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Jitters of 


The Wilderness to 'Appomattox 

Selected and Edited by 






BY THE Massachusetts Historical Society 


DEC -4 '22 



and the Inspiring Influence 

of her Beloved Metnory 


Theodore Lyman — man of science — soldier — and 
man of the world — touched life at many points. He 
could draw easily on his varied experience, from a well- 
trained and well-stored mind. This, added to good looks, 
charm, and good humor, a ready wit and great tact, made 
him a striking and telling personality, whether in the 
camp, a scientific meeting, or social gathering. 

Among his many activities, he served, from 1883 to 
1885, as a member of the House of Representatives at 
Washington, being elected on an independent ticket from 
his Massachusetts district. As he was the only independ- 
ent member then in Congress, he held there a position of 
unusual influence. At that time the Harvard Club of 
Washington celebrated its birth by having a dinner. The 
first two speakers, a member of the cabinet and a senator, 
indulged in dry and inappropriate political harangues ; and 
the event threatened to be un diner manque. The chair- 
man next called on Lyman, who regretted that the pre- 
vious proceedings had been tinged with a levity unworthy 
of so serious an occasion, proposed to do something 
solemn, sang a comic song, and saved the day. 

The Lyman family of New England is of old English 
stock. Its founder, one Richard Lyman, came to America 
in 1631, on the good ship Lyon, which among its sixty odd 
passengers included John Eliot, and the wife of Governor 
Winthrop and her children. The first Theodore Lyman, a 
direct descendant of Richard in the fifth generation, was 
the son of the pastor of Old York in the District of Maine. » 
^ Maine was then a part of Massachusetts. 




Toward the end of the eighteenth century Theodore left 
York, and came to Massachusetts Bay, where he settled 
in Boston. There he became a successful man of business, 
and laid the foundation of the family fortunes. 

The second Theodore (1792-1849) was born in Boston, 
and graduated from Harvard in 1810. He was a man of 
note in the community of his time; had studied abroad 
and travelled in Eastern Europe, an unusual circumstance 
in his day; and was Mayor of Boston in 1834 and 1835. 
In 1820 he married "the beautiful and accomplished" 
Mary Henderson of New York. 

Their only son, Theodore Lyman, the third of that name, 
and author of the present letters, was born on August 23, 
1833, in the well-known family homestead at Waltham, 
Massachusetts. But almost his whole life was passed in 
Brookline, where his father afterwards built a house, a 
pleasant and spacious dwelling, set in ample lawns and 
spreading elms. 

Young Theodore received his early education from pri- 
vate tutors, and spent the years 1848 and 1849 in Europe. 
His mother died when he was three years old, and the year 
of his return from abroad he lost his father. This left him 
at sixteen an orphan, heir to an independent fortune and 
the Brookline estate. Two years later he entered Harvard 
with the Class of 'bo. It was natural that one so charming, 
high-spirited, and companionable should feel himself 
warmly drawn toward the social side of college life. In his 
studies, for the first two years, he hovered about the mid- 
dle of his class. It was not till his junior year that his in- 
tellectual ambitions were aroused, and in his senior year 
his true abilities asserted themselves. For in that year he 
received the highest marks in the class, and graduated 
fourth. After leaving college, he turned his attention to 



Natural History, and worked under Louis Agassiz. Devot- 
ing himself to the study of Ophiurans while maintaining 
a broad interest in the outside world, Lyman became the 
authority of his day on that group. 

In 1858 he married Elizabeth Russell, daughter of 
George R. Russell, an East India merchant of Boston. 
Lyman took his bride home to his Brookline house, where 
they lived some two years, before starting to travel in 
Europe. There a daughter was born, and there they re- 
mained until she was old enough to be brought safely 

In the winter of 1856, the year after he graduated, 
Lyman was sent by Agassiz on a scientific pilgrimage to 
Florida waters. In Key West he ran across Captain George 
Gordon Meade of the Engineers, who was superintending 
the construction of lighthouses in that district. In those 
days a traveller was a rara avis in Florida, and a lonely 
wanderer found but scant accommodation. Captain 
Meade had a ship at his disposal, and was delighted to have 
the chance of offering Lyman the hospitalities of his float- 
ing home, for a far less agreeable man would have been a 
godsend in the wilderness. The Engineer Officer was 
eighteen years the senior of the Roving Naturalist, but 
they proved congenial companions, and the intimacy so 
formed was afterwards maintained. 

And thus it chanced that, on his return from Europe 
Lyman, from September 1863, until the end of the Civil 
War, was a member of the staff of General Meade, com- 
manding the Army of the Potomac. The present volume 
is composed of a selection of Colonel Lyman's letters to 
his wife from the front. His vivid picture of the life and 
actions of that army has an added interest from the con- 
trast that it offers to the late World War. Still, the con- 


test was titanic for the times ; and during the four years of 
the Civil War there were mustered under the Union Flag 
over two and three quarter millions^ of men. This was a 
far greater proportional drain on the American youth of 
that day than the drafts for our recent armies. Neverthe- 
less, in no battle of that war was an army of much over 
100,000 men engaged. But one must remember that 
Napoleon had less than 75,000 men at Waterloo, and that 
the eighteen miles or so of intrenched line before Peters- 
burg could, in 1865, justly be considered vast. 

Five years later the Franco-Prussian War taught us to 
think of battles on a larger scale; while the opening of the 
century saw Russia and Japan fighting along battle-lines 
of sixty miles, with armies of half a million. To-day the 
white races of the world lie panting from a struggle in 
which armies of millions have wrestled along battle-lines 
stretching across the Continent of Europe. 

Small as they were in the light of our recent experiences, 
the battles of our fathers might have furnished valuable 
military instruction for Europe. As Lyman says, it was 
shown that an army could dig itself in in a few hours, and 
completely intrench itself in three days. Had the French 
war office profited by this lesson, and, instead of build- 
ing what proved useless fortifications, established an in- 
trenched line along the Belgium frontier, there would be 
to-day, in all probability, no devastated France. 

George R. Agassiz 

Boston, Massachusetts 
September 15, 1922 

^ This includes re-enlistments and 90-day men. 


I First Months 1 

II In Winter Quarters ....... 64 

III The Wilderness and Spotsylvania . . 85 

IV Cold Harbor 118 

V Manceuvres about Petersburg . . . 160 

VI The Siege of Petersburg 228 

VII Another Winter 259 

VIII The End of the War 303 

Index 363 


Theodore Lyman Frontispiece 

George Gordon Meade 2 

George Meade 36 

George Sykes 52 

Andrew Atkinson Humphreys 78 

John Sedgwick 106 

Gouverneur Kemble Warren 146 

James Cornell Biddle 176 

Joseph Bradford Carr 180 

Francis Channing Barlow 188 

John Grubb Parke 212 

Frederick Rosencrantz 268 

WiNFiELD Scott Hancock 288 

David McMurtrie Gregg 310 

Ulysses Simpson Grant 320 

Seth Williams 354 


[ Drawn by Colonel Lyman ] 

The Rapidan 51 

From the Rapidan to Spotsylvania Court House . . 86 

The Attack on the SaHent 113 

From Tolopotamoy Creek to Chiekahominy River . . 117 

The North and South Annas and Pamunkey River . . 120 

Richmond-Petersburg 155 

Between Petersburg and Richmond 215 

Jerusalem Plank Road and Weldon Railroad . . . . 218 

Boydton Plank Road and Hatcher's Run 328 

High Bridge to Appomattox Court House . . , , 336 

Namozine Road to Jetersville ........ 342 

Appomattox Court House 344 

Boydton Plank Road 347 




Theodore Lyman reached Boston early in June 1863, 
hoping to obtain a Staff appointment. His first weeks were 
spent in settUng his Uttle family in Brookline, adjusting 
his private affairs, and sorting the collections of his be- 
loved Ophiurans that had accumulated during his ab- 
sence in Louis Agassiz's newly built museum. 

Many of Lyman's friends thought that his desire to 
join the army was quixotic and unnecessary. Meanwhile 
Lee's advanced guard had crossed the upper Potomac, 
and Hooker had moved on Centreville from Falmouth. 
*' There will be stirring times ahead," writes Lyman in his 
journal. "Every one takes the matter with great calm- 
ness; w^e are too dead!" Soon came Gettysburg; and 
shortly afterward Mrs. Lyman's cousin, Robert Shaw, fell 
at the head of his negro regiment in the assault of Fort 
Wagner. Again Lyman writes: "Bob was a shining exam- 
ple of great development of character under pressing cir- 
cumstances. In peace times he would have lived and died 
a quiet, manly, happy -tempered fellow; but the peril 
forced his true spirit into action, and now his name stands 
as that of one who gave up a life spotless of low ambition, 
of cowardice, of immorality; a life torn from all that is at- 
tractive and agreeable and devoted to the cause of Eternal 

An entry in his journal says of a shooting-trip of his on 
some old haunts among the marshes of Cape Cod: "As I 
walked about this beautiful old place, with the clear air 
2 1 

Meade'' s Headquarters 

and the fine breeze, the idea of going to war struck me with 

a ten-fold disagreeable contrast. N B was quite 

eloquent on the topic and strongly urged against it. But 
what's the use? A man must march when it is his plain 
duty; and all the more if he has had, in this world, more 
than his slice of cake!" 

On August 10th Lyman wrote the following letter to 
General Meade, in command of the Army of the Potomac : — 

As your time is valuable I will write in few words. I ar- 
rived here from Europe, with my family, some few weeks 
since; all well. In your letter to me, dated. Camp opposite 
Fredericksburg, December 22, 1862, you were kind enough 
to say: "I shall be delighted to have you on my staff"; 
and you go on to suggest that I should come as "Volun- 
teer Aide" with a commission from the Governor of the 
state, and getting no pay; only forage for my horses. I 
clearly understand that this is no promise, only an expres- 
sion of good will. Therefore I ask you frankly if you are 
now able and willing to take me as a Volunteer Aide? I 
am assured that Governor Andrew would, for his part, 
give me a commission. My military accomplishments are 
most scanty. I can ride, shoot and fence tolerably, speak 
French fluently and German a little, have seen many 
thousands of troops of most nations of Central Europe, and 
have read two or three elementary books. After all, I fear 
my sole recommendation is my wish to do something for 
the Cause. I will take anything you have to offer. If you 
have nothing, perhaps one of your generals would take me 
on his staff. 

* [To this General Meade promptly replied from the 
Headquarters of the Army of the Potomac] 

George Gordon Meade 

First Months 3 

Your note of the 10th inst. is received. I continue in the 
same disposition as when I wrote you on the 22d of last 
December. If you are anxious to see service or think your 
duty requires you to do so, I shall be very glad to avail 
myself of your services, and the best position for you is the 
one I indicated — that of Volunteer Aide. This will leave 
you free and independent; and enable you, whenever you 
have seen the elephant, or have satisfied the demands of 
duty, to return to your family without embarrassment. 
If the Governor will confer on you the commission of 
Lieutenant-Colonel, it will give you the right to wear the 
uniform and bear the title, and I can arrange here for the 
position you will occupy. You will require two good horses, 
a competent man to take care of them, and the smallest 
outfit that you can well get along with, as our transporta- 
tion is limited. You can take your own time in joining, as 
you come in an independent position. Now I beg you will 
let Mrs. Lyman understand that this is all your doings; 
and that she must not hold me responsible for anything 
beyond not throwing obstacles in your way, which, in 
view of your very agreeable company, she could hardly 
expect me to do. 

[Armed with this letter Lyman was soon in the pos- 
session of his commission as Lieutenant-Colonel in the 
Massachusetts Militia, and received a special order giving 
him a furlough for a year, and detailing him to serve on 
the staff of General Meade. "God give me," he writes, 
"proper qualities to discharge my duties." 

A few hurried days busy in buying horses and equip- 
ment, and he was ready to start. His journal closes with 
these words before leaving for the front: "A most splen- 
did day. Mimi went with me a pleasant walk in the woods, 

4 Meade'^s Headquarters [Sept.3, 

and we picked flowers. It will be hard to part — harder 
than we think for! How many a brave man has never 
come back! The retribution of Sin descends with com- 
pound force on the generations that come after. To-mor- 
row I leave for the army. May I do my full duty ; without 
that there can be nothing worthj^" 

He left New York for Washington the next night, 
"getting a sleeping-car at Philadelphia." In Washington he 
saw "the streets full of soldiers, many slouchy, some dirty; 
but nearly all tough and strong looking," and he charac- 
teristically remarks of the Capitol, "The interior is an 
incongruous mixture of fine marbles, common plaster and 
tobacco juice." 

The following day found him about three miles from 
Warrington Junction, at the] 

Headquarters, Army of the Potomac 
September 3, 1863 

Behold me, installed in solemn state! having thus far 
lost no limb. Betimes, at seven this morning, I was duly 
at the Alexandria ferryboat with horses, Silas and Albert. 
Having shown my pass, I assured the worthy corporal on 
guard that there was no liquor in the saddle-box, and was 
allowed to go on board, and twenty minutes took us to 
Alexandria, a town in no wise remarkable except for an 
antique pavement, much resembling that of Pompeii and 
of the Via Appia at Rome, in respect to deep holes and 
ruts. Here I was driven to the "Depot," which consisted 
in one wooden counting-room, closely beset on all sides by 
puffing engines and innumerable freight cars. Having, at 
great risk, got into the shanty, I of course found a Marble- 
header at the head of all affairs, viz.. Colonel Devereux. He 
received me with tenderness, my horses were put in the 

1863] First Months 5 

best car and I was placed in a state chair until the train 
was ready, when the conductor solemnly took me and 
placed me first in the only passenger car. Shoulder-straps 
is shoulder-straps down here, and folks is obleeged to 
stand round. The conductor (the dirtiest mortal I ever 
saw, but extremely energetic and capable) said we should 
have no trouble with guerillas, as they had a very nice 
colonel in command near there, who had taken the wise 
precaution to seize the father and brother of the chief 
guerilla and then to send a civil message to him stating 
that, if any trains were fired into, it would be his (the 
Colonel's) painful duty to tie said relations on the track 
and run an engine over them! This had an excellent 
effect. I have only time to-night to say that we got down 
all safe. . . . You may rest easy on my account for the 
present. There is about as much appearance of an enemy 
near at hand, as there would be on Boston Common. The 
nearest of them (except a few guerillas) are many miles 
from here. 

September 5, 1863 

Our train consisted in a large number of freight cars, all 
marked "U. S. Military Railroads," and of one passenger 
car containing its precious freight of officers, not to speak 
of the female doctor who knocked Zacksnifska out of all 
sight and knowledge. She was going down to get the son 
of an old lady, who (the said son) had had a sunstroke, 
and this female doctor had great confidence she could cure 
him. She was attired in a small straw hat with a cockade 
in front, a pair of blue pantaloons and a long frock coat, or 
sack. Over all she had a linen "duster"; and this, coupled 
with the fact that she had rips in her boots, gave her a 
trig appearance. She was liberal in her advice to all com- 

6 Meade'* s Headquarters csept.s, 

ers and especially exhorted two newspaper boys to im- 
mediately wash their faces, in which remark she was 
clearly correct. ^ . . . 

... At Warrenton Junction there was luckily an am- 
bulance from headquarters; and as its owner was only a 
diminutive captain, I had no hesitation in asking him 
to carry me up, with my traps. ... So off we set, on a 
road which went sometimes over stumps and sometimes 
through "runs" two or three feet deep. We passed any 
quantity of pickets and negroes and dragoons in twos and 
threes; till at last, looking off to the left (or rather right), 
I beheld what seemed a preparation for a gigantic picnic: 
a great number of side-tents, pitched along regular lines, 
or streets, and over them all a continuous bower of pine 
boughs. These were "Headquarters." I put my best foot 
forward and advanced to the tent of the Commander-in- 
Chief, in front of which waved a big flag on a high staff. 
In my advance I was waylaid by a lieutenant, the officer 
of the day, who with much politeness said General Meade 
was out for a ride, but would I not walk into a tent and 
take some whiskey; which I accepted, all but the whiskey. 
He turned out to be a Swede, one Rosencrantz, and I re- 
joiced his soul by speaking of Stockholm. Presently there 
arrived the General himself, who cried out, "Hulloo, 
Lyman! how are you?" just as he used to. He was as 
kind as possible, and presently informed me I was to mess 
with him. As the Chief -of -Staff is the only other man who 
is allowed to do this, you may concede that my lines have 
fallen in pleasant places! The said Chief -of -Staff is Gen- 
eral Humphreys, a very eminent engineer. He is an ex- 
tremely neat man, and is continually washing himself and 
putting on paper dickeys. He has a great deal of knowl- 
1 Dr. Mary E. Walker (1832-1919). 

1863] First Alonths 7 

edge, beyond his profession, and is an extremely gentle- 
manly man. As to the Assistant Adjutant-General, S. 
Barstow, he was most hospitable, and looked out for 
getting me a tent, etc. He really has a laborious and diffi- 
cult position, the duties of which he seems to discharge 
with the offhand way of an old workman. 

Now I will pull up. As to my riding forth yesterday and 
to-day, in martial array, beside the General, and with 
dragoons clattering behind, shall not the glories thereof be 
told in a future letter .^^ Meanwhile, if you want to feel as 
if nobody ever w^as or could be killed, just come here! 
This is the effect, strange as it may seem. For your assur- 
ance I will state, that we yesterday rode seven miles 
directly towards the enemy, before we got to a spot 
whence their pickets may sometimes be seen ! . . . 

[A few words will recall the position of the Army of the 
Potomac at that time. Halleck was virtually in command 
of the Union armies. In June, Lee turned the right wing 
of the Union Army, crossed the Potomac, and entered 
Pennsylvania. Hooker, then in command of the Army of 
the Potomac, followed on Lee's right flank, covered Wash- 
ington, and crossed the Potomac. On June 27, Lincoln 
relieved Hooker and appointed Meade, who was then in 
command of the Fifth Corps. Four days later, Meade 
got in touch with the Confederate Army, and placed his 
forces in such a position, on the heights of Gettysburg, 
that Lee was forced to attack him. After three days' stub- 
born fighting, which culminated in the repulse of the 
magnificent Confederate charge under Pickett, Lee was 
forced to retreat. Meade followed him, but Lee succeeded 
in recrossing the Potomac before the former considered 
himself in position to attack him. Meade also crossed the 

8 Meade^s Headquarters [Sept.6, 

river into Virginia. Lyman joined the army in the midst 
of the manoeuvres that ensued. It was a campaign of 
skirmishes and combats, but with no general battle before 
both armies went into winter quarters in December.] 

September 6th, 1863 

I promised to tell you how I invited General Meade to 
go with me and see General Sykes. If I didn't know any- 
thing, I looked like a Commander-in-Chief, for I had the 
best horse and the best accoutrements, and as for clothes, 
General Meade was nowhere; besides which, he had no 
sword, while I had. The cavalry escort reminded me 
exactly of the Guides that go with the little Prince along 
the rue de Rivoli. No two of them had caps alike, none 
had their jackets buttoned; all were covered with half an 
inch of dust, and all eschewed straps to their pantaloons. 
Nevertheless, had the Rebs appeared, I should have pre- 
ferred these informal cavaliers to the Guides. Each man 
had a sabre with a rusty scabbard, and a revolver hung at 
his belt. They all ride well, and would be handsome 
horsemen, if "got up." 

General Humphreys, with his usual bland smile, ap- 
peared on a small gray, which was of a contrary and rear- 
ing disposition; but the General remarked, with the air of 
an injured man, that he had had three valuable horses 
killed under him in battle, and noiv he should only get 
cheap ones. General Meade, whose saddle-flap was orna- 
mented with a bullet-hole within an inch of his leg, was 
mounted on a small bay. And so we jingled off; sometimes 
in the road, sometimes in the open fields, sometimes in 
the woods and sometimes through creeks and mudholes. 
The Chief rides in a most aggravating way, neither at a 
walk nor a gallop, but at a sort of amble, which bumps 

1863] First Months 9 

you and makes you very uncomfortable. ... In due 
season we got to the 5th Corps Headquarters, near the 
Rappahannock, which is a very narrow affair at this 
point, and not over four feet deep on the shallowest fords. 
General Sykes looks a little like the photograph of General 
Lyon and has a very thick head of hair, which stands up 
Uke Traddles's. He is a mild, steady man, and very polite, 
like all the officers I have seen down here. Indeed, a more 
courteous set of men it would be hard to find. I have yet 
to meet a single gruffy one. They are of all sorts, some well 
educated, others highly Bowery, but all entirely civil. . . . 
The astute Sykes talked some time with the Chief, and 
then we rode to the Headquarters of General Newton, who 
commands the 1st Corps, hard by. This chieftain had a 
very gorgeous tent, erected for the express accommodation 
of Mrs. Newton, who, however, was soon driven forth by 
the general order excluding all ladies from the lines; and 
the tent was all that remained to remind one of her pres- 
ence. General Newton also has a thick head of hair, and is 
a tall and finely built man and "light complected." He 
was in great glee over a tete-de-pont he had erected, and 
hoped to decoy some unfortunate Rebels to within range of 
it. He produced a huge variety of liquids which I had to 
refuse. The drinks I have refused will be a burden on my 
conscience in time to come. They come from all sides and 
in great variety, even champagne ! . . . 

Headquarters, Army of Potomac 
September 9, 1863 

In my last I forwarded a landscape with Headquarters 
of the 3d Corps in the verdant background. In this, I will 
describe the Review, at which, as the Gauls say, "I 
assisted." . . . Everybody got himself up in all available 

10 Meade'* s Headquarters [Sept.9, 

splendor. Those that had scarfs put them on, and those 
that had none, tried to make up in the shine of their boots 
and newness of their coats. General Meade burst forth in 
the glory of a new saddle-cloth, which the expressman had, 
in the nick of time, brought fresh from Washington. As 
for myself, did I not put on the Brimmer scarf, and white 
gloves, and patent-leather boots; whereby, shining like a 
lily of the field, was I not promoted to ride immediately 
behind the Chief, thereby happily avoiding the dust.^^ 
Heure militaire, we all mounted, the escort presented arms, 
and the cavalcade jogged off, e?i route for the parade 
ground, six miles distant. The road lay through pine woods, 
and barren fields, and all sorts of places like most roads 
hereabouts, and the cloud of dust we raised must have 
been extremely pleasant to the escort in the rear! At 
length we got in sight of a big U. S. flag, and, immediately 
after, beheld a long slope of clear ground, quite black with 
the lines of infantry, while long artillery trains were mov- 
ing across the fields to get into position. It looked very 
handsome and warlike, and the muskets, which had re- 
ceived an extra burnish, were flashing away at a great 
rate. The procession rode up to the house and dismounted 
midst great cries of "Orderly!" to come and hold their 
horses. Then advanced convenient Contrabands and 
dusted us down; which improved our aspect not a little. 
After which the Corps Commander, General French, came 
forth, with proper greetings. He looks precisely like one of 
those plethoric French colonels, who are so stout, and who 
look so red in the face, that one would suppose some one 
had tied a cord tightly round their necks. Mounted on a 
large and fine horse, his whole aspect was martial, not to 
say fierce. In a few minutes we again got on, and moved 
towards the field; whereupon there arose a great and dis- 

1863] First Months n 

tant shouting of " Bat-tal-ion ! Shoulder! Her-r-rms!" 
and the long lines suddenly became very straight and 
stiff, and up went the muskets to a shoulder. We rode 
down the front and up the rear of each line (of which there 
were three, each of a division with the artillery on the left 
flank) amid a tremendous rolling of drums and presenting 
of arms and dropping flags; the bands playing "Hail to 
the Chief." Miss Sturgis's mare behaved very nicely and 
galloped along with her neck arched, minding nothing ex- 
cept the flags, and those not much. Even the cannon did 
not disturb her behaviour. . . . 

After the artillery had in like manner been reviewed, the 
General took a station by a little flag, and then all three 
divisions marched past, followed by the artillery. It was 
a somewhat sad sight to look at these veterans, with their 
travel-stained uniforms and their battered canteens ; many 
of the regiments had no more than 200 men, and their 
flags were so tattered that you could barely read such 
names as Fair Oaks, and Williamsburg, where so many of 
the missing 800 now lie. The men looked spare and brown 
and in good health; and also as if they would then and 
there fight French Zouaves or anybody else you chose to 
bring on. . . . Some divisions at Gettysburg marched 
thirty-six miles in one day; and then fought for two days 
after that, with scarcely anything to eat or to drink. 
Among the troops were the 11th and 16th Massachusetts 
regiments and the 10th battery, and certainly none of the 
soldiers looked better. . . . The artillery looked even 
more serviceable than the infantry; and, independent 
of the large number of guns, was well horsed and well 
manned. As a rule I am much pleased with the aspect of our 
officers, high and low. They are cleanly and have a firm, 
quiet bearing. You can often pick out those who have been 

12 Meade^s Headquarters csept. ii, 

through the thick of it, by their subdued and steady look. 
The dress of the soldiers is highly practical, more so even 
than the French. The knapsack is baggy and of a poor 
pattern, however. It is curious how everything has, by 
sheer hard service and necessity, been brought down to 
the lowest point of weight and complication. A dragoon 
tucks his trousers inside his boots, buckles on a belt, from 
which hang a sabre and revolver, gets on a horse with a 
McClellan saddle and curb bridle, and there he is, ready 
to ride fifty miles in one day and fight on top of it. . . . 
After the Review the generals were entertained in a bower, 
with champagne and other delicacies, while we of the 
Staff meekly had big sandwiches and buckets of punch. I 
tried a sandwich, but found it rather salt eating, and so 
confined myself to iced water, wherein I got ahead of wine- 
bibbers who arrived at home very cross and hot. The Gen- 
eral, who is very moderate in his conviviality, soon broke 
up the meeting, and, amidst a most terrible clicking of 
spurs and rattling of sabres, we all mounted, and so home 
by a short cut which one of General French's aides was kind 
enough to show us, and which entailed a considerable 
amount of rough riding; so that, with Mause Headrigg, I 
had occasion to remark, "By the help of the Lord I have 
luppen a ditch!" 

Headquarters, Army or Potoivl\c 
Septemher 11, 1863 

The last two days have been most unusually quiet. I 
read a little in military books, write a few letters, look over 
the newspapers a little, talk to the Staff officers, and go to 
bed early. The conversation of the officers is extremely 
entertaining, as most of them have been in a good many 
battles. They say that General Meade is an extremely cool 
man. At Gettysburg he was in a little wooden house, 

1863] First Months 13 

when the hot fire began. The shells flew very thick and 
close, and his Staff, who were outside, got under the lee of 
the house and sat down on the grass. As they sat there, 
out came General Meade, who, seeing them under such a 
slender protection against cannon-balls, began to laugh, 
and said: "That now reminds me of a feller at the Battle 
of Buena Vista, who, having got behind a wagon, during 
a severe cannonade, was there found by General Taylor. 
'Wall Gin'ral,' said he, looking rather sheepish, 'this 
ain't much protection, but it kinder feels as it was.'' " As a 
point to the Chief's anecdote, a spherical case came 
through the house at that instant, exploded in their circle 
and wounded Colonel Dickinson. . . . 

I walked over and saw the Provost prisoners, the other 
evening. If you want to see degraded human nature, there 
was the chance. There was a bough covering, about forty 
feet square, guarded by sentries, and under it were 
grouped some fifty of the most miserable and depraved 
human beings I ever saw — deserters, stray Rebel soldiers, 
"bushwhackers" and camp-followers. They sleep on the 
bare ground with such covering as they may have, and 
get a ration of pork and biscuit every day. This is only a 
sort of temporary guardhouse, where they are put as they 
come in. War is a hard thing. This country, just here, 
was once all fenced in and planted ; now there isn't a rail 
left and the land is either covered with dried weeds or is 
turned into a dusty plain by the innumerable trains of 
horses, mules and waggons. 

[That evening there was a report that Lee was falling 
back. The cavalry were gathered for a reconnaissance in 
force. And Lyman was detailed to Pleasonton's Staff, to 
give him his first experience of actual fighting.] 

14 Meade'^s Headquarters [Sept. ir, 

Headquarters Army of Potomac 

Between the Rappahannock and Rapidan 

September 17, 1863 

Having again got "home," I find leisure and paper to 
write you a rather longer letter than you have got of late. 
Perhaps you would like to hear about our little cavalry 
performance. Of course there was not hard fighting, and a 
hundred or so will cover all the killed and wounded ; never- 
theless, as the whole was new to me and as the operations 
covered a good deal of country, they were interesting and 
instructive both. The whole Cavalry Corps (a good many 
thousand men) had been massed the day before, and had 
orders to cross the Rappahannock early next morning. I 
was to ride down in time to join General Pleasonton. The 
distance to the river is some eight miles, so I was up at 
4.30 — rain pitchforks ! dark as a box — thunder and 
lightning — everything but "enter three witches." How- 
ever, in my india-rubber coat and much-insulted large 
boots, much of the water could be kept out, and, by the 
time we were saddled and had had some tea, behold it 
stopped raining and away I went, quite thankful, and with 
a tail of six orderlies and a corporal. The ground was very 
wet, and we went slipping and sliding, in the red mud, till 
we drew near the river, when, behold, the whole country 
alive with train-waggons, columns of infantry, batteries, 
and ambulances; the latter with the stretchers fastened 
outside disagreeably suggestive of casualties. The rear of 
the cavalry had just crossed, when I got there; and Gen- 
eral Pleasonton was on the opposite bank, where I pres- 
ently joined him, crossing by the railroad bridge. He had 
with him a good many aides, besides orderlies and escort. 
Just at this point we held the southern, as well as the 
northern, bank and the pickets were some two miles out. 

1863] First Months is 

The country is rolling, but not quite hilly; there are very 
large open fields (now filled mostly with weeds) and again, 
considerable woods. In these last our cavalry were hidden, 
so that you would have said there were not 300 of them all 
together. This I found, presently, was a great point, to 
conceal men, behind woods and ridges, as much as possible. 
We all now rode to our extreme picket line and took a 
view; and there, sure enough, was Mr. Reb with his picket 
fine, about one third of a mile off. We could see a chain of 
mounted videttes, and, behind these, on a little knoll, a 
picket reserve, with their horses tied to trees. We waited 
some time to give a chance to General Gregg who had 
crossed on our right, and General Kilpatrick on our left, to 
get into the proper positions. Then General Pleasonton 
ordered an advance, and, in a few moments, quite as if by 
magic, the open country was alive with horsemen; first 
came columns of skirmishers who immediately deployed 
and went forward, at a brisk trot, or canter, making a 
connected line, as far as the eye could reach, right and left. 
Then followed the supports, in close order, and with and 
behind them came the field batteries, all trooping along as 
fast as they could scramble. It was now between eight 
and nine and the sun was bright, so that the whole spec- 
tacle was, to a greenhorn like me, one of the most pictur- 
esque possible. Not the least remarkable feature was the 
coolness of Mr. Reb under these trying circumstances. 
Their videttes stared a few moments, apparently without 
much curiosity, then turned tail and moved off, first at a 
walk, then at a trot, and finally disappeared over the ridge 
at a gallop. We rode on about a mile, keeping a little be- 
hind the skirmishers; General Buford and his Staff being 
just ahead and to the left. To the left we could hear can- 
non. General Kilpatrick having got into a skirmish there. 

16 Meade^s Headquarters csept. 17, 

Presently I saw a puff of smoke, on a ridge in front of us, 
and then hm-m-why-z-z-z, bang! went the shell, right by 
General Buford's Staff, taking the leg off a poor orderly. 
Much pleased with their good shot, they proceeded to 
give our Staff a taste; and missiles of various kinds (but 
all disagreeable) began to skip and buzz round us. It was 
to me extraordinary to see the precision with which they 
fired. All the shot flew near us, and, while I had gone for- 
ward to the crest of the ridge to get a better view, a shell 
exploded directly in the midst of the Staff, wounding an 
orderly and very neatly shaving a patch of hair off the 
horse of Captain Hutchins. However, two could play at 
that game, and Captain Graham soon made the obnoxious 
guns limber up and depart to the next ridge, where they 
would again open and stay as long as they could. By the 
time we had got a few miles further, the enemy had 
brought forward all his cavalry and began firing with rifles, 
to which our men replied with their carbines. 

We now entered a wooded tract, interspersed with mud- 
holes and springy ground, and here the enemy made quite 
a hard stand, for the town of Culpeper lay a couple of 
miles beyond and they wished to gain time to get off their 
stores by the railroad. The advanced regiments were 
therefore dismounted and sent into the woods, while the 
artillery tried to find some place whence the guns could be 
used. It was at this place that I first heard the yells, for 
which the Rebels are noted. They were the other side of a 
high bank, covered with bushes, and they yelled to keep 
their spirits up as long as possible. But they were soon 
driven through the woods and then we came on an open 
country, in full view of Culpeper. This was a very inter- 
esting sight. The hills are, hereabout, quite large, and on 
the one opposite us stood Culpeper, very prettily situated. 

1863] First Months 17 

the railroad running through the lower part of the town. 
Just in the outskirts the Rebels had planted two batteries, 
as a last check, and behind were drawn up their supports 
of cavalry. Our cavalry were coming out of the woods, on 
all sides, moving on the town in form of a semi-circle, 
while the guns were pelting those of the enemy with might 
and main. Suddenly we were aware of a railroad train 
slowly leaving the depot, and immediately several guns 
were turned on it; but it went off, despite the shells that 
burst over it. Then there suddenly appeared a body of 
our cavalry, quite on the left of the town, who made a rush, 
at full speed, on three cannon there stationed, and took 
the whole of them with their caissons. This was a really 
handsome charge and was led by General Custer, who had 
his horse shot under him. This officer is one of the funniest- 
looking beings you ever saw, and looks like a circus rider 
gone mad ! He wears a huzzar jacket and tight trousers, of 
faded black velvet trimmed with tarnished gold lace. His 
head is decked with a little, gray felt hat; high boots and 
gilt spurs complete the costume, which is enhanced by the 
General's coiffure, consisting in short, dry, flaxen ringlets ! 
His aspect, though highly amusing, is also pleasing, as he 
has a very merry blue eye, and a devil-may-care style. 
His first greeting to General Pleasonton, as he rode up, 
was: "How are you, fif teen -days'-leave-of -absence? They 
have spoiled my boots but they didn't gain much there, 
for I stole 'em from a Reb." And certainly, there was one 
boot torn by a piece of shell and the leg hurt also, so the 
warlike ringlets got not only fifteen, but twelve [additional] 
days' leave of absence, and have retreated to their native 
Michigan ! 

The Rebels now retreated in all haste, and we rode at 
once in, and found a good many supplies at the depot with 

18 Meade^s Headquarters csept. iz, 

a number of rifles and saddles. As we rode up, the build- 
ing was beset with grinning dragoons, each munching, with 
great content, a large apple, whereof they found several 
barrels which had been intended for the comfort of Mr. 
Stuart's dashing knights. I was surprised at the good 
conduct of the gypsy-looking men. They insulted no one, 
broke nothing, and only took a few green peaches, which, 
I fancy, amply revenged themselves. Culpeper is a 
really decent place, with a brick hotel, and a number of 
good houses, in front of which were little gardens. I send 
you a rosebud, which I picked as we rode through the 
town; there were plenty of them, looking rather out of 
place there, in the midst of muddy batteries and splattered 
cavalrymen ! A queer thing happened in the taking of the 
three guns. An officer was made prisoner with them, and, 
as he was marched to the rear, Lieutenant Counselman of 
our side cried out, "Hullo, Uncle Harry!" "Hullo!" re- 
plied the captain uncle. "Is that you.^ How are you.^^" 
And there these two had been unwittingly shelling each 
other all the morning! 

After resting the horses we pushed on to the south, to- 
wards what is called Pong Mountain, for you must know 
that this region is more hilly, and Pong Mountain is about 
comparable to the Blue Hills (not quite so high, perhaps) . 
. . . We drove the enemy five miles bej^ond Culpeper, 
making fifteen miles, in all, and there a halt was ordered 
and pickets thrown out. Our Headquarters were a wretch- 
ed house, of two rooms, inhabited by two old women. We 
gave them one room and took the other ourselves. And 
now I loomed out! The Staff had, in the way of creature 
comforts, nothing but sabres and revolvers. It was dark 
and raining guns, and the Chief -of-Staff had the stomach- 
ache ! I took from my saddle-bags a candle and lighted the 

1863] First Months 19 

same, prepared tea from my canteen, and produced a loaf 
of bread and a Bologna sausage, to the astonishment of 
the old campaigners, who enquired,, "Whether I had a 
pontoon bridge about me?" Then I rolled myself in my 
coat and took a good night's sleep on the floor. 

The next morning we started for Raccoon Ford, on the 
Rapidan, five miles distant. The enemy were mostly 
across and only opposed us with a few skirmishers. As we 
got in sight of it, the prospect was not cheering. The op- 
posite bank, partly wooded and partly covered with cul- 
tivation, rose in steep, high hills, which completely com- 
manded our side of the river. It was a fine sight to see the 
column splashing along the wood road, lying between fine 
oak trees; but the fine sight was presently interrupted by 
a shell, which exploded about 100 yards ahead of me and 
right among the horses' legs, without touching me! The 
General rode into the open field to reconnoitre the position, 
and I with him, because he wanted my glass; but Mr. 
Secesh has a sharp eye for gold cords round hats, and, in a 
minute, wh-n-n-g, flup ! wh-z-z-z ! a solid shot struck just 
in front of us, and bounced over our heads. The General 
ordered us to disperse about the field, so as not to make a 
mark ; but, as I rode off, they sent a shell so near me that 
a facetious officer called out: "I guess they think you're 
somebody pretty distinguished, Kun'l." However, there 
may be a good deal of cannon shooting, without many hits ; 
in proof of which I will say that we had a brisk fire of 
artillery from 10.30 to 2.30, together with a sharp spatter- 
ing of rifles and carbines, and that our loss was five killed 
and fifteen wounded! Shells do not sound so badly as I 
expected; nor did I feel as I expected on the occasion. 
There is a certain sense of discipline and necessity that bears 
you up; and the only shell I "ducked" was the first one. 

20 Meade^s Headquarters [Sept. 22, 

After some difficulty we got some guns in position and 
drove off those opposed. Then General Kilpatrick's divi- 
sion went to a better ford below, and tried to get over 
there; but the Rebels opened on him with fourteen cannon 
and silenced his guns after a hard fire. So we concluded 
the fords were not practicable for cavalry, which I think 
might have been apparent from the outset. Whereupon 
both parties stopped and stared at each other; and we 
heroes of the Staff went to a house (much better than that 
of last night) and partook of mutton which, during the 
day, we had valiantly made the prey of our bow and our 
spear. On our right General Gregg had driven the enemy 
beyond Cedar Mountain and nearly to the river, but was 
there brought up by a heavy force of artillery in position. 
All day Tuesday we lay doing nothing. I rode over with 
the General to Cedar Mountain, passing close to the battle- 
field, and ascended, thus getting a fine view of the Rapidan 
valley, which is very beautiful and would, in the hands of 
good farmers, yield a thousandfold. . . . We have taken on 
our reconnaissance in force about 150 prisoners, three guns, 
and five caissons. Yesterday the entire army crossed the 
Rappahannock, and I got orders to return to Headquar- 
ters, which I did. 

Headquarters Army of Potomac 
September 22, 1863 

We have had an Austrian officer, awfully arrayed, mak- 
ing a visit to see the telegraphs and the signal corps. He 
looked so natural with his sprig little bob-tail coat and his 
orange sash, and presented a funny contrast to our officers, 
who with their great boots and weather-beaten slouched 
hats looked as'^if they could swallow him and not know it. 
Captain Boleslaski (such was his name) was selected prob- 
ably for two reasons, in this military mission: 1st, because 

1863] First Months 21 

he could speak no word of English ; and 2d, because he was 
very deaf. Notwithstanding which little drawbacks, he 
ran about very briskly, from morn to eve, and really saw 
a great deal. I roared French in his ear, till I nearly had 
the bronchitis, but succeeded in imparting to him such 
information as I had. He addressed me as " Mon Colonel " 
and looked upon me as the hero of a hundred campaigns ; 
though he did rather stick me, when he asked me whether 
our pontoons were constructed on the system of Peterhoff 
or of Smolenski ! He was much pleased wdth the attention 
he got, and w^as extremely surprised when he beheld the 
soldiers all running to buy newspapers. 

Yesterday came General Buford, commander of the 
second Cavalry Division, and held a pow-wow. He is one 
of the best of the officers of that arm and is a singular-look- 
ing party. Figurez-vous a compactly built man of middle 
height, with a tawny moustache and a little, triangular 
gray eye, whose expression is determined, not to say sin- 
ister. His ancient corduroys are tucked into a pair of 
ordinary cowhide boots, and his blue blouse is ornamented 
with holes; from one pocket thereof peeps a huge pipe, 
while the other is fat with a tobacco pouch. Notwith- 
standing this get-up he is a very soldierly looking man. 
He is of a good-natured disposition, but not to be trifled 
with. Caught a notorious spy last winter and hung him to 
the next tree, with this inscription: "This man to hang 
three days: he wdio cuts him down before shall hang the 
remaining time." 

September 24, 1863 

Yesterday we were favored with the presence of Sir 
Henry Holland, the Queen's physician, who is one of the 
liveliest old birds for one of seventy-five that ever was 
seen. He travels two months every year, and has already 

22 Meade^s Headquarters csept. 24, 

been four or five times in these United States. Dr. Letter- 
man, the Medical Director, put him in an ambulance, and 
Colonel Townsend and myself completed the party. What 
pains wounded people may suffer in ambulances, I know 
not; but I do know that, when driven at a trot, over open 
fields and through little ditches, the jolting is not to be 
expressed in words. But the royal medical person main- 
tained his equanimity wonderfully and continued to smile, 
as if he were having a nice drive over a turnpike. First he 
was halted on a rising spot, when he could see four batter- 
ies of horse artillery, which did defile before him, to his 
great admiration. Then we bumped him six miles farther, 
to the Headquarters of the 12th Corps, close to the river. 
Here he hobnobbed with General Slocum, and then got 
on a horse and rode about the camps. After which he was 
taken to a safe spot, whence he could behold the Rebels 
and their earthworks. He returned quite fresh and de- 
parted in a most amiable mood. 

There seems to me no particular prospect of a battle. I 
thought this morning, that we should have a great fight 
within a couple of days; but movements, which I dare say 
you will read of in the papers before this letter reaches you, 
have just knocked it. Entre nous, I believe in my heart 
that at this moment there is no reason why the whole of 
Lee's army should not be either cut to pieces, or in precipi- 
tate flight on Richmond. In saying this to you, I accuse 
nobody and betray no secrets, but merely state my opin- 
ion. Your bricks and mortar may be of the best; but, if 
there are three or four chief architects, none of whom can 
agree where to lay the first brick, the house will rise 

1863] First Months 23 

Headquarters, Army of the Potomac 
September 29, 1863 

I see such flocks of generals now, that I do not always 
take the pains to describe them. On Sunday there arrived 
General Benham, one of the dirtiest and most ramshackle 
parties I ever saw. Behind him walked his Adjutant- 
General, a great contrast, in all respects, being a trig, 
broad-shouldered officer, with a fierce moustache and im- 
perial and a big clanking sabre. I gazed at this Adjutant- 
General and he at me, and gradually, through the mihtary 
fierceness, there peeped forth the formerly pacific expres- 
sion of Channing Clapp ! ^ There never was such a change, 
Achilles and all other warlike persons; and is much im- 
proved withal. That same evening enter another general 
(distinguished foreigner this time), El General Jose Cortez, 
chevalier of some sort of red ribbon and possessor of a bad 
hat. He was accompanied by two eminent Senors, Mexi- 
cans and patriotic exiles. We were out riding when they 
came; but, after our return, and in the midst of dinner, 
there comes an orderly with a big official envelope, proving 
to be a recommendation from Mr. Seward. "Oh," says 
the General, "another lot, hey.^^ Well, I suppose they will 
be along to-morrow"; and went on quietly eating dinner. 
Afterwards I went into the office of General Williams (or 
"Seth" as they call him here) and there beheld, sitting in 
a corner, three forlorn figures. Nobody seemed to know 
who they were, but the opinion prevailed that they were 
a deputation of sutlers, who were expected about that 
time! But I, hearing certain tones of melancholy Spanish, 
did presently infer that they were the parties mentioned 
in the big, official envelope, and so it proved! They were 
speedily entered into the General's presence and, after a 
^A classmate at Harvard. 

24 Meade^s Headquarters csept. 29, 

few compliments, anxiously asked when the 7iext train left 
for Washington; for it appears that they had supposed 
Culpeper was a pleasant jaunt of about fifteen minutes 
from the Capitol, and was furnished with elegant hotels 
and other conveniences; consequently they had brought 
no sac de nuit, and had had nothing to eat since early morn- 
ing, it being then dark! Their surprise was considerable, 
after a weary ride of some hours, to be dumped in a third- 
rate village, deserted by its inhabitants and swarming wdth 
dusty infantry. John made ready with speed, and, after a 
meal and a bottle of champagne, it was surprising to see 
how their barometers rose, especially that of small Senor, 
No. 2, who launched forth in a flood of eulogium on the 
state of civil liberty in the United States. Our next care 
was to provide them sleeping-accommodations; no easy 
matter in the presence of the fact that each has barely 
enough for himself down here. But I succeeded in getting 
two stretchers from the hospital (such as are used to bring 
in the wounded from the field) and a cot from Major 
Biddle; three pillows (two india-rubber and one feather) 
were then discovered, and these, with blankets, one tin 
basin, one bucket, and one towel, made them entirely 
happy. Really, how they looked so fresh next morning 
was quite a marvel. Then, after a good breakfast, we put 
them all on horseback (to the great uneasiness of the two 
Sefiors) and followed by a great crowd of a Staff (who 
never can be made to ride, except in the higglety-pigglety 
style in which "Napoleon et ses Marechaux" are always 
represented in the common engravings), we jogged off, 
raising clouds of red dust, to take a look at some soldiers. 
... El General was highly pleased and kept taking off his 
bad hat and waving it about. Also he expressed an intense 

1863] First Months 25 

desire that we should send 50,000 men and immediately 
wipe out the French in Mexico. 

''Why doesn't Meade attack Lee?" Ah, I have already 
thrown out a hint on the methods of military plans in 
these regions. But, despite the delays, I should have wit- 
nessed a great battle before this; if, if, IF, at the very mo- 
ment the order had not come to fill up the gap that the 
poltroonery of two of Rosecrans' Corps has made in the 
western armies. I do believe that we should have beaten 
them (that's no matter 7iow), for my Chief, though he ex- 
pressly declares that he is not Napoleon, is a thorough 
soldier, and a mighty clear-headed man ; and one who does 
not move unless he knows where and how many his men 
are; where and how many his enemy's men are; and what 
sort of country he has to go through. I never saw a man 
in my life who was so characterized by straightforward 
truthfulness as he is. He will pitch into himself in a mo- 
ment, if he thinks he has done wrong; and woe to those, no 
matter who they are, who do not do right! "Sir, it was 
your duty and you haven't done it; now go back and do 
it at once," he will suddenly remark to some astonished 
general, who thinks himself no small beer. Still I do wish 
he would order the Provost-Marshal to have a few more of 
the deceased horses buried. The weather here is perfect — 
could not be finer. 

Headquarters, Army of Potomac 
October 1, '63 

Yesterday we had a sword presentation (nothing else to 
do now, you know) . It would appear that General Warren 
is a native of Cold Spring, near W^est Point; whereupon it 
did occur to the natives of his mother town to buy a sword 
for him in token of their, etc., etc., etc. The weapon was 

26 Meade^s Headquarters coct. i, 

duly entrusted to the safe keeping of a certain Dr. Young, 
and of another certain Mr. Spaulding, both of whom ar- 
rived, a day or two since, with the precious casket. Early 
in the morning came an orderly with a notice, saying that 
the Staff officers were respectfully invited to, etc., etc., etc. 
We persuaded the Quartermaster to give us a car (which 
turned out to be a grain car with a few chairs), and, by this 
means, we were enabled to go from Culpeper in about 
twenty minutes, the General leading the crowd. General 
Warren was lodged in Spartan simplicity, in a third-rate 
farmhouse. His dress was even more Spartan than his 
lodgment. Did I ever describe him to you.^ Fancy a small, 
slender man, with a sun-burnt face, two piercing black 
eyes, and withal bearing a most ludicrous resemblance to 
cousin Mary Pratt! He was dressed in a double-breasted 
blouse, buttoned awry, a pair of soldier's pantaloons, 
rather too short, and a very old little straw hat, of the kind 
called "chip." Such is the personnel of one of the very best 
generals in the Army of the Potomac! He is a most kind 
man, and always taking care of hysterical old Secesh ladies 
and giving them coffee and sugar. As to Secesh males, in 
the army, he is a standing terror to them. This valiant 
warrior, who don't care a button for missiles, was extreme- 
ly nervous at the idea of the sword presentation, and went 
trotting about the house consulting with Dr. Young. 
There soon arrived sundry other generals, each with a 
longer or shorter tail. General French, the pattern of the 
Gallic colonel; General Griffin, whose face is after the 
manner of his name; and quite a bushel -basketfull of 
brigadiers. Then the band arrived ; and, by that time, there 
was a house filled with shoulder-straps of all sorts (I cer- 
tainly knocked the crowd by having a pair of cotton 
gloves). Thereupon we formed a semi-circle round the 

1863] First Months n 

porch, where was deposited, on an old pine table, the 
elegant rosewood case. General Warren stood up, looking 
much as if about to be married, and Dr. Young, standing 
opposite with a paper in his hand, so resembled a clergy- 
man, that I fully expected him to say, "Warren, will you 
have this sword to be your lawful, wedded wife?" But 
instead, he only read how the citizens of Cold Spring, 
desirous of showing their appreciation of the patriotism, 
etc., had procured this sword, etc., in token of, etc., etc. 
To which the General, looking, if possible, still more as if 
in the agonies of the altar, replied from a scrap of note- 
paper, the writing whereof he could not easily read. The 
whole took about five minutes, at the end of which he 
drew a breath of great relief, and remarked, "The execu- 
tion is over; now won't you come in and eat something? " 
The spread consisted of roast beef, baked ham, bread, as- 
sorted pickles, laid out on a table with newspapers for a 
cloth. The generals fed first and were accommodated 
partly with chairs and partly with a pine bench, borrowed 
from a neighboring deserted schoolhouse. While some ate, 
the rest were regaled with a horse-bucketfull of whiskey 
punch, whereof two or three of the younger lieutenants got 
too much, for which I warrant they paid dear; for the 
"Commissary" whiskey is shocking and the water, down 
near the river, still worse. All this took place in full view 
of the hills, across the river, on and behind which were 
camped the Rebels ; and I could not help laughing to think 
what a scattering there would be if they should pitch over 
a 20-pound Parrott shell, in the midst of the address! But 
they are very pleasant now, and the pickets walk up and 
down and talk across the river. And so we got in our grain 
car and all came home. . . . 

28 Meade^s Headquarters [Oct. 4, 

Headquarters Army of Potomac 
October 4, '63 

We have sad cases come here sometimes. Yesterday 
there was a poor farmer, that filled me with admiration. 
He had travelled a thousand miles from his place in Indiana 
to get the body of his only son, killed in our cavalry skir- 
mish of the 13th September. "I am most wore out," said 
he, "runnin' round; but the ambulance has gone over to 
that piece of woods, after him. And that old hoss, that 
was his; the one he was sitting on, when he was shot; she 
ain't worth more than fifty dollars, but I wouldn't take a 
thousand for her, and I am going to take her home to 
Indiana." So you see that bullets fired here may hit poor 
folks away in the West. To-day is a Sunday, which is 
marked by General "Seth" shutting up shop and obsti- 
nately refusing to talk with sundry officers who deem it a 
good leisure day to go over and consult on their private 
interests. "Sir!" says "Seth" (who cuts off his words and 
lisps them, and swallows them, and has the true Yankee 
accent into the bargain), "Sir! The Pres'dent of these 
'Nited States has issued a procl'mation, saying nothing 
should be done Sundays; and Gen'l Merklellan did the 
same, and so did Gen'l Hooker; and you wanter talk 
business, you 've got er come week days." "The Father of 
the Army" is also much exercised with people who want 
leaves of absence. "Now here 's a feller," he cries ("feller " 
means officer), "here's a feller that wants to go because 
he wants to git married; and here's another who wants to 
go because he has just heeii married; and here's a feller 
asks for three days to go to Washington and buy a pair of 
spectacles!" Notwithstanding his trials, he gets quite 
stout on it, and preserves the same unruffled countenance. 

1863] First Months 


Headquarters Army of Potomac 
October 11, '63 

As all is packed, I take to pencil correspondence. Uncle 
Lee has conckided that we have stared long enough at 
each other, and so is performing some fancy antics, though 
whether he means to fight, or retreat after a feint, or 
merely take a walk, I know not. He is now paddling along, 
in the general direction of Warrenton, between us and the 
Blue Ridge; and so has entirely left his station on the other 
bank of the river. . . . Last night I, being of a foxy dis- 
position, turned ip at an early hour, so that I was fresh 
and fine at four this morning, when we were routed out, 
and assisted to coffee and bread and cold ham. It was a 
Murillo-esque ( !) sight to behold the officers, in big coats 
and bigger sabres, standing with the bright light of the 
camp-fire on their faces. The cavalry cloaks, slouched 
hats, and great boots, though, as Co^ says, " drunk "-look- 
ing, are much more suited to a painter than the trig uni- 
forms of the Europeans. So here we are, with horses sad- 
dled, waiting to see what is what. You understand that 
Mr. Reb is not very near us, in fact further off than before, 
but he is moving, and so we, too, are ''en garde.'" Our 
army, I say with emphasis, ought to be able to whip the 

Down comes General Meade; I clap the pencil in my 
pocket, and in two minutes we are off, escort, orderlies. 
Staff and all, winding our way midst miles of baggage and 
ammunition waggons and slow columns of moving infan- 
try. Ha, ha, ha ! They don't look much like the " Cadets,'* 
these old sojers on the march. There is their well-stuffed 
knapsack, surmounted by a rolled gray blanket, the worse 
for wear; from their belt is slung a big cartridge-box, with 

^ His sister. 

30 Meade^s Headquarters [Oct.ii, 

forty rounds, and at their side hangs a haversack (satchel 
you would call it) quite bursting with three days' rations. 
Hullo! what has that man, dangling at the end of his 
musket? A coffee-pot! an immense tin coffee-pot! and 
there is another with a small frying-pan — more precious 
to them than gold. And there goes a squad of cavalry, the 
riders almost obscured by the bags of oats and the blankets 
and coats piled on pommel and crupper; their carbine 
hangs on one side and their sabre clatters from the other. 
And then behold a train of artillery (the best-looking arm 
of the service), each gun drawn by six or eight horses, and 
the caissons covered with bags of forage. And so the face 
of the country is covered, when an army is on the march, 
the waggons keeping the road, the infantry winding 
through the open land. It is singular, in regard to the 
latter, that, however dirty or slovenly the men may be, 
their muskets always shine like silver; they know it is an 
important member. Well, you perceive I have leisure to 
get a pen-full of ink, to continue the letter, begun this 
morning. In fact we have done our day's march and our 
movable houses are all up at a new "Headquarters." We 
hear nothing much of the Insurges, but are all ready to 
pitch into them if we find them in a soft spot. . . . 

[At this time Meade's main line was from Rapidan Sta- 
tion, where the railroad from Alexandria to Charlottesville 
crosses the river, to Raccoon Ford, some seven miles down 
the Rapidan. During the following days there was a series 
of minor engagements, Lee endeavoring to turn Meade's 
right flank, and get between him and Washington. But 
Meade, outmarching Lee, kept between him and Wash- 
ington, finally bringing the Headquarters to Centreville 
about twenty -four miles west of Alexandria. 

1863] First Months 


Meanwhile, it appears to have been extremely difficult 
to locate the enemy. "It is quite extraordinary," writes 
Lyman, "what little information is to be had. The idea of 
the enemy, 50,000 or 60,000 strong, marching about, and 
we not knowing whether they are going one way or another, 
seems incredible; but then it is to be observed that, 1st, 
the woods and hills greatly conceal distant moves; and, 
2d, by an outlying cavalry, a move may be either covered 
or simulated."] 

Headquarters Army of Potomac 
October 12, 1863 

You will probably have all sorts of rumors of defeats, 
or victories, or something. The facts are very simple: as 
our great object is Uncle Lee's army (one might properly 
say our only object), we have to watch and follow his 
movements, so as, 1st, to catch him if possible in a good 
corner; or, 2d, to prevent his catching us in a bad corner; 
also 3d, to cover Washington and Maryland, which, for us, 
is more important than for him to come to Richmond. 
Thus we have to watch him and shift as he shifts, like two 
fencers. One may say, pitch into him! But do you think 
he is so soft as to give us any decent chance, if he knows it? 
Not he! Meanwhile Meade knows what hangs on this 
army, and how easy it is to talk about raising 3,000,000 
men and how hard it is to raise 30,000. He said yesterday: 
"If Bob Lee will go into those fields there and fight me, 
man for man, I will do it this afternoon." But "Bob" 
doesn't see it. Sharp chaps those Rebs. ... I do hope 
that no great battle will be fought unless we can really 
deal a staggering blow to the enemy. The great fault of 
the Potomac campaign has been the fighting without any 
due prospect of profit. This will be found, I think, a good 
trait in our General, that he will hold his forces in hand for 

32 Meade'* s Headquarters [Oct.i6, 

a proper occasion. Meanwhile the papers say, "The fine 
autumn weather is sHpping away." Certainly; and shall 
we add, as a corollary, "Therefore let another Fredericks- 
burg be fought ! " Put some flesh on our skeleton regiments, 
and there is no difficulty; but if, instead of ten conscripts, 
only one is sent, que voulez vous! 

Headquarters Army of Potomac 
In the Field, October 16, 1863 

Contrary to expectation to-day has been a quiet one for 
us ; and I have not left camp. The Rebels toward evening 
went feeling along our line about three miles from here 
with cavalry and artillery, and kept up a desultory can- 
nonade, which, I believe, hurt nobody. Early this morning 
two batches of prisoners, some 600 in all, were marched 
past, on their way to Washington. They looked gaunt and 
weary, and had, for the most part, a dogged air. Many 
were mere boys and these were mostly hollow-cheeked 
and pale, as if the march were too much for them. Their 
clothes were poor, some of a dust-color, and others dirty 
brown, while here and there was a U.S. jacket or a pair of 
trousers, the trophies of some successful fight. Some were 
wittily disposed. One soldier of ours cried out: "Broad 
Run is a bad place for you, boys." " Ya-as," said a cheery 
man in gray, "but it'sputy rare you get such a chance." 
An hour before daylight came General Warren, exhausted 
with two nights' marching, and a day's fight, but springy 
and stout to the last. "We whipped the Rebs right out," 
he said. " I ran my men, on the double-quick, into the rail- 
road cut and then just swept them down with musketry.'* 
I got up and gave him a little brandy that was left in my 
flask; he then lay down and was fast asleep in about a 
minute. To-day they brought here the five cannon he took; 

1863] First Months 33 

they got the horses of only one piece, four miserable thin 
animals, that had once been large and good. I ought to say 
there are two very distinct classes among the prisoners. 
Yesterday they brought in a splendid-looking Virginian, 
a cavalry man. He was but poorly clad and was an unedu- 
cated person, but I never saw any one more at ease, while, 
at the same time, perfectly innocent and natural. "You 
fellers " was the way in which he designated General JMeade 
and two other major-generals. When asked where Zeb 
Stuart was, he replied, with a high degree of vagueness: 
"Somewheres back here, along with the boys." . . . 

Headquarters Army of Potomac 
October 19, 1863 

It seems to me I had got to Sunday morning, the 11th, 
when we began to march back. We started from Head- 
quarters and passed through Brandy Station, forded the 
Rappahannock, close to the railroad, and took up our camp 
near the railroad and about two miles from the river. 
. . . This move, though in the wrong direction, was, with- 
out question, a good one, as it bothered the enemy and 
caused them to hesitate. ... In the morning we got off 
about ten (for the General does not mount till he has 
heard that the army is properly under way) and rode along 
the north side of the railroad, past the camp I first came 
to (H.Q. near Warrenton Junction), and so to Catlett's 
Station, where we found the 1st Corps taking their noon 
rest; also their chief. General Newton, and General (Pro- 
fessor) Eustis, partaking from a big basket. A spy came 
in also, who gave such information as showed that the 
Rebels had made less rapid progress than we supposed. 
Going a mile or two on, we saw a spectacle such as few 
even of the old officers had ever beheld; namely, 2500 wag- 

34 Meade^s Headquarters [Oct.i9, 

gons, all parked on a great, open, prairie-like piece of 
ground, hundreds of acres in extent. I can compare it to 
nothing but the camp of Attila, where he retreated after 
the "Hun Schlacht," which we saw at the Berlin Museum. 
They were here got together, to be sent off to the right, by 
Brentsville, to Fairfax Station, under escort of General 
Buford's division. How these huge trains are moved over 
roads not fit for a light buggy, is a mystery known only to 
General Rufus Ingalls, who treats them as if they were so 
many perambulators on a smooth sidewalk! We turned 
off to a house, two miles from Catlett's, and again pitched 
our movable houses, on a rocky bit of a field. . . . 

At daylight next morning, every corps was in motion, 
tramping diligently in the direction of the heights of Cen- 
treville, via Manassas Junction. We of the Staff had 
hardly dressed, when there was a great cracking of carbines 
in the woods, not a mile off, and we discovered that a Rebel 
regiment of horse had coolly camped there during the night, 
and were now engaged with our cavalry, who soon drove 
them away. Pretty soon the sound of cannon, in the 
direction of Auburn, announced that the Rebels, marching 
down from Warrenton, had attacked General Warren's 
rear. He, however, held them in check easily with one 
division, while the other two marched along, passing our 
Headquarters at 9.30 a.m. As they went on, I recognized 
the Massachusetts 20th, poor Paul Revere's regiment. 
And so we jogged. General Meade (who has many a little 
streak of gunpowder in his disposition) continually burst- 
ing out against his great bugbear, the loaggons; and send- 
ing me, at full gallop, after General Sykes, who was a 
hundred miles, or so, ahead, to tell him that the rear of his 
ambulance train was quite unprotected. . . . The 15th 
was employed in feeling the intentions of the enemy and 

18633 First Months 35 

resting the exhausted men. On the 16th came on a deluge 
of rain which spoiled our contemplated move next day. 
On the 18th, yesterday, we got some information of reliable 
character for the first time, viz : that they had torn up the 
railroad and were falling back on Warren ton. Before that 
there was every kind of report: that they were going up 
the Shenandoah Valley; marching on Washington, and 
falling back on Richmond; and they keep so covered by 
cavalry, that it is most difiicult to probe them. Thus far 
in the move they have picked up about as many prisoners 
as we, say 700; but we have the five guns and two colors, 
they having none. To-day we all marched out at daylight, 
and are now hard after them, the General praying for a 
battle. Our cavalry has been heavily engaged this after- 
noon, and they may make a stand, or indeed, they may 
not. I think I was never so well and strong in my life. 
General Buford came in to-day, cold and tired and wet; 
"Oh!" said he to me, "do you know what I would do if I 
were a volunteer aide.^ I would just run home as fast as I 
could, and never come back again!" The General takes 
his hardships good-naturedly. 

[The result of the manoeuvres brought the army toward 
Washington, which caused uneasiness and dissatisfaction 
at the Capitol. "At Centreville," writes Lyman, "we had 
a set-to between Meade and Halleck. Meade had asked, 
by telegraph, for some advice, and stated that he was not 
sufficiently assured of the enemy's position to risk an ad- 
vance; so conflicting were the reports. Halleck, appar- 
ently after dinner, replied in substance, 'Lee is plainly 
bullying you. If you can't find him, I can't. If you go and 
fight him, you will probably find him!' General Meade, 
much offended, prepared a reply in some such words as 

36 Meade^s Headquarters [Oct.23, 

these: 'If you have any orders, I am ready to obey them; 
but I must insist on being spared the infliction of such 
truisms in guise of opinions as I have recently been fa- 
vored with. If my course is not satisfactory, I ought to be 
and I desire to be reUeved.' He had written 'bunsby opin- 
ions,' and consulted me as to whether it would do; to 
which I replied that the joke was capital, but not in ac- 
cordance with the etiquette of a commander-in-chief; so 
he substituted the other. Poor General Meade! Said he, 
' I used to think how nice it would be to be Commander-in- 
Chief ; now, at this moment, I would sooner go, with a 
division, under the heaviest musketry fire, than hold my 
place!'" Lee, finding that he could not outflank Meade, 
fell back, and Halleck apologized.] 

Headquarters Army of Potomac 
October 23, 1863 

And where do you think I was all yesterday .^^ I will tell 
you. Early, the orderly, poked his head into the tent say- 
ing: "Colonel Lyman, the General will have breakfast at 
seven" (which was an hour earlier than he had said the 
night before). As soon as I sat down, says the General: 
"I am going to Washington; would you like to go.f^" . . . 
Major-General Humphreys said he too would go, and the 
General's son George completed the party. In much haste 
I ran, and crammed my best coat, pantaloons, shoes, sash, 
gauntlets, and brushes into my big saddle-bags, the which 
I entrusted to a mounted orderly. Thereupon we speedily 
got on horseback, and first rode to General Sedgwick 
(familiarly called "Uncle John"), to whom General Meade 
handed over the command, in his absence at Washington, 
to consult about the late moves and those consequent on 

George Meade 

1863] First Months 37 

them. Uncle John received the heavy honors in a smiling 
and broad-shouldered style, and wished us all a good 
journey, for he is a cheery soul. With little delay, we again 
mounted and rode twelve miles, briskly, to Gainesville, 
whither the railroad comes. The Chief stepped into a little 
room, used as a telegraph-office, and, quicker than wink- 
ing, he stood, arrayed only in his undergarments; then, 
before, almost, I could get my coat off, he had put on a 
pair of shoes, a new coat, and an elegant pair of trousers ! 
" Now then, Lyman, are you ready.? Where 's Humphreys? 
Humphreys is always late ! Come, come along, the train is 
going to start!" You should have seen the unfortunate 
Aide — his coat unbuttoned, his shoestrings loose; on one 
arm the saddle-bags, on the other, his sword, sash, etc., 
etc., and he hastening after the steam-engine Meade! 
However I completed my toilette in the car, which was 
all to ourselves; and flatter myself that my appearance 
was considerably peacock. W^e went rattling and bumping 
over a railroad that reminded me of the one from Civita 
Vecchia, to Manassas Junction, and thence to Washington, 
over a route I have already described to you when I came 
down. Only this time we came through Alexandria, and, 
instead of taking there a boat, kept on and went across 
the long bridge, going thus into the very city by the rail. 
There was a carriage from Willard's awaiting us; the guard- 
post near by turned out in our honor, and we drove 
in great state to General Halleck's oflSce; where General 
Meade went in and held a solemn pow-wow; the two came 
forth presently and walked over to the White-House, 
where they held another pow-pow with the President. 
Captain George and I, meanwhile, studied the exterior 
architecture, and I observed a blind had been blown off 

38 Meade'* s Headquarters [Oct.26, 

and broken and allowed to lie outside. In fact they have 
a nigger negligence, to a considerable extent, in this half- 
cooked capital. 

. October 24, 1863 

We went to Willard's after the pow-pow and got a very 
good dinner; only poor General Meade was bored to death 
and driven out of all peace of mind, by dirty politicians 
who kept coming up and saying: "Ah, General Meade, I 
believe; perhaps you do not recollect meeting me in the 
year 1831, on a Mississippi steamboat.'^ How do you do, 
sir.f^ What move do you propose to execute next.^ Have 
you men enough, sir.^* What are the intentions of Lee, sir.? 
How are the prospects of the rebellion, sir.^^ Do you look 
upon it as essentially crushed, sir.f^ Or do you think it may 
still rear its head against our noble Union, sir.?" etc., etc. 
All of which the poor Chief (endeavoring to snatch a 
mouthful of chicken, the while) would answer with plain- 
tive courtesy; while the obscure aides-de-camp were piling 
in all kinds of delicacies. . . . The papers say General 
Meade received imperative orders to give Lee battle; not 
a word of truth in it! You might as well give imperative 
orders to catch a sea-gull with a pinch of salt. Lee would 
perhaps have given us a chance; but the same storm that 
prevented our advance carried away the Rapidan bridge, 
and he could get nothing to eat. His forces were, I think, 
larger than supposed, especially in cavalry, which was verj'' 

Headquarters Army of Potomac 
October 26, 1863 

Ah! we are a doleful set of papas here. Said General 
Meade: "I do wish the Administration would get mad 
with me, and relieve me; I am sure I keep telling them, if 
they don't feel satisfied with me, to relieve me; then I 

1863] First Months 


could go home and see my family in Philadelphia." I be- 
lieve there never was a man so utterly without common 
ambition and, at the same time, so Spartan and conscien- 
tious in everything he does. He is always stirring up some- 
body. This morning it was the cavalry picket line, which 
extends for miles, and which he declared was ridiculously 
placed. But, by worrying, and flaring out unexpectedly 
on various officers, he does manage to have things pretty 
ship-shape; so that an officer of Lee's Staff, when here the 
other day, said: "Meade's move can't be beat." Did I tell 
you that Lee passed through Warrenton and passed a 
night. He was received with bouquets and great joy. . . . 
The last three nights have been cool, almost cold, with 
some wind, so that they have been piling up the biggest 
kind of camp-fires. You would laugh to see me in bed! 
First, I spread an india-rubber blanket on the ground, on 
which is laid a cork mattress, which is a sort of pad, about 
an inch thick, which you can roll up small for packing. On 
this comes a big coat, and then I retire, in flannel shirt and 
drawers, and cover myself, head and all, with three blan- 
kets, laying my pate on a greatcoat folded, with a little 
india-rubber pillow on top; and so I sleep very well, 
though the surface is rather hard and lumpy. I have not 
much to tell you of yesterday, which was a quiet Sunday. 
Many officers went to hear the Rebs preach, but I don't 
believe in the varmint. They ingeniously prayed for "all 
established magistrates"; though, had we not been there, 
they would have roared for the safety of Jeff Davis and 

Bob Lee! . . . 

