A Pleasant Journey (February 28, 1865)

Secretary of War Edwin Stanton (Library of Congress).

Secretary of War Edwin Stanton (Library of Congress).

George Meade writes home to his grieving wife once he has returned to the army after a short stop in Washington. The generals he mentions are Edward Ord, who had replaced Benjamin Butler in command of the Army of the James, and Frank Wheaton, who had a division in the VI Corps. The Secretary is Edwin Stanton.

After writing to you yesterday I saw the Secretary, who was as usual very kind. He apologized for ordering me away when he did, and said he had forgotten dear Sergeant’s sickness, and some telegrams coming from Ord he did not like, he thought, in Grant’s absence, I had better be there. He wanted me to stay in Washington over night, but I declined, when he directed a special steamer to be got ready to take me at seven in the evening. From the Department I went to the Capitol, where I saw Mr. Cowan and Judge Harris. They both said they would see that the same number of copies of the proceedings of the court of inquiry were ordered to be printed as had been ordered of the committee’s report.

I had a pleasant journey, there being no one on board but General Wheaton and myself. We reached City Point at 1 p.m. to-day. I spent two hours with General Grant, reaching my headquarters about half-past four this afternoon.

I find we have not been attacked, and Petersburg has not been evacuated, although I should judge there had been a stampede ever since I left, and that both contingencies had been expected. It has been raining, I am told, nearly all the time I have been absent, and the roads are in an awful condition.

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. 265. Available via Google Books.

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Submission and Resignation (February 27, 1865)

The gravestone for John Sergeant Meade, in Philadelphia's Laurel Hill Cemetery.

The gravestone for John Sergeant Meade, in Philadelphia’s Laurel Hill Cemetery.

George Meade had left the army for his home in Philadelphia on February 21, and arrived two days later. By then his oldest son, John Sergeant, was dead. He had died at 11 p.m. on the 21st of the tuberculosis he had been fighting for years. On the 26th, Meade received a telegram from Secretary of War Edwin Stanton calling him back out of fear that Robert E. Lee was stirring. Meade wrote this letter while still in Washington.

The mention of Winfield Scott Hancock is a reference to the general’s appointment as commander of the Department of West Virginia. He was replacing General George Crook, who had the misfortune of being captured while in bed by Confederate guerillas.

I take advantage of a delay, waiting to see the Secretary, to send you a few lines. I slept nearly all the journey, much to my surprise; but I was grateful it was so, as I feel in consequence much better than if I had lain awake all night.

Hardy Norris was very kind to me this morning, and accompanied me to the hotel, where we breakfasted, after which I came up here.

General Hancock left suddenly yesterday for Western Virginia. This has given rise to rumor of movements of Lee in that direction, but I have heard nothing reliable in this respect. I saw General Hooker this morning at breakfast. He was very affable and civil, and enquired particularly after you, expressing deep sympathy with us in our affliction. This feeling has been manifested by all whom I have met, including Senator Foster, Mr. Odell and others.

I hardly dare think of you in your lonely condition, surrounded by so many associations of our beloved boy. God have mercy on you and send you submission and resignation! No human reasoning can afford you or myself any consolation. Submission to God’s will, and the satisfaction arising from the consciousness that we did our duty by him, is all that is left us.

I shall leave here at 3 p.m., and will write to you on my arrival at my headquarters.

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. 264-5. Available via Google Books.

John Segeant Meade, 1841-1865 (February 21, 1865)

Over the past few months, George Meade has agonized over the health of his oldest son, John Sergeant, who was dying of tuberculosis back in Philadelphia. Even 150 years later, you can still feel the anguish in this letter, as the general communicates his sense of being pulled between his duty to his position, and the duty to his family.

On the day that his father wrote this, John Sergeant Meade died of his disease.

I told George last evening to write to you and acknowledge the receipt of your letters of the 17th and 18th, also your telegram of the 20th. The latter I did not understand until this evening, when George received a letter from Jim Biddle, of the 19th, from which I infer Sergeant was considered sinking on Sunday, and finding him better on Monday, you telegraphed. George will leave to-morrow, and will take this. It is impossible for me to go to you, unless I resign my command. If I left for a short time, I should undoubtedly be recalled almost as soon as I reached there. Besides, to be with you for a few days would be but little satisfaction to you; and as to dear Sergeant, his condition is such that I presume it does not make much difference who is with him. For your sake I should like to be home, and for my own, but it is God’s will, and I must submit.

