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[141] besides several hundred prisoners.1 We ought to have just eaten them up; but as it was, we only drove them back into some rifle-pits we had formerly abandoned, and then the line was formed as originally ordered, with Burnside swung round to cover our right flank from Bethesda Church towards Linney's house, while the enemy held Via's house and a line parallel to our own. . . .

You know I was never an enthusiast or fanatic for any of our generals. I liked McClellan, but was not “daft” about him; and was indeed somewhat shaken by the great cry and stories against him. But now, after seeing this country and this campaign, I wish to say, in all coolness, that I believe he was, both as a military man and as a manager of a country under military occupation, the greatest general this war has produced. You hear how slow he was; how he hesitated at small natural obstacles. Not so. He hesitated at an obstacle that our ultra people steadily ignore, the Rebel Army of Northern Virginia; and anyone that has seen that army fight and march would, were he wise, proceed therewith with caution and wariness, well knowing that defeat by such an enemy might mean destruction. When I consider how much better soldiers, as soldiers, our men now are than in his day; how admirably they have been handled in this campaign; and how heroically they have worked, marched, and fought, and yet, how we still see the enemy in our front, weakened and maimed, but undaunted as ever, I am forced to the conclusion


1 “When Grant heard of it, he said to Meade: ‘We ought to be able to eat them up; they have placed themselves in such a position. Generally I am not in favor of night attacks; but I think one might be justified in such a case as the present.’ Indeed it was a wretched affair.” --Lyman's! Journal.

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George Gordon Meade (1)
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Ambrose Everett Burnside (1)
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