October 28, 1863 

. . . The guerillas are extremely saucy of late, and, in a 
small way, annoying. Night before last they dashed at a 
waggon train and cut loose upwards of a hundred mules and 

40 Meade^s Headquarters [nov.i, 

horses, which they made off with, teamsters and all, leav- 
ing the waggons untouched. These men are regularly en- 
listed, but have no pay, getting, in lieu thereof, all the 
booty they can take, except horses, which they must sell 
to the Rebels at a fixed rate.. They have taken several 
officers who, from carelessness, or losing their way, have 
gone alone beyond the lines. Prisoners are treated with 
consideration, but I fancy that, from all accounts, Libby 
Prison is pretty dirty and crowded. When some of our 
officers were taken through Warrenton, on the retreat of 
Lee, the inhabitants gave them supper; for the 6th Corps 
were long quartered there and treated the people kindly. 
When you are here you see how foolish and blind is the 
clamor raised by some people, to have all property de- 
stroyed by the army in the Rebel states, as the troops 
passed. There was, you know, a great talk about putting 
guards over houses of Rebels; but, 1st, it is very wrong to 
punish a people en masse, without regard to their degree 
of guilt and without properly measuring the punishment; 
and, 2d, nothing so utterly and speedily demoralizes an 
army as permission to plunder. It is our custom to put 
guards over the houses that are inhabited; but, despite 
that, the cavalry and advanced guard take a good slice of 
the live-stock; forage, and vegetables. . . . 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac 
November 1, 1863 

Buford was here last night, and said he thought he could 
just "boolge" across the river and scare the Rebels to 
death; which would certainly be a highly desirable event, 
for we should have quite a chance of a visit home. As it is, 
no resignations are accepted and scarcely a soul is allowed 
to go home, even for a visit of two or three days. The life 

1863] First Months 41 

here is miserably lazy; hardly an order to carry, and the 
horses all eating their heads off. The weather is fine, to be 
sure, and everybody, nearly, is well; but that is all the 
more reason for wishing something done. I do not even 
have the drudgery of drill and parade and inspection, that 
the infantrymen have. If one could only be at home, till 
one was wanted, and then be on the spot; but this is every- 
where the way of war; lie still and lie still; then up and 
manoeuvre and march hard; then a big battle; and then 
a lot more lie still. 

Headquarters Army of Potomac 
November 3, 1863 

Did I mention that, since Centreville, some two weeks, 
I have had a tent-mate, a Swede, one of those regular 
Europeans, who have been forever in the army, and who 
know no more about campaigning than a young child. 
After staying five months in this country, he got, at last, a 
commission as 2d Lieutenant of cavalry; and came down 
to study our system of artillery. He appeared with a large 
stock of cigars and hair-brushes, but without bedding, of 
any sort whatsoever. I gave him, pro tern, a buffalo, rubber 
blanket, etc., and, with these, and a borrowed cot, he has 
gone on since, apparently thinking that a kind Providence 
will ever care for his wants. He hasn't got mustered in 
yet, and seems to suppose that the officers will come to 
Headquarters and remove all the trouble in his commission. 
Now he is going to Washington about it; or rather has said 
he was going, for the last three days. Au reste, he is a quiet, 
polite man, who, I think, will not do much to improve the 
Swedish artillery. He has obtained a nigger boy, whose 
name is Burgess, but whom he calls "Booyus," remark- 
ing to me that it was a singular name, in which I fully 
agreed! ... 

42 Meade'* s Headquarters [Nov. 7, 

Headquarters Army of Potomac 

(Not Far from Rappahannock River) 

November 7, 1863 

. . . This morning, forward march! horse, foot, and 
artillery, all streaming towards Dixie; weather fresh and 
fine, nothing to mar but a high wind, and, in some places, 
clouds of dust. Everyone was hearty; there was General 
Hays, in bed with rheumatism, but he hopped up, and 
got on his horse, remarking that, "if there were any Rebs 
to catch, he was all well." Our last Headquarters were 
on the Warrenton branch railroad, half a mile north of it 
and three mil,es from Warrenton Junction. This morning, 
about 8.30, when all the troops were reported under way, 
the General started and rode, first to Warrenton Junction, 
and then down the railroad, towards the Rappahannock. 
At a rising ground, where a smoke-stained chimney marked 
the ruins of "Bealton," we halted. Hence we could see a 
considerable distance, in both directions, and here was 
canny Warren, waiting while his corps filed past, his little 
black eyes open to everything, from the grand movements 
of the entire army down to the inscription on my sword- 
guard, which he immediately detected, and read with 
much gravity. The last I saw of him he climbed on his big 
white horse and remarked with a wink: "As soon as I get 
there, I shall bring on a general action, right off." It was 
here that I had quite a surprise. Looking through my glass 
at General Webb's division, I detected two civilians, in 
English-looking clothes, riding with the Staff. As they 
approached, it seemed to me that the face of one was 
familiar; and as they rode up, behold, to be sure, the Hon. 
Mr. Yorke, who was our fellow passenger and played on 
the fiddle and admired the baby! He was in the Royal 
Artillery, you know, and had come down to see what he 

1863] First Months 


could. And there he was, much covered with dust, but 
cheerful and pleasant to the last. 

It was a fine sight to see the great, black columns of 
infantry, moving steadily along, their muskets glittering 
in the sun (for the day was quite perfect as to clearness), 
and then the batteries on the flank, and, in the rear, the 
train of ambulances preceded by their yellow flag. As the 
masses drew near, they resolved themselves, first into 
brigades, then into regiments, and then you could dis- 
tinguish the individual soldiers, covered with dust and 
bending under their heavy packs, but trudging manfully 
along, with the patient air of old sojers. And so we kept 
on to these Headquarters; but we were only half way (at 
1.30), when hang! bang! we heard the cannon, in the direc- 
tion of Rappahannock station. It was General Sedgwick 
attacking the enemy's works on this side of the river. We 
had not got a mile, when whang! whang! in another direc- 
tion, announced General French preparing to force Kelly's 
Ford. For, at these two points, among others, we proposed 
to cross and wake up our Uncle Lee. The gallant General 
did not wait to play long shots or throw pontoon bridges. 
An entire division took to the water, forded the river, in 
face of the enemy, and, charging up the opposite bank, 
took 300 prisoners. The Rebs threw forward a supporting 
division, but the crafty French had established guns on 
this side of the river, that suddenly opened on them and 
drove them back. All the afternoon Sedgwick has been 
engaged against the rifle-pits and a redoubt, that the enemy 
held on this side of the river. Quite late, we got a despatch 
that he had driven them from their rifle-pits, and we 
thought he had done pretty well for an afternoon. But, 
just at dusk, the distant roll of musketry indicated that he 
was assaulting; and a telegraph has just come, that he has 

44 Meade'* s Headquarters cnov.9, 

taken the redoubt with four cannon, and some prisoners ; 
I do not yet know how many. So we go to sleep, encour- 
aged and hopeful. Our losses I do not know, but they can 
hardly be much, as but a portion has been engaged. . . . 

Headquarters Army of Potomac 
November 9, 1863 

We have once more moved our Headquarters. . . . 
Reveille was beaten so early that, when I popped my 
sleepy head out of the tent, there were the stars, most 
magnificent, especially Venus who sat above the moon and 
looked like a fire-ball. The moon was but a little one, but 
her circle was completed by that kind of image you often 
see, only the figure of the Man-in-the-Moon was plainly 
reflected on this image, a thing I never noticed before. 
These were the astronomical observations of Lyman, 
as he stood in the sharp air, clad in a flannel shirt and 
drawers. A sense of coldness about the legs roused me to a 
sense of my position, and I speedily added more warm 
garments. Breakfast was ready by the time it was light; 
and, every mouthful of beef I stowed away, I expected to 
hear the cannon that would announce the opening of the 
great battle. The General was confident of a battle and 
remarked cheerfully that "he meant to pitch right into 
them." The idea was that they would take a chosen posi- 
tion, near Brandy Station, and there await our attack, for 
which they would not have been obliged to wait long. 
The bulk of the army was therefore crossed at Kelly's 
Ford, so as to advance with undivided force; General 
Sedgwick, however, with nearly his whole corps, held the 
redoubt he had taken on the north side, and, at the proper 
moment, was ready to throw his bridges, cross the river 
and take them in the flank. An hour wore away, and there 

1863] First Months 45 

was no sound of battle; so we all mounted, and rode to a 
small house on Mt. Holly. This is a low, steep hill, close to 
Kelly's Ford and commanding it. . . . Presently there 
appeared a couple of dragoons, with five fresh prisoners. 
..." How were you taken .'^ " quoth the Provost-Marshal. 
"Well, we were on guard and we went to sleep, and, when 
we woke up, the first thing we seed was your skirmish 
line" (which was only a roundabout way of saying they 
were common stragglers). "Where is the rest of your 
army.f^" "All gone last night to the breastworks behind 
the Rapidan!" And this was the gist of the matter. We 
passed E well's Headquarters, a little while after, and there 
I learned that, when news of the capture of the redoubt 
was brought him, he exclaimed with some profanity, 
"Then it's time we were out of this!" and immediately 
issued orders to fall back, along the whole line, after dark. 
There we crossed on a pontoon bridge, and found the 5th 
Corps massed, on the other side. As the cavalcade trotted 
by, the men all ran to the road and cheered and yelled 
most vociferously for General Meade. Soon we came up 
with General Warren. He looked like a man of disap- 
pointed hopes, as he gazed round the country and said, 
"There's nobody here — nobody! " And so we passed on, and 
beheld our English friends, with the Staff of General Webb. 
They had a very bewildered air, which seemed to say: 
"Oh, ah, where are these Rebel persons? pray could you 
tell me where they are.'^" Near Brandy Station we met 
good "Uncle John" Sedgwick, who said it was a cool day, 
as if there was nothing particular on hand, and he hadn't 
been doing anything for a week or two. It was now late on 
this Sunday afternoon and the troops were massing, to 
bivouac. There seemed really no end of them; though but 
part of the army was there; yet I never saw it look so big, 

46 Meade^s Headquarters [Nov. 13, 

which is accounted for by the fact that the country is very 
open and rolling and we could see the whole of it quite 
swarming with blue coats. . . . We recrossed the Rappa- 
hannock at the railroad, and saw the fresh graves of the 
poor fellows who fell in the assault of the redoubt. The 
Rebel officers said it was the most gallant thing they had 
seen. Two regiments, the 6th Maine and 7th Wisconsin, 
just at sundown, as the light was fading, charged up a long, 
naked slope, in face of the fire of a brigade and of four 
cannon, and carried the works at the point of the bayonet. 
... I think it no small praise to General Meade to say 
that his plans were so well laid out that our loss in all is 
but about 400. No useless slaughter, you see, though 
there was plenty of room for a blunder, as you would have 
known had you seen the lines of breastworks the fellows 
had; but we took part of them and scared them out of the 

Headquarters Army of Potomac 
November 13, 1863 

Here we continue to dwell in our pine wood, in grave 
content, consuming herds of cattle and car-loads of bread 
with much regularity. Yesterday, who should turn up but 
John Minor Botts,^ the tough and unterrified. The Rebs 
treated him pretty badly this time, because he invited 
General Meade to dine; burnt his fences, shot his cattle 
and took all his corn and provisions, and finally arrested 
him and took him as far as Culpeper, but there concluded 
he was a hot potato and set him free. He was inclined to 
pitch into us, for not following sharper after the Rebs on 
Sunday morning, that is, the day after we forced the river. 
He said the first of their waggons did not pass his house 
till two at night and the rear of the column not till ten 

^A Northern sympathizer, who had a plantation in those parts. 

1863] First Months 47 

next morning; that the roads were choked with footmen, 
guns, cavalry and ambulances, all hurrying for the Rapid 
Ann. In good sooth I suppose that a shade more mercury 
in the feet of some of our officers might do no harm; but, 
on the other hand, it is to be noticed that we had excellent 
reason to expect, and believe, that they would not run, 
but only retire to the ridges near Brandy Station and there 
offer battle. In this case, the premature hurrying forward 
of a portion of the troops might well have ruined the day. 
All of which reminds me of Colonel Locke's remark: "If 
we were omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent, we 
might, with care, get a very pretty fight out of the Rebs!" 
As it was, what we did do was done as scientifically as any 
army in the world could have done it, and with a minimum 
loss of life. I do assure you that Rappahannock station 
was a position where thousands of men might have been 
destroyed, with no gain whatsoever, if managed by un- 
skilful officers; and even Kelly's Ford was not without 
serious difficulties. I don't recollect whether I told you 
that the enemy had made preparations for nice winter 
quarters, and were hutting themselves and had made some 
capital corduroy roads against the mud season. In one hut 
was found a half -finished letter, from an officer to his wife, 
in which he said that the Yanks had gone into winter 
quarters, and that they were doing the same, so that he 
expected a nice quiet time for some months. Poor man! 
The Yanks made themselves very comfortable that same 
evening in his new cabin. Our future movements, or 
standing still, lie between the General and the weather. 
Meantime we have to pause a little, for there isn't a thing 
to eat in this broad land, and every pound of meat and 
quart of oats for tens of thousands of men and animals 
must come by a broken railroad from Alexandria. . . . 

48 Meade'* s Headquarters, 

The Palatinate, during the wars of Louis XIV, could 
scarcely have looked so desolate as this country. The 
houses that have not been actually burnt usually look al- 
most worse than those that have : so dreary are they with 
their windows without sashes, and their open doors, and 
their walls half stripped of boards. Hundreds of acres 
of stumps show where once good timber stood, and the ara- 
ble fields are covered with weeds and blackberry vines, or 
with the desolate marks of old camps — the burnt spots, 
where the fires were, the trenches cut round the tents, 
and the poles, and old bones and tin pots that invariably 
lie about. . . . 

As you walk about the country, you often see fragments 
of shell scattered around; for all this country has been 
fought over, back and forth, either in skirmishes or battles ; 
and here and there, you come on a little ridge of earth, 
marked by a bit of board, on which is scrawled the name 
of the soldier, who lies where he fell, in this desert region. 
Our people are very different from the Europeans in their 
care for the dead, and mark each grave with its name; 
even in the heat of battle. 

Headquarters Army of Potomac 
November 15, 1863 

Yesterday the General made a start at six a.m. for 
Washington, taking with him Major Biddle, Captain 
Meade, and Captain Mitchell, and suppose he will perhaps 
get back to-morrow. A little before one o'clock came a 
telegraph that four officers of the "Chords" were coming 
in the train, and that we were to send an officer, with ten 
men, also four led horses, to bring them up. So Major 
Barstow asked if I would go, whereat, there being nothing 
to do, I said I would. It is about eight miles to Bealton, 

1863] First Months 49 

the nearest place the railroad runs to, and, by making 
haste a little, we got there by two o'clock, and the train 
came a few minutes after. And there, sure enough, were 
four gents, much braided and striped, who were the parties 
in question: viz., Lieutenant-Colonel Earle, and Lord 
Castle Cuff (Grenadier Guards), Captain Peel and Cap- 
tain Stephenson (Scotch Fusiliers). This was the best lot 
of Bulls I have seen for a long time. The nobile Lord is, I 
should say, about sixteen, and, with his cap off, is as perfect 
a specimen of a Pat as you ever saw; but he is manly, 
and not so green as many I have seen of double his age. 
Colonel Earle is extremely quiet and well mannered, and 
was down here in Burnside's time. Captain Stephenson is 
in the beefy style, and Captain Peel (son of Sir Robert) is 
of the black order; but both have free use of their legs and 
tongues, a remarkable phenomenon in a Bull. We put 
them on horses, where they were well at home, except they 
would persist in trying to rise to the trot in a McClellan 
saddle, which is next to impossible. We had to cross the 
river, close to the railroad, where I showed them the work 
they took last Saturday; at which they remarked: "Oh! 
Ah! A nasty place, a very nasty place!" Then we rode to 
Headquarters, just in time to avoid a heavy rain, which 
continued much of the night. To-day we have lain quiet; 
but this evening we took them over to see Captain Sleeper, 
9th Massachusetts Battery. The Colonel was very in- 
quisitive about artillery, whereupon the enthusiastic 
Sleeper had a newly contrived shell, which was loaded, 
suddenly brought into the tent! The great improvement 
in the shell seemed to be that it was bound to go off, some- 
how; so that there was a marked nervousness about him of 
the Guards, as the Captain poked and twisted the projec- 
tile, to illustrate its manifold virtues! ... 

50 Meade^s Headquarters CNov.25, 

Headquarters Army of Potomac 
November 19, '63 

The Britons still continue with us. Yesterday we took 
them, with a small escort, to Buford's Headquarters beyond 
Culpeper. By Brandy Station we came across a line of 
rifle-pits that the Rebs had thrown up, probably on the 
Saturday night of their retreat, so as to cover the trains 
falling back on the Rapid Ann. We found the cavalry 
Chief afllicted with rheumatism, which he bore with his 
usual philosophy. Hence we made haste, across the coun- 
try, to General Warren's, where he had prepared some 
manoeuvres of infantry for us. This was one of the finest 
sights I have seen in the army. There were some 6000 or 
7000 men on the plain, and we stood on a little hill to look. 
The evolutions ended by drawing up the force in two lines, 
one about 300 yards in rear of the other; and each perhaps 
a mile long. Then they advanced steadily a short distance, 
w^ien the order w^as given to charge, and, as if they were 
one man, both fines broke into a run and came up the hill, 
shouting and yelling. I never saw so fine a military spec- 
tacle. The sun made the bayonets look like a straight 
hedge of bright silver, which moved rapidly toward yon. 
But the great fun was when part of the line came to a stone 
wall, over which they hopped with such agility as to take 
Colonel Earle prisoner, while Captain Stephenson's horse, 
which was rather slow, received an encouraging prod from 
a bayonet. Which events put us in great good humor, and 
we rode merrily home. 

Headquarters Army of Potomac 
November 25, 1863 

I write a line, merely to say that the entire army is 
under marching orders, for daylight to-morrow; the men in 
high spirits. As to the officers, you would suppose they 


First Month. 


were all going on a merrymaking, to hear tliem when the 
order was issued. Our object is to fight the enemy, which 
I pray we may do, and with success, but Dieu dispose. 

Our stopper has been the weather, which to-night prom- 
ises to be set fair, and the roads are passable, though not 
good. I wish some critics, who complain of our inactivity, 
could be compelled to take a soldier's load and march 
twenty miles through this mud. Their next article would, 
I think, clearly set forth the necessity of doing nothing till 
the driest of weather. 

Headquarters Army of Potomac 
November 27, '63 

Here we are, camped south of the Rapid Ann, and I find 
a leisure moment to write you a letter, or rather to begin 
one. My last formal note, I believe, informed you we were 
to move "to-morrow" (26th). And, sure enough, yester- 
day we kept our Thanksgiving by marching, horse, foot, 
and artillery, as hard as we could paddle towards Ger- 
manna Ford. 

Ctinr J^'% 

The above rough map, with the other I sent when I wrote 
at Centreville, will sufficiently explain our moves. From 

52 Meade^s Headquarters [Nov.27, 

Rapid Ann Station to Morton's Ford, the Rebels have a 
strong line of entrenchments, but, beyond that, it is prac- 
ticable to force a crossing, because the north bank com- 
mands the south. Our forces were encamped in a sort of 
semi-circle, of which one end rested on Kelly's Ford on the 
Rappahannock, and the other (at the north) on a tributary 
of the same river; the centre being about at Brandy Sta- 
tion. . . . The artillery officers had placed two masked 
batteries, ready to open on the south bank. On the other 
side of the river there were extensive breastworks, which, 
however, seemed not occupied. Nevertheless, we could 
not tell that the woods were not full of them. As the main 
resistance might be offered here, it was necessary that all 
the corps should force the passage at the same time, if 
possible. It so happened that General French was much 
delayed by heavy roads and other causes, so we had to 
wait till past twelve before throwing the pontoons. When 
this was done, there was no opposition whatsoever; but 
the engineers were stupid enough not to have enough 
boats, and this made more delay. However, about two 
P.M. the troops and artillery began to cross, one division 
having already forded. The solemn and punctual Sykes 
crossed below, at twelve. But the 3d and 6th, being very 
large, did not all get over till night, and their artillery, by 
reason of bad roads, had to come over by Germanna 
Bridge, and was not over till five the next morning. We 
(Headquarters) camped on the north bank of the river, 
near the reserve artillery. It was a magnificent night, but 
cold. The trains came in after dark, and we had quite a 
time in finding tents and bedding. Everything is compara- 
tive: when I got my tent pitched, my roll of bedding in 
position, and a little end of a candle lighted, I felt as 
comfortable as if I came home to a nicely furnished house^ 

George Sykes 

1863] First Months 53 

with a good fire burning and the tea-table just set! I was 
up this morning a good deal before dayhglit. The moon 
shone very bright and the hoar frost ghttered on the 
tents. ... At an early hour the Staff crossed, passing on 
the steep bank crowds of ambulances and waggons, which 
of course made the General very mad, . . . Do you know 
the scrub oak woods above Hammond's Pond, a sort of 
growth that is hard for even a single man to force his way 
through for any great distance.^ That is the growth of 
most of this country, minus the stones, and plus a great 
many "runs" and clay holes, where, in bad weather, ve- 
hicles sink to their axles. Along this region there are only 
two or three roads that can be counted on. These are the 
turnpike, the plank road south of it, and the plank road 
that runs from Germanna Ford. There are many narrow 
roads, winding and little known, that in good weather may 
serve for the slow passage of columns (though they are 
mere farmers' or woodcutters' thoroughfares) ; but a day's 
rain will render them impassable for waggons and artillery. 
This whole region (which includes the field of Chancellors- 
ville, a little to the east) is known as the "Wilderness." 
Over much of it there is no chance to deploy troops, 
scarcely skirmishers, and no place for artillery. . . . 

Somewhere about 10.30 we got to the turnpike and 
halted, say a mile before Robertson's Tavern ; where the 
2d Corps had arrived and found the enemy in front ; about 
eleven they had heavy skirmishing and drove the enemy 
back, getting also a few prisoners. They then formed line 
of battle and waited news from French on the right, and 
Sykes on the left, coming on the plank road. The day was 
raw and we stood near the road, over some fires we had 
built, waiting for news of French, to form a junction and at- 
tack at once ; for Warren alone formed a weak centre and 

54 Meade^s Headquarters [Nov. 28, 

could not risk an engagement. Officer after officer was des- 
patched to him, piloted by niggers who said they knew the 
country. The indefatigable Ludlow went in the opposite 
direction, and reported Sykes coming along all right. . . . 
At 12.30 we heard cannon on our extreme right, which 
seemed to announce French; still no authentic news, and the 
precious minutes fled rapidly. At last, late in the after- 
noon, came authentic despatches that General French's 
advance had had a heavy fight with the Rebels, in force, 
and had driven them from the field; but had thus been 
greatly delayed, and besides had found no roads, or bad 
roads, and could not effect a junction that evening. And 
so there was Sedgwick's Corps jammed up in the woods 
behind, and kept back also! So we pitched camp and 
waited for morning. 

November 28 
I thought that our wedding day would be celebrated by 
a great battle, but so it was not fated. Let us see, a year 
ago, we were in Paris; and this year, behold me no longer 
ornamenting the Boulevards but booted and spurred, and 
covered with an india-rubber coat, standing in the mud, 
midst a soft, driving rain, among the dreary hills of Old 
Virginny. It was early in the morning, and we were on the 
crest, near Robertson's Tavern. On either side, the infan- 
try, in line of battle, was advancing, and a close chain of 
skirmishers was just going into the woods; wdiile close in 
the rear followed the batteries, laboriously moving over 
the soft ground. The enemy had fallen back during the 
night, and we were following. When the troops had got 
well under way, the General took shelter in the old tavern, 
to wait for the development. He had not to wait long, 
before a brisk skirmish fire, followed by the light batteries, 
announced that we had come on them. Immediately we 

1863] First Months 55 

mounted and rode rapidly towards the front, slop, slop, 
slop, through the red mud, and amid ambulances and 
artillery and columns, all struggling forward. We had 
come on them sure enough, and on their line of works into 
the bargain, whereof we had notice beforehand, by spies. 
A halt was therefore ordered and the different corps 
ordered into position. This was a tremendous job, in the 
narrow wood-roads, deep with mud; and occupied fully 
the whole day. If you consider that the men must often 
move by fours, then a division of 4000 men, closed up, 
would occupy in marching some 1000 yards, and, by add- 
ing the space for pack horses, and the usual gaps and 
intervals, it would be. nearer a mile; so you see how an 
army would string out, even with no artillery. You must 
remember also that these long columns cannot move over 
two miles in an hour; often not so much. . . . 

November 29 
I rode to and along our front to see the enemy's position, 
which is a fearfully strong one. Within about a mile of our 
position, there runs a high, gradually sloping ridge, which 
trends in a northerly and southerly direction, and crosses 
the turnpike at right angles, where it is naked, though to 
the right and left it is wooded in some parts. Between this 
and a parallel high ground, occupied by us, is a shallow 
ravine, in which was a small stream. Mine Run. Along 
their ridge the Rebels have thrown up a heavy and con- 
tinuous breastwork, supported by entrenched batteries; 
and, in some places at least, they probably have a second 
line. Any troops, advancing to the assault, would be ex- 
posed to a heavy artillery fire from the very outset, over the 
space of a mile, besides having to encounter the still worse 
musketry at the end. At daylight this morning. General 

56 Meade^s Headquarters [Nov.3o, 

Warren, with his own corps and a division of the 6th, 
marched towards our extreme left, where, it was under- 
stood, the right of the enemy coukl be turned. His attack 
was to be a signal for attacking in other places on the line. 
However, despite that the rain had ceased, the bad roads 
delayed a good deal, and a false report of entrenchments 
delayed more; so that, when he got there, after driving in 
an outlying force, the day was too far advanced for an 
attack. Major Ludlow, however, came back with a fine 
account from General Warren of the prospects, and all 
things were made ready for an assault, next day. . . . 

November 30 
Almost before daylight our waggons were loaded and 
away, for the Headquarters are only a few hundred yards 
in the rear of our heavy guns and directly on the road, so 
that we expected a nice lot of shells, say at 8.10 a.m. A 
little before that the General mounted and rode towards 
General Newton's quarters, and, while near there, hang! 
went a cannon on the right; then boom! boom! from the 32- 
pounders, and then, bang, boom, bang, pretty generally. 
In all the woods the troops were massed for the attack, 
waiting orders. We rode back to Headquarters, and, a 
moment after. Captain Roebling from General Warren's 
Staff, galloped up. He is the most immovable of men, but 
had, at that moment, rather a troubled air. He handed a 
scrap of paper. General Meade opened it and his face 
changed. "My God!" he said, "General Warren has half 
my army at his disposition!" Roebling shrugged his shoul- 
ders. The note was to the effect that General Warren had 
made a careful examination of the enemy's works, had al- 
tered his opinion of last evening, and considered an assault 
hopeless ! ! ! Orders were at once issued to cease firing. We 

1863] First Months S7 

tried to take it all philosophically, but it was hard, very 
hard. Most of all to General Meade and General Hum- 
phreys, who really took it admirably, for both of them have 
excellent tempers of their own, which, on occasions, burst 
forth, like twelve-pounder spherical case. In a little 
while the General again rode away; this time to see Gen- 
eral Warren, some four miles off. Two aides, besides my- 
self, went with him. We rode along the rear of our batter- 
ies, which were still, from time to time, exchanging shots 
with those opposite; though not when I chanced to be 
passing, I am happy to say. General Warren had a sad 
face, as well he might. He drew aside, with the two other 
generals, and there they stood, in long consultation, over 
a fire which had been made for them, for the air was sharp. 
Then we started back again, stopping half-way at General 
French's, whom we found in a fuming passion, partly be- 
cause two of his divisions had been, in some way, put 
under guidance of General Warren, and partly because he 
was all ready for the assault and had pushed his skirmish 
line to within 300 yards of the Rebel works, while the storm- 
ing parties were in a great rage at not being led on. Alas! 
it was of no use; General Humphreys, with a heavy sigh, 
pronounced the opportunity (if it had ever existed) now 
past; and, when he cries no fight, you may be sure there is 
not much chance. At a meeting that evening, the other 
generals concurred. It was physically impossible to flank 
any more on either side, and the only thing that remained 


The King of France with forty thousand men, 
Marched up a hill; and then marched down again. 

Wherever the fault lies, I shall always be astonished at 
the extraordinary moral courage of General Meade, which 
enabled him to order a retreat, when his knowledge, as an 

58 Meade^s Headquarters [Dec. i, 

engineer and a soldier, showed that an attack would be a 
blunder. The .men and guns stood ready: he had only to 
snap his fingers, and that night would probably have seen 
ten thousand wretched, mangled creatures, lying on those 
long slopes, exposed to the bitter cold, and out of reach of 
all help! Then people would have said: "He was unsuc- 
cessful; but then he tried hard, and did not get out." 

December 1 
As I put my head out of my tent this morning, I beheld 
the heavy guns going to the rear, and I thought, well, we 
shall follow to-night. And so we did. The 1st Corps 
marched, in the afternoon, to Germanna Ford and halted, 
to hold the crossing. At dark the 5th marched, by the 
turnpike, followed by tlie 6th ; and the 3d, followed by the 
2d, took the plank road to Culpeper Ford. There was a 
piercing cold wind, the roads were frozen, and ice was on the 
pools; but the night was beautiful, with a lovely moon, that 
rose over the pine trees, and really seemed to me to be 
laughing derisively at our poor doughboys, tramping 
slowly along the road. Just at sunset I rode to the front 
and took a last look at the Rebels. Through my glass they 
looked almost near enough to speak to, as they stood, in 
groups of a dozen, and twenty, on the parapet of their 
breastworks. Some were on the glacis, seeking, I suppose, 
for firewood for their camps, whose smoke rose in a thin 
line, as far as the eye could reach, on either side. The 
Headquarters waited for some time at Robertson's Tavern, 
till the 5th Corps had passed, and then followed on. The 
road was horribly rough, full of great holes and big stones. 
We crawled, at a snail's pace, till we got clear of the troops, 
and then the General slammed ahead at a rate that 

1863] First Months 59 

threatened the legs of all our horses; and which gave two 
or three officers most awful falls on the frozen ground. 
At 2 oclock this morning {December 2) we crossed the 
Rapid Ann, and were glad to roll ourselves in our blankets 
in the same camp we had the night of the 26th. And so 
ends what I think I shall call the Great Seven-days' Flank. 
If you ask what were the causes of failure, they lie in a nut- 
shell — Slowness and want of Detail. We have fought for 
two years and a half, but it takes no wiseacre to see that 
we yet have much to learn. Were it not for the remarkable 
intelligence of the men, we could not do even as well as we 
do. . . . 

Headquarters Army of Potomac 
December 10, '63 

All the officers are inclined to be petulant and touchy, 
for they think that winter quarters are coming and are all 
stretching out for "leaves," which they know only a part 
can get. Major Biddle becomes quite irate over the sub- 
ject. "Now there is General Webb has a ten-day leave," 
says B. petulantly; "every corps is to give one general a 
ten-day leave. I don't want any little ten-day leave; I 
want a decent leave; a sixty-day leave. I have been two 
years and a half in this army, and never had but seven 
days' leave, except once when I was sick; and it isn't any 
fun to be sick. If we are going into winter quarters, one 
third of this army can do what is necessary, just as well as 
the whole; and they might as well be liberal to us. It is 
too bad! really too bad!" Such discoveries of patriotic 
services as the officers now make, to back up their appli- 
cations, are miraculous. They have all been in service 
since the First Bull Run (the Genesis of the Potomac 
Army); they have all been wounded six times; they have 

60 Meade^s Headquarters [Dec. lo, 

never been absent a single day; their wives are very sick; 
their mothers are not expected to Hve; and they can easily 
bring back fifty volunteers with them, to fill up their regi- 
ment! All of which General Williams receives with the 
blandest smile, as if he had never before heard of so strong 
a case, and promises to refer it to General Meade, which 
indeed he does. Meanwhile the rattling of axes is heard on 
all sides, and villages of little log huts, with canvas roofs, 
spring into existence in a single night. General Ingalls 
asked if the troops could have permission to build huts: 
to which the Major-General commanding replied, with 
charming non-committal. " Build huts ; certainly ; why not? 
They can move from huts as well as from tents, can't 
they.'^" I observe the papers continue to discuss the 
succession of the General. He himself thinks he will be 
relieved, but I doubt it. If for no other reason, because it 
is hard to find anyone for the post. General Sedgwick 
would, I think, refuse; General Warren is very young, and 
is, besides, under a cloud about his movement on our left. 
General Sickles, people would say, is too much of a Bowery 
boy. Generals French, Newton, and Sykes are out of the 
question. General Humphreys has no influence strong 
enough to put him up. Any subordinate general would 
have to be of great note to be lifted thus high; there is no 
such one. I think they would not try a western general, 
after Pope's experience. The only one I can think of is 
Hancock, for a long while laid up by his Gettysburg 
wound, and not yet in the field. He belongs in this army, 
is popular, and has an excellent name. The New York 
Herald insists on General Pleasonton, which is an original 
idea. I heard of an officer who asserted that he had seen 
the order putting him in command; a rather unlikely 

1863] First Months 


Headquarters Army of Potomac 
December 12, 1863 

I still think, and more strongly than ever, that no change 
will be made in our chief command; and those who have 
been to Washington think the same. I am more and more 
struck, on reflection, with General Meade's consistency 
and self-control in refusing to attack. His plan was a 
definite one; from fault of his inferiors it did not work fast 
enough to be a success; and he had firmness to say, the 
blow has simply failed and we shall only add disaster to 
failure by persisting. By this time the officers here know 
just about how well the Rebels fight, and what we have a 
reasonable expectation of taking, and what not. It should 
be remembered, also, as a fundamental fact, that this line 
is not approved as a fine of operations, and 7iever has been; 
but we are forced to work on it. Those who think that 
(according to the Hon. Kellogg) "it would be better to 
strew the road to Richmond with the dead bodies of our 
soldiers rather than that there should nothing be done!" 
may not be content; but those who believe it best to fight 
when you want to, and not when yoxxy enemy wants to, 
will say simply they are sorry nothing could be effected, 
but glad that there was no profitless slaughter of troops 
that cannot be replaced. 

Headquarters Army of Potomac 
December 16, '63 

Yesterday we had one of the funniest exhibitions that 
the Army has been favored with in a long while. The 
peaceful dolce far niente of the forenoon was suddenly 
broken by a telegraph, announcing a Russian invasion — 
nothing less than a legion of Muscovite naval officers pour- 
ing down, to the number of twenty -four, in a special train, 
on our devoted heads ! And they were to come in a couple 

62 Meade^ 5 Headquarters [Dec. i6, 

of hours! Would they pass the night? if so, where put 
them, in a camp where two or three guests make a crowd? 
Would they be fed? Even this was a problem, unless we 
ordered the Commissary to open a dozen boxes of the best 
stearine candles. However, General Meade at once orders 
the 6th Corps to parade, and gets hold of all the ambu- 
lances of the Staff, which are forthwith sent to the depot, 
after the serene Bears. And soon the vehicles returned, 
with flat caps hanging out of all the openings. Then the 
thing was to put them on horseback, as soon as possible, 
for it grew late in the day, already. You have heard of 
"Jack on horseback," and this was a most striking in- 
stance. Each one sat on his McClellan saddle, as if double- 
reefing a topsail in a gale of wind. Their pantaloons got 
up, and their flat caps shook over their ears; and they kept 
nearly tumbling off on one side and hoisting themselves 
up again by means of the pommel. Meanwhile they were 
very merry and kept up a running fire of French, English 
and Russian. The extraordinary cavalcade having reached 
a hill, near the ground, there was found an ambulance, 
which had brought such as did not wish to ride, including 
the Captain, Bootekoff, who was the head feller. He, 
however, was persuaded to mount my mare, while I re- 
mained in the carriage. Thereupon the other carriage 
company were fired with a desire also to mount. So a 
proper number of troopers were ordered to get down, and 
the Russians were boosted into their saddles, and the 
procession moved off; but suddenly — 

A horseman darted from the crowd 
Like liglitning from a summer cloud. 

It was a Muscovite, who had discovered that the pommel 
was a great thing to hold on to, and who had grasped the 

1863] First Months 63 

same, to the neglect of the rein; whereupon the steed, 
missing his usual dragoon, started at a wild gallop! Off 
flew the flat cap and away went the horse and rider, with a 
Staff officer in full chase! Example is contagious, and, in 
two minutes, the country was dotted with Russians, on 
the wings of the wind, and vainly pursuing officers and 
orderlies. Some tumbled off, some were caught and 
brought back; and one chief engineer was discovered, after 
dark, in the woods, and in the unpleasant vicinity of the 
enemy's picket line. However, the most of them were at 
last got up and viewed the troops from their uncertain 
positions. After which they were filled up with large quan- 
tities of meat and drink and so sent in a happy frame 
of mind to Washington. The Captain was a very intelli- 
gent man; but most of the rest had no character or man- 
liness in their faces, and two or three of them seemed to 
me almost full-blooded Jews. . . . 

To-morrow^ I lose my tent-mate, the phlegmatic coun- 
tryman of Gustav Adolf and Charles XII. He could not 
get permission to remain on General Hunt's Staff and so 
will have the satisfaction of joining his cavalry regiment, 
which is hutted somewhere in the mud, near Culpeper! 
In his place I shall probably have Rosencrantz, another 
Swede, and for some time at Headquarters as A.D.C. He 
is a courteous man, an old campaigner, and very amusing 
with his broken English. 

^ This final paragraph is from a letter dated December 15. 



[Toward the end of December, the army being then 
well settled in winter quarters^, Lyman obtained leave of 
absence, passed Christmas at home, and returned to the 
army about the middle of January. He found Head- 
quarters almost deserted, General Meade sick in Phila- 
delphia with an attack of inflammation of the lungs. Gen- 
eral Humphreys, and his tent-mate Rosencrantz, away on 
leave of absence, and Barstow sick and weak, with a cold 
on the lungs.] 

Headquarters, Army of Potomac 
January 23, 1864 

Yesterday came General Humphreys, to my great con- 
tent. His son, with Worth and myself, rode down to bid 
him welcome. Such a sea of mud round Brandy Station 
was enough to engulf the most hardy. There is no plat- 
form to get on; nothing but the driest spot in the mud. 
You should have seen the countenances of the unfortunate 
officers' wives, as they surveyed, from the height of the 
platform, this broad expanse of pap! Then the husband 
would appear, in great excitement, and encourage them to 
descend, which they presently would do, and dab across to 
an ambulance, seeming mutely to say, that this wasn't 
quite what they expected. The neat General (who left in 
hard weather) was entirely aghast, and said, in painful 
accents, "What! must I get down there? Oh, the deuce!" 
I do believe that officers will next be trying to bring down 
grand pianos. You needn't talk of coming here with 


1864] In TV inter Quarters 65 

"small hoops. " I have too much respect for you to allow 
the shadow of such an idea. As Frank Palfrey sensibly 
observed: "I think I should consider some time before I 
brought my wife to a mud-hill." . . . The whole country, 
besides the mud, is now ornamented with stumps, dead 
horses and mules, deserted camps, and thousands upon 
thousands of crows. The deserted camps (than which 
nothing more desolate) come from the fact that several 
divisions have lately changed position. General Meade 
has been seriously ill at home; but we have a telegraph 
that he is much better, and I have forwarded him, for his 
edification, a variety of letters, opened by me at General 
Williams's request. 

Headquarters Army of Potomac 
January 29, 1864 

If you saw the style of officers' wives that come here, I 
am sure you would wish to stay away. Quelle experience 
had I yesterday ! I was nearly bored to death, and was two 
hours and a half late for my dinner. Oh, list to my har- 
rowing tale. I was in my tent, with my coat off, neatly 
mending my maps with a little paste, when Captain 
Cavada poked in his head (he was gorgeous in a new frock- 
coat). "Colonel," said he, "General Humphreys desires 
that you will come and help entertain some ladies ! " I held 
up my pasty hands in horror, and said, " What ! " "Ladies ! " 
quoth Cavada with a grin; " a surprise party on horseback, 
thirteen ladies and about thirty officers." There was no 
moyen; I washed my hands, put on the double-breaster, 
added a cravat, and proceeded, with a sweet smile, to the 
tent, whence came a sound of revelry and champagne 
corks. Such a set of feminine humans I have not seen 
often; it was Lowell factories broken loose and gone mad. 
They were all gotten up in some sort of long thing, to ride 

66 Meade'* s Headquarters [jan.29, 

in. One had got a lot of orange tape and trimmed her 
jacket in the dragoon style; another had the badge of the 
Third Corps pinned all askew in her hat; a third had a 
major's knot worked in tarnished lace on her sleeve; 
while a fourth had garnitured her chest by a cape of grey 
squirrel-skin. And there was General Humphreys, very 
red in the face, smiling like a basket of chips, and hopping 
round with a champagne bottle, with all the spring of a 
boy of sixteen. He spied me at once, and introduced me 

to a Mrs. M , who once married somebody who treated 

her very badly and afterwards fortunately went up; so 

Mrs. M seemed determined to make up lost time and 

be jolly in her liberty. She was quite bright; also quite 
warm and red in the face, with hard riding and, probably, 
champagne. Then they said they would go over to Gen- 
eral Sedgwick's, and General Humphreys asked if I would 
not go, too, which invitation it was not the thing to refuse; 
so I climbed on my horse, with the malicious consolation 
that it would be fun to see poor, modest Uncle John with 
such a load! But Uncle John, though blushing and over- 
come, evidently did not choose to be put upon; so, with 
great politeness, he offered them sherry, with naught to 
eat and no champagne. Then nothing would do but go to 
Headquarters of the 3d Corps, whither, to my horror, the 
gallant Humphreys would gang likewise. Talk about 
cavalry raids to break down horses! If you want to do 
that, put a parcel of women on them and set them go- 
ing across the country. Such a Lutzow's wild hunt hath 
not been seen since the day of the respected L. himself I 
Finally one lady's horse ran away, and off went the brick, 
Humphreys, like a shot, to stop her. Seeing her going 
into a pine tree, he drove his horse between the tree and 
her; but, in so doing, encountered a hidden branch, which 

1864] In JV inter Q uarters 67 

slapped the brisk old gent out of his saddle, like a shuttle- 
cock! The Chief -of -Staff was up in a second, laughing at 
his mishap; while I galloped up, in serious alarm at his ac- 
cident. To make short a long story, the persistent H. 
tagged after those womenfolk (and I tagged after him) 
first to Corps Headquarters, then to General Carr's Head- 
quarters, and finally to General Morris's Headquarters, 
by which time it was dark! I was the only one that knew 
the nearest way home (we were four miles away) and did- 
n't I lead the eminent soldier through runs and mud-holes, 
the which he do hate! 

To-day we have had a tremendous excitement: a detail of 
250 men to "police" the camp, under charge of Biddle, 
just appointed Camp Commandant. They have been 
sweeping, cutting down stumps, burning brush, and, in 
general, making the worst-looking camp in the army neat 
and respectable. 

Headquarters Army of Potomac 
January 31, 1864 

As I was riding the other day, I came on a rare bird, a 
real old family nigger; none of your lying, stealing, camp 
contrabands, but a real, grey-headed, old-fashioned Vir- 
ginian nigger. He seemed to be living in a little log hut. 
His battered, white broad-brim, and coat of faded snuff- 
color, did speak of days before the war, when Master 
Hved in the big house, now burned flat. " Good morning, 
Uncle! " said I, after the manner of our Southern brethren. 
The ancient darky looked up in surprise, at this once 
familiar greeting, and then, taking his hat off in a way that 
knocked Louis XIV entirely, he replied, "Good mornin', 
saar! a beautiful mornin', saar!" I asked where Beverly 
Ford was, and thanked him for his information. Where- 
upon I was favored with more of the Great Monarch, and 

68 Meade^s Headquarters CFeb.7, 

retired much impressed with him. His day is gone. More 
houses and better houses will be built in Culpeper country, 
and a few years will leave no trace of the war, but the de- 
caying head-board, here and there, of some poor chap, 
and the bits of shell that the farmers will sometimes pick 
up. But Master, who lived in the big house, is shot, long 
ago — he and his regime both. 

February 5, 1864 
General Humphreys sent for me and showed me a 
cipher correspondence between Butler and Halleck, and 
Halleck and Sedgwick. B. telegraphed that large rein- 
forcements had been sent from the Rapid Ann to North 
Carolina, and that he wished a demonstration to "draw 
their forces from Richmond." S. replied that, with the 
exception of some two or three brigades, nobody had been 
sent to that place from the army in our front. B. then 
said he was going to move on Richmond, or something 
of the sort, and would like a demonstration not later 
than Saturday (to-morrow). S. said it was too short a time 
to make any great show and that it would spoil our 
chances for a surprise on their works, in future. H. then 
telegraphed to do, at any rate, what we could. So Kilpat- 
rick has been sent to their right via Mine Ford, and Merritt 
is to threaten Barnett's Ford; and to threaten Raccoon 
Ford, while the 2d will make a stronger demonstration 
at Morton's Ford. Old Sedgwick and General Humphreys 
are cross at the whole thing, looking on it as childish. 

February 7, 1864 

It is one in the morning and I have, so to speak, just 

taken a midnight dinner, having come in from the front 

between 11 and 12 oclock. Well, who would have thought 

of marching out of comfortable winter quarters, to go 

1864] In JV inter Quarters 69 

poking round the Rapidan! . . . Only last night orders 
were suddenly issued to the 1st and 2d Corps to march at 
sunrise, the one on Raccoon, the other on Morton's Ford; 
where they were to make a strong demonstration and 
perhaps cross at Morton's (Raccoon being too strong). 
Certain cavalry, also, were to go to other points, with 
special orders. The whole thing was very sudden, all 
round, and none of our fish. This morning we took an 
early breakfast, which, with the ready horses, quite re- 
minded one of campaigning times. General Sedgwick was 
over, being in command, as viceroy. At 10.30 we began to 
hear the cannon, but General Humphreys would not stir, 
as he said he must stay to attend to the despatches and 
telegraph. However, at 3 p.m., he suddenly did start, with 
his own aides and Biddle, Mason, Cadwalader and myself, 
de la part de General Meade; also Rosencrantz. To 
Morton's Ford is some ten miles, but you might as well 
call it fifty, such is the state of the roads. Mud, varying 
from fetlocks to knees, then holes, runs, ditches and rocks 
— such was the road. With utmost diligence it took fully 
two hours. . . . Here we had thrown across a division, 
and General Warren was with them. The enemy had 
offered a good deal of opposition, with a skirmish fire 
and with artillery; despite which the whole division had 
waded the stream, up. to their waists (cold work for the 
6th of February!), and were now in line, behind some 
ridges; while a heavy skirmish line covered their front. 
Enclosing them, almost in a semi-circle, were the Rebel 
earthworks. It looked a shaky position for us! All was 
quiet; the men were making coffee, and nothing broke 
the stillness but an occasional shot from the sharpshooters. 
"Well," said General Humphreys, "I must go across and 
look about, while there is light left. I don't want many to 

70 Meade^s Headquarters [Feb.?, 

go. McClellan, you will come; and Major Biddle and 
Colonel Lyman, if you would like, I shall be glad of your 
company." So off w^e four rode, and met Warren coming 
back, before we got to the river. But he at once turned 
horse and kept on with us. The ford was very bad, deep 
and with steep sides, but we floundered over, and I was 
once again south of the Rapid Ann. . . . As we got to the 
main line, "Now," said General Warren, "get off here and 
I will take you as far as you can go, very soon." W^e dis- 
mounted and remained, while the two Generals went some 
150 yards to Morton's house on the crest of the ridge, 
where they no sooner got than a sharpshooter fired at 
them and the ball flew harmless over our heads, though it 
came close to General Warren. But hang it all! We had 
not been there five minutes when that infernal old sound 
came, whing-z-z-z-z, and over went a spherical case! 
"Fall in, fall in!" shouted the colonels, and the men took 
their arms. Whing-z-z! Bang! came another, right into the 
infantry, killing a poor man. "Steady! steady!" roared 
the colonels. Whing-z-z-z-z! Bang! and one of the pieces 
struck close to me, while one of the bullets struck the 
scabbard of the orderly next me, who coolly picked up the 
missile. We were a little sheltered by the road, but, I don't 
care who knows it, I did duck when that spherical case 
came over. By this time the Generals got back and 
mounted, the enemy continuing the fire but throwing 
their shot too high. We had not got far towards the river, 
when they began with musketry, a very heavy skirmish 
fire, and seemed about to make a general attack; but it 
turned out to be a strong attempt to drive back our 
skirmish line from a favorable fence they had secured; and 
the artillery was a cover for their advance. When we got 
back to the high ground by Robinson's, we could look across 


In Winter Quarters n 

and see the fight, though it was growing dark and the air 
was very foggy. Our artillery opened on them also, and, in 
course of an hour or so, night set in, and the firing ceased, 
our line holding its own everywhere. And now the poor 
wounded fellows began to come in, some alone, some 
supported, and some in ambulances. The surgeons were 
numerous and all that could be wished for. Except one 
or two mortally hurt, there was nothing sad in it, so manly 
were the men and so cheerful. Not a groan, not a com- 
plaint. I asked one man who was staggering along, if 
he were much hurt. "Very slightly," he remarked, in a 
lively tone. I found what he called *'very slightly" was 
a musket-ball directly through the thigh. These men are 
wonderful, much more so, I think (proportionately), than 
the ofl&cers. There was a whole division wet to the waist, 
on a rainy February day, exposed each instant to attack, 
and yet making little pots of coffee, in the open air, as 
calmly as if at Revere House. 

Oh! what a ride h%d we home! It took us over three 
hours, with the help of a lantern, . . . 

Headquarters Army of Potomac 
February 12, 1864 

In this epistle I shall describe to you the whirl of fashion, 
the galaxy of female beauty, the grouping of manly grace. 
Behold, I have plunged into the wild dissipation of a mili- 
tary dinner-party. The day before yesterday, there ap- 
peared a mysterious orderly, with a missive from Colonel 
Hayes (my classmate) saying that he should next day 
entertain a select circle at dinner at five of the clock, and 
wouldn't I come and stay over night. To which I returned 
answer that I should give myself that pleasure. The gallant 
Colonel, who commands the 3d Brigade, 1st Division, 5th 

72 Meade^s Headquarters [Feb. 12, 

Corps, has liis Headquarters on the north side of the river, 
about half a mile from Rappahannock station. At 4 p.m. 
J was ready, very lovely to look on, with full tog and sash, 
neatly finished by white cotton gloves and my thick laced 
shoes. With great slowness did I wend on my sable mare, 
for fear of splashing myself in a run or a puddle. On the 
other side of the pontoon bridge I fell in with Lieutenant 
Appleton wending the same way — he splashed his trou- 
sers in Tin Pot Run, poor boy ! The quarters were not far, 
and were elegantly surrounded by a hedge of evergreen, 
and with a triumphal arch from which did float the Bri- 
gade flag. Friend Hayes has an elegant log hut, papered 
with real wall-paper, and having the roof ornamented with 
a large garrison flag. The fireplace presented a beautiful 
arch, which puzzled me a good deal, till I found it was made 
by taking an old iron cog-wheel, found at the mill on the 
river, and cutting the same in two. Already the punctual 
General Sykes, Commander of the Corps, was there, with 
Mrs. S., a very nice lady, in quite a blue silk dress. . . . 
Also several other officers' wives, of sundry ages, and in 
various dresses. Then we marched in and took our seats, 
I near the head and between Mrs. Lieutenant Snyder and 
Mrs. Dr. Holbrook. Next on the left was General Bart- 
lett, in high boots and brass spurs. There must have been 
some twenty-four persons, in all. The table ran the length 
of two hospital tents, ingeniously floored with spare 
boards from the pontoon-train and ornamented with flags 
and greens. The chandeliers were ingeniously composed 
of bayonets, and all was very military. Oyster soup had 
we; fish, biled mutting, roast beef, roast turkey, pies, and 
nuts and raisins; while the band did play outside. General 
Sykes, usually exceeding stern, became very gracious and 
deigned to laugh, when one of his captains said: "He was 

1864] In JVinter Quarters 73 

the mildest-mannered man that ever cut a throat or 
scuttled ship." 

After dinner, songs were encouraged, and General Sykes 
told two of his Staff, if they didn't sing immediately, he 
would send them home at once! I sang two comic songs, 
with immense success, and all was festive. I passed the 
night there, and took breakfast this morning, when Albert 
came down with the horses. Joe Hayes is a singular in- 
stance of a man falling into his right notch. In college he 
was not good at his studies at all; but, as an officer, he is 
remarkable, and has a reputation all through the Corps. 
Though only a colonel, he was entrusted, at Mine Run, 
with bringing off the picket line, consisting of 4000 men, 
which he did admirably. . . . 

Headquarters Army of Potomac 
February 22, '64 

General Meade is in excellent spirits and cracks a great 
many jokes and tells stories. You can't tell how different 
he is when he has no movement on his mind, for then he is 
like a firework, always going bang at someone, and nobody 
ever knows who is going to catch it next, but all stand in a 
semi-terrified state. There is something sardonic in his 
natural disposition, which is an excellent thing in a com- 
mander; it makes people skip round so. General Hum- 
phreys is quite the contrary. He is most easy to get on 
with, for everybody; but, practically, he is just as hard as 
the Commander, for he has a tremendous temper, a great 
idea of military duty, and is very particular. When he does 
get wrathy, he sets his teeth and lets go a torrent of adjec- 
tives that must rather astonish those not used to little out- 
bursts. There came down with the General (who returned 
yesterday from Washington) a Mr. Kennedy, Chief of the 

74 Meade ^s Headquarters [Feb. 22, 

Census Bureau, a very intelligent man, full of figures. He 
can tell you how many people have pug noses in Newton 
Centre, and any other little thing you want. There was a 
bill passed in the House of Reps to raise 100,000 negro 
troops, from \hefree colored men of the North. When the 
bill came before the Senate, Mr. Kennedy sent in word 
that there were less than 50,000 colored men who were 
free and capable of bearing arms in the whole North, 
which rather squelched the bill! He says that the free 
negroes South increase hardly at all; while those in the 
North even decrease; but the slaves increase more than 
any other class. So I think it will be best to free the 
whole lot of them and then they will sort of fade out. 

There are perfect shoals of womenkind now in the army 
— a good many, of course, in Culpeper, where they can 
live in houses. The rest of them must live a sort of Bedouin 
life. The only one I have seen of late is Mrs. Captain 
Commissary Coxe, for behold we had a service at fresco, 
near General Patrick's tent. There was Mr. Rockwell as 
clergyman, quite a good preacher, and very ready to speak, 
nevertheless not too long in his remarks. I marched over 
with a camp-stool very solemnly. There were quite a 
collection of officers from the Headquarters, also a com- 
pany of cavalry, which was marched down dismounted 
and stood meekly near by; for this cavalry belongs to 
General Patrick, and the General is pious, and so his men 
have to be meek and lowly. Likewise came some of the 
red-legs, or Zouaves, or 114th Pennsylvania, who finally 
had an air of men who had gone to a theatre and did not 
take an interest in the play. There too were some ladies, 
who were accommodated with a tent open in front, so as 
to allow them to see and hear. The band of the Zouaves 
sang the hymns and were quite musical. . . . To-night is 

1864] In JVinter Quarters 75 

a great ball of the 2d Corps. The General has gone to it; 
also General Humphreys. None of the Staff were invited, 
save George Meade, to the huge indignation of the said 
Staff and my great amusement. 

Headquarters Army of Potomac 
February M, '64 

... I went yesterday to a review of the 2d Corps gotten 
up in honor of Governor Sprague. It was some seven or 
eight miles away, near Stevensburg, so that it was quite a 
ride even to get there. General Meade, though he had 
been out till three in the morning at the ball, started at 
eleven, with the whole Staff, including General Pleasonton 
and his aides, the which made a dusty cavalcade. First 
we went to the Corps Headquarters, where we were con- 
fronted by the apparition of two young ladies in extempo- 
raneous riding habits, mounted on frowsy cavalry horses 
and prepared to accompany. General Meade greeted them 
with politeness, for they were some relations of somebody, 
and we set forth. The review was on a large flat (usually 
very wet, but now quite dry, yet rather rough for the pur- 
pose) and consisted of the Corps and Kilpatrick's division 
of cavalry. When they were all ready, we rode down the 
lines, to my great terror, for I thought the womenkind, of 
whom there were half a dozen, would break their necks; 
for there were two or three ditches, and we went at a can- 
ter higglety-pigglety. However, by the best of luck they 
all got along safe and we took our place to see the troops 
march past. We made a funny crowd: there were the 
aforesaid ladies, sundry of whom kept chattering like 
magpies; then the Hon. Senator Wilkinson of Minnesota, 
in a suit of faded black and a second-hand felt that some 
officer had lent him. The Honorable rode bravely about. 

16 Meade'^s Headquarters [Mar.i, 

with a seat not laid down in any of the textbooks, and kept 
up a lively and appropriate conversation at the most ser- 
ious parts of the ceremony. "Wall, Miss Blunt, how do 
you git along? Do you think you will stan' it out?" To 
which Miss Blunt would reply in shrill tones: "Wall, I feel 
kinder tired, but I guess I '11 hold on, and ride clear round, 
if I can." And, to do her justice, she did hold on, and I 
thought, as aforesaid, she would break her neck. Then 
there was his Excellency, the Vice-President, certainly one 
of the most ordinary -looking men that ever obtained the 
suffrages of his fellow citizens. Also little Governor 
Sprague, a cleanly party, who looked very well except that 
there is something rather too sharp about his face. Like- 
wise were there many womenkind in ambulances dis- 
creetly looking on. The cavalry came first, headed by the 
valiant Kilpatrick, whom it is hard to look at without 
laughing. The gay cavaliers themselves presented their 
usual combination of Gypsy and Don Cossack. Then fol- 
lowed the artillery and the infantry. Among the latter 
there was a good deal of difference; some of the regiments 
being all one could wish, such as the Massachusetts 20th, 
with Abbot at its head; while others were inferior and 
marched badly. Thereafter Kill-cavalry (as scoffers call 
him) gave us a charge of the 500, which was entertaining 
enough, but rather mobby in style. And so home, where 
we did arrive quite late; the tough old General none the 

Headquarters Army of Potomac 
March 1, 1864 

. . . For some days General Humphreys has been a 
mass of mystery, with his mouth pursed up, and doing 
much writing by himself, all to the great amusement of 
the bystanders, who had heard, even in Washington, that 

1864] In Winter Quarters 77 

some expedition or raid was on the tapis, and even pointed 
out various details thereof. However, their ideas, after all, 
were vague; but they should not have known anything. 
Que voulez-vous? A secret expedition with us is got up like 
a picnic, with everybody blabbing and yelping. One is 
driven to think that not even the prospect of immediate 
execution will stop Americans from streaming on in their 
loose, talking, devil-may-care ways. Kilpatrick is sent for 
by the President; oh, ah! everybody knows it at once: he is 
a cavalry officer; it must be a raid. All Willard's chatters 
of it. Everybody devotes his entire energies to pumping 
the President and Kill-cavalry! Some confidential friend 
finds out a part, tells another confidential friend, swearing 
him to secrecy, etc., etc. So there was Eleusinian Hum- 
phreys writing mysteriously, and speaking to nobody, while 
the whole camp was sending expeditions to the four cor- 
ners of the compass ! On Saturday, at early morn. Uncle 
John Sedgwick suddenly picked up his little traps and 
marched with his Corps through Culpeper and out to- 
wards Madison Court House, away on our right flank. 
The next, the quiet Sabbath, was broken by the whole of 
Birney's division, of the 3d Corps, marching also through 
Culpeper, with the bands playing and much parade. . We 
could only phancy the feeling of J. Reb contemplating 
this threatening of his left flank from his signal station on 
Clark's Mountain. Then the flaxen Custer, at the head 
of cavalry, passed through, and wended his way in the 
same direction. All this, you see, was on our right. That 
night Kilpatrick, at the head of a large body of cavalry, 
crossed at Ely's Ford, on our extreme left, and drew a 
straight bead on Richmond ! At two oclock that night he 
was at Spotsylvania C. H., and this is our last news of 
him. He sent back word that he would attack Richmond 

78 Meade'* s Headquarters [Mar. 5, 

at seven this morning. The idea is to Hberate the prison- 
ers, catch all the rebel M. C.'s that are lying round loose, 
and make tracks to our nearest lines. I conceive the 
chances are pretty hazardous, although the plan was 
matured with much detail and the start was all that could 
be asked. . . , 

Headquarters Army of Potomac 
March 5, 1864 

I found myself late and galloped four miles in about 
twenty minutes, only to find I had heated the mare for 
nothing, insomuch that the venerable Humphreys had put 
off dinner to six p.m. That young man of fifty has gone in 
his ambulance to see, I presume, some ladies, and I will 
here and now wager that we don't dine till eight p.m. 
Sich is his nature. Really he should be dismissed the serv- 
ice for conduct to the prejudice of good order and mili- 
tary discipline. Au teste, there never was a nicer old gen- 
tleman, and so boyish and peppery that I continually 
want to laugh in his face. I am in fear he won't be con- 
firmed as major-general. There are some persons, the 
very dregs of politicians, whom he tried by court-martial, 
when under him, that now do all they can against his 
promotion. I find that politicians, like Sumner and com- 
pany, have a way of saying of officers who have had their 
very clothes shot off their back and have everywhere dis- 
played the utmost skill and courage, that "their hearts 
are not in the cause," or "they are not fully with us"; 
meaning that these officers do not happen to fully agree 
with every political dogma the party may choose to 
enunciate. I am of the opinion that the question is: Does 
such and such an officer fight bravely and with skill .^^ 
Anyone who has been under fire will be ready to acknowl- 
edge that it is a pretty good place to test principles; and 

Andrew xVtkinson Humphreys 

1864] In JVinter Quarters 79 

if a man goes into the thick of it time and again, I do not 
ask any better proof of his earnestness. However, it would 
appear that Washington people often think the best test 
of faithfulness is to stay away from the fighting and make 
a good many speeches to people who entirely agree with 
your sentiments. To my certain knowledge, great exer- 
tions are now making to put a man at the head of this 
army who has made one of the most bloody failures of the 
War, and who is utterly incompetent to the post. Why is 
hepushed.'^ Because he professes to be an ultra-Republican, 
ah, voilal . . . 

Pa Meade is at Washington but I hope to have him 
back to-morrow. Behold my prophecy in regard to Kill- 
cavalry's raid fulfilled. I have heard many persons very 
indignant with him. They said he went to the President 
and pressed his plan; told Pleasonton he would not come 
back alive if he didn't succeed; that he is a frothy brag- 
gart, without brains and not over-stocked with desire to 
fall on the field; and that he gets all his reputation by 
newspapers and political influence. These charges are not 
new and I fancy Kill has rather dished himself. It is pain- 
ful to think of those poor prisoners hearing the sound of 
his guns and hoping a rescue was at hand! Now all that 
cavalry must be carried back in steamers, like a parcel of 
old women going to market ! Bah ! Pour mot, I say nothing, 
as I never criticize superior oflicers; but I have mine own 
opinions, quite strong. However, these raids and the like 
do not much affect the War one way or the other. Nor 
does such a thing as the Florida reverse. Things have 
narrowed down now to two or three great centres, and 
upon large operations there depends the result. It is a 
favorite remark of General Meade, that "there is but one 
way to put down this rebellion, namely, to destroy the 

80 Meade'* s Headquarters [Mar. 30, 

military power of the Rebels." Their great armies must be 
overwhelmed, and there will end their hopes. . . . 

[A few days later Lyman left for the North on a three 
weeks' leave. While he was dining in Washington, at 
Willard's, "General Grant^ came in, with his little boy; 
and was immediately bored by being cheered, and then 
shaken by the hand by ol -koKKoW He is rather under 
middle height, of a spare, strong build; light-brown hair, 
and short, light-brown beard. His eyes of a clear blue; 
forehead high; nose aquiline; jaw squarely set, but not 
sensual. His face has three expressions: deep thought; 
extreme determination; and great simplicity and calm- 
ness. J 

Headquarters Army of Potomac 
March 30, 1864 

I am pretty well, I thank you, and not so blue as when 
I came back the other time, perhaps because the generals 
are here and it is not so utterly triste. However, I am 
fain to say I draw invidious comparisons between it and 
home, mais that helps nothing. There have been mar- 
vellous changes within these three weeks. Generals Sykes, 
Newton, French, and Pleasonton are ordered off. I do feel 
sorry for Sykes, an excellent soldier, always sure to do his 
duty, and with this army for a long time. I fear they dis- 
placed him at Washington because they disliked his rough 
manners. General Pleasonton was always very civil to me 

^ On February 29 Congress revived the grade of Lieutenant-General, 
and Lincoln had appointed Grant, much in the public eye since his 
successful campaign in the West, to that rank, and to command the 
Armies of the United States. Motley writes at the time: "In a mili- 
tary point of view, thank Heaven ! the coming man, for whom we have 
so long been waiting, seems really to have come." 

1864] In JVinter Quarters 81 

and I am sorry therefore to see him go. I have not yet 
got it clearly in my head how the corps have been shifted 
about, but I suppose I shall in a few days. . . . 

The latest joke is the heavy sell that has been practised 
on some regiments of "Heavy Artillery," which had re- 
enlisted and had been sent home to recruit. Now these 
gentry, having always been in fortifications, took it for 
granted they should there continue; consequently the 
patriotic rush of recruits (getting a big bounty) was most 
gratifying; one regiment swelled to 1900; another to 2200, 
etc., etc. Bonl Then they returned to the forts round 
Washington, with the slight difference that the cars kept 
on, till they got to Brandy Station; and now these mam- 
moth legions are enjoying the best of air under shelter- 
tents! A favorite salutation now is, "How are you, 
Heavy Artillery.'*" For Chief of Cavalry we are to have a 
General Sheridan, from the West. He is, I believe, on his 
way. If he is an able officer, he will find no difficulty in 
pushing along this arm, several degrees. . . . 

Headquarters Army of Potomac 
AfTil 12, '64 

Yesterday we all rode to Culpeper, and saw General 
Grant, who went last night to Washington, and did go 
thence to Annapolis. I was well pleased with all the offi- 
cers down there; among others was a Lieutenant-Colonel 
Comstock, a Massachusetts man. He had somewhat the 
air of a Yankee schoolmaster, buttoned in a military coat. 
Grant is a man of a good deal of rough dignity; rather 
taciturn; quick and decided in speech. He habitually 
wears an expression as if he had determined to drive his 
head through a brick wall, and was about to do it. I have 
much confidence in him. 

82 Meade'* s Headquarters [Apr. is, 

A^il 13, 1864 
We went to a review of Birney's Division near J. M. 
Bott's house. The two brigades are under H. Ward and 
Alex. Hays. About 5000 men were actually on the ground. 
Here saw General Hancock for the first time. He is a tall, 
soldierly man, with light-brown hair and a military heavy 
jaw; and has the massive features and the heavy folds 
round the eye that often mark a man of ability. Then the 
officers were asked to take a little whiskey chez Botts. 
Talked there with his niece, a dwarfish little woman of 
middle age, who seems a great invalid. She was all of a 
tremor, poor woman, by the mere display of troops, being 
but nervous and associating them with the fighting she 
had seen round the very house. Then there was a refresh- 
ment at Birney's Headquarters, where met Captain Bris- 
coe (said to be the son of an Irish nobleman, etc., etc.); 
also Major Mitchell on General Hancock's Staff. The 
Russ was delighted with the politeness and pleased with 
the troops. Introduced to General Sheridan, the new 
Chief of Cavalry — a small, broad-shouldered, squat man, 
with black hair and a square head. He is of Irish parents, 
but looks very like a Piedmontese. General Wilson, who 
is probably to have a division, is a slight person of a light 
complexion and with rather a pinched face. Sheridan 
makes everywhere a favorable impression. 

