referred to Washington the question of a further advance. As I expected, no decisive answer was sent to me, but I was told to act in accordance with my own judgment. The next thing I was summoned to Washington and informed that the President considered my army too large for a merely defensive one, and proposed to take a portion of it away. I objected and reasoned against this, and left Washington with the belief that the President was satisfied. I had just arranged the programme for a movement, and was about issuing the orders, when orders came from Washington, taking troops away. Of this I do not complain. The President is the best judge of where the armies can be best employed, and if he chooses to place this army strictly on the defensive, I have no right to object or murmur. I was in Washington from 11 p. M. Tuesday till 1 p. M. Wednesday; saw no one but the President, Mr. Stanton and General Halleck; was treated very courteously by all. I told the President and General Halleck that if they thought I was too slow or prudent, to put some one else in my place. Halleck smiled very significantly, and said he had no doubt I would be rejoiced to be relieved, but there was no such good luck for me. I cannot very well tell you all that transpired; the intelligence, by no means favorable, had been received from Rosecrans, and it was evident, without any one knowing what exactly might or could be done, that there still existed a feverish anxiety that I should try and do something. Now that I have been weakened, I presume the country will not be so exigeante.

Theodore Lyman, Meade’s aide, wrote home on the same day. It’s interesting to see things from his perspective:

Yesterday we were favored with the presence of Sir Henry Holland, the Queen’s physician, who is one of the liveliest old birds for one of seventy-five that ever was seen. He travels two months every year, and has already been four or five times in these United States. Dr. Letterman, the Medical Director, put him in an ambulance, and Colonel Townsend and myself completed the party. What pains wounded people may suffer in ambulances, I know not; but I do know that, when driven at a trot, over open fields and through little ditches, the jolting is not to be expressed in words. But the royal medical person maintained his equanimity wonderfully and continued to smile, as if he were having a nice drive over a turnpike. First he was halted on a rising spot, when he could see four batteries of horse artillery, which did defile before him, to his great admiration. Then we bumped him six miles farther, to the Headquarters of the 12th Corps, close to the river. Here he hobnobbed with General Slocum, and then got on a horse and rode about the camps. After which he was taken to a safe spot, whence he could behold the Rebels and their earthworks. He returned quite fresh and departed in a most amiable mood.

There seems to me no particular prospect of a battle. I thought this morning, that we should have a great fight within a couple of days; but movements, which I dare say you will read of in the papers before this letter reaches you, have just knocked it. Entre nous, I believe in my heart that at this moment there is no reason why the whole of Lee’s army should not be either cut to pieces, or in precipitate flight on Richmond. In saying this to you, I accuse nobody and betray no secrets, but merely state my opinion. Your bricks and mortar may be of the best; but, if there are three or four chief architects, none of whom can agree where to lay the first brick, the house will rise slowly.

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. 150-1. Available via Google Books.

Theodore Lyman’s letter is from Meade’s Headquarters, 1863-1865: Letters of Colonel Theodore Lyman from the Wilderness to Appomattox, pp. 21-2. Edited by George R. Agassiz. Boston, Massachusetts Historical Society, 1922. Available via Google Books.

Busy (September 19, 1863)

John Minor Botts and family pose for a photograph on the porch of their house in Culpeper. Meade and his staff were frequent visitors here (Library of Congress).

John Minor Botts and family pose for a photograph on the porch of their house in Culpeper. Meade and his staff were frequent visitors here (Library of Congress).

Meade mentions John Minor Botts in his letter of September 19, 1863. Theodore Lyman talks about Botts in his journal entry from the same day. Lyman said Botts was “a fat man, with a mild blue eye, and his clothing seemed to show the world had gone hard with him.” In fact, the world had gone somewhat hard with Botts, who was an island of Unionism on a sea of secession. A Virginia native, Botts was a Whig politician and former U.S. Congressman and had been briefly jailed by the Confederate authorities because of his staunch pro-Union position.

In his memoir, The Great Rebellion: Its Secret History, Rise, Progress, and Disastrous Failure (1866, and available via Google Books), Botts describes how he bought his house in Culpeper and the tribulations he suffered there. “I purchased in the fall of 1862, and moved to the county on the 8th of January, 1863; but I had hardly gotten comfortably warm in the house before General J. E. B. Stuart came in with his whole cavalry force, took possession of every part of my premises (of 2200 acres), except my house, yard, and garden, turned his horses loose to graze in every field, to the exclusion of my own stock, which was left at the mercy of his highly-incensed command, without any effort or desire on his part to restrain them. They killed my hogs, drove off portions of my cattle with their own whenever they moved, and stole from me $50,000 worth of horses, at Confederate prices, and in Confederate money. Daily and hourly I was subjected to all sorts of vexatious annoyances. I had neither peace nor rest, day nor night, from the time this cavalry force came upon me until the arrival of the Federal army under General Meade in the month of September, except during the battles of Chancellorsville and Gettysburg, from both of which they came immediately back to take care of me.

