What’s Wrong with this Picture?

The Antrim 1844 Inn in Taneytown, Maryland.

The Antrim 1844 Inn in Taneytown, Maryland.

My wife and I stayed last night in Taneytown, Maryland, at the beautiful Antrim 1844 inn. George Meade also stayed in Taneytown for one night, the night of June 30, 1863. He had been in command of the Army of the Potomac for two days at that point. The next day fighting erupted some 14 miles north, outside Gettysburg. We all know what happened there.

North of Taneytown on Route 94 there’s a historical marker. “Meade’s Headquarters,” it reads. “Major General George G. Meade, commander of the Army of the Potomac, maintained headquarters on the nearby Shunk Farm from June 30 until the night of July 1, 1863.”

Whitelaw Reid, a correspondent for the Cincinnati Gazette, passed through this “pleasant Maryland hamlet” on July 1 and noted the confused activity of an army on the move. “Army trains blocked up the streets,” he wrote; “a group of quartermasters and commissaries were bustling about the principal corner; across on the hills and along the road to the left, as far as the eye could reach, rose the glitter from the swaying points of bayonets as with steady tramp the columns of our Second and Third corps were marching northward.” He found Meade’s headquarters at the Shunk farm. “In a plain little wall tent, just like the rest, pen in hand, seated on a camp-stool and bending over a map, is the new ‘General Commanding’ for the Army of the Potomac.” Reid went on to describe Meade: “Tall, slender, not ungainly, but certainly not handsome or graceful, thin-faced, with grizzled beard and moustache, a broad and high but retreating forehead, from each corner of which the slightly-curling hair recedes, as if giving premonition of baldness–apparently between forty-five and fifty years of age–altogether a man who impresses you rather as a thoughtful student than a dashing soldier–so General Meade looks in his tent.”

Not a book about George Gordon Meade, the victor of Gettysburg.

Not a book about George Gordon Meade, the victor of Gettysburg.

The Antrim Inn says that it’s rumored that Meade established his headquarters there, but that’s not the case. It’s certainly possible that he stopped at the house as he entered town. It would have looked much as it does today, a dignified brick building with white wood trim. Inside, the rooms have soaring ceilings and antique furnishings. It’s really quite an elegant place. My wife and I decided we had to stay in the Meade Room. It’s on the second floor, its tall windows looking out over the edge of Taneytown. It’s a beautiful room but there’s nothing about Meade in it. There is, however, a book about—wait for it—Robert E. Lee. And in the gift shop/reception room, there are twin portraits of Lee and Ulysses S. Grant.

I tell you, poor Meade gets no respect.

Our dinner with Meade.

Our dinner with Meade.

However, we did find Meade in the restaurant, a cool, brick-lined space on the Inn’s lower level. He shared the expansive dining area with a number of his fellow generals from both sides. Grant was here, too. So were Lee, Jeb Stuart, Joshua Chamberlain, James Longstreet, and Lewis Armistead. We dined beneath Meade’s portrait, satisfied to see that the Old Goggle-eyed Snapping Turtle received some recognition in Taneytown.

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