Headquarters Army of Potomac 
Afril 18, 1864 

I have seen some high-bush blackberries that already 
had wee leaves, just beginning to open; and the buds of 
the trees are swelling; and hundreds of little toads sing and 
whistle all night, to please other hundreds of Misses toads. 
The sap is rising so in the oak trees that the wood won't 

1864] In JVinter Quarters 


burn without some trouble. It really looks like a begin- 
ning of spring; and everything is so quiet that it is quite 
amazing; whether it is that old soldiers get lazy and sleep 
a good deal during the day, I don't know, but really just a 
short way from camp, it is as still as if not a human being 
were near; and here at Headquarters, the only sounds are 
the distant car -whistles and the drums and trumpets 
sounding the calls; except, indeed, the music of the band, 
which is hardly a noise and is very acceptable. I suppose 
we may call this the lull before the hurricane, which lit- 
tle short of a miracle can avert. There is Grant, with his 
utterly immovable face, going about from Culpeper to 
Washington and back, and sending no end of cipher mes- 
sages, all big with strategy. He evidently means to do 
something pretty serious before he gives up. To-day was 
a great day for him; he reviewed the entire 6th Corps, 
which, as you know, has been strengthened by a division 
of the late 3d Corps. The day has been fine, very. At 
eleven o'clock we started and rode towards Culpeper, to 
meet General Grant, who encountered us beyond Brandy 
Station. He is very fond, you must know, of horses, and 
was mounted on one of the handsomest I have seen in the 
army. He was neatly dressed in the regulation uniform, 
with a handsome sash and sword, and the three stars of a 
lieutenant-general on his shoulder. He is a man of a nat- 
ural, severe simplicity, in all things — the very way he 
wears his high-crowned felt hat shows this : he neither puts 
it on behind his ears, nor draws it over his eyes; much less 
does he cock it on one side, but sets it straight and very 
hard on his head. His riding is the same: without the 
slightest *'air," and, nper contra, without affectation of 
homeliness; he sits firmly in the saddle and looks straight 
ahead, as if only intent on getting to some particular point. 

84 Meade'* s Headquarters [May3,i864] 

General Meade says he is a very amiable man, though his 
eye is stern and almost fierce-looking. 

Well, we encountered him, as aforesaid, followed by 
three or four aides; one of whom, Lieutenant-Colonel 
Rowley, was oblivious of straps, and presented an expanse 
of rather ill-blacked, calfskin boots, that took away from 
his military ensemble a good deal. When a man can ride 
without straps, he may do so, if he chooses; but, when he 
possesseth not the happy faculty of keeping down his 
trousers, he should make straps a part of his religion ! We 
took our station on a swell of ground, when we could see a 
large part of the Corps in line; but there was so much of 
it, that, though drawn up by battalions (that is, ten 
men deep), there could be found, in the neighborhood, 
no ground sufficiently extensive, without hollows. At 
once they began to march past — there seemed no end of 
them. In each direction there was nothing but a wide, 
moving hedge of bright muskets; a very fine sight. . . . 
General Grant is much pleased and says there is noth- 
ing of the sort out West, in the way of discipline and 
organization. . . . 

May 3 

At last the order of march, for to-morrow at 5 a.m. ! Of 
it more when it is over — if I am here to write. Only 
spring waggons go for our little mess kits and baggage; 
other things go with the main train. May God bless the 
undertaking at last and give an end to this war! I have 
made all preparations for the campaign. 



[On the night of May 3, the Army of the Potomac 
started across the Rapidan into the Wilderness. Lee did 
not molest them, for, knowing every inch of that difficult 
country, he expected to trap them when the Union Army 
got into the woods. 

Lyman's letters for the first ten days are short, hasty 
notes from the front. By the middle of the month he finds 
time to write a detailed account of events in the lulls be- 
tween the battles about Spotsylvania Court House, 
where Grant, finding he could not force his way through 
the Wilderness, had manoeuvred the army by a flank 
movement to the left.] 

Headquarters Army of Potomac 
10 P.M. Sunday, May 15, 1864 

Well, to be more or less under fire, for six days out of 
seven, is not very good for the nerves, or very pleasant. 
But now that there is a quiet day, I thought I would make 
a beginning of describing to you the sad, bloody work we 
have been at. I will write enough to make a letter and so 
go on in future letters, only writing what can now be of no 
importance to the enemy. The morning of Wednesday the 
4th of May (or rather the night, for we were up by star- 
light) was clear and warm. By daylight we had our break- 
fast, and all was in a hurry with breaking up our winter 
camp. To think of it to-night makes it seem a half-year 
ago; but it is only eleven days. About 5.30 a.m. we turned 
our backs on what had been our little village for six months. 



Meade^s Headquarters [May is, 

Already the whole army had been some hours in motion. 
The 5th Corps, followed by the 6th, was to cross at Ger- 
manna Ford, and march towards the Orange pike. The 
2d Corps to march on Chancellorsville, crossing at Ely's 
Ford; each corps was preceded by a division of cavalry, to 
picket the roads and scour the country. The main waggon- 
train rested on the north side at Richardsville. So you see 
the first steps were much like the Mine Run campaign. 

1864] The JVilderness and Spotsylvania 87 

I have drawn a little map to help you in understanding; 
not very exact in proportions, but still enough so. 

The roads were hard and excellent, full of waggons and 
black with troops; as we got past Stevensburg and went 
through a more wooded country, there were the Httle 
green leaves just opening, and purple violets, in great 
plenty, by the wayside. As the sun got fairly up, it grew 
much warmer, as one could see by the extra blankets and 
overcoats that our men threw away, whenever they halted. 
By 8 A.M. we drew near the Ford, and halted at a familiar 
spot, where we had our camp on the Mine Run campaign. 
How bitterly cold it was then ! And now there was green 
grass all about, and wild flowers. Griffin's division was 
already over, and the others were following steadily on. 
At 9.30 we went over ourselves, and, for a long time, I sat 
on the high bank, some seventy feet above the river, 
watching the steady stream of men and cannon and trains 
pouring over the pontoons. It was towards six in the 
evening before the last were across; and then one bridge 
was left for Burnside to cross by; for he was marching 
in all haste, from Rappahannock station. Meantime the 
head of the 5th Corps had reached the Orange pike, and 
that of the 2d, Chancellorsville. The Headquarters pitched 
their now reduced tents on the bank of the river that night, 
and I went down and took a slight bath in the stream, by 
way of celebrating our advance. General Grant came up 
betimes in the morning and had his tents near ours. He has 
several very sensible officers on his Staff, and several very 
foolish ones, who talked and laughed flippantly about Lee 
and his army. But they have changed their note now, and 
you hear no more of their facetiousness. The more expe- 
rienced officers were sober, like men who knew what work 
was ahead. Our first grief was a ludicrous one. Our cook, 

88 Meade^s Headquarters cMayis, 

a small Gaul, had mysteriously disappeared, and all we 
had left to cook for us was a waiter lad, who however rose 
with the occasion and was very conspicuous for activity. 
It turned out after, that the cook was arrested as a sus- 
picious person, despite his violent protestations. . . . 

We were off betimes the next morning (Thursday, May 
5th), and about 7 o'clock got to the junction of the plank 
and pike, the troops meantime marching past us, as we 
stood waiting news from the front. Presently Griffin (5th 
Corps), who was two miles out on the pike (going west), 
reported the enemy in his front; while the cavalry, thrown 
out on the plank road, towards Parker's Store, sent to say 
that the Rebel infantry were marching down in force, driv- 
ing them in. General Wright's division of the 6th Corps 
was turned off the Germanna plank to the right and 
ordered to march down the cross-road you see on the map, 
leading to the pike; and he and Griffin were directed to 
press the enemy and try to make a junction by their wings. 
At 10.40 A.M. General Getty's division (6th Corps) was 
sent to hold the Orange plank road. It marched down the 
Germanna plank and took the little cross-road where the 
dotted line is, and got to the Orange plank just in time to 
stop the advance of A. P. Hill's Corps. Meantime the rest 
of the 5th Corps was ordered into position on the left of, 
or in support of. General Griffin, about parallel to the most 
westerly dotted line, crossing the pike. Word was sent to 
2d Corps, near Chancellorsville, that the Rebels were mov- 
ing on us, and ordering Hancock to at once bring his men 
across to the Brock road and so take position on the left 
in support of General Getty. At noon, I was sent to Gen- 
eral Getty, to tell him the disposition of the various 
troops and to direct him to feel along to his right, and find 
roads to communicate with the left of the 5th Corps, where, 

1864] The JVilderness and Spotsylvania 89 

you will see, there was a considerable gap. Our Headquar- 
ters were on a piney knoll near the join of the Germanna 
plank and the pike. I rode down the dotted cross-road and 
came immediately on General Eustis, just putting his bri- 
gade into the woods, on Getty's right. I stopped and 
directed him to throw out well to the right and to try to 
find Crawford, or a road to him. 

Here it is proper to say something of the nature of this 
country, whereof I have already spoken somewhat during 
Mine Run times. A very large part of this region, extend- 
ing east and west along the plank and pike, and the south, 
nearly to Spotsylvania, is called "The Wilderness," a 
most appropriate term — a land of an exhausted, sandy 
soil, supporting a more or less dense growth of pine or of 
oak. There are some cleared spaces, especially near 
Germanna plank, where our Headquarters are marked. 
The very worst of it is parallel with Orange plank and 
upper part of the Brock road. Here it is mostly a low, con- 
tinuous, thick growth of small saplings, fifteen to thirty 
feet high and seldom larger than one's arm. The half- 
grown leaves added to the natural obscurity, and there 
were many places where a line of troops could with diffi- 
culty be seen at fifty yards. This was the terrain on which 
we were called to manoeuvre a great army. I found Gen- 
eral Getty at the plank road (a spot I shall remember for 
some years) and gave him instructions. He told me the 
whole of Hill's Corps was in his front and the skirmishers 
only 300 yards from us. For all I could see they might 
have been in Florida, but the occasional wounded men 
who limped by, and the sorry spectacle of two or three 
dead, wrapped in their blankets, showed that some fight- 
ing had already taken place. I got back and reported a 
little before one o'clock, and had scarcely got there when 

90 Meade^s Headquarters [May is, 

B-r-r-r-r tvrang went the musketry, in front of Griffin and 
of Wright, which for the next hour and a half was contin- 
uous — not by volley, for that is impossible in such woods; 
but a continuous crackle, now swelling and now abating, 
and interspersed with occasional cannon. Very soon the 
ambulances began to go forward for their mournful freight. 
A little before two, I was sent with an order to a cavalry 
regiment, close by. The pike was a sad spectacle indeed; 
it was really obstructed with trains of ambulances and 
with the wounded on foot; all had the same question, over 
and over again; "How far to the 5th Corps' hospital?" 
As I returned, I saw, coming towards me, a mounted 
officer — his face was covered with blood and he was kept 
in the saddle only by an ofiicer who rode beside him and 
his servant who walked on the other side. "Hullo, Ly- 
man ! " he cried, in a wild way that showed he was wander- 
ing; "here I am; hurt a little; not much; I am going to lie 
down a few minutes, and then I am going back again ! Oh, 
you ought to have seen how we drove 'em — I had the 
first line!" It was my classmate, Colonel Hayes, of the 
18th Massachusetts; as fearless a soldier as ever went into 
action. There we were, three of us together, for the officer 
who supported him was Dr. Dal ton. Three classmates 
together, down in the Virginia Wilderness, and a great 
fight going on in front. I was afraid Hayes was mortally 
hurt, but I am told since, he will recover. I trust so. 

Gradually the musketry died away; and, at a quarter 
before three. General Griffin rode up — his face was stern 
and flushed, as it well might be. He said he had attacked 
and driven Ewell's troops three quarters of a mile, but 
that Wright had made no join on his right and Wadsworth 
had been forced back on his left, so that with both flanks 
exposed he had been obliged to fall back to his former 

1864] The JVilderness and Spotsylvania 91 

position.^ Meantime we got word that the head of Han- 
cock's column had moved up the Brock road and made a 
junction with Getty. At 3.15 I was sent with an order to 
General Getty to attack at once, and to explain to him 
that Hancock would join also. He is a cool man, is Getty, 
quite a wonder; as I saw then and after. "Go to General 
Eustis and General Wheaton," he said to his aides, "and 
tell them to prepare to advance at once." And so we were 
getting into it! And everybody had been ordered up, in- 
cluding Burnside, who had crossed that very morning at 
Germanna Ford. General Grant had his station with us 
(or we with him) ; there he took his seat on the grass, and 
smoked his briarwood pipe, looking sleepy and stern and 
indiflferent. His face, however, may wear a most pleasing 
smile, and I believe he is a thoroughly amiable man. That 
he believes in his star and takes a bright view of things is 
evident. At 4.15 p.m. General Meade ordered me to take 
some orderlies, go to General Hancock (whose musketry 
we could now hear on the left) and send him back reports, 
staying there till dark. Delightful! At the crossing of the 
dotted cross-road with the plank sat Hancock, on his fine 
horse — the preux chevalier of this campaign — a glorious 
soldier, indeed ! The musketry was crashing in the woods 
in our front, and stray balls — too many to be pleasant — 
were coming about. It 's all very well for novels, but I 

^ Of this incident Lyman writes in his journal: "2.45. Griffin comes 
in, followed by his mustering officer, Geo. Barnard. He is stern and 
angry. Says in a loud voice that he drove back the enemy, Ewell, ^ of 
a mile, but got no support on the flanks, and had to retreat — the 
regulars much cut up. Implies censure on Wright, and apparently also 
on his corps commander, Warren. Wadsworth also driven back. 
Rawlins got very angry, considered the language mutinous, and wished 
him put in arrest. Grant seemed of the same mind and asked Meade: 
* Who is this General Gregg ? You ought to arrest him ! ' Meade said : 
'It's Griffin, not Gregg; and it's only his way of talking.' " 

92 Meade'* s Headquarters [Mayi6, 

don't like such places and go there only when ordered. 
"Report to General Meade," said Hancock, ''that it is 
very hard to bring up troops in this wood, and that only 
a part of my Corps is up, but I will do as well as I can." 
Up rides an officer: "Sir! General Getty is hard pressed 
and nearly out of ammunition ! " "Tell him to hold on and 
General Gibbon will be up to help him." Another officer: 
"General Mott's division has broken, sir, and is coming 
back." "Tell him to stop them, sir!!" roared Hancock in 
a voice of a trumpet. As he spoke, a crowd of troops came 
from the woods and fell back into the Brock road. Han- 
cock dashed among them. "Halt here! halt here! Form 
behind this rifle-pit. Major Mitchell, go to Gibbon and 
tell him to come up on the double-quick!" It was a wel- 
come sight to see Carroll's brigade coming along that 
Brock road, he riding at their head as calm as a May morn- 
ing. "Left face — prime — forward," and the line disap- 
peared in the woods to waken the musketry with double 
violence. Carroll was brought back wounded. Up came 
Hays's brigade, disappeared in the woods, and, in a few 
minutes. General Hays was carried past me, covered with 
blood, shot through the head. 

Headquarters Army of Potomac 
Monday, May 16, 1864 

I will continue the letter of this morning, describing our 
first day's fight. I had got as far as the death of General 
Hays and the wounding of Carroll. This was between five 
and six o'clock. Hays commanded one brigade of Birney's 
division. He was a strong-built, rough sort of man, with 
red hair, and a tawny, full beard ; a braver man never went 
into action, and the wonder only is that he was not killed 
before, as he always rode at the very head of his men. 

1864] The JVilderness and Spotsylvania 93 

shouting to them and waving his sword. Mott's division 
behaved badly (as you observed, it broke and came back). 
This is a curious instance of a change of morale. It is 
Hooker's old fighting division, but has since been under 
two commanders of little merit or force of character; then 
there was some discontent about re-enlistments and 
about the breaking up of the old 3d Corps, to which it had 
belonged; and the result has been that most of this once 
crack division has conducted itself most discreditably, this 
campaign. However, the fresh troops saved the day, and, 
at dark, we occupied our old line (the dotted one along the 
Brock road). . . . 

It was long after dark when I rode back, and, with some 
difficulty, found our camp, now pitched in a dusty, 
ploughed field. The fight of this day had been an attack 
by parts of our three corps against the Corps of Ewell on 
our right, and of Hill on our left. The fight had swayed 
back and forth and ended in a drawn battle, both sides 
holding their lines. General Grant ordered the attack all 
along the line, the next morning at 4.30; but put it off to 
5 o'clock on the representation that Burnside could not 
get up in time. He was ordered to get in position by day- 
light and to go in on Hill's left flank, where you see a dotted 
line nearly parallel to the Parker's Store road. We were 
all up right early on that Friday the 6th of May, you may 
depend. "Lyman," said the General, "I want you to take 
some orderlies and go to General Hancock and report how 
things go there during the day." It was after five when I 
mounted, and already the spattering fire showed that the 
skirmishers were pushing out; as I rode down the cross- 
road, two or three crashing volleys rang through the 
woods, and then the whole front was alive with musketry. 
I found General Hancock at the crossing of the plank : he 

94 Meade^ 5 Headquarters [Mayi6, 

was wreathed with smiles. "We are driving them, sir; tell 
General Meade we are driving them most beautifully. 
Birney has gone in and he is just cleaning them out be-au- 
ti-fully!" This was quite apparent from the distance of 
the receding firing and the absence of those infernal minie 
balls. '* I am ordered to tell you, sir, that only one division 
of General Burnside is up, but that he will go in as soon as 
he can be put in position." Hancock's face changed. "I 
knew it !" he said vehemently . "Just what I expected. If 
he could attack now, we would smash A. P. Hill all to 
pieces!" And very true were his words. Meantime, some 
hundreds of prisoners were brought in; all from Hill's 
troops. Presently, how^ever, the firing seemed to wake 
again with renewed fury; and in a little while a soldier 
came up to me and said: "I was ordered to report that 
this prisoner here belongs to Longstreet's Corps." "Do 
you belong to Longstreet.^^" I hastened to ask. "Ya-as, 
sir," said grey -back, and was marched to the rear. It was 
too true! Longstreet, coming in all haste from Orange 
Court House, had fallen desperately on our advance; but 
he had uphill work. Birney's and Getty's men held fast 
and fought with fury, a couple of guns were put in the 
plank road and began to fire solid shot over the heads of 
our men, adding their roar to the other din. The streams 
of vrounded came faster and faster back; here a field 
officer, reeling in the saddle; and there another, hastily 
carried past on a stretcher. I stood at the crossing and 
assisted in turning back stragglers or those who sought to 
go back, under pretext of helping the wounded. To some 
who were in great pain I gave some opium, as they were 
carried past me. 

It was about seven o'clock, I think, that Webb's brigade 
marched along the Brock road, and, wheeling into the pike, 

1864] The JVilderness and Spotsylvania 95 

advanced to the support of Birney. Among them was the 
20th Massachusetts. Abbot smiled and waved his sword 
towards me, as he rode by, and I called out to him wishing 
him good luck; and so he went on to his death, as gallant a 
fellow as fell that day; a man who could ride into the fight 
with a smile on his face. Just before eight o'clock came one 
brigade of Stevenson's division (Burnside's Corps) which 
had been sent to strengthen Hancock; the other brigade 
came later and was put on our left, where we were contin- 
ually paralyzed by reports that the enemy was coming up 
the Brock road to take us in the flank. This prevented 
proper mobility of our left, and, after all, they turned out 
to be a division of Rebel cavalry, who were defeated later 
in the day by our men. Stevenson's brigade was now put 
in to relieve the advanced lines that had long been under 
fire, and all other fresh troops were marched to the front. 
But Longstreet knew full well (they know everything, 
those Rebels) that Burnside was coming up with two di- 
visions, on his flank; and knew too that he was late, very 
late. If Hancock could first be paralyzed, the day was 
safe from defeat, which now impended. Gathering all his 
forces, of both corps, he charged furiously. At a little after 
eleven Mott's left gave way. On the right the brigade of 
Stevenson, consisting of three raw Massachusetts regi- 
ments miscalled "Veterans," broke, on being brought 
under a tremendous fire. . . . The musketry now drew 
nearer to us, stragglers began to come back, and, in a lit- 
tle while, a crowd of men emerged from the thicket in full 
retreat. They were not running, nor pale, nor scared, 
nor had they thrown away their guns; but were just in 
the condition described by the Prince de Joinville, after 
Gaines's Mill. They had fought all they meant to fight 
for the present, and there was an end of it ! If there is any- 

96 Meade^s Headquarters [Mayi6, 

thing that will make your heart sink and take all the back- 
bone out of you, it is to see men in this condition ! I drew 
my sword and rode in among them, trying to stop them 
at a little rifle-pit that ran along the road. I would get 
one squad to stop, but, as I turned to another, the first 
would quietly walk off. There was a German color-bearer, 
a stupid, scared man (who gave him the colors, the Lord 
only knows!), who said, " Jeneral Stavenzon, he telled me 
for to carry ze colors up ze road." To which I replied I 
would run him through the body if he didn't plant them 
on the rifle-pit. And so he did, but I guess he didn't stick. 
Meanwhile there was no danger at all; the enemy did not 
follow up — not he. He was busy swinging round to op- 
pose Burnside, and was getting his men once more in order. 
At half-past one I rode to General Meade and reported 
the state of affairs. The Provost-General went out at once 
and stopped and organized the stragglers. At two o'clock 
Burnside, who had been marching and countermarching, 
did attack. He made some impression, but it was too late, 
and he had not enough force to follow on. About this time 
I returned to General Hancock.^ His men were rallied 

* Lyman s.Ty^ in his journal: '^1.15 (about). Back to Hancock. He 
alone, in rear of Brock road; and there he asked me to sit down under 
the trees, as he was very tired indeed. All his Staff were away to set in 
order the troops. They had now constructed a tolerable rifle-pit ex- 
tending along the Brock and to the head of the cross-road. He said 
that his troops were ralhed but very tired and mixed up, and not in a 
condition to advance. He had given orders to have the utmost exer- 
tions put forth in putting regiments in order, but many of the field 
officers were killed and wounded, and it was hard. At 2 p.m. Burnside, 
after going almost to Parker's Store and again back, made a short 
attack with loud musketry. Ventured to urge Hancock (who was very 
pleasant and talkative) to try and attack too; but he said with much 
regret that it woidd be to hazard too much, though there was nothing 
in his immediate front, which had been swept by Stevenson's other 
brigade, which marched from left to right." 

1864] The JVilderness and Spotsylvania 97 

along the road; but regiments and brigades were all mixed 
up; and we were obliged to listen to Burnside's fighting 
without any advance on our part. In our front all was 
quiet; and I got permission to go back to the 2d Corps 
hospital and look up the body of Major Abbot. Two 
miles back, in an open farm surrounded by woods, they 
had pitched the hospital tents. I will not trouble you with 
what I saw there, as I passed among the dead and dying. 
Abbot lay on a stretcher, quietly breathing his last — his 
eyes were fixed and the ashen color of death was on his 
face. Near by lay his Colonel, Macy, shot in the foot. I 
raised Macy and helped him to the side of Abbot, and 
we stood there till he died. It was a pitiful spectacle, but 
a common one on that day. I left in haste, after arranging 
for sending the remains home, for the sudden sound of 
heavy firing told of some new attack. The Rebels (un- 
quenchable fellows they are!), seeing that Burnside had 
halted, once more swung round and charged furiously on 
Hancock in his very rifle-pits. I rode at once to General 
Meade, to ask that Burnside might attack also. This he 
did, without further orders and with excellent effect. When 
I got back to the cross-road, I was told the enemy had 
broken through on the plank and cut us in two ; this turned 
out an exaggeration. They did get into a small part of a 
rifle-pit but were immediately driven out leaving near 
sixty dead in the trench at the point. 

Headquarters Army of Potomac 
Tuesday, May 17, 1864 

. . . Just at dark there occurred a most disgraceful stam- 
pede in the 6th Corps — a thing that has been much exag- 
gerated in the papers, by scared correspondents. You will 
remember I told you that we had two dubious divisions in 

98 Meade^s Headquarters [May 17, 

the army : one, the Pennsylvania Reserves, has done finely 
and proved excellent; but the other, General Ricketts's 
division of the 6th Corps, composed of troops from Win- 
chester, known as "Milroy's weary boys," never has done 
well. They ran on the Mine Run campaign, and they have 
run ever since. Now, just at dark, the Rebels made a sort 
of sortie, with a rush and a yell, and as ill-luck would have 
it, they just hit these bad troops, who ran for it, helter- 
skelter. General Seymour rode in among them, had his 
horse shot, and was taken. General Shaler's brigade had 
its flank turned and Shaler also was taken. Well, suddenly 
up dashed two Staff officers, one after the other, all ex- 
cited, and said the lohole 6th Corps was routed; it was they 
that were routed, for Wright's division stood firm, and 
never budged ; but for a time there were all sorts of rumors, 
including one that Generals Sedgwick and Wright were 
captured. In a great hurry the Pennsylvania Reserves 
were sent to the rescue, and just found all the enemy again 
retired. A good force of them did get round, by a circuit, 
to the Germanna plank, where they captured several corre- 
spondents who were retreating to Washington ! Gradually 
the truth came out, and then we shortened the right by 
drawing back the 5th and 6th Corps, so as to run along the 
interior dotted line, one end of which ends on the Ger- 
manna plank. 

General Meade was in favor of swinging back both 
wings still more, which should have been done, for then 
our next move would have been more rapid and easy. 

The result of this great Battle of the Wilderness was a 
drawn fight, but strategically it was a success, because Lee 
marched out to stop our advance on Richmond, which, at 
this point, he did not succeed in doing. We lost a couple 
of guns and took some colors. On the right we made no 

1864] The TVilderness and Spotsylvania 99 

impression; but, on the left, Hancock punished the enemy 
so fearfully that they, that night, fell back entirely from 
his front and shortened their own line, as we shortened 
ours, leaving their dead unburied and many of their 
wounded on the ground. The Rebels had a very superior 
knowledge of the country and had marched shorter dis- 
tances. Also I consider them more daring and sudden in 
their movements; and I fancy their discipline on essential 
points is more severe than our own — that is, I fancy they 
shoot a man when he ought to be shot, and we do not. As 
lo fighting, when two people fight without cessation for the 
best part of two days, and then come out about even, it is 
hard to determine. 

Headquarters Army of Potomac 
Wednesday, May 18, 1864 

I have no right to complain : I have less hardship, more 
ease, and less exposure than most officers, and, if I must 
be with the army in the field, I have as good a place as one 
can well expect. I did hope (though there was no proper 
ground for it) that we might have the great blessing of an 
overwhelming victory. Such things you read of in books, 
but they do not happen often, particularly with such 
armies to oppose as those of the Rebels. . . . 

The great feature of this campaign is the extraordinary 
use made of earthworks. When we arrive on the ground, 
it takes of course a considerable time to put troops in 
position for attack, in a wooded country; then skirmishers 
must be thrown forward and an examination made for the 
point of attack, and to see if there be any impassable ob- 
stacles, such as streams or swamps. Meantime what does 
the enemy .^ Hastily forming a line of battle, they then 
collect rails from fences, stones, logs and all other materi- 
als, and pile them along the line; bayonets with a few picks 

100 Meade'* s Headquarters [May is, 

and shovels, in the hands of men who work for their Uves, 
soon suffice to cover this frame with earth and sods; and 
within one hour, there is a shelter against bullets, high 
enough to cover a man kneeling, and extending often for 
a mile or two. When our line advances, there is the line of 
the enemy, nothing showing but the bayonets, and the 
battle-flags stuck on the top of the work. It is a rule that, 
when the Rebels halt, the first day gives them a good rifle- 
pit; the second, a regular infantry parapet with artillery 
in position; and the third a parapet with an abattis in 
front and entrenched batteries behind. Sometimes they 
put this three days' work into the first twenty -four hours. 
Our men can, and do, do the same; but remember, our 
object is offense — to advance. You would be amazed to 
see how this country is intersected with field-works, ex- 
tending for miles and miles in different directions and 
marking the different strategic lines taken up by the two 
armies, as they warily move about each other. 

The newspapers would be comic in their comments, were 
not the whole thing so tragic. More absurd statements 
could not be. Lee is not retreating: he is a brave and skilful 
soldier and he will fight while he has a division or a day's 
rations left. These Rebels are not half -starved and ready 
to give up — a more sinewy, tawny, formidable-looking 
set of men could not be. In education they are certainly 
inferior to our native-born people; but they are usually 
very quick-witted within their own sphere of comprehen- 
sion; and they know enough to handle weapons with ter- 
rible effect. Their great characteristic is their stoical man- 
liness; they never beg, or whimper, or complain; but look 
you straight in the face, with as little animosity as if they 
had never heard a gun. 

Now I will continue the history a little. But first I will 

1864] The JVilderness and St>otsylvania loi 

remark that I had taken part in two great battles, and 
heard the bullets whistle both days, and yet I had scarcely 
seen a Rebel save killed, wounded, or prisoners ! I remember 
how even line officers, who were at the battle of Chancel- 
lorsville, said: "Why, we never saw any Rebels where we 
were; only smoke and bushes, and lots of our men tumbling 
about"; and now I appreciate this most fully. The great 
art is to conceal men ; for the moment they show, hang, bang^ 
go a dozen cannon, the artillerists only too pleased to get a 
fair mark. Your typical "great white plain," with long 
lines advancing and manoeuvring, led on by generals in 
cocked hats and by bands of music, exist not for us. Here 
it is, as I said: "Left face — prime — forward!" — and 
then wrang, wr-r-rang, for three or four hours, or for all 
day, and the poor, bleeding wounded streaming to the 
rear. That is a great battle in America. 

Well! to our next day — Saturday, May 7th. At day- 
light it would be hard to say what opinion was most held 
in regard to the enemy, whether they would attack, or 
stand still; whether they were on our jflanks, or trying to 
get in our rear, or simply in our front. However, it was 
not long before they were reported as fallen back — a good 
deal back from the left and right and somewhat from our 
centre on the pike. Reconnaissances were at once thrown 
out; and the General sent me to the front, on the pike, 
to learn how matters stood; where I found, on the most 
undoubted evidence, that we were throwing solid shot 
and shell at the rebels, and they were throwing solid 
shot and shells at us. . . . 

There was heavy skirmishing, with some artillery, all 
that morning, until we determined that the enemy had 
swung back both wings; and shortened and straightened 
his line. There lay both armies, each behind its breast- 

102 Meade^s Headquarters [May is, 

works, panting and exhausted, and scowling at each other. 
At five this morning a novel sight was presented to the 
Potomac Army. A division of black troops, under General 
Ferrero, and belonging to the 9th Corps, marched up and 
massed in a hollow near by. As I looked at them, my soul 
was troubled and I would gladly have seen them marched 
back to Washington. Can we not fight our own battles, 
without calling on these humble hewers of wood and 
drawers of water, to be bayonetted by the unsparing 
Southerners.^ We do not dare trust them in the line of 
battle. Ah, you may make speeches at home, but here, 
where it is life or death, we dare not risk it. They have 
been put to guard the trains and have repulsed one or two 
little cavalry attacks in a creditable manner; but God help 
them if the grey -backed infantry attack them! . . . 

As General Grant sat under a pine tree, stoically smok- 
ing his briarwood pipe, I heard him say: *' To-night Lee 
will be retreating south." ^ Ah! General, Robert Lee is not 
Pemberton; he will retreat south, but only far enough to 
get across your path, and then he will retreat no more, if 
he can help it. In fact, orders were out for the whole army 
to move at dark on Spotsylvania Court House. But Lee 
knew it all: he could see the waggons moving, and had 
scouts besides. As night fell, his troops left their works 
and were crowding down the Parker's Store road, towards 
Spotsylvania — each moment worth untold gold to them ! 
Grant had no longer a Pemberton! "His best friend," as 
he calls him. And we marched also. . . . 

We [Headquarters] did not start till nearly nine o'clock. 
... It was a sultry night — no rain for many days; the 

^ The day before, " Grant told Meade that Joe Johnston would have 
retreated after two such days' punishment. He recognized the differ- 
ence of the Western Rebel fighting." — Lyman's Journal, May 6. 

1864] The JVilderness and Spotsylvania io3 

horses' hoofs raised intolerable clouds of dust, which, in 
this sandy region, is fine almost like flour. I never saw — 
nobody could well see — a more striking spectacle than 
that road as we passed slowly along. All the way was a 
continuous low breastwork behind which lay crowded the 
sleeping infantry. They were so close as almost to be on 
top of each other; every man with his loaded musket in his 
hand, or lying at his side. A few yards outside stood a line 
of sentries, their muskets cocked, and others sat on top of 
the breastwork. Few of the officers allowed themselves 
any rest, but paced up and down, in their great coats and 
slouched hats, looking sharply after the sentries. That 
looked like war, I do assure you. By the roadside was Gib- 
bon, and a tower of strength he is, cool as a steel knife, 
always, and unmoved by anything and everything. There 
we lay down, literally in the dust, after a drink of iced 
water (for all the farms have ice-houses in this region, 
which our men are not slow to hunt out), and then we 
waited for General Meade, who had waited behind to speak 
with Hancock. By and by he came, with more clouds of 
dust, and then on again, past more sleeping men, and bat- 
teries in position, losing the road, finding it again, tearing 
our clothes among trees and bushes, then coming to cav- 
alry pickets and finally to Todd's Tavern, where General 
Gregg had his Headquarters, with his division of cavalry 
camped about there. . . . There was a porch in front with 
a dirt floor, and there I lay down, with my head on a tim- 
ber, and got some sleep. On Sunday morning. May 8th, — 
it was not much like a Sabbath, — we were all staring 
sleepily about us, forlorn with dust and dirt. The road 
was full of the infantry, passing at a rapid rate; in light 
order they were, many without knapsacks, or coats : most 
had thrown away all baggage but a blanket and haver- 

104 Meade^s Headquarters [May 19, 

sack. Then came batteries, then more infantry, all of 
the 5th Corps; the Second had not yet begun to pass. 
An old nigger made us some coffee and hoe-cake — very 
acceptable. . . . 

Headquarters Army of Potomac 
Thursday, May 19 

To continue my history a little — I had struggled with 
much paper to the morning of the 8th. It proved a really 
hot day, dusty in the extreme and with a severe sun. We 
staid till the morning was well along, and then started for 
Piney Branch Church. On the way passed a cavalry hos- 
pital, I stopped and saw Major Starr, who had been shot 
directly through both cheeks in a cavalry fight the day be- 
fore. He was in college with me, and when I first came to 
the army commanded the Headquarter escort, the same 
place Adams^ now has. . . . 

Near Piney Branch Church we halted, pitched tents 
and had something cooked. Meanwhile there was firing 
towards Spotsylvania, an ill omen for us. The Rebels were 
there first and stood across the way. Warren attacked 
them, but his were troops that had marched and fought 
almost night and day for four days and they had not the 
full nerve for a vigorous attack. General Robinson's divi- 
sion behaved badly. Robinson rode in among them, calling 
them to attack with the bayonet, when he was badly shot 
in the knee and carried from the field. They failed to carry 
the position and lost a golden opportunity, for Wilson's 
cavalry had occupied Spotsylvania, but of course could 
not keep there unless the enemy were driven from our 
front. . . . 

A little before two we moved Headquarters down the 
Piney Branch Church road, south, to near its junction 
^ Charles F. Adams, Jr. 

1864] The JVilderness and Spotsylvania los 

with the Todd's Tavern road. Meantime the 6th Corps 
had come up and formed on the left of Warren, the hnes 
running in a general easterly and westerly direction, a mile 
and a half north of Spotsylvania. There was a high and 
curving ridge on which was placed our second line and 
batteries, then was a steep hollow, and, again, a very irreg- 
ular ridge, or broken series of ridges, much of them heavily 
wooded, with cleared spaces here and there; along these 
latter crests ran the Rebel lines in irregular curves. Prepa- 
rations were pushed to get the corps in position to attack, 
but it was plain that many of the men were jaded and I 
thought some of the generals were in a like case. About 
half-past four what should Generals Grant and Meade 
take it into their heads to do but, with their whole Staffs, 
ride into a piece of woods close to the front while heavy 
skirmishing was going on. We could not see a thing except 
our own men lying down; but there we sat on horseback 
while the bullets here and there came clicking among 
trunks and branches and an occasional shell added its dis- 
cordant tone. I almost fancy Grant felt mad that things 
did not move faster, and so thought he would go and sit 
in an uncomfortable place. General Meade, not to be 
bluffed, stayed longer than Grant, but he told me to show 
the General the way to the new Headquarters. Oh! with 
what intense politeness did I show the shortest road! for 
I had picked out the camp and knew the way. 

Well, they could not get their attack ready; but there 
was heavy skirmishing. ^ ... I think there was more 
nervous prostration to-day among officers and men than 
on any day before or since, the result of extreme fatigue 

^ " Sheridan now came to Headquarters — we were al dinner. 
Meade told him sharply that his cavalry was in the way, though he 
had sent him orders to leave the road clear. S. replied that he never 

106 Meade^s Headquarters [May 20, 

and excitement. General Ward was relieved from his 
command, for misbehavior and intoxication in presence of 
the enemy during the Battle of the Wilderness. I had 
always supposed him to be a brave but rough man. . . . 

Headquarters Army of Potomac 
Friday, May 20, 1864 

To-day has been entirely quiet, our pickets deliberately 
exchanging papers, despite orders to the contrary. These 
men are incomprehensible — now standing from daylight 
to dark killing and wounding each other by thousands, 
and now making jokes and exchanging newspapers! You 
see them lying side by side in the hospitals, talking to- 
gether in that serious prosaic way that characterizes Amer- 
icans. The great staples of conversation are the size and 
quality of rations, the marches they have made, and the 
regiments they have fought against. All sense of personal 
spite is sunk in the immensity of the contest. 

In my letter of yesterday I got you as far as the evening 
of Sunday the 8th. On Monday, the 9th, early, Burnside 
was to come down the Spotsylvania and Fredericksburg 
road to the "Gate," thus approaching on the extreme left; 
Sedgwick and Warren respectively occupied the left and 
right centre, while Hancock, in the neighborhood of Todd's 
Tavern, covered the right flank; for you will remember 
that the Rebel columns were still moving down the Par- 
ker's Store road to Spotsylvania, and we could not be sure 
they would not come in on our right flank and rear. Be- 
got the order. Meade then apologized, but Sheridan was plainly full 
of suppressed anger, and Meade too was in ill temper. S. went on to 
say that he could see nothing to oppose the advance of the 5th Corps; 
that the behavior of the infantry was disgraceful, etc., etc. Maybe 
this was the beginning of his dislike of Warren and ill-feeling against 
Meade." — Lyman's Journal. 

John Sedgwick 

1864] The TVilderness and Spotsylvania io7 

times in the morning General Meade, with three aides, 
rode back to General Hancock, and had a consultation 
with him. The day was again hot and the dust thicker 
and thicker. As we stood there under a big cherry tree, a 
strange figure approached; he looked like a highly inde- 
pendent mounted newsboy; he was attired in a flannel 
checked shirt; a threadbare pair of trousers, and an old 
blue he^i; from his waist hung a big cavalry sabre; his 
features wore a familiar sarcastic smile. It was General 
Barlow, commanding the 1st division of the 2d Corps, a 
division that for fine fighting cannot be exceeded in the 
army. There, too, was General Birney, also in checked 
flannel, but much more tippy than Barlow, and stout 
General Hancock, who always wears a clean white shirt 
(where he gets them nobody knows); and thither came 
steel-cold General Gibbon, the most American of Ameri- 
cans, with his sharp nose and up-and-down manner of 
telling the truth, no matter whom it hurts. . . . 

It was about ten o'clock, and I was trotting down the 
Piney Branch road, when I met Colonel McMahon, 
Adjutant-General of the 6th Corps; I was seriously 
alarmed at the expression of his face, as he hurriedly asked 
where General Meade was. I said, "What is the matter.^ " 
He seemed entirely unnerved as he replied: "They have 
hit General Sedgwick just here under the eye, and, my 
God, I am afraid he is killed!" It was even so: General 
Sedgwick, with a carelessness of consequences for which 
he was well known, had put his Headquarters close on the 
line of battle and in range of the sharpshooters. As he sat 
there, he noticed a soldier dodging the bullets as they 
came over. Rising from the grass, he went up to the man, 
and, laying his hand on his shoulder, said, "Why, what 
are you dodging for.^ They could not hit an elephant at that 

108 Meade^s Headquarters [May 20, 

distance." As he spoke the last word, he fell, shot through 
the brain by a ball from a telescopic rifle. . . . The dismay 
of General Sedgwick's Staff was a personal feeling; he was 
like a kind father to them, and they loved him really like 
sons. So fell "good Uncle John," a pure and great-hearted 
man, a brave and skilful soldier. From the commander to 
the lowest private he had no enemy in this army. . . . 

I found General Meade with Generals Wright, Warren, 
and Humphreys consulting together in the same spot 
where Grant sat yesterday among the bullets, for no ap- 
parent reason. You never saw such an old bird as General 
Humphreys ! I do like to see a brave man; but when a man 
goes out for the express purpose of getting shot at, he 
seems to me in the way of a maniac. ... In the afternoon 
there was some fighting on the right centre, without result; 
Burnside pushed down on the left, driving the enemy 
before him; and so the day closed, our army crowding in on 
Lee and he standing at bay and throwing up breastworks. 

[At this period Lyman was in the habit of writing a few 
lines about the events of the day, and then taking up his 
narrative several days back. A bit of foresight of which he 
characteristically remarks: "I make a rule to speak chiefly 
of what has passed, not deeming it prudent to properly 
describe the present." To avoid confusion, the letters 
have been chronologically separated.] 

May 10, 1864 

[Tuesday] there was sharp fighting all along the line. 
General Mott's division of the 2d Corps was put on the 
left of the 6th Corps, with the idea of making a connection 
with Burnside and then swinging our left to take the enemy 
in flank. I was ordered early to go to General Wright and 
explain to him, then to General Mott and direct him to 

1864] The Wilderness and Spotsylvania 109 

demonstrate along his front and feel on the left for Burn- 
side. General Wright had moved his Headquarters and 
had put them a little back and on one side, being moved 
thereto by the fact that the first selection was a focus for 
shells. Then I rode along the lines to General Mott and 
got his position as well as I could, and gave him the order. 
Coming back to General Wright, I had a sharp corner to 
go through. A battery was firing at one of ours and the 
shells coming over struck right among our infantry. They 
cut the pine trees about me in a manner I didn't like, and 
one burst close by, throwing the pieces round just as you 
see them in French battle pictures. All day there was fir- 
ing. About eleven came General Meade and told me to go 
out at once to Mott and to get a written report from him, 
which I did; and a sharpshooter shot at me, which I hate 
— it is so personal. More by token, poor General Rice, a 
Massachusetts man and very daring, was to-day killed by 
a sharpshooter. The ball broke his thigh, and, when they 
amputated his leg, he never rallied. As he lay on the 
stretcher, he called out to General Meade: "Don't you 
give up this fight! I am willing to lose my life, if it is to be; 
but don't you give up this fight!" All day we were trying 
to select places for an assault. Barlow crossed the Po on 
the right, but was afterwards ordered back, and had a 
brilliant rear-guard fight in which he punished the enemy. 
From five to six p.m. there was heavy cannonading, the 
battalions firing by volley. At 6.30 Upton, with a heavy 
column of picked men, made a most brilliant assault with 
the bayonet, at the left of the Sixth Corps. The men 
rushed on, without firing a shot, carried the breastworks in 
the face of cannon and musketry, and took 900 prisoners. 
Some of the men, who faltered, were run through the body 
by their comrades! But Mott's men on the left behaved 

110 Meade^s Headquarters [May 20, 

shamefully, and so Upton was obliged again to fall back, 
bringing his prisoners with him.^ . . . 

May 12, 1864 

This was the date of one of the most fearful combats, 
which lasted along one limited line, and in one spot, more 
than fourteen hours, without cessation. I fancy this war 
has furnished no parallel to the desperation shown here by 
both parties. It must be called, I suppose, the taking of 
the Salient. 

Hancock was ordered to attack with his corps as soon 
after four in the morning as possible and Burnside was to 
follow the example. A little after daylight we were all 
gathered round General Grant's tent, all waiting for news 
of importance. The field telegraph was laid to all corps 
Headquarters and there we could hear from all parts. 
At a little after five o'clock, General Williams approached 
from the telegraph tent; a smile was on his face: Hancock 
had carried the first line! Thirty minutes after, another 
despatch: he had taken the main line with guns, prisoners 
and two generals ! Great rejoicings now burst forth. Some 
of Grant's Staff were absurdly confident and were sure Lee 
was entirely beaten. My own experiences taught me a 
little more scepticism. Hancock presently sent to ask for 
a vigorous attack on his right, to cover and support his 
right flank. General Wright was accordingly ordered to 
attack with a part of the 6th Corps. As I stood there wait- 

^ " 11 P.M. Grant in consultation with Meade. Wright came up also; 
he uttered no complaints, but said quietly and firmly to Meade: 
* General, I don't want Mott's men on my left; they are not a support; 
I would rather have no troops there!' Warren is not up to a corps 
command. As in the Mine Run move, so here, he cannot spread him- 
self over three divisions. He cannot do it, and the result is partial and 
ill-concerted and dilatory movements." — Lyman's Journal. 

1864] The JVilderness and Spotsylvania m 

ing, I heard someone say, "Sir, this is General Johnson." 
I turned round and there was the captured Major-General, 
walking slowly up. He was a strongly built man of a stern 
and rather bad face, and was dressed in a double-breasted 
blue-grey coat, high riding boots and a very bad felt hat. 
He was most horribly mortilfied at being taken, and kept 
coughing to hide his emotion. Generals Meade and Grant 
shook hands with him, and good General Williams bore 
him off to breakfast. His demeanor was dignified and 
proper. Not so a little creature, General Steuart, who in- 
sulted everybody who came near him, and was rewarded 
by being sent on foot to Fredericksburg, where there was 
plenty of mud and one stream up to his waist. Our attack 
was a surprise: the assaulting columns rushed over the 
breastworks without firing a shot, and General Johnson, 
running out to see the reason of the noise, found himself 
surrounded by blue blouses. I was now sent by General 
Meade to see how far General Wright's column of attack 
was prepared. I found the columns going into the woods 
south of the Brown house; the enemy had seen them and 
the shells were crashing through the thick pines. When I 
came back and reported, the General said: "Well, now 
you can take some orderlies and go to General Wright and 
send me back intelligence from time to time." There are 
some duties that are more honorable than pleasant! As I 
turned into the pines, the musketry began, a good way in 
front of me. I pressed past the column that was advancing. 
Presently the bullets began to come through the pine trees. 
Then came back a Staff officer, yelling: "Bring up that 
brigade! Bring it up at the double-quick!" "Double- 
quick," shouted the officers, and the column started on a 

112 Meade^s Headquarters [May 23, 

Headquarters Army of Potomac 
Monday, May 23, 1864 

... I asked on all sides for General Wright. One said 
he had gone this way; another that he had gone that; so 
finally I just stood still, getting on the edge of the woods, 
on a ridge, where I dismounted and wrote a short despatch 
to General Meade, midst a heavy rain that now began to 
come down. Just before me was a very large field with 
several undulations, close to me was a battery firing, and 
in the wood beyond the field was the fighting. I stood there 
a short time, while the second line was deployed and ad- 
vanced in support of the first. The Rebels were firing a 
great many explosive bullets, which I never saw before. 
When they strike they explode, like a fire-cracker, and 
make a bad wound; but I do not suppose, after all, that 
they are worse than the others. Presently there came 
along Captain Arthur McClellan (brother of the General 
and a very nice fellow). He said he would show me where 
General Wright was, which proved to be not far off, in a 
little hollow place. There was the stout-hearted General, 
seated with his aides, on the ground. He had just been hit 
on the leg by a great piece of shell, but was smiling away, 
despite his bruises. A sterling soldier he is ! I soon found 
that the hollow did not exclude missiles, which fly in 
curves, confound them! There came a great selection of 
bullets about our ears, in the first of it. By-and-by a Rebel 
battery began to suspect that, from the number of horses, 
there must be a general about that place, and so, whingi 
smash, bang! came a shell, striking in the woods just be- 
yond. "My friend," said calm Colonel Tompkins, address- 
ing the invisible gunner, *'if you want to hit us you must 
cut your fuses shorter" — which indeed he did do, and 
sent all sorts of explosives everywhere except in our little 

1864] The Wild erne ss and S potsylvania 113 

group, which was only reached by a fragment or two. 
None of us got hurt, but one horse was wounded and an- 
other killed. There I staid for five hours (very long ones), 
and pelted all the time, but most of the balls flew too high, 
and, as is well known, shells make a horrid noise, but hurt 
comparatively few. 

2 i^c).»i = / /ni/e 

All this time the enemy was rolling up his fresh troops 
and frantically endeavoring to regain that salient. He 
made as many ^s five desperate charges with the bayonet, 
but in vain. At one place called the "Corner" the lines 
stood within fifty feet of each other, for hours ! ^ The breast- 

1 "The great historical fight of this day extended over a front of 
only 1000 to 1500 yards, along the faces of the salient, or the 'Death- 
angle,' as it was afterwards called. Within that narrow field two corps 
were piled up to assault and in support. Indeed we had too many 

114 Meade^s Headquarters [May 23, 

work made a ridge between, and any living thing that 
showed above that Hne fell dead. The next day the bodies 
of friend and foe covered the ground. Some wounded men 
were then taken out from under three or four dead ones. 
One body, that lay exposed to the fire, had eighty bullets 
in it. At 12.30 I rode back to General Meade, to tell him 
our extreme right was hard pressed; and he sent me back 
to say that the whole 5th Corps had been moved to the left 
and that Griffin's division could go to Wright's support. 
I found that Wright had been fairly shelled out of his little 
hollow, and had retired to the Landron house. We clung 
to the salient, and that night the Rebels fell back from 
that part of their lines, leaving twenty-two guns, eighteen 
colors, and 3500 prisoners in our hands. . . . That night 
our Headquarters were at the Armstrong house. It was a 
day of general battle, for Warren attacked on the right 
and Burnside on the left, which kept the enemy from send- 
ing reinforcements. You will notice that the army was 
gradually shifting to the left, having now given up the Po 
River and Todd's Tavern road. 

May 16. — Mott's division, that had hitherto behaved 
so badly, was broken up and put with Birney — a sad 
record for Hooker's fighting men! Napoleon said that 
food, clothing, discipline, and arms were one quarter, and 

troops, as the generals justly said. The lines got mixed and jammed 
together and were hard to handle. The amount of bullets fired may be 
known from the fact that a red oak, twenty-three inches in diameter, 
was reduced, about six feet from the ground, to a fibrous structure and 
blew down that night ! Bodies that lay between the lines were shot to 
pieces and could only be raised in a blanket ! The result was damaging 
to the enemy — very — but the army of Lee was not cut in two — 
an issue clearly looked for by Rawlins and some others of Grant's 
Staff, but not so confidently assumed by those who knew a little more." 
— Lyman's Journal. 

1864] The TVilderness and Spotsylvania 115 

morale the other three quarters. You cannot be long midst 
hard fighting without having this brought home to you. 
This day was a marked one, for being fine, nearly the whole 
of it; we have been having a quantity of rain and a fine bit 
was quite a wonder. There did appear a singular specimen 
to behold, at my tent, a J. Bull — a Fusileer — a doctor. 
Think of an English fusileer surgeon — what a combina- 
tion! He walked on the tips of his toes, with his knees 
bent, was dressed in full uniform, and had a smirk on his 
face as much as to say: "Now I know a good deal; and I 
am coming to see; and I am not going to be put off." 
Poor Medical Director McParlin was horribly bored with 
him; but finally got him to the 6th Corps hospital, where I 
afterwards saw him, running round with some large in- 
strument. I hope they didn't let him do much to the 
wounded. We were honored at dinner by the company 
of Governor Sprague and Sherman of the Senate. The 
Governor is a brisk, sparrowy little man with perky black 
eyes, which were shaded by an enormous straw hat. He 
is very courageous, and went riding about in various ex- 
posed spots. Sherman is the tallest and flattest of mortals 
— I mean physically. He is so flat you wonder where his 
lungs and other vitals may be placed. He seems a very 
moderate and sensible man. 

Tuesday, May 17. — Our Headquarters were moved to 
the left, and back of the Anderson house. We rode, in the 
morning, over, and staid some time at the house, one of the 
best I have seen in Virginia. It was a quite large place, 
built with a nest of out-houses in the southern style. They 
have a queer way of building on one thing after another, 
the great point being to have a separate shed or out-house 
for every purpose, and then a lot more sheds and out- 
houses for the negroes. You will find a carpenter's shop. 

116 Meade^s Headquarters [May 23, 

tool-room, coach-shed, pig-house, stable, out-kitchen, two 
or three barns, and half-a-dozen negro huts, besides the 
main house, where the family lives. Of the larger houses, 
perhaps a quarter are of brick, the rest of wood. They are 
plain, rarely with any ornament; in fact, these "mansions" 
are only farmhouses of a better class. Anderson was re- 
puted a rich man, but he had carpets on very few rooms; 
most were floored with hard pine. Round these houses are 
usually handsome trees, often locusts, with oaks and, per- 
haps, some flowering shrubs. Often there is a small corner 
with a glass front, to serve as a greenhouse in winter. It is 
hard to judge what this country once was; but I can see 
that each house of the better class had some sort of a 
flower-garden; also, there are a great number of orchards 
in this part of the country and plenty of peach trees. 
Nothing gives such an air of desolation as a neglected 
flower-patch! There are the perennial plants that start 
each spring, all in disorder and struggling with weeds ; and 
you are brought to think how some woman once took an 
interest in the flowers, and saw that they were properly 
kept. These little things appeal more pointedly to you 
than great ones, because they are so easily understood. In 
the few days' fighting I have seen, I have come to be en- 
tirely unmoved by the appearance of the horrible forms of 
wounds or death ; but to-day I had quite a romantic twinge 
at finding in a garden a queer leaf, with scallops on it, 
just like one I found in Bologna and put in your scrap- 
book. . . . 

At Anderson's I saw quite a galaxy of generals, among 
others the successor of General Stevenson, Major-General 
Crittenden. He is the queerest-looking party you ever 
saw, with a thin, staring face, and hair hanging to his coat 
collar — a very wild-appearing major-general, but quite 







1864] The TVilderness and Spotsylvania 117 

a kindly man in conversation, despite his terrible looks. 
. . . The waggoners and train rabble and stragglers have 
committed great outrages in the rear of this army. Some 
of the generals, particularly Birney and Barlow, have pun- 
ished pillagers in a way they will not forget; and they will 
be shot if they do not stop outrages on the inhabitants. 
The proper way to stop the grosser acts is to hang the per- 
petrators by the road where the troops pass, and put a 
placard on their breasts. I think I would do it myself, if I 
caught any of them. All this proceeds from one thing — 
the uncertainty of the death penalty through the false 
merciful policy of the President. It came to be a notorious 
thing that no one could be executed but poor friendless 
wretches, who had none to intercede for them ; so that the 
blood of deserters that was shed was all in vain — there 
was no certainty in punishment, and certainty is the es- 
sence of all punishment. Now we reap the disadvantage in 
a new form. People must learn that war is a thing of life 
or death: if a man won't go to the front he must be shot; 
but our people can't make up their minds to it; it is repul- 
sive to the forms of thought, even of most of the officers, 
who willingly expose their own lives, but will shrink from 
shooting down a skulker. 



[After Spotsylvania the Confederate Army was gradu- 
ally forced back on Richmond. At Cool Arbor, or Cold 
Harbor as it is usually called, almost in sight of the south- 
ern capital, Grant ordered a frontal attack of the strongly 
entrenched enemy. The engagement was unsuccessful 
and the Union losses heavy. This battle has been much 
criticized, and is considered the most severe blemish on 
Grant's military reputation. He now determined to make 
for the James River. Leaving Richmond to the west, the 
army marched south, and the advanced guard reached the 
river on June 13. The Army of the Potomac was moved 
across the James, and took up its position in the neighbor- 
hood of City Point — a district already in the possession 
of Federal forces, which had advanced up the river under 

The loss of the Union Army, from the time it crossed the 
Rapidan 122,000 strong until it reached the James, was 
within a few men of 55,000, which was almost equal to 
Lee's whole force in the Wilderness. The Confederate loss 
is unknown, but it was certainly very much smaller.'] 

Headquarters Army of Potomac 
Sunday evening, May 22, 1864 ^ 

I don't know when I have felt so peaceful — everything 
goes by contrast. We are camped, this lovely evening, in 

1 J. F. Rhodes, History of the United States, IV, 440, 447. 
^ "Gen. Meade said to me at breakfast: 'I am afraid the rebellion 
cannot be crushed this summer!'" — Lyman's Journal. 


1864] Cold Harbor 119 

a great clover field, close to a large, old-fashioned house, 
built of bricks brought from England in ante-revolutionary 
times. The band is playing "Ever of Thee I'm Fondly 
Dreaming" — so true and appropriate — and I have just 
returned from a long talk with two ultra-Secessionist ladies 
who live in the house. Don't be horrified ! You would pity 
them to see them. One, an old lady, lost her only son at 
Antietam; the other, a comparatively young person, is 
plainly soon to augment the race of Rebels. Poor creature ! 
Our cavalry raced through here yesterday and scared her 
almost to death. Her eyes were red with crying, and it was 
long before she fully appreciated the fact that General 
Meade would not order her to instant death. To-night she 
has two sentries over her property and is lost in surprise. 
Have I not thence obtained the following supplies: five 
eggs, a pitcher of milk, two loaves of corn bread, and a 
basket of lettuce — all of which I duly paid for. I feel 
well to-night on other accounts. If reports from the front 
speak true, we have made Lee let go his hold and fall back 
some miles. If true, it is a point gained and a respite from 
fighting. Hancock had got away down by Milford. War- 
ren had crossed at Guinea Bridge and was marching to 
strike the telegraph road, on which the 6th Corps was al- 
ready moving in his rear. The 9th Corps would cross at 
Guinea Bridge, last, and follow nearly after the 2d Corps. 
We started ourselves not before noon, and crossed the 
shaky little bridge over the Po-Ny (as I suppose it should 
be called), and so we kept on towards Madison's Ordinary, 
crossing, a little before, the Ta, a nice, large, clear brook. 
An "Ordinary" in Virginia seems to be what we should call 
a fancy variety store, back in the country. Madison's is a 
wooden building, just at cross-roads, and was all shut, 
barred, and deserted; and, strange to say, had not been 

120 Meade^s Headquarters [May 22, 

broken open. On the grass were strewn a quantity of old 
orders, which people had sent by their negroes, to get — 
well, to get every conceivable thing. I saved one or two, 
as curiosities, wherein people ask for quarts of molasses, 
hymn-books, blue cotton, and Jaynes's pills! The 5th 
Corps was passing along, as we stood there. After a while 
we went across the country, by a wood road, to the church 
you will see south of Mrs. Tyler's. Close to Madison's 
Ordinary was one of those breastworks by which this 
country is now intersected. A revival of the Roman 
castrum, with which the troops of both sides protect their 
exposed points every night. This particular one was made 
by the heavy artillery, whose greenness I have already 
spoken of. When they put it up the enemy threw some 
shells. Whereupon an officer rode back in all haste to 
General Hancock, and said: "General, our breastwork is 
only bullet-proof and the Rebels are shelling us ! " "Killed 
anybody.'^" asked the calm commander. "Not yet, sir," 
quoth the officer. " Well, you can tell them to take it com- 
fortably. The Rebels often throw shells, and I am sure I 
cannot prevent them." We passed, on the wood road, 
some of the finest oak woods I have seen; nothing could be 
finer than the foliage, for the size, fairness, and rich, pol- 
ished green of the leaves. The soil, notwithstanding, is 
extremely sandy and peculiarly unfavorable to a good sod. 
At the church (do I call it Salem .'^ I am too lazy to hunt 
after my map; no, it is New Bethel), the 9th Corps was 
marching past, and Burnside was sitting, like a comfort- 
able abbot, in one of the pews, surrounded by his buckish 
Staff whose appearance is the reverse of clerical. Nothing 
can be cjueerer (rather touching, somehow or other) than 
to see half a dozen men,. of unmistakable New York bon 
toUy arrayed in soldier clothes, midst this desolated coun- 


1864] Cold Harbor 121 

try. I am glad to see that such men have the energy to be 
here. They are brave and wilhng, though, Hke your hub, 
their mihtary education has been rather neglected. 

And this leads me to remark that it is a crying mistake 
to think, as many do, that an aide is a sort of mounted 
messenger — an orderly in shoulder-straps. An aide 
should be a first-rate military man; and, at least, a man of 
more than average intelligence and education. It is very 
difiicult, particularly in this kind of country, to deliver an 
order verbally, in a proper and intelligent way; then you 
must be able to report positions and relative directions, 
also roads, etc.; and in these matters you at once see how 
deficient some men are, and how others have a natural 
turn for them. To be a good officer requires a good man. 
Not one man in ten thousand is fit to command a brigade ; 
he should be one who would be marked anywhere as a 
person (in that respect) of superior talent. Of good corps 
commanders I do not suppose there are ten in this country, 
after our three-years' war. Of army commanders, two or 
three. When we had seen enough of the 9th Corps and had 
found out that Hancock had mistaken Birney's line of 
battle (down by Milford) for that of the enemy, — 
whereat there was a laugh on the chivalric H., — we de- 
parted for the Tyler house. In one of Burnside's regiments 
are a lot of Indian sharpshooters, some full, some half- 
breeds. They looked as if they would like to be out of the 
scrape, and I don't blame them. . . . 

May 23, 1864 

It was with regret that early this morning we left the 
fine clover field of Dame Tyler, and wended our way to- 
wards the North Anna. We crossed the Mat (or what is 
called South River, I am not sure which, at any rate a mere 
brook), and kept straight on for Garrett's Tavern. Grant, 

122 Meade'* s Headquarters [May 24, 

mounted on the purloined black pony, ambled along at a 
great pace, but General Meade, who got his pride up at 
Grant's rapidity, set off at a rate that soon raised a cloud 
of dust and left the Lieutenant-General far behind ; where- 
at George G. was much pleased, and his aides much the 
contrary, as they had to scramble after. About ten we got 
to a side road, leading to the right, and here we turned off 
the 9th Corps, so as to keep the telegraph road open for 
the passage of the 5th. Then we took a bend to the left 
again and came out by the Moncure house, crossing the 
Polecat Creek by the way — a pleasant stream running 
over stones, and with the trees quite growing into it. 
There, I knew, Biddle and Mason "straggled" and took a 
bath. We passed also a house where dwelt four women, 
all alone; we left them a guard, to stay till next morning, 
A hazardous position for these people, with all the strag- 
glers and camp scoundrels about! Old Ma'am Moncure 
was a perfect old railer, and said: "They should soon see us 
coming back on the double-quick." However, they (the 
family) were amazing sharp and eager in selling us sheep, 
and took our greenbacks with avidity. A gold dollar now 
is worth about $30 in Confederate money ! This afternoon 
Warren crossed the North Anna at Jericho Bridge, and 
was fiercely attacked on the other side by Longstreet; but 
he repulsed him with heavy loss, after a sharp fight. Han- 
cock coming along more to the left, stormed the rifle-pits 
near Chesterfield station and seized the bridge, ready to 
cross. I have been lately up at three and four in the morn- 
ing and I am so sleepy I must stop. 

May 24, 1864 

W^e started quite early — a little before six — to go to- 
wards the North Anna; and halted at Mt. Carmel Church, 
where this road from Moncure's strikes the "telegraph 

1864] Cold Harbor 123 

road" (so called, because the telegraph from Fredericks- 
burg ran along it). If you want a horrible hole for a halt, 
just pick out a Virginia church, at a Virginia cross-roads, 
after the bulk of an army has passed, on a hot, dusty Vir- 
ginia day! There was something rather funny, too. For 
in the broad aisle they had laid across some boards and 
made a table, round which sat Meade, Grant, General 
Williams, etc., writing on little slips of paper. It looked 
precisely like a town-hall, where people are coming to vote, 
only the people had unaccountably put on very dusty 
uniforms. General Meade is of a perverse nature; when he 
gets in a disagreeable place, he is apt to stay there. I 
think he likes to have officers who are prone to comfort feel 
decidedly ?^7icomfortable. That reminds me of an anec- 
dote. The day before yesterday, when we had our bloody 
attack along the whole line. General Meade had ordered 
his whole Staff ready at four in the morning. Now, such 
people as the Judge-Advocate-General are Staff officers and 
at Headquarters, but not aides. Ours is an old army officer, 
with many characteristics of a part of his class, that is, 
rather lazy and quite self-sufficient. He came to the front 
with us and staid some time; but, as dinner-time ap- 
proached, late in the afternoon, he thought it would be 
bright to go to the camp and arrange a snug dinner. 
Pretty soon the suspicious and not very kindly gray eyes 
of the chief began to roll about curiously. "General 
Williams! did you give orders that all my Staff should 
accompany me.f^ " "Yes, sir; certainly, sir." (Seth is rather 
scared at his superior, as are many more.) "Where is 
Major Piatt.?" "I think he must have gone to camp for a 
moment, sir." "Send at once for him!" In no great time 
the Major arrived at a gallop. "Major Piatt," said the 
General slowly and solemnly, "I wish you to ride along 

124 Meade'* s Headquarters [May 24, 

our whole lines (possibly about eight miles) and ascertain 
as accurately as possible the amount of our casualties dur- 
ing the day!" Somewhere about nine o'clock that night 
Piatt returned with his statement, having missed a nice, 
six o'clock dinner, and happily heen missed by stray balls 
and shells. ... 

I am glad to hear that you take once more an interest in 
the furniture coverings; an excellent sign! Keep a-going; 
that 's the way ! That is the way I do : heart in my mouth 
for half a day; then come home and eat a good supper; 
there is no use in "borrowing trouble" — you do learn 
that here. You know I am not sanguine in my military 
hopes; but I have the strongest hopes of ultimate success, 
taking into consideration the uncertainty of war. You 
must go by the general features; and these are: 1st: Watch- 
fulness, caution, and military conduct of our generals. 
2d : The defensive attitude of the enemy ; an attitude which 
Lee never assumes unless driven to it. 3d : The obstinacy 
and general reliability of our troops. 4th: The fact, that 
we have worked them, from one position to another, to 
within nine miles of Richmond across a highly defensible 
country. 5th : That their counter-attacks on us have been 
few and comparatively weak, and of no great moment, 
showing that they have no large force with a "free foot"; 
but have to put all their men on their lines. Nevertheless, 
I look on the future as still long and full of the common 
hazards of war. If the Rebels are forced to abandon Rich- 
mond, I believe the effect would be very heavy on them. 
This I judge not only on general grounds but also from the 
stupendous efforts, the general concentration, they are 
using to defend it. Do not, for a moment, look for the 
"annihilation," the "hiving," or the "total rout" of Lee. 
Such things exist only in the New York Herald. 

1864] Cold Harbor 


To return to our Mt. Carmel. About seven came a 
negro who reported the whole Rebel army retreating on 
Richmond — a vague expression which left them room to 
halt anywhere this side of it. Soon after "Tick" Wads- 
worth — son of the late General — came in from General 
Sheridan and reported the cavalry corps at Dunkirk. This 
was welcome news to us. Sheridan had been sent on a raid 
towards Richmond and had destroyed railroads and depots 
of stores to a considerable extent. Also recaptured some 
hundreds of our prisoners on their way to the capital. He 
was delayed on his return by the rise of the Pamunkey, 
but got pontoons from Fortress Monroe and crossed it. 
On his way down, Stuart's cavalry tried to stop him, but 
he pitched into them, took two guns and a number of 
prisoners, and killed Stuart, driving off his command 
completely. It is curious that the southern cavalry cannot 
now cope with ours. We have beaten them every time this 
campaign; whereas their infantry are a full match for us. 
Sheridan was a great help on his return, to watch our 
flanks and threaten the enemy's rear. . . . About ten 
there came in a very entertaining nigger, who had been 
servant of Colonel Baldwin, Rebel Chief of Ordnance. He 
gave a funny description of Lee's Headquarters. From 
him and from other sources I judge that the reports of 
Lee's humble mode of living are true. He has only corn 
bread and bacon for the "chief of his diet," and this sets 
an example to all his men. There can be no doubt that Lee 
is a man of very high character (which you may reconcile 
as you may with his treacherous abandonment of the flag). 
He carries on war in a merciful and civilized way, his corre- 
spondence is dignified and courteous, and his despatches 
are commonly (not always) frank and not exaggerated. 

General Meade got awfully mad, while waiting at the 

126 Meade'* s Headquarters [May 24, 

church. There came a cipher despatch from Sherman, in 
the West. Mr. Dana, Assistant Secretary of War, has- 
tened — with considerable want of tact — to read it to 
the General. Sherman therein told Grant that the Army 
of the West, having fought, could now afford to manoeuvre, 
and that, if his (Grant's) inspiration could make the Army 
of the Potomac do its share, success would crown our 
efforts. The eyes of Major-General George Gordon Meade 
stood out about one inch as he said, in a voice like cutting 
an iron bar with a handsaw: "Sir! I consider that despatch 
an insult to the army I command and to me personally. 
The Army of the Potomac does not require General Grant's 
inspiration or anybody's else inspiration to make it fight!" 
He did not get over it all day, and, at dinner, spoke of the 
western army as "an armed rabble." General Grant, who 
is one of the most candid men I ever saw, has repeatedly 
said that this fighting throws in the shade everything he 
ever saw, and that he looked for no such resistance. Colo- 
nel Comstock and others, who have fought with both 
armies, say distinctly that our troops are fifty per cent 
better than the western, and that the good Rebel soldiers 
have always been kept near Richmond except when Long- 
street went temporarily to the West. At dusk we rode 
down to cross the North Anna, midst a fearful thunder- 
storm; some of the lightning fell so near that it really 
hissed, which was disagreeable, as there was an ammuni- 
tion train close by. The North Anna is a pretty stream, 
running between high banks, so steep that they form 
almost a ravine, and, for the most part, heavily wooded 
with oak and tulip trees, very luxuriant. It is perhaps 125 
feet wide and runs with a tolerably swift and deep stream, 
in most places over one's head. The approaches are by 
steep roads cut down the banks, and how our waggons and 

1864] Cold Harbor 127 

artillery got across, I don't know ! Indeed I never do know 
how the trains get up, seeing that you are not over well 
off, sometimes, on a horse. . . . 

