Visitors (September 25, 1864)

Congressman Eli Washburne of Illinois, a great supporter of Ulysses S. Grant (Library of Congress).

Congressman Eli Washburne of Illinois, a great supporter of Ulysses S. Grant (Library of Congress).

Secretary of State William Seward and Congressman Elihu Washburne drop in on the Army of the Potomac. I would like to hear more about Meade’s reactions to Washburne. The Illinois congressman was Ulysses S. Grant’s political patron and Meade suspected that Washburne had been responsible for spreading the rumor—reported by Edward Crapsey (or Cropsey)—that the commander of the Army of the Potomac had wanted to retreat after the Battle of the Wilderness but Grant had overruled him. When he saw Crapsey’s article, Meade had thrown the reporter out of the army and vowed to his wife that he would show Washburne “no quarter” if the rumor of his involvement turned out to be true.

To-day we had a visit from Mr. Secretary Seward and Mr. Congressman Washburn. I had some little talk with Mr. Seward, who told me that at the North and at the South, and everywhere abroad, there was a strong conviction the war would soon terminate, and, said he, when so many people, influenced in such different ways, all unite in one conviction, there must be reason to believe peace is at hand. He did not tell me on what he founded his hopes, nor did I ask.

Sheridan’s defeat of Early will prove a severe blow to the rebs, and will, I think, compel them to do something pretty soon to retrieve their lost prestige. There have been rumors they were going to evacuate Petersburg, and I should not be surprised if they did contract their lines and draw in nearer Richmond. I never did see what was their object in defending Petersburg, except to check us; it had no other influence, because, if we were able to take Richmond, we could take Petersburg; and after taking the one when resisted, the other would be more easily captured.

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. 230. Available via Google Books.

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Very Great News (September 23, 1864)

"Confederate prisoners captured at the battle of Fisher's Hill, VA. Sent to the rear under guard of Union troops" (Library of Congress).

“Confederate prisoners captured at the battle of Fisher’s Hill, VA. Sent to the rear under guard of Union troops” (Library of Congress).

Once again Meade must acknowledge a victory by Philip Sheridan over Jubal Early in the Shenandoah Valley. Although Meade graciously salutes Sheridan’s accomplishments, they were a bitter pill for him to swallow. He felt that Grant had promised him the position Sheridan now holds, and while Sheridan was collecting the glory Meade was still stuck with the thankless task of commanding the Army of the Potomac with Grant looking over his shoulder.

To-night we have the news of Sheridan’s second victory at Fisher’s Hill, near Strasburg. This is very great news. The destruction and dispersion of Early’s army is a very great feat, and at once relieves Maryland and Pennsylvania of any fears of more invasion this year. If now we are only rapidly reinforced, we may be enabled to give Lee some hard blows before he can recruit and increase his army.

I feel quite unhappy about Sergeant having to go away, though I have the highest hopes of the good effect of the change of climate.

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. 230. Available via Google Books.

A Simple Matter of Justice (August 13, 1864)

George Gordon Meade confronts General Grant about the question of who should command the new military division, and remains baffled by his superior officer.

Grant was here yesterday to transact some business. I immediately asked him, how, after his promise to me, that if a military division was organized, I should be assigned to the command, he has placed my junior, Sheridan, there. He said Sheridan had not been assigned to the division, that no one was yet assigned to it, and that Sheridan had only been put in command of the troops in the field belonging to the different departments. I referred him to the order constituting the division, and assigning Sheridan temporarily to the command, and observed that temporarily I supposed meant as long as there was anything to do, or any object in holding the position. I further remarked that I regretted it had not been deemed a simple matter of justice to me to place me in this independent command. To which he made no remark. I really am not able to ascertain what are his real views. Sometimes I take the dark side, and think they are intentionally adverse to me, and at others I try to make myself believe that such is not his purpose. In confirmation of the last theory, I am of the opinion that he does not look and has not looked upon the movement in Maryland and the Valley in the important light it deserves, and that he considers it merely a raid which a display of force on our part will soon dissipate, when Sheridan and the troops will soon return here. But in this he is greatly mistaken. Already we have positive news that Lee has sent large reinforcements into the Valley, and there is no doubt it is his purpose to transfer the principal scene of operations there, if it can be accomplished. To-morrow we are going to make a move to test his strength here, and endeavor to make him recall his troops. Should this fail, we will be obliged to go up there and leave Richmond.

The weather continues intensely hot.