My duty to you and my children requires I should retain the high command I now have. My reputation and your interests are involved, and I cannot shut my eyes to these considerations, however cruel may be the conclusion that I cannot be at your side and that of my dear boy in this hour of agony and trial. We must all endeavor to be resigned to God’s will. We cannot avert the severe affliction with which it has pleased Him to visit us, doubtless for some good purpose. All we can do is to bear it with humility and resignation, and endeavor to profit by it, in preparing ourselves, as I believe my beloved son is prepared.

Dear Margaret, let me rely on your exhibiting in this, the greatest trial you have had in life, true Christian fortitude. Bear up, in the consciousness that you have ever devoted all the energy of a tender mother’s love to check and avert the fatal disease that is carrying off our first born; all that human power could do has been done. Our boy has had warning, and not only his good life, but the consciousness that he knew and was prepared for the change, should sustain us in that parting which had to be encountered one day, for we all must die in time.

George will tell you all about me.

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. 263-4. Available via Google Books.

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2015 Meade Symposium

This is one of the images I used in my talk. Garry Adleman of the Center for Civil War Photography tipped me off about it. This is a detail from a photograph of the reviewing stand at the Grand Review of the Armies. It was probably taken on May 23, 1865, the day the Army of the Potomac marched. In it you can see Ulysses Grant, the blurred figure of Edwin Stanton, President Andrew Johnson, Wesley Merritt (commanding the cavalry corps in Philip Sheridan's absence), George Meade, Sumner Wells, Postmaster General William Dennison, William T. Sherman, and Quartermaster General Montgomery Meigs. Quite extraordinary. As far as I know, this is the only photo in which Grant and Meade appear together. Click to enlarge (Library of Congress).

This is one of the images I used in my talk. Garry Adleman of the Center for Civil War Photography tipped me off about it. This is a detail from a photograph of the reviewing stand at the Grand Review of the armies in Washington. It was probably taken on May 23, 1865, the day the Army of the Potomac marched. In it you can see Ulysses Grant, the blurred figure of Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, President Andrew Johnson, Wesley Merritt (commanding the cavalry corps in Philip Sheridan’s absence), George Meade, Secretary of the Navy Sumner Wells, Postmaster General William Dennison, William T. Sherman, and Quartermaster General Montgomery Meigs. Quite extraordinary. As far as I know, this is the only photo in which Grant and Meade appear together. Click to enlarge (Library of Congress).

The man of the hour.

The man of the hour.

It’s safe to say that the 2015 Meade Symposium was a great success. There must have been at least 60 people present, despite severe cold and strong winds. The weather had been so bad, in fact, that one of the speakers, Ralph Peters, couldn’t make the trip to Philadelphia from his home in Virginia. Held in the beautiful conservatory building at West Laurel Hill Cemetery on Sunday, February 15, the symposium featured four speakers (myself included) who provided a cradle-to-grave summary of George Gordon Meade’s life. Dr. John Selby of Roanoke College spoke about Meade’s life up until the Civil War; Jerry McCormick picked up the story through the Battle of Chancellorsville; and Dr. Andy Waskie, the founder and president of the General Meade Society of Philadelphia, stood in for Col. Peters and covered the rest of the Civil War. I wrapped things up by talking about the last seven years of Meade’s life, which included incidents of murder, torture, armies of Irishmen, and the difficulties of Reconstruction.

Of course, I had to get a Meade bicentennial tee shirt!

Of course, I had to get a Meade bicentennial tee shirt!

If that weren’t enough, Jim Schmick of Civil War and More was there with a large selection of Civil War books for sale, and the Kearney Kommissary was on hand to provide a delicious lunch (plus wine and beer).

The conservatory provided an extremely picturesque setting for the day’s events, with large windows looking out over the cold and windswept cemetery. Just 200 yards away was the grave of Meade’s West Point classmate Herman Haupt, the Union’s railroad mastermind (and one of Meade’s critics). I wish I had the time to find his grave, as well as those of other notables buried there. One of those eternal residents is Francis Adams Donaldson, who journal of his experiences in the 118th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry provided the material for the book Inside the Army of the Potomac. I had used that book when I researched Searching for George Gordon Meade. It’s fascinating. Donaldson hated his commanding officer, so he contrived to get kicked out of the army, with the plan of visiting Abraham Lincoln in Washington and having the president give him an honorable discharge. It sounded like a far-fetched plan, but that is exactly what Donaldson did.

