September 16, 1863

Meade and his staff pose forphotos at the Wallach House in Culpeper, where the Army of the Potomac established its headquarters (Library of Congress).

Meade and his staff pose for a photo at the Wallach House in Culpeper, where the Army of the Potomac established its headquarters (Library of Congress).

Meade continues to fume over the newspaper article that said he had endorsed Pennsylvania Governor Andrew Gregg Curtin in his speech when he received his presentation sword from the Pennsylvania Reserves. (See the entry for August 31.) He establishes headquarters at Culpeper Court House.

The enclosed correspondence will explain itself. The day I received Mr. Young’s letter, there was visiting at my camp the Hon. John Covode, of Pennsylvania, and Colonel Puleston, a friend of Governor Curtin. Both these gentlemen were present at the presentation and heard my remarks; both are ardent Republicans, yet they admitted they did not hear me make any reference to election day; on the contrary, admired the skill with which I praised Curtin without alluding to his political position. I do not know what Mr. Young will say or do, but it is his fault, or rather that of his reporter, and not mine, if he has been placed in a false position.

The enemy seem disposed to keep quiet the other side of the Rapidan, and to let me hold the country between that river and the Rappahannock, which I took from them on Sunday, including Culpeper Court House. I have now got as far as Pope was last year when he fought the battle of Cedar Mountain. I trust I will have better luck than he had. I am now waiting to know what they in Washington want done. Lee has certainly sent away a third of his army, but he has enough left to bother me in advancing, and though I have no doubt I can make him fall back, yet my force is insufficient to take advantage of his retiring, as I could not follow him to the fortifications of Richmond with the small army I have.

At the time Mr. Covode was here, he was accompanied by a Judge Carter, of Ohio, recently appointed Chief Judge of the new court created in the District of Columbia by the last Congress. These gentlemen spent the night with me, and I had a long talk on national affairs, and I saw what I was before pretty well convinced of, that there was not only little prospect of any adjustment of our civil war, but apparently no idea of how it was to be carried on. The draft is confessedly a failure. Instead of three hundred thousand men, it will not produce over twenty-five thousand, and they mostly worthless. There is no volunteering, and this time next year the whole of this army of veterans goes out of service, and no visible source of resupply. And yet no one seems to realize this state of affairs, but talks of going to war with England, France, and the rest of the world, as if our power was illimitable. Well, Heaven will doubtless in good time bring all things right.

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. 149. Available via Google Books.

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Presentation Day (August 31, 1863)

Alfred Waud’s sketch of the ceremony on August 27, 1863, when the Pennsylvania Reserves  presented Meade with a ceremonial sword to honor their former commander (Library of Congress).

Alfred Waud’s sketch of the ceremony on August 27, 1863, when the Pennsylvania Reserves presented Meade with a ceremonial sword to honor their former commander (Library of Congress).

Meade had written home several times about the presentation sword that the Pennsylvania Reserves, his old division, had purchased for him. The soldiers had been waiting for several months to give it to him. Finally, on August 27, the big day arrived and Meade received the beautiful, ornate weapon at a public ceremony. Meade had written his wife that he had not prepared any remarks; maybe he should have. As I write in Searching for George Gordon Meade: The Forgotten Victor of Gettysburg, Charles Wainwright of the I Corps, for one, thought that Meade “replied lamely” when it came time for him to talk. Wainwright also reported that the dinner afterwards turned into a drunken rout. A bald-headed friend of Pennsylvania Governor Andrew Gregg Curtin’s stood on a table and sang bawdy songs, while people shoved and pushed to get food and drink and privates hobnobbed with captains.

The presentation ceremony also led Meade into the kind of political controversies he wished to avoid. One newspaper reported that Meade had advocated Curtin’s reelection in November. He had said no such thing, Meade protested. He did like the sword, though.

There was much more serious business to attend to the next day—the execution of five deserters. The men were “bounty jumpers,” meaning they had signed up to obtain the government bonus for enlisting, and then deserted once they received it. It’s questionable whether the men–all immigrants, and only one of whom spoke English–realized the penalty they would pay if caught. On the afternoon of Saturday, August 29, the V Corps assembled on a slight rise looking down on the spot where the execution would take place. The funeral procession started at 3:00. The five condemned men appeared in manacles, accompanied by other soldiers lugging the coffins. They marched slowly to their freshly dug graves. Four of the men walked steadily, but one needed support to stay on his feet. The soldiers placed the coffins on the ground next to the graves, and the prisoners sat on them. By then it was nearly 4:00, and the orders stated the executions had to be carried out by that time. “Shoot these men, or after 10 minutes it will be murder!” shouted Brig. Gen. Charles Griffin. “Shoot them at once!”

