A Hard Day (December 20, 1864)

Ambrose Burnside. The Battle of the Crater provided a good reason to get him out of the Army of the Potomac once and for all (Library of Congress).

Ambrose Burnside. The Battle of the Crater provided a good reason to get him out of the Army of the Potomac once and for all (Library of Congress).

Members of Congress arrive to investigate the Battle of the Crater. War is politics, and politics is war.

I have had a hard day to-day. This morning Messrs. Chandler and Harding, of the Senate, and Loan and Julian, of the House, all members of the Committee on the Conduct of the War, made their appearance to investigate the Mine affair. They gave me a list of witnesses to be called, from which I at once saw that their object was to censure me, inasmuch as all these officers were Burnside’s friends. They called me before them; when I told them it was out of my power, owing to the absence of my papers and official documents, to make a proper statement; that this whole matter had been thoroughly investigated by a court ordered by the President; the proceedings of which court and the testimony taken by it, were on file in the War Department, and I would suggest their calling for them as the best mode of obtaining all the facts of the case. I then read them my official report, and after numerous questions by Mr. Loan, who evidently wished to find flaws, I was permitted to leave. Mr. Chandler promised me to apply for the testimony taken by the court, and to let me know the answer given. In case the Department refuse, I shall then submit to the committee a copy of my testimony, as my statement of the case. I asked the committee to call before them General Hunt and Colonel Duane, two of my staff; but these officers came out laughing, and said as soon as they began to say anything that was unfavorable to Burnside, they stopped them and said that was enough, clearly showing they only wanted to hear evidence of one kind. I don’t intend to worry myself, but shall just let them take their course and do as they please; but I must try and find some friend in the Senate who will call for the proceedings of the court, and have them published. Mr. Cowan, from Pennsylvania, is the proper person, but I do not know him, and, moreover, do not want to run against Mr. Stanton, so perhaps will wait till I see the Secretary and can talk with him before I take any action. I presume their object is to get some capital to operate with, to oppose the confirmation of my nomination in the Senate.

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. 253-4. Available via Google Books.

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