And we also bought a couple of Meade bicentennial champagne glasses. They will be perfect for the birthday celebration on December 31.

And we also bought a couple of Meade bicentennial champagne glasses. They will be perfect for the birthday celebration on December 31.

Other celebrity residents include musicians Grover Washington, Jr., and Teddy Pendergrass. West Laurel Hill is a big, sprawling cemetery, with dozens of elaborate mausoleums, and I hope to go back on a warmer, greener day and explore.

As the last speaker of the day, I am about to kill off George Gordon Meade.

As the last speaker of the day, I am about to kill off George Gordon Meade. The general watches me with trepidation.

As I said, this was a great event. It’s truly gratifying to see so many people with this kind of interest in history. And it wasn’t all seriousness, either. There were plenty of laughs and a sense of camaraderie. History should always be so much fun!

This is George Meade’s bicentennial year and I have a lot of talks scheduled. Next up are appearances before the round tables in Milwaukee and Chicago, and then talks at Pamplin Historical Park outside Petersburg, Virginia, and Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. Later in the year I’m scheduled to speak in Richmond, at a Meade bicentennial event in Gettysburg, and at the Civil War Round Table at Philadelphia’s Union League in December. The year will end at the Meade 200th birthday commemoration at Laurel Hill Cemetery on December 31. Check out the event calendar for details.

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No Chance for Peace (February 13, 1865)

paperback scanThe paperback edition of Searching for George Gordon Meade: The Forgotten Victor of Gettysburg is now available! You can purchase it through Stackpole Books, Amazon or Barnes and Noble. And don’t forget the 2015 George Meade seminar on February 15. Click here for more details.

The visit by the three Confederate peace commissioners has obviously failed to achieve any results. In George Meade’s opinion, another campaign appears inevitable. Spring approaches, and with it more fighting.

There is no chance for peace now. The South has determined to fight another campaign, and it is to be hoped the North will be equally united, and turn out men to fill up all our present armies and form others at the same time.

Grant returned from Washington to-day. He forgot to say anything about the court of inquiry, so I have to-day telegraphed Mr. Stanton, asking him to have the proceedings published.

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. 263. Available via Google Books.

Its Usual Malice (February 11, 1865)

A Meade bronze at the Union League. I am assuming this is the work of Franklin Simmons.

A Meade bronze at the Union League. I am assuming this is the work of Franklin Simmons.

Once again, George Meade takes issue with the press, this time over an account of the fighting known today as the Battle of Hatcher’s Run. He would have been well advised, I think, to have avoided reading newspapers altogether.

The Willie to whom Meade refers is his wife’s brother. He will not survive the war.

I assume the sculptor Meade mentions is Franklin Simmons. Born in Maine, Simmons sculpted the equestrian statue of Gen. John A. Logan that stands in the circle in Washington, D.C., that bears the general’s name. He was also commissioned to do a portrait of Abraham Lincoln, and met with the president about it on the day before Lincoln’s assassination. His bronze medallion of Meade (as well as those of other generals) is in the Union League in Philadelphia. There’s more about Simmons here.

I see the Tribune, with its usual malice, charges the recent movement as a failure, and puts the blame on me. I told Grant, before the movement was made, it would be misunderstood and called a failure. But he promised to telegraph to Washington what we intended to do, thinking by this to avoid this misapprehension. His telegram, if he sent one, was never published, nor has any of his or my telegrams to him about the affair been made public. Now, the facts of the case are that I accomplished a great deal more than was designed, and though the Fifth Corps at one time was forced back, yet we repulsed the enemy the day before, had been driving him all that day, and the next day drove him into his works, and on the whole the success was with us. It is rather hard under these circumstances to be abused; but I suppose I must make up my mind to be abused by this set, never mind what happens,

Willie’s regiment was in the thickest of the fight and suffered severely, but I believe behaved very well.

There is now here an artist in bronze, of the name of Simmons, who is sculpturing a life-size head of me, of which he intends casting a medallion in bronze. His work is pronounced excellent, and he promises to present you a copy, so you will have your Meade art gallery increased. Grant is still away.

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. 262-3. Available via Google Books.

paperback scanThe paperback edition of Searching for George Gordon Meade: The Forgotten Victor of Gettysburg is now available! You can purchase it through Stackpole Books, Amazon or Barnes and Noble. And don’t forget the 2015 George Meade seminar on February 15. Click here for more details.

Report on the Mine (February 9, 1865)

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).