A sergeant of the guard covered the condemned men’s faces with white cloth and the artists from Harper’s and Frank Leslie’s magazines who had been sketching the scene packed up their easels and supplies. The clergy—a rabbi, a priest, and a chaplain–withdrew. The executioners, twelve riflemen for each prisoner, marched into position. “Ready. Aim. Fire!” shouted the captain in charge. Sixty rifles roared and flashed. Four of the men fell with dull thumps onto their coffins and rolled onto the ground, dead. The fifth remained in a seated position until the examining surgeon laid the body back on the coffin.

I send you to-day some scraps from the newspapers. The first is an extract from the London correspondent of the Presbyterian, which Ben. Gerhard [his wife’s brother-in-law] sent to me, and which I consider very flattering; for if there is any reputation I aspire to, it is that of a gentleman. The next is the account of the grand presentation from Forney’s Chronicle, which is the best and most accurate account I have seen. The speech is accurately reported, with one exception, and that is where I am made to say, “I hoped the people of Pennsylvania would re-elect Governor Curtin.” I said nothing of the kind, and made no allusions to elections. Just before I went on the stand, _____________ came to me and said: “If you can say anything in favor of Curtin, it will help us greatly.” I replied: “I don’t know, Mr. _____________, what you mean by helping you. You know I have nothing to do with politics; but it was my intention before you spoke to me to allude to Governor Curtin and his services in behalf of the volunteers from Pennsylvania.” “Well,” said he, “that is all we want.” I did say all that I am reported to have said, except the allusion to his re-election, which was put in by ________. This was bad enough; but in to-day’s paper comes out in an editorial (which I send you), puffing Curtin and quoting my speech in italics.

The more I examine my sword the more I am delighted with its beauty. It is really most chaste and artistic. It seems a pity, though, to waste so much money on an article that from its great value is actually rendered useless.

We are having a little excitement to-day, in an expedition that has been sent down the river, to attempt to destroy two gunboats which the enemy recently surprised and captured at the mouth of the Rappahannock. The expedition was ordered from Washington, and I hope it will prove successful.

The conscripts are coming in now pretty fast. To-day for the first time over a thousand arrived. They are generally pretty good men, and I trust the example made of the five deserters, who were shot on Saturday, will check the evil of desertion. This execution was witnessed by a very large number of soldiers, and I am told the only remark made was, “Why did they not begin this practice long ago?” Not a murmur against the justice or the propriety of the act was heard. Indeed, the men are the most anxious to see this great evil cured, as they know their own security will be advanced thereby.

NEWSPAPER ARTICLE, GENERAL MEADE’S SPEECH OF ACCEPTANCE OF SWORD PRESENTED BY THE DIVISION OF “PENNSYLVANIA RESERVES,” AUGUST 28, 1863, MENTIONED IN LETTER OF AUGUST 31, 1863.

(New York Tribune, August 31, 1863)