The court of inquiry was going on, but this move will stop it, and I fear it will never come to an end. I have given my testimony, which I will send you to preserve as my record in the case. I have insisted on Burnside’s being relieved. Grant has let him go on a leave, but he will never return whilst I am here.

"Dutch Gap Canal, the commencement of the work" (Library of Congress).

“Dutch Gap Canal, the commencement of the work” (Library of Congress).

In his letter of August 13, Theodore Lyman remains bemused by African American soldiers. Stephen Weld of the 56th Massachusetts had been captured during the Battle of the Crater.

… I rode over to make some enquiry about Colonel Weld, of Loring, at Burnside’s Headquarters. As I drew near, I heard the sound as of minstrelsy and playing on the psaltry and upon the harp; to wit, a brass band, tooting away at a great rate. This was an unaccustomed noise, for Burnside is commonly not musical, and I was speculating on the subject when, on entering the circle of tents, I beheld a collection of Generals — not only Burnside, but also Potter, Willcox, and Ferrero. Speaking of this last, did you hear what the negro straggler remarked, when arrested by the Provost-Guard near City Point, on the day of the assault, and asked what he was doing there. “Well, saar, I will displain myself. You see, fus’ I was subjoined to Ginral Burnside; an’ den I was disseminated to Ginral Pharo. We wus advancing up towards der front, an’ I, as it might be, loitered a little. Presently I see some of our boys a-runnin’ back. ‘Ho, ho,’ sez I, ‘run is your word, is it?’ So I jes separates myself from my gun and I re-tires to dis spot.”

Well, there was “Ginral Pharo” taking a drink, and an appearance was about as of packing. Whereat I presently discovered, through the joyous Captain Pell (who asked me tauntingly if he could “do anything for me at Newport”), that Burnside and his Staff were all going on a thirty-day leave, which will extend itself, I fancy, indefinitely, so far as this army goes. On my return I found two fat civilians and a lean one. Fat number one was Mr. Otto, Assistant Secretary of the Interior; Fat number two, a Professor Matile, a Swiss of Neufchatel, and friend of Agassiz (you perhaps remember the delicious wine of that place). The lean was Mr. Falls, what I should call Mr. Otto’s “striker,” that being the name of an officer’s servant or hanger-on. Mr. Falls was very chatty and interrogative, following every sentence by “Is it not?” So that finally I felt obliged always to reply, “No, it isn’t.” I scared him very much by tales of the immense distances that missiles flew, rather implying that he might look for a pretty brisk shower of them, about the time he got fairly asleep. Professor Matile was bright enough to be one of those who engaged in the brilliant scheme of Pourtales Steiger to seize the chateau of Neufchatel on behalf of the King of Prussia. Consequently he since has retired to this country and has now a position as examiner at the Patent Office. Mr. Otto was really encouraging to look at. He did not chew tobacco, or talk politics, or use bad grammar; but was well educated and spake French and German. General Butler, having a luminous idea to get above the Howlett house batteries by cutting a ship canal across Dutch Gap, has called for volunteers, at an increased rate of pay. Whereupon the Rebel rams come down and shell the extra-pay volunteers, with their big guns; and we hear the distant booming very distinctly. I think when Butler gets his canal cleverly through, he will find fresh batteries, ready to rake it, and plenty more above it, on the river. The Richmond papers make merry, and say it will increase their commerce.

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. 221-22. Available via Google Books.

Theodore Lyman’s letter is from Meade’s Headquarters, 1863-1865: Letters of Colonel Theodore Lyman from the Wilderness to Appomattox, pp. 211-13. Edited by George R. Agassiz. Boston, Massachusetts Historical Society, 1922. Available via Google Books.

Great Excitement and Idle Talk (July 15, 1864)

Jubal Early’s raid to the outskirts of Washington continues to create excitement. In his letter of July 15, Meade also mentions the latest in what will become a series of meetings with Ulysses S. Grant regarding his future with the Army of the Potomac. In his letter of July 12 Meade had written about rumors that Meade was going to be replaced as commander of the Army of the Potomac by Winfield Scott Hancock. From this point on Meade and Grant will have what must have been increasingly uncomfortable conversations about Meade’s status with the army.

General William Franklin. An engineer like Meade, Franklin had been overseeing construction of the U.S. Capitol's new dome when war broke out  (Library of Congress).

General William Franklin. An engineer like Meade, Franklin had been overseeing construction of the U.S. Capitol’s new dome when war broke out (Library of Congress).

