CAMP AT HUNTER'S MILLS, VA., March 11, 1862.
I send you a few hasty lines to tell you where we are, and to relieve the anxiety which you will doubtless have from the reports in the papers. Yesterday at 11 A. M. we received orders to march. At 1 P. M. we got off, and marched fifteen miles, arriving at this point about 8 P. M. The whole army has advanced, and we are on the extreme right, distant about twelve miles from Centreville. We presumed when starting yesterday that we would have a brush in a day or two with the enemy. But this morning we hear that McDowell's Division, that advanced on Centreville, finding it was evacuated, and hearing that they had evacuated Manassas, continued on and is now in possession of their lately vaunted impregnable stronghold. Thus the prospects of another Bull Run battle are dissipated — unless they have, as the French say, only reculer pour mieux sauter.
We hear to-day of the disastrous naval conflict at Newport News.1 This is a very bad business, and shows the superior enterprise of our enemies. There is no reason we should not have had the Cumberland iron-clad, as the Merrimac has been prepared by them. The loss of two such vessels as the Cumberland and the Congress, two of our finest frigates, is a very serious blow, not only to our material interests, but to our pride and naval forces.
I have not time to write you much beyond the fact that I am well. I have been in the saddle all day, posting troops and pickets, and making all the preparations to meet the enemy, though, from the reports in existence and believed, there is not much probability of his showing himself about here.
1 Destruction of the gun-boats Cumberland and Congress by the Confederate iron-clad Merrimac.
SOURCE: George Meade, The Life and Letters of George Gordon Meade, Vol. 1, p. 251