Aristocrats (May 1, 1864)

Republican Senator Thaddeus Stevens (Library of Congress).

Republican Senator Thaddeus Stevens (Library of Congress).

It’s surprising to hear of Thaddeus Stevens as a Meade supporter. Radical Republicans such as the Pennsylvania senator tended to eye men like Meade, perceived as being too close to George McClellan, with suspicion. As interesting as it is to hear a Radical Republican say something nice about Meade, it’s even more interesting to have Meade describe Philip Sheridan as “quite distinguished.” It will not be long before his opinion changes.

The Sypher Meade mentions is Josiah Sypher. Born in Liverpool, he studied law with Stevens and became a newspaper reporter/editor. After the war he wrote History of the Pennsylvania Reserve Corps: A Complete Record of the Organization ; and of the Different Companies, Regiments and Brigades ; Containing Descriptions of Expeditions, Marches, Skirmishes, and Battles ; Together with Biographical Sketches of Officers and Personal Records of Each Man During His Term of Service ; Compiled from Official Reports and Other Documents.

The Augur mentioned in this letter is General Christopher C. Augur. As commander of the Department of Washington, he was in a good position to acquire the photographs that Mrs. Meade desired.

I am sorry for your trouble about the generals. Augur happened to be in my tent when I received your letter, and I told him of your distress. He said if you would send him the names of those you wished, he thought he could get their photographs for you. I will ask Sheridan for his. He is our new cavalry commander, and quite distinguished.

I have to-night a note from a Mrs. Brown, 1113 Girard Street, on the Dry Goods Committee, asking for a lock of my hair, but I have been compelled to decline on the ground of the shortness of my locks.

The weather continues fine, and the time approaches for active operations. Some indications would lead to the belief that Lee will take the initiative, but I can hardly believe he will be so blind to the experience of the two past campaigns. The defensive policy is clearly the true one for him; still, he may not think so.

I don’t think I told you I had a visit from Mr. Sypher, formerly a correspondent of the Inquirer, but afterwards of the Tribune. He is a great friend of Thaddeus Stevens, and lives in the same house with him in Washington. He told me Mr. Stevens was a firm friend of mine, and recently, when some member was attacking me in conversation, he brought against me the charge that I was an aristocrat. Mr. Stevens laughed and said he knew all about my family, and he wished the country had more such aristocrats.

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. 192. Available via Google Books.

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