Appendix I: newspaper article, in favor of General Meade, mentioned in letter of March 15, 1864.
see page 180, Vol.
II (the Round table, a Weekly record of the notable, the useful and the Tasteful) (New York, Saturday, March 12, 1864）
This question is now absorbing the attention of the authorities at Washington
, and soon will be, if it is not already, decided.
The fatality that has attached to every commander of the brave Army of the Potomac has affixed itself to General Meade
The movement against him, at first only whispered among a few discontented subordinates in the army, has at last reached the capital, and has attained the dignity—if dignity it be—of an open opposition.
The main movers appear to be General Daniel E. Sickles
and the new Committee on the Conduct of the War
. It is urged that General Meade
is too slow; that but for the dash of some of his division commanders the victory at Gettysburg
would have been a cowardly retreat; that he erred in not following up Lee
immediately after that battle; and that since that time he has let slip more than one opportunity of adding new laurels to those of which the Army of the Potomac cherish an honorable pride.
Such, in brief, are the charges against General Meade
It is well known that, in his report of the battle of Gettysburg
, General Meade
indirectly censured General Sickles
for advancing farther than he had authority to do by virtue of his orders, and so not only subjected his corps to severe loss, but rendered the extrication of it from the difficulty in which it was thereby involved no easy task.
Whether General Sickles
intentionally disobeyed or unintentionally misinterpreted his orders, was not distinctly stated.
But one thing is certain, that the fact that General Sickles
lost a leg in the engagement saved him from removal from the army.
We honor General Sickles
for the devotion to the cause of
his country; we honor him for the untiring energy and personal bravery he has displayed in its defense; and when the war shall be ended and the roll of honor made out, we shall not be the last to claim for General Sickles
no mean place on it. But we cannot blink the fact that General Sickles
is quite as much a politician as a soldier.
We know that he has accomplished more by personal address, adroitness, and cunning management of newspaper correspondents, than by actual display of military ability. * * * He is not a man to forget a fancied slight or to lose an opportunity of resenting it. In view of this, we are at no loss to account for his hostility to General Meade
As to the Committee
on the Conduct of the War
, the less that is said of it the better.
So much for General Meade
Concerning General Meade
, we presume no one will deny that he is a high-minded gentleman and a thorough soldier.
All his dispatches and reports show that he has the instincts of a gentleman; and since he has been in the command of the Army of the Potomac he has won one great battle, has obtained several smaller successes, and has suffered no great disaster.
As regards the battle of Gettysburg
, the fate of Philadelphia
, and Washington
, and perhaps of the nation itself, depended upon him, and with this in mind he had no business to take any risks.
We see now how a pursuit of Lee
immediately after the battle might have proved advantageous; but General Meade
could not feel sure of it then, and under the circumstances he ought not to have undertaken the pursuit unless he was certain of its proving successful.
As a strategist and a tactician, General Meade
has displayed no ordinary military ability.
His disposition of his troops at Gettysburg
has yet to be questioned, while the various movements he has planned since then, though not ending in the results which were hoped for, have stamped him as an able general.
His retreat in the valley of the Shenandoah
, when outflanked by Lee
, was more than redeemed by the fact that he captured a number of rebel prisoners, which is, we believe, the only instance in the war in which a retreating force not only saved itself, but captured no small portion of its pursuers.
Indeed, the rebels acknowledge this.
The retreat from Mine Run
, though it was to be regretted, reflected but little on General Meade
, for his plan of the movement was proved to have been good, despite the failure in its execution.
Besides, the present is not a time for the removal of a general in command of so important an army, unless his faults be much greater than any that can be proved of General Meade
The spring campaign is about to open—who is better fitted to lead the Army of the Potomac than he who led it to victory at Gettysburg
, and has since kept its honor bright?
We have changed commanders too often; with the exception of General Meade
, each change has been for the worse.
We tried Burnside
, and found each of them wanting.
There was no victory between those of Antietam
It is due to the general who won the latter that he should have a chance to share the honors of the triumphs which we hope are awaiting our armies in the coming campaign.
This is no time for experiments.
And so long as we have got a good
commander—one, too, who has proved himself such—we should stand by him; certainly we should not remove him to gratify the pique of any man or any set of men. General Grant
was given a fair trial after the disaster at Belmont
Shall not as much be granted to General Meade
, who as yet has met with no disaster?