“General Meade moved into Culpepper on the 12th of September, 1863, and General Stuart moved back at double-quick across the Rapidan.”

Meade saw a fair amount of Botts until the army moved out on the Overland Campaign in May 1864. On one occasion Lyman said this about the Virginian: “Botts is a ready witted, clear headed man, and entertaining to hear.”

The Beckham Meade mentions is Robert F. Beckham, who had served under him on the survey of Lake Superior just before the war. Beckham threw in his lot with the Confederacy and commanded a battery of J.E.B. Stuart’s horse artillery. The Pendleton he mentions is probably Nathanael Greene Pendleton of Ohio, formerly a Whig Congressman. Meade’s wife’s father, John Sergeant, had also been a Whig politician. Pendleton’s son was Ohio Congressman George H. Pendleton, an anti-war Democrat who ran as George McClellan’s vice presidential candidate in the election of 1864.

The Botts family in Culpeper. Theodore Lyman described the Botts daughters as "pleasing, somewhat countryfied young ladies" (Library of Congress).

The Botts family in Culpeper. Theodore Lyman described the Botts daughters as “pleasing, somewhat countryfied young ladies” (Library of Congress).

At present I am very busy. I made the advance I did under the belief that Lee had sent away a large portion of his army, and would perhaps, if threatened, retire to Richmond. I find, however, he evinces no disposition to do so, but is, on the contrary, posted in a very strong position behind the Rapidan, where he can hold me in check, and render it very difficult to pierce his line or turn his position. Under these circumstances I have referred the question to Washington.

John Minor Botts (Library of Congress).

John Minor Botts (Library of Congress).

To-day John Minor Botts, who lives in this vicinity, came to see me and told me Beckham had been at his house a few days ago (before we advanced), and spoke in the most enthusiastic terms of me; so that Beckham is not changed. A Mr. Pendleton also, who was in Congress and knew your father, called, and spoke of Mr. Joseph R. Ingersoll, who had been at his house. Both these gentlemen are Union men.

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), p. 150. Available via Google Books.

September 16, 1863

Meade and his staff pose forphotos at the Wallach House in Culpeper, where the Army of the Potomac established its headquarters (Library of Congress).

Meade and his staff pose for a photo at the Wallach House in Culpeper, where the Army of the Potomac established its headquarters (Library of Congress).

Meade continues to fume over the newspaper article that said he had endorsed Pennsylvania Governor Andrew Gregg Curtin in his speech when he received his presentation sword from the Pennsylvania Reserves. (See the entry for August 31.) He establishes headquarters at Culpeper Court House.

The enclosed correspondence will explain itself. The day I received Mr. Young’s letter, there was visiting at my camp the Hon. John Covode, of Pennsylvania, and Colonel Puleston, a friend of Governor Curtin. Both these gentlemen were present at the presentation and heard my remarks; both are ardent Republicans, yet they admitted they did not hear me make any reference to election day; on the contrary, admired the skill with which I praised Curtin without alluding to his political position. I do not know what Mr. Young will say or do, but it is his fault, or rather that of his reporter, and not mine, if he has been placed in a false position.

The enemy seem disposed to keep quiet the other side of the Rapidan, and to let me hold the country between that river and the Rappahannock, which I took from them on Sunday, including Culpeper Court House. I have now got as far as Pope was last year when he fought the battle of Cedar Mountain. I trust I will have better luck than he had. I am now waiting to know what they in Washington want done. Lee has certainly sent away a third of his army, but he has enough left to bother me in advancing, and though I have no doubt I can make him fall back, yet my force is insufficient to take advantage of his retiring, as I could not follow him to the fortifications of Richmond with the small army I have.

At the time Mr. Covode was here, he was accompanied by a Judge Carter, of Ohio, recently appointed Chief Judge of the new court created in the District of Columbia by the last Congress. These gentlemen spent the night with me, and I had a long talk on national affairs, and I saw what I was before pretty well convinced of, that there was not only little prospect of any adjustment of our civil war, but apparently no idea of how it was to be carried on. The draft is confessedly a failure. Instead of three hundred thousand men, it will not produce over twenty-five thousand, and they mostly worthless. There is no volunteering, and this time next year the whole of this army of veterans goes out of service, and no visible source of resupply. And yet no one seems to realize this state of affairs, but talks of going to war with England, France, and the rest of the world, as if our power was illimitable. Well, Heaven will doubtless in good time bring all things right.

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), p. 149. Available via Google Books.

Cavalry Operations (September 13, 1863)

Alfred Pleasonton headed the cavalry corps for the Army of the Potomac (Library of Congress).

