was sent as he had written it. General Meade
gave to the country his best energies from the beginning to the end of the war, and from July, 1863, until the final mustering out of our armies, as commander of the Army of the Potomac, he held a position not second in importance to that occupied by any other officer.
Not only is there an entire absence of undue boasting in his dispatches and orders during all this period, but he was ready at all times to speak in words of praise of other generals, some of whom had received honors which his friends believed rightfully to belong to him.
As the commander of an army, General Meade
was prompt to plan, and quick to execute; always ready for every possible movement of the enemy; fertile in expedients to meet unlooked-for emergencies; full of vigor, but not rash; firm, patient, and self-reliant.
He showed these great qualities, not only in the campaign through which we have followed him, but in many others; and we may say here that, if the true history of the campaigns in Virginia
, from the Wilderness
to Appomattox Court-House, shall ever be written, the country will be surprised to hear how much was done by one whose name is hardly connected in the public mind with these achievements.
The more General Meade
's career is studied, the greater does his ability as a soldier appear; and lest we should seem to over-estimate him, we give the opinion of General Lee
, the man of all others best qualified to judge of the skill of our generals.
In an article written by Colonel J. Esten Cooke
, who served in the Southern
army, on the staff of General J. E. B. Stuart
, that officer says:
General Lee esteemed the late General Meade very highly as a soldier, declaring that he was the best officer in the Federal army, and had “given him more trouble than any of them.”
, too, has put on record his estimate of Meade
Writing not long before the closing campaign of the war, he said:
General Meade is one of our truest men, and ablest officers.
He has been constantly with the Army of the Potomac, confronting the strongest, best appointed, and most confident army of the South.
He therefore has not had the opportunity of winning laurels so distinctly marked as have fallen to the lot of other generals.
But I defy any man to name a commander who would do more than Meade has done, with the same chances.
General Meade was appointed [Major General in the Regular army] at my solicitation, after a campaign of most protracted, and covering more severely-contested battles than any of which we have any account in history.
I have been with General Meade through the whole campaign, and I not only made the recommendation upon a conviction that this recognition of his