May 25, 1864 
Burnside's Corps, hitherto a sort of fifth wheel, was to- 
day incorporated in the A. of P., and so put under Meade. 
. . . The enemy, with consummate skill, had run their 
line like a V,' with the point on the river, so that our army 
would be cut in two, if we attacked, and either wing subject 
to defeat; while the enemy, all the time, covered Hanover 
Junction. At 7.30, I was sent to General Warren, to stay 
during the day, as long as anything of interest was going 
on, and send orderlies back to report. I found the General 
among the pines, about halfway up his line. In front a 
heavy skirmish was going on, we trying to push on our 
skirmish line and they resisting obstinately. Presently we 
rode down to where Griffin was, near the spot where the 
common road crosses the Gordonsville rail. Griffin always 
goes sitting in unpleasant places. There was a sharp- 
shooter or two who, though we were hid by the small 
trees, would occasionally send a bullet through, as much 
as to say: "I know you are there — I'll hit you pres- 
ently." Appleton was shot through the arm near here, 
while placing a battery in position. Then we rode to 
the extreme right, near to the picket reserve of the 
22d Massachusetts. Warren, who is always very kind to 
me, told all the others to stay behind, but let me come. 
We rode under the crests, and along woods a little, and 

^ "Lee, concentrating his troops, interposed them between the two 
wings of the Union Army, which were widely separated, and could 
reinforce neither the other without passing over the river twice. 
'Grant,' wrote Nicolay and Hay, 'was completely checkmated"* — 
Rhodes, IV, 444. 

128 Meade^s Headquarters [May 27, 

were not shot at; and went as far as a log barn, where we 
stopped carefully on the off side, and talked to the picket 
officer. When we left, we cantered gracefully and came off 
all right. Then to General Wright at E. Anderson's house; 
a nice safe place, and the family still there; likewise iced 
water, very pleasant this hot weather. After which, once 
more for a few minutes to Griffin, passing on the road one 
of his aides, on a stretcher, exceeding pale, for he had just 
been hit in the artery of the arm and lost a deal of blood 
before it could be stopped. Also there came a cheery sol- 
dier, shot through the leg, who said: "Never mind, I hit 
five or six of them first." Finally we rode the whole length 
of W^arren's and Crittenden's lines, seeing Weld on the 
way. . . . 

May 27, 1864 
Last night Russell's trusty division of the 6th Corps set 
out on a very long march, as our advanced guard in a flank 
movement to the Chickahominy . . . . This necessitated 
our early "getting out of that," for we were on the bank of 
the river, and the Rebel skirmishers would be sure to fol- 
low right down with the first daylight to the opposite side. 
Indeed, a little while after we were gone they did come down 
and fired into the telegraph waggon, wounding the side of the 
same. By four we had taken our breakfast and were in the 
saddle. Wonderful how promptly all the servants pack the 
things and strike the tents when they expect to be shot at ! 
We rode first to Burnside, into whom the General pitched 
for cutting the march of General Warren and not sending 
up the brigades to hold the fords; and B. rather proved 
that he was right and Warren wrong. I can tell you aqua- 
fortis is mild to the Major-General commanding when he 
gets put out; which is quite not at all unf requently ; but I 
have seen him in no such fits as in the falling back from 

1864] Cold Harbor 


Culpeper to Centreville. Here he can lean upon Grant 
more or less, though he does all the work; so much so that 
Grant's Staff really do nothing, with the exception of two 
or three engineer officers. Then we passed by the gushing 
Hancock, who explained what he was going to do, in his 
usual flowing style. At Chesterfield Station we found two 
divisions of the 6th Corps massed, and just then beginning 
to march out. They were issuing rations, to each man his 
bit of beef and his "hard tack. " We got ahead of the in- 
fantry and kept on the way, sending some cavalry ahead 
in case of wandering Rebels. The road was strown with 
dead horses, worn out and shot by the cavalry, when they 
came this way from their raid. Really whenever I may 
see civilized parts again, it will seem strange to see no 
deceased chargers by the roadside. We made a halt to let 
the column get up, at a poor house by the way. There 
were a lot of little children who were crying, and the 
mother too, for that matter — a thin ill-dressed common- 
looking woman. They said they had been stripped of 
nearly everything by the cavalry and expected to starve. 
So the soft-hearted General, who thought of his own small 
children, gave them his lunch, and five dollars also; for he 
is a tender-hearted man. We kept on, through a very poor 
and sandy country, scantily watered; for this was the 
ridge and there was no water except springs. At 9.30 we 
dismounted again at an exceptionally good farm, where 
dwelt one Jeter, , . . who was of a mild and weak-minded 
turn. He said he was pleased to see such well-dressed 
gentlemen, and so well-mannered; for that some others, 
who had been there two days since, had been quite rude 
and were very dusty; whereby he referred to the cavalry, 
who, I fear, had helped themselves. . . . About one 
o'clock, having ridden some twenty-two miles in all, we 


130 Meade^s Headquarters [May 28, 

stopped at the house of one Thompson and, that after- 
noon, camped near by, just close to Mangohick Church. 
. . . Mr. Thompson was an odd specimen. He talked 
just like a nigger, and with a squeaky voice. He was sharp 
withal, and pretended to have been entirely stripped; but 
I presently discovered he had a good deal, or, as he would 
have said, right smart, of corn. I discovered to-day that 
the Lieutenant-General has sick-headaches periodically — 
one now, for example, for which he put some chloroform 
on his head. 

May 28, 1864 

A little before eight we left the neighborhood of the 
squeaky Mr. Thompson and, turning presently to the 
right, pushed along towards the Pamunkey. We now had 
struck a classic ground where the old McClellan men be- 
gan to have "reminiscences," worse than you and Anna 
Curtis, when you get together. "Ah," says Cadwalader, 
"that is the house, the very house, where I came up with 
my regiment — Rush's Lancers. We drove the Rebs 
across that field, and then we burned the bridge, and 
picketed the river," etc. The bridge destroyed by the 
valiant Cadwalader had never been replaced, and now our 
engineers had thrown a pontoon, over which the artillery 
of the 6th Corps was rapidly passing, while the flat was 
full of batteries, and of waggons waiting their turn. These 
canvas pontoons are funny looking; they consist of a boat- 
shaped frame, which is wrapped in a great sheet of canvas 
and put in the water, this making a boat, on which part of 
the bridge-floor may rest. It looks as if the Commander- 
in-Chief had undertaken the washing business on a large 
scale, and was "soaking" his soiled clothing. At about 
half -past ten I crossed (having been told to go back and 
inform General Grant of General Meade's whereabouts) 


1864] Cold Harbor 

and tried to find my General on the south side; but I got 
among a lot of German artillery men, who could not tell 
whether they were on their heads or heels, much less 
whether they had seen the Staff go that way. Really it 
is surprising how poorly the Germans show, out of their 
own country, where they are an honest and clever, though 
rather slow people. But here they seem almost idiotic, 
and, what is worse, they will plunder and they won't fight. 
Really, as soldiers, they are miserable. Actually, a Yankee 
regiment would drive a brigade of them. They have no 
grit as a rule. The Paddies, on the contrary, will go in 
finely, and if well officered, stand to it through everything. 

Having ascertained the Headquarters, I rode over to 
Mrs. Newton's, where I found a romantic lot of officers 
reposing, very flat on the grass. . . . Poor Mrs. Newton! 
— she was the one whose husband fell in my Raccoon Ford 
fight. . . . Presently arrived an aunt, a Mrs. Brocken- 
brough, a conceited, curious, sallow, middle-aged woman, 
itching to "tackle" a Northerner. She said the Cavalry 
Provost-Marshal had been very kind to her. She then be- 
gan to catechize Grant, with an eager relish, who replied 
with entire calmness and candor, whereat she was plainly 
taken aback, as she looked for a volley of gasconade! 
Their negro houses were full of wounded cavalry men, 
some of them Rebels. As we sat there the cavalry cannon 
began again, in the direction of Haw's store, and there fol- 
lowed, in the afternoon, a very desperate engagement in 
which we lost from 400 to 500 men, including the extraor- 
dinary proportion of nearly fifty officers killed and 
wounded. We drove them at all points, after a desperate 
resistance. Our cavalry is full of confidence and does 
wonders. The whole army had crossed by evening. . . . 

132 Meade^s Headquarters [May 30, 

May 30, 1864 
It has been a tolerably quiet day, though there was a 
quite sharp fight at evening on our left — the Rebels badly 
used up. The people in Richmond must hear plainly the 
booming of our cannon : they scarcely can feel easy, for we 
are closing in on the old ground of McClellan. Fair Oaks 
was two years ago this very day. What armies have since 
been destroyed and rebuilt ! What marchings and counter- 
marchings, from the James to the Susquehanna! Still we 
cling to them — that is the best feature. There is, and 
can be, no doubt of the straits to which these people are 
now reduced; particularly, of course, in this distracted 
region ; there is nothing in modern history to compare with 
the conscription they have. They have swept this part of 
the country of all persons under 50, who could not steal 
away. I have just seen a man of 48, very much crippled 
with rheumatism, who said he was enrolled two days ago. 
He told them he had thirteen persons dependent on him, 
including three grandchildren (his son-in-law had been 
taken some time since) ; but they said that made no differ- 
ence; he was on his way to the rendezvous, when our cav- 
alry crossed the river, and he hid in the bushes, till they 
came up. I offered him money for some of his small vege- 
tables ; but he said : " If you have any bread, I would rather 
have it. Your cavalry have taken all the corn I had left, 
and, as for meat, I have not tasted a mouthful for six 
weeks." If you had seen his eyes glisten when I gave him a 
piece of salt pork, you would have believed his story. He 
looked like a man who had come into a fortune. "Why," 
said he, "that must weigh four pounds — that would cost 
me forty dollars in Richmond! They told us they would 
feed the families of those that were taken; and so they did 
for two months, and then they said they had no more 


Cold Harbor 133 

meal." What is even more extraordinary than their ex- 
treme suffering, is the incomprehensible philosophy and 
endurance of these people. Here was a man, of poor health, 
with a family that it would be hard to support in peace- 
times, stripped to the bone by Rebel and Union, with no 
hope from any side, and yet he almost laughed when he 
described his position, and presently came back with a 
smile to tell me that the only two cows he had, had strayed 
off, got into a Government herd, and "gone up the road" 
— that's the last of tJiem. In Europe, a man so situated 
would be on his knees, tearing out handfuls of hair, and 
calling on the Virgin and on several saints. There were 
neighbors at his house; and one asked me if I supposed our 
people would burn his tenement.? "What did you leave 
it for.?" I asked. To which he replied, in a concise way 
that told the whole: "Because there was right smart of 
bullets over thaar ! " The poorest people seem usually more 
or less indifferent or adverse to the war, but their bitter- 
ness increases in direct ratio to their social position. Find 
a well-dressed lady, and you find one whose hatred will 
end only with death — it is unmistakable, though they 
treat you with more or less courtesy. Nor is it extraor- 
dinary: there is black everywhere; here is one that has lost 
an only son; and here another that has had her husband 
killed. People of this class are very proud and spirited; 
you can easily see it; and it is the ofBicers that they supply 
who give the strong framework to their army. They have 
that military and irascible nature so often seen among an 
aristocracy that was once rich and is now poor; for you 
must remember that, before the war, most of these land- 
owners had ceased to hold the position they had at the 
beginning of this century. 

There, that is enough of philosophizing; the plain fact 

134 Meade'* s Headquarters cMay3i, 

being that General Robert Lee is entrenched within can- 
non range, in a sort of way that says, "I will fight you to 
my last gun and my last battalion!" We had not well got 
our tents pitched before the restless General, taking two 
or three of us, posted off to General Hancock. That is his 
custom, to take two or three aides and as many orderlies 
and go ambling over the country, confabbing with the 
generals and spying round the country roads. There, of 
course, was Hancock, in a white shirt (his man Shaw must 
have a hard time of it washing those shirts and sheets) and 
with a cheery smile. His much persecuted aides-de-camp 
were enjoying a noon-tide sleep, after their fatigues. The 
indefatigable Mitchell remarked that there were many 
wood-ticks eating him, but that he had not strength to 
fight them ! The firing was so heavy that, despite the late 
hour, General Meade ordered Hancock and Burnside to 
advance, so as to relieve Warren. Only Gibbon had time 
to form for an attack, and he drove back their front line 
and had a brief engagement, while the other commands 
opened more or less with artillery; and so the affair ended 
with the advantage on our side. — The swamp magnolias 
are in flower and the azaleas, looking very pretty and mak- 
ing a strong fragrance. 

May 31, 1864 

Last night, what with writing to you and working over 
some maps of my own, I got to bed very late, and was up 
tolerably early this morning, so to-day I have passed a good 
deal of time on my back fast asleep; for the General has 
not ridden out and has sent out very few officers. As I im- 
plied, to-day has been an occasion of Sybarite luxury. 
What do you think we mustered for dinner.^ Why, green 
peas, salad, potatoes, and fresh milk for the coffee ! Am I 
not a good forager .^^ Yes, and iced water! The woman (a 

1864] Cold Harbor 


fearful Secesh) asked two dollars for half a bushel of ice; 
upon which I, in a rage, sent a sergeant and told hira to 
pay only a reasonable price and to take what we needed. 
But, in future, I will not pay for ice; it costs these Rebels 
nothing, and they can't eat it. For food I will always pay 
the scoundrels. They have usually plenty of ice for the 
hospitals, and the bands are kept there to play for the 
wounded, which pleases them. The Sanitary are doing, I 
believe, a great deal of good at the rear, between this and 
Washington. There is room for any such people to do good, 
when there are such multitudes of wounded. I was amused 
to read a letter from one of the Sanitaries at Fredericks- 
burg, who, after describing his good works, said that, for 
eight days, his ears were "bruised by the sound of can- 
non." To me, Fredericksburg and Montreal seem about 
equally far away ! 

The armies lay still, but there was unusually heavy 
fighting on the skirmish line the whole time; indeed there 
was quite an action, when Birney, Barlow, and Wright ad- 
vanced and took the front line of the enemy. We used, too, 
a good deal of artillery, so that there was the noise of bat- 
tle from morning to night. We took in some cohorn mor- 
tars, as they are called. These are light, small mortars, 
that may be carried by two or three men, and are fired 
with a light charge of powder. They throw a 24-lb. shell 
a maximum distance of about 1000 yards. As these shells 
go up in the air and then come down almost straight, they 
are very good against rifle-pits. General Gibbon says there 
has been a great mistake about the armies of Israel march- 
ing seven times round Jericho blowing on horns, thereby 
causing the walls to fall down. He says the marching 
round was a "flank movement," and that the walls were 
then blown down with cohorns. Some of the heavy artil- 

136 Meade'* s Headquarters [May 31, 

lerists of the German regiment were first sent to fire these 
mortars; but it was found that they could give no definite 
account of where the projectiles went, the reason of which 
was that, every time they fired, the ofiicer and his gunners 
tumbled down flat in great fear of Rebel sharpshooters ! 

"Baldy" Smith arrived, by steamer, at Whitehouse, 
from Bermuda Hundreds, with heavy reinforcements for 
this army. The Rebels, on their side, have been also bring- 
ing up everything — Breckinridge from the valley of the 
Shenandoah, Hoke from North Carolina, and everything 
from the South generally. . . . General Wilson's division 
of cavalry was sent out towards our rear and right, to 
cover that quarter and to continue the destruction of 
the railroads below Hanover Junction. General Sheridan, 
with the remaining cavalry, swung round our left flank 
and pressed down towards Shady Grove and Cool Arbor 
(this name is called Coal Harbor, Cold Harbor, and Cool 
Arbor, I can't find which is correct, but choose "Arbor" 
because it is prettiest, and because it is so hideously inap- 
propriate) . In vain I try to correct myself by the engineer 
maps; they all disagree. The topographical work of the 
engineers is rather uphill in this country. Before we opened 
the campaign the engineers prepared a series of large maps, 
carefully got up from every source that they could come 
upon, such as state, county, and town maps, also the in- 
formation given by residents and refugees, etc., etc. In 
spite of all this the result has been almost ludicrous ! Some 
places (e.g. Spotsylvania) are from one to two miles out 
of position, and the roads run everywhere except where 
laid down. I suppose the fact is that there was no material 
whatever wherewith to make a map on a scale so large as 
one inch to a mile. It is interesting to see now how the 
engineers work up the country, as they go along. Topog- 

1864] Cold Harbor 


raphers are sent out as far as possible in the front and 
round the flanks. By taking the directions of different 
points, and by calculating distances by the pacing of their 
horses, and in other ways, they make little local maps, and 
these they bring in in the evening, and during the night 
they are compiled and thus a map of the neighborhood is 
made. If the next day is sunny, photographic copies are 
taken of this sketch and sent to the principal commanders, 
whose engineers add to, or correct it, if need be, and these 
corrections are put on a new sketch. Much information is 
gotten also by the engineers sent with the cavalry. . . . 

June 1, 1864 
At 1.30 last night. General Wright with the 6th Corps 
passed round our left flank and marched on Cool Arbor, 
which already was occupied by our cavalry last night. 
They would have fallen back, in view of the advance of the 
enemy's infantry, but General Meade sent an order to 
hold it, which they did; and had a very heavy fight early 
this morning, remarkable from the fact that our cavalry 
threw up breastworks and fought behind them, repulsing 
the enemy till Wright could arrive. Baldy Smith too was 
marching from Whitehouse and came up during the day, 
forming on the right of the 6th Corps. Meantime, of 
course, the enemy was marching to his own right, in all 
haste, and formed so as to cover the roads leading to 
Mechanicsville and also to continue his line on his right. 
. . . There was a desperate charge on Smith and Wright 
at Cool Arbor and the sound of musketry was extremely 
heavy long after dark, but the Rebels could not do it and 
had to go back again. Nor did the right of the line escape 
where they attacked Birney, and were driven back just 
the same way. . . . Smith had orders to report to General 

138 Meade'* s Headquarters [june2, 

Meade and so became part of the Army of the Potomac. 
General Meade was in one of his irascible fits to-night, 
which are always founded in good reason though they 
spread themselves over a good deal of ground that is not 
always in the limits of the question. First he blamed War- 
ren for pushing out without orders ; then he said each corps 
ought to act for itself and not always be leaning on him. 
Then he called Wright slow (a very true proposition as a 
general one). In the midst of these night-thoughts, comes 
here from General Smith bright, active, self-sufficient 
Engineer-Lieutenant Farquhar, who reports that his 
superior had arrived, fought, etc., etc., but that he had 
brought little ammunition, no transportation and that "he 
considered his position precarious." "Then, why in Hell 
did he come at all for.^^" roared the exasperated Meade, 
with an oath that was rare with him. 

June 2, 1864 
To-day has been occupied with strategy; but our strategy 
is of a bloody kind, and even the mere movements have 
not passed without the sounds of cannon and musketry for 
two or three hours. Sharp as steel traps those Rebs! We 
cannot shift a hundred yards, but presto! skirmishers for- 
ward! and they come piling in, ^o^, pop, pop; with re- 
serves close behind and a brigade or two hard on the 
reserves, all poking and probing as much as to say: "Hey I 
What! Going are you! Well, where .^^ How far.^ Which 
way.f^ How many of you are there .^" — And then they 
seem to send back word: "There they go — down there; 
head 'em off! head 'em off quick!" And very soon General 
So-and-so, who thinks he has entirely got round the Rebel 
line, begs to report that he finds them strongly entrenched 
in his front! Yesterday the 6th Corps drove the enemy 

1864] Cold Harbor 139 

from their lines, in their front, and took a good many 
prisoners. The division of Ricketts, which Hancock called 
a "weakly child," suddenly blazed out, and charged with 
the bayonet; an example I hope it will follow up! The 
"weary boys" at first broke and ran as usual, but Ricketts, 
their new commander, a man of great personal courage, 
pitched into them and kept at them, till finally, on the 1st 
of June, he got them to storm breastworks, and now I hope 
and believe they will continue good troops. Such are the 
effects of good pluck in generals. You hear people say: 
*'0h, everyone is brave enough; it is the head that is 
needed." Doubtless the head is the first necessity, but I 
can tell you that there are not many officers who of their 
own choice and impulse will dash in on formidable posi- 
tions. They will go anywhere they are ordered and any- 
where they believe it is their duty to go; but fighting for 
fun is rare; and unless there is a little of this in a man's 
disposition he lacks an element. Such men as Sprigg Car- 
roll, Hays (killed), Custer and some others, attacked 
wherever they got a chance, and of their own accord. Very 
few officers would hold back when they get an order; but 
the ordeal is so awful, that it requires a peculiar disposition 
to "go in gaily," as old Kearny used to say. 

Last night the 2d Corps marched, to form on the left 
of the 6th at Cool Arbor; it was badly managed, or rather 
it was difficult to manage, like all those infernal night 
marches, and so part of the troops went fifteen miles in- 
stead of nine and there was any amount of straggling and 
exhaustion. I consider fifteen miles by night equal to 
twenty -five by day, and you will remember our men have 
no longer the bodily strength they had a month before; 
indeed, why they are alive, I don't see; but, after a day's 

140 Meade'' s Headquarters [june2, 

rest, they look almost as fresh as ever. . . . We set out in 
the morning by half -past seven and, partly by roads, 
partly by cross-cuts, arrived at Kelly's via Woody's house. 
Of all the wastes I have seen, this first sight of Cool Arbor 
was the most dreary ! Fancy a baking sun to begin with ; 
then a foreground of breastworks; on the left, Kelly's 
wretched house; in the front, an open plain, trampled fet- 
lock deep into fine, white dust and dotted with caissons, 
regiments of many soldiers, and dead horses killed in the 
previous cavalry fight. On the sides and in the distance 
were pine woods, some red with fires which had passed 
through them, some grey with the clouds of dust that rose 
high in the air. It was a Sahara intensified, and was called 
Cool Arbor! Wright's Headquarters were here, and here, 
too, I first beheld "Baldy" Smith, a short, quite portly 
man, with a light-brown imperial and shaggy moustache, 
a round, military head, and the look of a German officer, 
altogether. After getting all information. General Meade 
ordered a general assault at four p.m. but afterwards coun- 
termanded it, by reason of the exhausted state of the 2d 
Corps. We pitched camp in the place shown on my map 
by a flag, where we since have remained — ten whole 
days. Towards evening Warren was to close in to his left 
and join with the rest of the line, his right resting near 
Bethesda Church, while Burnside was to mass and cover 
his movement; but they made a bad fist of it between them. 
The enemy, the moment the march began, rushed in on 
the skirmishers. A division, 5th Corps, got so placed that 
it bore the whole brunt (and a fine division too). Between 
the two corps — both very willing — the proper support 
was not put in. The enemy in force swung round by Via's 
house and gobbled up several miles of our telegraph wire. 

1864] Cold Harbor 


besides several hundred prisoners.^ We ought to have just 
eaten them up; but as it was, we only drove them back into 
some rifle-pits we had formerly abandoned, and then the 
line was formed as originally ordered, with Burnside swung 
round to cover our right flank from Bethesda Church 
towards Linney's house, while the enemy held Via's 
house and a line parallel to our own. . . . 

You know I was never an enthusiast or fanatic for any 
of our generals. I liked McClellan, but was not "daft" 
about him ; and was indeed somewhat shaken by the great 
cry and stories against him. But now, after seeing this 
country and this campaign, I wish to say, in all coolness, 
that I believe he was, both as a military man and as a 
manager of a country under military occupation, the great- 
est general this war has produced. You hear how slow he 
was; how he hesitated at small natural obstacles. Not so. 
He hesitated at an obstacle that our ultra people steadily 
ignore, the Rebel Army of Northern Virginia; and anyone 
that has seen that army fight and march would, were he 
wise, proceed therewith with caution and wariness, well 
knowing that defeat by such an enemy might mean destruc- 
tion. When I consider how much better soldiers, as sol- 
diers, our men now are than in his day; how admirably 
they have been handled in this campaign ; and how hero- 
ically they have worked, marched, and fought, and yety 
how we still see the enemy in our front, weakened and 
maimed, but undaunted as ever, I am forced to the con- 

^ "When Grant heard of it, he said to Meade: 'We ought to be able 
to eat them up ; they have placed themselves in such a position. Gener- 
ally I am not in favor of night attacks ; but I think one might be justi- 
fied in such a case as the present.' Indeed it was a wretched affair." — 
Lyman's Journal. 

142 Meade'* s Headquarters [june2, 

elusion that McClellan (who did not have his own way as 
we have) managed with admirable skill. Mind, I don't say 
he was perfect. I say he was our best. Think how well we 
are off. Do we want the very garrison of Washington .^^ 
Grant beckons, and nobody is hardy enough to say him 
nay. McClellan had over 20,000 men taken from him at 
the very crisis of the campaign. Suppose at the culmina- 
tion of our work, a telegraph from the President should 
come: *'Send General Wright and 25,000 men at once to 
Winchester." How would that do.^* In all this I 'praise the 
present commanders. The handling of this army, in 
especial, has been a marvel. Through narrow roads (the 
best of them not better than the "lane" opposite our back 
avenue), ill known and intricate, over bogs and rivers, we 
have transported cannon and army waggons in thousands, 
and a vast army has been moved, without ever getting in 
confusion, or losing its supporting distance. I don't believe 
there is a marshal of France that could do it with his army. 
I am sure there is not. 

[It was known that the order had been given to attack 
next morning. Rhodes says:^ "Officers and men had a 
chance to chew upon it, and both knew that the under- 
taking was hopeless. Horace Porter, an aide-de-camp of 
Grant, relates that, when walking among the troops on 
Staff duty, the evening before the battle, he noticed many 
of the soldiers of one of the regiments designated for the 
assault pinning on the backs of their coats slips of paper 
on which were written their names and home addresses, so 
that their dead bodies might be recognized on the field, 
and their fate be known to their families at the North. "] 

1 History, IV, 446. 


Cold Harbor 143 

June 3, 1864 
We had very severe fighting this morning, all along the 
lines. If you look on the map you may follow our lines. 
The line of battle faced westerly, towards Gaines's Mill and 
Mechanicsville, with a corps covering the right flank, and 
the left refused (a wing is "refused" when it is swung back 
from the direction of the main line). In some sort this was 
the battle of Gaines's Mill reversed. . . . The Rebel lines 
were about parallel with ours and they were throwing up 
dirt as hard as they could. No country could be more 
favorable for such work. The soldiers easily throw up the 
dirt so dry and sandy with their tin plates, their hands, 
bits of board, or canteens split in two, when shovels are 
scarce; while a few axes, in experienced hands, soon serve 
to fell plenty of straight pines, that are all ready to be set 
up, as the inner face of the breastwork. I can't say I heard 
with any great hope the order, given last night, for a gen- 
eral assault at 4.30 the next morning! You see Wright and 
Smith took their front line and drove them back Wednes- 
day afternoon. Thursday afternoon was twenty -four, and 
Friday morning would be thirty-six hours, for them to 
bring up and entrench their whole army. If we could 
smash them up, the Chickahominy lay behind them; but I 
had no more hope of it, after Spotsylvania, than I had of 
taking Richmond in two days. Half -past four found us at 
Kelly's, the Headquarters of General Wright; the brave 
General himself, however, had gone to the front. At that 
moment the cannon opened, in various directions, and the 
Rebels replied vigorously. There has been no fight of which 
I have seen so little as this. The woods were so placed that 
the sound, even, of the musketry was much kept away, 
and the fighting, though near us, was completely shut from 

144 Meade'* s Headquarters [junes, 

view. All the warfare for us was an occasional roundshot, 
or shell, that would come about us from the Rebel batteries. 
In the direction of the 18th Corps the crash of the mus- 
ketry was very loud, but elsewhere, scarcely to be noticed. 
. . . About five we had a gleam of hope for our success. 
News came that Barlow had carried their works and taken 
seventeen guns; and so he did; but it is one thing to get in, 
another to stay in. His men advanced heroically and went 
over the breastworks with a rush; but the enemy had re- 
serves massed behind, well knowing that his extreme right 
was seriously threatened. Before our supports could get 
up, their forces were down on our men, while a heavy en- 
filade of canister was kept up from flanking batteries. 
Barlow was driven out with heavy loss, and succeeded in 
getting off only about 300 of the prisoners he took. Like 
good soldiers, however, his men stopped and turned about, 
close to the works, and there entrenched themselves. At 
six we got notice that Russell's division could not carry 
the line in their front. Ricketts, however, on the right of 
the 6th Corps, got their first line, and so did the 18th 
Corps on his right; but the 18th people were forced back, 
and this left Ricketts a good deal exposed to enfilade; but 
he held on. A singular thing about the whole attack, and 
one that demonstrated the staunchness of the troops, was, 
that our men, when the fire was too hot for them to ad- 
vance and the works too strong, did not retreat as soldiers 
often do, but lay down where some small ridge offered a 
little cover, and there staid, at a distance from the enemy 
varying from forty to perhaps 250 yards. When it was 
found that the lines could not be carried. General Meade 
issued orders to hold the advanced position, all along, and 
to trench. The main fight lasted, I suppose, some three 

1864] Cold Harbor 14S 

hours, but there was sharp skirmishing and artillery firing 
the whole day. The Rebels threw canister in large quanti- 
ties, doing much damage. . . . 

In the afternoon came Wright and Hancock, with their 
Staff officers, to consult with General Meade. They looked 
as pleasant as if they had been out to dine, instead of stand- 
ing all day with shells, bullets and canister coming about 
them; for we now have a set of corps commanders who, in 
action, go, as they say, where they " can see " ; which means 
sitting calmly in places where many people would be so 
scared they wouldn't know the left wing from the right. 
Which reminds me of a ludicrous circumstance — there 
always is something of the ludicrous mixed in every 
tragedy. Three or four vulgar and very able-bodied civil- 
ians had got down to the army, in some way or other, and 
were at our standpoint for a little while. Having come 
from the White House and hearing little musketry, they 
concluded it would be quite safe to go further to the front. 
"Come," said one, in a flippant way, "let's go forward 
and see the fun." So off they trotted down the Gaines's 
Mill road. One of Wright's aides said they came pretty 
soon, as far as where they were standing. All was quiet, 
but these braves had hardly dismounted when the Rebel 
guns again opened and the shells came with fearful pre- 
cision over the spot! One gentleman, a fat man, rushed 
wildly to his horse, convulsively clutched the mane and 
tumbled on the saddle, galloping hotly off. But it so hap- 
pened that two successive shells, passing with their hideous 
scream, burst just behind his horse, giving him the wings 
of panic ! The other cit, quite paralyzed, lay down flat be- 
hind a ridge; in a few minutes he looked up at a Staff officer 
and, with the cold sweat rolling off him, exclaimed: "Oh! 


146 Meade 'j- Headquarters cjune 3, 

I wish they would stop! Don't you think, sir, they will 
stop pretty soon? " What became of the third I know not; 
but they all "saw the fun." Not a thing did I have to do 
till six in the evening, when General Meade told me to go 
to General Birney, ascertain his position and what he 
thought of the force in his front; then keep on to Warren 
and ask him if he could so close in his Corps to the left as 
to set Birney free to return to the Second Corps. I found 
General Birney, with his usual thin, Puritanic face, very 
calmly eating tapioca pudding as a finish to his frugal din- 
ner. He remarked drily that his man had selected that 
hollow as particularly safe; but, as half a dozen shells had 
already plumped in there, he did not exactly believe the 
theory a good one. I had a great mess finding General 
Warren.^ First I went, by the road leading through the 
woods, to Bethesda Church. There were his aides and his 
flag: but the General had "ridden out along the lines" — 
confound that expression ! That is the luck of a Headquar- 
ters aide. You say: "Is the General here.^^" "No, sir, he 
has gone, I believe, along the line." "Do you know 
where.^" "Well, Colonel, he did not say exactly; but, if 
you will follow down the breastworks, I think you will find 
him." (Delightful vision of a line of two miles or so of 
breastworks w^ith the infantry safely crouched behind, and 
you perched on a horse, riding down, taking the chance of 
stray shot, canister, and minie balls, looking for a general 
who probably is not there.) The greatest piece of coolness 
is when you are advised to make a short cut by the picket 
line! . . . 

' "This was Warren's great way, to go about, looking thus after 
details and making ingenious plans ; but it kept him from generalities, 
and made it hard to find him, so that he finally came to trouble as 
much by this as by anything else." — ^ Lyman's Journal. 



1864] Cold Harbor 

Warren looks care-worn. Some people say he is a selfish 
man, but he is certainly the most tender-hearted of our 
commanders. Almost all officers grow soon callous in the 
service; not unfeeling, only accustomed, and unaffected 
by the suffering they see. But Warren feels it a great deal, 
and that and the responsibility, and many things of course 
not going to suit him, all tend to make him haggard. He 
said: "For thirty days now, it has been one funeral pro- 
cession, past me; and it is too much! To-day I saw a man 
burying a comrade, and, within half an hour, he himself 
was brought in and buried beside him. The men need some 
rest." . . . 

At nine at night the enemy made a fierce attack on a 
part of Gibbon's division, and, for a time, the volleys of 
musketry and the booming of the cannon were louder, 
in the still night, than the battle had been by day. But 
that sort of thing has not done with the Rebels, since 
the brilliant attack of Johnson, the second night of the 
Wilderness. This time they were repulsed completely. 
It was then that our men called out: "Come on! Come 
on! Bring up some more Johnnies! You haven't got 
enough!" . . . 

To-night all the trenching tools were ordered up and the 
lines were strengthened, and saps run out, so as to bring 
them still closer to the opposing ones. And there the two 
armies slept, almost within an easy stone-throw of each 
other; and the separating space ploughed by cannon-shot 
and clotted with the dead bodies that neither side dared 
to bury ! I think nothing can give a greater idea of death- 
less tenacity of purpose, than the picture of these two 
hosts, after a bloody and nearly continuous struggle of 
thirty days, thus lying down to sleep, with their heads 
almost on each other's throats ! Possibly it has no parallel 

148 Meade'* s Headquarters [june4, 

in history. So ended the great attack at Cool Arbor. The 
losses were far greater for us than for the Rebels. From 
what I can gather I doubt not we lost four or five to one. 
We gained nothing save a knowledge of their position and 
the proof of the unflinching bravery of our soldiers.^ . . . 

June 4, 1864 
Although there was no battle to-day, both sides were as 
sensitive as Hotspur when he was "all smarting from my 
wounds being cold." The slightest movement would pro- 
voke a volley, and any unusual stir would open a battery. 
This is characteristic of troops in a new position. When 
they have remained awhile, they begin to be more quiet, 
the skirmishers fire less and less, and finally cease entirely. 
The General took three or four of us and went on a sort of 
tour to his Generals ; after a brief visit to General Hancock 
(who had a battery roaring away close to his Headquarters) 
and a few words with General Wright, we paid a long visit 
to "Baldy" Smith, whose tents were pitched between the 
Woody house and the line of battle. His tent was much 
better than General Meade's and he displayed, for his 
benefit, a lunch with champagne, etc., that quite aston- 
ished us. Whether it was the lunch, or Baldy, or "Bully" 
Brooks (a General of that name), I do not know, but 
the Commander staid there several hours, talking and 

1 "I do think there has been too much assaulting, this campaign! 
After our lessons of failure and of success at Spotsylvania, we assault 
here, after the enemy had had thirty-six hours to entrench, and that 
time will cover them over their heads and give them slashings and 
traverses besides ! The best officers and men are liable, by their greater 
gallantry, to be first disabled; and, of those that are left, the best be- 
come demoraUzed by the failures, and the loss of good leaders; so that, 
very soon, the men will no longer charge entrenchments and will only- 
go forward when driven by their officers." — Lyman's Journal. 

1864] Cold Harbor 149 

June 4 (continued) 
Let me see, I left the party sitting, as it appeared to me, 
an unnecessarily long time at Baldy Smith's. I say "un- 
necessarily," first, because it was several hours, and Gen- 
eral Meade had nothing to discuss of any moment; and, 
secondly, because a round-shot would, every now and 
then, crash through the neighboring trees, or go hoppity- 
hop along the open field on the edge of which the tents 
were. You ought to see them skip ! It would be odd, if it 
were not so dangerous. When they have gone some dis- 
tance and are going slower, you can see them very plainly, 
provided you are in front of, or behind them. They pass 
with a great whish, hit the ground, make a great hop, and 
so go skip, skip, skip, till they get exhausted, and then 
tumble — flouf — raising a puff of sand. That is the rea- 
son round-shot are more dangerous than conical, which 
strike perhaps once, vault into the air with a noise like a 
Catherine's wheel, topple over and over, and drop without 
further trouble. ... At last the General's confab was 
broken up by the arrival of Burnside,^ who, in Fredericks- 
burg days, had a furious quarrel with Baldy and Brooks — 
or they with him. So they don't speak now; and we en- 
joyed the military icicle in great perfection! All the day 
there was sharpshooting and cannonading along our front. 

June 5, 1864 
This afternoon I carried a flag of truce — quite an epi- 
sode in my military experiences. At three in the afternoon 
General Meade sent for me and said, as if asking for a 
piece of bread and butter: "Lyman, I want you to take 

^ "Burnside has a short, military jacket, and, with his bell-crowned 
felt hat, the brim turned down, presents an odd figure, the fat man!" 
— Lyman's Journal. 

150 Meade'* s Headquarters cjunes, 

this letter from General Grant and take it by a flag of 
truce, to the enemy's lines. General Hancock will tell you 
where you can carry it out." I recollect he was lying on 
his cot at the time, with his riding boots cocked up on the 
footboard. My ideas on flags of truce were chiefly medi- 
aeval and were associated with a herald wearing a tabard. 
However, I received the order as if my employment had 
been that from early youth, and proceeded at once to 
array myself in "store" clothes, sash, white gloves and all 
other possible finery. After searching in vain for a bugler 
who could blow a "parley," I set forth with only a person- 
able and well-dressed cavalry sergeant, and found the gal- 
lant Hancock reposing on his cot. "Well, Colonel," says 
H., "now you can't carry it out on my front, it's too hot 
there. Your best way is to go to the left, where there are 
only pickets, and the oflicers there will get it out." So the 
ever-laborious Major Mitchell was summoned and told to 
provide some whiskey for the Rebs and a flag. The last 
was a great point: there seemed nothing white about, 
except the General's shirt, but at last he found a pillow- 
case which was ripped up and put on a staff, and you would 
have admired it when it was completed! Then we made 
our way towards the left and found General Birney's men 
moving that way, who furnished us information about the 
road, and a guide. Colonel Hapgood of the 5th New Hamp- 
shire, corps oflScer of the day. He was a live Yankee, a 
thorough New Hampshire man — tall, sinewy, with a 
keen black eye, and a driving way about him. He was 
ornamented with a bullet-hole through his hat, another 
through the trousers, and a third on his sword scabbard. 
We rode forward till we struck the breastwork at Miles's 
Headquarters. It was a curious sight! Something like an 
Indian family camped half underground. Here was the 

1864] Cold Harbor 15 1 

breastwork, behind which were dug a number of Httle cel- 
lars, about two feet deep, and, over these, were pitched 
some small tents. And there you could see the officers 
sitting, with only their heads above ground, writing or per- 
haps reading; for it was a quiet time and there were no 
bullets or shells. We followed the line to its end, near by, 
and then rode through the pine woods a little way. Here 
Colonel Hamyl remarked in a ghostly voice: "Do you 
know where you are going .^ There have been two field 
officers killed just here." To whom Colonel Hapgood 
(with injured pride) : ''Yes sir! I do know where I am go- 
ing. There's some bullets comes through here; but none 
to hurt'' Without definitely settling what precise minimum 
of balls was "none to hurt," we continued on. Presently 
the cautious Hapgood pulled up and peered round; and I 
could see an open field through the trees and another taller 
wood behind. "Now," said the New Hampshire patriot, 
"those tallest trees are full of their sharpshooters; if we 
strike into the field fifty yards above here, they will fire; 
but, just below, they can't see." So we followed on, and, 
as soon as we were in the open ground, started at a gallop 
and got into another wood, close to where I have put my 
flag on the map. There was here a road, leading past a 
mill-pond, which however was some quarter of a mile 
away. Our pickets held this road for some hundred or two 
yards from us, and then came the enemy's pickets. The 
Colonel said he knew a good place to approach, and went 
forward to call to some of them. After a great deal of de- 
lay, the lieutenant on our side got one of them to send for 
an officer, and then word was sent down each line to cease 
firing in that command, as a flag of truce was going in. 
Then we left our horses and went forward, the sergeant 
carrying the flag. As we turned a corner, close by, we 

152 Meade^s Headquarters [June 5, 

came almost upon their party, standing some paces off. 
It looked exactly like a scene in an opera; there was never 
anything that so resembled something got up for stage 
effect. The sun was near setting, and, in the heavy oak 
woods, the light already began to fade. On the road stood 
a couple of Rebel officers, each in his grey overcoat, and, 
just behind, were grouped some twenty soldiers — the 
most gipsy -looking fellows imaginable; in their blue-grey 
jackets and slouched hats; each with his rusty musket and 
well-filled cartridge-box. I walked up in all stateliness 
(fully aware, however, that white cotton gloves injured 
the ensemble), and was introduced to Major Wooten of the 
14th North Carolina sharpshooters, belonging to A. P. 
Hill's Corps. He was a well-looking man, with quiet and 
pleasing manners; and, to see us all together, you would 
suppose we had met to go out shooting, or something of 
that kind. I am free to confess that the bearing of the few 
Rebel officers I have met is superior to the average of our 
own. They have a sHght reserve and an absence of all 
flippancy, on the whole an earnestness of manner, which 
is very becoming to them. They get this I think partly 
from the great hardships they suffer, or, still more, the 
hardships of those at home, and from a sense of their ruin 
if their cause fails. We attack, and our people live in 
plenty, with no one to make them afraid; it makes a great 
difference. . . . 

Major Wooten said he would enquire if the despatch 
could be received, and soon got notice that it could, if in a 
proper form. So it was sent in, an answer promised in a 
couple of hours, and we all sat down on the grass to wait — 
or rather on the leaves, for this sandy soil produces no 
grass to speak of. As I had time to look about and, still 
more to sniff about, I became aware that the spot was not 

1864] Cold Harbor 153 

so charming as it looked. There had been a heavy cavalry 
skirmish in the woods and they were full of dead horses, 
which, as the evening closed, became, as Agassiz would say, 
"highly offensive." It was positively frightful! and there I 
waited till eleven at night! Not even the novelty of the 
position was enough to distract one's attention. As to the 
pickets, they were determined to have also a truce, for, 
when a Reb officer went down the line to give some order, 
he returned quite aghast, and said the two lines were to- 
gether, amiably conversing. He ordered both to their posts, 
but I doubt if they staid. At half -past eight we had quite 
s. disagreeable experience. There suddenly was heard a 
shot or two towards our left centre, then quite a volley, 
and then, whir-r-r-r, the musketry came running down 
right towards us, as one regiment after another took it up ! 
The next thing I expected was that both sides just near us 
would take a panic and begin blazing away. The officers 
sprung to their feet and ran down the lines, to again cau- 
tion the men; so nobody fired; and there we sat and lis- 
tened to the volleys and the cannonading, that opened 
very heavily. . . . 

As it got to be after ten. Major Wooten said he would go 
back and see what was the delay. There came back a lieu- 
tenant soon, that is about eleven, with a note from a 
superior officer, saying that "General Grant's aide-de- 
camp need not be delayed further," but that an answer 
would be sent in at the same point, which could be received 
by the picket officer. So we shook hands with the Rebs 
and retreated from the unsavory position. . . . We 
stopped at Barlow's Headquarters, and then I kept on to 
camp, where the General greeted me with: "Hullo, Lyman, 
I thought perhaps the Rebs had gobbled you during that 
^LxacK. « • • 

154 Meade'* s Headquarters cjune?, 

June 7, 1864 
After extraordinary delays an armistice was concluded 
between six and eight p.m. this evening. It was very ac- 
ceptable for burying the deadi but the wounded were 
mostly dea\d too, by this time, having been there since the 
3d. I fancy there were not many, for our men make ex- 
traordinary exertions in the night to get in their comrades, 
and those who were not thus reached usualty had their 
sufferings shortened by some stray ball, among the show- 
ers that continually passed between the works. We here 
found the body of Colonel McMahon, brother of Sedg- 
wick's Adjutant-General. He was wounded and sat down 
by a tree, where he was soon hit by two or three other 
bullets. . . . Some extraordinary scenes occurred during 
the armistice. Round one grave, where ten men were laid, 
there was a great crowd of both sides. The Rebels were 
anxious to know who would be next President. "Wall," 
said one of our men, "I am in favor of Old Abe." "He's a 
damned Abolitionist!" promptly exclaimed a grey -back. 
Upon which our man hit his adversary between the eyes, 
and a general fisticuff ensued, only stopped by the officers 
rushing in. Our entrenchments were most extraordinary 
in their extent, with heavy traverses, where exposed to 
enfilade, and all done by the men, as it were, spontane- 
ously. An officer told a man it was not worth while to go 
on with a little private bomb-proof he was constructing, 
as he would only be there two or three days. "I don't 
care," replied he, "if we only stay two or three hours; I 
ain't going to have my head knocked off by one of them 
shells!" ... 


Cold Harbor 




156 Meade^s Headquarters [junei3, 

June 12, 18641 
General Grant has appeared with his moustache and 
beard trimmed close, giving him a very mild air — and in- 
deed he is a mild nTan really. He is an odd combination; 
there is one good thing, at any rate — he is the concentra- 
tion of all that is American. He talks bad grammar, but 
he talks it naturally, as much as to say, "I was so brought 
up and, if I try fine phrases, I shall only appear silly." 
Then his writing, though very terse and well expressed, is 
full of horrible spelling. In fact, he has such an easy and 
straightforward way that you almost think that he must 
be right and you wrong, in these little matters of elegance. 
... At 3 P.M. tents were struck and we all rode to Des- 
patch Station, where we turned up to the left and went as 
far as Moody's house. . . . We halted in a field hard by 
and waited for the train, an operation that required much 
patience: for the waggons undertook to go over a sort of 
mill-dam, and tumbled down a bank and had many mis- 
haps, so that they arrived only at ten. General Grant, 
however, had made a big fire, got a piece of board, lain 
down on it, with a bag under his head, and was fast asleep. 
At eleven, before getting to bed, we had news that Wilson's 
cavalry had forced the passage of the Chickahominy at 
Long's Bridge (the bridge was long since burnt) and that 
the pontoon was going down for the passage of the 5th 
Corps. Fain would I write more, but I am so stupid and 
sleepy that I am not equal to it. 

June 13, 1864 
Last night, at dark, the whole army was in motion for 
*' Charles City" on the James River (there is no "city" 
there, but I believe a house and a barn). . . . This morn- 

^ On this date the army began its march to the James River. 

1864] Cold Harbor 157 

ing we were on our way by 5.30 and, making a cut across 
the woods, we soon came on Barlow's division of the 2d 
Corps going rapidly toward the river, close to which we 
found Hancock, sitting on the grass and waiting for his 
Corps. At this point the Chickahominy is nothing of a 
stream, but, as it is bordered by considerable flats, it sud- 
denly widens, during heavy floods, to perhaps half a mile, 
the water being just deep enough to stop waggons. This 
was a great trouble McClellan had: we have met with no 
such obstacle. This river is characteristic; a good drawing 
of this very scene at Long's Bridge might pass as the incar- 
nation of malaria and swamp fever. Fancy a wide ditch, 
partly choked with rotten logs, and full of brown, tepid, 
sickly-looking water, whose slow current would scarcely 
carry a straw along. From the banks of dark mould rises 
a black and luxuriant vegetation: cypresses of immense 
size, willow oaks, and swamp magnolias, remind you that 
you are within the limits of a sub-tropical climate, and so 
does the unhealthy and peculiar smell of decaying leaves 
and stagnant water. A great contrast to this landscape, 
so suggestive of silence and loneliness, was the rumbling 
and clatter of Barlow's batteries, as they passed over the 
resounding pontoon bridge. We clattered over too, as soon 
as the last of the regiments had passed (which was about 
10.30), designing to follow in rear of this division. . . . 
We kept on, on the flank of the column, admiring its excel- 
lent marching, a result partly due to the good spirits of the 
men, partly to the terror in which stragglers stand of Bar- 
low. His provost guard is a study. They follow the col- 
umn, with their bayonets fixed, and drive up the loiterers, 
with small ceremony. Of course their tempers do not im- 
prove with heat and hard marching. There was one thin, 
hard-featured fellow who was a perfect scourge. "Blank 

158 Meade^ 5 Headquarters cjuneu, 

you! — you — " (here insert any profane and extremely 
abusive expression, varied to suit the peculiar case) *'get 
up, will you? By blank, I'll kill you if you don't go on, 
double-quick!" And he looked so much like carrying out 
his threat that the hitherto utterly prostrate party would 
skip like the young lamb. Occasionally you would see a 
fellow awaiting the charge with an air of calm superiority, 
and, when the guard approached, pull out the segis of a 
"surgeon's pass." The column marched so fast that I was 
sent forward to tell General Barlow to go more gently. 
I found that eccentric officer divested of his coat and 
seated in a cherry tree. "By Jove!" said a voice from the 
branches, "I knew I should not be here long before 
Meade's Staff would be up. How do you do, Theodore, 
won't you come up and take a few cherries?" However, I 
could not stay, and so kept on till we came, somewhat 
suddenly, on well-cultivated fields with good crops of 
wheat, oats, and clover. I was speculating on the reason of 
this when somebody said we were within a mile of James 
River! and just after. General Meade ordered me to ride 
down and see what sort of a position there was and how 
the land lay. 

It was about four o'clock in the afternoon that I caught 
the first sight of the water, as I cantered round the corner 
of a little grove. To appreciate such a sight you must pass 
five weeks in an almost unbroken wilderness, with no 
sights but weary, dusty troops, endless waggon-trains, con- 
voys of poor wounded men, and hot, uncomfortable camps. 
Here was a noble river, a mile wide, with high green banks, 
studded with large plantation houses. In the distance, 
opposite, was Fort Powhatan, below which lay two 
steamers; and, what seemed strangest of all, not a Rebel 
soldier to be seen anywhere ! . . . There was a signal-man 

1864] Cold Harbor 159 

waving away with his flag to attract the attention of the 
steamers, to notify all concerned that the head of the Army 
of the Potomac had struck the James. We went to a field 
by the Tyler house for our camp — the birthplace of John 
Tyler, he of the big nose and small political principles — 
once Vice President, with Tippy-canoe and Tyler too. 
Nobody was there, save a lot of nigs, that were too funny; 
for there suddenly appeared among them one of our black 
servants, who had left that very place in McClellan's time. 
Such a "Lord a-a massy! is dat a-ar you.^ Wha-ar d'ge 
come from.f^" as never was heard, and great rejoicings 
over the distinguished traveller! What was more to the 
purpose, I got some green peas, a great coup; likewise 
milk, though "them a-ar infants" (meaning infantry) got 
the most of it. ... A pontoon bridge, 2000 feet long, was 
made in ten hours, and over this passed a train of waggons 
and artillery thirty -five miles long; more than half the 
infantry in the army and 3500 beef cattle; besides 4000 
cavalry; all of which was chiefly accomplished within the 
space of forty -eight hours ! ^ In civil life, if a bridge of this 
length were to be built over a river with a swift current and 
having a maximum depth of eighty-five feet, they would 
allow two or three months for the making of plans and col- 
lecting of materials. Then not less than a year to build it. 
This was a busy night on the river, messages going to City 
Point and Fort Monroe, and ferryboats and gunboats 
coming up as fast as possible to the neighborhood of 
Charles City. . . . 

^ As before stated, these letters were written after the events de- 


["If we only could have been a little quicker and more 
driving, we might have had Petersburg at a mouthful," 
wrote Lyman some days after the Army of the Potomac 
had crossed the James. "The strategy of Grant had de- 
ceived Lee, who failed to divine the movement, and did 
nothing therefore to im'pede it. "^ 

Butler, in command of the Army of the James, was en- 
camped at Bermuda Hundred. Grant ordered him to ad- 
vance and capture Petersburg. But Butler did not rise to 
the occasion; he sent only part of his forces, under Baldy 
Smith, who had reinforced Butler, which captured some 
strong outer fortifications but which did not advance on 
the city, although it was feebly garrisoned. When Grant 
and Meade arrived, the town had been reinforced. The 
attacks of June 16, 17, and 18 were repulsed with great 
loss to the Union forces. No new assaults were ordered, 
and the investment of Petersburg began.] 

Headquarters Army of Potomac 
June 15, 1864 

Of course, the first thing was to visit the great bridge. 
The approach to it lay along the river border, under the 
bank, and had been prepared with much labor, for, a day 
or two previous, it had been covered with great cypresses, 
some of them at least three and a half feet in diameter, and 
these had to be cut close to the ground, and the debris care- 

1 Rhodes, IV, 488. 

1864] Manoeuvres about Petersburg i6i 

fully cleared away; in a portion of the road too there was a 
muddy swamp, which had to be laboriously spanned by a 
causeway; but there was the whole thing, finished, and of 
course a photographer making a "picture" of it. It was 
very simple: you have only to fancy a bridge of boats, 
thirteen feet wide and 2000 long, the while looking so light 
as scarcely to be capable of bearing a man on horseback. 
In the middle of the river were anchored two schooners, 
which gave greater stability to the bridge, by being at- 
tached to it with ropes. What added to the strangeness of 
the scene was the ci-devant Rebel iron-clad Atlanta, lying 
there, like a big mud-turtle, with only its back exposed. 
The group was completed by two or three gunboats and 
several steamers anchored near by. It was funny to run 
against the marine in this inland region, and to see the 
naval officers, all so smug and well brushed in their clean 

uniform^. Admiral L came to visit the General — a 

pleasant old lady apparently. While we were at dinner 
came Colonel Babcock, from Grant at City Point, with 
news that Baldy Smith had marched thence before day- 
light, engaged the enemy at five a.m., and was driving 
them towards Petersburg. Orders were immediately^ given 
to halt the waggon-train, now passing the bridge, and 
allow the 9th Corps to pass over and push on towards 
Petersburg (by the same route that Hancock had been 
following, during the day), and there form on his left. 
Smith, meantime, had hit the enemy, some three or four 
miles from City Point, in a wood, near where the main road 
crossed the rail. . . . How many there were I do not know, 
but they made a considerable fight with help of field bat- 
teries. Harry, ^ with 300 of his men, had the extreme left, 
and was wounded in this wood, early in the engagement. 
^ Mrs. Lyman's brother. 


162 Meade^s Headquarters [June is, 

A soldier told me he held on for an hour after he was 
hit; and I was further told his men did remarkably well. 
Within about two and a half miles of the town, Smith ran 
on the strong works long since constructed for its defence. 
These consist of a series of redoubts, with regular ditches 
and barbettes for guns, and connected in a chain by a 
heavy infantry parapet. The line was defended by Wise's 
men^ (who look to me just like other Confederate soldiers) 
and by the local militia. What a difference that makes!! 
Their batteries opened a well-directed fire as our people 
advanced; but no sooner did the lines of battle debouch 
from the woods and push over the open ground, than the 
militia got shaky behind their works and, when our troops 
charged, they broke and ran, leaving sixteen guns and 300 
or 400 prisoners in our hands. Everyone gives great credit 
to the negroes for the spirit they showed. I believe there is 
no question their conduct was entirely to their credit. . . . 
I shall never forget meeting, on the City Point road, 
five Confederate soldiers, under guard of nigs! . . . Three 
of the prisoners looked as if they could have taken off a 
tenpenny nail, at a snap. The other two seemed to take a 
ludicrous view of the matter and were smiling sheepishly. 
As to the negroes, they were all teeth, so to speak, teeth 
with a black frame. Hancock got up that evening and 
joined the 18th Corps. Their troops were all exhausted, 
but, oh ! that they had attacked at once. Petersburg would 
have gone like a rotten branch. In war there is a critical 
instant — a night — perhaps only a half hour, when every- 
thing culminates. He is the military genius who recog- 
nizes this instant and acts upon it, neither precipitating 
nor postponing the critical moment. There is thus good 
reason why great soldiers should be so rare that genera- 

» "Wise's Legion." 

1864] Manoeuvres about Petersburg 163 

tions pass without producing a single one. A great soldier 
must have, in addition to all usual traits of intellect, a 
courage unmoved by the greatest danger, and cool under 
every emergency, and the quickness of lightning, not only 
in conceiving, but in enforcing an order. . . . 

June 16, 1864 
At four in the morning they began to ferry over the 5th 
Corps; of this, two divisions were loaded from Wilcox's 
wharf and two from a wharf near the bridge; the bridge 
itself being in constant use for the passage of the main 
train. The 5th Corps would then march on Petersburg 
and take position on the left of the 9th. . . . Our infor- 
mation was that part of Lee's army, quitting Malvern 
Hill, had crossed at Drury's Bluff and was moving on 
Petersburg. About nine o'clock the General, with Sanders 
and myself, went on board the ironclad Atlanta. The 
Captain sent a boat ashore and took us out in state. How 
sailor-like the Americans look, with their blue shirts and 
flat caps ! And these poor infantry, artillery, and cavalry of 
ours, why, the more they serve, the less they look like 
soldiers and the more they resemble day-laborers who have 
bought second-hand military clothes. I have so come to 
associate good troops with dusty, faded suits, that I look 
with suspicion on anyone who has a stray bit of lace or 
other martial finery. . . . 

At 10.30 General Humphreys and General Meade, tak- 
ing only Sanders and myself, embarked on a boat with 
General Ingalls, for City Point. The boat started up the 
river with us, and we found it an hour's trip to City Point. 
The river is very pretty, or rather fine, with banks that 
remind one of Narragansett Bay, going to Newport, only 
they are, I think, higher. . . . City Point is a jut of land 

164 Meade 'j Headquarters [June i6, 

at the junction of the Appomattox and the James. It 
must once have been a quite pretty place, and consisted 
of a large number of scattered private houses, several of 
them very good ones; especially that near which General 
Grant had his camp, which is just on the river. . . . Grant 
had gone to the front, some seven miles away, and we 
presently rode out on the Petersburg road, and met Grant 
returning,^ a couple of miles from the Point. It was on 
going out of the place that it occurred to me that someone 
had said that Hal's^ regiment was there; so, as I passed 
a shipshape-looking camp, I asked, "What regiment is 
that.f^" "Fifth Massachusetts Cavalry," said the darkie. 
"Is Colonel Russell there.^" "No, sa-ar. He's in der 
hospital. He was wounded yesterday ! " I felt a quite cold 
perspiration, as I asked if he were badly hurt. The man 
thought not, but said he was hit in two places. It was 
tough to ride right past him so, but the General had but 
two aides ; we were expecting a fight, and I had no business 
to stop in a road where I could not again find him. Meet- 
ing Colonel Rowley, however, I asked him to see that Hal 
had everything and to say that I would be in that night to 
see him. We rode on along an almost deserted road, till 
we crossed the rail, when we came on Burnside's column, 
moving wearily along. The men had done awful marching 
in a dry country, with a hot sun and midst a stifling dust. 
I hate to see troops so used up. Passing through some 
woods, we again got to an open country, then went a little 
way more in woods, and came full on an open space in 
front of the captured line of works. . . . Just here Han- 

^ "Presently we met Grant and his Staff coining back. 'Well,' he 
said; 'Smith has taken a line of works there, stronger than anything 
we have seen this campaign! If it is a possible thing, I want an assault 
made at 6 o'clock this evening!'" — Lyman's Journal. 

2 Mrs. Lyman's brother. 

1864] Manoeuvres about Petersburg i65 

cock had his flag and General Meade was soon busy con- 
sulting about an assault, which finally was ordered for six 
P.M. . . . From the place we then stood I could see two or 
three spires of the town. Of this attack I saw more than of 
most previous fights, or rather of the cannonade. The line 
of our batteries was in plain sight, a little in front of where 
General Meade took his stand, because the Rebels had 
long since cut down a wide zone of timber in their front, to 
get a good field of fire. It was a most striking sight ! The 
air, hazy with dust, gave a copper-red color to the declin- 
ing sun, which was soon heightened by the powder-smoke 
that rose from the batteries. The firing was very heavy 
and there was the continual whiz of our shells or those of 
the enemy. It is curious, but the scene reminded me of one 
of those stiff but faithful engravings of Napoleon's battles 
that one sees in European collections ; especially the artil- 
lerists loading and discharging their pieces. The musketry 
was pretty heavy too. Birney and part of the others car- 
ried the first line, but the assault was not a success such as 
we wanted; however. General Meade ordered a column 
of 5000 men to be prepared for a moonlight attack, which, 
as you will learn, took place at daylight next morning. 
The General had a quite narrow escape, as we stood watch- 
ing; for a round shot came bounding over the country and 
hopped right in front of him and General Humphreys. The 
attack over, I asked leave to go in and see Harry, and the 
General told me I could have stopped when we came 
through had I asked then. So I got a fresh horse and two 
men and started. It was an elegant night, with a fine 
moon — quite perfect indeed. You could never have sup- 
posed yourself near a great army, after getting past the 
railroad. There was scarcely a soul on the route. As I got 
near the village there were some waggons going out to But- 

166 Meade^s Headquarters cjunei?, 

ler, but these were pretty much all. Nobody halted me, 
though I rode past a picket guard and through the breast- 
works. It was not till I drew near Hal's camp that his sen- 
try roared out in a military voice, indicating much study 
of phonetics: "Halt! Who goes there .f^" Then came a cor- 
poral of the guard in due style. ... I ascended the stairs 
of what had been a private house. It was about ten at 
night when I got in. There were a number of cots arranged 
in a large upper room, each occupied by a wounded officer. 
On the mantelpiece were medicine bottles, a pitcher of 
lemonade and a candle; and this was a ward. Master Hal 
lay fast asleep on one of the cots, quite unconscious of 
dusty brothers-in-law. . . . He was mightily glad to see 
me, and we talked some time, in a low voice, not to disturb 
others. I remember there was a wounded lieutenant next 
us, a good deal under morphine, who had a great fancy 
that Lee had captured our whole supply train. Finally I 
departed with a humble gift of two oranges and some tea, 
which I had brought in my holsters. . . . 

Then to Headquarters and found General Grant just 
going to bed. He sat on the edge of his cot, in shirt and 
drawers, and listened to my report. I told him the General 
would put in a column of 5000 men of the 9th Corps, by 
moonlight. He smiled, like one who had done a clever 
thing, and said, "I think it is pretty well to get across a 
great river, and come up here and attack Lee in his rear 
before he is ready for us!" He prepared a despatch to 
General Meade, which I took back. 

June 17, 1864 

At daylight Potter, of the 9th Corps, assaulted the 
enemy's works at a point near what was then our left. He 
took the v/orks very handsomely, with four guns and 350 
prisoners, and had his horse shot under him. Potter (a son 

1864] Ma noeuvres about Petersburg i67 

of the Bishop of Pennsylvania) is a grave, pleasant-looking 
man, known for his coolness and courage. He is always 
very neatly dressed in the full uniform of a brigadier- 
general. His Headquarters are now at the house where he 
took two of the cannon. You ought to see it ! It is riddled 
with bullets like the cover of a pepper-box. In a great oak 
by his tent a cannon-ball has just buried itself, so that you 
can see the surface under the bark. In a few years the wood 
will grow over it, and there it will perhaps remain to 
astonish some wood-cutter of the future, when the Great 
Rebellion shall have passed into history. This was a 
brave day for Burnside. He fought in the middle of the 
day, with some gain, and just before evening Ledlie's divi- 
sion attacked and took a third line, beyond the one taken 
by Potter. This could have been held, I think, but for the 
idea that we were to advance still more, so that prepara- 
tions were made to push on instead of getting reserves in 
position to support the advanced force. The enemy, how- 
ever, after dark, concentrated and again drove out our 
troops, who fell back to the work taken by Potter in the 
morning; and so ended the anniversary of Bunker Hill. 
In the attack of that evening. Major Morton, Chief Engi- 
neer of the 9th Corps, was killed — a man of an eccentric 
disposition, but of much ability. He was son of the cele- 
brated ethnologist, whose unrivaled collection of crania is 
now in the Philadelphia Academy. 

June 18, 1864 

A general attack was planned for an early hour, so Head- 
quarters, which had lain down late, had scarce a chance to 
turn over once before it was routed out again, just at day- 
light. The General was in a tearing humor. (I don't think 
anybody felt any too pleasant.) "Lyman, you are behind 
time!" I had the satisfaction of stepping out, all dressed, 

168 Meade'^s Headquarters cjuneis, 

and saying shortly: "No, sir, I am ready." Presently: 
"Colonel Lyman, take two or three orderlies and go to 
General Warren and report to me by telegraph promptly 
and frequently." I did not admire this duty, as there was 
to be an assault; but everybody must do his share, and I 
started immediately. The General started with me. "Do 
you know the way to General Hancock's. f^" "Yes, sir!" In 
a few moments: "This is not the sliori cut to Hancock's." 
"I did not say I knew the short cut. General." "Well, but 
I wanted the short cut! What's the use of the road; of 
course I knew the road ! " Whereupon I suggested I would 
gallop ahead, not to lose time; which I did and left my 
chief to attack Biddle, who was late and was coming up 
very red in the face ! 

It was half -past four when I got to Headquarters of the 
5th Corps, which consisted of a couple of tents, pitched by 
a solitary tree. Warren, with all his clothes on, was catch- 
ing a little sleep on a camp bed. Burnside^ was there also, 
sitting under the tree, and there was a telegraph operator 
with his little portable instrument. Our lines were advanc- 
ing, and there was an inexplicable silence along the skir- 
mish line. ... At 6.50 came an order for all the line to 
advance and to attack the enemy if found. ... A little 
later, after seven. Major Roebling came in and reported he 

^ " Everyone was near the breaking-point. He, Burnside, complained 
of the heavy artillery detailed to his corps. 'They are worthless,' 
said he; 'they didn't enlist to fight and it is unreasonable to expect it 
from them. In the attack last night I couldn't find thirty of them!' 
He afterwards said of Meade (to one of his Staff) : 'He is irascible; but 
he is a magnanimous man.' Presently up comes Grifiin, in one of his 
peculiar blusters ! and all about a commissary who, he maintains, didn't 
follow orders. Griffin stormed and swore. 'Now! now!' said Warren 
(who can be very judicious when he chooses), 'let us all try to keep 
our tempers more, and not swear so much. I know I give way myself; 
but it is unworthy. ' " — ^ Lyman's Journal. 

1864] Manoeuvres about Petersburg i69 

had discovered the enemy's new line of works, that ran 
along a high ground beyond the railroad, and that they 
were all there, with batteries in position. Soon after Gen- 
eral Warren mounted, and we all rode to the front, over a 
wide oat-field past the works captured last evening, from 
which we were afterwards driven. In these there was one 
part where we seemed to have had an enfilade fire, for the 
Rebel dead lay there, one on top of the other. . . . We 
stopped under a hollow oak, just at a point of woods and at 
the juncture of two country roads. Some movement of our 
troops attracted the enemy, who immediately sent two or 
three round shot to enfilade the road, and which of course 
came about our ears in a most uncomfortable way. Ill luck 
would have it that the fire of two or three batteries just 
crossed at that point. So not a gun could open but that we 
got a reminder. To which may be added that stray bullets 
from Crawford's front came zip! tzizl to add their small 
voices. We had it intermittently all day long from eight 
o'clock till dark. New batteries soon came up, under 
charge of Captain Phillips (Appleton's commander). "I 
want you to go in there with your guns," said General 
Griffin, "but you will be under fire there." "Well," said 
Phillips, "I have been in those places before"; and rode 
on, followed by his pieces. Later, his First Lieutenant, 
Blake, was carried by me, dead, shot with a minie ball 
through the forehead. . . . 

