Sons and Generals (March 26, 1864)

Meade wished this quickie biography had devoted more space to his engineering work (

Meade wished this quickie biography had devoted more space to his engineering work (

In his letter of March 26, Meade mentions two of his sons, Spencer (Pennie) and John Sergeant (Sargie). John Sergeant was Meade’s oldest son, born on November 4, 1841. Spencer, his third son, was born on January 19, 1850. The second son, George, was serving on Meade’s staff. Poor John Sergeant was already ill with the tuberculosis that will kill him in less than a year.

The letter about a court of inquiry that Meade mentions is the one he wrote in response to the article by Historicus, which he believed was either written or dictated by Dan Sickles. The Life and Public Services of General Meade was one of several quickie biographies of Union generals published by T.R. Peterson & Brothers of Philadelphia.

Pennie arrived yesterday, looking very well and quite delighted with his journey and at getting to camp. Willie and Davy Whipple came with him. Unfortunately they came in a storm of rain, and although to-day has been blustering and raw, they have been out on horseback, commencing their sight seeing. This evening they have gone over to one of the neighboring camps, where the soldiers are going to have a negro minstrel exhibition.

The weather has been so unpropitious that no inspection has been practicable by General Grant. I spent several hours with him yesterday. He appears very friendly, and at once adopts all my suggestions. I believe Grant is honest and fair, and I have no doubt he will give me full credit for anything I may do, and if I don’t deserve any, I don’t desire it.

I think I wrote you I had a long and friendly letter from Mr. Harding, in which he said he had seen Mr. Stanton, who told him of my letter in reference to Sickles, asking for a court of inquiry, which Mr. Stanton said he should not grant, for the reason that he did not deem one necessary; that I had been made a brigadier general in the regular army and thanked by Congress for my services at Gettysburg, and that no attention should be paid to such a person as Sickles. Mr. Stanton told Mr. Harding he thought I was unnecessarily nervous about these attacks, and that I ought not to give them a thought. I, however, think differently, and do not believe in the policy of remaining quiet, under the false and slanderous charges of even the most insignificant.

Tell Sargie two copies of the famous “Life and Services of Major General Meade” have been sent me by the publishers. I had no idea my services would take up so much printing matter. I must confess I think a little more space might be given to my services prior to the Rebellion. I always thought my services in the construction of lighthouses, and subsequently on the Lake Survey, were of considerable importance.

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. 183-4. Available via Google Books.

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