A Desperate Undertaking (February 27, 1864)

In this letter Meade alludes to an upcoming raid on Richmond. The story of this raid will continue in Meade’s future letters. Led by Judson Kilpatrick with assistance by one-legged Ulric Dahlgren, who lost his limb fighting in Hagerstown during the Gettysburg campaign, it will not end well. There will be repercussions.

I am glad George wrote you an account of the ball. I should have been delighted, if I had owned the carpet in the Arabian Nights to have transported sister and yourself to the army for that night, but the journey here and back, the expense and fatigue, besides exposure, were all drawbacks, greater than the compensation to be found in the pleasure of your presence.

I have been a good deal occupied with an attempt I am about making, to send a force of cavalry into Richmond to liberate our prisoners. The undertaking is a desperate one, but the anxiety and distress of the public and of the authorities at Washington is so great that it seems to demand running great risks for the chances of success.

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. 167-8. Available via Google Books.

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