Monday, November 11, 2013

Brigadier General George G. Meade to Margaretta Sergeant Meade, December 30, 1861

CAMP PIERPONT, VA., December 30, 1861.

I intended yesterday (Sunday) to have written you a long letter, but just as I was getting ready to do so, orders came for a review by Governor Curtin. The review and attendant duties occupied pretty much the balance of the day. After the review, which passed off very well, Ord's, or the Third Brigade, was addressed by Governor Curtin, who eulogized their conduct at Dranesville, thanked them in the name of the people of Pennsylvania, and said he had directed the word Dranesville to be inscribed on the banner of each regiment in the brigade. Secretary Cameron, who was present, asked very kindly after you, and hoped you were quite well. Among Governor Curtin's cortege was Craig Biddle,1 who seemed glad to see me, and said he had seen you only a few days ago in the street. General McClellan has issued a complimentary order, in which he returns his special thanks to General Ord and his brigade for the fight, and to McCall and the division for the prompt measures taken to repel the advance of reinforcements.

Well, the vexed Trent affair is settled, and just as I expected it would be. Seward's letter I do not like. It is specious and pettifogging. Had Mr. Seward written this letter immediately on receipt of the intelligence of the capture, and examination of the subject, then it would have been all right and honorable; but I do not understand the manliness of not finding out you are wrong until a demand is made for reparation, particularly as, anterior to that demand and its consequences, everything was done by Congress and the Navy Department, the press and all jurists, to insist on the justice and legality of the act. It is a clear case of backing out, with our tracks very badly covered up. I would have preferred insisting on the act being legal, but yielded on the broad ground of superior force and our inability at the present moment to resist the outrage. I think the course of England has been most disgraceful and unworthy of a great nation, and I feel confident that, if ever this domestic war of ours is settled, it will require but the slightest pretext to bring about a war with England.

1 Craig Biddle, of Philadelphia, afterward a judge of the court of common pleas.

SOURCE: George Meade, The Life and Letters of George Gordon Meade, Vol. 1, p. 240-1

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