Alfred Pleasonton led the cavalry corps for the Army of the Potomac (Library of Congress).

On September 13 Meade wrote home about sending cavalry head Alfred Pleasonton on an expedition to determine if Robert E. Lee’s army was on the move. He attached Theodore Lyman to Pleasonton’s staff so Lyman could get some experience in the field. Lyman wrote about his adventures on September 17 but I thought I would include that letter here. It demonstrates Lyman’s great value as an observer. He provides a wonderful perspective of a cavalry operation and a particularly vivid portrait of George Armstrong Custer.

A few days ago some scouts I had sent across the river returned and reported that Lee’s army was moving back to Richmond. They asserted positively that that portion near Fredericksburg had actually gone. I did not and do not much rely on their story, though I could not doubt but that a portion of his force had been sent away for some purpose either to re-inforce Beauregard at Charleston or Bragg in the South West.

It was necessary, however, that I should make some effort to ascertain what was going on, so to-day I sent Pleasanton, with all the cavalry, supported by Warren’s Corps (Second), to see what they could find out. Pleasanton crossed the river early, and immediately was engaged with the enemy’s cavalry, and has been fighting them all day. The result is that we have driven them from Culpeper Court House, and three miles beyond, have captured three guns and over fifty prisoners, and Warren is now in Culpeper, some nine miles in front of the Rappahannock. Still the great question as to whether Lee is withdrawing is unsettled, though Pleasanton sends word that all the information that he is able to pick up goes to support the rumor that he is falling back. Should it prove true, I suppose some movement on my part will be necessary; but what, I can’t say, as with my limited force I don’t see how I can advance much farther, and there is no probability of their permitting me to go to the James River, as it uncovers Washington.

Here’s Lyman’s take:

Having again got “home,” I find leisure and paper to write you a rather longer letter than you have got of late. Perhaps you would like to hear about our little cavalry performance. Of course there was not hard fighting, and a hundred or so will cover all the killed and wounded; nevertheless, as the whole was new to me and as the operations covered a good deal of country, they were interesting and instructive both. The whole Cavalry Corps (a good many thousand men) had been massed the day before, and had orders to cross the Rappahannock early next morning. I was to ride down in time to join General Pleasonton. The distance to the river is some eight miles, so I was up at 4.30 — rain pitchforks! dark as a box — thunder and lightning — everything but “enter three witches.” However, in my india-rubber coat and much-insulted large boots, much of the water could be kept out, and, by the time we were saddled and had had some tea, behold it stopped raining and away I went, quite thankful, and with a tail of six orderlies and a corporal. The ground was very wet, and we went slipping and sliding, in the red mud, till we drew near the river, when, behold, the whole country alive with train-waggons, columns of infantry, batteries, and ambulances; the latter with the stretchers fastened outside disagreeably suggestive of casualties. The rear of the cavalry had just crossed, when I got there; and General Pleasonton was on the opposite bank, where I presently joined him, crossing by the railroad bridge. He had with him a good many aides, besides orderlies and escort. Just at this point we held the southern, as well as the northern, bank and the pickets were some two miles out. The country is rolling, but not quite hilly; there are very large open fields (now filled mostly with weeds) and again, considerable woods. In these last our cavalry were hidden, so that you would have said there were not 300 of them all together. This I found, presently, was a great point, to conceal men, behind woods and ridges, as much as possible. We all now rode to our extreme picket line and took a view; and there, sure enough, was Mr. Reb with his picket line, about one third of a mile off. We could see a chain of mounted videttes, and, behind these, on a little knoll, a picket reserve, with their horses tied to trees. We waited some time to give a chance to General Gregg who had crossed on our right, and General Kilpatrick on our left, to get into the proper positions. Then General Pleasonton ordered an advance, and, in a few moments, quite as if by magic, the open country was alive with horsemen; first came columns of skirmishers who immediately deployed and went forward, at a brisk trot, or canter, making a connected line, as far as the eye could reach, right and left. Then followed the supports, in close order, and with and behind them came the field batteries, all trooping along as fast as they could scramble. It was now between eight and nine and the sun was bright, so that the whole spectacle was, to a greenhorn like me, one of the most picturesque possible. Not the least remarkable feature was the coolness of Mr. Reb under these trying circumstances. Their videttes stared a few moments, apparently without much curiosity, then turned tail and moved off, first at a walk, then at a trot, and finally disappeared over the ridge at a gallop. We rode on about a mile, keeping a little behind the skirmishers; General Buford and his Staff being just ahead and to the left. To the left we could hear cannon, General Kilpatrick having got into a skirmish there. Presently I saw a puff of smoke, on a ridge in front of us, and then hm-m-why-z-z-z, bang! went the shell, right by General Buford’s Staff, taking the leg off a poor orderly. Much pleased with their good shot, they proceeded to give our Staff a taste; and missiles of various kinds (but all disagreeable) began to skip and buzz round us. It was to me extraordinary to see the precision with which they fired. All the shot flew near us, and, while I had gone forward to the crest of the ridge to get a better view, a shell exploded directly in the midst of the Staff, wounding an orderly and very neatly shaving a patch of hair off the horse of Captain Hutchins. However, two could play at that game, and Captain Graham soon made the obnoxious guns limber up and depart to the next ridge, where they would again open and stay as long as they could. By the time we had got a few miles further, the enemy had brought forward all his cavalry and began firing with rifles, to which our men replied with their carbines.

