Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Brigadier General George G. Meade to Margaretta Sergeant Meade, June 14, 1862


After writing my last letter, I was very busy employed in loading up the vessels with my train of wagons and ambulances. We got off in good time, and after a pleasant trip down the Rappahannock, we entered the York River and ascended it and the Pamunky to the celebrated White House, the estate of General Lee's son (Turnbull's old friend). We reached the White House this morning and found great excitement existing, from the fact that the enemy had the audacity to show themselves along the line of the railroad, and finding two of our vessels in the Pamunky River, beyond the reach of any defense, they seized them, murdered the crews and burned them. This foray was accomplished, as far as I can ascertain, by some sixty or seventy mounted men, who made this bold and audacious move, having pretty certain information that being so far to the rear, we were perfectly secure and hence unguarded. The rascals were completely successful in every particular, except their attempt to capture my brigade train, which was on the road, guarded by a company of the Fourth Regiment. The company formed a line and prepared to receive the gentlemen, which caused them to hesitate and finally retire. What they did, however, made a great rumpus, and was terribly magnified by the time it reached our steamer, anchored some ten miles below the White House. As soon as I could find where my command was, I started off with my staff and escort, and the escort of General McCall, which he had left for me to bring on. I reached here about 3 P. M., and found the brigade encamped just before crossing the Chickahominy. Last night it was under orders to move forward, but the raid of the guerillas changed the programme, and Reynolds was ordered back with part of his brigade to guard the depot at the White House, and the railroad leading this way.

I have fortunately joined my command before they have been called into action, which I was a little nervous about. McClellan's headquarters are about four miles from here.

Kuhn saw Alexander Wilcox, who is here on the Sanitary Commission, and is on board a fine steamer, where, as we passed this morning, I saw numerous young ladies, in English hats, etc., very stylish, apparently having a nice time with several men. I was told this was the sanitary ship, and these were volunteer nurses. I thought at first it was a picnic.

It is all quiet in front at this hour, 6 P. M., but no one can tell when the ball may be opened by either side. I think in a day or two we shall go to the front, and then will commence the reality of war.

SOURCE: George Meade, The Life and Letters of George Gordon Meade, Vol. 1, p. 273-4

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