CAMP PIERPONT, VA., Sunday, December 8, 1861.
My last letter was written on Thursday evening. The next day I went, in command of my brigade, on a foraging expedition. We proceeded some ten miles from here, and within two of Dranesville, to the farm of a man named Gunnell, who was reported not only as an active Secessionist, but one who was making arrangements to place his crops in the possession of the Confederate Army. We arrived on the ground about 12 M., and in two hours loaded some sixty wagons, stripping his place of everything we thought would be useful to the enemy or that we could use ourselves. I never had a more disagreeable duty in my life to perform. The man was absent, but his sister, with his farm and house servants, were at home. The great difficulty was to prevent the wanton and useless destruction of property which could not be made available for military purposes. The men and officers got into their heads that the object of the expedition was the punishment of a rebel, and hence the more injury they inflicted, the more successful was the expedition, and it was with considerable trouble they could be prevented from burning everything. It made me sad to do such injury, and I really was ashamed of our cause, which thus required war to be made on individuals. The enemy were within ten miles of us, but did not make their appearance, and we returned to camp with our booty by nightfall.
SOURCE: George Meade, The Life and Letters of George Gordon Meade, Vol. 1, p. 234