Monday, December 23, 2013

Brigadier General George G. Meade to Margaretta Sergeant Meade, May 27, 1862


Yesterday General Reynolds's brigade was moved over the river to occupy the town of Fredericksburg, and we changed our camp to near the bridges, so that, in case of necessity, we could be rapidly thrown over. Although we only marched three or four miles, yet a thorough change of camp is always a great job, for notwithstanding we are prepared to move at any time, still we stick our stakes so firmly in the ground, when we do halt, that it is a labor to pull them up. McDowell left last night for Washington, where they appear to be paralyzed with fear at the audacity of the enemy falling on Banks with a superior force. It is whispered that McDowell was peremptorily ordered to return to Manassas and Alexandria, and to establish his headquarters at Washington City. He immediately took a train for Washington to enter his protest against such an injudicious move, and urge his being reinforced and authorized to move on. It was only the other day the Government disbanded two regiments of Indiana volunteers, who being twelve-months' men, their time had expired. These men were willing and desirous of re-enlisting for the war, but the Department refused to re-enlist, saying the Government had more men in service than it really needed. To-day they are crying out for any one to come to Washington to save them. The truth is, we must expect disaster, so long as the armies are not under one master mind. In nothing is the old adage so fully verified as in matters military, "that too many cooks spoil the broth." The enemy by their razzia (as I think it is called) sometimes raid or foray against Banks, have most beautifully succeeded in knocking all McDowell's plans into a cocked hat, and now they are at leisure, so far as any co-operation from this army (for it was an army) is concerned, to do what they please against McClellan. I hope the latter will be able to drive them from Richmond, when perhaps the Government may for awhile be easy on the score of Washington. From all appearances, we will have to remain here, if not fall back to Manassas and Alexandria.

SOURCE: George Meade, The Life and Letters of George Gordon Meade, Vol. 1, p. 268-9

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