General Meade writes home about the report of the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War’s on the Battle of the Crater (a.k.a. the Mine). Meade was obviously no fan of the committee, which had come after him in the spring of 1864. In his book Over Lincoln’s Shoulder, historian Bruce Tap questioned the committee’s value, especially in its criticisms of Meade. “Other than contributing to the destruction of Meade’s reputation for generations to come, little was accomplished by the committee’s investigation except for reinforcing the hostility that army officers felt toward their civilian overseers.” Grant’s telegram supports Meade’s contention that the committee report was intended to support Ambrose Burnside. And once again he defends Grant when his wife questions the general-in-chief’s trustworthiness.

Meade also mentions the failure of the Confederate peace commissioners to strike any agreement with Lincoln, and stresses the need for a “vigorous prosecution of the war.”

The Beckham whose obituary Meade sends to his wife was Robert F. Beckham. As a lieutenant before the war, Beckham had served under Meade on a survey of Lake Huron. He joined the rebels when war broke out. J.L. Kirby Smith, not to be confused with Edmund Kirby Smith, the Confederate commander of the Trans-Mississippi Department, also served under Meade on the survey.

I note you have seen the report of the Committee on the Conduct of the War, about the Mine. You have done Grant injustice; he did not testify against me; but the committee has distorted his testimony, my own, and that of every one who told the truth, in order to sustain their censure. When you see all the testimony you will find their verdict is not sustained. Immediately on the appearance of this report Grant sent me a despatch, a copy of which I enclose, and from it you will see what he thinks of the course of the committee, and of Burnside’s testimony. (see below). I replied to him that, after the acknowledgment of my services by the President, the Secretary and himself, and the endorsement of the Senate, as shown by the large vote in my favor, I thought I could stand the action of the committee, and I felt confident that when the facts and the truth were laid before the public, the report of the committee would prove a more miserable failure than the explosion of the Mine. I, however, asked him to exert his influence to have published the proceedings of the court of inquiry. He has gone to Washington, and I am in hopes he will have this done; I think Burnside has used himself up.

Richmond papers of the 7th, have a message from Davis and the report of the commissioners, from which it appears they required recognition as an independent power, precedent to any negotiations. Of course this was out of the question, and I think Mr. Lincoln’s course ought to meet the approval of all true patriots.

We cannot and ought not ever to acknowledge the Confederacy or its independence, and I am surprised they took the trouble to send men into our lines with any such ideas. This conference ought to unite the North to a vigorous prosecution of the war; and the people, if they do not volunteer, should submit cheerfully to the draft. In the same paper, which I send you, is an obituary notice of Beckham, who, it appears, was killed in one of Thomas’s fights at Columbia, in Tennessee, he being colonel and chief of artillery to S. D. Lee’s Corps. Poor fellow, he and Kirby Smith have both been sacrificed!

DESPATCH FROM GENERAL GRANT TO GENERAL MEADE ON THE REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE ON THE CONDUCT OF THE WAR ABOUT THE PETERSBURG MINE EXPLOSION, MENTIONED IN LETTER OF FEBRUARY 9, 1865.

Grant to Meade:
Feb. 9, 10 a.m.

The Committee on the Conduct of the War have published the result of their investigation of the Mine explosion. Their opinions are not sustained by knowledge of the facts nor by my evidence nor yours either do I suppose. Gen. Burnside’s evidence apparently has been their guide and to draw it mildly he has forgotten some of the facts. I think in justification to yourself who seem to be the only party censured, Genl. Burnside should be brought before a Court Martial and let the proceedings of the Court go before the public along with the report of the Congressional Committee.

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. 261-2 and p. 344. Available via Google Books.

Hatcher’s Run (February 7, 1865)

Alfred Waud sketched the fighting on February 7. On the back, he wrote, "The 1st Div 5th Corps charging some temporary breastworks of logs piled against trees on the morning of Tuesday 7th Feb. Thick pine woods. The ground smooth and covered with fine leaves. A.R.W. Near Hatchers Run." Click to enlarge (Library of Congress).

Alfred Waud made this sketch of the fighting on February 7. On the back, he wrote, “The 1st Div 5th Corps charging some temporary breastworks of logs piled against trees on the morning of Tuesday 7th Feb. Thick pine woods. The ground smooth and covered with fine leaves. A.R.W. Near Hatchers Run.” Click to enlarge (Library of Congress).

