Foul Deeds (April 16, 1865)

President Abraham Lincoln (Library of Congress).

President Abraham Lincoln (Library of Congress).

George Meade writes to his wife about hearing of Lincoln’s assassination and consoles her about the death of her brother, Willie. Lewis Powell, one of John Wilkes Booth’s fellow conspirators, had attacked Secretary of State William Seward as part of the plot. Although badly wounded, Seward survived. The assistant secretary of state was Seward’s son, Frederick, who had also been wounded in Powell’s attack. He, too, survived.

I received to-day your letter of the 12th, giving an account of the Union League serenade, and of your having learned of the death of Willie. I am glad for your sake some notice has been taken of my services.

As to Willie, I have written to you how shocked I was to hear of his death. This will, of course, be a terrible blow to his poor wife and the dear children. Your mother also, at her time of life, will necessarily feel it deeply.

Yesterday we were shocked by the announcement of the assassination of the President, Secretary and Assistant Secretary of State. I cannot imagine the motives of the perpetrators of these foul deeds, or what they expect to gain. The whole affair is a mystery. Let us pray God to have mercy on our country and bring us through these trials.

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. 272-3. Available via Google Books.

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A Few Hurried Lines (October 1, 1864)

As he indicates below, George Meade was indeed busy 150 years ago today. His army was fighting the battle of Peebles’ Farm in an attempt to force Robert E. Lee to extend his already thinly stretched lines. The Willie Sergeant to whom he refers is Mrs. Meade’s brother, a colonel in the 210th Pennsylvania Volunteers. George, of course, is the Meades’ son, assigned to the general’s staff.

I have only time to write you a few hurried lines. We have been actively engaged for the last two days, and yesterday we had a pretty sharp fight, gaining some advantages and meeting with some checks.

George and myself are well. Willie Sergeant has arrived with his regiment, and is under my command. He is well and in good spirits.

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. 231. Available via Google Books.

A Stop in Washington (September 8, 1864)

Secretary of War Edwin Stanton (Library of Congress).

Secretary of War Edwin Stanton (Library of Congress).

George Meade is on his way back to his army headquarters following a welcome chance to spend some time on leave in Philadelphia. The Willie to whom he refers is his wife’s brother. William Sergeant was appointed the colonel of the 210th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry on September 24. Meade will continue to update his wife about her brother over the following months.

I have been received with the greatest kindness both by the President and Mr. Stanton. At my request, Willie’s appointment was immediately made out and given to him, and Mr. Stanton said I might rest assured my major-generalcy would in due time be given me.

I am very much hurried and leave this afternoon at six.

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. 226. Available via Google Books.