Gen. Crawford, and Officers of the Division of Pennsylvania Reserve Corps: I accept this sword with feelings of profound gratitude and with just pride. I should be insensible to all the generous feelings of humanity, if I were not proud and grateful at receiving a testimonial of approbation from a band of officers and men so distinguished as has been the Division of the Pennsylvania Reserve Corps during the whole period of this war. I have a right, therefore, to be proud that such a body of soldiers should think my conduct, and my course, of such a character as to justify them in collecting together here so many distinguished gentlemen as I see around me from different parts of the country, and particularly our own State, to present to me, this handsome testimonial, which is no more than saying, I have done my duty toward them. From the very commencement of my connection with that corps as Commander of the Second Brigade, in the Fall of 1861, it was my earnest desire to do my duty by officers and men, and I faithfully endeavored, during the time I commanded them, to discharge my duty toward them as to men entitled to every consideration for the manner in which they had performed their services to their country. I am very glad that you have mentioned the distinguished gentleman present, the Governor of Penn.; I have a personal knowledge of his efforts to raise this corps, and, after it was raised and organized, to see that all its interests were attended to upon every occasion. I have been with him many times as he visited the men and officers, with a zeal that never tired, to see that all their wants were supplied, and to stir them up to renewed exertion by his patriotic and manly eloquence. I am, therefore, glad that you have been able to witness this presentation from Pennsylvania soldiers, and I hope that the citizens of Pennsylvania have appreciated and will remember his services in promoting the interest of our country and suppressing this Rebellion. [Applause.] In speaking of the pride with which I receive a sword from this division, I feel justified, though it may seem egotistic, in saying a few words of the service rendered by the Pennsylvania Reserve Corps: and I say unhesitatingly before this large assembly, and in view of the history of the War, which will vindicate my words, there is no division in the Army of the Potomac, glorious as I consider it, which can claim greater credit for gallant and laborious service than the Pennsylvania Reserve Corps. [Applause.] In this, Sir, I take no credit to myself. It is not my own personal services, but the services of the soldiers of which I speak—the gallantry of the privates of the Pennsylvania Corps. I have only to appeal to Dranesville—the first success that crowned the arms of the Army of the Potomac—which was gained by the unaided gallantry of one brigade of this division; I have only to refer to Mechanicsville, where the whole of Longstreet’s Corps was held in check for several hours and a victory achieved by two brigades alone of the Pennsylvania Corps. [Cheers.] I have only to allude to New Market Cross Roads, sometimes called Glendale, to which I refer most emphatically, because some of the most distinguished officers of this army, ignorant of the facts and misled by information received at the time, but which subsequently proved incorrect, have brought grave charges against this Division. Upon that field I stood by this Corps till dark, when it pleased God I should be shot down. It has been said that this Corps ran from that field, but I stood there with them and saw them fighting in their places until darkness fell upon the field, and at the time I was borne away my men were engaged in a hand-to-hand contest with the batteries of the enemy; and although there were men who left the field, as there are always cowards in every army and every division, yet the large body of this gallant Corps, remained there steadily facing the enemy until dark. They never ran away; and the two guns said to be taken from them by the enemy were in fact left the next day, abandoned by our army, and not captured from the Pennsylvania Reserve Corps. I will also point to South Mountain, of which it is not necessary to say much, for the gallantry of the Reserve Corps in ascending that height, and turning the left wing of the enemy, was recognized by the commander and is known to all the country; of Antietam, where they commenced the attack on the 16th of September, and unaided took such of the Confederate batteries as were in their front and held their position until next morning, when the battle was renewed; again of Fredericksburg, where this division alone and unaided advanced to the attack, drove the enemy from their position, and held for twenty minutes a position on those heights which, if they had been sufficiently supported and enabled to hold, would have given us a victory. [Cheers.] Have I not, then, a right to be justly proud, when the officers and men of a command, which have performed such services, which I now declare to be truth and fact, present me with this testimonial? I think I have a right to be proud and grateful, and I feel a proportionate pride and gratitude to-day. But while I express this pride and gratitude, it is not unmingled with mournful feelings. When I look around and reflect how many of the gallant officers and brave soldiers who originally composed this Corps are now sleeping their sleep in lonely battlefields, and how many others are now limping over the country mutilated cripples, I cannot but be saddened to think that your glorious achievement should be attended with such misfortune; that this fair country, which should be resting in peace and flowing with milk and honey, is disturbed and desolated by intestine war; that our arms, in preserving the integrity of the country, should have been compelled to enact the scenes I have witnessed. This testimonial, gratifying as it is under the circumstances, suggests many sad thoughts. At the same time I feel that I, and all the rest of you, are doing only our duty, acting from the highest impulses of the heart. It must not be—it is impossible—that this Government should be divided; that there should be two Governments and two flags on this continent. Every man of you, I am sure, is willing to sacrifice his life in vindication of the principle that our Government must be preserved as it was handed down to us, and but one flag shall wave over the whole territory, which shall be called the Republic of the United States. [Prolonged cheers.] Like you, I remember, sadly, mournfully, the names of the fallen. I am sorry that I cannot now recall the roll of honor of the Pennsylvania Reserve Corps. There is one—your former commander, first of brigade and then of division, one of the noblest souls among men, one of the most accomplished officers of this army—Major-General John F. Reynolds, I cannot receive this sword without thinking of that officer, and the heroic manner in which he met his fate in front at Gettysburg. There I lost, not only a lieutenant most important to me in his services, but a friend and brother. When I think, too, of others fallen—of McNeill and Taylor, of the Rifles; of Simmons, of the Fifth; of Dehone of Massachusetts; of young Kuhn, who came from Philadelphia and assisted me so efficiently, and many more who are gone, I am saddened by the recollection. It is more oppressive to go over the names of those who have been sacrificed. I wish I could mention the names of all the soldiers, but it would be a long, long list, that would include the names of all those from the Pennsylvania Reserve Corps who are now resting in honorable graves or crippled and mutilated in the service of their country. I thank you, Sir, for the kind manner in which you have conveyed to me this elegant testimonial, and to all those gentlemen, who have come so far to be present on this occasion, I am extremely grateful. I trust that this sword will be required but a short time longer. Events now look as if this unhappy war might soon be brought to a termination. All I can say to those gentlemen who have come here, is to earnestly entreat them on their return home to spare no effort to let the people know that all we want is men—men to fill up our thinned ranks. Give us the numbers, and in a short time I think the people on the other side will be satisfied that the result is inevitable, that it is only a question of time, and, seeing that we are bringing to bear the numbers which are required, they will themselves yield. Before I close, let me add what I had intended to say before, but it escaped my memory until this moment, an expression of my gratification that I heard that on the field of Gettysburg the division of the Pennsylvania Reserve Corps, under your command, enacted deeds worthy of its former reputation, and proved that there was no change whatever in the division—deeds which I feel satisfied will always be achieved by them while the division is composed of such officers and men. Thanking you again for this testimonial, and for the kind manner in which it has been conveyed to me, I will here conclude my remarks. [Renewed applause.]