George Armstrong Custer and Alfred Pleasonton, photographed in Warrenton, VA, in October 1863 (Library of Congress).

George Armstrong Custer and Alfred Pleasonton, photographed in Warrenton, VA, in October 1863 (Library of Congress).

We now entered a wooded tract, interspersed with mudholes and springy ground, and here the enemy made quite a hard stand, for the town of Culpeper lay a couple of miles beyond and they wished to gain time to get off their stores by the railroad. The advanced regiments were therefore dismounted and sent into the woods, while the artillery tried to find some place whence the guns could be used. It was at this place that I first heard the yells, for which the Rebels are noted. They were the other side of a high bank, covered with bushes, and they yelled to keep their spirits up as long as possible. But they were soon driven through the woods and then we came on an open country, in full view of Culpeper. This was a very interesting sight. The hills are, hereabout, quite large, and on the one opposite us stood Culpeper, very prettily situated, the railroad running through the lower part of the town. Just in the outskirts the Rebels had planted two batteries, as a last check, and behind were drawn up their supports of cavalry. Our cavalry were coming out of the woods, on all sides, moving on the town in form of a semi-circle, while the guns were pelting those of the enemy with might and main. Suddenly we were aware of a railroad train slowly leaving the depot, and immediately several guns were turned on it; but it went off, despite the shells that burst over it. Then there suddenly appeared a body of our cavalry, quite on the left of the town, who made a rush, at full speed, on three cannon there stationed, and took the whole of them with their caissons. This was a really handsome charge and was led by General Custer, who had his horse shot under him. This officer is one of the funniest looking beings you ever saw, and looks like a circus rider gone mad! He wears a huzzar jacket and tight trousers, of faded black velvet trimmed with tarnished gold lace. His head is decked with a little, gray felt hat; high boots and gilt spurs complete the costume, which is enhanced by the General’s coiffure, consisting in short, dry, flaxen ringlets! His aspect, though highly amusing, is also pleasing, as he has a very merry blue eye, and a devil-may-care style. His first greeting to General Pleasonton, as he rode up, was: “How are you, fifteen-days’-leave-of-absence? They have spoiled my boots but they didn’t gain much there, for I stole ‘em from a Reb.” And certainly, there was one boot torn by a piece of shell and the leg hurt also, so the warlike ringlets got not only fifteen, but twelve [additional] days’ leave of absence, and have retreated to their native Michigan!

George Armstrong Custer (Library of Congress).

George Armstrong Custer (Library of Congress).

The Rebels now retreated in all haste, and we rode at once in, and found a good many supplies at the depot with a number of rifles and saddles. As we rode up, the building was beset with grinning dragoons, each munching, with great content, a large apple, whereof they found several barrels which had been intended for the comfort of Mr. Stuart’s dashing knights. I was surprised at the good conduct of the gypsy-looking men. They insulted no one, broke nothing, and only took a few green peaches, which, I fancy, amply revenged themselves. Culpeper is a really decent place, with a brick hotel, and a number of good houses, in front of which were little gardens. I send you a rosebud, which I picked as we rode through the town; there were plenty of them, looking rather out of place there, in the midst of muddy batteries and splattered cavalrymen! A queer thing happened in the taking of the three guns. An officer was made prisoner with them, and, as he was marched to the rear, Lieutenant Counselman of our side cried out, “Hullo, Uncle Harry!” “Hullo!” replied the captain uncle. “Is that you? How are you?” And there these two had been unwittingly shelling each other all the morning!

After resting the horses we pushed on to the south, towards what is called Pong Mountain, for you must know that this region is more hilly, and Pong Mountain is about comparable to the Blue Hills (not quite so high, perhaps). . . . We drove the enemy five miles beyond Culpeper, making fifteen miles, in all, and there a halt was ordered and pickets thrown out. Our Headquarters were a wretched house, of two rooms, inhabited by two old women. We gave them one room and took the other ourselves. And now I loomed out! The Staff had, in the way of creature comforts, nothing but sabres and revolvers. It was dark and raining guns, and the Chief-of-Staff had the stomachache! I took from my saddle-bags a candle and lighted the same, prepared tea from my canteen, and produced a loaf of bread and a Bologna sausage, to the astonishment of the old campaigners, who enquired, “Whether I had a pontoon bridge about me?” Then I rolled myself in my coat and took a good night’s sleep on the floor.

