CAMP OPPOSITE FREDERICKSBURG, May 31, 1862.
Yesterday General McDowell (who has gone after the enemy who drove Banks back) telegraphed to General McCall to draw all his troops over to this side, except such guards as were necessary to keep Fredericksburg quiet and to watch the roads leading into it, and be prepared to act on the defensive. To-day we had intelligence from contrabands that a force was collecting at Spottsylvania Court House, about twelve miles on the other side of the river; so McCall, to carry out his instructions and be prepared, ordered Reynolds's brigade back on this side of the river. This movement, somehow or other, was distorted and magnified, most probably by the telegraph operators, who keep up a chattering among themselves; for this evening McCall got a despatch from the President, inquiring by whose authority he was retreating from Fredericksburg; also one from Mr. Stanton, telling him the news of Shields's victory at Front Royal, and begging him not to let any discredit fall on his division. A person who was at Acquia Creek to-day said it was reported through the operators that the enemy had crossed above us, and that we were retreating in disorder. Of course this canard went up to Washington and was carried to the President. The truth is, we have been left here with too small a force (ten thousand men and thirty pieces of artillery); but McClellan at Richmond and McDowell in the Valley of the Shenandoah will keep all the troops they have busy, and they will hardly be able to bring a sufficiently large force to threaten us. We are, however, prepared for them; but at present all is quiet.
SOURCE: George Meade, The Life and Letters of George Gordon Meade, Vol. 1, p. 269-70