After much difficulty in advancing the different divi- 
sions, we at last drove the enemy from the railroad cut and 
a gully beyond, and got in, to about 200 yards of their 
works. At 3.30 in the afternoon the first assault took place. 
We rode out on an open field to watch it. In front was a 
broad expanse, quite flat; then the railroad cut with a 
fringe of bushes, and then a gradual rise crowned by the 

170 Meade^s Headquarters [junei9, 

Rebel rifle-pits and batteries, which were distant perhaps 
half a mile. Close to us, on each side, were our batteries, 
firing as fast as they could, and the rebels were sending 
back shot, shell, and shrapnel as hard as possible. Half a 
mile is no good with minie rifles; and, as soon as we at- 
tacked, the balls came tolerably numerous, cutting up 
little puffs of sand on the dry field. I sat up straight on my 
horse, comme les autres, but I can't say it was pleasant, 
though it is a help to have others cool and brave. It was 
as I expected — forty-five days of constant marching, 
assaulting and trenching are a poor preparation for a rush ! 
The men went in, but not with spirit; received by a with- 
ering fire, they sullenly fell back a few paces to a slight 
crest and lay down, as much as to say, "We can't assault 
but we won't run." The slopes covered with dead and 
wounded bore testimony that they were willing to give 
proof of courage even in circumstances that they deemed 
desperate. Another attack at six resulted no better, save 
that the lines were at all points pressed close in on those of 
the enemy. Birney, during the day, made a grand attack 
with no better success, on- the right. I returned after dark, 
feeling pretty sad. General Meade was much disappointed, 
but took it cheerfully as he does every matter which 
affects him personally. The whole thing resulted just as I 
expected. You cannot strike a full blow with a wounded 

June 19, 1864 

It having been represented to General Meade that there 
were some wounded and a good many dead between the 
lines, he determined to send a flag to get a short armistice, 
as at Cool Arbor. I was again selected, as the man having 
good clothes, to undertake the mission. This time I deter- 
mined to have a bugler, and so I did, and very spruce he 

1864] Manoeuvres about Petersburg 171 

was, with a German-silver key-bugle. Likewise was there 
a tall sergeant, in Sunday best, with General Seth Wil- 
liams's new damask tablecloth, on an appropriate staff! 
Thus equipped, and furnished with a large letter, I rode 
forth. . . . We crossed the rail near Colonel Avery's, 
rode into the woods and immediately came on the picket 
reserves of cavalry, where we got a man to guide us to the 
extreme left of the infantry picket line. We floundered 
through a little swampy run, brushed through some brush, 
and came on a little clearing, at the other side of which was 
a gentleman, with a cocked musket, eyeing us suspiciously, 
but who withdrew on seeing our color. There we came on 
what is always a pretty sight, a picket line in a wood. The 
men are dotted along, ten or fifteen feet apart, with 
stronger parties on the roads; and you see them indis- 
tinctly, as they stand, half -hidden among trees and bushes. 
I found there Captain Thatcher in command of the picket 
line. There was some delay here, in sending word to the 
division commander, and to a battery that was firing. As 
soon as they were notified. Captain T. and myself, with 
the flag about five paces ahead, and the bugler behind, 
walked along the wood-road. Thatcher is a brisk, black- 
eyed little man, and kept peeping about, through the dense 
pines, and saying: "We are getting somewhere pretty near 
them. Wave your flag, Sergeant ! " As for myself, I looked 
with some confidence for a salutation of two or three bul- 
lets; but made no observation, as being superfluous under 
the circumstances. Presently the flag-bearer, who, you 
may be sure, kept an extremely bright look-out, said: 
"There 's one of 'em ! " and immediately waved the emblem 
of peace in a truly conscientious manner. I looked and saw 
the main road, and, in an open field beyond, stood a single 
grey -back, looking dubiously at us, with his rifle ready for 

172 Meade^s Headquarters cjunei9, 

any emergency. I told the bugler to blow a parley, which 
he did in very good style, while I advanced to call to the 
solitary sentry ; but the effect of the bugle was most marvel- 
lous — quite as when "he whistled shrill and he was an- 
swered from the hill." In an instant, a line of some seventy- 
five men rose, as if out of the ground. It was their pickets, 
who had been concealed in little holes, dug in the slope of 
the gentle hill. One of them laid down his musket and 
came forward, when I asked for an officer; whereat, he 
touched his hat (probably awestruck by my cotton gloves) 
and returned to fetch one. Then came a red-faced captain, 
who received my despatch, and a bundle of letters from 
Rebel prisoners, and promised a speedy answer. So the 
flag was stuck up on a fence and we waited. In a few min- 
utes the commander of the pickets hastened out to do me 
honor — Major Crow, of Alabama, a remarkably bright, 
nice-looking man. We exchanged compliments and news- 
papers, and he entertained me with an amusing account, 
how he had gone on a "leave " to north Alabama, and how 
our cavalry suddenly rushed into the town, whereupon he 
ascended briskly into the belfry of the court -house,through 
the slats of which he beheld a large number of his friends 
gobbled up and marched off, while he himself nearly froze 
to death with the extreme cold ! By this time we had the 
variety of a visitor on horseback. Colonel Ring, a handsome 
man, who was curious about the negro troops and said, 
with an honesty immistakable, that he would not be a bit 
afraid to fight them, one against two. They, however, said 
nothing at all unpleasant or rude. The next comer was 
apparently a Staff officer, a young man of rather a sour 
countenance, with a large pair of spurs. He brought a 
message that we should immediately retire from the lines, 
and hostilities would then recommence, till the answer 

1864] Manoeuvres about Petersburg 173 

was ready, when they would put a white flag on their 
rifle-pit. This amused me, for I had already seen all that 
could be seen and knew just where their position was just 
at that point ! I returned whence I came, and waited at a 
wretched, deserted house. ... At seven in the evening 
I got the reply and carried it in. The sum of it was : " Have 
the honor to acknowledge your favor. As to your proposi- 
tion — Ah, don't see it ! " ^ And so there was no armistice. 
Our poor wounded fellows, I believe, we got off that night, 
all of them, or all but a very few. And thus ended my 
second diplomatic mission. Since then, General Williams 
has caused a regular white flag to be made, ready for use in 

June 23, 1864 

All were up at an early hour and ready for an advance, 
which had been ordered. On the right, towards the Greg- 
ory house, we were already against them, and I suppose 
my friend there. Major Crow, had seen us under more hos- 
tile circumstances. . . . By 4.30 General Meade started 
for General Wright's Headquarters at the Williams house, 
where he ordered me to stay, when he left at seven. . . . 
I rode about with General Wright, who visited his line, 
which was not straight or facing properly. That's a 
chronic trouble in lines in the woods. Indeed there are 
several chronic troubles. The divisions have lost connec- 
tion; they cannot cover the ground designated, their wing 
is in the air, their skirmish line has lost its direction, etc., 

^ "It was signed by Beauregard, and was a specimen of his mean 
Creole blood. 'He did not know there had been any fight of conse- 
quence and should therefore refuse. After any engagement of real 
moment, he should be glad to extend the courtesies of war!' He lied; 
for he knew full well that there had been heavy fighting and that we 
at least had lost some thousands. But he wished to show his dirty 
spite. Lee does not do such things." — Lyman's Journal. 

174 Meade'* s Headquarters [june23, 

etc. Then General Meade gets mad with the delay. The 
commanders say they do as well as they can, etc. Well, 
Ricketts ran one way and Russell another; and then the 
2d Corps — how did that run? and were the skirmishers so 
placed as to face ours? and what would General Birney do 
about it? How long was the line? could it advance in a 
given direction, and, if so, how? All of which is natural 
with a good many thousand men in position in a dense 
wood, which nobody knows much about. All this while 
the men went to sleep or made coffee ; profoundly indiffer- 
ent to the perplexities of their generals ; thai was what gen- 
erals were paid for. When General Wright had looked a 
great deal at his line, and a great deal more at his pocket 
compass, he rode forth on the left to look at the pickets, 
who were taking life easy like other privates. They had 
put up sun-shades with shelter-tents and branches, and 
were taking the heat coolly. . . . 

About this time a Vermont captain (bless his soul !) went 
and actually did something saucy and audacious. With 
eighty sharpshooters he pushed out boldly, drove in a lot 
of cavalry, and went a mile and a quarter to the railroad, 
which he held, and came back in person to report, bringing 
a piece of the telegraph wire. . . . Some time in the morn- 
ing, I don't exactly know when, the signal officers reported 
a large force, say two divisions, marching out from the 
town, along the railroad, whereof we heard more anon. 
At noon there still had been no advance, and General 
Wright went to General Birney to arrange one. There was 
General Meade, not much content with the whole affair. 
They all pow-wowed a while, and so we rode back again, 
through the dreary woods, through which fires had run. 
It was after two when we returned. Now then — at last — 
all together — skirmishers forward ! And away they go, 

1864] Manoeuvres about Petersburg 175 

steadily. Oh, yes ! but Rebs are not people who let you sit 
about all the day and do just as you like; remember that 
always, if nothing else. There are shots away out by the 
railroad — so faint that you can scarce hear them. In 
comes a warm sharpshooter: "They are advancing rapidly 
and have driven the working party from the railroad." 
Here come the two divisions, therefore, or whatever they 
are. "Stop the advance," orders General Wright. "Gen- 
eral Wheaton, strengthen that skirmish line and tell them 
to hold on." The remainder of Wheaton's division is 
formed on the flank, and begins making a breastwork; 
more troops are sent for. The fire of the skirmishers now 
draws nearer and gets distinct; but, when the reinforce- 
ment arrives, they make a stout stand, and hold them. 
. . . All the while the telegraph is going: "Don't let 'em 
dance round you, pitch into them!" suggests General 
Meade (not in those exact words). "Don't know about 
that — very easy to say — will see about it," replies the 
cautious W.; etc., etc. Pretty soon the cavalry comes pil- 
ing in across the Aiken oat -field; they don't hold too long, 
you may be certain. This exposes the flank of the picket 
hne, which continues to shoot valiantly. In a little while 
more, a division officer of the day gallops in and says they 
have broken his skirmishers and are advancing in line of 
battle. But the Rebels did not try an approach through the 
open oat -field: bullets would be too thick there; so they 
pushed through the woods in our rear. I could hear them 
whooping and ki-yi-ing, in their peculiar way. I felt un- 
comfortable, I assure you. It was now towards sunset. 
Our position was right in the end of the loop, where we 
should get every bullet from two sides, in event of an 
attack. General Grant, of the Vermont Brigade, walked 
up and said, in his quiet way: "Do you propose to keep 

176 Meade 'j Headquarters cjune 24, 

your Headquarters here?" "Why not?" says Ricketts. 
"Because, when the volleys begin, nothing can live here." 
To which Ricketts replied, "Ah?" as if someone had re- 
marked it was a charming evening, or the like. I felt very 
like addressing similar arguments to General Wright, but 
pride stood in the way, and I would have let a good many 
volleys come before I would have given my valuable ad- 
vice. A column of attack was now formed by us, during 
which the enemy pushed in their skirmishers and the bul- 
lets began to slash among the trees most spitefully; for 
they were close to; whereat Wright (sensible man!) vouch- 
safed to move on one side some seventy yards, where we 
only got accidental shots. And what do you think? It was 
too dark now for us to attack, and the Rebs did not — and 
so, domino, after all my tremendous description! Worse 
than a newspaper isn't it? I was quite enraged to be so 
scared for no grand result.^ 

June 24, 1864 

It is praise not to be pitched into by the Great Peppery : 

and he is very kind to me. To be sure, I watch him, as one 

would a big trout on a small hook, and those who don't, 

catch volleys at all hours! Poor Biddle, for instance, an 

excellent, bettyish sort of man, with no fragment of tact, 

when the General is full of anxiety for something that is 

not going right, is sure to come in, in his stuttering way, 

with "Ah, aw, hem, aw. General, they are going to pitch 

camp in a very sandy, bad place, sir; you will not be at all 

comfortable, and there is a nice grassy — " "Major Bid- 

^ "I look on June 22d and 23d as the two most discreditable days 
to this army that I ever saw! There was everywhere, high and low, 
feebleness, confusion, poor judgment. The only person who kept his 
plans and judgment clear was General Meade, himself. On this par- 
ticular occasion Wright showed himself totally unfit to command a 
corps." — Lyman's Journal. 

James Cornell Biddle 

1864] Manoeuvres about Petersburg \ii 

(llejn" — and then follows the volley. Sometimes it is 
very effective to contradict the General, provided you 
stick to it and are successful. I came in last night, feeling 
cross and not at all caring for commanders of armies or 
other great ones of this earth. "Well, Lyman, you're back, 
are you?" "Yes, sir: I reported that the enemy were 
moving along our rear, but they got no further than — " 
"Rear! not at all! they were moving along the front." 
"No, sir, they were not, they were moving along our rear." 
"What do you mean by that.? There is Russell, and there 
is Ricketts, and here is Wheaton; now of course that's 
your front." "Russell isn't in such a position, sir, nor 
Wheaton either. They face so (dabs with a pencil), so that 
is our rear and can't be anything else." Whereupon the 
good chief graciously said no more. I do not know that he 
ever said anything pleasant about me except the day after 
the Wilderness battles, when I heard Hancock say that 
"Colonel Lyman had been useful to him, the day before." 
To which the General replied: "Yes, Lyman is a clear- 
headed man." I have heard him volunteer several favor- 
able things about Captain Sanders; also he has remarked 
that Old Rosey (my tent-mate) was good at finding roads; 
and that is pretty much all of his praises, whereof no man 
is more sparing. By the way, old Rosey has his commis- 
sion as captain. One thing I do not like — it is serious — 
and that is, that three years of bitter experience have 
failed to show our home people that, to an army on active 
campaign (or rather furious campaign), there must be 
supplied a constant stream of fresh men — by thousands. 
What do we see.? Everyone trying to persuade himself that 
his town has furnished its "quota." But where are they? 
We have large armies, but nothing compared with the 
paper statements. No! The few produced by drafts in 


178 Meade^s Headquarters [june25, 

good part run away; so too many of the "volunteers" — 
miserable fellows bought with money. None are shot — 
that is unmerciful — but the Powers that Be will let 
brave, high-toned men, who scorn to shirk their duty, be 
torn with canister and swept away with musketry, and 
that is inevitable. 

This morning appeared General Grant with two French 
officers, who since have taken up their quarters with us 
and mess with us. They are two artillery officers, the elder 
a Colonel de Chanal, the other a Captain Guzman, both 
sent as a commission to observe the progress of the cam- 
paign. The Colonel is a perfect specimen of an old French- 
man, who has spent most of his life in provincial garrisons, 
in the study of all sorts of things, from antiquities down to 
rifled projectiles. He has those extraordinary, nervous 
legs, which only middle-aged Frenchmen can get, and is 
full of various anecdotes. Many years he has lived in 
Toulouse. The other is young and little and looks like a 
black-eyed and much astonished grasshopper. He is very 
bright, speaks several languages, and was on the Chinese 
expedition. General Grant staid some time in council, and 
took dinner with us. I was amused at him, for, the day 
being warm, he began taking off his coat before he got to 
the tent; and by the time he had said, "How are you, 
Meade?" he was in his shirt-sleeves, in which state he re- 
mained till dinner-time. He attempted no foreign conver- 
sation with the Gauls, simply observing; "If I could have 
turned the class the other end to, I should have graduated 
at West Point, very high in French"! 

June 25, 1864 
I can only say that I have "sweltered" to-day — that is 
the word; not only has it been remarkably broiling, but 

1864] Manoeuvres about Petersburg 179 

this region is so beclouded with dust and smoke of burning 
forests, and so unreheved by any green grass, or water, 
that the heat is doubled. We have had no drop of rain for 
twenty days, and but a stray shower for over a month. 
It is hardly necessary to say that neither army is what it 
was : the loss of a large proportion of the best officers, the 
nervous prostration of the men, the immense destruction 
of life, all tend to injure the morale and discipline and skill 
of both parties. As to the next step, I do not know; Grant 
is as calm and as apparently sure as ever. I have got from 
the region of fighting now, to the realm of lying idle, and it 
will not be so easy to fill a daily sheet. General Meade 
asked me to show the Gauls somewhat about; so I clapped 
them on their two horses, which they had from General 
Grant, and took them by easy stages to General Wright 
near by. The good General was comfortably in the woods. 
I say comfortably, because everything is relative. I mean 
he had his tents pitched and had iced water, two important 
elements. He speaks no French — De Chanal no English 
— so they smiled sweetly at each other. Old D. C. ought 
to be ashamed of himself. He married an American wife, 
but, like a true Gaul, utterly refused to learn a word of 
English. It is ever a part of a Frenchman's religion to 
speak no language but his own. Little grasshopper Guz- 
man chirped away and made up for two. Then Colonel 
Kent rode out with us, as a matter of politeness (for I knew 
that part of the line as well as he), and we showed them 
how our men made breastw^orks of rails, logs, and earth; 
how they lived and cooked; and all sorts of things. After 
which I took them out towards the picket line and showed 
them the country, and a tract of dense, young pines, 
through which our men advanced in double lines — a feat 
which I can never understand, but which is performed 

180 Meade'* 5 Headquarters cjuiyi, 

nevertheless. By this time, both distinguished foreigners 
being powdered a la marquise, I took them home, only 
showing them, before coming in, one more thing, only too 
characteristic of our war — the peculiar graves of our sol- 
diers, marked each by a piece of cracker-box, with the 
man's name in pencil, or hastily cut with a knife. I recol- 
lect sitting on the high bank of the Rapid Ann, at Ger- 
manna Ford, and watching the 5th and 6th Corps as they 
marched up from the pontoon bridges; and I remember 
thinking how strange it would be if each man who was 
destined to fall in the campaign had some large badge on ! 
There would have been Generals Sedgwick, Wadsworth, 
and Rice, and what crowds of subordinate officers and of 
privates, all marching gaily along, unconscious, happily, 
of their fate. 

July 1, 1864 
Nothing very new to-day. I took advantage of the pro- 
pinquity of the nigger division (which had come to fill part 
of the 6th Corps' line, during its absence) to show the un- 
bleached brethren to my Imperial commissioners. We 
rode first to General Ferrero's Headquarters. This officer, 
as his name hints, is an Italian by birth, his papa being of 
Milan. He is quite a well-looking man, and, like unto Gen- 
eral Carr, was a dancing-master before he took to soldier- 
ing. He speaks Italian and some French and sputtered 
along very successfully with the visitors. There was turned 
out for them a regiment of darks. The sun was intense and 
the sable gents looked like millers, being indeed quite 
obscured except when they stood perfectly still. They 
did remarkably well, and the French officers, who were in- 
clined to look favorably on them beforehand, were in 
ecstasies over their performances. 

Joseph Bradford Carr 

1864] Manoeuvres about Petersburg isi 

July 4, 1864 
What shall I say of the Fourth? Our celebration could 
not well amount to much ; the men have to stay too close 
in camp to do such things. The band came in the morning 
and serenaded, and there was saluting enough in the form 
of cannon and mortars from our right. This siege — if you 
choose to call it a siege — is a curious illustration of 
the customs of old soldiers. On the right — say from the 
Appomattox to a point opposite the Avery house — the 
lines are very close and more or less of siege operations are 
going on; so every finger, or cap, or point of a gun that 
shows above the works, is instantly shot at, in addition to 
which batteries and mortars are firing intermittently. 
Nothing could be more hostile ! But pass to the division a 
little to the left of this, where our lines swing off from the 
enemy's, and you have a quite reversed state of things. 
There is not a shot! Behold the picket men, no longer 
crouching closely in their holes, but standing up and walk- 
ing about, with the enemy's men, in like fashion, as near 
to them, in some places, as the length of the Brookline 
house. At one part, there was a brook between, and our 
pickets, or theirs, when they want water, hold up a can- 
teen, and then coolly walk down to the neutral stream. 
All this truce is unofficial, but sacred, and is honorably 
observed. Also it is a matter of the rank and file. If an 
officer comes down, they get uneasy and often shout to 
him to go back, or they will shoot. The other day General 
Crawford calmly went down, took out an opera-glass and 
began staring. Very quickly a Reb was seen to write on a 
scrap of paper, roll it round a pebble and throw it over to 
our line. Thereon was writ this pithy bit of advice : "Tell 
the fellow with the spy-glass to clear out, or we shall have 
to shoot him." Near this same spot occurred a ludicrous 

182 Meade^s Headquarters cjuiys, 

thing, which is true, though one would not beHeve it if seen 
in a paper. A Reb, either from greenness or by accident, 
fired his musket, whereupon our people dropped in their 
holes and were on the point of opening along the whole 
line, when the Rebs waved their hands and cried: ''Don't 
shoot; you'll see how we'll fix him!" Then they took the 
musket from the unfortunate grey -back, put a rail on his 
shoulder, and made him walk up and down for a great 
while in front of their rifle-pits ! If they get orders to open, 
they call out, "Get into your holes, Yanks, we are ordered 
to fire"; and their first shots are aimed high, as a sort of 
warning. Their liberties go too far sometimes, as when two 
deliberately walked up to our breastwork to exchange 
papers; whereat General Crawford refused to allow them 
to return, saying very properly that the truce was not offi- 
cial, and that they had chosen to leave their own works 
and come over to ours, and that now they could carry back 
information of our position. They expected an attack on 
the 4th of July — I suppose as a grand melodramatic 
stroke on Grant's part; but, instead thereof, the Maryland 
brigade brought up their band to the trenches and played 
"Hail Columbia"; upon which, to the surprise of every- 
one, a North Carolina regiment, lying opposite, rose as a 
man and gave three cheers! The news is not precisely 
cheery from Maryland.^ With the preparations on foot, 
we ought to bag a large part of the Rebels; but I have a 
sublime confidence that the movements of our troops will, 
as usual, be a day too late. . . . 

July 5, 1864 
I forgot to tell you that yesterday there appeared a wag- 
gon of the Sanitary Commission bearing a gift for the com- 
^ Early's invasion of Maryland, and advance on Washington. 

1864] Manoeuvres about Petersburg i83 

fort of Headquarters. With it came the agent, Mr. John- 
son, a dried-up Philadelphian, of a serious countenance. 
He brought some ice, mutton, canned fruit, etc., for the 
behoof of the suffering hossifers, and was received with 
sweet smiles. This morning we made up a quartette, the 
two Frenchies, Rosencrantz and myself, and made a 
journey to City Point, distant some twelve or thirteen 
miles. It was not unpleasant, though the sun was ex- 
tremely hot; for we took back roads in the woods and es- 
caped a good share of dust. Before getting to the City 
Point road, near Bailey's, we stopped at one Epps's house. 
Epps himself with family had been called on sudden busi- 
ness to Petersburg, about the time Smith moved up; but 
some of his nigs remained. Among others a venerable 
"Aunty," of whom I asked her age. "Dunno," replied the 
Venerable, "but I know I'se mighty old: got double gran' 
children." She then began to chuckle much, and said: 
"Massa allers made me work, 'cause he was ugly; but since 
you uns is come, I don't have to do nuphun. Oh! I'se 
powerful glad you uns is come. I didn't know thar was so 
many folks in the whole world as I seen round here." I told 
the old lady to use up everything she could find, and left 
her chuckling continuously and plainly impressed with 
the idea that I was a very pleasant gentleman. Guzman, 
meantime, looked on with irrepressible astonishment, hav- 
ing never before seen a real, live slave. At City Point I de- 
livered some despatches at General Grant's, and after 
went down and saw the Sanitary boats. They have three 
of them, large ones, moored permanently side by side, and 
full of all sorts of things, and especially a host of boxes, no 
two alike. The upper deck, to render it attractive, was 
ornamented with a pile of two or three hundred pairs of 
crutches. For myself I got some iced lemonade on board. 

184 Meade^s Headquarters [juiy6, 

and retired much refreshed and highly patriotic. One of 

the great sights down there is the huge army hospital, a 

whole plain, white with large tents. These are capable of 

receiving 7000 patients and have at present about 3000. 

All are under charge of my excellent classmate, Dr. Ned 

Dal ton. 

July 6, 1864 

We have no rain here — never expect any ; air hazy with 
a faint dust, finer than twice volted flour, which settles on 
everything — but tliat won't kill anybody. So Ewell is (or 
was — don't know his whereabouts at this precise mo- 
ment) at Harper's Ferry. We knew he w^as poking up there 
somewhere. As to the A. of P., it is sitting here, trying to 
get some fresh cabbages, not very successfully, so far — 
the last issue, I am told, furnished one small one to every 
fifteen men. Old Uncle Lee is " in posish," as General Will- 
iams would say, and seems to remark: "Here I am; I have 
sent off Ewell; now why don't you come on?" I suppose 
you think I speak flippantly of what the French call the 
"situation"; but one gets so desperate that it is no use to 
be serious. Last night, after I had got to bed, I heard the 
officer of the day go with a despatch into the General's 
tent and wake him up. Presently the General said: " Very 
well, tell General Wright to send a good division. I sup- 
pose it will be Ricketts's." And he turned over and went 
asleep again. Not so Ricketts, who was speedily waked up 
and told to march to City Point, thence to take steamers 
for Washington, or rather for Baltimore. We do not ap- 
preciate now, how much time, and labor, and disappoint- 
ment, and reorganization, and turning out bad officers, 
have to be done, before an army can be got in such condi- 
tion that a division of several thousand men may be sud- 
denly waked at midnight and, within an hour or so, be on 

1864] M anoeuvres about Petersburg i85 

the inarch, each man with his arms and ammunition 
ready, and his rations in his haversack. l<^ow, nobody 
thinks of it. General Meade says, "Send Ricketts"; and 
turns over and goes to sleep. General Ricketts says, 
"Wake the Staff and saddle the horses." By the time this 
is done, he has written some little slips of paper, and away 
gallop the officers to the brigade commanders, who wake 
the regimental, who wake the company, who wake the 
non-commissioned, who wake the privates. And each par- 
ticular private, uttering his particular oath, rises with a 
groan, rolls up his shelter-tent, if he has one, straps on his 
blanket, if he has not long since thrown it away, and is 
ready for the word "Fall in!" When General Ricketts is 
informed that all are ready, he says: "Very well, let the 
column move " — or something of that sort. There is a 
great shouting of "By the right flank, forward!" and off 
goes Ricketts, at the head of his troops, bound for City 
Point; and also bound, I much regret to say, for the Mo- 
nocacy,^ where I fancy his poor men stood up and did all the 
fighting. From what I hear, I judge we had there about 
10,000, of whom a good part were next to worthless. The 
Rebs had, I think, some 12,000, all good troops. This 
General Wallace is said by officers here to be no general at 
all, though brave; and General Tyler is the man whom 
General Humphreys had tried for cowardice, or some 
misbehavior in the presence of the enemy; and who has, 
in consequence, an undying hate for the Chief -of -Staff. 
I remember thinking to myself, as I went to sleep — "divi- 
sion — why don't they send a corps and make a sure 
thing?" Behold my military forethought! 


Monocacy Bridge — the scene of Early's defeat of Lew Wallace, 
which terrified Washington, and caused much consternation in the 

186 Meade 'j Headquarters [juiy 7, 

July 7, 1864 
I paid a visit to Brigadier-General Barlow, who, as the 
day was hot, was lying in his tent, neatly attired in his 
shirt and drawers, and listening to his band, that was play- 
ing without. With a quaint hospitality he besought me to 
"take off my trousers and make myself at home"; which I 
did avail of no further than to sit down. He said his men 
were rested and he was ready for another assault! — 
which, if of real importance, he meant to lead himself; as 
he ''wanted no more trifling." His ideas of "trifling," one 
may say, are peculiar. It would be ludicrous to hear a 
man talk so, who, as De Chanal says, "a la figure d'un 
gamin de Paris," did I not know that he is one of the most 
daring men in the army. It would be hard to find a general 
officer to equal him and Joe Hayes — both my classmates 
and both Massachusetts men. Hayes now commands the 
Regulars. He could not have a higher compliment. 

July 10, 1864 
It seems sometimes sort of lonely and hopeless, sitting 
here in the dust by Petersburg, and hearing nothing except 
now and then a cannon in the distance. Sometimes I feel 
like saying to the Rebels: "You're a brave set of men, as 
ever were; and honest — the mass of you. Take what 
territory you have left and your nigs, and go and live with 
your own delusions." But then, if I reflect, of course I see 
that such things won't do. Instead of being exasperated at 
the Southerners by fighting against them, I have a gi'eat 
deal more respect for them than ever I had in peace-times. 
They appear to much more advantage after the discipline 
of war than when they had no particular idea of law and 
order. Of course I speak only of a certain body, the army 
of Northern Virginia; of the rest I know nothing. Also do I 

1864] M anoeuvres about Petersburg i87 

not speak of their acts elsewhere; but simply of the manner 
of warfare of our particular opponents. It is always well, 
you know, to speak of what you see, and not of what you 
hear through half a dozen irresponsible persons. There is 
no shadow of doubt that the body of the Southerners are as 
honestly, as earnestly and as religiously interested in this 
war as the body of the Northerners. Of course such senti- 
ments in the North are met with a storm of "Oh! How 
can they be.?" — "That is morally impossible" — "No 
one could really believe in such a cause!" Nevertheless 
there is the fact, and I cannot see what possible good can 
come from throwing a thin veil of mere outcries between 
ourselves and the sharp truth. I am not so witless as not 
to be able to tell in five minutes' conversation with com- 
mon men whether they are reasonably honest and sincere, 
or false and deceitful. I was much struck with something 
that Major Wooten said, when we were waiting together, 
by night, at Cool Arbor. ^ After listening to the tremen- 
dous noise of cannon and musketry that suddenly had 
burst forth, he said: "There they are, firing away; and i^ 
is Sunday night, too:' The great thing that troubles me is, 
that it is not a gain to kill off these people — now under a 
delusion that amounts to a national insanity. They are a 
valuable people, capable of a heroism that is too rare to be 

It is a common saying round here that the war could be 
settled in half an hour if they would leave it to the two 
armies. But I fear the two armies would settle it rather 
for their own convenience and in the light of old enemies 
(who had beaten at each other till they had beaten in 
mutual respect) than on the high grounds on which alone 
such a decision could rest. And, on second thoughts, I do 
1 On the Rebel picket line, with a flag of truce. 

188 Meade^s Headquarters [juiyio, 

not think it migHt turn out so smoothly. Doubtless the 
treaty would make excellent progress the first ten minutes ; 
but then would arise questions at which there would be 
hesitation, and, at the end of the half-hour, it is to be 
feared both parties would be back in their breastworks. 
General Meade is fond of saying that the whole could be 
settled by the exercise of common Christian charity; but 
(entirely sub rosa) I don't know any thin old gentleman, 
with a hooked nose and cold blue eye, who, when he is 
wrathy, exercises less of Christian charity than my well- 
beloved Chief ! I do not wish to be understood as giving a 
panegyric on the Secesh, but merely as stating useful facts. 
Little Governor Sprague appeared again. He was last 
with us at Spotsylvania. This time he came over with 
Birney, who, with his thin, pale, Puritanic face, is quite a 
contrast. Sprague has two rabbit teeth in front that make 
him look like a small boy. Birney looks rather downcast. 
You see he was ambitious to do well while he had tem- 
porary command of the Corps; but all went wrong. His 
great charge of nine brigades, on the 18th of June, was re- 
pulsed; and on the 22d the Corps had that direful affair 
in which the whole Corps was flanked, by nobody at all, 
so to speak. The more I think on that thing, the more ex- 
traordinary and disgraceful does it appear. At the same 
time, it is in the highest degree instructive as showing 
what a bold and well-informed enemy may do in thick 
woods, where nobody can see more than a company front. 
The Rebel official accounts show that Mahone, with some 
6000 or 7000 men, marched in the face of two corps in 
line of battle, took 1600 prisoners, ten flags, and four guns, 
paralyzed both corps, held his position till nightfall, and 
retreated with a loss of not over 400 men ! I was with the 
6th Corps and never heard a musket from the 2d nor 

Francis Channing Barlow 

1864] Manoeuvres about Petersburg i89 

dreamed it was doing anything, till an aide came to say the 
line had been driven in. . . . 

July 12, 1864 
I sent off a detail of fifty men at daylight to prepare the 
ground for the new camp, and at eight o'clock, the wag- 
gons moved off with all our worldly effects, and the Staff 
remained under the shade of the abandoned gourhis} We 
live very much after the way of Arabs, when you think of 
it — nomadic, staying sometimes a day, sometimes a 
month in a place, and then leaving it, with all the bowers 
and wells that cost so much pains. Afterwards most of the 
officers went to the new camp, while the General, with two 
or three of us, went down the road, towards the Williams 
house. There was an odd group at Hancock's temporary 
Headquarters, by a little half-torn-to-pieces house, on 
whose walls some fellow had inscribed "the Straggler's 
Rest." Hancock lay, at full length, in a covered waggon, 
which had been placed under a weeping willow, one of the 
few green objects midst the desert of dust. He was attired 
in a white shirt and blue flannel pantaloons, quite enough 
for the intensely hot day. He lies down as much as he can, 
to give his wounded leg rest. General Meade mounted on 
the front seat, put his feet on the foot-board and lighted a 
cigar; and we all knew he was fixed for an hour at least. 
When he gets down with Hancock they talk, and talk, and 
talk, being great friends. Hancock is a very great and 
vehement talker but always says something worth hearing. 
Under the ruined porch was Barlow, in his costume d 'ete — 
checked shirt and old blue trousers, with a huge sabre, 
which he says he likes, because when he hits a straggler he 
wants to hurt him. He immediately began to pump the 

^ An Algerine word for a bower over a tent. 

190 Meade'^s Headquarters [juiyi3, 

Captain Guzman, for he never neglects a chance to get 
information. After we had been well fried and dusted, 
General Meade rose to go, but I budged not, for I knew 
he would sit down again. He always rises twice or three 
times before he finally leaves Hancock. By the time we 
got to camp, it was all ready and looked quite neat. 

July 13, 1864 
... I hear this evening that General Wright has been 
put in command of all forces to repel the invasion.'^ But 
our attempt to bag the raiders may be somewhat like the 
domestic rural scene of surrounding an escaped pig in the 
vegetable garden. Don't you know how half a dozen men 
will get in a circle about him, and then cautiously advance, 
with an expression of face between confidence and timid- 
ity.^ The piggie stands still in the midst, with a small and a 
treacherous eye. Suddenly, picking out the weakest man, 
he makes an unexpected rush between his legs, upsets him, 
and canters away midst an impotent shower of sticks! I 
suppose you think I take a very light view of things, but 
in reality I do not; only, after seeing so many fine men 
knocked over, this business of tearing up tracks and eating 
all the good wife's fresh butter seems of lesser consequence. 
Another thing is, I hojye it will do us good, sting us to the 
quick, and frighten us into a wholesome draft. You must 
remember that this sort of raiding has been a continual 
and every-day thing in the southern country, though to us 
it seems to be so awful. 

The mail man who came down to-night says they are in 
a great tremble at Washington, while down here we are 
pleasantly building bowers against the sun, and telling 
stories to wile away the time. To these last our French 

^ Early's advance on Washington. 

1864] Manoeuvres about Petersburg 191 

Colonel contributes many, of the Midi, which, with the 
peculiar accent, are very laughable. To illustrate the 
egotistical ideas of the Marseillais, he told of a father who 
was showing to his son a brigade of Zouaves who had just 
come from Italy and were marching through the streets. 
"Mon enfant! Vois-tu ces Zouaves? Eh bien, ils sont 
tous-e des Marseillais. II y avait des Parisiens, inais on les 
a mis dans la musiquef' You remember that long, hot 
street there they call the Canebiere. A certain citizen, 
who had just been to see Paris with its present improve- 
ments, returned much gratified. "Ah," said he, "Paris est 
une bien jolie ville; si, ga avait une Canebiere, ga serait un 
petit Marseille." As an offset to which we must have an 
anecdote of this region. Did I ever tell you of "Shaw," 
the valet of Hancock (formerly of General French) ? This 
genius is a regular specimen of the ne'er-do-weel, roving, 
jack-of -all-trades Englishman. I fancy from his manner 
that he has once been a head servant or butler in some 
crack British regiment. He has that intense and impres- 
sive manner, only to be got, even by Bulls, in years of drill. 
He is a perfect character, who no more picks up anything 
American, than a duck's feathers soak water. He is full of 
low- voiced confidence. "Oh, indeed, sir! The General 
rides about a vast deal in the dust, sir. I do assure you, 
that to-day, when he got in, his undergarments and his 
Jiose were quite soiled, sir!" 

"That fellow," said Hancock, "is the most inquisitive 
and cool man I ever saw. Now I don't mind so much his 
smoking all my cigars and drinking all my liquors — 
which he does — but I had a bundle of most private 
papers which I had hidden in the bottom of my trunk, 
and, the other day, I came into my tent and there was Mr. 
Shaw reading them! And, when I asked him what the 

192 Meade^s Headquarters [juiy2o, 

devil he meant, he said: "Oh, General, I took the liberty of 
looking at them, and now I am so interested, I hope you 
will let me finish the rest!" 

July 20, 1864 

Our camp was this morning taken by assault by a caval- 
cade which turned out to be Major-General Ben F. Butler 
and a portion of his Staff. He is the strangest sight on a 
horse you ever saw: it is hard to keep your eyes off him. 
With his head set immediately on a stout shapeless body, 
his very squinting eyes, and a set of legs and arms that 
look as if made for somebody else, and hastily glued to 
him by mistake, he presents a combination of Victor 
Emmanuel, -/Esop, and Richard III, which is very confus- 
ing to the mind. Add to this a horse with a kind of rapid, 
ambling trot that shakes about the arms, legs, etc., till 
you don't feel quite sure whether it is a centaur, or what it 
is, and you have a picture of this celebrated General. Cele- 
brated he surely is, and a man of untiring industry and 
activity. Woe to those who stand up against him in the 
way of diplomacy! Let the history of "Baldy " Smith be a 
warning to all such. It is an instructive one, and according 
to camp rumor, runs thus. It was said that Smith, relying 
on his reputation with Grant, had great ideas of shelving 
Butler, and Fame even reported that he had ideas also of 
giving Meade a tilt overboard. So what do we see but an 
order stating that Major-General Smith was to command 
the "forces of the field" of the Department, while Major- 
General Butler would continue to command the Depart- 
ment, with his ''Headquarters at Fortress Monroe.'^ Next 
day everybody says: "So, Butler has gone." Not exactly. 
Butler was still there, precisely as before. "As long as I 
command the Department, I command its troops; there- 
fore. Headquarters where I please. I please here.'' Off goes 

1864] Manoeuvres about Petersburg 193 

Smith to Washington, mysteriously. Down pounces But- 
ler on City Point. Long confab with General Grant. Back 
comes Smith comfortably and is confronted by an order to 
"proceed at once to New York and await further orders!" 
Thus did Smith the Bald try the Macchiavelli against 
Butler the cross-eyed, and got floored at the first round! 
"Why did he do so.^^" asked Butler, with the easy air of a 
strong man. "I had no military ambition; he might have 
had all that. I have more important things in view!" 
Speaking of Butler's visit, he had sent him an aide without 
consulting him, and Benjamin thought it a good chance to 
hit Halleck over the aide's head. "Aide-de-camp, sir! 
Ordered on my Staff, sir ! I 'm sure I do not know what you 
are to do. I have really nothing for you. All the positions 
are filled. Now there is General Halleck, what has he to 
do? At a moment when every true man is laboring to his 
utmost, when the days ought to be forty hours long, Gen- 
eral Halleck is translating French books at nine cents a 
page; and, sir, if you should put those nine cents in a box 
and shake them up, you would form a clear idea of General 
Halleck' s soul!" 

July 22, 1864 
I had one of the most amusing excursions that I have 
had during the campaign — really quite a picnic. Colonel 
de Chanal, Rosy, and myself made the party. The distance 
to Butler's Headquarters, whither we were bound, is about 
eight miles, and the road all the way was either through 
the woods or shaded by trees, and the dust had not yet had 
time to show its head after the rain. It was a new part of 
the country to me and very interesting. We struck the 
Appomattox at the Point of Rocks, where the river appears 
double by reason of a long, swampy island in the middle. 


194 Meade'* s Headquarters [juiy24, 

The width, between the two steep, high, gravelly banks, 
cannot be less than 350 yards. Here is a pontoon bridge, 
and, near each end of it, on the top of the bank, a fort for 
its defence. Below it, too, lies a gunboat. Crossing this, 
we soon came to the Great Ben's, who received us very 
hospitably, and exhibited a torpedo and a variety of new 
projectiles, the virtues of which in the destruction of the 
human race I explained in pure Gallic to the Colonel. 
During dinner he said to me: "They spoiled a good me- 
chanic when they made me a lawyer, and a good lawyer 
when they made me general." He delivered a long exposi- 
tion (which I translated) on the virtues of a huge fowder- 
hoat, which he would explode between Moultrie and Sum- 
ter, by clockwork, and not only flatten both forts, but 
Charleston into the bargain! De Chanal replied (citing 
examples) that no such result would follow and that the 
effect would be limited to a veiy small radius. " No effect ! " 
cried B., suddenly bursting into French, "mais pourquoi 
nonf "Ah," said De C, with his sharp French eye, 
" mais pourquoi 51 .^ " . . . 

July 24, 1864 
The appearance of the sky is what the sailors term 
"greasy," though whether that betokens rain or not I 
don't venture to guess. Mayhap we will have a storm, 
which indeed would serve to lay the dust, which already 
begins to return, in force. This drought has been in one 
respect beneficial : it has kept the soldiers from using sur- 
face water and forced them to dig wells, whence healthy 
water may be got. One well near this was productive of 
scientific results, as they got from it a quantity of shells 
which I shall send to Agassiz. All this country is underlain 
more or less by "marl beds," which are old sea-bottoms 

1864] Manoeuvres about Petersburg 195 

full of a good many different shells. The good Colonel de 
Chanal took a ride with me. He is so funny, with his senti- 
mental French ways. He, with a true French appreciation 
of wood, looks with honest horror on the felling of a tree. 
As we rode along, there was a teamster, cutting down an 
oak for some trivial purpose. "Ah," cried De Chanal, 
"Ah! encore un chene; encore un beau ch^ne!" If you tell 
him twenty men have been killed in the trenches, he is not 
interested; but actually he notices each tree that falls. 
"Ah," he says, "when I think what labor I have been at, 
on the little place I have at home, to plant, only for my 
grandchildren, such trees as you cut down without rea- 
son!" As he has always lived in the South of France, 
where greenery is scarce, he is not offended by the bareness 
of the soil; but when riding through a dreary pine wood, 
will suddenly break out: "Oh, que c'est beau, que c'est 

July 30, 1864 
My spirits to-night are not very high; our project of 
attack, which in the beginning promised well, has not been 
a success in the result. You must know that there has 
always been a point on Burnside's line that was quite near 
that of the enemy, say 250 feet. A mine was begun there 
over a month since, and has been quite finished for a week. 
It was at first rather an amateur affair, for the policy of the 
future operations had not then been fixed. However, it 
was steadily pushed, being in charge of Colonel Pleasants, 
who has a regiment of Pennsylvania coal-miners. He first 
ran a subterranean gallery, straight out to the enemy's 
bastion, where they had four guns. Then three lateral 
passages were made, each terminating in a chamber, to be 
filled with gunpowder. These chambers or magazines were 

196 Meade^s Headquarters cjuiysi, 

about twenty feet underground. The final springing of the 
mine was delayed, in order to build heavy batteries and 
get the guns and mortars in. A couple of days ago orders 
were given to charge the chambers with 8000 pounds of 
gunpowder (four tons) } The powder was laboriously car- 
ried in in kegs (the gallery was so low, the men were forced 
to double themselves over in passing), and the kegs were 
packed in, after removing their heads. When a chamber 
was charged, loose powder was poured over the whole. 
The magazines were connected by a wooden casing filled 
with powder, and this was also run along the gallery for 
some distance, where it was connected to a fuse which ran 
to the mouth of the gallery. 

To-morrow I will continue, but now it is rather late. 

July 31, 1864 
I will continue now my letter that broke off last night, 
and confide to you in all honesty, that I went fast to sleep 
on the bed and never woke till it was too late for more writ- 
ing! The fact is, it was a day of extraordinary heat, and 
remarkably close also. I had been up at half -past two that 
morning, and I felt a great deal depressed by the day's 
work. Well, I had got my fuse to the mouth of the gallery. 
You must know that all the time they were putting in the 
powder they could hear the enemy digging pretty near 
them, over their heads; for they had suspected we were 
mining, and had begun digging, to try to find it : they sunk 
a "shaft" or well inside their bastion, and then ran a 

' ^ " Duane had sent for the mining records before Sebastopol and got 
me to read them to learn the proper charge; for, what with malaria, 
and sunstroke, and quinine, whiskey, and arsenic, he can hardly see, 
but clings to duty to the last ! Finding nothing there, he said the book 
was a humbug, and determined on 8000 lbs. The charge was tamped 
with twenty-five feet of sand bags," — Lyman's Journal. 

1864] Manoeuvres about Petersburg 197 

gallery outside, from which they dug each way, to cut our 
gallery. But they did not go deeip enough and so missed 
their object. The enemy had lately sent a large part of 
their force to head off Hancock at Deep Bottom, across the 
James, a movement that had seriously alarmed them. So 
the forces in our front were much weakened and the 
moment was favorable. . . . 

On the 29th Hancock was ordered to withdraw, hold two 
divisions in reserve, and relieve the 18th Corps on the line 
with the third. The 18th Corps was then to move up in 
the night, and take position to support the 9th Corps in 
the assault. The 5th Corps was to be held in readiness on 
its part of the line, and to open with musketry as soon as 
the mine was sprung, in order to keep down the enemy's 
fire on the assaulting column. New batteries of heavy mor- 
tars and siege guns were put in position and the whole 
artillery was ordered to open on the enemy's batteries, the 
moment the mine was blown up. The 9th Corps was ar- 
ranged to make a rush to the gap, the moment the explo- 
sion took place, and then one column was to keep on, and 
occupy the crest beyond (the key of the whole position), 
and others were to look out for an attack on either flank. 
The hour for springing the mine was 3.30 a.m. 

General Hunt had been everywhere and arranged his 
artillery like clockwork; each chief of piece knew his dis- 
tances and his directions to an inch. We were all up and 
horses saddled by 2.30. . . . We were to go to Burnside's 
Headquarters to wait — an arrangement that I regretted, 
as you can see nothing from there. It was near half -past 
three when we got there, and only a faint suspicion of day- 
light was yet to be noticed. It was an anxious time — 
eight thousand pounds of gunpowder to go into the air at 
once! I had considered all I had read about explosions 

198 Meade'^s Headquarters cjuiysi, 

and had concluded it would make little noise and be very 
circumscribed in its effects. Others, however, thought it 
might be a sort of earthquake, overturn trees, etc., which 
idea was founded on the fact that even a. dozen pounds 
confined would pretty nearly blow a house down. How- 
ever, we were something like a mile away and would not be 
likely to get the worst of it. General Burnside with his 
Staff* had gone to the front. Presently General Grant ar- 
rived, I think after four o'clock. He said, "What is the 
matter with the mine.'^" General Meade shrugged his 
shoulders and said, "I don't know — guess the fuse has 
gone out." Which was a true guess. Where the fuse was 
spliced, it stopped burning; upon which Colonel Pleasants 
coolly went into the gallery and fired the new end ! At ten 
minutes before five there was a distant, dull-sounding ex- 
plosion, like a heavy gun, far away; and, in an instant, as 
if by magic, the whole line of batteries burst forth in one 
roar, and there was nothing but the banging of the guns 
and the distant hum of the shells! My back was turned 
at the moment, but those that had a good view say that a 
mass of earth about 50 feet wide and 120 long was thrown 
some 130 feet in the air, looking like the picture of the Ice- 
land geysers. The explosion made a crater some 120 feet 
long, 50 feet wide, and 25 deep (so it was described to me) . 
The mine blew up about under the bastion and rather on 
one side of it. 

[The description of what followed, is copied from Ly- 
man's "Journal."] 

So astounded was the enemy and so covered was their 
position by our augmented artillery, that their reply was 
weak indeed and was soon almost silenced. Meantime, 

1864] Manoeuvres about Petersburg 199 

after incomprehensible delay (usually described as at least 
twenty minutes), the assaulting column moved forward, in 
a loose manner. This was Marshall's brigade of Ledlie's 
division, a brigade composed of dismounted cavalry and 
demoralized heavy artillery ( ! ) , the whole good for noth- 
ing, over which Marshall, a severe, courageous man, had 
been put, in the vain hope of beating in some discipline! 
Burnside, with inconceivable fatuity, allowed the troops 
for leading the assault to be selected hy lot! The Corps was 
enough run down to make it hard to get a good forlorn 
hope with the most careful picking. Then no gap had been 
made in the parapet, which, next the mine, was at least 
eight feet high — all in disobedience to orders. All this 
time there was more or less cannon and musketry. Orders 
were sent to take the crest : to push on at once ! But plainly 
there was a hitch! Colonel de Chanal, who was standing 
with me, was frantic over this loss of precious moments. 
"Mais, cette perte de temps!" he kept saying. In fact 
Marshall's brigade had gone into the crater and had filled 
it, and now were utterly immovable and sullen ! The sup- 
ports, brought up by the flank in bad order, crowded into 
the crater and the neighboring bomb-proofs and covered 
ways. There was some fighting, and the Rebel breastworks 
for 200 or 300 yards were taken, with a few prisoners; but 
advance to the crest the men would not. Our own covered 
ways were jammed with supporting troops that could do 
no good to anyone. 7 a.m. A lull. At a few minutes after 
8 A.M. the troops of the 18th Corps and the black division 
of the 9th attempted a charge. Sanders, who saw it, said 
the troops would not go up with any spirit at all. The 
negroes came back in confusion, all mixed with the whites 
in and about the crater. Their ofiicers behaved with dis- 
tinguished courage, and the blacks seem to have done as 

200 Meade'* s Headquarters cjuiy 31, 

well as whites — which is faint praise. This attack was 
over three hours after the springing of the mine. Mean- 
while, of course, the enemy had strained every nerve to 
hold their remaining works and had made all preparations 
to retake the lost ground. They got guns in position 
whence they could play on the assailants without fear of 
getting silenced; and they brought a heavy musketry to 
bear in the same direction. The space between our line 
and the crater now was swept by a heavy fire, and made 
the transit hazardous. 9.15 a.m. or thereabouts; a charge 
by a brigade of the 18th Corps and a regiment of blacks; a 
part of one white regiment got to, or nearly to, the crest, 
but of course could not stay. During the morning a des- 
patch had come, by mistake, to General Meade. It was 
from Lieutenant-Colonel C. G. Loring, Inspector of 9th 
Corps, who reported that the troops jammed in the crater 
and could not be made to advance. Loring had himself gone 
into the crater. This was the first news from the spot that 
showed Meade the hitch in affairs; because Burnside's des- 
patches had been of a general and a favorable character. 
Hereupon Meade telegraphed Burnside that he wanted the 
full state of the case, which B. took to mean that he had not 
told the truth! and at once flew into one of his singular fits 
of rage. Grant mounted his horse and rode down towards 
the Taylor Battery to try and see something. Meade re- 
mained, receiving despatches and sending orders. Grant 
is veiy desii*ous always of seeing, and quite regardless of 
his own exposure. 10.30 a.m. Burnside and Ord came in. 
The former, much flushed^ walked up to General Meade 
and used extremely insubordinate language. He after- 
wards said he could advance, and wished of all things to 
persist; but could not show how he would do it! Ord was 
opposed to further attempts. Meade ordered the attack 

1864] Manoeuvres about Petersburg 201 

suspended. As Ord and Burnside passed me, the latter 
said something like: "You have 15,000 men concentrated 
on one point. It is strange if you cannot do something with 
them." Ord replied angrily, flourishing his arms: "You 
can fight if you have an opportunity; but, if you are held 
by the throat, how can you do anything.'^" Meaning, I 
suppose, that things were so placed that troops could not 
be used. Burnside said to one of his Staff officers: "Well, 
tell them to connect, and hold it." Which was easy to say, 
but they seem to have had no provision of tools, and, at 
any rate, did not connect with the old line. Poor Burnside 
remarked, quite calmly: "I certainly fully expected this 
morning to go into Petersburg!"^ At 11.30 a.m. Head- 
quarters mounted and rode sadly to camp. 3.30 p.m. Har- 
wood, of the Engineers, said to me: "They have retaken 
that point and captured a brigade of our people ! " Indeed, 
the Rebels had made a bold charge upon the huddled mass 
of demoralized men and retaken the crater, killing some, 
driving back others, and capturing most. And so ended 
this woeful affair! If you ask what was the cause of this 
failure to avail of one of the best chances a besieging army 
could ask for, I could answer with many reasons from 
many officers. But I can give you one reason that includes 
and over-rides every other — the men did not fight hard 

August 1, 1864 
I waked at about six in the morning and heard the Gen- 
eral say, "Very well, then, let the truce be from five to 
nine." Whereby I knew that Beauregard had agreed to a 
cessation of hostilities for the burial of the dead and relief 

^ "All Burnside's baggage was packed, ready to go into Petersburg!" 
— Lvman's Journal. 

202 Meade^s Headquarters [Aug. i, 

of the wounded. After struggling awhile with my indo- 
lence, I tumbled out of bed, waked Rosencrantz and or- 
dered my horse. We speedily got ready and sallied forth to 
look at the field. We rode into a piece of pine woods, at 
the corner of which I was during the assault of the 18th of 
June. Some of the advanced camps were here, the danger 
of their position being plainly marked by the banks of 
earth put up by each tent. Getting out of the wood, we 
came on an open tract, a good deal elevated. Here, on the 
left, and by the ruins of a house was a heavy battery, 
known as the Taylor house battery. And here too begins 
the "covered way." Before I saw real operations I never 
could understand the management of cannon. On the 
principle of your battle on "the great white plain," I had 
an idea that all the guns were put in the front line : else how 
could they hit anybody ? But really there are often no can- 
non at all there, all being placed in a second or a third line, 
or in isolated batteries in these relative positions. One of 
our heavy siege guns would sometimes have to fire as many 
as 1700 yards to hit the enemy's breastwork. You see 
that cannon-shot must rise high in the air to go any dis- 
tance; so they fire over each other's heads. In practice this 
system is not without its dangers, owing to the imperfec- 
tions of shells. In spite of the great advances, much remains 
to be done in the fuses of shells ; as it is, not a battle is fought 
that some of our men are not killed by shells exploding 
short and hitting our troops instead of the enemy's, 
beyond. Sometimes it is the fuse that is imperfect, some- 
times the artillerists lose their heads and make wrong 
estimates of distance. From these blunders very valuable 
officers have lost their lives. Prudent commanders, when 
there is any doubt, fire only solid shot, which do not explode, 
and do excellent service in bounding over the ground. 

1864] Manoeuvres about Petersburg 203 

We got off our horses at the edge of the wood and took 
to the covered way (we might better have ridden). A 
covered way is singularly named, as it is open on top. It 
is simply a trench, about four feet wide, with the dirt 
thrown up on the side towards the enemy. It should be 
deep enough to cover a man standing upright. The great 
thing is, so to run it that the enemy cannot get a sight of it 
lengthwise, as they could then enfilade it. To this end the 
way is run zig-zag, and advantage is taken of every hollow, 
or knoll, that may afford shelter. I was not impressed with 
the first part of our covered way, as it could be shot into in 
many places, and was so shallow that it covered me no 
higher than the shoulders. Probably it was dug by a small 
oflicer who was spiteful against men of great inches. . . . 
We scrambled up the opposite steep bank and stood at the 
high breastwork of Burnside's advanced salient. The para- 
pet was crowded with troops, looking silently at the scene 
of the late struggle. We got also on the parapet and at 
once saw everything. Opposite, and a little above us, dis- 
tant about 350 feet, was the rough edge of the crater, made 
by the mine. There were piles of gravel and of sand, and 
shapeless masses of hard clay, all tumbled on top of each 
other. Upon the ridge thus formed, and upon the remains 
of the breastwork, stood crowds of Rebel soldiers in their 
slouched hats and ghostly grey uniforms. Really they 
looked like malevolent spirits, towering to an unnatural 
height against the sky. Each party had a line of sentries 
close to his works, and, in the midst, stood an officer with 
a white flag, where the burial parties were at work.^ I 
jumped down and passed towards the enemy's line, where 
only officers were allowed to go, with the details for work. 

^ "The Rebels were meanly employing their negro prisoners in this 
work." — Lyman's Journal. 

204 Meade^s Headquarters [Aug. 4, 

I do not make a practice of describing disagreeable spec- 
tacles, and will only say that I can never again see any- 
thing more horrible than this glacis before the mine. It did 
not take long to satisfy our curiosity, and we returned to 
camp, getting in just as the General was at breakfast. He 
takes his disappointments before Petersburg in an excel- 
lent spirit; and, when the "Herald" this morning said he 
was to be relieved and not to have another command, he 
laughed and said: "Oh, that's bad; that's very bad! I 
should have to go and live in that house in Philadelphia; 
ha! ha! ha!" The papers will tell you that Grant has gone 
to Washington. As I don't know what for, I can make 
Yankee guesses. I presume our father Abraham looks on 
his election prospects as waning, and wants to know of 
Ulysses, the warrior, if some man or some plan can't be got 
to do some thing. In one word he wants to know — WHY 
month since there was a talk of putting Hancock at the 
head: that is, losing the most brilliant of corps command- 
ers and risking (there is always a risk) the making of a 
mediocre army commander! 

August 4, 1864 
This was quite a festal day for us. The General, accom- 
panied by the Frenchies, Rosencrantz, Bache, Biddle and 
myself, paid a grand visit to Butler. Butler was in high 
feather. He is as proud of all his "fixin's " as a farmer over 
a prime potato patch. We first got on the Greyhound, an 
elegant steamer (Butler believes in making himself com- 
fortable), and proceeded down the Appomattox, past City 
Point, and then bore up the James, passing Bermuda 
Hundred, with its flotilla of schooners and steamers. . . . 
We had got a good bit above Bermuda Hundred and were 

1864] Manoeuvres about Petersburg 205 

paddling along bravely when we came in sight of two gun- 
boats; that is, common steamers with some heavy guns on 
board. There are many in the river and they go up and 
down to keep it clear. As we drew near, I saw the men were 
at quarters and the guns run out. We passed between the 
first boat and the high wooded bank, when I beheld the 
gunboat captain dancing up and down on the paddle-box 
and roaring to us: "The left bank is lined with sh-a-a-rp- 
shooters!" It would have edified you to have seen the 
swift dignity with which General Meade and his gallant 
Staff stepped from the open, upper deck to the shady 
seclusion of the cabin! Our skipper jingled "Stop her," 
with his engine-room bell, and stop she did. Here was a 
chance for war-god Butler. "Hey.^ What.^^ Sharpshooters.'' 
Pshaw! Fiddledeedee ! Stop her! Who said stop her.^^ 
Mr. DeRay, tell the Captain to go on, instantly T' And 
Butler danced out on the open deck and stood, like George 
II at Dettingen, in "an attitude of fence." I, who looked 
for a brisk volley of musketry, fully expected to see him 
get a bullet in his extensive stomach. Meanwhile the Cap- 
tain went on, and, as soon as we were clear, the naval party 
in the rear (or "astern," we ought to say) let go one big 
gun, with a tremendous whang! and sent a projectile 
about the size of a flour barrel on shore, severely wounding 
a great many bushes and trees. The other gunboat went 
ahead of us and kept up a little marine combat, all on her 
own hook. Whether there really were sharpshooters, I 
know not : I only think, if there were, it would be diflScult 
to say which party was the more scared. . . . 

Finally we went on shore where our horses were waiting, 
for this is not over three and a half miles from the Appomat- 
tox, though it is fifteen or sixteen miles round by the 
river. From the top of the cliff we had a splendid view of 

206 Meade'* s Headquarters [Aug. 6, 

the cultivated country towards Richmond. And so, after 
inspecting more of Benjamin's apple-pie batteries, we went 

August 6, 1864 

I took a limited ride along our flank defences, where I 
discovered a patriotic sentry, sitting with his back to where 
the enemy might be supposed to come, and reading a novel ! 
He belonged to the 7th Indiana. "What are your instruc- 
tions.^" say I. "Han't got none," replies the peruser of 
novels. "Then what are you here for.^^" "Well, I am a 
kind of an alarm sentinel," said this literary militaire. 
"Call the corporal of the guard," said I, feeling much dis- 
posed to laugh. The sentry looked about a little and then 
singling out a friend, called out: "Oh, Jim, why, won't you 
just ask Jeremiah Miles to step this way.^^" After some 
delay, Jeremiah appeared. He was in a pleasing state of 
ignorance. Did not know the sentry's instructions, did not 
know who the officer of the guard was, did not know much 
of anything. "Well," said I, "now suppose you go and 
find the sergeant of the guard." This he did with great 
alacrity. The sergeant, as became his office, knew more 
than the corporal. He was clear that the sentry should not 
read a book; also that his conduct in sitting down was ec- 
centric; but, when it came to who was the oflScer of the 
guard, his naturally fine mind broke down. He knew the 
officer ?/ he saw him, but could not remember his name. 
This he would say, the officer was a lieutenant. "Suppose 
you should try to find him," suggested I. Of course that 
he could do; and soon the "Loo-tenant" appeared. To 
him I talked like a father; almost like a grandfather, in 
fact; showed him the man's musket was rusty and that he 
was no good whatsoever. Loo-tenant had not much to 
say; indeed, so to speak, nothing; and I left him with a 

1864] Manoeuvres about Petersburg 207 

strong impression that you can't make a silk purse from a 
sow's ear. It is not ludicrous, but sad, to see such soldiers 
in this Army of the Potomac, after three years of expe- 
rience. The man could not have been better: tall, strong, 
respectful, and docile; but no one had ever taught him. It 
was a clear case of waste of fine material, left in all its 
crudity instead of being worked up. And this is the grand 
characteristic of this war — waste. We waste arms, cloth- 
ing, ammunition, and subsistence; but, above all, men. 
We don't make them go far enough, because we have no 
military or social caste to make officers from. Regiments 
that have been officered by gentlemen of education have 
invariably done well, like the 2d, 20th, and 24th Massa- 
chusetts, and the 1st Massachusetts Cavalry. Even the 
44th and the 45th, nine-monthers, behaved with credit; 
though there was this drawback in them, that the privates 
were too familiar with the officers, having known them 
before. However, perfection does not exist anywhere, and 
we should be thankful for the manifold virtues our soldiers 
do pre-eminently possess. I see much to make me more 
contented in reading Napier, before referred to. After the 
taking of Badajos, the English allowed their own wounded 
to lie two days in the breach, without an attempt to carry 
them off. This is the nation that now gives us very good 
lectures on humanity. As to old Wellington, I suspect he 
was about as savage an old brute as would be easy to find. 

August 8, 1864 
"What do you think of filling up with Germans.?^" you 
ask. Now, what do you think of a man who has the tooth- 
ache — a werry , werry big molar ! — and who has not the 
courage to march up and have it out, but tries to persuade 
himself that he can buy some patent pain-killer that will 

208 Meade ^s Headquarters [Aug. 8, 

cure him; when, in his soul, he knows that tooth has to 
come out? This is what I think of our good people (honest, 
doubtless) who would burden us with these poor, poor 
nigs, and these nerveless, stupid Germans. As soldiers in 
the field the Germans are nearly useless; our experience is, 
they have no native courage to compare with Americans. 
Then they do not understand a word that is said to them 
— these new ones. So it has proved with the Massachu- 
setts 20th (which has a perfection of discipline not at all 
the rule). Under the severe eyes of their officers the Ger- 
man recruits have done tolerably in simple line, mixed with 
the old men; but they produced confusion at the Wilder- 
ness, by their ignorance of the language; and, only the 
other day. Patten told me he could not do a thing with 
them on the skirmish line, because they could not under- 
stand. By the Lord! I wish these gentlemen who would 
overwhelm us with Germans, negroes, and the offscourings 
of great cities, could only see — only see — a Rebel regi- 
ment, in all their rags and squalor. If they had eyes they 
would know that these men are like wolf-hounds, and not 
to be beaten by turnspits. Look at our "Dutch" heavy 
artillery : we no more think of trusting them than so many 
babies. Send bog-trotters, if you please, for Paddy will 
fight — no one is braver. It should be known, that ill-dis- 
ciplined, or cowardly, or demoralized troops may be useful 
behind walls, but in open campaigning they literally are 
worse than useless; they give way at the first fire and ex- 
pose the whole line to be flanked. At the Wilderness the 
6th Corps would have been stronger without Ricketts's 
division; at Spotsylvania the whole army would have 
been stronger without Mott's division. Rowland^ has in- 
fluence in recruiting; impress upon him, therefore, that 
^ His brother-in-law. 

1864] Manoeuvres about Petersburg 209 

every worthless recruit he sends to this army is one card in 
the hand of General Lee and is the cause, very Hkely, of the 
death of a good soldier. The trouble is this: we have not 
the machinery to work up poor material. They won't let us 
shoot the rascals, and few regiments have the discipline to 
mould them into decent troops; the consequence is, they 
are the stragglers, pillagers, skulkers and run-aways of the 
army. If you had seen as many thousands as I, you would 
understand what sort of fellows they are. I don't believe 
in recruiting another man! We have recruited already 
more volunteers than any country ever saw. Volunteers 
are naturally exhausted ; and now we pay huge bounties 
to every sort of scoundrel and vagabond and alien. These 
men will Jiot fight and you can't make 'em fight. But draft 
men and you will get good ones, without bounty. They will 
not want to go, but they have the pride of native-born 
Americans, and they fight like devils. The very men that 
desert the next day will fight the day before, for sake of 
avoiding shame. I have written quite a disquisition, but 
the topic is an important one, and I have the honor, in 
conclusion, to suggest to the honorable City of Boston 
that, when the Germans arrive, they should be let out as 
gardeners, and the poor remnants of the old regiments 
should be allowed to fight it out alone. 

August 9, 1864 
In the forenoon, as we were sitting in camp, we heard a 
noise, like a quick, distant clap of thunder, but sharper. 
We concluded it must be an explosion, from the sound, 
and in a few minutes came a telegraph from Grant, at City 
Point, saying that an ordnance barge had blown up, with 
considerable loss of life. I think the number of killed will 
not exceed thirty -five; and, of the wounded, perhaps eighty; 


210 Meade^s Headquarters [Aug. ii, 

at first they thought there were many more. The greater 
part of the injured were negroes employed as wharf - 
laborers. To return to the explosion: Rosy, Worth, 
Cavada, and Cadwalader were at Grant's Headquarters, 
and they said it perfectly rained shells, shot, bullets, pieces 
of timber, and saddles (of these latter there was a barge 
load near by). Two dragoons were killed, close to them, 
and a twelve-pounder solid shot went smash into a mess- 
chest in the tent. The only man who, at the first shock, 
ran towards the scene of terror was Lieutenant-General 
Grant, which shows his kind of character very well. We 
dined very pleasantly with Dalton. You should see his 
town of tents, with regular streets — accommodation 
easy for 8000 patients. Everything as neat as a pin. 
Steam-engine to pump water from the river; every patient 
of the 4000 on a cot; the best of food for all; and the most 
entire cleanliness. When Dalton heard the explosion, he 
jumped on his feet, and, true to his instincts, cried out: 
"Harness the ambulances!" 

August 11, 1864 
Sheridan has been appointed to command all the upper 
Potomac forces, which is saying that he is to command all 
the troops to drive Early out of the Shenandoah Valley. 
He is a Major-General, and is an energetic and very brave 
ofiicer. This command, however, is a very large one, larger 
than he ever before had. I have little doubt, that, for 
field-service, he is superior to any ofiicer there. Things are 
cooking, and the Rebels will find they must fag away still, 
as well as we. I do not exactly know if Meade likes this 
appointment: you see they have taken one of his corps, 
added much of his cavalry and many other troops to it, and 
then given the command to his Chief of Cavalry, while he 

1864] Manoeuvres about Petersburg in 

[Meade] is left, with a reduced force, at this somewhat 
negative Petersburg business. I rode out just at dark, and 
from an "elevated position," as Smith would say, watched 
the flashes of the sharpshooters, and the fires of the camp. 

August 12, 1864 
I did not yet mention that I had seen Colonel Thomas, 
who commands a negro brigade. A singular thing hap- 
pened to him. He went out during the truce to superin- 
tend, and, when the truce was over, he undertook to return 
to the works, but took a wrong turn, passed inside the Rebel 
picket line, and was seized. He told them they had no 
right to take him, but they could not see it and marched 
him off. But he appealed to the commanding General who, 
after eighteen hours, ordered him set free. He was in and 
about Petersburg and told me the flower-patches were 
nicely cultivated in front of the houses, the canary birds 
were hung in cages before the doors, and everything 
looked as if the inhabitants meant to enjoy their property 
during their lives and hand it quietly down to their 
children. Little damage seemed to have been done by our 
shells, which I was glad to hear, for I hate this business of 
house-burning. Next time, I fancy the warhke Thomas 
will make no mistakes about turns. 

August 13, 1864 

... I rode over to make some enquiry about Colonel 
Weld, of Loring, at Burnside's Headquarters. As I drew 
near, I heard the sound as of minstrelsy and playing on 
the psaltry and upon the harp; to wit, a brass band, toot- 
ing away at a great rate. This was an unaccustomed noise, 
for Burnside is commonly not musical, and I was speculat- 
ing on the subject when, on entering the circle of tents, I 
beheld a collection of Generals — not only Burnside, but 

212 Meade^s Headquarters CAug. 13, 

also Potter, Willcox, and Ferrero. Speaking of this last, 
did you hear what the negro straggler remarked, when 
arrested by the Provost-Guard near City Point, on the 
day of the assault, and asked what he was doing there. 
*"' Well, saar, I will displain myself. You see, fus' I was sub- 
joined to Ginral Burnside; an' den I was disseminated to 
Ginral Pharo. We wus advancing up towards der front, an' 
I, as it might be, loitered a little. Presently I see some of 
our boys a-runnin' back. 'Ho, ho,' sez I, 'run is your 
word, is it.^' So I jes separates myself from my gun and I 
re-tires to dis spot." 