The next morning we started for Raccoon Ford, on the Rapidan, five miles distant. The enemy were mostly across and only opposed us with a few skirmishers. As we got in sight of it, the prospect was not cheering. The opposite bank, partly wooded and partly covered with cultivation, rose in steep, high hills, which completely commanded our side of the river. It was a fine sight to see the column splashing along the wood road, lying between fine oak trees; but the fine sight was presently interrupted by a shell, which exploded about 100 yards ahead of me and right among the horses’ legs, without touching me! The General rode into the open field to reconnoitre the position, and I with him, because he wanted my glass; but Mr. Secesh has a sharp eye for gold cords round hats, and, in a minute, wh-n-n-g, fiwp! wh-z-z-z! a solid shot struck just in front of us, and bounced over our heads. The General ordered us to disperse about the field, so as not to make a mark; but, as I rode off, they sent a shell so near me that a facetious officer called out: “I guess they think you’re somebody pretty distinguished, Kun’l.” However, there may be a good deal of cannon shooting, without many hits; in proof of which I will say that we had a brisk fire of artillery from 10.30 to 2.30, together with a sharp spattering of rifles and carbines, and that our loss was five killed and fifteen wounded! Shells do not sound so badly as I expected; nor did I feel as I expected on the occasion. There is a certain sense of discipline and necessity that bears you up; and the only shell I “ducked” was the first one.

After some difficulty we got some guns in position and drove off those opposed. Then General Kilpatrick’s division went to a better ford below, and tried to get over there; but the Rebels opened on him with fourteen cannon and silenced his guns after a hard fire. So we concluded the fords were not practicable for cavalry, which I think might have been apparent from the outset. Whereupon both parties stopped and stared at each other; and we heroes of the Staff went to a house (much better than that of last night) and partook of mutton which, during the day, we had valiantly made the prey of our bow and our spear. On our right General Gregg had driven the enemy beyond Cedar Mountain and nearly to the river, but was there brought up by a heavy force of artillery in position. All day Tuesday we lay doing nothing. I rode over with the General to Cedar Mountain, passing close to the battlefield, and ascended, thus getting a fine view of the Rapidan valley, which is very beautiful and would, in the hands of good farmers, yield a thousandfold. . . . We have taken on our reconnaissance in force about 150 prisoners, three guns, and five caissons. Yesterday the entire army crossed the Rappahannock, and I got orders to return to Headquarters, which I did.

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. 148-9. Available via Google Books.

Theodore Lyman’s letter is from Meade’s Headquarters, 1863-1865: Letters of Colonel Theodore Lyman from the Wilderness to Appomattox, pp. 14-20. Edited by George R. Agassiz. Boston, Massachusetts Historical Society, 1922. Available via Google Books.

Gifts (September 11, 1863)

Meade and Theodore Lyman both wrote home on September 11 and I include both letters. All was quiet on the eastern theater’s front. Regarding the cigars Meade received, Ulysses S. Grant, too, also began receiving shipments of cigars from admirers following his victories in the west and his attempt to smoke as many of them as possible quite likely led to the cancer that killed him.

Everything remains quiet and in status quo. Humphreys has gone to Philadelphia for a few days to see his wife, who is in the country, and will call to see you, and give you the latest news from camp. I wrote you in my last, of being the recipient of a bouquet from Wisconsin; but since then I have been honored with two very valuable presents. The first is a handsome scarf pin of gold and enamel. It is accompanied with a very flattering note stating it was made in England, and brought over by the donor to be presented in the name of himself and wife, as a tribute of admiration for my great services in saving the country. The note is signed W. H. Schenley, and I think the writer is a Captain Schenley, of the British navy, who many years since married Miss Croghan, of Pittsburgh. Captain Schenley says he intends visiting the army and making my acquaintance.

The second present is five hundred most delicious Havana cigars, sent to me by a Mr. Motley, of New York, whom I accidentally met at the sword presentation to General Sedgwick, and to whom I must have been particularly civil, or in some way made a great impression on him, to induce him to send me five hundred cigars. So you see there is some compensation for the misery we have to suffer.