In this letter Meade also mentions General William Franklin. At the Battle of Fredericksburg Franklin had commanded the Left Grand Division of Ambrose Burnside’s army, in which Meade commanded his division of the Pennsylvania Reserves. After the battle Franklin had criticized Burnside, who had him removed from the army and sent west. Franklin’s bad luck continued when he was wounded during the Red River campaign under General Nathaniel Banks. Bad luck followed him back east, too. In this letter Meade refers to an incident in which Confederate partisans under Harry Gilmore attacked Franklin’s train during a raid into Maryland and captured the general. The rumors Meade hears of Franklin’s escape will turn out  to be true

I suppose you are in a great state of excitement on account of the rebel invasion. I wrote you in my last that I thought it was a serious affair, and subsequent developments prove it to be so. Day before yesterday I went down to City Point to see General Grant, having heard a rumor that I was to be sent to Washington. I found Grant quite serious, but calm. He seemed to think that with the Sixth Corps from this army, and the Nineteenth from Louisiana, there would be troops enough, with Hunter’s, Couch’s and Augur’s commands, not only to defeat the rebels, but to bag them. He said he had not contemplated sending me to Washington, but if another corps had to go, he would send me with it. I do not think the position a desirable one, as the difficulty will be to get the various commands together and harmonize such conflicting elements. If, however, I am ordered, I will do the best I can. I think Grant should either have gone himself or sent me earlier. He has given the supreme command to Wright, who is an excellent officer. I expect that after the rebels find Washington too strong for them, and they have done all the plundering they can, they will quietly slip across the Potomac and rush down here to reinforce Lee, who will then try to throw himself on us before our troops can get back.

I spoke to Grant about the report that I was to be relieved, and he said he had never heard a word of it, and did not believe there was any foundation for it, as he would most certainly have been consulted. I have therefore dismissed the matter as some idle talk from some person with whom the wish was father to the thought.

Lee has not sent away any of his army, and is doubtless disappointed that his diversion has not produced a greater weakening of Grant’s army. He confidently expected to transfer the seat of war to Maryland, and thought his menace of Washington would induce the Government to order Grant back there with his army.

I was very sorry to hear of Franklin’s capture, for his health is not good, owing to a wound he received in Louisiana, and I fear, if they send him to Charleston, his health may give way under the confinement in that climate, or be permanently injured.

Whilst I was writing we have a telegram reporting the withdrawal of the enemy across the Potomac, Wright in pursuit. Just as I expected. It also states there is a rumor that Franklin has made his escape, which I earnestly hope may prove true.

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. 212-13. Available via Google Books.

“An Escaped Pig” (July 13, 1864)

This photograph of Horatio Wright was half of a stereographic image titled "General Wright, Commander of the "Bloody Sixth Corps" (Library of Congress).

This photograph of Horatio Wright was half of a stereographic image titled “General Wright, Commander of the “Bloody Sixth Corps” (Library of Congress).

Theodore Lyman provides another snapshot of the tedious life in front of Petersburg. It’s quite a contrast to the bustle and excitement around Washington, where General Horatio Wright and the VI Corps have gone to repel Jubal Early’s invasion. We can add Mr. Shaw, Winfield Scott Hancock’s English valet, the Lyman’s gallery of great characters.

I hear this evening that General Wright has been put in command of all forces to repel the invasion. But our attempt to bag the raiders may be somewhat like the domestic rural scene of surrounding an escaped pig in the vegetable garden. Don’t you know how half a dozen men will get in a circle about him, and then cautiously advance, with an expression of face between confidence and timidity? The piggie stands still in the midst, with a small and a treacherous eye. Suddenly, picking out the weakest man, he makes an unexpected rush between his legs, upsets him, and canters away midst an impotent shower of sticks! I suppose you think I take a very light view of things, but in reality I do not; only, after seeing so many fine men knocked over, this business of tearing up tracks and eating all the good wife’s fresh butter seems of lesser consequence. Another thing is, I hope it will do us good, sting us to the quick, and frighten us into a wholesome draft. You must remember that this sort of raiding has been a continual and every-day thing in the southern country, though to us it seems to be so awful.

