--The following is an extract from a letter of General Meade
to a friend in Newark, New Jersey
, written just before the last movement of the Army of the Potomac:
"I am fully aware of the great anxiety in the public mind that something should be done.
I am in receipt of many letters, some from persons in high positions, telling me I had better have my army destroyed and the country filled up with the bodies of the soldiers than to remain inactive.
Whilst I do not suffer myself to be influenced by such communications, I am and have been most anxious to effect something, but am determined, at every hazard, not to attempt anything unless my judgment indicates a probability of accomplishing some object commensurate with the destruction of life necessarily involved.
I would rather a thousand times he relieved, charged with tardiness or incompetency, than have my conscience burdened with a wanton slaughter, uselessly, of brave men, or with having jeopardized the great cause by doing what I thought wrong."