Surrender (May 25, 1864)

Mrs. Meade (and her mother) do not give up regarding the donation of a house. The General waves the white flag.

Yours of the 21st reached me this morning, also one from your mother to the same effect, that it was too late to refuse the house. Setting aside the injustice to me of placing the affair in such condition that I have no option in the matter, I have written a letter to Mr. Gerhard, which I enclose, and which you can hand to him at such time as may be deemed suitable. My contributing friends must know there was nothing personal in my action, because I do not know the name of a single contributor. I acted on the general principle I have always held, that a public man makes a mistake when he allows his generous friends to reward him with gifts. I wrote Mr. Gerhard it was not a case of necessity, as, by proper economy, we could and should live on our means; that if anything should happen to me, then I would be grateful for the smallest assistance given to you and the children; but until that time, I thought it better for me to preserve my independence, although no one could be more sensible to and grateful for the generous kindness of my friends than I was. My opinions are still unchanged; but if the affair is settled, and it is too late to decline, I have no disposition to be ungenerous, and certainly no design of doing anything that would be offensive to the feelings of those who have been so kind to me. You can therefore take the house, and express to all you know my deep obligation and sincere gratitude.

The enemy, though he has fallen back, still confronts us, and is being reinforced.

Theodore Lyman, in the meantime, pays a visit to Maj. Gen. Gouverneur K. Warren of the V Corps.

Major General Gouverneur Kemble Warren

Major General Gouverneur Kemble Warren (Library of Congress).

Burnside’s Corps, hitherto a sort of fifth wheel, was today incorporated in the A. of P., and so put under Meade. . . . The enemy, with consummate skill, had run their line like a V, with the point on the river, so that our army would be cut in two, if we attacked, and either wing subject to defeat; while the enemy, all the time, covered Hanover Junction. At 7.30, I was sent to General Warren, to stay during the day, as long as anything of interest was going on, and send orderlies back to report. I found the General among the pines, about halfway up his line. In front a heavy skirmish was going on, we trying to push on our skirmish line and they resisting obstinately. Presently we rode down to where [Charles] Griffin was, near the spot where the common road crosses the Gordonsville rail. Griffin always goes sitting in unpleasant places. There was a sharpshooter or two who, though we were hid by the small trees, would occasionally send a bullet through, as much as to say: “I know you are there — I’ll hit you presently.” Appleton was shot through the arm near here, while placing a battery in position. Then we rode to the extreme right, near to the picket reserve of the 22d Massachusetts. Warren, who is always very kind to me, told all the others to stay behind, but let me come. We rode under the crests, and along woods a little, and were not shot at; and went as far as a log barn, where we stopped carefully on the off side, and talked to the picket officer. When we left, we cantered gracefully and came off all right. Then to General Wright at E. Anderson’s house; a nice safe place, and the family still there; likewise iced water, very pleasant this hot weather. After which, once more for a few minutes to Griffin, passing on the road one of his aides, on a stretcher, exceeding pale, for he had just been hit in the artery of the arm and lost a deal of blood before it could be stopped. Also there came a cheery soldier, shot through the leg, who said: “Never mind, I hit five or six of them first.” Finally we rode the whole length of Warren’s and Crittenden’s lines, seeing Weld on the way. . . .

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. 198-9. Available via Google Books.

Theodore Lyman’s letter is from Meade’s Headquarters, 1863-1865: Letters of Colonel Theodore Lyman from the Wilderness to Appomattox, pp.127-8. Edited by George R. Agassiz. Boston, Massachusetts Historical Society, 1922. Available via Google Books.

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