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Appendix M: letter from General Meade to the Department enclosing newspaper article signed ‘Historicus,’ mentioned in letter of April 2, 1864. see page 186, Vol. II (for article signed ‘Historicus,’ see Appendix J)

Headquarters, army of the Potomac, March 15, 1864.
Col. E. D. Townsend, A. A. G. Washington, D. C.

I enclose herewith a slip from the New York Herald of the 12th inst., containing a communication signed ‘Historicus,’ purporting to give an account of the battle of Gettysburg to which I desire to call the attention of the War Department—and ask such action thereon as may be deemed proper and suitable.

For the past fortnight the public press of the whole country has been teeming with articles, all having for their object assaults upon my reputation as an officer, and tending to throw discredit upon my operations at Gettysburg and my official report of the same. I have not noticed any of these attacks and should not now take action, but that the character of the communication enclosed bears such manifest proofs that it was written either by some one present at the battle, or dictated by some one present and having access not only to official documents, but to confidential papers that were never issued to the Army, much less made public.

I cannot resist the belief that this letter was either written or dictated by Major General D. E. Sickles. An issue has been raised between that officer and myself, in regard to the judgment displayed by him in the [336] position he took with his corps at Gettysburg. In my official report I deemed it proper to state that this position was a false and untenable one, but I did General Sickles the justice to express the opinion that althoa he had committed an error of judgment, it was done through a misapprehension of his orders and not from any intention to act contrary to my wishes. The prominence given to General Sickles' operations in the enclosed communication, the labored argument to prove his good judgment and my failings, all lead me to the conclusion he is either indirectly or directly the author.

As the communication contains so many statements prejudicial to my reputation, I feel called upon to ask the interposition of the Department, as I desire to consider the questions raised purely official. I therefore have to ask, that the Department will take steps to ascertain whether Major General Sickles has authorized or endorses this communication, and in the event of his replying in the affirmative I have to request of the President of the U. S. a court of inquiry that the whole subject may be thoroughly investigated and the truth made known. Should this court not be deemed advisable, any other action the Department may deem proper I desire should be taken, and should the Department decline any action, then I desire authority to make use of and publish such official documents, as, in my judgment, are necessary for my defense.

I am, Very respectfully

Your obt. servant

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