Politicians and Newspaper Editors (April 18, 1865)

"Lincoln's body lying in state in the East room White house," a sketch by Alfred Waud. Click to enlarge (Library of Congress).

“Lincoln’s body lying in state in the East room White house,” a sketch by Alfred Waud. Click to enlarge (Library of Congress).

In the aftermath of Lee’s surrender, George Meade tells his wife the little news he has heard. At least the New York Herald has some good things to say about him.

Day before yesterday I sent Captain Emory to Richmond to see after his relatives. I have to-day a telegram from him, stating he had reached Richmond and found our friends all well.

I have heard nothing from General Grant since he left here, and am in complete ignorance of what is going to be done with this army. I note what you say about public opinion in Philadelphia and New York, but if you saw the Herald of the 14th, you ought to be satisfied with what is there said of the feeling of the army towards me. [see below]. So long as the soldiers appreciate my services, I am indifferent to the opinion of politicians and newspaper editors.

I see the Radicals are down on Grant for the terms he granted Lee. This I expected, but I trust they are in a miserable minority, and that the country will sustain him.

I send you a copy of an order I published announcing the death of the President. It has been well received. I also enclose a letter from an anonymous friend, which was accompanied by an elegant pair of gauntlets.

The Order mentioned in last letter:

Head-quarters, Army Of The Potomac, April 16, 1865. General Orders, No. 15.

The Major General Commanding announces to the Army that official intelligence has been received of the death, by assassination, of the President of the United States. The President died at 7.22 on the morning of the 15th instant.

By this Army, this announcement will be received with profound sorrow, and deep horror and indignation. The President, by the active interest he ever took in the welfare of this Army, and by his presence in frequent visits, especially during the recent operations, had particularly endeared himself to both officers and soldiers, all of whom regarded him as a generous friend.

An honest man, a noble patriot, and sagacious statesman has fallen! No greater loss, at this particular moment, could have befallen our Country. Whilst we bow with submission to the unfathomable and inscrutable decrees of Divine Providence, let us earnestly pray that God, in His infinite mercy, will so order, that this terrible calamity shall not interfere with the prosperity and happiness of our beloved Country!

Geo. G. Meade,
Major General Commanding


(New York Herald, April 14, 1865)


The impression seems to have gotten out at the North that General Meade is not very popular with his army. This is a great mistake, and has been fully verified in the past two days. I never saw so much enthusiasm displayed for any man as was for him after the surrender of Lee’s army.

Our troops were drawn up on either side of the road and when General Meade rode through they seemed nearly crazed with joy. Cheer followed cheer, and hats were thrown up in the air with apparent disregard of where they should land or what became of them.

General Meade was equally excited. He seemed for the time to throw off his reserve and dignity and enter fully into the spirit of the occasion.

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. 273-4. Newspaper article from p. 350. Available via Google Books.

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