Here’s Lyman’s letter:

The last two days have been most unusually quiet. I read a little in military books, write a few letters, look over the newspapers a little, talk to the Staff officers, and go to bed early. The conversation of the officers is extremely entertaining, as most of them have been in a good many battles. They say that General Meade is an extremely cool man. At Gettysburg he was in a little wooden house, when the hot fire began. The shells flew very thick and close, and his Staff, who were outside, got under the lee of the house and sat down on the grass. As they sat there, out came General Meade, who, seeing them under such a slender protection against cannon-balls, began to laugh, and said: “That now reminds me of a feller at the Battle of Buena Vista, who, having got behind a wagon, during a severe cannonade, was there found by General Taylor. ‘Wall Gin’ral,’ said he, looking rather sheepish, ‘this ain’t much protection, but it kinder feels as it was.'” As a point to the Chief’s anecdote, a spherical case came through the house at that instant, exploded in their circle and wounded Colonel Dickinson. . . .

The Lydia Leister house at Gettysburg, which Meade used as his headquarters during the battle. Notice the dead horses in the road. Lyman relates a story about Meade here on July 3, 1863 (Library of Congress).

The Lydia Leister house at Gettysburg, which Meade used as his headquarters during the battle. Notice the dead horses in the road. Lyman relates a story about Meade here on July 3, 1863 (Library of Congress).

I walked over and saw the Provost prisoners, the other evening. If you want to see degraded human nature, there was the chance. There was a bough covering, about forty feet square, guarded by sentries, and under it were grouped some fifty of the most miserable and depraved human beings I ever saw—deserters, stray Rebel soldiers, “bushwhackers” and camp-followers. They sleep on the bare ground with such covering as they may have, and get a ration of pork and biscuit every day. This is only a sort of temporary guardhouse, where they are put as they come in. War is a hard thing. This country, just here, was once all fenced in and planted; now there isn’t a rail left and the land is either covered with dried weeds or is turned into a dusty plain by the innumerable trains of horses, mules and waggons.

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. 147-8. Available via Google Books.

Theodore Lyman’s letter is from Meade’s Headquarters, 1863-1865: Letters of Colonel Theodore Lyman from the Wilderness to Appomattox, pp. 12-13.Edited by George R. Agassiz. Boston, Massachusetts Historical Society, 1922. Available via Google Books.

Visiting the Dead

Civil War soldiers, Union and Confederate, are buried in Harrisburg Cemetery.

Civil War soldiers, Union and Confederate, are buried in Harrisburg Cemetery.

Yesterday (September 8, 2013) I drove over to Harrisburg Cemetery in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to take a tour offered by the Camp Curtin Historical Society. Our guide was Jim Schmick, the society’s founder and president. Jim is also the owner of Civil War and More in Mechanicsburg and a seemingly inexhaustible source of knowledge about the Civil War and local history. For more than two hours Jim showed us around the cemetery as he told stories about the people buried there and tied in their lives to the places and events of Harrisburg’s past. There was nothing here particularly Meade related, but we visited governors and the city of Harrisburg’s first mayor, stopped by the grave of Andrew David Porter, who served on George Washington’s staff, and saw the grave of Simon Cameron, Lincoln’s first secretary of war.

Of course, we went to see John Geary’s grave. Geary commanded a division of the XII Corps at Gettysburg (where he unfortunately got lost while leading his men to reinforce the Union left on July 2) and was also the mayor of San Francisco, the territorial governor of Kansas, and the governor of Pennsylvania. Quite a career.

The cemetery, founded in 1845 on 12 acres, has grown to cover 35 acres. It’s still an active cemetery and it is suitably atmospheric. I’ve posted a few photos–click on them to see larger versions.

The cemetery gatehouse. Harrisburg Cemetery is a stop along the Pennsylvania Civil War Trails (and I wrote about it in my book of the same name).

The cemetery gatehouse. Harrisburg Cemetery is a stop along the Pennsylvania Civil War Trails (and I wrote about it in my book of the same name).

Jim Schmick shows us a brochure from the cemetery's 150th anniversary in 1995.

Jim Schmick shows us a brochure from the cemetery’s 150th anniversary in 1995.

The Pennsylvania State Capitol is visible through the trees. George Grey Barnard, who created some of the statuary for the building, is buried here.

The Pennsylvania State Capitol is visible through the trees. George Grey Barnard, who created some of the statuary for the building, is buried here.

John White Geary had an impressive life as a soldier and a politician.

John White Geary had an impressive life as a soldier and a politician.

In this closeup of the Geary statue, you can see the dings from bullets that someone recently fired at it.

In this closeup of the Geary statue, you can see the dings from bullets that someone recently fired at it.

Jim tells us about Joseph Knipe, the officer who named Harrisburg's Camp Curtin after the then-governor of Pennsylvania.

Jim tells us about Joseph Knipe, the officer who named Harrisburg’s Camp Curtin after the then-governor of Pennsylvania.

Simon Cameron, Lincoln's first secretary of war, is buried here. Cameron's combination of corruption and incompetence forced Lincoln to replace him with Edwin Stanton and ship Cameron off to Moscow to serve as envoy there.