The mail man who came down to-night says they are in a great tremble at Washington, while down here we are pleasantly building bowers against the sun, and telling stories to wile away the time. To these last our French Colonel contributes many, of the Midi, which, with the peculiar accent, are very laughable. To illustrate the egotistical ideas of the Marseillais, he told of a father who was showing to his son a brigade of Zouaves who had just come from Italy and were marching through the streets. “Mon enfant! Vois-tu ces Zouaves? Eh bien, ils sont tous-e des Marseillais. II y avait des Parisiens, mais on les a mis dans la musique!” You remember that long, hot street there they call the Canebiere. A certain citizen, who had just been to see Paris with its present improvements, returned much gratified. “Ah,” said he, “Paris est une bien jolie ville; si, ga avait une Canebiere, ca serait un petit Marseille.” As an offset to which we must have an anecdote of this region. Did I ever tell you of “Shaw,” the valet of Hancock (formerly of General French)? This genius is a regular specimen of the ne’er-do-weel, roving, jack-of-all-trades Englishman. I fancy from his manner that he has once been a head servant or butler in some crack British regiment. He has that intense and impressive manner, only to be got, even by Bulls, in years of drill. He is a perfect character, who no more picks up anything American, than a duck’s feathers soak water. He is full of low-voiced confidence. “Oh, indeed, sir! The General rides about a vast deal in the dust, sir. I do assure you, that to-day, when he got in, his undergarments and his hose were quite soiled, sir!”

“That fellow,” said Hancock, “is the most inquisitive and cool man I ever saw. Now I don’t mind so much his smoking all my cigars and drinking all my liquors—which he does—but I had a bundle of most private papers which I had hidden in the bottom of my trunk, and, the other day, I came into my tent and there was Mr. Shaw reading them! And, when I asked him what the devil he meant, he said: “Oh, General, I took the liberty of looking at them, and now I am so interested, I hope you will let me finish the rest!”

Theodore Lyman’s letter is from Meade’s Headquarters, 1863-1865: Letters of Colonel Theodore Lyman from the Wilderness to Appomattox, pp. 190-2. Edited by George R. Agassiz. Boston, Massachusetts Historical Society, 1922. Available via Google Books.

The Old Brute (July 7, 1864)

Old Baldy, in a photo taken after the war. The horse survived his master and marched, riderless, in Meade's funeral procession (Library of Congress).

Old Baldy, in a photo taken after the war. The horse survived his master and marched, riderless, in Meade’s funeral procession (Library of Congress).

Mrs. Meade sends a good report about Old Baldy, Meade’s horse. Meade sent Baldy back to Philadelphia back in April. “Mr. Ewell” is Gen. Richard Ewell (coincidentally, known to his men as “Old  Bald Head”). Jubal Early, who had marched north to attack Washington’s outer defenses, had belonged to Ewell’s corps.

I am glad to hear the good news about Baldy, as I am very much attached to the old brute.

Matters seem to be at a standstill for the present, and will continue so until the arrival of expected reinforcements. I see a tendency to despondency in some of the public journals. This arises from the folly of expecting one man to perform miracles, and then being depressed because unreasonable anticipations are not realized. Things have occurred very much as I expected. I had hoped for better success at the beginning, but after we failed to defeat Lee at the Wilderness, I took it for granted we should have to manoeuvre him into the fortifications of Richmond, and then lay siege to that place. I knew this, with the men we had, would be a formidable undertaking, requiring time and patience, and the final result depending very much upon the support we obtained from the Government and people in the way of reinforcements. I always knew the enemy would fight desperately, and would be skillfully handled. I still think, if the men are furnished promptly, that we shall eventually succeed in overcoming Lee’s army, and when that is done the Rebellion is over.

I presume you will all be excited again in Philadelphia at the appearance of the rebel army in Maryland and Pennsylvania. If it stirs the people up to turning out and volunteering, I shall thank Mr. Ewell very much, even if he does rob and steal some. The apathy of our people is our stumbling block. This move of Lee’s is an ingenious effort to get Grant to send troops from here, but I think he will be disappointed.

In the meantime, Theodore Lyman pays a visit to “that eccentric general,” Francis Barlow.

Francis C. Barlow (Library of Congress).

Francis C. Barlow (Library of Congress).

I paid a visit to Brigadier-General Barlow, who, as the day was hot, was lying in his tent, neatly attired in his shirt and drawers, and listening to his band, that was playing without. With a quaint hospitality he besought me to “take off my trousers and make myself at home”; which I did avail of no further than to sit down. He said his men were rested and he was ready for another assault! — which, if of real importance, he meant to lead himself; as he “wanted no more trifling.” His ideas of “trifling,” one may say, are peculiar. It would be ludicrous to hear a man talk so, who, as De Chanal says, “a la figure d’un gamin de Paris,” did I not know that he is one of the most daring men in the army. It would be hard to find a general officer to equal him and Joe Hayes—both my classmates and both Massachusetts men. Hayes now commands the Regulars. He could not have a higher compliment.

