Unmerited Censure (January 14, 1865)

The relationship between George Meade and Ulysses Grant is often portrayed as antagonistic, with Meade complaining about the general-in-chief. That wasn’t always the case. Here we have another example of Meade defending Grant against charges he hadn’t done enough. Meade, of course, knew all too well what that kind of criticism felt like.

John Gibbon had commanded a division in the II Corps. Webb is Alexander Webb, who had commanded a brigade under Gibbon at Gettysburg and had been serving as Meade’s chief of staff.

John Gibbon (Library of Congress).

John Gibbon (Library of Congress).

I am sorry to hear what you write people say of Grant, because it is unjust, and I do not approve of injustice to any one. Grant undoubtedly has lost prestige, owing to his failure to accomplish more, but as I know it has not been in his power to do more, I cannot approve of unmerited censure, any more than I approved of the fulsome praise showered on him before the campaign commenced. Butler’s removal has caused great excitement everywhere. He will have some very powerful influences exerted in his favor, and he will use them efficiently. I see Wilson has moved in the Senate that the Committee on the Conduct of the War enquire and report on the Wilmington fiasco. This is the beginning of a war on Grant.

Gibbon has been assigned to the Twenty-fourth Corps, in Ord’s place, who takes Butler’s army. This has pleased him very much, and when here to-day to say good-by he was in quite a good humor. I shall probably have to send Webb to Gibbon’s division, although I believe he would prefer remaining on my staff.

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. 256. Available via Google Books.

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