Simon Cameron, Lincoln’s first secretary of war, is buried here. Cameron’s combination of corruption and incompetence forced Lincoln to replace him with Edwin Stanton and ship Cameron off to Moscow to serve as envoy there.

The only Medal of Honor recipient buried here, Charles C. Davis earned his honors with the 7th PA Cavalry at the Battle of Shelbyville.

The only Medal of Honor recipient buried here, Charles C. Davis earned his honors with the 7th PA Cavalry at the Battle of Shelbyville.

As good a place to end the tour as any.

As good a place to end the tour as any.

Regards from Sheboygan (September 8, 1863)

Maj. Gen. William French, commander of the III Corps, poses with his staff outside Culpeper sometime in September 1863. French stands in the group's center, looking slightly to his right. Click on the image to see a larger version (Library of Congress).

Maj. Gen. William French, commander of the III Corps, poses with his staff outside Culpeper sometime in September 1863. French stands near the group’s center, looking slightly to his right. Click on the image to see a larger version (Library of Congress).

Meade’s letter from September 8, 1863, is fairly short and unexceptional. On the next day, however, Theodore Lyman wrote a letter home that proves much more informative. I include them both here, Meade’s first. The General French he refers to is William French, who had taken over the III Corps following the wounding if Daniel Sickles at Gettysburg.

I reviewed the Third Corps, commanded by General French. The day was pretty hot, and I had to ride six miles to the review and back the same distance. I received recently a very handsome bouquet from two ladies in Sheboygan, Wisconsin; I send you the note accompanying it. Likewise a curious letter written by a rebel refugee in Canada. I am in receipt of such curious documents all the time.

Lyman goes into much more detail about the review and other aspects of life with the Army of the Potomac. (Mause Headrigg, whom he mentions at the end, is a character from Sir Walter Scott’s Old Mortality.)

In my last I forwarded a landscape with Headquarters of the 3d Corps in the verdant background. In this, I will describe the Review, at which, as the Gauls say, “I assisted.” . . . Everybody got himself up in all available splendor. Those that had scarfs put them on, and those that had none, tried to make up in the shine of their boots and newness of their coats. General Meade burst forth in the glory of a new saddle-cloth, which the expressman had, in the nick of time, brought fresh from Washington. As for myself, did I not put on the Brimmer scarf, and white gloves, and patent-leather boots; whereby, shining like a lily of the field, was I not promoted to ride immediately behind the Chief, thereby happily avoiding the dust? Heure militaire, we all mounted, the escort presented arms, and the cavalcade jogged off, en route for the parade ground, six miles distant. The road lay through pine woods, and barren fields, and all sorts of places like most roads hereabouts, and the cloud of dust we raised must have been extremely pleasant to the escort in the rear! At length we got in sight of a big U. S. flag, and, immediately after, beheld a long slope of clear ground, quite black with the lines of infantry, while long artillery trains were moving across the fields to get into position. It looked very handsome and warlike, and the muskets, which had received an extra burnish, were flashing away at a great rate. The procession rode up to the house and dismounted midst great cries of “Orderly!” to come and hold their horses. Then advanced convenient Contrabands and dusted us down; which improved our aspect not a little. After which the Corps Commander, General French, came forth, with proper greetings. He looks precisely like one of those plethoric French colonels, who are so stout, and who look so red in the face, that one would suppose some one had tied a cord tightly round their necks. Mounted on a large and fine horse, his whole aspect was martial, not to say fierce. In a few minutes we again got on, and moved towards the field; whereupon there arose a great and dis tant shouting of “Bat-tal-ion! Shoulder! Her-r-rms!” and the long lines suddenly became very straight and stiff, and up went the muskets to a shoulder. We rode down the front and up the rear of each line (of which there were three, each of a division with the artillery on the left flank) amid a tremendous rolling of drums and presenting of arms and dropping flags; the bands playing “Hail to the Chief.” Miss Sturgis’s mare behaved very nicely and galloped along with her neck arched, minding nothing except the flags, and those not much. Even the cannon did not disturb her behaviour. . . .

