CAMP PIERPONT, VA., February 6, 1862.
Day before yesterday, the weather being promising, and tired of the mud and ennui of camp, I mounted my horse and in company with Kuhn rode into town. After getting off the mud, we paid several visits which I had long been contemplating. In the evening, Kuhn went to see some Boston friends, and I passed the evening at Harry Prince's room, smoking and talking over old times and present troubles.
The next morning I started at 1 P. M. to Mrs. McClellan's. Here I found all Washington — citizen, foreign and strangers — among whom of course I saw many friends and acquaintances. Everybody asked after you, and wondered you did not come down and stay in Washington while the army was here, as if you could do as you please. Now for Mrs. McClellan. Her manners are delightful; full of life and vivacity, great affability, and very ready in conversation. She did not hear my name when presented, but while I was apologizing for not having earlier called to see her, she said, "General Meade, is it not?" I said "Yes." She said, "I knew it must be from the likeness, for I have your picture." I told her I felt very much complimented, etc., etc. During the three hours I spent there a constant succession of visitors came in and out to call, and to all of whom she had plenty to say in the easiest and most affable manner. I came away quite charmed with her esprit and vivacity.
I hear that the flag of truce which came in the other day brought the intelligence that the Confederate Government intended to hold the officers who were hostages for the privateers as hostages for the bridge burners that Halleck has sentenced to be hung in Missouri. If this is so, poor Willcox will be detained, if not sacrificed, as I do not well see how our Government can recede from punishing men who are not soldiers, but incendiaries, having no claim to the rights of prisoners of war, beyond the fact that the war incited them to do what they did.
I called at Mr. Stanton's in the evening, with a friend who knew him; but we were told at the door that his usual reception was postponed for Mrs. Lincoln's ball. I then accompanied this friend to a liquor store kept by Mr. Fred. S. Cozzens, the author of the Sparrowgrass Papers and other well-known literary productions, who finds liquor selling more profitable than literature. Here I was introduced to Mr. Cozzens, a member of Congress and others, discussed a bottle of champagne and claret, and talked over the affairs of the day. The member, who was an Administration Democrat, said the ultras had been defeated some days ago, in a vote of censure that they had tried to pass on Halleck, and that there was in the House a clear majority for the President as against the ultras. Much anxiety in regard to foreign intervention and the lack of means was expressed. The Georgia address was considered a sign of desperation, and preparing the Southern mind for defeat. Altogether, the feeling is one of hope. I have told you the whole of my town spree.
SOURCE: George Meade, The Life and Letters of George Gordon Meade, Vol. 1, p. 244-5