Easter (March 27, 1864)

Ulysses S. Grant with his horse Cincinnati (Library of Congress).

Ulysses S. Grant with his horse Cincinnati (Library of Congress).

In 1864 Easter Sunday fell on March 27, explaining the presence of Bishop H. B. Whipple with the Army of the Potomac. In 1872 Whipple will give the address at George Meade’s funeral in Philadelphia. Meade’s Easter letter strikes a sad note regarding the health of John Sergeant Meade. From this point forward many of Meade’s letters contain anguished passages about his oldest son but when it came time to publish them in Meade’s Life and Letters, his editors (son George and grandson) cut much of that overly personal material.

It would be interesting to learn what Mrs. Meade had to say about Grant. Most likely she resented the way the new general-in-chief was overshadowing her husband.

Your letter of the 25th inst. arrived this afternoon. I am very much distressed to hear of Sergeant’s continued weakness. As to my going home, that is utterly out of the question. You must not expect to see me till next winter, unless, as before, I am brought home on a litter. Whatever occurs, I shall not voluntarily leave the field.

We have had most interesting services to-day by Bishop Whipple, who administered the Holy Communion to quite a number of officers and soldiers, hastily collected from the staff and the detachments on duty at these headquarters. We had afternoon services, and afterwards the bishop and his assistant, with General Seth Williams, dined with me. The bishop brought down with him a magnificent bouquet of flowers, with which our rude altar was adorned. The bishop is a most interesting man, about forty years of age, but full of life and energy. He preached two most appropriate and impressive discourses, well adapted to all classes of his hearers.

General Grant went up to Washington to-day, expecting to return to-morrow. You do not do Grant justice, and I am sorry to see it. You do not make a distinction between his own acts and those forced on him by the Government, Congress and public opinion. If left to himself, I have no doubt Grant would have let me alone; but placed in the position he holds, and with the expectations formed of him, if operations on a great scale are to be carried on here, he could not well have kept aloof. As yet he has indicated no purpose to interfere with me; on the contrary, acts promptly on all my suggestions, and seems desirous of making his stay here only the means of strengthening and increasing my forces. God knows I shall hail his advent with delight if it results in carrying on operations in the manner I have always desired they should be carried on. Cheerfully will I give him all credit if he can bring the war to a close.

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. 184-5. Available via Google Books.

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