After the artillery had in like manner been reviewed, the General took a station by a little flag, and then all three divisions marched past, followed by the artillery. It was a somewhat sad sight to look at these veterans, with their travel-stained uniforms and their battered canteens; many of the regiments had no more than 200 men, and their flags were so tattered that you could barely read such names as Fair Oaks, and Williamsburg, where so many of the missing 800 now lie. The men looked spare and brown and in good health; and also as if they would then and there fight French Zouaves or anybody else you chose to bring on. . . . Some divisions at Gettysburg marched thirty-six miles in one day; and then fought for two days after that, with scarcely anything to eat or to drink. Among the troops were the 11th and 16th Massachusetts regiments and the 10th battery, and certainly none of the soldiers looked better. . . . The artillery looked even more serviceable than the infantry; and, independent of the large number of guns, was well horsed and well manned. As a rule I am much pleased with the aspect of our officers, high and low. They are cleanly and have a firm, quiet bearing. You can often pick out those who have been through the thick of it, by their subdued and steady look. The dress of the soldiers is highly practical, more so even than the French. The knapsack is baggy and of a poor pattern, however. It is curious how everything has, by sheer hard service and necessity, been brought down to the lowest point of weight and complication. A dragoon tucks his trousers inside his boots, buckles on a belt, from which hang a sabre and revolver, gets on a horse with a McClellan saddle and curb bridle, and there he is, ready to ride fifty miles in one day and fight on top of it. . . . After the Review the generals were entertained in a bower, with champagne and other delicacies, while we of the Staff meekly had big sandwiches and buckets of punch. I tried a sandwich, but found it rather salt eating, and so confined myself to iced water, wherein I got ahead of winebibbers who arrived at home very cross and hot. The General, who is very moderate in his conviviality, soon broke up the meeting, and, amidst a most terrible clicking of spurs and rattling of sabres, we all mounted, and so home by a short cut which one of General French’s aides was kind enough to show us, and which entailed a considerable amount of rough riding; so that, with Mause Headrigg, I had occasion to remark, “By the help of the Lord I have luppen a ditch!”

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), p. 147. Available via Google Books.

Theodore Lyman’s letter is from Meade’s Headquarters, 1863-1865: Letters of Colonel Theodore Lyman from the Wilderness to Appomattox, pp. 9-12. Edited by George R. Agassiz. Boston, Massachusetts Historical Society, 1922. Available via Google Books.

Visiting (September 6, 1863)

There is no letter from General Meade on September 6, but Theodore Lyman does write home. He documents a visit to Maj. Gen. George Sykes, who had replaced Meade as the head of the V Corps when Meade received command of the Army of the Potomac. Humphreys is Andrew Humphreys, now serving as Meade’s chief of staff.

General George Sykes. (Library of Congress photo.)

General George Sykes. (Library of Congress photo.)

I promised to tell you how I invited General Meade to go with me and see General Sykes. If I didn’t know anything, I looked like a Commander-in-Chief, for I had the best horse and the best accoutrements, and as for clothes, General Meade was nowhere; besides which, he had no sword, while I had. The cavalry escort reminded me exactly of the Guides that go with the little Prince along the rue de Rivoli. No two of them had caps alike, none had their jackets buttoned; all were covered with half an inch of dust, and all eschewed straps to their pantaloons. Nevertheless, had the Rebs appeared, I should have preferred these informal cavaliers to the Guides. Each man had a sabre with a rusty scabbard, and a revolver hung at his belt. They all ride well, and would be handsome horsemen, if “got up.”

General Humphreys, with his usual bland smile, appeared on a small gray, which was of a contrary and rearing disposition; but the General remarked, with the air of an injured man, that he had had three valuable horses killed under him in battle, and now he should only get cheap ones. General Meade, whose saddle-flap was ornamented with a bullet-hole within an inch of his leg, was mounted on a small bay. And so we jingled off; sometimes in the road, sometimes in the open fields, sometimes in the woods and sometimes through creeks and mudholes. The Chief rides in a most aggravating way, neither at a walk nor a gallop, but at a sort of amble, which bumps you and makes you very uncomfortable. … In due season we got to the 5th Corps Headquarters, near the Rappahannock, which is a very narrow affair at this point, and not over four feet deep on the shallowest fords. General Sykes looks a little like the photograph of General Lyon and has a very thick head of hair, which stands up like Traddles’s. He is a mild, steady man, and very polite, like all the officers I have seen down here. Indeed, a more courteous set of men it would be hard to find. I have yet to meet a single gruffy one. They are of all sorts, some well educated, others highly Bowery, but all entirely civil. . . . The astute Sykes talked some time with the Chief, and then we rode to the Headquarters of General [John] Newton, who commands the 1st Corps, hard by. This chieftain had a very gorgeous tent, erected for the express accommodation of Mrs. Newton, who, however, was soon driven forth by the general order excluding all ladies from the lines; and the tent was all that remained to remind one of her presence. General Newton also has a thick head of hair, and is a tall and finely built man and “light complected.” He was in great glee over a tệte-de-pont he had erected, and hoped to decoy some unfortunate Rebels to within range of it. He produced a huge variety of liquids which I had to refuse. The drinks I have refused will be a burden on my conscience in time to come. They come from all sides and in great variety, even champagne! . . .

Theodore Lyman’s letter is from Meade’s Headquarters, 1863-1865: Letters of Colonel Theodore Lyman from the Wilderness to Appomattox, pp. 8-9.Edited by George R. Agassiz. Boston, Massachusetts Historical Society, 1922. Available via Google Books.