W'ell, there was "Ginral Pharo" taking a drink, and an 
appearance was about as of packing. Whereat I presently 
discovered, through the joyous Captain Pell (who asked 
me tauntingly if he could "do anything for me at New- 
port"), that Burnside and his Staff were all going on a 
thirty-day leave, which will extend itself, I fancy, indefi- 
nitely, so far as this army goes. On my return I found two 
fat civilians and a lean one. Fat number one was Mr. Otto, 
Assistant Secretary of the Interior; Fat number two, a 
Professor Matile, a Swiss of Neufchatel, and friend of 
Agassiz (you perhaps remember the delicious wine of that 
place). The lean was Mr. Falls, what I should call Mr. 
Otto's "striker," that being the name of an officer's servant 
or hanger-on. Mr. Falls was very chatty and interroga- 
tive, following every sentence by "Is it not.^" So that 
finally I felt obliged always to reply, "No, it isn't." I 
scared him very much by tales of the immense distances 
that missiles flew, rather implying that he might look for 
a pretty brisk shower of them, about the time he got fairly 
asleep. Professor Matile was bright enough to be one of 
those who engaged in the brilliant scheme of Pourtales 
Steiger to seize the chateau of Neufchatel on behalf of the 

John Grubb Parke 

1864] Manoeuvres about Petersburg 213 

King of Prussia. Consequently he since has retired to this 
country and has now a position as examiner at the Patent 
Office. Mr. Otto was really encouraging to look at. He 
did not chew tobacco, or talk politics, or use bad grammar; 
but was well educated and spake French and German. 
General Butler, having a luminous idea to get above the 
Howlett house batteries by cutting a ship canal across 
Dutch Gap, has called for volunteers, at an increased rate 
of pay. Whereupon the Rebel rams come down and shell 
the extra-pay volunteers, with their big guns ; and we hear 
the distant booming very distinctly. I think when Butler 
gets his canal cleverly through, he will find fresh batteries, 
ready to rake it, and plenty more above it, on the river. 
The Richmond papers make merry, and say it will increase 
their commerce. 

August 14, 1864 
. . . General Parke got back from his sick leave and took 
command of the 9th Corps. He is a very pleasant-looking 
man and liked apparently by everyone. He has been 
obliged twice to return to the North by reason of malarial 
attacks, which is a pity, as he acted usually as adviser to 
General Burnside and had an excellent effect on him. He 
cured himself twice of malarial fever by accidentally tak- 
ing an overdose of medicine. The last time, he had been 
told to take one pill, containing something very strong; 
but made a mistake and took four. After which he was 
somewhat surprised to find his face making a great many 
involuntary grimaces, and his body feeling uncommonly 
uncomfortable. However, next day he was all well, and 
the doctor told him it was a good dose to take, provided it 
did not unfortunately happen to kill him. Captain Fay 
took out the cits to-day, in an ambulance, and showed them 

214 Meade^s Headquarters [Aug. i6, 

the lines. After which the youth Falls was seized with a 
nobJe ambition to ride on horseback in company of Cap- 
tain Guzman. Being provided with a hard trotter, he 
came near tumbling off, at the first start, and was obliged 
to change horses and perform the rest of the journey at a 
mild pace. 

August 16, 1864 
I have been well content to get your letter this after- 
noon. In regard to what you say for the troops for the 
assault,^ it is true that General Meade should have or- 
dered in the best — and so he did. Express orders were 
given to put in the best troops and have the division gen- 
erals lead them if necessary. General Meade made exam- 
inations in person of the enemy's lines, and the orders 
drawn up by General Humphreys were more than usually 
elaborated. People have a vulgar belief that a General 
commanding a great army can, and ought to arrange in 
person every detail. This is not possible, nor is it desirable; 
the corps and division commanders would at once say: 
"Very well, if you have not enough confidence in me to let 
me carry on the ordinary business of my command, I 
ought to be relieved." I see great discussion in the papers 
as to the conduct of the negroes. I say, as I always have, 
that you never, in the long run, can make negroes fight 
with success against white men. When the whole weight 
of history is on one side, you may be sure that side is the 
correct one. I told General Meade I had expressed myself 
strongly, at home, against the imported Dutchmen, to 
which he replied: "Yes, if they want to see us licked, they 
had better send along such fellers as those!" As I said 
before, the Pats will do: not so good as pure Yanks, but 

^ When the mine was exploded. 

1864] Manoeuvres about Petersburg 215 



they will rush in and fight. There was a report at first that 
Colonel Macy of the 20th Massachusetts was mortally 
wounded, but I have since heard that it is not so. On Sun- 
day, he had command of a brigade, and had his horse 
killed: he then came back, got another horse from Barlow 
and returned to the front. This horse either was shot or 
reared over with him, frightened by the firing, and 

216 Meade^s Headquarters [Aug. is, 

crushed him badly. Let me see, I told you this before; 
never mind, you will be sure now to know it. Sometimes 
I get rather mixed because I write often a few words about 
a day, on the eve of the same, and then detail it more 
at length afterwards. The Rebels got well alarmed about 
Hancock and sent reinforcements, recalling troops that 
had started to help Early in the valley; an important 
point gained. Hancock had some hard jBghting to-day, 
with considerable success, taking several hundred prison- 
ers and driving the enemy. The Rebel General Chambliss 
was killed, and we found on him a valuable map containing 
the fortifications of Richmond. They also are said to have 
killed a General Gherrard; but I have an idea there is no 
such General in their service.^ Perhaps he was a new ap- 
pointment, or a colonel commanding a brigade. As to 
giving you an account of the engagement, it would be out 
of the question; as it is a perfect muddle to me. I only 
know that Gregg, with a cavalry division, went out on the 
Richmond road, to within six and one half miles of the 
city, and encountered a big crowd of infantry and had to 
come back. Barlow had to leave his division, sick, and go 
to friend Dalton, at City Point. 

August 18, 1864 
Last night I had got well into the first sound sleep, when 
images of war began to intrude on my dreams, and these, 
taking on a more corporeal form, gradually waked me 
enough to prove to my mind that there was a big racket 
going on. The noise of a few shells and many muskets I 
don't mind, as I am used to it, but, when it comes to firing 
heavy mortar shells in salvos, one is authorized to sit up in 
bed, even if it is one in the morning. Once awake, I recog- 
nized the fact that the largest kind of a cannonade was 
^ It was Brig. Gen. Victor J. B. Girardey. 

1864] Manoeuvres about Petersburg 217 

going on. The still, damp air was filled with the detona- 
tions of all sorts of big guns and projectiles. It was quite 
as extensive as the firing on the morning of the mine and 
sounded very much louder, in the night. Our side replied 
rather moderately, but the enemy kept up one roar of bat- 
teries for some two hours, and the air was full of the hum- 
ming and bursting of the shells. At the end of that time 
they stopped, rather suddenly. We expended some 1500 
rounds of ammunition and they must have fired much 
more, and all to kill and wound thirty men. . . . The 
great joke of the matter was, that General Meade (who is 
a sound sleeper, and was a little deaf from a cold in the 
head) remained calmly in the arms of Morpheus, till a 
telegraph from Grant at City Point, came in, asking what 
all that firing was about ! It so happened that the General 
woke just at a lull in the cannonade; so he didn't under- 
stand the despatch, but called the officer of the night to 
know if he had heard any more firing than usual! You 
should have seen the deshabille parade of officers in the 
camp: such a flitting of figures in a variety of not much 
clothing! General Humphreys said: "Yes, perhaps it 
would be well to have the horses saddled; for," he added 
with a hopeful smile, "we may have a scrimmage, you 
know." But he was disappointed, and we all went to bed 

August 19, 1864 
To-day I have been with the General to General Warren, 
who with the 5th Corps seized the Weldon railroad yester- 
day. It is touching a tiger's cubs to get on that road! 
They will not stand it. Warren had a severe fight yester- 
day at midday, but they could not get him off. All was 
quiet this morning towards the railroad. Mott^ got in, 
^ Ordered back from Deep Bottom. 








1864] Manoeuvres about Petersburg 219 

through the mud, about seven, and began at once to re- 
Heve the 9th Corps, which was not an easy matter, for the 
covered way was, in many places, waist-deep in water, so 
the troops had to march up as well as they could, keeping 
behind hills, etc. The enemy opened on them with artillery 
but it was rather too late, and the columns were already 
pretty well out of reach. At noon the General started to 
go out to visit the scene of action. It was raining steadily, 
and we went slo^, slop along. Near the Cheever house 
was a damp brigade of Potter's division, halted. The 
General ordered me to tell it to move on, as it might be 
needed. General Potter himself was near by at General 
White's Headquarters. . . . After which I was fain to 
gallop briskly to catch up with the Staff, which was jogging 
along the Williams house road. . . . Cutting through a 
skirt of wood, we came on a very large, flat, open farm, on 
which is the Globe Tavern,^ and through which runs the 
railroad. . . . General Warren had a narrow escape in 
the fight of yesterday. His horse was struck directly be- 
tween the eyes by a minie ball. If his head had been 
down, there would have been nothing to save the General's 
body. The Corps [Warren's] was then formed in form of 
two sides of a rectangle, the longer arm lying across the 
railroad, the shorter parallel to it. It could scarcely fail 
to strike me that, while his left flank was well protected, 
his right was "in the air," having nothing in connection with 
it but the picket line. However, as I am not a military 
critic, I thought no more of it. The enemy did think a 
good deal of it. In front of the position were dense woods, 
on its left a fine open tract, and, on the right, a wood sepa- 
rated it from the open farm of the Aiken house. We left at 
3.30, and returned by the way we came. Both going and 
1 Where they found Warren. 

220 Meade'' s Headquarters [Aug. 20, 

coming I quite expected to see the picket line tumbling in 
on top of us, and was not surprised, as we rode along near 
the Aiken house, to hear a number of dropping shots to our 
left. Just after we got to the plank road, we could hear the 
cannon opening, which continued a short time and then 
ceased. During the said short time was enacted one of 
those disgraceful surprises which we have in such perfec- 
tion. The enemy, making a front attack, at the same mo- 
ment threw a strong column down a road leading past the 
Linear house and outside our right flank. They smashed 
through the picket line, passed down the road, faced to 
their right, and rushed, yelling and firing, into the open 
fields, in rear of our right wing. Met here by a fire of 
artillery and reserve troops, they themselves fell into 
confusion, and rushing back through our lines, like a 
great tide, carried out to sea at least 2000 of our men, in- 
cluding most of our gallant little regular brigade with its 
commander. General Hayes. To be sure we drove them 
off and held the railroad, but we ought to have taken all 
that flanking column. ^ 

August 20, 1864 
A brigade of cavalry passed last night, coming from 
Deep Bottom, and reported this morning to General 
Warren, to cover his flank and rear, and help destroy the 
railroad. A Lieutenant McKibbin, who once went out 
with me on a flag of truce, was badly hit in the shoulder 
yesterday. He is a curious young man and belongs to a 
very fighting family. Being the son of a hotel-keeper, he 
joined the army as a sutler; but, at the battle of Gaines's 
Mill, as soon as the musketry began, he deliberately 
anointed his tent with butter, set the whole shop on fire, 

^ "The position was faulty! Warren should have corrected it, and 
Meade should have known it!" — Lyman's Journal. 

1864] Manoeuvres about Petersburg 221 

took a gun and went into the fight, where he presently got 
a bullet, that entered on one side of his nose and came out 
under his ear ! Thereupon he received a commission in the 
regulars, where he still remains. . . . There was rain still 
to-day, making the ground so bad that orders were finally 
issued that no waggons should go west of the plank road, 
all stores being sent thence on pack mules. In the morning 
came a couple of hundred Rebel prisoners, taken yesterday. 
Among them were a number of their Maryland brigade, 
quite well dressed and superior men, many of them. They 
were very civil, but evidently more touchy than the ex- 
treme Southerners, who exhibit no feeling at all. These 
Mary landers, however, were very anxious to say they were 
fighting hard when taken, which I don't doubt they were. 
They had the remains of fancy clothes on, including little 
kepis, half grey and half sky-blue. There was one officer 
who was next-door neighbor of Dr. McParlin, our Medi- 
cal Director, and the Doctor went to see him. General 
Williams has just been in. His great delight is to rub the 
fuzz on top of my head with his finger, and exclaim: 
"Wonder what color the baby's hair is going to be!" 

August 21, 1864 
Last night, Hancock, with his two remaining divisions, 
marched from Deep Bottom and took position on our left, 
ready to support Warren. The long, rapid marches of this 
Corps have given it the name of "Hancock's cavalry." 
When a halt was ordered, one soldier said to the next: 
" O Jim, what er we a-stoppin' for.^ " " The Staff is getting 
fresh bosses!" replied James. At 9.30 in the morning we 
again heard Warren's artillery opening very heavily. I 
felt anxious on account of the nature of the last attack. 
This, however, turned out a very different thing. You 

222 Meade^s Headquarters [Aug. 21, 

saw my diagram of his position in my last letter. In addi- 
tion lie now had made a short exterior flank line. The 
enemy formed in the woods, out of sight, so as to envelop 
his flank defence, and coming partly in rear; the troops 
were those of Beauregard and A. P. Hill, many of which 
had been concentrated from Deep Bottom. They first 
opened a heavy artillery fire from behind the woods, 
throwing most of the projectiles into the angle of the line. 
Then their infantry advanced, in three lines of battle, 
and attempted to charge, but were received by such a dis- 
charge of all sorts of things that they broke and ran back 
before getting anywhere near. A South Carolina brigade 
coming out of the woods, saw that they were on the pro- 
longation of our front flank line, and, thinking they had us 
foul, immediately charged, and caught an awful musketry 
fire on their flank, from our rear flank line, which they had 
not noticed. Immediately they began throwing down 
their arms and shouting, and an ofiicer and some men 
from our front ran out to accept their surrender. The 
officer approached General Hagood and either demanded 
or seized the flag he held in his hand, when Hagood shot 
him mortally with a pistol, and shouted to his men to run. 
Some did so, others (about 300) gave themselves up, and 
others were shot down as they ran. The conduct of Ha- 
good is denounced as treacherous, but this all depends on 
the details of the affair, which remain to be proved. The 
7iext time I think we shall go on shooting till some official 
announcement of surrender is made! Hagood's flag we 
got, a new one, with fifty -seven bullet holes through it! 
Also three or four other flags, and some 400 prisoners in 
all. The total loss of the enemy in the day's work must 
have been from 1500 to 2000. 

We left at about one o'clock, and rode down, first to the 

1864] Manoeuvres about Petersburg 223 

stalwart Hancock, who was just then at the Jones house, 
and then kept on and saw Warren; for we expected an- 
other heavy fight, and General Meade wished to be present 
and see all the troops worked to proper advantage. War- 
ren proposed to attack in his turn, but I am glad he did 
not, for there was no advantage to be gained that I could 
see, and we had all we could desire, the possession of the 
railroad. ... 

August 23, 1864 

Major Duane, who visits me much of evenings, because 
he can't use his eyes, told me a story of Captain Cullum 
(now General Cullum) that I thought eminently Cullum- 
ish. Cullum Was building a small fort at New London and 
was visited by a country editor, whom he received with 
high state and gave a lecture on the principles of fortifica- 
tion, after showing the small work on which he was en- 
gaged. He took as an example a large bastioned fort, and 
showed how it could be breached in forty days; and how 
the defenders would then make an interior line and drive 
out the stormers when they got inside the first. The editor, 
taking all this as applicable to the New London work, went 
home and published a tremendous leader, in which he said 
that the talented Captain Cullum was erecting the largest 
bastion fort in the world; that it would take you forty 
days to get inside it, and, when you were inside, you were 
worse off than you were before! The General rode along a 
new line we had been making, principally the work of the 
nigs, who are very faithful at making a breastwork and 
slashing the timber in front. A colonel or two got well 
pitched into for not having their men with their belts on 
and ready for action. I do believe our soldiers would 
sooner run the risk of getting shot twice a day, than take 
any little precaution. To-day I performed an act of mili- 

224 Meade^s Headquarters [Aug. 25, 

tary charity, by sending, per flag-of-truce boat, some 
coffee and sugar to Joe Hayes and Arthur Sedgwick. 

August 24, 1864 
What you say of Meade's want of success is, as a fact, 
true; but what I don't understand is, that the successes 
are Grant's but the failures Meade's. In point of reahty 
the whole is Grant's: he directs all, and his subordinates 
are only responsible as executive officers having more or 
less important functions. There have been cases where 
they might be said to act alone; for instance, the assault 
of the 18th of June, though under a general permission 
from Grant, was strictly an operation of Meade. He felt 
badly about that failure, "Because," said he, "7 should 
have taken Petersburg. I had reason to calculate on suc- 
cess. The enemy had no defences but what they had 
thrown up in a few hours; and I had 60,000 men to their 
25,000." All of which was true and the result showed the 
difference of morale. The men who stormed the Rappa- 
hannock redoubts in November '03 would have walked 
over the breastworks and driven Beauregard into the 
Appomattox; but those men are on the ground between 
here and the Rapid Ann, or fill the hospitals in the North. 
Put a man in a hole and a good battery on a hill behind 
him, and he will beat off three times his number, even if he 
is not a very good soldier. 

August 25, 1864 
There has been more fighting to-day. Hancock, at 
Reams' station, was destroying the railroad (Weldon) and 
holding a position, also, for defence, having two of his 
divisions of infantry, besides Gregg's cavalry. The Rebels 
sent down a large force to drive him off. They began at- 
tacking say about one o'clock and were severely repulsed. 

1864] Manoeuvres about Petersburg 225 

till evening; but the last news is, that they made a desper- 
ate attempt on all sides and broke through a part of our 
right, just at nightfall. Hancock hoped to retake the part 
of the line lost, with the reinforcements coming up; but we 
have not yet heard the result. I feel rather anxious, though 
I don't fear for Hancock's safety; but I like to see him 
fully successful. Oh, bah! Captain Miller is just in (this 
is eleven o'clock at night). Hancock has lost eight guns — 
among them, I am told. Sleeper's battery. Poor Sleeper 
was here this afternoon, wounded in the arm. It is too 
much all one way in this business, it really is ! I don't like 
to complain, because it troubles you, but it must break 
out occasionally. I get so mad and so bothered. For, 
when we have no good chance, or almost none, when our 
best undertakings fall through, I lose confidence in each 
move, and, when I hear the cannon, I look for nothing but 
our men coming back and a beggarly report of loss of pris- 
oners. It is not right to feel so, but I can't help it. When a 
man gets knocked down every time, he expects to go down 
the next. Well, well, well, I feel already a little better at 
this grumbling. I must be a sorry eel if I am not yet used 
to this sort of skinning. I like to see General Meade. I 
think these contretemps rather rouse and wind him up ; he 
doesn't seem to be depressed by that sort of thing; per- 
haps three years of it have made it necessary to his life, 
just as some persons enjoy a daily portion of arsenic. 

August 26, 1864 
It may be laid down as a general principle, that it is a 
bad thing, in a musket or a man, to go off at half-cock. In 
some respects I may be said so to have done in my letter 
last night. Our information this morning shows that, after 
dark, while we marched off the ground one way, the enemy 


226 Meade^s Headquarters cvug. 26, 

marched off the other, leaving their dead unburied and some 
wounded. Accounts of the field show their loss to have 
been fearful, much greater than ours, which was not se- 
rious either in killed, wounded or prisoners. Thus, all the 
strategic results lie with us, and we hold the Weldon road. 
But I would not have you believe I was disposed to turn 
about and crow. No! I do not so much mind the loss of 
the guns — a mere matter of prestige — but I do mind the 
fact that the 2d Corps men did not all fight as they should 
have fought; had they done so, the Rebels (who I suppose 
were about as three to two) could never have budged 
them. As Major Mitchell observed : " The Rebels licked us, 
but a dozen more such lickings and there will be nothing 
left of the Rebel army ! " My gracious, what a donkey am I 
to be solemnly sending a telegraph, when I have not been 
in a single fight. I felt like a donkey at the time, but I 
thought you would be fussing and imagining, because there 
had been fighting in various directions. But I will not be 
so silly in future. And there is your mother, bless her 
heart! thanking God I am safe out of it, when I have not 
been in it! Really, I feel it almost my duty to go on the 
picket line and get shot at by a grey -back, for the sake of 
doing something! Yes, ma'am, thirty-one is quite an old 
man, but I am "so as .to be about," can ride a horse and 

hold up my head; and, as the late T remarked, when 

he proposed, "I am good for ten years, " which turned out 
to be true (to the regret of Mrs. T.), for he lived twenty- 
five years after and begat sons and daughters. You must 
thank Madre^ from me for the present of "Forbes's Naked- 
eyed Medusa." Tell her, also, that, having neglected my 
natural history for three years, [much] of which has been 
^ His mother-in-law. 

1864] Manoeuvres about Petersburg 227 

devoted to becoming semi-idiotic from having nothing to 
do but listen to cannon and mortars and rifles, and asso- 
ciate with young gentlemen still further advanced in semi- 
idiocy, I have not a clear idea of what a Medusa is; but am 
impressed with the notion that it is something flabby that 
lives in the sea. 



[The next day Lyman was surprised to have Meade say 
to him. "I think I must order you home to get me some 
cigars, mine are nearly out ! " But, as the former remarked, 
"It's hard to surprise a man out of going home, after a 
five months' campaign." 

General Williams gravely prepared a fifteen-day leave, 
and the aides tendered their congratulations. Lyman was 
bound for Richmond on secret service! So the Staff per- 
suaded the inquisitive Biddle, who talked about it all over 
camp, and got very mad when undeceived. He recovered, 
however, when tendered a cocktail as a peace offering. 

Lyman's visit to the North proved longer than he ex- 
pected. For, shortly after his arrival in Beverly, where 
Mrs. Lyman was passing the summer, he had an attack of 
malaria which kept him in bed for some time. According 
to the doctors, "The northern air, with the late cool 
change, had brought to the surface the malaria in the sys- 
tem." Consequently, he was not able to rejoin the army 
until the end of September. 

Meanwhile, the gloom was lifting, that had settled on the 
North after the failure to take Petersburg. For Sherman's 
capture of Atlanta, and Sheridan's victories over Early in 
the Shenandoah, had somewhat changed the situation, al- 
though the Army of the Potomac still lay before Peters- 
burg, where it hovered for many weary months.] 


The Siege of Petersburg 229 

Headquarters, Army of Potomac 
September 28, 1864 

It is late; I am somewhat tired and sleepy; I must be up 
early to-morrow, and many friends keep coming in to say 
"How are you?" So you will let me off from a long letter 
till to-morrow. It is as "nat'ral as the hogs" here. I have 
just taken my supper in a tent as gravely as if I never ate 
in a room. I got here without delay or accident and am 
stronger than when I started. 

Headquarters, Army of Potomac 
September 29, 1864 

The 6.45 p.m. train, which bore me, on Monday, from 
the ancient town of Beverly, did arrive in very good season 
in Boston, where I hired a citizen, in the hack line, to con- 
vey me with speed and safety to the Worcester depot. 
With an eye to speculation the driver took in also a lone 
female, who looked with a certain alarm on me, doubtful 
as to whether I might not be in the highway -robbery line. 
She had evidently been on a sea-shore visit, and bore a 
small pitcher with a bunch of flowers therein. By a supe- 
rior activity I got a place in the sleeping-car, for it seems 
to be the policy to have about half room enough for the 
sleepy passengers, so that those who don't get places may 
look with envy on t'others and determine to be earlier 

next time. Geo. D was along. The canny man had 

got a good berth, in the middle of the day, and you should 
have seen his traveller's fixings: a blanket, a sort of little 
knapsack, and finally a white handkerchief to tie over 
his head; "For," said he, "perhaps the pillows are not very 
clean." With martial indifference I took off boots and 
blouse, got on an upper shelf (not without convulsive 
kicks), and composed myself to the fitful rest which one 

230 Meade^s Headquarters csept. 29, 

gets under such circumstances. There was, as the conduc- 
tor truthfully observed, "a tremendous grist of children 
in the car" — of all sizes, indeed, from a little one that 
publicly partook of its natural nutriment, to youths of 
some twelve summers. The first object I saw, on wakening 
in the morning, was an attentive Ma endeavoring to put 
a hooped skirt under the dress of a small gal, without ex- 
hibiting to a curious public the small gal's legs; which 
attempt on her part was a lamentable failure. I was glad 
to get out of the eminently close locomotive dormitory and 
hop with agility on the horse-car, which landed me, a little 
before seven a.m., at the Astor House. Here I partook of 
a dollar and a quarter's worth of tea and mutton-chop, and 
stretched my legs by a walk to the Jersey ferry, and there, 
as our pilgrim fathers would have said, took shipping for 
the opposite shore. I should not neglect to say that at 
the Astor I had noticed a tall man, in the three buttons of 
a Major-General, whom I at once recognized as the orig- 
inal of the many photographs of General Hooker. I was 
much disappointed in his appearance: red-faced, very, 
with a lack-lustre eye and an uncertainty of gait and 
carriage that suggested a used-up man. His mouth also is 
wanting in character and firmness; though, for all that, he 
must once have been a very handsome man. He was a 
passenger for Washington and sat near me. Next me was a 
worthy minister, with whom I talked; he, I do remember, 
delivered a prayer at our chapel last winter, at Headquar- 
ters. He was like all of that class, patriotic and one-sided, 
attributing to the Southerners every fiendish passion; in 
support of which he had accumulated all the horrible ac- 
counts of treatment of prisoners, slaves, etc., etc., and had 
worked himself into a great state. Evening. 10 p.m. I 
have got to Baltimore and can't go a step farther; for all 

1864] Th e Siege of Petersburg 23 1 

day have I been on the Weldon railroad with General 
Meade, and I must slap to bed, for I am most sleepy, 
though all right. 

September 30, 1864 
If the General will ride out at 8.30 a.m., and get back at 
10.30 P.M., and fight a good part of the day, how am I to 
feel wakeful and lively to write to you? I am very well and 
getting stronger; was in part of the battle beyond the rail- 
road; but only had a few bullets and one solitary cannon- 
ball in my neighborhood. This going from Beverly to 
battle is quite a sharp contrast. Our advantage was signal 
and important if we have good luck in holding on, which I 
think we shall. There may be fighting to-morrow, but I 
incline to think not. 

October 2, 1864 
. . The Washington boat was much in the style of 
the other — rather worse and more crowded, people and 
freight similar. There were more Christian Commission- 
ers, who were joined by those who had come with me. The 
funniest people you ever saw! Their great and overshad- 
owing anxiety was dinner; that was the thing. Accordingly 
they had deputed the youngest — a divinity student, and 
supposed to be a terribly sharp fellow — to lie in wait at 
sundry times and secure tickets for the meal. "I have 
arranged it all with the steward; we shall sit together," 
said this foxy one. Long before the hour, they all went 
down and stood against the door, like the queue at a 
French theatre. One of them came up, a little after, wip- 
ing his mouth; and asked me with surprising suddenness, 
if I "was on the side of the Lord." They were mostly 
Methodists, and of course very pious. One of the soldiers 
on the lower deck, suddenly cried out: "Oh, H !" upon 

232 Meade ' j Headquarters coct. 3, 

which a Christian Commissioner said: "Mr. Smith, did 
you think to bring a bundle of the tracts on swearing?" I 
told him I hoped he had brought a good many, and of 
several kinds, as there was a wide field in the army. All of 
which reminds me of an anecdote. A group of these gentle- 
men, going on foot and with their carpet-bags towards the 
front, were addressed by a veteran with "Hullo! got any 
lemons to sell.'^" "No, my friend, we belong to the army 
of the Lord." Veteran, with deep scorn: "Oh, ye — es; 
stragglers! stragglers!" I respect these Christian Com- 
missioners, though they are somewhat silly often. Some of 
them had come all the way from Wisconsin. I arrived in 
camp somewhat after dark and was tenderly welcomed by 
all, from the General down. Barstow and Humphreys 
were highly pleased with their gifts. To-day a curious 
thing occurred. While I was away, looking for a place for 
the new camp, General Meade rode out with the Staff. 
There came a conical shell, which shaved a patch of hair 
off the tail of General Humphrey's horse, scraped the leg 
of General Meade's boot, passed between General Ricketts 
and Griffin who were standing within a foot of each other, 
and buried itself in the ground, covering several officers 
with sand and dirt. Four Generals just escaping by a turn 
of the head, so to speak ! I got this shell and shall send it 
home as a great curiosity. 

October 3, 1864, to-wit Monday 

The night of my arrival, curiously enough, was the eve 

of a grand movement.^ I never miss, you see. Rosey drew 

me aside with an air of mystery and told me that the whole 

army was ordered to be packed and ready at four the next 

' " The move now proposed consitsted of an advance both on the right 
arid the left flanks. On the right, towards Richmond, taking the north 

1864] The Siege of Petersburg 233 

morning, all prepared to march at a moment's notice. 
Thursday, September 29. Headquarters contented itself 
by getting up about half -past five, which was plenty early 
enough, as turned out. We rode down to General Han- 
cock's about 9.30. He was camped not far from us, or had 
been, for now his tents were struck and packed, and there 
lay the familiar forms of Lieutenant-Colonel Morgan and 
Major Mitchell, on some boards, trying to make up for 
their loss of sleep. The cheery Hancock was awake and 
lively. We here were near the point of the railroad, which 
excited General Meade's indignation by its exposure. 
Now they have partly sunk it and partly built a bank, on 
the enemy's side, so that it is covered from fire. Here we 
got news that Ord and Birney had crossed the James, the 
first near Dutch Gap, the other near Deep Bottom, and 
advanced towards Richmond. Birney went up the New- 
market road, took a line of works, and joined Ord, who 
took a strong line, with a fort, on Chapin's farm, which is 
before Chapin's bluff, which again is opposite Fort Dar- 
ling. We got sixteen guns, including three of heavy calibre, 
also some prisoners. General Ord was shot in the thick of 
the leg, above the knee. There was another line, on the 
crest beyond, which I do not think we attacked at all. We 
went down then to the Jones house, where were Parke's 
Headquarters, and talked with him. I saw there Charlie 
Mills, now on his Staff. Finally, at 1.30 we got to Globe 
Tavern where was the astute Warren. Everything was 
"set," as he would say, for an advance by Griffin's and 

side of the river; on the left towards the Boydton plank road and south- 
side rail. The strategic object was two-fold : first, to effect threatening 
lodgments as near as possible to these points, gaining whatever we 
could by the way; and, secondly, to prevent Lee from reinforcing 
Early." — Lyman's Journal. 

234 Meade'* s Headquarters [Oct.4, 

Ayres's divisions, while Willcox's and Potter's divisions of 
the 9th Corps were massed at the Gurley house, ready to 
support. General Gregg made an advance west of Reams' 
station, and was heavily attacked about 5 p.m., but re- 
pulsed them. Their artillery blew up one of his caissons 
and we could see the cloud of smoke suddenly rise above 
the trees. This was all for that day in the way of fighting. 

[Colonel Lyman wrote on October 4 the following para- 
graph : ] 

October 4, 1864 
To-day I have ridden along the new lines with the Gen- 
eral, no fighting but a picket skirmish. I see by the papers 
funny accounts of the operations on the left; "desperate 
fighting," when there was only some trifling skirmish; 
"our troops going to take Petersburg next morning," 
which indeed didn't enter their minds. Mr. Stanton (who, 
I will confess, beats everybody for inaccuracy) puts our 
forces on the south -side railroad! Even the Associated 
Press man, McGregor, makes such a hopeless muddle, that 
I despair of seeing any common observation in any one of 
them. However, here is your accurate account. 

Friday, September 30. At 8.30 in the morning, the Gen- 
eral, with the combative Humphreys and all the Staff, 
rode towards the left, stopping of course at the irresistible 
Hancock's. At noon we got to Globe Tavern, which is 
some six miles from our old Headquarters. Crawford's 
division still held the works on the Weldon road, while 
Warren, with two divisions, followed by Parke, with two 
divisions of the 9th Corps, had moved out to the west, and 
already we could hear the Rebel artillery shelling our 
advance. ... At the Poplar Grove Church the Rebels 
began to throw shells, with a good deal of accuracy, into 

1864] The Siege of Petersburg 235 

the road; for they had the range, though they could not 
see for the woods. Near here was a swampy run, where our 
skirmishers drove those of the enemy across, and the divi- 
sion then got over and kept ahead. General Meade, mean- 
time, staid at the Globe Tavern, waiting for the movement 
to develop. He sent out an aide or two, to tell Warren he 
was there and to bring news of the progress. Warren sent 
in word that, having got across the run, he would soon see 
what could be done. At 12.45 we could hear pretty brisk 
musketry, which continued a short time and then ceased. 
Some time after, an aide came in from General Warren, 
with news that Griffin had captured a strong line and a 
redoubt, in handsome style. Not long after, the General 
rode to the front, where we arrived at 2.45. Most of the 
road was through a pleasant wood, chiefly oak. Passing 
the "church" (a little, old, wooden building that might 
seat forty persons), we turned to the right and came out on 
a large, open farm. On a roll of land, just ahead, was the 
Peeble house (pretty well riddled with bullets), and hence 
you looked over more open land ending in a fringe of wood. 
Perhaps 400 yards in front was the captured line and the 
redoubt: the former very strongly and handsomely made; 
the latter not quite finished inside, wanting still the plat- 
forms for the guns; otherwise it was done, with a ditch 
outside and an abattis. So far as I can learn, the occupying 
force was about equal to the attacking; but they did not 
make as good a fight as usual. The two assaulting brigades 
advanced very handsomely and rushed over the works. 
The enemy began at once to draw off their cannon, but the 
horses of one piece were shot, and it fell into our hands. 
The loss was very small in the assault, not over 100, which 
shows how much safer it is to run boldly on : the enemy get 
excited and fire high. I went into the redoubt. A Rebel 

236 Meade'* s Headquarters [Oct.4, 

artillery -man lay dead on the parapet, killed so instantly, 
by a shot through the head, that the expression of his face 
was unchanged. In front they were burying two or three 
of our men and a corporal was marking their names on a 
headboard, copying from letters found in their pockets. 
Parke was now ordered to form on the left of Warren 
(Ayres being on the right of GrifRn) , and it was understood 
that the whole line would then advance from its present 
position, near the Pegram house, and see if it were prac- 
ticable to carry the second line, which lay perhaps three 
fourths of a mile beyond. As I understand it. General 
Meade's orders were not properly carried out; for Griffin 
did not form, so as to make an extension of Parke's line. 
At 5.30 we were sitting in the Peeble house, waiting for 
the development of the attack, when we heard very 
heavy musketry beyond the narrow belt of the woods 
that separated us from the Pegram farm; there was 
was cheering, too, and then more musketry, and naturally 
we supposed that Parke was assaulting. But presently 
there came from the woods a considerable number of 
stragglers, making their way to the rear; then came even 
a piece of a regiment, with its colors, and this halted in- 
side the captured works. The musketry now drew plainly 
nearer, and things began to look ticklish. I watched anx- 
iously a brigade of the 5th Corps that stood massed in the 
edge of the wood, beyond the redoubt. Suddenly it filed to 
the left, at a double-quick, the brigade colors trotting gaily 
at the head, then formed line and stood still. In another 
moment the men leveled their muskets, fired a heavy volley 
and charged into the wood. The musketry receded again; 
a battery went forward and added itself to the general 
crash, which was kept up till darkness had well set in; 

1864] The Siege of Petersburg 237 

while we sat and watched and listened, in comparative 
safety, just beside the captured redoubt. Potter had been 
taken in the flank by the Rebels charging, and had been 
driven back in confusion. Griffin had advanced and re- 
stored the retired line. And who rides hither so placidly? 
It is General Humphreys: he has stolen off and, bless his 
old soul, has been having a real nice time, right in the line 
of battle! "A pretty little fight," said he gingerly, "a 
pretty little fight. He ! he ! he ! " Poor Potter ! it wasn't his 
fault. Our extreme advance was driven back, but the day 
was a great success, with important strategic bearing. 

Odo6er 2,1 1864 
Abou Ben Butler had quite a stampede last night. 
Having got so far away from home, he conceived that the 
whole southern host was massed to crush him, and com- 
municated the same with much eloquence, by the instru- 
mentality of the magnetic telegraph; whereat Major- 
General Humphreys, Chief -of -Staff, had the brutality to 
laugh ! We made our usual peregrination to Globe Tavern, 
where we got about 10 o'clock. Here General Meade sent 
me to look for a new camp, first enquiring if I felt well 
enough for that arduous service, as he looks on me as a 
tender convalescent! It was a tedious business getting a 
spot; for the whole country was either occupied, or was 
very dirty from old camps. At quarter to eleven, as I was 
poking about, I heard firing to the left, pretty sharp for a 
few minutes, and supposed there might be quite a fight; 
but it died away, shortly, except the cannon, which were 
not frequent. I got to the front about one, and met Gen- 

1 Taking up the narrative of the events of this day. The letter 
was written on the 6th. 

238 Meade^s Headquarters [Oct.6, 

eral Meade at the Peeble house. He had been to the Pe- 
gram house and it was near there he had such a narrow 
escape from a shell. I told them that, had I been there, I 
should have been the odd man that would have been hit; 
for they all said that the Staff could not well have been 
arranged again so that there would have been room for a 
three-inch shot to pass without hitting somebody. The 
cause of the firing was, that the whole line advanced, ex- 
cept the right division, and established a front position at 
the Pegram house. . . . 

The engineers were trotting round briskly, you may 
depend, ordering a redoubt here and a battery there, all 
intent on fencing in our new property. Luckily, the soil is 
very light and easy to dig, for our earthworks have now to 
be measured by miles. Not only must the front be pro- 
tected, but the exposed flank and the rear. With what 
men we have, we do a great deal. Since we left Culpeper, 
I have not seen the troops look so healthy. If we could 
work a little more backbone into that 9th Corps, it would 
help wonderfully; but they started green and that is no 
way to ripen men. Many faults there have been also in 
the command. The men are in good spirits, I think, and 
well conditioned for the prosecution of the campaign. 
The evening of Sunday we went to our new camp, having 
lived nearly three months in the old one. It seemed quite 
like leaving home; for you get used to your little canvas 
house, pitched in a particular spot. The new camp is well 
enough placed, but in a region of evil savors. There is a 
timber bridge near by, and, every waggon that went over 
it, the General would jump and say, "By Jove, there is 
heavy musketry!" Gradually he learned the difference of 
sound and settled down quietly. The weather has been 
very warm the last day or two. 

1864] The Siege of Petersburg 239 

October 3, 1864 
Yesterday afternoon arrived Lieutenant-Colonel Loring 

and Major L . The former looks in better health and 

immediately set to work on the duties of his office, as In- 
spector-General, under the easy rule of General Parke, who 

succeeds the rule of Burnside the Fat. L , always fancy, 

comes in much store clothes, a new shell jacket, double- 
breasted, and a pair of cerulean riding tights with a broad 
gold band, into which, according to report, he must be as- 
sisted by two strong men. Also his sabre newly burnished, 
and the names of the battles engraved on it, with other 
new and elegant touches. He was the young gentleman, 
you know, of whom the Reb paper said it was unworthy 
an honest officer to clasp the hand dipped in the gore of 
their brethren, even though cased in a glove of delicate kid ! 
This was a quiet day, wherein we lay still and made 
ourselves comfortable. The "comfortable" meant, with 
many of the officers, lying abed till the classic hour of 
Richard and Robin; for the General, these last days, has 
been getting up and riding out at fitful and uncertain 
hours. I think, when he feels anxious and responsible him- 
self, that he likes to keep others a little on the stretch also. 
So he would give no orders overnight, but suddenly hop up 
in the morning and begin to call for breakfast, orderlies, 
aides, horses, etc. I am sharp, and, at the first sound he 
makes, I am up and speedily dressed; whereas the others 
get caught and have to leave suddenly. Biddle is the fun- 
niest. There he was, trotting along, the other morning, 
talking away, like a spinster who had lost her lap dog. 
"Well, I do think it is too bad! The General never tells 
anyone when he is going out, and here I am with no break- 
fast — no breakfast at all !" And here B. opened his fin- 
gers and disclosed one boiled egg! To think of a Major on the 

240 Meade'* s Headquarters coct.6, 

General Staff riding after his General, with the reins in one 
hand and a boiled egg in the other! 

Ocioher 4, 1864 
The General rode along the whole front of the new line 
and carefully examined it, accompanied by his Staff and 
by the taciturn Roebling. R. is a character, a major and 
aide-de-camp and engineer, and factotum to General 
Warren. He is a son of the German engineer, Roebling, 
who built the celebrated suspension bridge over the Niag- 
ara River. He is a light-haired, blue-eyed man, with a 
countenance as if all the world were an empty show. He 
stoops a good deal, when riding has the stirrups so long 
that the tips of his toes can just touch them, and, as he 
wears no boots, the bottoms of his pantaloons are always 
torn and ragged. He goes poking about in the most dan- 
gerous places, looking for the position of the enemy, and 
always with an air of entire indifference. His conversa- 
tion is curt and not garnished with polite turnings. " What's 
that redoubt doing there.^" cries General Meade. "Don't 
know; didn't put it there," replies the laconic one. The 
Chief growled a little while at the earthwork, but, as that 
didn't move it, he rode onward. We passed at a clever 
time, for, a few minutes after, the Rebel skirmishers made 
a rush, and drove ours out of a house, and their bullets 
came over the corner of a field where we had been. Thereat 
our skirmishers made a counter-rush and drove theirs 
again away from the house, and our cannon fired and 
there was a small row generally. Some of our earthworks 
were really very workmanlike, handsomely sloped in front, 
and neatly built up with logs in the rear. It is really a 
handsome sight to get a view of half a mile of uniform 
parapet, like this, and see the men's shelter-tents neatly 
pitched in the pine woods, just in rear, while in front a 

1864] The Siege of Petersburg 241 

broad stretch of timber has been "slashed," to give a good 
field of fire and break up any body of troops advancing to 
attack. It is quite interesting, too, to see a redoubt going 
up. The men work after the manner of bees, each at the 
duty assigned. The mass throw up earth; the engineer 
soldiers do the "revetting," that is, the interior facing of 
logs. The engineer sergeants run about with tapes and 
stakes, measuring busily; and the engineer officers look as 
wise as possible and superintend. . . . 

October 6, 1864 
Poor Biddle! I always begin his name with "poor." 
He was detailed to examine the trenches occupied by the 
2d Corps, and see that the pickets were properly arranged. 
This part of the works is much exposed to fire in many 
parts, being near the enemy ; so that you have to stoop a 
good deal of the way. What did Biddle do but ride out by 
a road to the works, on horseback! In consequence of 
which the whole skirmish line opened on him, and he re- 
turned, after his inspection, quite gasping with excitement. 
As he was not hit, it was very funny. If there is a wrong 
road, he 's sure to take it. Lord Mahon (son of the Earl of 
Stanhope, who presided at that literary dinner I went to 
at London) and Captain Hayter, both of the Guards, were 
down here — Spoons rather, especially the nobil Lord. 

October 7, 1864 
There is a certain General Benham, who commands the 
engineers at City Point, and was up about laying out some 
works. Channing Clapp is on his Staff. You ought to see 
this "Ginral." He has the face and figure of Mr. Briggs 
and wears continually the expression of Mr. B. when his 
horse sat down at the band of music. When he had got 
through all the explanations, which were suflScient to have 


242 Meade^s Headquarters [Oct.7, 

laid out a permanent work of the first class, the Meade 
rose with weariness, and eased his spirit by riding out and 
looking at my new camp-ground, and inspecting those 
everlasting redoubts. Now that the camp is arranged, the 
Meade is dubious about moving : that 's like him ! When we 
got to the extreme left, he thought he would go out and 
take a peek at the picket line. First there was a little 
bunch of cavalry. They were of a jocose turn; they had 
found an old pair of wheels whereon they had mounted a 
keg, making a very good cannon, which pointed, in a 
threatening manner, down the road. Its ensemble was 
completed by a figure, closely resembling those that de- 
fend cornfields, and which was keeping steady guard with 
a small pole. A hundred yards beyond was the picket re- 
serve, behind a barricade. Then, beyond, a couple of hun- 
dred yards more, the sentries, each standing and looking 
sharply to the front. The one in the road was a half-breed 
Indian, though he looked more like a Neapolitan. He had 
that taciturnity that clings to the last drop of blood. 
"Are you a picket here.^" asked the General. "Yes." 
"Is there anyone on your right and left. f^" "No." "You 
are an Indian, are you not.^ " "Part." All of which the red 
warrior delivered, without turning his gaze from the vista 
before him. Beyond this gentleman was a post of two 
cavalry videttes. From this place we could get a very good 
view of one of the Rebel lines of earthworks; but there 
seemed very few men behind it. I could only notice one or 
two. And so we rode back again past the perils of the keg 
cannon. General Warren has a short leave, and General 
Crawford commands the Corps, to the indignation, I 
presume, of old cocks like Griffin and Aja-es; for C. was 
doctor in Fort Sumter, and thus got a star, and thus is an 
old brigadier, and thus ranks the regulars G. and A. 

1864] The Siege of Petersburg 243 

General Grant was on a flying visit to Washington to-day. 
I like to have him down here: first, he gives a general 
balance and steadiness ; then, what is most important, he 
can order — just order what groceries he pleases, and no 
questions asked behind the counter ! 

October 10, 1864 

General Humphreys deserted us to-night, for a brief 
leave — no, of course I mean he went early this morning, 
having taken his breakfast before us. The good General is 
fond of sitting awhile and talking after meals. He dis- 
courses sometimes on the art military and said it was "a 
godlike occupation"! "Ah," he said, "war is a very bad 
thing in the sequel, but before and during a battle it is a 
fine thing!" {Note by T. L. — l don't see it.) The Com- 
mander has been death on riding round lately on his jog- 
trotter, to inspect and mouse over works. He is mighty 
smart at such things, and if a line is run fifty feet out of 
position, he sees it like a flash. It is very creditable to our 
engineers, that, though a part of our works were laid out 
after dark, no corrections have been made in the general 
position. I had the honor to follow George about, as he 
rode round the country. In the camps, one sees the modes 
of punishment adopted. One ingenious Colonel had 
erected a horizontal bar, about a dozen feet from the 
ground, and supported at each end by a post. On this 
elevated perch he causes malefactors to sit all the day long, 
to their great discomfort and repentance. In the 9th Corps, 
they had put some barrels on the breastworks, and, on 
these high pedestals, made the men stand. They had run 
away in the fight and had great placards of "Coward" on 
them. A pretty severe punishment if they had any shame 
left. This is a grubby little letter, for my tent has been 
invaded by various silly, chattering, idle officers. 

244 Meade'* s Headquarters coct.ii, 

October 11, 1864 
Did I tell you of the two spies, last night? There is a re- 
doubt on our line which had no garrison except a sergeant 
and two or three men. Towards sunset appeared two 
officers, who attracted attention, the one by having three 
stars on his coat arranged somewhat like those of a Rebel 
colonel, the other by being much concealed by a high collar 
and a flap hat. They asked a number of questions about 
the work, which so increased the suspicion that word was 
sent to General Meade, who ordered a regiment at once to 
proceed to the spot, and the sergeant to be arrested for not 
seizing the persons. Who do you think they were.f^ Why, 
Captain Craig and Rosencrantz, taking an evening stroll ! 
Craig has no circulation and turns up his collar whenever 
the mercury falls below 70 degrees. Rosie has a Swedish 
coat with three stars indicating a captain ; hence the alarm ! 
This morning arrived a passing visitor, Major-General 
Doyle, commanding in Nova Scotia. He is a Pat and is 
favorable to us, for a wonder; gave up the Chesapeake to us, 
you know. He looks as funny as Punch; indeed just like 
Punch — a very red edition of him, with a stiff throttled 
aspect, caused by an apoplectic stock, five inches high. 
He was a jolly old buck and much amused by a lot of civil- 
ians, who also had come up from City Point. He called 
them T.G.'s, signifying *' travelling gents," and, whenever 
we came on a redoubt, with a good abattis, he would say 
to the T.G's: "What do you think, hey.^^ How would you 
like to attack thai^ hey.f^" Upon which the T.G's, whose 
pantaloons were somewhat up their legs, would look du- 
bious. As he beheld the wonders of the land, he would ex- 
claim: "Oh, bless my soul! why, you know, we have na 
idea of this at home. Oh, bless my soul ! " On the road we 
met a Rebel deserter, who chanced to be an Irishman,, 

1864] The Siege of Petersburg 245 

whereat the Doyle was highly delighted and asked him if 
he got much whiskey the other side. To which Pat replied 
with regret, that that strengthening beverage cost $30 a 
quart in Secessia. After trotting him all over creation and 
giving him a lunch, we put him on top of the Avery house, 
and let him look at Rebs through a telescope; but I am sure 
he saw nothing, though he exclaimed, "Bless my soul!" a 
great deal. 

October 14, 1864 

How shall I vote.^ I don't know that I shall be given the 
chance; but, if I am, I shall vote for the blue-blooded 
Abraham. It was with a feeling of depression that I heard 
the first rumors that the Dems had carried Pennsylvania, 
Ohio, and Indiana; and when the truth came out, I felt 
glad. This proves to me that I look on the Mac party with 
misgiving. The soldiers' vote is an unexpected one; they 
are said to show five to one for the Administration, which 
tells me that they identify it with the support of the war; 
for the troops in their private thoughts make the thrashing 
of the Rebs a matter of pride, as well as of patriotism. 

I venture to say that at no time during the war have the 
Rebel papers talked so desperately; they speak of the next 
month settling the question, and of arming the negroes. 
If they do this latter, the slavery candle will burn at both 
ends. I have no idea that the next month will settle it, 
though, of course, there is a chance for important move- 
ments during the autumn, as at other seasons of good 
weather. We must keep at them — that is the only way; 
no let up, no armistice. They perfectly hate what we are 
doing now, going a couple of miles and fortifying, then 
going two more and fortifying again; then making a sud- 
den rush, taking a position and a lot of cannon, and again 
fortifying that. All these moves being a part of what we 

246 Meade^s Headquarters [Oct. u, 

may call a throttling plan. Their struggles, though often 
apparently successful, do them thus far no good. They 
flank us on the Weldon railroad and brush off 2000 prison- 
ers: no use! we hold the road. They flank us again at the 
Pegram house, and capture 1000 more: no use; we hold the 
Pegram position and add it to former acquisitions. Then 
they flank Butler and get eight of his guns ; but they have 
to go back, and Benjamin remains in what General Halleck 
terms a "threatening attitude." . . . Yesterday, Loring, 
whom I saw over at General Parke's Headquarters, was 
speaking of the quaint ways of talking among soldiers. 
Their lines are at peace out there, and the soldiers don't 
fire; notwithstanding, some sharpshooters, with telescopic 
rifles, are posted here and there. As he rode along, he met 
two of these gentry coming with faces as of men who had 
labored in a good cause, without profit. "Hullo!" said L., 
"did you get good places out in front?" "Yes, fust-rate 
places: but no shooting, no shooting!" General Meade 
rode to Parke's on account of a statement from a deserter, 
that the enemy would attack our left. " If they do,"" quoth 
the General, proud of his engineering skill, "if they do, 
they '11 get into a nice hornet's nest." It is funny to see two 
engineers, like Meade and Parke, ride along works and 
pleasantly discuss them. In their enthusiasrn, they always 
personify redoubts as far as to give them eyes, and speak 
of their "looking" in sundry directions, meaning thereby 
that they can fire there. "Here is a nice swallow-tail 
lunette," says Parke as if introducing a pate de foie gras; 
"these two faces, you see, look down the two roads of ap- 
proach, and here is a face that looks into that ravine : noth- 
ing could live in that ravine, nothing!" This last he 
emphasizes, as if the presence of life in the ravine aforesaid 
was a thing in the highest degree sinful, and this redoubt 

1864] The Siege of Petersburg 247 

was virtuously bent on preserving the public morality. 
*'Yes," replies Father Meade, "that seems all right; now 
3^ou want to slash out, about 300 yards further, and get a 
good field of fire so that the enemy's sharpshooters can't 
annoy your gunners." The use of the word "annoy" is 
another military eccentricity. When half the men are 
killed or wounded by the enemy's riflemen, an officer will 
ride pleasantly in to the chief of artillery, and state that 
the battery is a good deal "annoyed" by sharpshooters, 
giving to the novice the impression that the sharpshooters 
complained of have been using provoking and impertinent 
language to the battery. To-day I was the sole companion 
of the General on his exercise ride, on which occasions, in- 
stead of riding behind him, I ride beside him, but keep as it 
were a little back of his horse's head. When we approach 
any body of troops, I fall entirely to the rear — strong on 
etiquette we are ! For two or three days he has been in the 
best of humors and sits in the evening by the camp-fire 
before my tent, talking familiarly with all the aides ; a rare 
thing with him. . . . 

Octoher 17, 1864 
It is indeed not difficult to get material for a grumble, if 
one will but look about in this world. You see I can't be 
enthusiastic about such a government as Lincoln's, when I 
see, under my nose, the petty tyranny and persecution 
they practise against subordinate officers. Now there is 
Colonel Collis, a petty, scheming political officer; he sends 
letters to newspapers and despatches to Mr. Stanton about 
the enthusiasm for Lincoln in the army, etc., etc. Nothing- 
is said to him; that is all right; he has an opinion, as he 
ought to have. But there is Lieutenant-Colonel McMahon, 
lately Adjutant-General of the 6th Corps, an excellent 

248 Meade'* s Headquarters coct.i?, 

soldier, whose brother fell at the head of a charge at Cool 
Arbor, and who himself had been in all the battles : he is a 
McClellan man, as was natural in one of General Sedg- 
wick's Staff. He talks very openly and strongly about his 
side, as he has a right to do. What is the consequence .^ He 
is, without any warning, mustered out of the service ! That 
is to say, a soldier who don't agree with the Administration 
must be got rid of; it is nothing in his favor that he has 
exposed his life in twenty different actions. You would 
scarcely credit the number of such cases as this, cases of 
petty spite, fitting rather to a bad-tempered child than to 
a great and dignified cabinet minister. They suffer chances 
of victory to pass, rather than take voters from states. 
They send down three brevets of brigadiers, only one of 
which has been recommended by General Meade; and all 
three are men from the much dreaded and uncertain state 
of Pennsylvania. Don't think I am a grumbler; all this 
wickedness and smallness and selfishness is a part of 
humanity, and to be expected; but don't ask me to be en- 
thusiastic for such people. There were a parcel of them 
down here to-day; bah! the sight of them is enough! 

As we sat at breakfast there came a despatch saying 
that Hon. Secretary Stanton, with a long tail, might be 
looked for, per rail, very presently. It is an historical fact 
that General Meade expressed his gratification at this deep 
honor, in the following terms: "The devil! I shan't have 
time to smoke my cigar." Immediately I got on my double- 
barreled coat, with a sash withal, and a pair of white cot- 
ton gloves ; but there was plenty of time to smoke a cigar, 
for they didn't get along for an hour or two, and then the 
greatest posse of large bugs ! First, on horseback, Generals 
Grant, Meigs (Quartermaster-General), Barnard, Eaton 
(Commissary -General), Barnes (Surgeon-General), Fessen- 

1864] The Siege of Petersburg 249 

den (with a Palmer leg). Then, in ambulances, Fessenden's 
papa, the Secretary of the Treasury, a sharp, keen, quiet- 
looking man; Hon. Secretary Stanton, who looks like his 
photographs, only more so; Hon. Sim. Draper and Mr. 
Barney, twin New York politicians. The former had a very 
large, long nose, and a very round and abrupt waistcoat, 
so that he resembled a good-natured pelican, just after a 
surfeit of sprats. General Meade received them with his 
usual high ceremony. He walked out of his tent, with his 
hands in his pockets, said, "Hullo, how are you.^^" and re- 
moved one hand, for the purpose of extending it to Grant, 
who lighted down from his horse, put his hands in his 
pockets, and sat down on a camp chair. The pelican came 
up and bobbed at the Meade, as did his friend. We carted 
them all to see Fort Wads worth, where Rosencrantz 
swears that Mr. Stanton, on being informed that there was 
only a picket line between him and the enemy, pulled out 
his watch and said they really must be going back ! which 
indeed they did. When the train started with its precious 
freight of military and diplomatic jewels. General Meade 
accompanied it, with Biddle, Mason and Rosencrantz. 
It would appear that they encountered, at City Point, 
Admiral Porter with Mrs. P. and another lady, who came, 
on their return, as far as Hancock's Headquarters. The 
hospitable H. did thereat cause supper to be set forth, for 
it was now dark, and the General, with much talk and 
good humor, took root there; for he is death to hold on, 
when he gets talking and in company he likes. At nine 
o'clock came the galliant Generale, with his aides, whereof 
Rosencrantz and Mason were bursting to tell something 
good; whereas Biddle had a foolish and deprecatory air. 
It immediately was related, midst loud shouts, how, at 
City Point Grant had given General Meade a bunch of 

250 Meade^s Headquarters [Oct.27, 

cigars to beguile the way of himself, Admiral Porter, and 
some other guests going to the front. The Chief handed 
them to Biddle, asking him to take charge of them for the 
present. Now B. has few equals in the power of turning 
things end for end; and so he at once and clearly under- 
stood that he [was] made a sort of almoner of tobacco, and 
proceeded to distribute the cigars in the most liberal man- 
ner, to everybody who would either smoke or pocket them ! 
The Staff and bystanders asked no questions, but puffed 
away at Grant's prime Havanas. Arrived at Hancock's 
and supper done, the General said to Porter: "I think now 
is the moment to enjoy those good cigars!" Out comes 
"Shaw," the faithful servitor. "Oh, if you please. Major, 
the Gen'ral sends his compliments, sir: and would like that 
bunch of cigars, sir." Biddle immediately assumed the 
attitude indicated in the accompanying drawing! and the 
curtain dropped. . . . 

Octoher 27, 1864 
I won't write at length till I get a decent chance. I 
caught the greatest pelting with all sorts of artillery pro- 
jectiles to-day, you ever saw, but no hurt therefrom. I 
could not help being amused, despite the uncomfortable 
situation, by the distinguished "queue" of gentlemen, be- 
hind a big oak ! There was a civilian friend of Grant's, and 
an aide-de-camp of General Barnard (a safe place to hold), 
and sundry other personages, all trying to giggle and all 
wishing themselves at City Point ! As to yours truly, he 
wasn't going to get behind trees, so long as old George G. 
stood out in front and took it. "Ah ! " said Rosey, with the 
mild commendation of a master to a pupil: "oh! you did 
remember what I did say. I have look at you, and you 
did not doge!" It don't do to dodge with Hancock's Staff 

1864] The Siege of Petersburg 251 

about; they would never forgive you. At length says the 
General: "This is pretty hot: it will kill some of our horses." 
We came out on a big reconnaissance, which may be 
turned into a move or not, according to results. I rather 
fancy the enemy's line is too long to be turned by what 
troops we have to dispose. 

October 28, 1864 
Where do you think I am? Why, right by my dear 
chimney! All camped just where we were! I called our 
movement a grand reconnaissance in force; it would be 
more fair to call it an "attempt," whose success depended 
on the enemy not having certain advantages of position. 
But they were found to have these advantages, and so here 
we are back again, nobody having fought much but Han- 
cock, who had a most mixed-up and really severe action, 
on the extreme left, in which the Rebels got rather the 
worst of it; but Grant ordered Hancock to withdraw dur- 
ing the night, or early in the morning, by which he was 
compelled to leave some of his wounded in a house on the 
field. Warren would fain fight it out there, for the name of 
the thing; but that would have been bad strategy, though 
I do confess that (albeit not a fire-eater) I would sooner 
have seen it through the next day, by reinforcing the left. 
This, however, is a mere matter of sentiment; certainly I 
don't set up my wisdom. As the Mine was to be termed an 
?7/-conducted fizzle, so this attempt may be called a well- 
conducted fizzle. The Rebs are good engineers and had 
thrown up dirt scientifically, I can tell you. We got a 
pretty good handful of prisoners; I dare say 800 or so, and 
lost, including stragglers, I fancy as many, though they 
say we did not. The killed and wounded about equal; per- 
haps the enemy lost rather more than we; but the honors 

252 Meade^s Headquarters [Oct.28, 

of the left lie with the enemy, for we abandoned the field 
in the night. To-day we marched back scientifically (we 
are hard to beat on a retreat I can tell you) . The 9th and 
5th Corps withdrew by successive lines of battle, one be- 
hind the other, and alternately marching to the rear, the 
front line passing through that behind. A very handsome 
manoeuvre; and the enemy, with relief, said good riddance. 
I do not feel anywise down in spirits, for we gave blow for 
blow, and came back when we saw the positions would not 
admit of the plan proposed. There was no blunder or dis- 
aster, but it was soldierlike. The General kept a good tem- 
per throughout, so that it was quite pleasant all round. 

[In writing some days later, Lyman thus describes the 
country over which this engagement was fought:] The 
tract marked "dense wood" on my map beggars descrip- 
tion. It is a wood, with a tangled, thick undergrowth that 
almost stops the passage of a man. The rest of the country 
is also much wooded, but wherever you see a house, there 
is a farm of greater or less size. [After a more detailed 
description of the fighting, he continues:] Mott's men 
give way, the Rebels yell and their batteries open a cross- 
fire, and the enemy the other side of the run make as 
if to attack the 2d division in front. But the valiant 
Egan faces his line to the rear and charges the flank of 
the Rebels rushing from the woods; they are in turn 
smashed up and run back again, and a grand mixed-up 
fight takes place, in the midst of which Hampton's cav- 
alry falls furiously upon Gregg, who falls furiously upon 
him, and won't budge an inch. The most singular things 
happened here; for, as the woods were full of broken 
bands of both parties, everybody captured everybody else, 

1864] The Siege of Petersburg 253 

and was in turn captured ! A good many parties of Rebels, 
carrying our prisoners to the rear, took wrong direction 
and fell into the open maw of Crawford. Lieutenant Wool- 
sey, General Williams's aide, in such an affair, showed a 
valor little to be looked for in so mild a youth. He was 
going along a wood road and came directly upon twelve 
Rebel cavalry ; all cried " Halt ! surrender ! " to him, and two 
fired their carbines at him; Woolsey snapped his pistol at 
them, when one seized him round the waist; whereat W. 
hit him a back-handed blow on the bridge of his nose, put 
in the spurs, and actually broke away from the whole of 
them ! When I asked him why he didn't give up, he replied 
in a simple manner: "Why, I thought my mother would be 
much distressed if I was taken prisoner, so I thought it 
would perhaps be better not to surrender." General Will- 
iams was in the greatest state of chuckle over his aide's 
conduct, and kept asking unwary persons: "Do you know 
how Mr. W^oolsey escaped from guerillas .f^" and, being 
answered " No," would say : " Why, thus ! " at the same time 
giving the unwary one a punch in the stomach, with his 
elbow. Then Major Roebling rode into a Rebel line of 
battle and had his orderly killed in his escape; Major 
Bingham was captured, but scared his guard so by telling 
him he was within our lines, that the man took to the 
bushes and left him. Lieutenant Dresser rode into the 
midst of a Rebel brigade, thinking they were prisoners. 
"Where is the Provost Guard .^" asked D., who luckily 
had a gray rubber coat on. "Hain't got none." "What 
troops are these.^" "Fourth Alabama." "Oh, all right," 
says Dresser, with presence of mind, and rides off, very 
slow at first, and very fast as soon as out of sight ! The best 
feat was that of Major Mitchell (he always does perform 

254 Meade^s Headquarters [Oct.28, 

feats) . He rode into the woods, saw 200 Rebel infantry who 
had got lost, and were drawn up in line; came back, got a 
regiment, went out again and gobbled them all up. . . . 

[The letter finishes with a lively description of some 
curious visitors to Headquarters.] 

I had got safely to the Peeble house and was watching 
the columns as they marched in. I was still watching when 
suddenly there appeared a new comico-military procession : 
to wit, a venerable Brigadier, of a diluted visage, followed 
by two or three officers, and by two beings calculated to 
astonish the uninitiated. The first was simply gorgeous, 
not of dubious character, but evidently an officer of one of 
those theatrical French indigene regiments. He was tightly 
done up in a black jacket, all over which five hundred yards 
of fine black braid had gone into spasmodic convulsions; 
then black trousers with a wide scarlet stripe, morocco 
knee-boots, and a light blue kepi. To complete his cos- 
tume, a row of medals stretched from his central button- 
hole to the point of his shoulder ! The second stranger was 
utterly incomprehensible. He had on a pair of red, mili- 
tary trousers, a red fez with a blue tassel, and a hlach dress- 
coat! In order to mark this simple costume, he had, with 
admirable taste, suspended a small stiletto from the lower 
buttonhole of his waistcoat. The kepi was presented as 
Chef-de-bataillon de Boissac ; the fez as Vicomte de Mont- 
barthe. Upon which, to myself within myself said I: strike 
out the "de" and Boissac is correct; strike out "Vicomte" 
and substitute "Corporal" and we shall be pretty near 
Mr. Fez. He was one of the vulgarest of vulgar Frenchmen, 
and a fool into the bargain. De Boissac was a type, and I 
fancy the real thing; a regular, chatty, boastful, conceited, 
bright little Gaul, who had been in China, the Crimea, 

1864] The Siege of Petersburg 255 

Italy, Japan, and Africa, and had worn the hair off his 
Httle bullet head with serving in various climes. "I was 
promoted to be Chef-de-bataillon," said kepi (just as if I 
had asked anything about it), "for having planted the 
flag, alone, on the rampart! My comrades cry to me, 
'Descend! descend!' I reply, 'Non! j'y suis!' " "And I," 
chimed in fez, "received the cross for repelling, with forty 
men, four hundred Austrians : wounded twice in the leg, I 
lay on the field and the Emperor himself pinned the cross 
on my breast!" I could not help thinking what a pity it 
was that the wounds had not been higher up, whereby the 
Emperor would have been saved the expense of a cross, 
and I the trouble of listening to his stories. These two 
brave bucks were travelling on their good looks, having got 
down, the Lord knows how, with no letters to anybody; 
yet they dined with General Meade, and passed the night 
in camp; passed another night at General Davies', and, 
the last I heard of them, were pledging General Hancock 
in the national whiskey! ... I omitted to mention a 
third ornament to military life, a gent with eagles on his 
shoulders, who, on enquiry, turned out to be a brother 
militia man, and a great credit to the service, as he per- 
illed his life daily, in the stats of New York, as General 
Sanford's aide (commanding state militia), and now was 
visiting the army to see that justice was done to deserving 
non-commissioned officers in the way of promotion. Et 
puis? — thought T. L. Yes, that was to electioneer the 
regiments in favor of the Republican candidate for gover- 
nor, in case of whose election, he, Colonel D , was to 

be Quartermaster-General! He had not only cheek 
enough for this, but enough to spare to come and stay all 
night at Headquarters, and take his meals there, without 
the breath of an invitation! 

256 Me ad e^ 5 Headquarters [Nov. 6, 

October 29, 1864 
Having been seized with a powerful suspicion that the 
vaHant Frenchmen would fain squat, to speak in Western 
phrase, at our Headquarters, I applied my entire mind to 
shipping them; for, as a travelled man, it was a matter of 
pride not to be put upon by a brace of such chaps. So I 
lay [in] wait till they said they would like to see General de 
Trobriand, and then I hastened to place them on horse- 
baqk and give an orderly as a guide and tenderly shake 
hands with them, grieving I should not have the delight of 
seeing them again ! There was a look about their intelligent 
countenances that seemed to say: "Ah, you are not so soft 
as we thought," as they bid me a tender adieu. 

October 30, 1864 
"Grant says I must write a report of the whole cam- 
paign," says the General, in the discontented voice of a 
schoolboy who has been set a long exercise. "I can't write 
a report of the whole campaign. I don't remember anything 
about some of it. I 'm all mixed up about the Tolopotomoy 
and the Pamunkey and the what-do-you-call-'em Creek." 
Hence it came that I was requested to give him some ex- 
tracts from my valuable archives, and I since have written 
a lot of notes for him, extending from May 4th to August 
28th. He is very quick with his pen, is the General, and 
possesses a remarkable power of compressing a narrative 
and still making it clear and telling. 

November 6, 1864 
I was remarking in my last, a week ago to-day, that 
General Meade spoke of being obliged to write his report. 
Yes! as you say, it is a pity he can't have some signal 
success. The Shaws need not be against him on the negro- 
soldier question, for if he has a bias, it is towards and not 

1864] The Siege of Petersburg 257 

against them, and indeed it would go to the heart of the 
best Bob^ to see the punctiHous way in which he returns 
their sahites. I can say with certainty that there is not a 
General in this army from whom the nigs might expect a 
judicious helping hand more than from Meade. As to his 
being slow, it may be so; but I can't see that Grant, on 
whom rests this entire campaign, is any faster; yet he is a 
man of unquestioned military talent. If you knew, as I do, 
the number of men killed and wounded in this campaign 
from the Potomac Army alone, you would think that a 
strong opposition from the enemy had as much as anything 
to do with the want of crowning success thus far. To show 
what sort of work we have been through : at the assault of 
June 3d, at Cool Arbor, we lost, in four or five hours, 6000 
men, in killed and wounded only. That is a specimen. 
Even in our move to the left, the other day, which some 
would call a reconnaissance, and others heavy skirmishing, 
we had a list of killed and wounded of not less than 1200. 
In fact, we cannot stir without losing more men than would 
make a big battle in the West, and the Rebels, if we have 
any chance at them, lose as many. 

Last Sunday, which I was just speaking of, was marked 
by the arrival of one Alden, a rather dull Captain of the 
Adjutant-General's Department, who was however a wel- 
come bird to the army, as he brought a large number of 
brevets for many deserving officers. . . . To my surprise 
there did appear, or reappear. Major Duane, who has 
taken to visiting me as usual. He is better, but not well. 
To celebrate his arrival, and to retaliate for our rush into 
the Mine, the Rebs made a dash on our picket line, gob- 
bled up some fifty stupids, who (being recruits) thought it 

^Col. R. G. Shaw, who commanded the first negro regiment sent 
to the war. 


