Family Ties (May 3, 1865)

Ruins in Richmond, photographed in May 1865 (Library of Congress).

Ruins in Richmond, photographed in May 1865 (Library of Congress).

On May 3, 1865, George Meade wrote home from Richmond with news about some of his wife’s relatives. As previously mentioned, one of Mrs. Meade’s sisters had married Henry Wise, later governor of Virginia and then a Confederate general. The “Mrs. Dr. Garnett” mentioned in this letter is Mary, one of Henry Wise’s daughters. Another of Mrs. Meade’s sisters, Mariamne, had married Thomas Huger, who had served in the Confederate navy and died in 1862. Alfred Huger was postmaster of Charleston; he and Meade will both die in 1872.

I arrived here about 11 a. m. to-day, in advance of the army, to make arrangements for its passing through this city. It is to have a triumphal march through, and be received by all the troops now in the city.

As soon after getting here as I could arrange business matters, I went to see Nene Wise, whom I found living with Mrs. Dr. Garnett.

At Mrs. Garnett’s I saw Mrs. Tully Wise, who was all last summer in Columbia, South Carolina, and there met Mrs. Alfred Huger with Mariamne’s children. She says the children are all sweet, and that Mr. and Mrs. Huger are devoted to them, but that Mr. Huger has lost everything, and is now very poor, that he is old and infirm, and will not probably live long. She says Mr. Huger’s house in Charleston was burned in the great fire of 1862, and everything in it destroyed, all the old pictures, and all the clothes, jewels and everything belonging to Mariamne’s children. Mr. Huger at this time was Postmaster of Charleston, and used to come up and spend Sundays at Columbia. Mrs. Wise had not heard from them since Sherman’s occupation.

I have already written you that I expect to be in Washington by the 18th inst. It is generally believed that after the army is assembled in Washington it will be disbanded. In that case I shall undoubtedly be allowed some relaxation before again being assigned to duty, and will then have an opportunity of being home for awhile.

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. 277-8. Available via Google Books.

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Reassurances (October 31, 1864)

Henry Wise, the former governor of Virginia and George Meade's brother-in-law (Library of Congress).

Henry Wise, the former governor of Virginia and George Meade’s brother-in-law (Library of Congress).

Read Meade’s letters to his wife and you’ll get the impression that Mrs. Meade did not have a very good opinion of Ulysses S. Grant. While Meade himself had doubts about Grant’s opinion of his generalship, he often felt the need to reassure his wife of Grant’s good will. Part of the problem, as he points out in today’s letter, is Grant did not worry about public opinion the way Meade did.

Today Meade once again mentions his connection with the Wise family. Henry A. Wise, the former governor of Virginia, had married Margaretta Meade’s sister Sarah. (Sarah died in 1850.) Tully Wise was Henry Wise’s cousin; Peyton was Tully’s son. Meade often forwarded t his wife information he learned about the Wise family.

I have reason to believe you are in error in imputing any sympathy on the part of Grant with my detractors. It is true he has not exerted himself to silence or contradict them, but this arises from a very different cause. Grant is very phlegmatic, and holds in great contempt newspaper criticism, and thinks, as long as a man is sustained by his own conscience, his superiors, and the Government, that it is not worth his while to trouble himself about the newspapers. At the same time, he has always expressed himself in the manner in which he did in the telegram I sent you. Differently constituted, with more sensitiveness in his nature, I don’t doubt he would before now have taken some action, either in his official despatches, or in some other way given publicity to such opinions of my services as would set at rest these idle stories.

In our recent move we captured Peyton Wise, Lieutenant Colonel Forty-sixth Virginia Infantry. You may remember him as Mrs. Tully Wise’s bright boy, when we were first married. I did not see him, as he was taken to City Point before I knew of his capture, but I sent word to General Patrick, the Provost Marshal, to treat him as well as possible and furnish him with a little money. He wrote me a letter full of thanks, and expressing a great deal of very proper feeling. I understood if our men had gotten a little further into the enemy’s works, they would have captured General Wise, as he was not far from the place where Peyton was taken.

Grant has required me to make some kind of a report of the campaign, and I shall be very busy for some time.

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. 238-9. Available via Google Books.