Very Bad Spirits (July 29, 1864)

Ulysses S. Grant and his staff at City Point (Library of Congress).

Ulysses S. Grant and his staff at City Point (Library of Congress).

Intrigue and rumors continue to plague the Army of the Potomac. The Franklin that Grant wanted to command the new department is William Franklin, whose career had never really recovered after his maneuverings against Ambrose Burnside following Fredericksburg. The other refugees from the Army Meade mentions are Oliver O. Howard and Joe Hooker.

The upcoming attack that Meade mentions is the debacle we remember as the Battle of the Crater.

Your letters of the 24th and 27th arrived this evening. They are written in very bad spirits, and I am tempted to scold you for indulging in such. I want you to recover your original elasticity of spirits which characterized you in the early days of our married life, when you were always sure something was going to turn up. You must now try to look on the bright side and hope for the best. I think we have a great deal to be thankful for, and things might be much worse.

I had a visit yesterday from our old friend the Rev. Mr. Neill. He was very complimentary to me, and promised to call and see you on his return to Philadelphia. He was here as agent of the Christian Commission.

Yesterday I went to see General Grant at City Point. He said he wanted an officer to go to Washington to take command of the Department of West Virginia, Susquehanna, Baltimore and Washington. That not wishing to take any one from the field, he had suggested Franklin, but they had declined to have Franklin. He then suggested my name, to which he had received no reply, but a message from the President asking him to meet him at Fortress Monroe. I made no reply to Grant, except to say I was ready to obey any order that might be given me. So far as having an independent command, which the Army of the Potomac is not, I would like this change very well; but in other respects, to have to manage Couch, Hunter, Wallace and Augur, and to be managed by the President, Secretary and Halleck, will be a pretty trying position that no man in his senses could desire. I am quite indifferent how it turns out. I think the President will urge the appointment of Halleck; but Grant will not agree to this if he can help it.

Grant told me Sherman has assigned Howard to McPherson’s command. This had disgusted Joe Hooker, who had asked to be and had been relieved. To-morrow we make an attack on Petersburg. I am not sanguine of success, but hope for the best.

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. 216-17 Available via Google Books.

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