Vulgar and Ignorant People (April 24, 1865)

Photograph shows Abraham Lincoln's casket conveyed by funeral car through the crowd on Broad Street in Philadelphia, April 22, 1865 (Library of Congress).

Photograph shows Abraham Lincoln’s casket conveyed by funeral car through the crowd on Broad Street in Philadelphia, April 22, 1865 (Library of Congress).

It sounds as though the Meades’ home in Philadelphia narrowly avoided becoming the target of mob action during the excitement that ensued when Abraham Lincoln’s funeral train reached the city. I do not know about the identities of Major Henry and Mr. Gratz. A Robert H. Gratz did present a portrait of Meade to the city in 1866.

I received last evening your letter of the 20th, and was sorry to learn you had so narrowly escaped being mobbed, particularly after the credit you had gained for being the first to display mourning. It certainly was very culpable on the part of ______, after taking upon himself the duty of decorating your house, to neglect it as he did. In such times of excitement some allowance must be made for vulgar and ignorant people, and you must be over careful to avoid giving offense, whether justly or otherwise.

Major Henry’s letter is very handsome and very creditable to him; I return it herewith. Some one had sent me an extract from the proceedings of the City Councils, containing Mr. Gratz’s letter to Councils, and the resolution accepting Mr. Gratz’s gift. No letter came with this printed slip, but it posted me up in the great honor that had been conferred upon me.

Some days ago the Ninth Corps was detached from this army and ordered to Washington—destination unknown (but surmised to be Missouri). Yesterday the Sixth Corps was ordered to Danville, to be there under Sheridan’s orders; so that I am reduced to two corps—one the Fifth, guarding the railroad from here to Petersburg; the other, the Second, at this point. I presume one of them will soon be ordered away, probably the Second, to guard the railroad from here to Danville. Being reduced then to one corps, I trust the common sense of my superiors will see the absurdity of calling me the commander of an army, and that I shall be relieved and some other duty assigned 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), p. 276. Available via Google Books.

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