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.145-6. Editorial reprinted on pp. 313-315. Available via Google Books.

Presentation Day Approaches (August 27, 1863)

At long last, the day when the Pennsylvania Reserves give Meade his presentation sword is almost here!

To-morrow is the grand presentation day. I have not made the slightest preparation in the way of a speech, and have not the slightest idea what I shall say. Governor Curtin, I understand, is to make the presentation address; so, of course, I shall be overwhelmed with his eloquence and perhaps dumfounded. On reflection, I thought it absurd for me to make any labored effort; that it being entirely out of my line, I should most likely do worse than if I just trusted to luck and said what at the time seemed to me pertinent and suitable.

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.145. Available via Google Books.

Open War (May 19, 1863)

Edwin Forbes drew this sketch of the Chancellorsville house, where Hooker had his headquarters during the battle. He was on the front porch when a cannonball hit the house, striking Hooker with debris. The general although knocked unconscious and probably severely concussed, retained command after awakening. (Library of Congress)

Edwin Forbes drew this sketch of the Chancellorsville house, where Hooker had his headquarters during the battle. He was on the front porch when a cannonball hit the house, striking Hooker with debris. The general although knocked unconscious and probably severely concussed, retained command after awakening. (Library of Congress)

The rupture between Meade and Hooker is now complete. Meade wasn’t the only person harboring serious doubts about Fighting Joe’s abilities, though. As I write in Searching for George Gordon Meade: The Forgotten Victor of Gettysburg:

After Chancellorsville the New York Tribune sent George W. Smalley to Virginia to determine what had gone wrong. “If I am to be investigated, it might as well be by you as anybody,” Hooker told him. Smalley like Hooker, but he put his personal feelings aside. During the course of his investigation decided that the general had lost his army’s confidence. Several staff officers even urged Smalley to tell Meade he was their choice to command. Smalley agreed to speak to him and found Meade just as the general was getting on his horse. The general invited the reporter to ride along with him.

As Smalley began to explain his mission, Meade turned and looked sharply at him. “I don’t know that I ought to listen to you,” he said. Smalley told the general that he was not acting in any official capacity; he intended only to explain what he had heard. Meade allowed him to continue. “I said my say,” Smalley related. “From beginning to end, General Meade listened with an impassive face. He did not interrupt. He never asked a question. He never made a comment. When I had finished I had not the least notion what impression my narrative had made on him; nor whether it had made any impression. He was a model of military discretion. Then we talked a little about other things. I said good-bye, rode away, and never again saw General Meade.”