George Meade writes home about the Battle of Hatcher’s Run, yet another attempt to force Robert E. Lee to extend his lines around Petersburg to the breaking point. The operation began on February 5, with cavalry moving out in advance of the V Corps (Gouverneur Warren commanding) and the II (under Andrew A. Humphreys). Although not able to sever the Boydton Plank Road, an important Confederate supply line, the Union offensive did weaken the rebel defenses. “Although no man could tell what the next two months would bring forth, yet it was evident that the end was near for the capture of Petersburg,” wrote William Henry Powell in his 1896 history of the V Corps. “The continued extension of the Union lines to the left was very threatening to the only remaining railroad line of communication of the Confederate army directly with the South, and General Grant feared, from indications, that General Lee would abandon his Petersburg and Richmond intrenchments and endeavor to unite with Johnston’s army, then in front of Sherman, before he (Grant) was quite ready for the pursuit, Sheridan still being in the Shenandoah Valley. In preparing, therefore, for a contemplated pursuit, General Sheridan was summoned to Petersburg with his command.”

I have not written you for several days, owing to being very much occupied with military operations. Day before yesterday to prove war existed, whatever might be the discussions about peace, I moved a portion of my army out to the left. The first day the enemy attacked Humphreys, who handsomely repulsed him. The next day (yesterday) Warren attacked the enemy, and after being successful all day, he was towards evening checked and finally compelled to retrace his steps in great disorder. This morning, notwithstanding it was storming violently, Warren went at them again, and succeeded in recovering most of the ground occupied and lost yesterday. The result on the whole has been favorable to our side, and we have extended our lines some three miles to the left. The losses have not been so great as in many previous engagements, and I hear of but few officers killed or severely wounded.

I have been in the saddle each day from early in the morning till near midnight, and was too much exhausted to write.

Colonel Lyman sent me a box, which he said contained books and pickles. I find, on opening it, that there are about a dozen nice books and a box of champagne; so you can tell dear Sergeant he is not the only one that gets good things.

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. 261. Available via Google Books.

paperback scanThe paperback edition of Searching for George Gordon Meade: The Forgotten Victor of Gettysburg is now available! You can purchase it through Stackpole Books, Amazon or Barnes and Noble. And don’t forget the 2015 George Meade seminar on February 15. Click here for more details.

Follow-up (February 4, 1865)

Michigan's Senator Zachariah Chandler. (National Archives.)

Michigan’s Senator Zachariah Chandler. (National Archives.)

George Meade writes home with some follow-up on his Senate confirmation and the Confederate peace commissioners. The Chandler to whom he refers is Senator Zachariah Chandler of Michigan, a staunch Meade opponent. As members of the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War, Chandler and Senator Ben Wade had spearheaded the effort to have Meade removed from the command a year earlier.

The peace commissioners had indeed met with Lincoln. I included Ulysses S. Grant’s account of the meetings in the post of February 1. I have my own follow-up to that post. In it, I had added this editorial comment: Clearly, Meade feels that he should not have spent time talking with the commissioners. I have even read an interview with one historian who says Meade’s actions here were treasonous.” Not wanting to point fingers, I kept the historian’s identity to myself. In a Facebook discussion that ensued, though, the historian in question stepped forward. He is Dr. Allen C. Guelzo, author of Gettysburg: The Last Invasion. The interview was one he did for Harry Smeltzer’s Bull Runnings blog, in which Dr. Guelzo said this about the letter in question:After reading this, the first question which burned through my mind was, Whose side are you on? What Union major-general gives talking points to Confederate negotiators as they are on their way to meet with Lincoln and Seward? No wonder Meade concluded the letter with the injunction, ‘all this I have written you, must be confidential, as it would not do to let it be known I had been talking with them, or what I have said.’ This letter appears nowhere in young Meade’s Life and Letters, or Freeman Cleaves’ well-known biography of Meade.” (You can find the entire interview here

I remember reading that interview and feeling my blood run cold.

Now, I will freely admit to making some errors in Searching for George Gordon Meade: The Forgotten Victor of Gettysburg. I still flush with embarrassment when I recall how I wrote that Col. Henry Baker died at the Battle of Ball’s Bluff. In fact, that was Col. Edward Baker. My subconscious must have been thinking of “The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle,” the Sherlock Holmes story in which Henry Baker drops a Christmas goose that eventually leads to the recovery of a stolen gem. As far as I am aware, no Christmas gooses were dropped at Ball’s Bluff. I also referred to divisions as brigades (or perhaps vice versa) and at one point stated that Grant launched his Overland Campaign in 1865. (Incidentally, those errors have been corrected for the paperback edition, available here.)

