The Anxious Bench (December 7, 1863)

Mine Run map detail

As George Gordon Meade waits for Washington’s reaction to his failed Mine Run Campaign he looks into the future. And what does he see? “I suppose after awhile it will be discovered I was not at Gettysburg at all.”

I am yet on the anxious bench; not one word has been vouchsafed me from Washington. To-day I have sent in my official report, in which I have told the plain truth, acknowledged the movement was a failure, but claimed the causes were not in my plans, but in the want of support and co-operation on the part of subordinates. I don’t know whether my report will be published, but if it is, it will make a sensation, and undoubtedly result in some official investigation. I have received a very kind letter from Cortlandt Parker (written before he had received yours), in which he sympathizes with me in the failure, but says he is satisfied I have done right, and that I have not lost the confidence of intelligent people, and he hopes I will not resign, but hold on till the last. I have also received a very kind and complimentary letter from Gibbon, saying he had as much confidence as ever in my ability to command, and that military men would sustain me. I telegraphed General Halleck that I desired to visit Washington, but his reply was couched in such terms that, though it gave me permission to go, clearly intimated that my presence was not desired, so far as he was concerned. I have in consequence not gone, and now shall not go unless they send for me.

I see the Herald is constantly harping on the assertion that Gettysburg was fought by the corps commanders and the common soldiers, and that no generalship was displayed. I suppose after awhile it will be discovered I was not at Gettysburg at all.

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. 156-9. Available via Google Books.

Following are the scanned pages of Meade’s official report on Mine Run, from The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1880-1901), Vol. XXIX, Pt. I: 12-20. The scans are from the Cornell University Library’s invaluable online version of the Official Records. Click on each thumbnail to enlarge.

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