Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Brigadier General George G. Meade to Margaretta Sergeant Meade, April 13, 1862

CAMP AT MANASSAS, Sunday, April 13.

My last letter was written to you from Alexandria, on the evening of the 10th instant. The next morning we started on our march to this place, which we reached yesterday afternoon, passing through Centreville. On our arrival here we found Franklin's Division had been ordered back to McClellan. As this was a checkmate to McDowell, he has started off to Washington, and we now do not know what is going to be done with us. The withdrawal of Franklin reduces his army corps to two divisions of only twenty thousand men — hardly enough to attempt to threaten Richmond from this direction. I suppose he will try to get another division with which to cross the Rappahannock and advance on Richmond. If he does not succeed in this, I presume we will be kept here till the affair at Yorktown is decided, and if it should be in our favor, I think they will fall back from Richmond and probably abandon Virginia altogether. We cannot tell till McDowell gets back what our movements will be. This morning I rode over the whole of the Bull Run battle-field. A more beautiful ground for a battle never existed; country open, with rolling ground of gentle slopes, offering equal advantages to the attacking and attacked. I am now more satisfied than ever that we lost the day from gross mismanagement — a combination of bad generalship and bad behavior on the part of raw troops. This, however, is erdre rums. Their works at Centreville and at this place are quite strong, and it would have given us a good deal of trouble to have driven them out, and it was a very good thing they evacuated them. I hope we shall be successful in driving them from Yorktown; though the last accounts would seem to indicate that they are pretty well prepared for us there, and that we have yet our hands full to drive them out. As I understand, the difficulty is that, owing to the fear of the Merrimac, the gunboats cannot leave Fortress Monroe to ascend the York River and take their batteries in the rear. It is said, however, the Navy have a plan, by which they are confident they will sink the Merrimac, if she gives them a fair chance, in which I trust they may succeed.

SOURCE: George Meade, The Life and Letters of George Gordon Meade, Vol. 1, p. 258-9

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