CAMP PIERPONT, VA., December 25, 1861.
I write a few lines on this day of rejoicing and festivity, to let you know I am well, and though absent from you in the body, that I am with you and my dear children in spirit and thought. As this day is the anniversary commemorating the great promise held out to all mankind, let us hope it may promise speedy peace and happiness to us in this world as well as the one to come. God grant it may be so!
I see you are greatly concerned about the foreign news. I doubt that there will be a war with England, because I think I see symptoms of backing out on the part of our Government, notwithstanding all their bluster, and this shows the impropriety of our making such boasts and bragging, passing votes of thanks to Captain Wilkes1 for an act we may be forced to disavow. A war with England would be nothing less than self-destruction on our part, amounting to madness. Our only course is to yield to England's demands under protest, as to an acknowledged superior force, settle the rebellion, and then, when our hands are free, call on England for an apology or fight her. This course will not dishonor us, and will enable us to continue operations against the South unembarrassed by a foreign war.
1 Captain Charles Wilkes, U. S. N., in command of the frigate San Jacinto, captured Mason and Slidell on board the British steamer Trent.
SOURCE: George Meade, The Life and Letters of George Gordon Meade, Vol. 1, p. 239