French Visitors (December 24, 1863)

The Army of the Potomac’s proximity to Washington made it a magnet for foreign visitors who wanted to get a personal sense of warfare. In their correspondence, both Meade and his aide, Theodore Lyman, noted the various dignitaries they entertained.

The Hutton whom Meade mentions may be Captain Charles Hutton, who did serve as an aide to Ambrose Burnside before being dismissed from the army in September after challenging another officer to a duel, a violation of the 25th Article of War.

George will tell you of my French visitors, and that they took up so much of my time that I could not write. To-day I have sent them out under the escort of a staff officer, and have embraced the chance to send you a few lines. They are very clever gentlemen— indeed, the most gentlemanly Frenchmen I have ever met. I understand they belong to the haute noblesse. One is the Prince d’Aremberg and the other the Comte de Choiseul. They have with them a young Englishman named Blount, who is an habitue of the Paris salons, and who came over with them. The two Frenchmen are officers of cavalry in the army, one on leave from his regiment in Paris, and the other going to Mexico. They brought me a very strong note from Mr. Mercier, the French Minister at Washington, who only refrained from accompanying them because he is about to return next week to Europe. They have in their company a Mr. Hutton, from New York, who used to be on Burnside’s staff.

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. 163. Available via Google Books.

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