 I am sorry to tell you I am at open war with Hooker. He yesterday came to see me and referred to an article in the Herald, stating that four of his corps commanders were opposed to the withdrawal of the army. He said this was not so, and that Reynolds and myself had determined him to withdraw. I expressed the utmost surprise at this statement; when he said that I had expressed the opinion that it was impracticable to withdraw the army, and therefore I had favored an advance, and as he knew it was perfectly practicable to withdraw, he did not consider my opinion as being in favor of an advance. I replied to him that this was a very ingenious way of stating what I had said; that my opinion was clear and emphatic for an advance; that I had gone so far as to say that I would not be governed by any consideration regarding the safety of Washington, for I thought that argument had paralyzed this army too long. I further said that if the enemy were considered so strong that the safety of the army might be jeopardized in attacking them, then I considered a withdrawal impracticable without running greater risk of destroying the army than by advancing, and that it seemed rather singular that he should set me down as the advocate of a measure which he acknowledged I asserted to be impracticable. He reiterated his opinion and said he should proclaim it. I answered I should deny it, and should call on those who were present to testify as to whether he or I was right. The fact is, he now finds he has committed a grave error, which at the time he was prepared to assume the responsibility of, but now desires to cast it off on to the shoulders of others; but I rather think he will find himself mistaken. At any rate, the entente cordiale is destroyed between us, and I don’t regret it, as it makes me more independent and free. I also told him that it was my impression at the time, but that of course it could only be known to himself and his God, that he had made up his mind to withdraw the army before he had heard the opinions of his corps commanders. To this he did not make any reply, and I am satisfied that such was the case. I have not seen Reynolds, or any of the others present on the occasion, since I had this conversation with him, but I intend to address each a letter and ask for their impressions of what I did say. Such things are very painful and embarrassing, but I have always feared the time would come when they would be inevitable with Hooker; for I knew no one would be permitted to stand in his way. I suppose he has heard some of the stories flying round camp in regard to my having the command, and these, in connection with what George Cadwalader told him Governor Curtin said, have induced him to believe that I am manoeuvering to get him relieved, that I may step in his shoes. God knows the injustice he does me, and that I have never spoken a word to any one except Governor Curtin, and to him I never referred to Hooker’s being relieved, but only criticised his recent operations, saying nothing more, or if as much, as I have written to you. I can tell him that if he had no stronger enemy than I am, he might rest much more secure than he can, knowing all that I do. I wish he could hear what some others say; he would look on me very differently.

There are two English officers on a visit to the camp. One of them, Lord Abinger (formerly Mr. Scarlett), Lieutenant Colonel of the Scots Fusileer Guards, brought me a letter from George Ramsay. I am going to-morrow to review my corps, and have invited them to be present. Lord Abinger seems a very nice fellow. He was in Philadelphia in 1857, and speaks a great deal about his visit and the people there. He recognized Major Biddle, asked after his mother, and altogether appears quite at home in Philadelphia society.

I have lost nearly a division by the expiration of service of the two-years’ and nine-months’ men, so that I have had to break up Humphreys’s division, and he is going to take command of the division recently commanded by General Berry, in Sickles’s corps. I am very sorry to lose Humphreys. He is a most valuable officer, besides being an associate of the most agreeable character.

My relations with Hooker are such that I cannot ask for the necessary leave to go up to Washington, to receive my sword; so unless they take some action and get the Secretary to authorize my going up, I fear it will be some time before I come into possession.

Just think, it is nearly two years, indeed over two years, since we have been separated.

Meade’s letter taken from The Life and Letters of George Gordon Meade, Major-General United States Army, Vol. 1, (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1913), pp. 377-379. Available via Google Books.

Measles (May 15, 1863)

Meade’s son, George, belonged to the 6th Pennsylvania Cavalry (Rush’s Lancers) and was going to take part in George Stoneman’s attempt to get behind Lee’s lines before the battle of Chancellorsville. But George fell ill with a severe case of measles, a very real concern in the nineteenth century, and was sent back.

In his letter of May 12 Meade mentioned a meeting with Pennsylvania’s Governor Andrew Gregg Curtin. Here he writes about the unexpected consequence of that meeting. It would help drive a wedge between Meade and Joseph Hooker, the commander of the Army of the Potomac. I have to think that Meade was either incredibly naïve or perhaps being disingenuous when he says that he thought he was merely expressing his views privately to Curtin, who was, after all, the governor of Pennsylvania.