258 Meade^s Headquarters- 

was the relief coming round, and were then driven back; 
upon which, of course, every man fired off his musket a 
few times, to show how alert he was, the artillery threw all 
the shells whose fuses happened to be ready cut, and then 
all went to sleep again. 



[Some parts of the following letter make curious reading 
now. They are, however, interesting, not merely as an 
individual opinion at that time, but as reflecting the con- 
temporary sentiments of a large body of intelligent men.] 

Headquarters Army of Potomac 
November 10, 1864 

They have been singularly niggardly to us about election 
returns ; but we have reliable intelligence to-night that Lin- 
coln is re-elected, the coarse, honest, good-natured, toler- 
ably able man ! It is very well as it is ; for the certainty of 
pushing this war to its righteous end must now swallow up 
all other considerations. I am still more content that there 
has been a powerful opposition to him, even from respect- 
able men, an opposition strong enough to carry several 
states. This will caution him, or better, his party, to pro- 
ceed cautiously and to make no fanatical experiments, such 
as we too often have seen, but to proceed firmly, and 
according to rule and law. Lincoln has some men of ability 
about him — pre-eminent, Mr. Seward, whom the ultras 
have thrown over, but whom I think the strong man of the 
cabinet. Mr. Fessenden is said to be a very superior per- 
son, and his face is certainly a bright one, very. There is 
another important advantage in keeping on as we are : the 
machine is in running order and it is always a drawback to 
change midst a season of public trial. And again we have 
done with Lincoln what the Rebels have successfully done 
with their generals, let him learn from his own misfortunes 


260 Meade 'j Headquarters [Nov. lo, 

and mistakes; not a bad school for a sensible man. So you 
see, I am inclined to make the best of what I deem is the 
best, albeit not very good. . . . 

Have you read an article from Fraser, in LitteWs, called 
"Concord Transcendentalists." It is a singular production, 
rather entertaining some of it, and interspersed with the 
weakest, sweetened warm milk and water. The place 
where it says that Theodore Parker hid two slaves in his 
study, and nightly sat writing at the door of it, with several 
pistols and the gun that had belonged to his grandfather, 
would be a funny passage at any time, but, written so 
gravely in these war days, it is quite irresistible! If you 
see any number, in future, containing the tale of Tony 
Butler,' you might send it to me, though it is no great 
matter. I have read a number or two, the last chapter 
being in this very number where the Transcends flourish. 
Which reminds me of what a West Point professor said, 
according to the solemn Duane. He was hearing a recita- 
tion in philosophy, and would fain illustrate how the body 
might slowly change, yet the individual remain the same. 
" Now," said he, " if I have a knife and lose a blade and get it 
replaced, it is still the same knife." "Well," said a stupid- 
looking cadet, " and suppose you lose the other blades, one 
after another, and get them replaced, is it the same knife .^^ " 
"Certainly," replied the Professor. "And suppose the 
handle should get rather ricketty and you replaced that?" 
"Yes, it would be the same knife." "Well, now," cried 
the stupid one, suddenly brightening up amazingly, 
"suppose you took the old handle, and found the old 
blades, and put 'em all together, what would you call that, 
hey?" Poor Major Duane! he can't do much but talk and 

^ By Charles James Lever, and then running in Blackwood's^ 

1864] Another JVinter 261 

tell stories, for he is quite miserably yet and is not fit for 
duty, though he is improving. . . . 

Last night, with a mild south wind, we had a singular 
example of the stopping of sound. Our batteries near the 
plank road, some three miles off, may usually be heard 
with perfect distinctness; not only the guns, but the ex- 
plosion of the shells; and the replies of the Rebels also. At 
night we can see the shells going over, by the burning fuse, 
that looks like a flying spark. The deception is very singu- 
lar in the dark, for, though the shell may be passing at the 
rate of 1200 feet a second, in the distance the fuse seems to 
go slowly and in a stately curve. This is because 1200 feet 
looks very small, three miles away, and the eye gets an 
idea of rapidity by the space travelled over in a given time. 
Well, last night, they opened a somewhat brisk discharge 
of mortar shells from both sides ; but though we could see 
them go through the sky and burst below, not the faintest 
sound reached the ear! At other times these same guns 
will sound quite close to us. I could cite many such con- 

I rode forth with good Duke Humphrey, to see the dress- 
parade in the 9th Corps. That and the 5th, not being in 
the immediate presence of the enemy, have a good chance 
for drill. The 9th Corps, in particular, have gone into the 
evolutions to an alarming extent, an exercise which, like 
Wistar's balsam of wild cherry, can't do harm and may do 
good. Around General Parke's Headquarters there is a 
chronic beating of drums and fifing of fifes and playing of 
bands. We sat some time and watched the drilling; it was 
quite fun to see them double-quicking here, and marching 
there, and turning up in unexpected positions. At last the 
gallant Colonel McLaughlen, after many intricate man- 
oeuvres, charged and took a sutler's tent, and the brigade 

262 Meade^s Headquarters cnov. ii, 

was then marched to its quarters. As we returned, there 
was a nig brigade, having its dress parade in fine style. 
They looked extremely well and marched in good style. 
The band was a great feature. There was a man with the 
bass drum (the same I believe that so amused De Chanal) 
who felt a ruat-coelum-fiat-big-drum sentiment in his deep- 
est heart ! No man ever felt more that the success of great 
things lay in the whacking of that sheepskin with vigor 
and precision! Te-de-bung, de-de-bung, bung, bung! could 
be heard, far and near. . . . The nigs are getting quite 
brisk at their evolutions. If their intellects don't work, the 
officers occasionally refresh them by applying the flats of 
their swords to their skins. There was a Swede here, who 
had passed General Casey's board for a negro commission. 
He was greatly enraged by a remark of the distinguished 
Casey, who asked him what Gustavus Adolphus did, 
meaning what great improvements he introduced in the 
art of war. To which the furriner replied: "He was com- 
mander-in-chief of the Swedish army." "Oh, pooh!" said 
Casey, "that 's nothing ! " Which the Swede interpreted to 
mean that Gustavus was small potatoes, or that the Swed- 
ish army was so. Really, most foreign officers among us 
are but scapegraces from abroad. The other day the Bel- 
gian Minister Sanford sent a letter asking for promotion 
for private Guatineau, whose pa had rendered us great 
service by writing in the French press. The matter being 
referred to his commander, the reply was: "This man 
deserted to the enemy from the picket line." 

November 11, 1864 
The McClellan procession might have spared their 
tapers, as he has gone up, poor Mac, a victim to his friends ! 
His has been a career manque, and a hard time he has had, 

1864] Another JVinter 263 

and low he has fallen. The men who stood, as green sol- 
diers, with him in front of Yorktown, where are they? 
Many thousands lie in the barren land of the Peninsula 
and the valley of Virginia; thousands more in the highlands 
of Maryland and Pennsylvania and in the valley of the 
Shenandoah. Many are mustered out — their time ex- 
pired — or sick, or crippled. The small remnant are 
sifted, like fine gold, through this army, non-commissioned 
officers, or even full officers. What an experience it is for 
an infantry soldier! To have carried a musket, blanket, 
and haversack to the Peninsula, and to the gates of Rich- 
mond, then back again to the second Bull Run; up to 
Antietam in Maryland; down again to Fredericksburg; 
after the enemy again to the Rappahannock; and at last, 
the great campaign, like all others concentrated in six 
months, from the Rapid Ann to Petersburg! All this alone 
on foot, in three long years, at all seasons and all hours, 
in every kind of weather, carrying always a heavy load, 
and expecting to fight at any moment; seeing so many men 
shot in each fight — the great regiment dwindling to a 
battalion — the battalion to a company — the company 
to a platoon. Then the new men coming down; they shot 
off also. Till at last the infantry-man, who left Boston 
thinking he was going straight to Richmond, via Washing- 
ton, sits down before Petersburg and patiently makes his 
daily pot of coffee, a callous old soldier, who has seen too 
many horrors to mind either good or bad. It is a limited 
view of a great war, but, for that very reason, full of detail 
and interest. 

Of course we might have known that this pack of politi- 
cal "commissioners" could not get down here without a 
shindy of some sort. The peint they brought up was 
fraudulent votes. A long-haired personage, fat and vulgar- 

264 Meade^s Headquarters [nov.ii, 

looking, one of that class that invariably have objection- 
able finger-nails, came puffing over to General Meade's 
tent, with all the air of a boy who had discovered a mare's 
nest. He introduced himself as a Mr. Somebody from 
Philadelphia, and proceeded to gasp out that a gentleman 
had been told by an officer, that he had heard from some- 
body else that a Democratic Commissioner had been 
distributing votes, professedly Republican, but with names 
misspelled so as to be worthless. "I don't see any proof," 
said the laconic Meade. "Give me proof, and I'll arrest 
him." And off puffed Mr. Somebody to get proof, evidently 
thinking the Commanding General must be a Copperhead 
not to jump at the chance of arresting a Democrat. The 
result was that a Staff officer was sent, and investigation 
held, and telegraphs dispatched here and there, while the 
Somebody puffed about, like a porpoise in shallow water! 
Finally, four or five people were arrested to answer 
charges. This seemed to please Stanton mightily, who 
telegraphed to put 'em in dose arrest; and, next morning, 
lo ! a lieutenant-colonel sent, with a guard of infantry, by 
a special boat from Washington, to conduct these male- 
factors to the capital — very much like personages, con- 
victed of high treason, being conveyed to the Tower. Were 
I a lieutenant-colonel, I should feel cheap to be ordered to 
convey a parcel of scrubby politicians under arrest! But 
that is the work that Washington soldiers may expect to 
spend their lives in. General Meade, I fancy, looked with 
high contempt on the two factions. " That Somebody only 
does it," he said, "to appear efficient and get an office. 

As to X , he said he thought it a trying thing for a 

gentleman to be under close arrest; and I wanted to tell 
him it wasn't so disgraceful as to have been drunk every 
night, which was his case!" That's the last I have heard 

1864] Another TVinter 265 

of the culprits, who, with their accusers, have all cleared 
out, like a flock of crows, and we are once again left to our 
well-loved ragamuffins, in dirty blouses and spotted sky- 
blue trousers. 

The day was further marked by an emeute in the culi- 
nary department. I would have you to know that we have 
had a nigger boy, to wait on table, an extraordinary youth, 
of muscular proportions and of an aspect between a drill 
sergeant, an undertaker and a clergyman — solemn, mil- 
itary and mildly religious. It would, however, appear, 
that beneath this serious and very black exterior worked 
a turbulent soul. The diminutive Monsieur Mercier, our 
chef, had repeatedly informed me that "le petit" (the un- 
bleached brother is about a head taller than Mercier) was 
extremely indolent and had a marked antipathy to wash- 
ing dishes — an observation which interested me little, as 
my observation went to show that the washing of dishes 
by camp-followers tended rather to dirty than to cleanse 
the platter, and that the manifest destiny of the plate 
military was to grow dirtier and dirtier, till it at last got 
broken. However, Anderson was reproved for not washing 
his crockery, and replied with rude words. On being re- 
proved again, he proposed to smite Mercier, remarking, 
he "would as soon knock down a white man as a nigger." 

At this juncture the majestic Biddle interfered and en- 
deavored to awe the crowd; but the crowd would not be 
awed, so Biddle put Anderson at the pleasant occupation 
of walking post with a log on his shoulder. Upon being 
liberated from this penalty, he charged upon Mercier, giv- 
ing him the dire alternative of "Pay me mer wages, or 
77/ smash yer crockery T' This being disorderly, I allowed 
him to cool his passions till next morning in the guard- 
house, when he was paid off. 

266 Meade 'j Headquarters [Nov. 12, 

November 12, 1864 
We have the usual play of rumor about cabinets — 
everybody seems inclined to heave out Stanton: some to 
heave him up to the Supreme Court — some to heave him 
down to unknown depths of nothingness. Many would 
fain fancy Ben Butler in the chair of War, where he would 
be certain to make things spin either for good or for bad. 
How he will get on, across the James, I know not. He lost 
a strong man in Ord, wounded; and in Birney, dead, also: 
Birney was one who had many enemies, but, in my belief, 
we had few officers who could command 10,000 men as 
well as he. He was a pale. Puritanical figure, with a de- 
meanor of unmovable coldness; only he would smile 
politely when you spoke to him. He was spare in person, 
with a thin face, light-blue eye, and sandy hair. As a 
General he took very good care of his Staff and saw they 
got due promotion. He was a man, too, who looked out 
for his own interests sharply and knew the mainsprings 
of military advancement. His unpopularity among some 
persons arose partly from his promotion, which, however, 
he deserved; and partly from his cold covert manner. I 
always felt safe when he had the division; it was always 
well put in and safely handled. The longer I am in the 
army, the more I see that great bodies of men take their 
whole tone from a few leaders, or even from one. I climbed 
on a horse and took a ride to visit Captain Sleeper, whose 
camp I easily recognized by its neat appearance. He al- 
ways has things in a trig state about him. His own domi- 
cile was a small log cabin, with a neat brick chimney, very 
smooth-looking, but made in truth of only odd bits of 
brick, picked up at random and carefully fitted by a skilful 
Yank. The chimney-piece was of black walnut, made 
indeed from the leaf of an old table, discovered in the 

1864] Another JVi titer lei 

neighborhood. As to his tongs, a private, of prospective 
views, picked them up sometime last summer, and had 
carried them, ever since, in waggon! For arras he had 
artillery horse-blankets. The Sleeper is now more content, 
having his battery full, new sergeants appointed, and a 
prospect of officers. His only grief is that with three years' 
service and many battles he is only a captain. You see 
Massachusetts has not her batteries in a regiment and 
can't have field officers. So Sleeper's only hope is a brevet. 

November 13, 1864 

We had a Lieutenant-Colonel C , a Britisher, up for 

a visit; he is commander of the forces in that tropical 

climate of New Brunswick. In aspect Colonel C was 

not striking; he had done injustice to what good looks he 
had by a singularly shapeless suit of city clothing, which I 
judge must have been purchased ready made from a village 
tailor in New Brunswick. He had a sort of soft cloth hat, 
an overcoat of a grey -rhubarb tint and trousers which once 
might have had a pure color, but seemed to have become 
doubtful by hanging in the sun outside a shop. I don't 
think the gallant Lieutenant-Colonel was much interested 
in matters military. Perhaps he had read out, perhaps he 
had no natural taste that way, or perhaps he felt cold and 
uncomfortable. At any rate he looked bored, and his only 
military remark did not indicate deep reflection. "This," 
said I, "is what we call a corduroy road." "Oh! ah! In- 
deed; yes, well, it's very well now, you know, but what will 
you do when it comes ivet weather? " I was too much over- 
come at this putting the cart before the horse, to inform 
him that the corduroy was built for no other purpose than 
for wet weather. After this I confined myself to considera- 
tions of the state of health of the Hon. Mr. Yorke (he who 

268 Meade^s Headquarters [Nov. u, 

came back with us from Liverpool) . He is under the com- 
mand of the Colonel, it would appear, and afforded an 
innocent topic of conversation. Since then two other Eng- 
lish officers have been entrusted to the fatherly care of 
Rosencrantz, and diligently shown round. When they got 
near the end, they said : " Now we are much pleased to find 
you are a foreigner, because we can frankly ask you, what 
you consider the general feeling towards the English in 
this country." To which Rosie (who don't like to miss a 
chance) replied: "Veil, I can tell you that, so far as I have 
observed, some Americans do just care nothing about you, 
and many others do say, that, when this war is over, they 
will mmediately kick you very soon out from Canada!" 
When the horrified Bulls asked: "Aw, aw, aw; but why, 
why?'' Rosie replied in the following highly explanatory 
style: "Be-cause they say you have made for the Rebs 
very many bullets." 

General Gibbon dined with us and was largely impressed 
by our having oysters on the shell, which he pitched into 
with the fervor of a Baltimorean long separated from his 
favorites. Gibbon is by birth a Pennsylvanian, but lived, 
since boyhood, in North Carolina. When the Rebellion 
broke out, two of his brothers went into the Rebel service, 
but he remained loyal. One of his sisters was in the South 
but could not escape, and it was only the other day that 
they allowed her to come on board the flag-of -truce boat 
and come down the river to our lines, where her brother 
met her and took her North. He had sent word to his 
younger brother to meet him on the same occasion, but 
the young gentleman sent word, "It would not be agree- 
able"; which shows they are pretty bitter, some of them. 
Gibbon has an Inspector named Summerhayes, who is of 
the 20th Massachusetts, and who has got so used to being 

Frederick Rosencrantz 

1864] Another JVinter 269 

shot at, that he seems not to be able to do without it, and 
so gallops along the picket line to rouse the foe to pop at 
him. Which reminds me of what Grant said (either by 
accident or on purpose). He had come out, with a great 
crowd of civilians, to ride round the lines. Someone pro- 
posed to go out and visit the pickets. "No," said Grant, 
innocently, "no; if I take a crowd of civilians, the enemy 
may fire and some of the soldiers might get hurt ! " 

November 14, 1864 
If doctors and quartermasters had not quarrelled, / 
should not have come unto sorrow; thus, a hospital was 
placed nigh to a place on the railroad where the quarter- 
masters would fain have a platform. "Move your tents," 
said the quartermasters. "We won't," said the doctors. 
"You shall," retorted the quartermasters. "We shan't," 
reiterated the M.D's. The strife waxed hot. Inspectors 
were called: they inspected much and shook their heads; 
that being a negative conclusion, the Major-General Com- 
manding the Army of the Potomac was appealed to, and 
he rode out to enter a fiat. In riding out he took me, and I 
took a chill. So confusion to all doctors and quartermas- 
ters ! But the former shall be forced to cure me and the 
latter to make me comfortable in mine house. There came 
over, for a visit, the Colonel Russell, of the funny turn, 
who commands now a brigade of negro troops. He has al- 
ways something funny to relate of their manners and cus- 
toms. It would appear that his nigs were once relieved by 
troops of the 2d Corps, and, as both parties had just been 
paid off, the ivory and the ebony sat down to play poker, 
wherein the ebony was rapidly getting the better of their 
opponents. The enemy meanwhile began to fire shells 
over the woods, but the players were too interested to leave 

270 Meade 'j- Headquarters cnov. i6, 

off. At last one cute Yankee, who, despite his cuteness, 
had been entirely cleaned out, wandered off and found 
an empty shell, which he carefully filled with damp gun- 
powder, adding a paper fuse. Approaching the group that 
seemed to have most money on the board, he lighted the 
innocent combustible, screamed "Look out!" and threw 
it into the midst of them, following up himself, to secure 
the greenbacks left by the fugitives. Russell said when the 
recruits first come down they get into all sorts of snarls. 
As, for example, two of them found what they call "one er 
dese ere mortisses," by which they would say mortar shell. 
"Hullo, dar's er mortiss: s'pose dat ar'll 'splode.'^'* 
'"Splode! 'corse it'll 'splode." "No, it wun't; how's 
gwine to 'splode, when's been shot out uv er cannon.'^" 
"Bet yer five dollars '11 'splode." "Bet yer it wun't!" 
The next thing the Colonel knew was a tremendous report, 
and two or three bits of iron flying through his tent. He 
rushed forth and collared a handful of the darks, and de- 
manded immediate explanation. Whereunto one replied, 
with the utmost simplicity: "Didn't mean nuphin, Ker- 
nul; all fault er dat ar stupid nigger — said er mortiss 
wouldn't 'splode!" This day was further remarkable by 
the erection of a stately flagstaff, which seemed to imply 
that General Williams thought we should stay some time; 
but I think it will doubtless make us move at once; just as 
building log huts has a similar effect. 

Novemher 16, 1864 
They have made Sheridan a Major-General in the 
Regular Army. I think he deserves it for that remarkable 
battle of Cedar Creek. Those of Opequon and of Fisher's 
Hill were joyous occasions ; but he ought to have won those, 
because his forces were probably at least as two to one, and 

1864] Another JVinter m 

his cavalry immeasurably superior; but this last battle 
was the thing that brought out his high merit. The lan- 
guage of the order is not to be commended, as it makes 
Sheridan a cat's-paw to give McClellan an insulting hit. 
It is hard on Meade, and I think he feels it; during a long 
campaign, in many respects unprecedented in military 
history for its difficulties and its grandeur, he has handled 
an army, which has at times considerably exceeded 100,- 

000 men ; and that too under circumstances very trying to 
a man who has had a chief command; that is to say, 
obliged to take the orders and tactics of a superior, but 
made responsible for all the trying and difficult perform- 
ance, which indeed is more than one half the game of war. 

1 undertake to say that his handling of his troops, when 
a mistake would be the destruction of the entire plan, 
has been a wonder: without exaggeration, a wonder. His 
movements and those of Lee are only to be compared to 
two exquisite swordsmen, each perfectly instructed, and 
never erring a hair in attack or in defence. Of course, it is 
idle to tell such facts to people at large; they don't under- 
stand, or care, or believe anything about it. It is true, the 
army has played what seems its destined role, to kill and 
to be killed without decisive actions, until both sides pause 
from mere exhaustion; but do people reflect what a tre- 
mendous effect all this has on the Rebels.'^ that by wearing 
ourselves, we have worn them down, until they are turning 
every teamster into the ranks and (of all things) are talk- 
ing of arming the negroes. Suppose there had been no 
army capable of clinging thus for months in a death- 
grapple, and still clinging and meaning to cling; what 
would have become of Sherman and his great work.^^^ The 
record of General Meade is a remarkably clear one. He 

^ Sherman was just leaving Atlanta in his march to the sea. 

272 Meade^s Headquarters cnov. i6, 

has risen from a brigadier of volunteers to all the higher 
commands, by hard fighting and an experience that dates 
from the first days of McClellan. He has done better with 
the Army of the Potomac than McClellan, Pope, Burnside, 
or Hooker; and — I will add boldly and without disparage- 
ment to the Lieutenant-General — better than Grant ! and 
you would agree with me did you know what power and 
what men Grant has had to command. Meade's great 
virtue is, that he knows when to fight, and when not to 
fight. Taking up an army on the march, he fought and 
won the greatest battle of this war — Gettysburg — 100,- 
000 men against 110,000 — a battle that saved Baltimore, 
Washington, and Philadelphia, and nobody knows what 
besides. He wouldn't fight (assault) Lee at Williamsport, 
and immediately he was "timid, timid, timid ! " Now look 
here: we assaulted at Spotsylvania, at Cool Arbor, at 
Petersburg, and were repulsed with perfect slaughter; after 
all that, if Lee had assaulted us in position what would, 
what would have become of him.? Why, we would have 
used him up so, that he wouldn't have known himself. 
Just turn this about and apply it to Gettysburg and re- 
flect how "the people" are frequently semi-idiotic! He 
followed Lee to the Rappahannock and got orders to stop. 
In September he was to move and attack Lee on the Rapid 
Ann ; the day before this move they took 20,000 men from 
him and sent West: it couldn't be done to Grant. Then 
Lee marched on Centreville; Meade beat him and got 
there first; Lee wouldn't fight and retreated (he also knows 
when not to fight). It was in just such a move that Pope 
was smashed all to pieces and driven into Washington. 
Then Meade forced the Rappahannock, and drove Lee in 
haste over the Rapid Ann. The Mine Run expedition 

1864] Another JVinter 273 

followed ; we did not go fast enough — that was unfortu- 
nate; but it would have been more unfortunate to have 
left 10,000 men on the slopes there. If Meade had lacked 
the great moral courage to say "retreat," after having 
been called "timid" by the papers, and having been 
hounded on by Halleck and Stanton to "do something," 
he would not only have got a disastrous defeat, but would 
have destroyed the plan of re-enlistments by which we ob- 
tained the very backbone of our army for this campaign. 
His "timidity" lies in this, that he will not try to build a 
house without enough of tools and timber. Lately, they 
have turned round, 180 degrees, and now call him "butch- 
er"; but that does just as well — blow hot, blow cold. 
This is a fair statement. I don't say he is Napoleon, 
Caesar and Alexander in one; only that he can handle 100,- 
000 men and do it easy — a rare gift ! Also, as Sherman 
and Sheridan, commanding the two other great armies, 
have been made regular Major-Generals, he too, who is 
doing his part, and has fought more than both of them put 
together, ought to have equal rank.^ General Grant, as far 
as I can hear, thinks everything of General Meade, and it 
is said will have him promoted like the others. I believe it 
will turn out that Sherman is our first military genius, 
while Sheridan is most remarkable as a "field fighter," 
when the battle is actually engaged. Bless my soul! quelle 
lecture on my commanding General ! Never mind, variety 
is the spice of life. 

November 18, 1864 
Warm it is this morning — too much so; I would prefer 
it frosty, but remember the farmer whom Jupiter allowed 
to regulate the weather for his own farm, and who made 
^ Meade was then a Major-General of Volunteers. 


274 Meade^ 5 Headquarters cnov. is, 

very poor crops in consequence. As Albert^ came last 
night, I honorably discharged the ebony John this morn- 
ing, giving him a character, an antique pair of trousers and 
a dollar or two extra wages, whereat John showed his 
ivory, but still remarked, standing on one leg: "Er ud like 
er pass." "What do you want a pass for.^^" asked I, in that 
fatherly voice that should always be used to a very black 
nig. "Go a Washington." "If you go to Washington 
they '11 draft you, if you don't look out." " Oh," said John, 
with the grave air of a man of mundane experience, " dem 
fellers what ain't travelled none, dey gets picked up : but I 's 
travelled a right smart lot!" Whereupon the traveller de- 
parted. It should be stated that his travels consist in hav- 
ing run away from his master, near Madison Court House, 
and in having since followed the army on the back of a 
spare horse. We were favored with a batch of two J. Bulls 
(lately they have taken to hunting about here, in couples 
and singly). These were a certain legation person, Kirk- 

patrick, and an extraordinary creature named H , who 

is said to have been once in the British army and to be now 
in Oxford — rather a turning about. He had a sort of 
womanish voice and a manner of sweet sap; his principal 
observations were: "Ao, inde — ed"; "Ao, thank you"; 
and "Ao, I wish you a good morning." He had an unac- 
countable mania for getting shot through the head, and 
insisted on going to Fort Hell, and staring through em- 
brasures; from which I judge he was more idiotic than he 
'seemed. He was also, it would appear, very fond of fresh 
air, while his companion (who also disagreed with him on 
the shooting-through-the-head matter) rather liked a door 
shut. They were put in a log cabin to sleep, and H 

' The servant, whom he had brought from Brookline, who had been 
absent on sick leave. 

1864] Another JVi titer 275 

secretly opened the door at night; whereupon it came to 
rain and blow, and the Bulls awaked in the morning to 
behold their shoes and stockings saiHng about the room! 
Really, General Hunt, to whom these creatures are usu- 
ally billet ted, ought to get board free from his many 
former guests for the rest of his life. 

In the evening we had a charge on the enemy under a 
new form, or rather a very old one, for it was after the 
fashion of Samson's foxes. A number of beef cattle, in a 
pen near Yellow Tavern, were seized, in the night, with 
one of those panics for which oxen are noted, and to which 
the name "stampede" was originally applied. They burst 
out of the enclosure and a body of them, forty strong, 
went, at full gallop, up the Halifax road, towards Peters- 
burg! What our pickets did does not appear; one thing 
they did not do — stop the fugitive beef. On they went in 
wild career through the dark, with no little clatter, we may 
be sure. The Rebel videttes discharged their pieces and 
fled; the picket sentries opened fire; the reserves advanced 
in support, and fired too ; heedless of killed and wounded, 
the oxen went slap through the whole of them; and, the 
last that was heard from that drove was the distant crash 
of a volley of musketry from the enemy's breastworks! 
When the gray morn lifted, the first sight that greeted our 
disgusted pickets was a squad of grey -backs comfortably 
cutting savory steaks from a fat beef, the quarry of their 
bow and their spear ! The evening brought us warm rain ; 
also, as toads fall in a shower, one military Englishman, 
and one civilian Blue-nose. The Briton was a Major 
Smyth, of the Royal Artillery — a really modest, gentle- 
manly man, with a red face, hooked nose, and that sure 
mark of greatness, a bald head. The Blue-nose was mod- 
est also (the only one I ever saw) and was of the class of 

276 Meade'* s Headquarters [Nov. 19, 

well-to-do, honorable Common-Councilmen; his name was 
Lunn, suggestive of "Sally Lunns." 

November 19, 1864 

The rain continued, being cold, by way of variety, and 
from the northeast; whereby it happened that we got no 
mail. Be-CB,use what? as small Co says. Well, because the 
captain of that gallant ship went and ran her aground 
somewhere on a shoal which they told me the name of — 
whereat I was no wiser. The result to us was disastrous; 
when I say to us, I mean our mess; for the chef, Mercier, 
(no relation of French minister) was on board with many 
good eatables for us, but in the confusion, the knavish 
soldiery, who were on board as passengers, did break the 
boxes and did eat much and destroy and waste more. 
"Aussi," said little Mercier, "they broke many bottles; 
but," he continued, with the air of a good man, whom a 
higher power had protected, "that made no difference, for 
they belonged to other people!" In the night we were favored 
with quite a disturbance. The officer of the guard, who 
had possibly been storing his mind from some mediaeval 
book on the ordering of warders in a walled town, suddenly 
conceived an idea that it was proper for the sentries to call 
the hours. So we were waked from the prima quies by loud 
nasal and otherwise discordant cries of: "Post number 
eight! Half -past twelve! All's well!" etc., etc. The fac- 
tionaries evidently considered it a good joke, and, as they 
had to keep awake, determined no one else should sleep; 
and so roared often and loud. Some of the officers, hastily 
roused, fancied the camp was on fire; others conceived the 
sentinels were inebriated; others that Mosby was in the 
camp; and others again, like myself, didn't think anything 
about it, but growled and dropped off again to sleep. 
"What was that howling .f^" said the testy General, at 

1864] Another TVinter 277 

breakfast. "Yes, what did the confounded fools mean?" 
added the pacific Humphreys. But the most indignant 
personage was Rosencrantz. "I do svear!" he exclaimed, 
"this whole night have I not a single vink slept. It is not 
enough that those sentry fellows should tell us vat time it 
is, but they must also be screaming to me a long speech 
besides! Vat do I care vat time it is; and if all is veil, vy 
can they not keep it to themselves, and not be howling it 
in my ears and vaking me up.^ This is the most fool tings 
I have seen!" You may be sure that was the first and last 
of the warders. 

November 22, 1864 
As it was fine, after three days' rain. General Humph- 
reys bestirred himself to give rational entertainment to the 
two Englanders; and so General Meade ordered a couple 
of brigades of cavalry turned out and a horse-battery. We 
first rode along the rear line and went into a fort there. 
It made quite a cortege, for, besides the Generals and 
their oflBcers and orderlies, there followed Mr. Lunn in a 
four-horse spring waggon, with General Hunt to bear him 
company; for Lunn had received the horseback proposi- 
tion with mild horror. So he followed in a waggon, much 
as Mr. Pickwick was wheeled after the shooting party, 
when he finally turned up in the pound. In the fort was a 
company of soldiers that you might know beforehand were 
Germans, so dirty and especially so grimy — they have a 
great facility for looking grimy do the Germans. It was 
funny to see the different chaps among them: one, evi- 
dently a ci-devant Prussian soldier, was seized with rigidity 
in all his muscles on beholding a live brace of Generals. 
There was another who was an unmistakable student; he 
had a moustache, a poetically fierce air, a cap with the 

278 Meade^s Headquarters CNov.24, 

brim turned up, and a pair of spectacles. There he stood, 
a most out-of -place individual, with our uniform on, watch- 
ing anxiously the progress of a pot, boiling on a fire. The 
cavalry looked what I have learned to consider as very 
well; that is, the men looked healthy, the horses in good 
flesh, and the arms and equipments in proper repair. To a 
European they must have been fearful; very likely so to 
Major Smyth, though he was silently polite — no polish, 
horses rough and woolly, and of all sizes and colors; men 
not sized at all, with all kinds of beards and every known 
species of hat; but as I know that men do not fight with 
their hats and beards, I was satisfied to see evidences of 
good discipline. Thereafter we called on General Gregg, 
where I had a treat in form of some Newton pippins, of 
which excellent apple there was a barrel on hand. 

November 24, 1864 
This was Thanksgiving, which is sloppy and snowy and 
haily with us, as a general thing, but here was sunny and 
pleasant. All day the waggons were distributing turkeys 
to the patriots, of whom I believe all got some, sooner or 
later. Flint, having seen that his squadron had their poul- 
try, called a sergeant and asked him how much it made to 
each man. "Well," said the sergeant, "it makes about a 
quarter of a turkey, a piece of pie, and four apples." 
"Oh!" said Flint, "quite a meal." "Yes," said the ser- 
geant dubiously, "yes, a small meal; I could eat half a 
turkey myself! " The turkeys were ready cooked and were 
a great treat to our ragamuffins. I took a ride in some 
woody spots within the lines, and it was pleasant, in the 
warm hollows, to hear the wee birds twittering and warb- 
ling, visitors from a northern climate, that have left you 
some weeks ago. Then there was a pileated woodpecker 

1864] Another JVinter 279 

(not known with us), a great fowl, as big as a crow; black, 
with white feathers in his wings, an ivory beak and a gay 
scarlet cockade. He thought himself of great account, and 
pompously hopped up and round the trunks of trees, mak- 
ing a loud, chattering noise, which quite drowned the 
wee birds, like a roaring man in a choir. The pompous old 
thing was very much scared when I approached, and flew 
away, but soon began hi^ noise on a distant tree. 

November 27, 1864 
I think I will occupy the remainder of this letter with 
an account of our picnic yesterday to Butlerdom. The day 
was further remarkable for the departure of my dear Gen- 
eral Humphreys to take command of the 2d Army Corps. 
For Hancock has got a leave of absence, and will doubt- 
less be put to recruiting fresh troops, while it is hoped that 
the President wiil permanently assign Humphreys to this 
Corps. He is in high glee at going, and will be in despair if 
a big fight is not got up for his special benefit. He was a 
great favorite and was escorted by some fifteen mounted 
officers of the Staff to his new quarters, at which compli- 
ment I think he was gratified. I regretted not to be with 
him, but had to go with the General, who started by the 
mail train, at 8 a.m., to be early at Grant's Headquarters, 
whence they were to start. We took our horses on a freight 
car. In the train we found Generals Warren and Crawford, 
who were invited to be of the party. Arrived at City Point, 
we discovered that the Lieutenant-General was still in 
bed, whereat Meade did laugh, but the three stars soon 
appeared and went to breakfast. After which meal, our 
horses were put on the boat and we put ourselves on, and 
off we started. The party was a big one. There were Gen- 
erals Grant, Meade, Warren, Crawford and Ingalls, and 

280 Meade^s Headquarters [Nov.27, 

several Staff officers. There were then the bourgeois: to 
wit, a great many "Turkeys" (gentlemen who had come 
down to distribute those Thanksgiving fowls); two men 
who wanted to sell a steamer; one Senator, viz., Nesmith 

of Oregon, and one political blackguard named H , 

whose special business was to praise a certain Greek fire, of 
which more anon. This fellow's name is usually prefixed 
by "Pet." He has wild hair and beard and a face showing 
a certain ability; his distinguishing mark, I am told, is the 
absence of any sort of morality or principle. With him was 
his son, a small and old boy, of whom they said that, if 
papa could not get the best at a game of poker, son would 
come in and assist. Senator Nesmith is a child of the 
people, and was prepared for his congressional duties by a 
residence of twenty -five years among the Indians. When 
he first got to Washington, he had never before seen a 
railroad, a telegraph, or a gas-light. "Senator Fessenden 
asked me what I thought of things. 'Well,' says I, 'when 
I first came along I was full of the dignity of the position 
to which I had been elected; but 7iow all I want to know is, 
who in thunder ever sent you fellers here ! ' " He has plenty 
of brains, this same, but is a very coarse man. The 
"Turkeys" were of various sorts: several of them were 
Club men, e.g., Mr. Benson, a gentleman who seemed a 
middle-aged beau, with much politeness and no particular 
brains. He kept bowing and smiling and backing into per- 
sons, and offering his chair to everyone, from orderlies up 
to General Grant. He requested to know whether in my 
opinion he could be properly considered as having been 
"under fire; because," said he, "I stood on the Avery 
house and could see the shells explode in the air, you 
know!" All this motley crowd started at once for Deep 

1864] Another TVinter 28I 

Bottom; nor should I omit to say that we had also on 
board a Secesli bishop — Leigh of Georgia — who was 
going by flag of truce to Richmond. He had remained in 
Atlanta, and Sherman had told him if he wished to get 
back, he must go via Richmond. From him they got a good 
deal of entertaining conversation. His opinion of Sherman 
was very high and complimentary. " The old Book tells 
us," he said, "that the race may not be to the swift, nor 
the battle to the strong, and we feel that Providence will 
not desert our righteous cause." "Yes," said General 
Meade, "but then we feel that Providence will not desert 
our cause; now how are you going to settle that question.^ " 
Whereat they both laughed. The bishop was a scholastic, 
quiet-looking man, and no great fire-eater, I fancy. The 
boat made fast at Aiken's landing, halfway between Deep 
Bottom and Dutch Gap. A Staff officer was there to re- 
ceive us and conduct us, two miles, to General Butler's 
Headquarters. Some rode and some were in ambulances. 
The James Army people always take pretty good care of 
themselves, and here I found log houses, with board roofs, 
and high chimneys, for the accommodation of the gentle- 
men of the Staff. You might know it was Butler's Head- 
quarters by the fact that, instead of the common ensign, 
he had a captured Reb battle-flag stuck up ! This chieftain 
asked in the general officers and we were left to the care of 
the Staff, who were not behindhand in their civility. . . . 
Presently Butler climbed on his horse and led the way to 
see Fort Harrison, which was captured in the movements 
at the end of September. It was well worth seeing, for on 
our side of the river we have no hills : it is pretty much one 
plain with gullies. But here was a regular hill, of some 
size, dominating the whole country about. How they took 

282 Meade'* s Headquarters [Nov.28, 

the place, I hardly see, for the land is open for a mile in 
front of it, and the Rebs had artillery in position and a 
regular infantry running quite to the river. . . . 

N member 28, 1864 
Let me see, I had got to Fort Harrison, had I not? 
Really I got so sleepy last night over the second sheet that 
I should not be surprised if it contains numerous absurdi- 
ties. From the Fort you have an excellent view of the Rebs 
in their line opposite, their main fort being only 800 yards 
distant. I was surprised they did not fire upon us, as there 
was a great crowd and evident^ several generals among 
us. But I believe they never shoot. The pickets, on either 
side, are within close musket-range but have no appear- 
ance of hostility. There was one very innocent "Turkey," 
who said to me: "Who are those men just over there.''" 
When I told him they were Rebs, he exclaimed: "God 
bless me!" and popped down behind the parapet. . . . 

Thence we all went to view the great canal. You will 
notice on the map, that the river at Dutch Gap makes a 
wide loop and comes back to nearly the same spot, and the 
canal is going through there. This cuts off five or six miles 
of river and avoids that much of navigation exposed to 
fire; and it may have strategic advantages if we can get 
iron-clads through and silence the Rebel batteries on the 
other bank. The canny Butler sent an aide to see if they 
were shelling the canal, who reported they were not; so we 
dismounted a little way off and walked to the place. It 
was very worth seeing. Fancy a narrow ridge of land, only 
135 yards wide, separating the river, which flows on either 
side; a high ridge, making a bluff fifty feet high where it 
overhangs the water. Through this a great chasm has been 
cut, only leaving a narrow wall on the side next the enemy, 


Another JVi titer 283 

which wall is to be blown out with several thousand pounds 
of gunpowder. We stood on the brink and looked down, 
some seventy feet, at the men and the carts and the horses 
at work on the bottom. Where we stood, and indeed all 
over the ridge, was strewed thickly with pieces of shell, 
while here and there lay a whole one, which had failed to 
explode. Had the Rebs known that a Lieutenant-General 
and two Major-Generals were there, they would hardly 
have left us so quiet. . . . 

Though we got off very nicely (I thought as I stood 
there: "Now that line is the shortest one to our horses, and 
you must walk it with dignity — not too fast when they 
begin to shell"), there was a fat "Turkey" who came after 
us and was treated to a huge projectile, which burst over 
his head; he ran and picked up a piece and cried out: " Oh ! 
it 's warm. Oh ! ! it smells of sulphur. Oh ! ! ! let us go now." 
He was delighted with this and all other adventures, and 
was quite elated when his horse tumbled in a ditch and 
muddied him greatly. After dark we were treated to an 
exhibition of a " Greek fire." They burst a shell in a bunch 
of bush and immediately the whole was in a roaring blaze. 
"They've got the fuses to work well now," said Grant 
calmly. "They tried the shells on three houses, the other 
side of the river, and burnt them all without difficulty." 
Good thing for the owners! Then they spirted the stuff 
through a little hose and set the stream on fire. It was a 
beautiful sight and like the hell of the poets, with an 
unquenchable fire and columns of black smoke rolling up. 
Owing to these pyrotechnics, we only got home at mid- 
night. In my next I will tell more of the genius of Butler. 
General Meade, you will be glad to learn, has been in- 
formed officially, that he will be appointed a Major-General 
in the Regular Army, to rank General Sheridan ! 

284 Meade^s Headquarters, 

November 29, 1864 
I did not have room to tell you of the ingenious inven- 
tions of General Butler for the destruction of the enemy. 
He never is happy unless he has half a dozen contrivances 
on hand. One man has brought a fire-engine, wherewith he 
proposes to squirt on earthworks and wash them all down ! 
An idea that Benjamin considered highly practicable. 
Then, with his Greek fire, he proposed to hold a redoubt 
with only five men and a small garden engine. '* Certain- 
ly," said General Meade; "only your engine fires thirty feet, 
and a minie rifle 3000 yards, and I am afraid your five men 
might be killed, before they had a chance to burn up their 
adversaries!" Also he is going to get a gun that shoots 
seven miles and, taking direction by compass, burn the 
city of Richmond with shells of Greek fire. If that don't 
do, he has an auger that bores a tunnel five feet in diameter, 
and he is going to bore to Richmond, and suddenly pop up 
in somebody's basement, while the family are at breakfast! 
So you see he is ingenious. It is really summer warm to- 
day; there are swarms of flies, and I saw a bumble-bee and 
a grasshopper. 

November 30, 1864 
Did you hear how the Hon. Nesmith, whom I have 
mentioned, discovered the real cause of the defeat at the 
first Bull Run? He was in Washington at the time, and 
the military wiseacres, as soon as they got over the scare, 
were prolific in disquisitions on the topic. One evening 
Nesmith found a lot of them very verbose over a lot of 
maps and books. They talked wisely of flank movements 
and changes of front, and how we should have won a great 
victory if we had only done so and so ; when he remarked 
solemnly: "Gentlemen, I have studied this matter and I 

1864] Another JVi titer 285 

have discovered the real reason of our defeat." They were 
all ears to hear. "Well," said Nesmith with immense 
gravity, "'weW, it was them darned Rebels!'"' . . . 

Last night the 2d Corps picket line was relieved by the 
9th — a delicate job in face of the enemy, who are pretty 
close up ; but it all wag done in entire quiet, to the relief of 
General Humphreys, who feels the new honor of the 2d 
Corps. That worthy officer stopped on his way to his new 
Headquarters and honored me by taking a piece of your 
plum cake. He was much tried by the noisy ways of Han- 
cock's late Headquarters. "They whistle of mornings," 
said the fidgety little General, "and that Shaw, confound 
the fellow, amuses himself with imitating all the bugle-calls ! 
Then the negroes turn out at four in the morning and chop 
wood, so that I am regularly waked up. But I shall stop it, 
/ can tell you." And I have no doubt he will, as he is wont 
to have his own way or know the reason why. I rode out 
with him to his new Headquarters and followed the line 
afterwards, and was much amused to see them drilling 
some of the worthless German recruits, in a polyglot style : 
" Steady there ! Mehr heraus — more to the front. Shoulder 
arms! Eins, zweil One, two!" etc. 

December 1, 1864 
At daylight General Gregg made a start, with nearly his 
whole cavalry division, for Stony Creek station. For you 
must know that, since we have held the Weldon road, the 
enemy have been obliged to waggon much of their supplies 
from Stony Creek station, by cross roads to the Boydton 
plank and thus to Petersburg. Lately we have had reports 
that they were building a cross railroad from Stony Creek 
to the southside road. Gregg's object therefore was to go 
to the station, which is over twenty miles by the road from 

286 Meade^s Headquarters [Dec. i, 

our lines, find out if this railroad were really in progress or 
not, and do as much damage as possible. Instead of going 
straight down he, by advice of General Meade, bore a 
little to the east and then suddenly swung round, when he 
got a little below the station. The consequence was he 
came on them where they didn't look for him. There were 
two redoubts, with regular ditch, etc., intended to keep 
off raiders; there w^as a thirty -pounder Parrott and a 
twelve-pounder field-piece mounted in them, and a few 
infantry as garrison. Their cavalry took to their heels, 
prudently. The infantry got in the redoubts and fired 
away with their cannon; but it got taken in a novel fash- 
ion. A regiment of cavalry charged to within 100 yards, 
then tumbled off their horses and made a rush at the para- 
pet, and ran right over the occupants. This gave them 
possession of the station, and then there followed a scene 
of general smashing, which, according to witnesses, was 
highly amusing. The men, feeling like mischievous boys, 
went at everything tooth and nail. They took several 
hundred bales of hay and piled them against a stack of 
short forage, which contained between 3000 and 5000 bags. 
Then they set the whole on fire, and helped the blaze with 
a lot of new tents. Next they tied down the safety-valve 
of a locomotive, built a big fire under the boiler, and blew 
her up by this scientific process. After distributing the 
contents of a number of Rebel Thanksgiving boxes on the 
principle of spolia forti, they ended by a display of fire- 
works consisting of a shed full of ammunition, which was 
fired and allowed to go off at its convenience. Then they 
retreated, in great glee, taking with them 170 prisoners, 
who were not in such great glee. One was a scamp named 
Major Fitzhugh, who, when Captain Lazelle, of our cavalry, 
was made prisoner, put a pistol to his head and made him 

1864] Another JVinter 287 

give him his hoots. Captain Freikle told me he had a mind 
to make the scoundrel march the twenty miles barefooted, 
but couldn't bring his mind to anything so mean. / would 
have made him do it. 

December 3, 1864 
At the end of each month, General Meade sends up his 
pay-rolls, that is, a large printed sheet which each officer 
fills up, stating what the Government owes him, and say- 
ing that he hasn't cheated Uncle Sam, and don't owe him 
anything and is all right generally. The pay department 
keeps this as a receipt and returns your money for the past 
month. Lieutenant-Colonel Woodruff gets the General's 
pay. One part he sends to Mrs. Meade and the rest he 
sends to the General, who, the moment that he gets it, 
sends violently for Mercier and John and everyone else to 
whom he is indebted, and pays them all, in hot haste, as if 
his last day were come. He is a thorough old soldier about 
money and regards greenbacks in a weak and helpless sort 
of way. "Once," said he, "Mrs. Meade said it was my 
plain duty to go to market, as other gentlemen did: it 
would be so satisfactory and saving. I went the next morn- 
ing. We had a famous dinner — oysters, terrapin, and lots 
of good things — the children were delighted ; but, when 
I came to look, I found I had spent the week's allowance 
in one day! I wasn't allowed to go any more to market." 
You would have laughed to see yesterday the crowd of 
contrabands that came in with Gregg. Usually, wherever 
they can, they cut and run, not showing that devotion to 
their masters described by the Southrons. It is sometimes 
rather remarkable the way they run off. Now in this lot 
(mostly women) there was all the way from a newly born 
baby to an old woman who, they told me, was over ninety, 

288 Adeade^s Headquarters [Dec. 5, 

and who, from her looks, might very Hkely have been a 
hundred and fifty. The young women had their mistresses' 
things on, if I know myself. There was one Christian 
Commission kuss who went whining about and saying: 
"Oh! you are free, free! Oh! thank God for it!" "Look 
here, my friend," said I, "if you want to show your Chris- 
tian feeling, go and tell your commission to get these peo- 
ple something to eat; they have had nothing since yester- 
day." The pious party took this with an ill grace, but was 
fain to walk off "to see our agent," who, I hope, made 
some good soup for them. 

December 5, 1864 
The w^eather continues very fine and really warm of 
days, though the nights are provocative of blankets — 
weather, law! that isn't very interesting, is it.^ My head 
has indeed been singularly empty for letter-writing; when 
a man talks about weather to his own wife he must be 
pretty hard up. I heard a characteristic anecdote of Han- 
cock which made me laugh, as I knew his ways. It appears 
that he had issued stringent orders against plundering, 
despite which the troops had fallen on a large flock of 
sheep and were making short work of them. Away went 
Hancock, followed by the inevitable Morgan, Mitchell, and 
Parker. Very soon all these three were sent spinning off 
at tangents, after distant delinquents, and the General 
went frothing along alone. Presently he catches sight of 
four men pursuing a poor sheep, bayonet in hand, and off 
he goes, full tilt, to arrest them; but, before he can get in, 
poor ba-ba is down and still. "You blank blank all-sorts- 
of -bad-things," roars Hancock, "how dare you.f^ How 
dare you kill that sheep .f^" "Please, General, we didn't 
kill it, " cried the terrified soldiers. " What ! Didn't kill it ! 

WiNFiELD Scott Hancock 

1864] Another JVinter 289 

You liars ! You infernal, desperate liars ! I saw you kill it, 
with my own eyes; and there it lies dead!" — when — 
the sheep hopped up and ran away. 

December 6, 1864 
There arrived Captain Alden, with 253 brevets, of all 
grades, for the Army of the Potomac. Do you know what 
a brevet is, and the force thereof? A brevet commission 
gives the dignity, but not always the pay or the authority, 
of the rank it confers. If, for example, a colonel is breveted 
general, he may wear the stars and may rank as general 
on courts-martial, but, unless he be specially assigned by 
the President, he has only the command of a colonel, just 
as before. A colonel bre vetted general in the regular army 
draws the pay of a general when assigned to duty by the 
President; but a brevet in the volunteers can under no cir- 
cumstances bring additional pay. Brevets, like other ap- 
pointments by the President, must be confirmed by the 
Senate before they become permanent. At any rate, how- 
ever, they last from the time of appointment to the time of 
their rejection by the Senate. The object of brevets is to 
pay compliments to meritorious officers without overbur- 
dening the army with officers of high rank. 

As aforesaid, there came a grist of these papers in all 
grades, from 1st lieutenant up to major-general. All the 
Headquarters' Staff, with few exceptions, were bre vetted 
one grade, in consequence of which I should not wonder if 
the Senate rejected the whole bundle! Barstow is Brevet 
Lieutenant-Colonel; Biddle, ditto; Duane has two brevets, 
which brings him to a full Colonel, and will give him a 
colonel's pay, if he can be assigned, as they are in the reg- 
ular army. We are all very melancholy over General 
Williams, who, though one of the most deserving officers 


290 Meade'* s Headquarters [Dec. 6, 

in the whole army, could not be brevetted because that 
would make him rank the Adjutant-General of the whole 
army, Brigadier-General Thomas. They were not so care- 
ful to except Barnard, whom they formerly made a Major- 
General though his chief, Delafield, was only a Brigadier. 
It is to be considered, however, that Major-General 
Barnard had found leisure from his military duties to pub- 
lish a criticism on the Peninsular Campaign, or, in other 
words, a campaign document against McClellan, which is 
a circumstance that alters cases. I should say, that the 
statement that General Meade was only a Brevet Major- 
General in the regular service was a mistake naturally 
arising from the confusion with the other letters of 
appointment. . . . 

General Grant was at the Headquarters for about an 
hour. He brought with him Captain de Marivault, a 
French naval officer and a very gentlemanly man. I took 
him as far as Fort Wadsworth, and showed him it and the 
neighboring line. He has had great chances of seeing this 
war, as he was at New Orleans, and, later, Admiral Dahl- 
gren allowed him to go into Charleston, where he even 
went about in the city. Oh! I forgot to mention, in par- 
ticular, that Rosencrantz is brevetted a Major, at which he 
is much pleased. There followed much merriment in the 
camp over shoulder-straps, those who had been promoted 
giving theirs to the next grade below. Majors' straps were 
scarcest and were in great demand. The General was in 
high spirits (as he might well be, with a letter of appoint- 
ment in his pocket) and stood in front of his tent, joking 
with his aides, a very rare performance with him. "Now 
here's Lyman," ^ said he, looking like Mephistopheles in 

^ Lyman, being a volunteer aide, was not eligible for a brevet. 

1864] Another TVinter 291 

good humor, "he has no brevet, but I am going to write to 
the Governor of Massachusetts to make him a Field Mar- 
shal." Whereat he rubbed the side of his long nose, as he 
always does when he laughs. 

December 8, 1864 
There came down an elephant of a young Englishman, 
who, if there be brains in his skull, they are so well con- 
cealed that nobody has found them hereabout. To enter- 
tain him is like rolling a barrel of potatoes up a steep hill. 
Nevertheless, he is a Lieutenant of Engineers. I should 
think he might construct an earthwork in, say, a century. 
I fancy he has played out all his intellect in trying to spell 
and pronounce his own name which is the euphonious one 
of S-tt-rthw — t; you will find it gives you a cramp in your 
tongue to pronounce it. Query — would it not be for the 
best interests of the human race to drown all Englishmen .^^ 
Gibbon's division of the 2d Corps got in a towering 
passion, because, having erected log huts just a little way 
outside the line of parapet, they were ordered to pull them 
all down and come inside, for of course these huts would 
give cover to an attacking enemy. This was what I call a 
stupid thing all round. Stupid in the infantry command- 
ers to allow it; stupid in the inspectors not to see it; stupid 
in the artillerists and engineers not to stop it — in fact, 
stupid all round. Gibbon came over and pitched into 
Duane, who received the attack with stolidity; so Gibbon 
thought he would get good-natured. At evening I had the 
greatest sight at a lot of stragglers that ever I did. It is 
always customary, when possible, to sweep the path of a 
column and gather up all stragglers, but I never before 
had a chance to see the leavings of a large force, marching 
by a single road. When Warren got to the Nottaway, he 

292 Meade^s Headquarters [Dec. 9, 

took up his pontoons behind him, so that the laggards, who 
were toddhng leisurely behind, as well as those who really 
had no intention of catching up till their rations were out, 
were all caught on the north side. General Warren sent 
back about 100 cavalry to sweep the whole road and bring 
the men back to the lines: and after dark, they arrived, 
looking, in the dusk, like a large brigade. Schuyler, the 
Provost-Marshal, put them in ranks, had them sorted and 
counted, and there proved to be 856 ! Their way was not 
made soft to them. They were marched three miles more, 
making twenty in all, and were then put out on picket in 
a right frosty night. This seems a large number, and it is 
more than it ought to be, a great deal; but, in reality it 
only made four and a half men out of every 100 in Warren's 
force. That they were able to go on is proved by the fact 
that they were able to come hack, though some did limp 
merrily, and others were so stiff that, when once down, 
they could scarcely get up. A force of a few hundred cav- 
alry was sent in the afternoon down the Vaughan road to 
reconnoitre, and see if they could see that any troops were 
moving against our rear, or against Warren. They got at 
dusk to Hatcher's Run, where the opposite bank was held 
by the enemy in a breastwork; and, after losing half a 
dozen men, our cavalry came back. 

December 9, 1864 
Miles's division of the 2d Corps was sent to aid the 
cavalry in forcing Hatcher's Run. They marched out 
early and found several regiments holding the crossing; 
a severe skirmish followed; our poor men went into the icy 
water up to their armpits and drove off the Rebels, though 
not without some loss to us. I know the cavalry Lieuten- 
ant, whom I saw bringing in all those stragglers last night. 

1864] Another Winter 293 

was killed there. Then Miles built a bridge and sent over 
the cavalry, which went as far as within sight of the Boyd- 
ton plank, where they found the enemy in their works. 
They captured a Rebel mail-carrier and from him learned 
that A. P. Hill was yesterday at Dinwiddle. General 
Meade had to read all the letters, of course, and said there 
was one poor lover who promised to marry his sweetheart 
when the war was over, but "how could he support her 
now, on $12 a month .^" We sent out another body of in- 
fantry and our own ''red-legs" and the engineers, to sup- 
port Miles, who we thought would be attacked. They all 
spent the night midst a wretched snow, sleet and rain, and 
raw wind. 

December 10, 1864 
Miles, with the troops which had been sent to reinforce 
him, maintained a threatening attitude near Hatcher's 
Run till afternoon, when he was ordered to withdraw again 
to our lines. The enemy undertook to follow up a little, 
but the rear guard faced about and drove them away. — 
There was I seized with a fearful sleepy fit last night and 
went to bed; thus missing a letter home to you. However, 
I have not before missed one in a very long time; and, if 
I followed Duane's advice, I should miss much oftener. 
"Lyman," says this ancient campaigner, "you are foolish 
to write so much. Now I write only once a week, so my 
letters are valued. You write every day, and probably 
Mrs. Lyman puts them in her pocket and pays no atten- 
tion to them." Ah! I was speaking of Miles, and had got 
him with all his forces, and put him inside the works, all 
right. We had to pay farewell respects to Riddle, for his 
resignation has been accepted and he goes to-morrow. 
For a long time he has been in miserable health and, in 

294 Meade^s Headquarters [Dec. lo, 

warm weather, is seldom well enough for hard duty. He 
has been twice wounded, at Antietam and on the Penin- 
sula, and was taken prisoner, but got away from Libby 
and arrived, after many hardships, within our lines. He is 
a very good officer and quite a superior person, whom we 
shall miss on our Staff. The kind-hearted Woolsey invited 
us all to take oysters in his honor (for you must know that 
there is a log house where one may have a "fancy roast," 
"plain stew," or "one fried," just across the road). We 
gathered in the greatest force, for oysters attracted, even 
if Riddle didn't, and had a high festival. We had songs, 
whereof I sang several, with large applause. "You don't 
drink," said Duane, "but it don't make any difference, 
because you look as if you had been drinking, and that's 
all that is necessary." 

Before I finish this day I must go back to tell of the be- 
ginning and progress of the Weldon road expedition. Last 
Wednesday, General Warren, with his own Corps, Mott's 
division of the 2d Corps, and nearly the whole of Gregg's 
division of cavalry, started in the morning and marched 
down the Jerusalem plank road, striking across to the 
Nottoway River, at Freeman's Bridge, a distance of from 
fifteen to seventeen miles. There a pontoon bridge was 
thrown and the whole command got over before daybreak 
the next morning, the advance getting that night to Sussex 
Court House. Meantime the enemy, getting [wind] of the 
move, sent off A. P. Hill's Corps, that evening, twelve 
hours after Warren. Hill went to Dinwiddle Court House, 
but what became of him thereafter, I have not yet learned. 
Their place in the lines was taken, I presume, by some of 
Early's men, who were nearly all come down from the 
valley and are helping Lee now. On Thursday Warren 
continued his march and struck the Weldon road, a little 

1864] Another Winter 295 

south of the Nottoway, in the afternoon, and immediately 
went to destroying the track and burning the river bridge. 
The work went on systematically : the line being halted on 
the road, the men stacked arms, and went at the track. 
Sleepers were torn up, and these, with fence-rails, made 
great bonfires, on which the rails were laid. Soon the iron 
would wax red-hot, when the weight of the ends would 
bend the rails. Some of the men, however, were so en- 
thusiastic as to take rails and twist them round trees, 
which could be done while the ends were cool and the mid- 
dle hot. As soon as a brigade had finished its work, it 
marched down to a new piece, passing the other men who 
were destroying; and so they kept on till midnight, when 
they had got to Jarrott's station and there halted. Next 
day, Friday, the column kept on, as before, the cavalry 
preceding them, who, when they arrived at Meherrin 
Bridge, found strong earthworks on the opposite side and 
some ten guns, which immediately opened on them. . . . 
This night was a very severe one, with its high wind and 
snow, sleet and rain ; but it was rendered tolerable by the 
big fires that the soldiers lighted to heat rails with. Gen- 
eral Warren did not deem proper to cross the Meherrin, as 
it would take a day to flank the Rebels' works, and he 
started with but six days' provisions. Next day, Saturday 
to wit, he began his return march and the head of the col- 
umn got as far as Sussex C.H. On this march the people 
of the country had the bad judgment to "bushwhack" our 
troops: that is, to kill any stragglers or small parties they 
could catch. This is against the rules of war. I will not 
say it is surprising, because the stragglers of an army al- 
ways steal and plunder and exasperate the people. Colonel 
Sergeant told me he himself saw five of our men shot and 
stripped nearly naked. The troops were so enraged by such 

296 Meade^s Headquarters [Dec. ii, 

cases, that they fired every house on their march, and, 
what made them worse, they found a great amount of 
apple-brandy in the country, a hquor that readily intoxi- 
cates. The superior ofiicers destroyed a great deal of it, 
but the men got some and many were drunk. The people 
make this brandy on account of its great price. It sells for 
$1500 a barrel. Colonel Wainwright told me he found two 
tithing-bills in one house, one a year old, the other recent; 
in the old one wheat was valued at $10 a bushel, in the 
recent, at $40, showing that it has quadrupled in price 
within a year. It was on this day that a cavalry reconnais- 
sance that pushed out on the Vaughan road reported 
heavy artillery firing in the direction of Jarrott's station. 
This made Grant so uneasy that he directed aid to be sent 
Warren. Accordingly Potter, with 9000 men, marched 
that night, and arrived next morning at five a.m. at the 
Nottoway, at Freeman's Bridge. A wretched march in- 
deed! in slush and mud and a damp cold; but his men 
followed on very well and arrived with little straggling, 
which surprised me. 

December 11, 1864 
Weather as before — only a little more so. I suppose 
they have a good deal such in England. If so, don't want 
to live there. Pretty times for half the army, off and on, 
to be marching and reconnoitring and expeditionizing 
about the country, as if it were picnic season! And still 
stranger is it to be sitting quiet in my tent when so many 
people are running round loose. Our affairs are rather 
mixed up, you see. So are those of everybody. Sherman 
has disappeared in Georgia and nobody knows what awful 
strategy he contemplates. Not so Hood: he is poking 
about in a manner I don't at all like: jamming Thomas up 

1864] Another Winter 297 

in Nashville, and now I fancy he is just marching round 
the city and into Kentucky. That won't do! Old Lee 
don't let us march round towns unless he chooses, or has 
at least a hard fight for it. However, I can't think Hood 
can do severe damage with so powerful an army as that of 
Thomas in his neighborhood. Well, we will hope for a big 
thing, of some sort, somewhere, for there are a number of 
irons, small and great, in the fire, and as much activity 
prevails as if we were not near the real winter. One thing 
I am sure of, that, what with expeditions little and big, 
threatenings and reconnaissances, the Rebels must be kept 
in quite an active state of simmer. Poor General Potter! 
He had a frightful night march and was doubtless buoyed 
up by the feeling that he had a separate command and 
could distinguish himself if there was a fight, and slam in 
on Hill's left flank, and win a great name for himself. 
What then was his disgust to see, about noon, the head of 
Warren's column trudging peaceably back, on the other 
side of the river! There were two decent-sized armies star- 
ing at each other, across the stream, each wondering what 
the other meant by being there; and both wondering why 
so many men were concentrated against nobody. General 
Potter philosophically shrugged his shoulders, gave the 
word to face about, and put his best leg forward for home, 
where he arrived a little after dark. It was a terrible night 
for a bivouac, with an intensely piercing cold wind and 
everything frozen up. Warren crossed the river and spent 
the night on this side of it. 

December 12, 1864 
Clear and cold we have had it this day, blowy this morn- 
ing but still in the evening. Last night it blew in a tre- 
mendous manner. My tent flapped in a way that reminded 

298 Meade^s Headquarters [Dec. 13, 

one of being at sea, and my chimney, for the first time got 
mad and actually smoked. My only consolation was that 
the General's smoked a great deal worse. He made quite 
a bon-mot at breakfast, despite the smoke: "Grant says 
the Confederates, in their endeavors to get men, have 
robbed the cradle and the grave; if that is the case, I must 
say their ghosts and babies fight very well!" I did not fail 
to ride out and see the raiders come in. The head of the 
column arrived about noon, or an hour before. I was much 
amused by a battery, the first thing that I met; one of 
the drivers was deeply intent on getting his pair of horses 
over a bad bridge, but, midst all his anxiety and pains on 
this head, he did not fail to keep tight hold of a very old 
rush-bottomed chair, which he carefully held in one hand ! 
How far he had brought it or what he meant to do with it, 
I know not, but his face wore an expression which said: 
"You may take my life but you can't have this very old 
rush-bottomed chair which I have been at much pains to 
steal." Then came the infantry, with a good deal of weary 
straggling, and looking pretty cold, poor fellows; then an- 
other battery spattered with mud; then a drove of beef 
cattle, in the midst of which marched cows, calves, and 
steers that never more will graze on Rebel farms. Finally a 
posse of stragglers and ambulances and waggons, all put- 
ting the best speed on to get to a camping-place. I pitied 
the poor bucks who, for six days, had endured every 
fatigue and hardship. 

December 13, 1864 

As the Rebels have known the fact for some time, and as 

the newspapers have hinted at it in unmistakable terms, 

I conceive there is no impropriety in my saying that we 

have now with us the 6th Corps once again. A week ago 


Another Winter 299 

Sunday night the first division came from City Point on 
the cars, having come straight from the neighborhood of 
Winchester by car and boat. The next morning we were 
treated to the sight of the familiar red crosses, and soon 
General Wheaton rode up, to see the General and report. 
. . . Very loath were the Sixth Corps bucks to leave the 
valley (where they had plenty of sheep and chickens and 
victories, and no fighting except in the regular battles), 
and come to a place with which they only connected more 
or less fighting, day and night (rather more than less), 
much dust, heat, and drought, and no particular victories. 
However, they find things better now, and will doubtless 
get contented in time. What must have gratified them was 
that they relieved Crawford's division of the 5th Corps, 
on the line, and took possession of their very nice log huts, 
which had been carefully constructed uniformly in all the 
brigades. Crawford's people by no means saw the thing in 
the same light. They took down their canvas roofs and 
rolled them up with dudgeon, and marched off to take a 
temporary camp, previous to the Weldon road expedition. 
I rode along the breastworks as the red crosses marched 
into the deserted camps, and observed the aspect of grim 
satisfaction with which the new comers went about, look- 
ing into the abandoned huts. The luxurious Crawford 
had his nice log cabin taken down and carted to his new 
locality. "However," said Wheaton, "I slept in Crawford's 
kitchen, and that was good enough for me." On Tuesday 
came the 3d division, also with a new commander, for 
brave General Ricketts lies at Washington, still suffering 
from his wound; and General Seymour, he who was taken 
the second day of the Wilderness, has the command. Sey- 
mour is a fiery and irrepressible sort of party, and enraged 
the inhabitants of Charlottesville beyond measure. When 

300 Meade ^s Headquarters [Dec. u, 

they told him they had had most extraordinary victories 
over Grant, he made them a speech, in which he said it 
didn't make any sort of difference how many victories 
they had, it wouldn't do them any sort of good; that in 
every battle we killed off a good many of them, and that 
we intended to keep piling up men indefinitely, until they 
knocked under, or were all shot ! This enraged them much, 
and they invited him to air himself for sixteen miles on 
foot, after it. . . . It was only last Monday that the 2d 
division got here, under Getty, and with it came General 
Wright, commanding the corps. Good General Wright, 
though always pleasant, is, I think rather in low spirits. 
He has had poor luck, on numerous occasions, and it cul- 
minated at Cedar Creek, where he chanced to have com- 
mand of the army when it was surprised. He had rallied it, 
when Sheridan arrived on the field ; but of course Sheridan 
had the credit of the victory, and indeed he deserved it. 
All the officers say that Wright made prodigious exertions 
and rode along all parts of the line in the hottest fire. 

December 14, 1864 
General Winthrop [in speaking of Warren's operations] 
said his brigade bivouacked in a cornfield; it blew, snowed 
and sleeted all night, and when reveille beat in the morn- 
ing, you could only see what seemed a field full of dead 
bodies, each covered with a rubber blanket and encased 
with ice. Some of the men had to kick and struggle, they 
were so hard frozen down. Yet, despite this, I have not 
learned that it has caused much sickness. How would you 
like to carry forty or fifty pounds all day, be wet through, 
have your feet soaked with mud and snow-water, and then 
go to sleep in a cornfield, with a drifting sleet coming down 
on you all night .f* This is what twenty-five thousand men 

1864] Another TVinter 301 

did, for more than one night, on that expedition. This is 
what our poor slovenly ragamuffins can do; and this it is 
to be a good soldier. The Rebels are still tougher, if any- 
thing. Being still in love with the new picket line, which 
has been established in our rear, I again went down what is 
called the Church road, until I struck the infantry pickets, 
near a Colonel Wyatt's house. This once was a well-to-do 
establishment. The house is large and a huge cornfield 
testifies that he (or our cavalry) had gathered a good har- 
vest that very year. There were the usual outbuildings 
of a well-to-do southern farmer: little log barns, negro 
huts, and odd things that might be large hencoops or 
small pigsty es. The Virginians have a great passion for 
putting up a great lot of diminutive structures as a kind 
of foil to the main building, which, on the contrary, they 
like to have as extensive as possible; just as the old painters 
added importance to a big saint by making a number of 
very small devotees, kneeling below him. A stout old gent, 
in a shocking bad beaver, who was walking about in 
the back yard was, I presume, the distinguished Colonel. 
Having stared at the house and been in turn stared at by 
a pretty little girl who threw up a window, to have a more 
clear view of the Yank, I went, still along the Church road, 
till I got to the Weldon road. 

