Sunday, April 20, 1862.
You will already see by what I have written yesterday, that the prospect of our having work before us is quite good, in fact that two portions of our force — Abercrombie's brigade and Bayard's cavalry — have had a brush with the enemy, and from all I can learn, they are determined to dispute our passage of the Rappahannock and advance there from on Richmond.
I have my headquarters in a house in which a poor man with eight children is living. Some of these little ones are pretty and intelligent, and bring to mind my own dear little ones, from whom I am separated. I have ridden all about the country in this neighborhood, posting pickets and outguards. The country is very beautiful, but it makes one's heart sad to see the desolation and destruction produced by the war. Handsome farms abandoned by their owners, left to a few negroes, the houses gutted, furniture broken and scattered all over, fences burned up, and destruction everywhere. Sometimes I fancy the great object in sending McDowell this way, is that the country may be laid waste, and the negroes all freed. Such certainly is the practical result of the movement, whether designed or not, and as there is no other apparent object, it is reasonable to infer this is the one designed. McDowell has not yet returned from his trip to Acquia Creek and Fredericksburg, and we shall have to await his return before our movements will be decided on.
SOURCE: George Meade, The Life and Letters of George Gordon Meade, Vol. 1, p. 261-2