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. 210-11. Available via Google Books.

Theodore Lyman’s letter is from Meade’s Headquarters, 1863-1865: Letters of Colonel Theodore Lyman from the Wilderness to Appomattox, p. 186. Edited by George R. Agassiz. Boston, Massachusetts Historical Society, 1922. Available via Google Books.

Dust (July 6, 1864)

James B. Ricketts. The former artilleryman commanded a division in the VI Corps. His sister had married Meade's brother (Library of Congress).

James B. Ricketts. The former artilleryman commanded a division in the VI Corps. His sister had married Meade’s brother (Library of Congress).

Theodore Lyman goes into more detail about the moves to halt Jubal Early before he can attack Washington, D.C., an incident to which Lyman referred in his journal on July 5. He mentions Brigadier General James Ricketts, who had experienced an interesting war, to say the least. Ricketts began it as a battery commander and was wounded and captured at First Bull Run. He commanded a division in the I Corps at Antietam. When corps commander Joe Hooker was wounded and turned command over to Meade, Meade believed it was a mistake and tried to hand the command to Ricketts, who outranked him. (But it was Meade, not Ricketts, whom Hooker wanted in command). Ricketts was related to Meade by marriage—his sister had married Meade’s brother Robert.

Sent to Maryland, Ricketts’ division fought with General Lew Wallace (later the author of Ben-Hur) at the Battle of Monocacy in Maryland, which delayed Early long enough for Horatio Wright nd the rest of the VI Corps to reach Washington’s defenses. The General Tyler to whom Lyman refers must be Erastus B. Tyler, who was in command of Baltimore’s defenses and went to Wallace’s aid. I cannot find any reference to his history with Meade’s chief of staff, Andrew A. Humphreys.

We have no rain here — never expect any; air hazy with a faint dust, finer than twice volted flour, which settles on everything — but that won’t kill anybody. So Ewell is (or was — don’t know his whereabouts at this precise moment) at Harper’s Ferry. We knew he was poking up there somewhere. As to the A. of P., it is sitting here, trying to get some fresh cabbages, not very successfully, so far — the last issue, I am told, furnished one small one to every fifteen men. Old Uncle Lee is “in posish,” as General Williams would say, and seems to remark: “Here I am; I have sent off Ewell; now why don’t you come on?” I suppose you think I speak flippantly of what the French call the “situation”; but one gets so desperate that it is no use to be serious. Last night, after I had got to bed, I heard the officer of the day go with a despatch into the General’s tent and wake him up. Presently the General said: “Very well, tell General Wright to send a good division. I suppose it will be Ricketts’s.” And he turned over and went asleep again. Not so Ricketts, who was speedily waked up and told to march to City Point, thence to take steamers for Washington, or rather for Baltimore. We do not appreciate now, how much time, and labor, and disappointment, and reorganization, and turning out bad officers, have to be done, before an army can be got in such condition that a division of several thousand men may be suddenly waked at midnight and, within an hour or so, be on the march, each man with his arms and ammunition ready, and his rations in his haversack. Now, nobody thinks of it. General Meade says, “Send Ricketts”; and turns over and goes to sleep. General Ricketts says, “Wake the Staff and saddle the horses.” By the time this is done, he has written some little slips of paper, and away gallop the officers to the brigade commanders, who wake the regimental, who wake the company, who wake the non-commissioned, who wake the privates. And each particular private, uttering his particular oath, rises with a groan, rolls up his shelter-tent, if he has one, straps on his blanket, if he has not long since thrown it away, and is ready for the word “Fall in!” When General Ricketts is informed that all are ready, he says: “Very well, let the column move”—or something of that sort. There is a great shouting of “By the right flank, forward!” and off goes Ricketts, at the head of his troops, bound for City Point; and also bound, I much regret to say, for the Monocacy, where I fancy his poor men stood up and did all the fighting. From what I hear, I judge we had there about 10,000, of whom a good part were next to worthless. The Rebs had, I think, some 12,000, all good troops. This General Wallace is said by officers here to be no general at all, though brave; and General Tyler is the man whom General Humphreys had tried for cowardice, or some misbehavior in the presence of the enemy; and who has, in consequence, an undying hate for the Chief-of-Staff. I remember thinking to myself, as I went to sleep—“division—why don’t they send a corps and make a sure thing?” Behold my military forethought!

Theodore Lyman’s letter is from Meade’s Headquarters, 1863-1865: Letters of Colonel Theodore Lyman from the Wilderness to Appomattox, pp. 184-5. Edited by George R. Agassiz. Boston, Massachusetts Historical Society, 1922. Available via Google Books.

