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[163] enemy, however, have never had in any of their Western armies either the generals or the troops they have had in Virginia, nor has the country been so favorable for them there as here. Grant has undoubtedly shown very superior abilities, and is I think justly entitled to all the honors they propose to bestow upon him.

Headquarters army of the Potomac, December 24, 1863.
George1 will tell you of my French visitors, and that they took up so much of my time that I could not write. To-day I have sent them out under the escort of a staff officer, and have embraced the chance to send you a few lines. They are very clever gentlemenindeed, the most gentlemanly Frenchmen I have ever met. I understand they belong to the haute noblesse. One is the Prince d'aremberg and the other the Comte de Choiseul. They have with them a young Englishman named Blount, who is an habitue of the Paris salons, and who came over with them. The two Frenchmen are officers of cavalry in the army, one on leave from his regiment in Paris, and the other going to Mexico. They brought me a very strong note from Mr. Mercier, the French Minister at Washington, who only refrained from accompanying them because he is about to return next week to Europe. They have in their company a Mr. Hutton, from New York, who used to be on Burnside's staff.

Headquarters army of the Potomac, December 28, 1863.
I was very sorry I could not be at home to spend Christmas with you and the children, but was glad to let George2 go. I spent a very quiet day in camp, attending to the business of re-enlisting the veteran volunteers, to which I had to give much personal attention, as I had let Williams, Humphreys, and many others, go to Washington to spend the day.

Yesterday General Hancock arrived. He has been with me all the time since his arrival, and we have had a long talk. He says it was undoubtedly intended at first to relieve me, and it was, as I surmised, intimated to him that he would be placed in command. Such was his impression till the day before he came down, when, on reporting to Halleck, he was told the design was abandoned, and that he could go down to his old corps. Hancock further says that Halleck declares he saved me; that they were going to relieve me at once on the receipt of the intelligence that I had returned; but that

1 Son of General Meade.

2 Son of General Meade.

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