Washington Fatigue (February 21, 1864)

One of the tasks facing Meade in the winter of 1864 was working with Henry Halleck and others in Washington, D.C., to reorganize the Army of the Potomac. Big changes were afoot, with some corps destined to be sent west and others to be eliminated completely. The congressman Meade mentions is Moses Odell, a Democrat from New York. It would be interesting to know what the two men talked about. The only House Democrat on the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War, which will target Meade in the spring, Odell will support the general on an otherwise hostile panel. Judge Harris is probably Ira Harris, who had served on the New York State Supreme Court before becoming a Republican senator from that state. Speaker Colfax is Schuyler Colfax of Indiana, who had been elected Speaker of the House back in December.

Congressman Moses Odell, a Democratic congressman from New York (Wikipedia).

Congressman Moses Odell, a Democratic congressman from New York (Wikipedia).

I returned from Washington to-day, very much fatigued and worn out with two days passed in that place. I reached there Friday about 2 P. M., and immediately went to the Department, where I stayed till 6 P. M., returned to the hotel, dined, and spent the evening with Mr. Odell, member of Congress, and Judge Harris. The next day, Saturday, I was with General Halleck till 3 P. M., when I went out to Georgetown and saw Margaret [Meade’s sister]. I ought to have mentioned that before going to see Margaret, I stopped at the President’s, where Mrs. Lincoln was holding a levee, and spent a half-hour. I also ought to have stated that the evening before, after leaving Judge Harris, I was persuaded by Mr. Harding and Cortlandt Parker to go to Speaker Colfax’s reception, where I was a great lion, Mr. Colfax himself turning usher and bringing every man and woman in the room to introduce to me. All this going about, sitting up late at night and standing so much, had its effect on me, wearying and fatiguing me so that I was very glad to get back to-day.

The army is overrun with women. There is to be a grand ball to-morrow at the headquarters of the Second Corps, and I believe half of Washington is coming down to attend. I expected the Secretary of the Interior and his lady to come down with me to-day, but he did not come to the cars. As the ball is nearly five miles from my headquarters, I don’t think I shall have the courage to go. I don’t mind the going, but it is the coming back which is so unpleasant.

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. 166-7. Available via Google Books.

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