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 General Meade that its head had appeared again in the lower Shenandoah Valley. Upon this, General Halleck, seemingly having lost all patience with his subordinate's ignorance of the situation in which he was a chief factor, and manifest inability to procure accurate information of General Lee's movements, or divine his intentions, answered him in the following tart strain:
The sneering tone of this dispatch was of itself sufficient to arouse the temper of a much more placid man than General Meade under normal circumstances; but at this juncture there were two extraordinary considerations which made it to him peculiarly aggravating. As shown above, the peppery Union commander was already chafing under the knowledge that his movements of the previous ten days had been unsatisfactory to his superiors, and that his falling back upon Washington before an inferior enemy, with whom he had been seeking a general engagement ever since Gettysburg, had caused distrust of his capacity, as well as desire to again meet his able Confederate antagonist; secondly, Halleck, of all the others, had been most urgent for an offensive stand against General Lee from the inception of his movement, as well as a covert critic from day to day of the continued retreat of the Federal army from the Rapidan.
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