But while I made some mistakes, I thought I correctly presented the big picture, which is that Meade had served his country well but had been unfairly ignored by history, for a variety of reasons. Yet apparently I had overlooked a letter that called into question Meade’s very loyalty to the Union. How had I missed it? I knew that his son and grandson left out passages and some entire letters when they edited his Life and Letters for publication, but I had looked over microfilmed copies of the originals from this period. Somehow this bombshell had eluded me. I felt chagrined and depressed.

But, as it turns out, Dr. Guelzo was mistaken. The letter was indeed included in Life and Letters. It had not been suppressed by the Meades. It’s right there for all to see. I had read the letter, but thought little of it. It did not make me question Meade’s loyalty. Meade obviously knew he was sticking his prominent nose into places it didn’t belong, but he was just repeating administration policy (that war could end only when the seceded states returned to the Union and slavery was abolished). I don’t consider that to be “giving talking points.” Had he written to his wife, “I told the rebels that the best way to throw Lincoln off his game was to mention Ann Rutherford,” or “if you want to make things work out your way, try contacting John Wilkes Booth and figure out when the president will be attending the theater,” then I would have seen things somewhat differently.

Anyway, my post of Meade’s letter led to a long and lively Facebook discussion among Dr. Guelzo, Meade supporter Scott Brown (who made some excellent points), and me. I remained insistent that Dr. Guelzo admit he had been mistaken when he said the letter had not appeared in Life and Letters. A small point, perhaps, but I felt it was important. Dr. Guelzo had used this mistaken assertion to underscore his interpretation of the letter as being especially damaging to Meade’s reputation. By this reasoning, the Meades could not let the letter see the light of day because it was so bad. That was simply not true. (Apparently Dr. Guelzo had repeated this assertion—and got the date of the letter wrong—in an article he had written for Gettysburg Magazine. I have not read that article.)

I am sure this was an honest mistake on Dr. Guelzo’s part, although I do think it hints at an underlying anti-Meade bias. Instead of seeing a meddlesome general, he saw a disloyal one. Perhaps I am too biased in the other direction, but I don’t agree with that interpretation at all.

Now, on to Meade’s letter from February 4. The Senators who voted against Meade’s confirmation were Zachariah Chandler (R-Michigan), James Harlan (R-Iowa), Samuel C. Pomeroy (R-Kansas), Benjamin Wade (R-Ohio), and Morton S. Wilkinson (R-Minnesota).

I hear from Washington the vote on my confirmation was thirty-two to five. I have not heard the names of my opponents, but their number is about what I expected, and I have no doubt they are all like Chandler, men whose opposition is rather creditable to you.

As to the Peace Commissioners, I presume their arrival will make a great stir; I have written you what passed between us when I called on them. I understand they afterwards went down to Fortress Monroe, where they met, some say, the President, and others, Mr. Seward. To-day they returned to Richmond, but what was the result of their visit no one knows. At the present moment, 8 p.m., the artillery on our lines is in full blast, clearly proving that at this moment there is no peace. I fear there is not much chance of any agreement between the contending parties until more decided successes are gained on our side.

I would have liked to have sent a few lines to Johnny Wise by the Commissioners, but they went up the river, and did not pass through my lines.

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. 260-1. Available via Google Books.

Confirmation (February 2, 1865)

Meade receives word that Congress has finally confirmed his promotion to major-general in the regular army. This good news is tempered by that knowledge that his eldest son, John Sergeant, lays dying of tuberculosis back in Philadelphia.

Grant sent me a note this morning, saying a telegram from Washington announced my confirmation yesterday by a heavy majority; thus I have gained another victory, and have found that I really have more friends than I had any idea of.

There have been some English officers here this evening from the frigate Galatea, and they have kept me up so late that I cannot write as much as I would wish.

I thought my last visit was, excepting dear Sergeant’s sickness, most happy, but I cannot be happy and see my noble boy suffering as he does. I think of him all the time, and feel at times like asking to be relieved, that I may go home and help you nurse him. May God in his infinite mercy restore him to health, is my constant prayer!

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. 260. Available via Google Books.

paperback scanThe paperback edition of Searching for George Gordon Meade: The Forgotten Victor of Gettysburg is now available! You can purchase it through Stackpole Books, Amazon or Barnes and Noble. And don’t forget the 2015 George Meade seminar in just two weeks. Click here for more details.