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[217] success and with terrible loss. From the crossing of the Rapidan, on May 5th, to the unsuccessful assault on the enemy's works at Petersburg, June 18th, a period of about six weeks, the Army of the Potomac lost not less than seventy thousand men. In the battles between the Army of the Potomac and the Army of Northern Virginia, in no case was a direct assault upon an intrenched position successful.

There is evidence that the enemy were anxious to be attacked at Williamsport. In the “History of the Pennsylvania Reserve Corps,” by Mr. J. R. Sypher, a letter is quoted from the Rev. Dr. Falk, who was in the enemy's lines at that place. Dr. Falk says:

I was at the College of St. James, to which, on account of its commanding position, very many officers of the highest rank came to reconnoitre Meade's lines. From the conversation of these officers among themselves, and with us, it was evident that they most ardently desired to be attacked. “Now we have Meade where we want him.” “If he attacks us here, we will pay him back for Gettysburg.” “But the old fox is too cunning.” These and similar expressions showed clearly that they believed their position strong enough to hold it against any attacking force.

The country has never realized how much it owes to General Meade's moral firmness in resisting his strong desire to attack the enemy here and at Gettysburg, and in view of the vital issues depending upon his action on these occasions, it may be said of him, as truly as it was said of Fabius:

Unus homo nobis cunctando restituit rem;
Non ponebat enim rumores ante salutem.

(One man by delay restored to us the State, for he preferred the public safety to his own fame.)

Although General Meade needs no eulogy, his great deeds speaking for him more eloquently than any words, it may not be out of place to say something concerning his character as a soldier and as a man. As a soldier he was singularly modest and unassuming. He did his duty always in a quiet and undemonstrative way, and was entirely free from what may be called the tricks of popularity. He never claimed credit for services rendered by others, nor did he exaggerate those rendered by himself. On the night of July 3d, at Gettysburg, after the final repulse of the enemy, when every man in the army felt elated with the great victory, he prepared a dispatch to the General-in-chief so moderate in tone that one of his staff officers said to him: “You ought to boast a little more, General, for the country will not appreciate what you have done, unless you do so.” General Meade replied: “I would rather understate our success than claim greater results than I have accomplished,” and the dispatch

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