CAMP NEAR ALEXANDRIA, April 9, 1862.
I write a few lines to let you know I have not yet gone, though I expect to be off to-morrow. Reynolds's brigade left to-day, and though 11 o'clock was the hour fixed, yet they did not get off till after 4 P. M., being in the meantime exposed to one of the worst storms of snow and hail we have had this winter and spring. I do not know the cause of the delay, but I sincerely trust matters will be better arranged to-morrow, and we not so detained.
You have of course heard the glorious news from the West and Southwest.1 It does seem as if Providence had decreed the South should be humiliated. Such a continued succession of victories without disaster is almost unparalleled, and seems to take from war its hitherto accepted character of being a game of chance. From Yorktown we hear nothing definite, except that our army has arrived before the enemy's works, which are found to be strong and formidable. McClellan has the means and the power to reduce them, and it is only a question of time. I have implicit confidence in his success. Rumor says the enemy has a considerable force between the waters of the Rappahannock and the Rapidan, which force will oppose the progress of McDowell's column; so that we are led to believe that a share of the glory yet awaits us. I do not believe, however, that they will make much opposition on this line after McClellan gets possession of Yorktown, for he will then threaten Richmond, the fall of which would completely cut off any force to the north on the Rappahannock, as Fremont in the Southwest and Banks in the Valley of the Shenandoah would cut off all means of escape. It does seem to me the people of the South are insane to continue the contest for the benefit of politicians and leaders, when it must be so evident to them that final success on their part is hopeless. All their calculations have failed, and there remains now but one desperate hope to them, and that is, that the enormous expenditures of the war will tire out the North; but this will prove equally false so long as we continue to gain brilliant victories, as the North will willingly spend money to acquire glory.
I suppose you remember General Mackall, just captured by Pope. He paid you a visit one evening with Dr. Simons when I was in Florida. He was a great friend of mine, a clever gentleman, who would have remained with us had the Government treated Southern officers with ordinary confidence and decency. Franklin is at Warrenton, the residence of Beckham's people; when I get to Manassas, I will inquire about them.
1 Battle of Shiloh, Tennessee, April 6 and 7, 1862. Federal troops under Major-General U. S. Grant defeated the Confederate troops under General Beauregard. Federal loss, killed, wounded, and missing, 13,047 (0. R).
SOURCE: George Meade, The Life and Letters of George Gordon Meade, Vol. 1, p. 257