I received to-day your letter of the 12th instant, advising me of George’s arrival at home, which relieved me greatly, although I only yesterday learned of his being sick and having gone to Washington. In utter ignorance of his being sick, and supposing him with his regiment, I saw Hooker and got the order issued assigning him to duty on my staff. It was only my accidentally meeting Lieutenant Furness, of George’s regiment, on Stoneman’s staff, who first told me George had been very sick on the expedition, but that he was better, and that he (Furness) had seen George and Benoni Lockwood both in the cars on their way to Washington.

I have been very much worried to-day by very extraordinary conduct on the part of Governor Curtin. He came to see me, and in the familiarity of private conversation, after expressing himself very much depressed, drew out of me opinions such as I have written to you about General Hooker, in which I stated my disappointment at the caution and prudence exhibited by General Hooker at the critical moment of the battle; at his assuming the defensive, when I thought the offensive ought to have been assumed; and at the withdrawal of the army, to which I was opposed. This opinion was expressed privately, as one gentleman would speak to another; was never intended for the injury of General Hooker, or for any other purpose than simply to make known my views. Imagine, then, my surprise when General Hooker, who has just returned from Washington, sent for me, and said that General Cadwalader had told him that Governor Curtin had reported in Washington that he (General Hooker) had entirely lost the confidence of the army, and that both Generals Reynolds and Meade had lost all confidence in him. Of course, I told Hooker that Governor Curtin had no warrant for using my name in this manner. I then repeated to Hooker what I had said to Governor Curtin, and told him that he knew that I had differed with him in judgment on the points above stated, and that he had no right to complain of my expressing my views to others, which he was aware I had expressed to him at the time the events were occurring. To this Hooker assented and expressed himself satisfied with my statement.

Meade’s letter taken from The Life and Letters of George Gordon Meade, Major-General United States Army, Vol. 1, (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1913), pp. 375-6. Available via Google Books.

The Plot Thickens (March 29, 1863)

Pennsylvania's Governor Andrew Gregg Curtin (Library of Congress).

Pennsylvania’s Governor Andrew Gregg Curtin (Library of Congress).

As March approaches its end Meade still finds himself entangled in the fallout from the Fredericksburg battle. Now he’s stuck in a war of words between William Franklin and Ambrose Burnside over the question of who would end up being cast as the fall guy for the December disaster. The Birney whom Meade mentions is David Bell Birney, with whom he exchanged some harsh words at Fredericksburg. Governor Curtin is Andrew Gregg Curtin, the governor of Pennsylvania. The Republican Curtin had been elected in 1860 and soon realized that war was inevitable. He had met with President Lincoln only four days before the attack on Ft. Sumter ushered in hostilities and after returning to Pennsylvania asked the legislature to help the state prepare for war. Curtin will later add to the tension between Meade and Joseph Hooker following the Battle of Chancellorsville.

I received yesterday your letter of the 26th. The same mail brought me a letter from Franklin. It is evident from Franklin’s letter that my surmise was correct, that he had taken it into his head that I had been talking to Burnside and furnishing him with data for the controversy. I don’t intend to quarrel with Franklin if I can help it, because I feel that in all this war he has shown more real regard for me and appreciation for me than any other man. I have never had any official relations with Franklin, till Fredericksburg, and I know that he has on numerous occasions referred to me as one who has not been advanced in proportion to his merits. Besides this feeling, selfish to be sure, my judgment is that Burnside is making a mistake in holding Franklin responsible for the disaster at Fredericksburg. Franklin may be chargeable with a want of energy, with failing, without reference to orders, to take advantage of a grand opportunity for distinction, with, in fact, not doing more than he was strictly required to do; but it is absurd to say he failed to obey, or in any way obstructed the prompt execution of his orders; that is, so far as I know them.

Burnside says he sent him orders about the middle of the day to attack with his whole force. Franklin, I understand, denies having received any such orders. Moreover, Baldy Smith, I hear, has sworn that a day or two before Franklin was relieved, Burnside told him (Baldy Smith) that he was going to give up the command of the army and urge the President to put Franklin in his place. This seems very inconsistent with his subsequent course, as there is no doubt Franklin’s command was taken away from him on the representations of Burnside. My position, with my friendly feelings for both, is not only peculiar but embarrassing.

We had some grand races day before yesterday, gotten up by Birney. I went over there and met Governor Curtin. He returned with me and inspected several of the Pennsylvania regiments in my command, making little speeches to each.

Meade’s letter taken from The Life and Letters of George Gordon Meade, Major-General United States Army, Vol. 1, (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1913), pp. 361-2. Available via Google Books.