A Real, Live Slave (July 5, 1864)

A group of ex-slaves freed by the advance of the Union armies. Such freed slaves became known as "contrabands of war" (Library of Congress).

A group of ex-slaves freed by the advance of the Union army. Such freed slaves became known as “contrabands of war” (Library of Congress).

As I have pointed out before, Theodore Lyman’s views on race and slavery were very much those of a nineteenth-century man. He was, it seems, gaining a grudging respect for the black fighting men but he appears little concerned about how the Civil War was ending the institution of slavery. For Lyman, African-Americans were strange and exotic creatures, the objects of amused and detached observation. A case in point is his letter of July 5, in which he encounters an elderly ex-slave. Lyman finds her entertaining without seeming to consider that being liberated from a long lifetime of working in bondage to a man who owned you might be cause for a good deal of chuckling. (“The two Frenchies” are the French observers who are visiting the Army of the Potomac.)

City Point was at the confluence of the Appomattox and James Rivers. Ulysses S. Grant had established his headquarters here, on a bluff high above the Appomattox. The arrival of the Union Army’s transformed the once quiet spot into a scene of great bustling activity.

A photograph of City Point, taken on July 5, 1864 (Library of Congress).

A photograph of City Point, taken on July 5, 1864 (Library of Congress).

In his journal entry for July 5, Lyman mentions hearing a messenger enter Meade’s tent with a dispatch that night. “Very well, tell Wright to send a good division,” he heard Meade say. “I supposed it will be Ricketts.” Then Meade went back to sleep. The occasion was an emergency to the north. While still at Cold Harbor, Lee had dispatched Jubal Early, his “bad old man,” on a mission to redirect the Union’s attention toward its own backyard. Early had marched north down the Shenandoah Valley, brushing aside Union resistance, and entered Maryland, where he battled outnumbered Federal defenders outside Frederick near the Monocacy River. He continued on until he reached Washington’s outer defenses. This was precisely the scenario that Lincoln had long feared—that the Army of the Potomac would move so far south that it would leave the nation’s capital wide open to a Confederate attack.

Another view of City Point, also taken on July 5, 1864 (Library of Congress).

Another view of City Point, also taken on July 5, 1864 (Library of Congress).

I forgot to tell you that yesterday there appeared a waggon of the Sanitary Commission bearing a gift for the comfort of Headquarters. With it came the agent, Mr. Johnson, a dried-up Philadelphian, of a serious countenance. He brought some ice, mutton, canned fruit, etc., for the behoof of the suffering hossifers, and was received with sweet smiles. This morning we made up a quartette, the two Frenchies, Rosencrantz and myself, and made a journey to City Point, distant some twelve or thirteen miles. It was not unpleasant, though the sun was extremely hot; for we took back roads in the woods and escaped a good share of dust. Before getting to the City Point road, near Bailey’s, we stopped at one Epps’s house. Epps himself with family had been called on sudden business to Petersburg, about the time Smith moved up; but some of his nigs remained. Among others a venerable “Aunty,” of whom I asked her age. “Dunno,” replied the Venerable, “but I know I’se mighty old: got double gran’ children.” She then began to chuckle much, and said: “Massa allers made me work, ‘cause he was ugly; but since you uns is come, I don’t have to do nuphun. Oh! I’se powerful glad you uns is come. I didn’t know thar was so many folks in the whole world as I seen round here.” I told the old lady to use up everything she could find, and left her chuckling continuously and plainly impressed with the idea that I was a very pleasant gentleman. Guzman, meantime, looked on with irrepressible astonishment, having never before seen a real, live slave. At City Point I delivered some despatches at General Grant’s, and after went down and saw the Sanitary boats. They have three of them, large ones, moored permanently side by side, and full of all sorts of things, and especially a host of boxes, no two alike. The upper deck, to render it attractive, was ornamented with a pile of two or three hundred pairs of crutches. For myself I got some iced lemonade on board, and retired much refreshed and highly patriotic. One of the great sights down there is the huge army hospital, a whole plain, white with large tents. These are capable of receiving 7000 patients and have at present about 3000. All are under charge of my excellent classmate, Dr. Ned Dalton.

Theodore Lyman’s letter is from Meade’s Headquarters, 1863-1865: Letters of Colonel Theodore Lyman from the Wilderness to Appomattox, pp. 182-4. Edited by George R. Agassiz. Boston, Massachusetts Historical Society, 1922. Available via Google Books.