A picket line is always one of the most picturesque 
sights in an army, when it runs through woods and fields. 
You know it consists of a string of "posts," each of half a 
dozen men, or so, and, in front of these, a chain of sentries 
who are constantly on the alert. The squads of men make 
to themselves a gipsy bough-house in front of which they 
make a fire in cool weather. They must always have their 
belts on and be ready to fight at a moment's notice. In 
the woods, you follow along from one rustic shelter to an- 

302 Meade^s Headquarters 

other, and see the sentries, out in front, each standing be- 
hind a good tree and keeping a sharp lookout for Rebel 
scouts, bushwhackers and cavalry. A short distance in 
the rear you from time to time come on a "reserve," which 
is a large body, perhaps of fifty or a hundred, who are con- 
cealed and who are ready to come to the assistance of the 
posts, if they are attacked. Picket duty is, of all others, 
that which requires most individual intelligence in the 
soldiers. A picket line, judiciously posted, in woods or 
swamps, will oppose a formidable resistance, even to a line 
of battle. There was careful Mr. Corps, officer of the day, 
with his crimson scarf across his shoulder, inspecting his 
outposts and reserves ; each one falling in as he came along 
and standing at a shoulder. 



[As the Army of the Potomac was now settHng down to 
winter quarters before Petersburg, Meade chaffingly re- 
marked to Lyman one day toward the end of December: 
"I have a Christmas present for Mrs. Lyman — a certain 
worthless officer whom I shall send home to her." And 
that evening he gave him a 300-day leave, with the under- 
standing that Lyman was to return with the opening of 
the active campaign in the spring. 

Toward the end of February, Lyman became restless, 
and fearing that operations might start in his absence, 
turned up at Headquarters on March 1 . On going into din- 
ner, he was kindly greeted by General Meade, who, poor 
man, although he had just come back from burying his 
son, managed to say playfully that he would have Lyman 
court-martialed for returning without orders. 

The Appomattox campaign opened in the spring, with 
the forces under Grant numbering 113,000, while those 
under Lee were only 49,000.^ The resources of the North 
were unimpaired, those of the South were rapidly vanish- 
ing. On March 25, Lee made an energetic but unsuccessful 
sortie. On April 1, Sheridan won a brilliant victory at Five 
Forks. Grant followed this up by attacking all along the 
line the next day. The result of the engagement was that 
the Confederate Army was cut in halves, and Grant 
established himself between the two parts. 

^ T. L. Livermore, Numbers and Losses in the Civil War in America, 
135-137. Lyman's estimate at the time was 122,000 and 50,000. 


304 Meade^s Headquarters [Mar. 2, 

Lee's position was untenable ; Richmond and Petersburg 
were abandoned that night. Retreat was still open toward 
the westward. Accordingly, Lee withdrew along the line 
of the Richmond and Danville railroad, hoping to join 
Johnston, who was opposing Sherman's advance from the 
south. As a last resort, Lee planned to retreat to the 
mountains of Virginia, where he thought he might continue 
the war indefinitely. The Union Army followed close on 
the heels of the retreating southerners. The chase was con- 
tinued for eighty miles. In the neighborhood of Appo- 
mattox Court House, the cavalry under Sheridan got 
across the railroad in front of the enemy. Lee was unable 
to break through. Hemmed in, with his men worn out and 
starved, Lee surrendered the remnant of his army, less 
than 27,000 men,' on April 9. This virtually ended the 

Headquarters Army of Potomac 
March 2, 1865 

It was raw yesterday, or chilly rather, without being 
cold, and to-day we are favored by a persistent northeast 
rain, such as we had a month later than this at Culpeper. 
The season, I should fancy, is earlier here than at Cul- 
peper — very likely by two weeks or more. Indeed last 
night the toads were whistling in the bog-holes, as they do 
with us in the last of April; and Rosie had, on his mantel, 
a bud of narcissus, or some such flower, he had found in a 
swamp. You would not give us much credit for a chance 
to move, could you see the country; the ground everywhere 
saturated and rotten, and giving precarious tenure even to 
single horses, or waggons. I did not believe very earnestly 
that we should soon move, when I left, but only wanted 
to be within all chances. I do really doubt whether any- 

^Livermore, 137. 

1865] The End of the JVar 305 

thing will be done before the 1st of April. I think the state 
of the country will hardly permit it to either party. When 
Sherman gets, say, in the latitude of Weldon, if he does so 
without check, he must, I think, strike the perfection of 
the mud zone; and must stick for a while; besides which he 
must establish a regular base, and, if he contemplates 
hard or protracted fighting, he must have a protected line 
for supplies. All these things take time, and take season 
also. Of course, it is not Lee's policy to let go his hold here- 
about, till the very last moment. He has gone south in 
person, to gather up all possible forces and put them in the 
best order for resistance he can. The impression here seems 
to be, that the combined forces against Sherman are not 
very strong in the sum total, and are, of course, not so good 
in quality as Lee's own men. Then again, his very army, 
it is within bounds to say, never was so low in morale as 
now. During the twenty-eight days of February nearly 
900 men deserted to the lines of this army alone, and a pro- 
portional number to those of the Army of the James. The 
remarkable point, also, is that these are old men — nearly 
all of them — and not the raw conscripts. In one day there 
came over 134 men, including also their non-commissioned 
officers, bringing their arms with them. Among the desert- 
ers have been four commissioned oflScers. During the time 
I have been with the army, I recall only two or three in- 
stances, besides these. Of course many more desert to the 
rear than to the enemy; so that I doubt not that Lee's 
losses from this cause during February were something 
between a large brigade and a small division. General 
Meade, after reviewing Lee's position and prospects, said: 
"I do not see what he is to do ! " — which is a very strong 
speech for the cautious General. Well, as I have always 
said, he has the remaining chance, should everything work 


306 Meade^s Headquarters [Mar. 2, 

precisely to favor him, of falling with fury and with all 
available troops, on a part of Sherman's army, or even on 
the whole of it, and dealing a stunning blow, whereby his 
evil day would be postponed; but how it could be averted 
seems to me inconceivable, save by a sort of miracle. If I 
am not mistaken, the forces now opposed to the Rebels in 
the east are at least as two to one. And again they have 
almost everything against them excepting the important 
advantage of interior lines. 

Meantime all is very quiet with us. Last night I cer- 
tainly heard not over half-a-dozen musket-shots, whereas 
in the autumn we had a real skirmish fire all the night 
through, not to speak of intermittent shelling. As I told 
you, Duane was on hand to welcome me. He looks very 
well and is better as to his eyes. Then Rosie — had he 
not, in my honor, caused constructed a new and very high 
hedge, or shelter, of pine branches, topped off with a tuft 
of cedar, and a triumphal arch of the same over the door- 
way! Within the tent were further improvements; and- 
irons to wit (weak as to their legs, and frequently tumbling 
over on their sides at critical moments). Then a large 
Swedish flag, with the Union over my bed — a gift from 
some Scandinavian marines who visited the Headquarters, 
and upon whom Rosie quite ran himself aground in the 
matter of oysters, at the saloon over the way. Then, too, 
the middle tent-pole has been removed and the interior of 
the tent supported by a framework, a part of which takes 
the form of a shelf, running round the sides and very handy 
for any small articles. I must also give credit to that idiotic 
Frenchman, who waited at table, for having ingeniously 
burned down our mess tent, during my absence, whereby 
we now have a much improved hospital tent, very pleas- 

1865] The End of the JVar 307 

ant, and we have got rid of the idiot and have a quite in- 
telligent nig, who actually keeps the spoons clean. 

March, 3, 1865 
Our evanescent Chief-of -Staff, General Webb, has gone 
to Washington for a day or two, to see, his wife. He in- 
sisted, before he went, that the Rebs were not going to 
evacuate Petersburg at present, on any account. "Ah!" 
said General Meade, "Webb is an anti-evacuationist, be- 
cause he wants to go to see his wife, and so wants to prove 
there isn't going to be any move at present." General 
Webb is a good piece of luck, as successor to General Hum- 
phreys. He is very jolly and pleasant, while, at the same 
time, he is a thorough soldier, wide-awake, quick and at- 
tentive to detail. In fact, I believe him much better for the 
place than Gen. H. from the very circumstance that he 
was such a very superior man, that General Meade would 
take him as a confidential adviser, whereas the Gen- 
eral does much better without any adviser at all. My only 
objection to General Webb is that he continually has a way 
of suddenly laughing in a convulsive manner, by drawing 
in his breath, instead of letting it out — the which goes to 
my bones. 

It is not too much to say that yesterday was a day with- 
out striking events, as it was characterized by a more or 
less steady rain, from the rising to the going down of the 
sun. I wrote you a letter, I entertained the chronic Duane, 
and I entertained — oh, I forgot to tell you about him. 
I entertained the officer from Roumania, the one whom 
General Meade could not make out because he had no map 
of Europe. This Roumania, as I have ascertained by dili- 
gent study, is what we call Wallachia and Moldavia, and 

308 Meade^s Headquarters [Mar. 3, 

is a patch of territory lying north of the Danube, and run- 
ning from its mouth, on the Black Sea, to the northwest, 
into the Carpathian mountains. As to the Roumanians 
themselves, they have the misfortune to be tremendously 
protected by everybody. Imprimis, they pay to the Porte 
an "honorary tribute" of 600,000 crowns, in return for 
which his word is pledged to protect them against all com- 
ers, which is a good joke, seeing he can't protect himself 
against any comer at all! Then the Emperor Nap con- 
siders them ''u7ie nation Latine," and so he is to protect 
them. Then the British protect them for fear the Russians 
should invade Turkey on that side. Then the Russians 
protect them because they want their land as a high road 
to Constantinople; and finally, the Austrians and Italians 
protect them, just to keep in the mode. Meanwhile the 
Roumanians seem to dislike all their kind friends, but still 
keep smiling and bowing round at them, hoping these pro- 
tectors will one day get into a shindy, when they, the pro- 
tected, propose to discontinue the honorary tribute, grab 
Bulgaria from the Turks, Bessarabia from the Russians, 
the Banat and part of Transylvania from the Austrians, 
and make a grand pan-Roumanian empire, with no protec- 
tors at all. All of which we shall know when they do it. 
Captain Botiano (that's his name) informed me that his 
countrymen were descended from Roman colonists, led 
thither by Trajan. To judge from the gallant Cappy, as a 
specimen, the colonists must have intermarried consider- 
ably with various Gentiles ; for his face denotes a combina- 
tion of Greek, Italian, and Turk, with a dash of Tartar 
and a strain of some other barbarian, whose features are 
to me not familiar. On the whole, I felt like saying to him : 
*' Oh, fiddle ! don't come humbugging round here. Just put 
on a turban, and stick five silver-mounted pistols and seven. 

1865] The End of the JVar 309 

oriental daggers in your cashmere sash, and look like your- 
self !" For you must know he has received his education 
in the French army, and now appears trussed in a modern 
uniform, a cross between a British Grenadier Guard and a 
Prussian Chasseur. He talks good French and is suffi- 
ciently intelligent, and apparently well educated. We 
aired our Gallic for a long time together and discussed 
many mighty topics. He, of course, like all those who have 
the French way of thinking, was mildly horrified at the 
want of central power in this country and thought the 
political power delegated to the states was highly danger- 
ous. They ought only to have power to look out for the 
hien publique. All of which was edifying to me, as coming 
from a descendant of a colonist of Trajan. 

March 4, 1865 
Yesterday the rain gave over partly, and so, in the after- 
noon, Rosie and I mounted and rode forth to see the new 
line to the left. The mare knew me and greeted me, in her 
characteristic way, by trying to kick and bite me. I felt 
quite funny and odd at being once more on horseback, but 
had a fine time, for the mare was in great spirits and 
danced and hopped in a festive manner. Rosie was very 
proud to show me all the last battle-ground, and to ex- 
plain the new roads ; for he has a high opinion of his ability 
to find roads, at which, indeed, he is very capable. So we 
jogged along, sometimes in danger of sticking in the mud, 
and again, finding a sandy ridge where we could canter a 
little. This last addition, which goes to Hatcher's Run, 
makes our line of tremendous extent; perhaps a continuous 
parapet of eighteen miles ! The Rebs are obliged to draw 
out proportionately, which is a hard task for them. As we 
rode along the corduroy we met sixteen deserters from the 

310 Meade^s Headquarters cMar. 5, 

enemy, coming in under guard, of whom about a dozen 
had their muskets, a sight I never saw before ! They bring 
them in, all loaded, and we pay them so much for each 
weapon. The new line is a very handsome one, with a tre- 
mendous sweep of artillery and small arms. To eke out this 
short letter I enclose the report of the Court of Enquiry 
on the "Mine." You see it gives fits to Burnside, Ledlie, 
Ferrero, and Willcox, while the last paragraph, though very 
obscure, is intended, I fancy, as a small snub on General 

March 5, 1865 
. . . Well, the rain held up and some blue sky began to 
show, and I mounted on what I shall have to call my Anne 
of Cleves — for, in the choice words of that first of gentle- 
men, Henry VIII, she is "a great Flanders mare" — and 
rode forth for a little exercise. Verily I conceived we should 
rester en route, sich was the mud in one or two places ! She 
would keep going deeper and deeper, and I would strive to 
pick out a harder path and would by no means succeed. 
Nevertheless, I made oilt to find some terra firma, at last, 
and, by holding to the ridges got a very fair ride after all. 
I found not much new out there, towards the Jerusalem 
plank: some cavalry camped about, as usual, and a new 
railroad branch going to supply them, and called Gregg's 
branch. Gregg, by the way, has resigned. He is a loss to 
the service, and has commanded a cavalry division very 
successfully for a long time. I don't know why he went 
out, since he is a regular officer. Some say it is a pretty 
wife, which is likely, seeing the same had worked in that 
style with others. Then there is Major Sleeper, resigned 
too. He has served long and well, and been wounded; so 
I say, what a pity that he should not stick to the end. 
It is human nature to expect a full performance of duty, 

David McMurtrie Gregg 

1865] The End of the JVar 311 

when once a man has done decidedly well. These branch 
railroads are like mushrooms, and go shooting out at the 
shortest notice. The distinguished Botiano was entirely 
taken down by the performances of this sort. Just at the 
time of our new extension to the left, he went for a few 
days to Washington. When he got back, he was whisked 
over five miles of new railroad, including a number of 
bridges ! This upset him wholly, and it was hard to make 
him believe that there hadn't been an old line there be- 
fore. Now where do you suppose I went last night .^ Why, 
to the theatre! Certainly, in my private carriage to the 
theatre; that is to say, on horseback, for may high powers 
forfend me from an ambulance over corduroys and these 
mud-holes ! Rather would I die a rather swifter death. To 
explain, you must understand that good Colonel Spaulding 
commands a regiment of engineers, a fine command of 
some 1800 men. As they are nearly all mechanics, they 
are very handy at building and have erected, among other 
things, a large building, which is a church on Sundays, and 
a theatre on secular occasions. Thither the goodly Flint 
rode with me. On the outside was about half the regiment, 
each man armed with a three-legged stool, and all waiting 
to march into the theatre. We found the edifice quite a 
rustic gem. Everything, except the nails, is furnished by 
the surrounding woods and made by the men themselves. 
The building has the form of a short cross and is all of 
rustic work ; the walls and floors of hewn slabs and the roof 
covered with shingles nailed on beams, made with the bark 
on. What corresponds to the left-side aisle was railed off 
for oflScers only, while the rest was cram-full of men. The 
illumination of the hall was furnished by a rustic chande- 
lier, that of the stage by army lanterns, and by candles, 
whose rays were elegantly reflected by tin plates bought 

312 Meade^s Headquarters [Mar. 6, 

from the sutler. The entertainraent was to be " mmstrels " ; 
and, to be sure, in walked an excellent counterpart of 
Morris, Pell, and Trowbridge, who immediately began an 
excellent overture, in which the tambourine gentleman, 
in particular, was most brilliant and quite convulsed the 
assembled engineers. The performances were, indeed, 
most creditable, and there was not a word of any sort of 
coarseness throughout. A grand speech on the state of the 
country, by a brother in a pair of gunny-bag trousers, was 
quite a gem. He had an umbrella, of extraordinary pat- 
tern, with which he emphasized his periods by huge whacks 
on the table. I think the jokes were as ingeniously ridicu- 
lous as could be got up, and that, you know, is the great 
thing in minstrels. Brudder Bones came a little of the pro- 
fessional by asking his friend: "What can yer play on dat 
banjo.^" "Anyting," says the unwary friend. "Well, den, 
play a game o' billiards!" "Can't play no billiards! kin 
play a tune,'' cries the indignant friend. "Well den, if yer 
kin play a tune, jis play a pon-toon!" All to the inextin- 
guishable delight of the engineers. After the play the good 
Colonel, who is one of the salt of the earth, insisted on my 
taking pigs' feet as a supper. 

March 6, 1865 
I think I must relate to you a small story which they 
have as a joke against Major-General Crawford. As the 
story will indicate, the Major-General has some reputation 
for possessing a decided admiration of the looks and figure 
of his own self. There came to the army a young artist, 
who was under a certain monied person. The young artist 
was to make models for bronze medallions, and the monied 
person was to sell the same and take the profits, if any. 
He proposed to model the commander of the army, and 

1865] The End of the War 313 

each of the corps commanders, and General Webb, but no 
one else. As the artist was modelling away at General 
Webb, he asked: "Isn't General Crawford rather an odd 
man?" "What makes you ask that?" says the Chief -of- 
Staff ? " " Why, he waked me up in the middle of the night, 
and asked what I could make a statuette of him for! I told 
him $400 and he said he thought he would have it done!" 
Webb, who is a cruel wag, said naught, but, the next time 
he met C, asked him if he had seen the young sculptor 
who had come down. "Seen him!" quoth C. "My dear 
fellow, he has done nothing but follow me round, boring 
me to sit for a statuette!" 

General Hunt was telling me an anecdote of Grant, 
which occurred during the Mexican War and which illus- 
trates what men may look for in the way of fame. It was 
towards the last of the fighting, at the time when our 
troops took by assault the works immediately round the 
City of Mexico. Grant was regimental quartermaster of 
the regiment commanded by Colonel Garland; and, it 
appears, at the attack on the Campo Santo, he, with about 
a dozen men, got round the enemy's flank and was first in 
the work. Somewhat after, he came to the then Lieuten- 
ant Hunt and said: "Didn't you see me go first into that 
work the other day? " " Why, no, " said Hunt, " it so hap- 
pened I did not see you, though I don't doubt you were in 
first." "Well," replied Grant, "I was in first, and here 
Colonel Garland has made no mention of me ! The war is 
nearly done ; so there goes the last chance I ever shall have of 
military distinction!" The next time, but one, that Hunt 
saw him, was at Culpeper, just after he was made Lieuten- 
ant-General. "Well, sir!" cried our Chief -of -Artillery, 
"I am glad to find you with some chance yet left for mili- 
tary distinction!" 

314 Meade^s Headquarters [Mar. 8, 

March 8, 1865 
Yesterday, as I hinted in my last, we had a toot, of 
much duration. At ten a.m. the General got a telegraph 
(one of those charming City Point surprises) saying that a 
train was just then starting, holding a dozen of womenkind 
and a certain force of the male sex; that they would arrive 
in an hour or so, and that we would please rather to enter- 
tain them pretty well! We telegraphed to the 5th Corps 
to turn out some troops, and to General Wright, to say we 
were coming that way, and ordered out ambulances to go 
to the station, and turned out officers to go over also. 
Your hub, not without growls of a private sort, girded his- 
self with a sash and ordered the charger saddled. In due 
time they kim: Colonels Badeau and Babcock to guide 
them. As sort of chief of the honorable committee of re- 
ception, I took off my cap and was solemnly introduced to 
twelve distinct ladies, whose names I instantly forgot 
(ditto those of distinguished gentlemen accompanying), 
all except Mrs. General Grant, who was, of course, too well 
known to slip from memory. However, at the end of the 
day, I began to have a flickering and vague idea who some 
of them were. . . . Then Miss Stanton — of course I was 
brilliant about her. After I had more or less helped her 
over puddles and into ambulances for an hour or two, it 
occurred to me that the name of the Secretary of War was 
also Stanton. Then, after a period of rest, my mind roused 
itself to the brilliant hypothesis that this young lady might 
be the daughter of the Stanton who was Secretary of War. 
Once on this track, it did not take me over thirty minutes 
to satisfy myself that I actually had been rendering civili- 
ties to the offspring of him who holds the leash of the dogs 
of war! She is not a roarer, like her paternal, but very sub- 
dued and modest, and reminded me of the ci-devant New- 

1865] The End of the JVar 31s 

port belle. Miss L C . . . . Likewise, may we 

here mention Bradlee pere, a dried-up lawyer of New 
Jersey, after the fashion of the countenance of Professor 
Rogers. He was valiant and stuffed his trousers in his 
boots and clomb an exceeding tall horse, which so pleased 
another old party, Judge Woodruff, that he did likewise, 
and subsequently confessed to me that his last equestrian 
excursion was in 1834; from which I infer, that, at this 
present writing. Judge Woodruff's legs are more or less 
totally useless to him as instruments of progression. He 
had a complement, his daughter, to whom I did not say 
much, as she had somebody, I forget who it was. Then we 
must mention, in a front place, the Lady Patroness, Mrs. 

H , and the Noble Patron, Mr. H . These two 

seemed to take us all under their protection, and, so to 
speak, to run the machine. Mrs. was plump, fair, and get- 
ting towards forty. Mr. was of suitable age, stout, looked 
as if fond of good dinners, and apparently very tender on 
Mrs., for he continually smiled sweetly at her. Also he 
is a large legal gun and part proprietor of the Philadelphia 
Enquirer. Then there was a pale, no-account couple, Dr. 

and Mrs. G . The Doctor's sister was Mrs. Smith, to 

whom Rosie attached himself with devotion that threat- 
ened the tranquillity of the absent S. All these, and more, 
were carted over to the Headquarters, where the General 
bowed them into his tent and cried out very actively: 
"Now Lyman, where are all my young men.'* I want all of 
them." So I hunted all that were not already on hand, 
and they were introduced and were expected to make 
themselves as agreeable as possible. Without delay we 
were again en voyage (I, being sharp, got on a horse, which 
tended much to my physical comfort, prevented my con- 
versation from being prematurely played out) and took 

316 Meade^s Headquarters [Mar. s, 

the party to see the glories of the engineer camp and the 
chapel thereof; after which, to the model hospitals of the 
6th Corps, of which Dr. Holman is the Medical Director, 
who prides himself on doing everything without aid from 
the Sanitary, which he doubtless can do, when in winter 
quarters. It was like packing and unpacking so many 
boxes, to '' aussteigen^' and ^' einsteigen"" all the females. 
We descended them, for the third time, at Fort Fisher, 
whence we showed them the Reb line and the big guns, and 
the signal tower of trestle work, 140 feet high. The next 
pilgrimage was a long one, as far as the 5th Corps Head- 
quarters, on the left of the line. General Warren issued 
forth and welcomed the ladies to oranges, apples, grapes, 
crackers, cheese, ale, and cider, into the which the visitors 
walked with a vigor most commendable. By the time the 
males had made a considerable vacuum in the barrel of ale, 
Griffin's division was ready for review, and thither we all 
went and found the gallant Humphreys, whom I carefully 
introduced to the prettiest young lady there, and expect 
to be remembered in his will for that same favor ! A review 
of Crawford's division followed, very beautiful, with the 
setting sun on the bayonets; and so home to an evening 
lunch, so to speak, whereat I opened my "pickles," to the 
great delectation of both sexes. All this was dreamland 
novelty concentrated to the visitors, who departed with 
vehement thanks to us, well expressed by Mrs. Grant: 
"General Meade, I would far rather command an army, 
as you do, than live at City Point and have the position 
of Mr. Grant!''' They were to have a dance that night on 
their boat at City Point, and politely and earnestly asked 
me to go down with them; but the point was not noticed 
by your loving hub. 

1865] The End of the War 317 

March 10, 1865 
WTiat think you we did yesterday? We had a "Matinee 
Musicale," at the Chapel of the 50th New York Engineers. 
Nothing but high-toned amusements, now-a-day, you will 
perceive. In truth I was very glad to go to it, as good 
music always gives me pleasure. The band was the noted 
one of the New Jersey brigade, and consisted of over thirty 
pieces. But the great feature was Captain Hals ted, aide- 
de-camp to General Wright, in capacity of Max Maretzek, 
Carl Bergmann, Muzio, or any other musical director you 
please. It appears that the Captain is a fine musician, 
and that his ears are straight, though his eyes are not. 
There was a large assemblage of the fashion and nobility 
of the environs of Petersburg, though most of the first 
families of Virginia were unavoidably detained in the city. 
We had a batch of ladies, who, by the way, seem suddenly 
to have gone mad on visiting this army. No petticoat is 
allowed to stay within our lines, but they run up from City 
Point and return in the afternoon. Poor little Mrs. Webb 
accompanied the General to our monkish encampment 
and tried, in a winning way, to hint to General Meade 
that she ought to remain a day or two; but the Chief, 
though of a tender disposition towards the opposite sex, 
hath a god higher than a hooped skirt, to wit, orders, and 
his hooked nose became as a polite bit of flint unto any 
such propositions. And so, poor little Mrs. Webb, afore- 
said, had to bid her Andrew adieu. The batch of ladies 
above mentioned were to me unknown! I was told, how- 
ever, there was a daughter of Simon Cameron, a great 
speck in money, to whom Crawford was very devoted. 
Then there was Miss Something of Kentucky, who was a 
perfect flying battery, and melted the hearts of the swains 

318 Meade^s Headquarters [Mar. ii, 

in thim parts; particularly the heart of Lieutenant Wm. 
Worth, our companion-in-arms, to whom she gave a ring, 
before either was quite sure of the other's name ! In fact, 
I think her parents must have given her a three-week vaca- 
tion and a porte-monnaie and said: "Go! Get a husband; 
or give place to Maria Jane, your next younger sister." 
The gallant Humphreys gave us a review of Miles 's divi- 
sion, on top of the concert; whereat General Meade, fol- 
lowed by a bespattered crowd of generals. Staff oflScers and 
orderlies, galloped wildly down the line, to my great 
amusement, as the black mare could take care of herself, 
but some of the more heavy -legged went perilously floun- 
dering in mud-holes and soft sands. 

March 11, 1865 
From Grant we got a despatch that he would come up, 
with some ladies and gentlemen, to see our left and to re- 
view a few troops. The General rode down to the termi- 
nus of the railroad (which is not very far from Hatcher's 
Run), and soon after came the train, with Grant and his 
party. Among them was our old friend Daddy Washburn, 
the same who came to the Rapid Ann, last May, to behold 
Grant swallow Lee at a mouthful, and — didn't see it! 
Two divisions of the 2d Corps were turned out under the 
eye of the redoubtable Humphreys. They made a fine 
appearance, marching past; but I could have cried to see 
the Massachusetts 20th with only a hundred muskets or 
so, and commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Curtis, whom 
I used to see at Culpeper with a lieutenant's shoulder- 
straps. How changed from last spring, when they passed 
in review with full ranks, and led by Abbot! . . . 

That evening we were invited to City Point, to see a 
medal given to General Grant. This medal had been voted 

1865] The End of the JVar 319 

by Congress in honor of him and his soldiers, after the 
battle and capture of Vicksburg. And you now see the 
rationale of the Hon. Washburn's presence. He was to 
present it. The Corps commanders with a few aides, and 
some division commanders, were all the General took with 
him in the special train. We arrived about 8.30 p.m. and 
at 9 the ceremony began, in the upper saloon of the steamer 
Martyn, lying at the wharf. The solemnities were these: 
General Grant stood on one side of a small table, with an 
expression as if about to courageously have a large tooth 
out. On the other stood Washburn, with what seemed an 
ornamental cigar-box. Whereupon W., with few words, 
remarked that the Congress of the United States of Ameri- 
kay had resolved to present him a medal, and a copy of 
their resolutions engrossed on parchment. "General" 
(unrolling a scroll), "this is the copy of the resolutions, and 
I now hand it to you." (Grant looked at the parchment, 
as much as to say, "That seems all right," rolled it up, in 
a practical manner, and put it on the table.) "This, Gen- 
eral" (opening the ornamental cigar-box, taking out a 
wooden bonbonniere and opening thai), "is the medal, 
which I also hand to you, together with an autograph 
letter from President Lincoln." The "all-right" expres- 
sion repeated itself on Grant's face, as he put down the 
bonbonniere beside the scroll. Then he looked very fixedly 
at Mr. Washburn and slowly drew a sheet of paper from 
his pocket. Everyone was hushed, and there then burst 
forth the following florid eloquence: "Sir! I accept the 
medal. I shall take an early opportunity of writing a 
proper reply to the President. I shall publish an order, 
containing these resolutions, to the troops that were under 
my command before Vicksburg." As he stopped. Major 
Pell drew a long breath and said: "I thought we were sure 

320 Meade^s Headquarters [Mar. 13, 

of a speech this time, but now we never shall get one out of 
him." The medal was of gold, three pounds in weight; 
on one side a bad likeness of Grant; on the reverse a god- 
dess, in an impossible position, who, as General Meade re- 
marked, "seemed to keep a general furnishing shop of 
guns and sabres." "What is the meaning of the allegory.'^ " 
he enquired of the Lieutenant-General. "I don't know," 
replied Grant, with entire simplicity, "I don't know, but 
I am going to learn, so as to be able to explain it to people!" 
Then the distinguished militaries crowded round to gaze. 
Major-General Ord, who can't get over his Irish blood, 
said: "I believe, sir, you are the first man who medalled 
with his battalion." To which Grant, not taking the point 
in the faintest degree, replied gravely: "I don't know but 
I was." There was a heavy crowd of Hectors, I can tell 
you. Generals Meade, Warren, Wright, Parke, Hum- 
phreys, Ord, Gibbon, Ayres, Griffin, Rawlins, Ingalls, etc., 
etc. Very few ladies. After this a moderate collation, and 
so home to bed. 

March 13, 1865 
We have a long telegram from Sheridan, dated Colum- 
bia (a small place on the James, between Lynchburg and 
Richmond). His raid has been a complete surprise. After 
defeating Early utterly at Waynesboro', he met with no 
further opposition, but entered Charlottesville and de- 
stroyed the rail and bridges; then struck south and got to 
the James, where he destroyed all destructible parts of the 
Lynchburg canal, and continued the work as he marched 
down the river. If you will look at the map, you will see 
how important it is to break these routes, for they leave 
only the road via Burkeville Junction open to their great 
base, Lynchburg. The canal was especially important for 

Ulysses Simpson Grant 

1865] The End of the War 321 

transportation of supplies, just as the Erie Canal is so 
essential to bring to market the grain of the West. . . . 

March 18, 1865 
This morning I sent you a telegraph, which may be 
rather late, I fear, though I sent it at the earliest chance. 
It was to ask you to pay a day's visit here, and see the 
army, as a curiosity. Mrs. Meade is coming with a party 
in a special boat from Washington. . . . 

You probably are aware that yesterday was the nativity 
of the Holy Patrick, in whose honor the Irish Brigade, of 
the 2d Corps, got up a grand race, with a printed pro- 
gramme and every luxury. The weather, which had been 
most evil the night before, unexpectedly cleared up and 
the day was fine, exceedingly. We found the course laid 
out near the Cummings house, in rear of what you remem- 
ber as the noted Peeble house. There was a judge's stand, 
flaunting with trefoil flags, and a band beside the same, 
which had been accommodated with a couple of waggons, 
in lieu of orchestra. Then there were plenty of guards 
(there need be no lack of such) and a tent wherein were 
displayed plates of sandwiches. Alas! this was the weak 
point, the bitter drop in the Irish festa. The brigade, with 
an Irish generosity, had ordered a fine collation, but the 
steamer, bad luck to her, had gone and run herself aground 
somew^iere, and poor Paddy was left to eat his feast the 
day after the fair. Nevertheless, we didn't allow such 
things to stand in the way, and the races proceeded under 
the august auspices of General Humphreys, who didn't 
look exactly like a turfman, and had a mild look of amuse- 
ment, as he read out: "Captain Brady's grey mare." — 
Captain Brady bows. "Captain — , Hey.^ What is that 
name.'' I can't read the writing." "Murphy," suggests 


322 Meade^s Headquarters [Mar. 25, 

General Miles. "Oh, dear me, of course, yes; Captain 
Murphy's bay gelding." "No! reci," suggests Miles. "Ah, 
yes, to be sure — red." "Here," says the long-expectant 
Murphy. Then a bugler blows at a great rate and the 
horses are brought to the line; the bugler blows at a great 
rate some more, and away they go. There were a good 
many different races, some of which were rather tiresome, 
by reason of the long waiting and the fact that none of the 
horses were really racers, but only swift officers' steeds, 
which were not enough trained to go round regularly, but 
often would balk at the hurdles and refuse to go round at 
all. Wherefrom we had tragic consequences: for one, 
scared by the crowd and by the brush hurdle, bolted vio- 
lently and knocked down a soldier; and Colonel von 
Schack, in another race, had his horse, which had over- 
leaped, fall on him heavily. . . . Everything was ex- 
tremely quiet and orderly, and no tipsy people about. . . . 

[Mrs. Meade, with a large party, including Mrs. Lyman, 
arrived at City Point on the evening of March 22. The 
next two days were spent in visiting the front, and in ex- 
cursions on the river. On the morning of the 25th, it was 
found that the Confederates had made an unexpected 
attack. The visitors were shipped back to Washington, 
and their hosts made for the front.] 

March 25, 1865 

We may indeed call this a many-sided field-day : a break- 
fast with a pleasure party, an assault and a recapture of an 
entrenched line, a review by the President of a division of 
infantry, and sharp fighting at sundry points of a front of 
eighteen miles ! If that is not a mixed affair, I would like 
to know what is? It has been a lucky day, for us; and the 
9th Corps, after patient waiting for eight months, have 

1865] The End of the JVar 323 

played the game of the "Mine" against their antagonists. 
The official despatches will give you the main facts very 
well, but I can add some particulars. About daylight, the 
enemy having massed three divisions and a part of a fourth, 
made a sudden rush and carried Fort Stedman and about 
half a mile of line commanded by it. The garrisons of the 
forts on either side stood firm, however, and repelled a 
severe attack with much injury to the enemy. Meantime, 
General Parke had ordered that the works should be re- 
taken, if it cost every man in the Corps; and all the scat- 
tered regiments immediately at hand were put in and 
checked a further advance, until General Hartranft (I'm 
not sure about the spelling of Ms name) brought up the 3d 
division, which had been camped in reserve. He person- 
ally led in one brigade of it, with conspicuous gallantry, 
retook the whole portion lost, and captured, at one swoop, 
1800 Rebels. It was just the " Mine," turned the other way : 
they got caught in there and could not get out. Their loss 
also in killed and wounded must have been severe, not 
only from musketry, but also from canister, which was 
thrown into a ravine by which they retreated. Upwards of 
a hundred Rebel dead lay in and round Fort Stedman alone. 
Our own losses in the 9th Corps will be somewhat over 800, 
half of whom may be reckoned prisoners, taken in the first 
surprise. I should guess the loss of their opponents as not 
less than 2600. 

March 26, 1865 

My letter of yesterday only gave a part of the day's 
work. Our train went briskly up to the front and stopped 
not far from the little rustic chapel you saw ; for there was 
General Parke with his Staff, waiting to receive the Gen- 
eral and report the morning's work. . . . Brevet Briga- 
dier McLaughlen got taken in trying to maintain his line 

324 Meade^s Headquarters [Mar. 26, 

— a good officer. He was the one who had been five days 
in Boston and told me he was so tired that he thought he 
should go right back. A certain Major Miller was cap- 
tured and sent, with a guard of four men, a little to the 
rear. They sat in a bomb-proof for protection and Miller 
did so describe the glories of Yankeedom to his captors, 
that, when we retook the work, they all deserted and came 
over with him ! Then we kept on and got out at our own 
domus, where General Meade (it being then about 11.30 
A.M.) telegraphed sundry orders to his generals; wherefrom 
resulted, at 12.15, the greatest hang, hang, whang, from 
good Duke Humphrey, who, spectacles on nose, rushed 
violently at the entrenched skirmish line of the enemy and 
captured the same, with the double view of making a re- 
connaissance and a diversion, and furthermore of showing 
the Johns that we were not going to be pitched into with- 
out hitting back. 

Then there was a lull, filled by the arrival of a long grey 
procession of some 1500 prisoners from the 9th Corps. 
Really these men possess a capacity for looking "rough" 
beyond any people I ever saw, except the townsmen of 
Signor Fra Diavolo. They grew rougher and rougher. 
These looked brown and athletic, but had the most matted 
hair, tangled beards, and slouched hats, and the most 
astounding carpets, horse-sheets and transmogrified shel- 
ter-tents for blankets, that you ever imagined. One grim 
gentleman, of forbidding aspect, had tempered his ferocity 
by a black, broad-brimmed straw hat, such as country 
ministers sometimes wear — a head-dress which, as Whittier 
remarked, *' rather forced the season ! " Singularly enough, 
the train just then came up and the President and General 
Grant, followed by a small party, rode over to the Head- 
quarters. ''I have just now a despatch from General 

1865] The End of the JVar 325 

Parke to show you," said General Meade. "Ah," quoth 
the ready Abraham, pointing to the parade-ground of the 
Provost-Marshal, ''there is the best despatch you can show 
me from General Parke!" The President is, I think, the 
ugHest man I ever put my eyes on ; there is also an expres- 
sion of plebeian vulgarity in his face that is offensive (you 
recognize the recounter of coarse stories). On the other 
hand, he has the look of sense and wonderful shrewdness, 
while the heavy eyelids give him a mark almost of genius. 
He strikes me, too, as a very honest and kindly man ; and, 
with all his vulgarity, I see no trace of low passions in his 
face. On the whole, he is such a mixture of all sorts, as 
only America brings forth. He is as much like a highly 
intellectual and benevolent Satyr as anything I can think 
of. I never wish to see him again, but, as humanity runs, 
I am well content to have him at the head of affairs. . . . 
After which digression I will remark that the President 
(who looks very fairly on a horse) reviewed the 3d divi- 
sion, 5th Corps, which had marched up there to support 
the line, and were turned into a review. As the Chief Mag- 
istrate rode down the ranks, plucking off his hat gracefully 
by the hinder part of the brim, the troops cheered quite 
loudly. Scarcely was the review done when, by way of 
salute, all those guns you saw by Fort Fisher opened with 
shells on the enemy's picket line, which you could see, en- 
trenched, from where you stood. Part of the 6th Corps 
then advanced and, after a sharp fight, which lasted, with 
heavy skirmishing, till sunset, drove off the Rebels and 
occupied their position, driving them towards their main 
line. At four and at seven p.m. the enemy charged furiously 
on Humphreys, to recover their picket line, but were re- 
pulsed with great loss; our men never behaved better. 
Both Wright and Humphreys took several hundred 

326 Meade^s Headquarters [Mar. 29, 

prisoners, swelling the total for the day to 2700, more 
than we have had since the noted 12th of May. Our total 
loss is from 1800 to 2000; while that of the enemy must 
be from 4000 to 5000 jtlus a great discouragement. Isn't 
it funny for you to think of the polite Humphreys riding 
round in an ambulance with you Friday, and, the next 
day, smashing fiercely about in a fight .^ 

March 28, 1865 
You must let me off with a few lines to-night, because I 
have some little packing yet to do and would like a good 
modicum of slumber; for to-morrow we are up and moving 
betimes in light order. I do not look for any grand action 
from this (taking the liberty of guessing where I am in the 
dark) . I fancy a hea^y infantry force will move to our left 
and rear, to mask and protect a great movement of cav- 
alry with Sheridan at its head, directed at the South Side 
R. R. and other communications; all of which the enemy 
must be fully aware of; but I don't think he can have one 
half our force in cavalry. The amount of fighting will de- 
pend on the moves of the enemy ; but I do not ever expect 
to see more than one such field-day as we used to have in 
the ever memorable campaign of the Wilderness and Spot- 
sylvania — perhaps not even one. Meantime I will not 
recklessly run against bullets. It isn't my style; not ex- 
actly. Yesterday I rode about with the General, who con- 
fabbed with Wright, Warren, and the gay Humphreys. 
The latter is confirmed as the commander of the 2d Corps, 
at which we are glad, for he was only its commander ad 
interim before. 

March 29, 1865 
This has been a day of manoeuvre and not much fighting. 
To-morrow may see something more serious. It seems like 
old times to be once more writing on my knee and sitting 

1865] The End of the TVar 327 

in a tent without a board floor. I prefer it; there is novelty 
in seeing a new bit of country. Yesterday we had an inter- 
esting trip to City Point. General Meade said to me, to my 
great surprise: "I am going down to-morrow to see Sher- 
man!" Which, as I supposed Sherman to be at that 
moment somewhere near Goldsboro', seemed a rather 
preposterous idea! At an early hour we got to Grant's 
Headquarters and found le monde not yet up. Soon, how- 
ever, they began to peer out of their log houses and Gen- 
eral Meade marched in to visit the great Mogul. As I was 
looking in that direction, there suddenly issued from the 
house a tall figure who jerked himself forward, pulled sud- 
denly up, and regarded the landscape with an inquisitive 
and very wrinkled expression. This was the redoubtable 
Sherman himself. He is a very remarkable-looking man, 
such as could not be grown out of America — the concen- 
trated quintessence of Yankeedom. He is tall, spare, and 
sinewy, with a very long neck, and a big head at the end 
of the same. The said big head is a most unusual combina- 
tion. I mean that, when a man is spare, with a high fore- 
head, he usually has a contracted back to his head; but 
Sherman has a swelling "fighting" back to his head, and 
all his features express determination, particularly the 
mouth, which is wide and straight, with lips that shut 
tightly together. He is a very homely man, with a regular 
nest of wrinkles in his face, which play and twist as he 
eagerly talks on each subject; but his expression is pleas- 
ant and kindly. But he believes in hard war. I heard him 
say: "Columbia! — pretty much all burned; and burned 
good!" There too was "little Phil Sheridan," scarce five 
feet high, with his sun-browned face and sailor air. I saw 
Sherman, Grant, Meade, and Sheridan, all together. A 
thing to speak of in after years ! 


Meade 'j Headquarters [Mar. 30, 

H TiotUL 


March 30, 1865 
I take advantage of a rainy morning to draw you a map 
and start a letter, to explain and recount the deeds of yes- 
terday. . . . The day before, a part of the Army of the 
James had crossed to us, from Bermuda Hundred, and, 
under the sure conduct of Rosie, had relieved the 2d Corps 
in their part of the line. At daylight the 5th Corps moved 
from our extreme left, crossed the stream at the Perkins 
house and marched along the stage road. Somewhat later 
the 2d Corps crossed directly by the Vaughan road and 
marched down it as far as Gravelly Run, then faced to the 
right and formed from east to west. It was like to the 

1865] The End of the TVar 329 

ruins of Carthage to behold those chimneys, which, since 
October last, have been our comfort at Headquarters, now 
left lonely and desolate, deprived of their tents, which 
seemed to weep, as they were ruthlessly torn down and 
thrown into waggons. At 7.30 a.m. we all got on the 
chargers and wended toward the left. The fancy huts of 
the 2d Corps were all roofless, and their Headquarters were 
occupied by General Gibbon, of the other side of the river. 
The 1st division was crossing the Hatcher's Run bridge, 
as we got to it, the two others being already over. Near 
Gravelly Run we came on the sturdy Humphreys, who was 
gleaming through his spectacles with a fun-ahead sort of 
expression and presently rode away togethis men " straight- 
ened out," as Pleasonton used to say. Bye-and-bye he 
<;ame jogging back, to say his Corps was now in position, 
running from near Hatcher's Run, on the right, to near 
Quaker Road Church on the left. Whereupon we rode off 
to see General Warren, who had arrived at the Junction 
of the Vaughan and Quaker roads. As soon as we got there, 
GriflSn's division was sent up the Quaker road, to join the 
left of Humphreys', and to be followed by most of the rest 
of the Corps. ... At 1.30 p.m. we went up the Quaker 
road to see General Griflin, being somewhat delayed by 
Gravelly Run, a brook too deep for fording and whereof 
the little bridge had been broken by the Rebs. The coun- 
try is much more variegated over here. There are some 
rocks and high ground, and the runs are quite picturesque, 
with steep banks. One pretty sight was a deserted farm- 
house quite surrounded by peach trees, loaded with blos- 
soms. In the distance it seemed covered with pink clouds. 
After starting GriflSn's line forward, we rode along the line 
of battle of Miles (who had the left of the 2d Corps), where 
we found General Humphreys. The right of his line had 

330 Meade^ 5 Headquarters [Mar. 31, 

sent out a party which took possession of Dabney's Mill, 
driving out a few Rebels. The whole force from one end to 
another was ordered to go forward at once, Griffin being, 
from the nature of the ground, somewhat in advance. All 
went on without anything more than scattered skirmish- 
ing till near five p.m., when Griffin was struck by a part, 
or the whole, of two Rebel divisions. But G. is a rough man 
to handle, and, after a sharp fight, drove them back and 
followed them up, taking a hundred prisoners. Our losses 
were some 400 altogether in this affair. Of the enemy we 
buried 126; so that their total loss, including prisoners, 
must be, say, 800. The Griffin was in great spirits at this 
affair and vowed he could drive the enemy wherever he 
found them. Their object in attacking us was to delay our 
advance, and to get time to man their works. As soon as 
Warren got up the rest of his Corps, he pushed on the at- 
tack, but John had got enough and had fallen back to his 
parapets, and thus the day ended. Riding back to the 
Vaughan road, we found General Grant, who had come 
up with his Staff, and who camped near us last night, 
29th. . . . 

[To-day] nothing to note, but that there was a steady 
and drenching rain the whole livelong day, which reduced 
these sandy, clayey roads to a pudding or porridge, as the 
case might be. The chief Quartermaster told me it was the 
worst day for moving trains he ever had had in all his 
experience. A train of 600 waggons, with the aid of 1000 
engineer troops, was fifty-six hours in going five miles ! 

March 31, 1865 
The rain held up about ten a.m. and the sun once more 
shone. By this time our lines, running east and west, had 
been moved due north, till they rested their right on 

1865] The End of the War 331 

Hatcher's Run, north of the Crow house, and their left on 
the Boydton plank, near the entrance of the Quaker road. 
For this purpose Ayres's and Crawford's divisions were 
pushed forward and Griffin held in reserve. We rode out, 
towards the left (our Headquarters were near the Vaughan 
road close to Gravelly Run), stopping some time to consult 
with Grant. About 10.30 we heard a brief fusillade on the 
right of our line (a demonstration to divert our attention), 
followed by heavy musketry towards the White Oak road. 
As we came to Warren's old Headquarters, high up on the 
Quaker road, I could see something had gone wrong. A 
cavalry officer galloped up and said: "I must have more 
men to stop these stragglers! the road is full of them." 
And indeed there were those infernal drummers, and pack- 
mules, and not a few armed men, training sulkily to the 
rear. I required no one to tell me what thai meant. The 
enemy had tried on Griffin, two days since, without suc- 
cess, but this time they had repeated the game on Ayres 
and Crawford, with a different result. As these two divi- 
sions were moving through the thick woods, they were sud- 
denly charged, broken, and driven back towards the Boyd- 
ton plank road; but some batteries being brought to their 
aid, the men were rallied behind a branch of Gravelly Run. 
Griffin took up a rear line, to ensure the position. General 
Meade at once ordered Miles to go in, to the right of the 
5th Corps, and Griffin to advance likewise. The General 
rode out in person to give Humphreys the necessary orders 
about Miles's division, and found him at Mrs. Rainie's, 
at the junction of the Quaker road and the plank. There 
was a wide open in front, and I could see, not far off, the 
great tree where we got such an awful shelling, at the iSrst 
Hatcher's Run fight. Miles was in the open, forming his 
troops for the attack. Just then the enemy opened a bat- 

332 Meade^s Headquarters [Apr. i, 

tery on us, with solid shot, several of which came ricochet- 
ing round us. I recollect I turned just then and saw 
Charlie Mills sitting on horseback, near General Hum- 
phreys. He nodded and smiled at me. Immediately after, 
General Meade rode to a rising ground a couple of hundred 
yards from the house, while General Humphreys went a 
short distance to the front, in the field. Almost at that in- 
stant a round shot passed through Humphreys' Staff and 
struck Mills in the side, and he fell dead from his horse. 
He was indeed an excellent and spirited young man and 
beloved by us all. . . . When I rode that evening to the 
hospital, and saw the poor boy lying there on the ground, 
it made me think of Abbot, a year ago. It is the same 
thing over and over again. And strange too, this seeing a 
young man in full flush of robust health, and the next mo- 
ment nothing that we can make out but the broken 
machine that the soul once put in motion. Yet this is bet- 
ter than that end in which the faculties, once brilliant, 
gradually fade, month after month. 

About noon. Miles and Griffin went in, with sharp firing, 
drove the enemy back, and made a lodgment on the White 
Oak road. Meantime, Sheridan, after all sorts of mud 
toils, got north of Dinwiddle, where he was attacked by a 
heavy force of infantry and cavalry and forced back nearly 
to that place. Not to forgo our advantage on the north- 
west, we immediately sent the whole 5th Corps by night 
to Dinwiddle to report to General Sheridan and attack 
the enemy next morning — a hard march after the two 
days' fighting in the storm! 

April 1, 1865 
You will see the April Fool was on the Rebels; for they 
did not know that, the night before, we had sent down an 

1865] The End of the War 333 

entire corps of infantry (the 5th) to aid the worsted Sheri- 
dan. Their infantry had contented itself mth retiring from 
Sheridan's front, half-way to the White Oak road, and 
going into camp with a precautionary breastwork in their 
front. As they lay there, resting, Warren struck them in 
the flank and swung round, even into their rear, while the 
cavalry charged their front. After a brief but determined 
resistance, the enemy broke and fled in wild confusion; 
4000 and over were captured and a large part of the rest 
hopelessly scattered in the woods. Thus our movement, 
which had begun in simple advantage, now grew to bril- 
liant success, and was destined to culminate, within 
twenty -four hours, in complete victory. 

We were up pretty early, as usual, and at 6.30 a.m. were 
already at Grant's Headquarters. These were close to 
Dabney's Mill, now marked only by a huge pile of saw- 
dust — a veteran battle-ground, marked by two consider- 
able actions and many minor skirmishes. Indeed that 
whole tract is a network of picket-pits and hasty breast- 
works. After visiting Humphreys, on the Quaker road, 
we returned to the Lieutenant-General's, and here it was 
that a note from Sheridan told that he was driving the 
enemy. Grant folded the slip of paper, and, looking at 
Meade, said, very quietly: "Very well, then I want Wright 
and Parke to assault to-morrow morning at four o'clock." 
These dozen words settled the fate of Petersburg and of 
Richmond! It was midnight when General Warren sud- 
denly came into our camp, followed by only one Staff offi- 
cer. I got him something to eat, but was surprised to see 
no look of gratification at his victory to-day. Poor man! 
he had been relieved from command of his Corps. I don't 
know the details, but I have told you of the difficulties he 
has had with the General, from his tendency to substitute 

334 Meade 'j Headquarters [Apr. 2, 

his own judgment for that of his commanding officer. It 
seems that Grant was much moved against him by this. 
The General had nothing to do with it. I am sorry, for I 
Hke Warren. 

A'pril % 1865 
Last night was a busy one and a noisy. Some battery 
or other was playing the whole time, and, now and then, 
they would all wake up at once; while the skirmishers kept 
rushing at each other and firing, sometimes almost by 
volleys. All of which did good, because it wore out the 
enemy and made them uncertain where the main attack 
might come. At a quarter past four in the morning, 
Wright, having massed his three divisions in columns of 
attack, near Fort Fisher, just before daylight charged their 
works, burst through four lines of abattis, and poured a 
perfect torrent of men over the parapet. He then swept 
to the right and left, bearing down all the attempts of the 
enemy's reserves to check him; a part also of his force 
went straight forward, crossed the Boydton plank and tore 
up the track of the South Side Railroad. The assault was, 
in reality, the death-blow to Lee's army. His centre was 
thus destroyed, his left wing driven into the interior fine 
of Petersburg, and his right taken in flank and left quite 
isolated. At the same moment Parke attacked the power- 
ful works in his front, somewhat to the right of the Jeru- 
salem plank road, and carried the strong outer line, with 
three batteries, containing twelve guns; but the fire was so 
hot from the inner line that his men could get no further, 
but continued to hold on, with great obstinacy, for the rest 
of the day, while the Rebels made desperate sorties to dis- 
lodge them. In this attack General Potter received a 
wound which still keeps him in an extremely critical condi- 
tion. You may well believe that the musketry, which had 

1865] The End of the JVar 335 

spattered pretty well during the night, now broke out with 
redoubled noise in all directions. 

Under the excitement of getting at my valise and having 
some fresh paper, I am moved to write you some more 
about the great Sunday, which I so irreverently broke off.' 
I was saying that the musketry broke out pretty freely 
from all quarters. Do you understand the position of the 
troops.'^ Here is a rough diagram.^ On the right Parke, 
from the river to west of the Jerusalem road ; then Wright 
and Ord, stretching to Hatcher's Run; then Humphreys, 
forming the left wing. To the left and rear were Sheridan 
and Griffin, making a detached left wing. Humphreys' left 
rested somewhat west of the Boyd ton plank. Ord and 
Humphreys were now crowding in their skirmishers, trying 
for openings in the slashings to put in a column. Ord tried 
to carry the line, but could not get through; but the 2d 
division of the 2d Corps got a chance for a rush, and, about 
7.30 in the morning, stormed a Rebel fort, taking four guns 
and several hundred Rebels; in this attack the 19tli and 
20th Massachusetts were very prominent. About nine 
o'clock the General rode off towards the left, from our 
Headquarters near the crossing of the Vaughan road, over 
Hatcher's Run. He overtook and consulted a moment 
with Grant, and then continued along our old line of 
battle, with no "intelligent orderly" except myself. So 
that is the way I came to be Chief -of-Staff, Aide-de-camp, 
Adjutant-General, and all else; for presently the Chief 
took to giving orders at a great rate, and I had to get out 
my "manifold writer" and go at it. I ordered Benham to 
rush up from City Point and reinforce Parke, and I man- 
aged to send something to pretty much everybody, so as 

^ Actually written April 13. 
^ No diagram is found with the letter. 

336 Meade^s Headquarters [Apr. 2, 


to keep them brisk and lively. In fact, I completely went 
ahead of the fly that helped the coach up the hill by bear- 
ing down on the spokes of the wheels ! 

And now came the notice that the enemy were going at 
the double-quick towards their own right, having aban- 
doned the whole of Ord's front and some of Humphreys'. 
We were not quite sure whether they might not contem- 
plate an attack in mass on Humphreys' left, and so this 
part of our line was pushed forward with caution while 
Humphreys' right was more rapidly advanced. We met 
sundry squads of prisoners coming across the fields, among 
them a forlorn band, with their instruments. "Did you 
not see that band. f^" said Rosie to me that evening, in 
great glee. "Ah! I did see them. I did them ask for to 

1865] The End of the TVar 337 

play Yan — kay Doodle; but they vould not!" About 9 
o'clock we got to General Humphreys on the Boydton 
plank road, by Mrs. Rainie's. It was now definitely known 
that the enemy had given up his whole line in this front 
and was retreating northwesterly, towards Sutherland's 
Station. He was reported, however, as forming line of bat- 
tle a mile or two beyond us. Immediately Miles 's division 
marched up the Claiborne road, while Mott, followed by 
Hays (2d division, 2d Corps), took the Boydton plank. 
Still more to our left, the cavalry and the 5th Corps were 
moving also in a northerly direction. Meanwhile, Wright 
had faced his Corps about and was marching down the 
Boydton plank, that is to say towards the 2d Corps, which 
was going up; on his left was the 24th Corps, which 
had formed there by Grant's orders ; so you will see, by the 
map, that the jaws of the pincers were coming together, 
and the enemy hastened to slip from between them! As 
soon as Wright found that this part of the field was swept, 
he again faced about, as did the 24th Corps (now forming 
his right), and marched directly up the Boydton plank to 
the inner line of Petersburg defences, rested his left on the 
river, swung the 24th round to join Parke, on the right, 
and voila the city invested on east, south, and west. I am 
afraid this double manoeuvre will rather confuse you, so 
here are two diagrams, with the corps numbered, in their 
first and second positions. 

By eleven o'clock the General had got all his troops in 
motion and properly placed, and the Staff had come from 
the camp. We all started up the plank road, straight to- 
wards the town. It was a strange sensation, to ride briskly 
past the great oak, near Arnold's Mill, where we got so 
awfully cannonaded at the first Hatcher's Run ; then on till 
we came to the earthwork, on this side of the Run, whence 


338 Meade^s Headquarters [Apr. 2, 

came the shot that killed Charlie Mills; then across the 
Run itself, passing their line with its abattis and heavy 
parapet, and so up the road, on the other side, marked by 
deep ruts of the Rebel supply -trains. As we got to the top 
of the rise, we struck the open country that surrounds 
the town, for several miles, and here the road was full of 
troops, who, catching sight of the General trotting briskly 
by, began to cheer and wave their caps enthusiastically! 
This continued all along the column, each regiment taking 
it up in turn. It was a goodly ride, I can tell you ! Pres- 
ently we spied General Grant, seated on the porch of an 
old house, by the wayside, and there we too halted. It 
seemed a deserted building and had been occupied by a 
Rebel ordnance sergeant, whose papers and returns were 
lying about in admirable confusion. A moral man was this 
sergeant, and had left behind a diary, in one page of which 
he lamented the vice and profanity of his fellow soldiers. 
He was not, however, cleanly, but quite untidy in his 
domestic arrangements. From this spot we had an admir- 
able view of our oivn works, as the Rebels had, for months, 
been used to look at them. There was that tall signal tower, 
over against us, and the bastions of Fort Fisher, and here, 
near at hand, the Rebel line, with its huts and its defenders 
sorely beleagured over there in the inner lines, against 
which our batteries were even now playing; and presently 
Gibbon assaults these two outlying redoubts, and takes 
them after a fierce fight, losing heavily. In one was a Rebel 
captain, who told his men to surrender to nobody. He 
himself fought to the last, and was killed with the butt end 
of a musket, and most of his command were slain in the 
work. But we carried the works : neither ditches nor abat- 
tis could keep our men out that day! You may be sure 
Miles had not been idle all this time. Following up the 

1865] The End of the JVar 339 

Claiborne road, he came on the enemy at Sutherland's 
Station, entrenched and holding on to cover the escape of 
their train. Though quite without support, he attacked 
them fiercely, and, at the second or third charge, stormed 
their breastwork, routed them and took three guns and 
near 1000 prisoners. With this gallant feat the day ended, 
gloriously, as it had begun. We went into camp at the Wall 
house and all preparations were made to cross the river 
next morning and completely shut in the town. 

[The preceding letter like many others, was written 

several days after the events described. The victory was 

so overwhelming that all Lyman actually wrote home that 

night was:] 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac 
Sunday, April 2, 1865 

11 P.M. 

My dear Mimi : — 



Theodore Lyman 
Lt.-Col. & Vol. A.D.C. 

April 3, 1865 
We began our day early, for, about light, I heard Duane 
say, outside my tent: "They have evacuated Petersburg." 
Sure enough, they were gone, across the river, and, at that 
very moment, their troops at Richmond, and all along the 
river, with their artillery and trains, were marching in all 
haste, hoping to join each other and get to Burkeville 
Junction, en route for Danville. How they succeeded will 

340 Meade^ 5 Headquarters [Apr. 3, 

be seen in the sequel. General Meade, to my great satis- 
faction, said he would ride in and take a look at the place 
we so long had seen the steeples of. Passing a series of 
heavy entrenchments and redoubts, we entered the place 
about eight in the morning. The outskirts are very poor, 
consisting chiefly of the houses of negroes, who collected, 
with broad grins, to gaze on the triumphant Yanks; while 
here and there a squalid family of poor whites would lower 
at us from broken windows, with an air of lazy dislike. 
The main part of the town resembles Salem, very much, 
flus the southern shiftlessness and minus the Yankee 
thrift. Even in this we may except Market Street, where 
dwell the haute noblesse, and where there are just square 
brick houses and gardens about them, as you see in Salem, 
all very well kept and with nice trees. Near the river, here 
large enough to carry large steamers, the same closely 
built business streets, the lower parts of which had suffered 
severely from our shells ; here and there an entire building 
had been burnt, and everywhere you saw corners knocked 
off, and shops with all the glass shattered by a shell explod- 
ing within. 

We then returned a little and took a road up the hill 
towards the famous cemetery ridge. Petersburg, you must 
understand, lies in a hollow, at the foot of a sort of bluff. 
In fact, this country, is a dead, sandy level, but the water- 
courses have cut trenches in it, more or less deep accord- 
ing to their volume of water. Thus the Appomattox is in 
a deep trench, while the tributary "runs" that come in are 
in more shallow trenches; so that the country near the 
banks looks hilly; when, however, you get on top of these 
bluffs, you find yourself on a plain, which is more or less 
worn by water-courses into a succession of rolls. There- 
fore, from our lines you could only see the spires, because 

1865] The End of the JVar 341 

the town was in a gully. The road we took was very steep 
and was no less than the Jerusalem plank, whose other end 
I was so familiar with. Turning to the left, on top of the 
crest, we passed a large cemetery, with an old ruined 
chapel, and, descending a little, we stood on the famous 
scene of the "Mine." It was this cemetery that our infan- 
try should have gained that day. Thence the town is com- 
manded. How changed these entrenchments ! Not a soul 
was there, and the few abandoned tents and cannon gave 
an additional air of solitude. Upon these parapets, whence 
the rifle-men have shot at each other, for nine long months, 
in heat and cold, by day and by night, you might now 
stand with impunity and overlook miles of deserted breast- 
works and covered ways ! It was a sight only to be appre- 
ciated by those who have known the depression of waiting 
through summer, autumn and winter for so goodly an 
event! Returning through the town, we stopped at the 
handsome house of Mr. Wallace, where was Grant and his 
Staff, and where we learned the death of Lieutenant- 
General A. P. Hill, who was killed by one of our stragglers 
whom he tried to capture. Crowds of nigs came about 
us to sell Confederate money, for which they would take 
anything we chose to give. At noon we left the town, and, 
going on the river road, camped that night near Suther- 
land's Station. 

A'pril 4, 1865 
We had camped last night round about Sutherland's 
Station, as I told you. The fields there were covered with 
waggons that had parked ready to follow the army. Here 
too was the scene of Miles's fight of the 2d, and the Rebel 
breastworks, with scattered ammunition and dead artil- 
lery horses, still marked the spot. Grant had camped 


Meade 'j Headquarters [Apr. 4, 



1865] The End of the JVar 343 

there, too, and had confirmed the rumor that Richmond 
was in our hands; also had stated that Sheridan, in his 
pursuit towards AmeHa Court House, reported much 
abandoned property by the way, and the capture of pris- 
oners and guns. Everybody was in great spirits, especially 
the 6th Corps, which cheered Meade vociferously, wher- 
ever he showed himself. It would take too much time to 
tell all the queer remarks that were made; but I was 
amused at two boys in Petersburg, one of whom was telling 
the officers, rather officially, that he was not a Rebel at all. 
"Oh!" said the other sturdily, "you've changed your 
tune since yesterday, and I can lick you, whatever you 


This morning the whole army was fairly marching in 
pursuit. ... It was a hard march, for two poor roads 
are not half enough for a great army and its waggon trains, 
and yet we took nothing on wheels but the absolute essen- 
tials for three or four days. We were up at four o'clock, 
to be ready for an early start; all the roads were well 
blocked with waggons toiling slowly towards the front. 
Riding ahead, we came upon General Wright, halted near 
a place called Mt. Pleasant Church. The bands were play- 
ing and the troops were cheering for the fall of Richmond, 
which, as the jocose Barnard (Captain on Wheaton's 
Staff) said, "Would knock gold, so that it wouldn't be 
worth more than seventy -five cents on the dollar!" Sud- 
denly we heard renewed cheers, while the band played 
"Hail to the Chief." We looked up the road, and, seeing a 
body of cavalry, supposed the Lieutenant-General was 
coming. But lo! as they drew nearer, we recognized the 
features of Colonel Mike Walsh (erst a sergeant of cavalry), 
who, with an admirable Irish impudence, was acknowl- 
edging the shouts of the crowd that mistook him for Grant! 


Meade 'j Headquarters [Apr. 4, 

1865] The End of the JVar 345 

We continued our ride. This country, from Gravelly Run 
up, is no longer the flat sand of Petersburg, but like Cul- 
peper, undulating, with quartz and sandstone, and a red 
soil. About five we halted at Mrs. Jones's, a little east of 
Deep Creek, and prepared to go supperless to bed on the 
floor or on the grass, for our waggons were hopelessly 
in the rear. General Humphreys was across the Run, 
whither General Meade went, and came back with him at 
dusk. The General was very sick; he had been poorly since 
Friday night, and now was seized with a chill, followed by 
a violent fever, which excited him greatly, though it did 
not impair the clearness of his head. Good Humphreys 
got us something to eat and so we all took to our hoped-for 

Avril 5, 1865 
Last night, at 9.30, came a note from Sheridan, dated at 
Jetersville, saying that he was there, entrenched, with the 
5th Corps and a part of the cavalry; that the whole Rebel 
army was in his front trying to get off its trains; that he 
expected to be attacked, but, if the remaining infantry 
could be hurried up, there was a chance of taking the whole 
of the enemy. Although the 2d Corps had only gone into 
bivouac at eight in the morning, and had no rations at that 
moment. General Meade issued orders for them to move at 
one at night and push on for Jetersville, followed by the 
6th Corps, which lay just behind. The distance was fifteen 
or sixteen miles. I was sleeping on the floor, in the same 
room with the General, to look out for him in case he 
needed anything; for he had a distressing cough and a high 
fever, but would not give in, for he has a tremendous nerv- 
ous system that holds him up through everything. Gen- 
eral Webb was worn out with want of sleep, so I was up 
most of the night, writing and copying and receiving the 

346 Meade 'j Headquarters [Apr. 5, 

despatches. The General talked a great deal and was very 
excited in his thoughts, though his head was perfectly 
clear. General Humphreys had slept, I don't know when 
— but there he was, as sturdy as ever, issuing orders for 
the advance, with his eyes wide open, as much as to say; 
"Sleep — don't mention it!" At one in the morning, sure 
enough, he moved; but had not got a mile, when, behold 
the whole of Merritt's division of cavalry, filing in from a 
side road, and completely closing the way ! That 's the way 
with those cavalry bucks : they bother and howl about in- 
fantry not being up to support them, and they are pre- 
cisely the people who always are blocking up the way; it 
was so at Todd's Tavern, and here again, a year after. 
They are arrant boasters, and, to hear Sheridan's Staff 
talk, you would suppose his ten thousand mounted carbi- 
neers had crushed the entire Rebellion. Whereas they are 
immediately cleaned out, the moment they strike a good 
force of foot-men, and then they cry wolf merrily. The 
plain truth is, they are useful and energetic fellows, but 
commit the error of thinking they can do everything and 
that no one else does do anything. Well, Humphreys could 
not stir a step till seven next morning, but, meantime, his 
men got rest by the roadside and his rations were, with 
incredible exertions, gotten up to him, over fearful roads. 
At about nine o'clock we put the General in his four-horse 
waggon, wherein he can lie down, and followed the column, 
first along the main Namozine road, and then, striking off 
to the right, across the fields to Jetersville. At ten, we got 
word that the enemy were still near Amelia Court House, 
and the infantry were continually ordered to press on, the 
General stirring up the halting brigades, as he rode past. 
Some four miles this side of Childer's house (where Sheri- 
dan was) we came upon General Humphreys, at a large 


The End of the TVar 


r ^i^cX»;Mi^€ 


house of one Perkinson. Near by were several hundred 
Rebel prisoners, looking pretty gaunt, for we had nothing 
to give, and but little food for our own troops. I think 
that we have been obliged to give mule meat to some of our 
prisoners, during this campaign, to keep them alive till 
they could get to supplies ; and some of our own men have 
gone very hungry, because, in the haste of pursuit, they 
marched straight away from the waggons. ... At 1.30 
we found General Sheridan at the house, which was per- 
haps a mile south of Jetersville. Along the front was the 
5th Corps, strongly entrenched, while the cavalry covered 
the flanks. A little before three, Sheridan rode off to the 
left, to help in Davies whom the enemy's infantry was 
trying to cut off. Before this, at two, the head of the 2d 

348 Meade ^s Headquarters [Apr. 6, 

Corps was up and the troops went rapidly into position; 
for, a couple of hours later, Mr. Sheridan (and still more 
his officers) had a stampede that Lee was coming on top of 
us. For once in my life I will say I knew better than that^ 
and laughed the cavalry Staff to scorn; for I was dead cer- 
tain it was only a demonstration, to protect their trains 
and find our strength. In truth they never came even in 
sight of our infantry pickets. Though he was not fit for 
the saddle. General Meade insisted on riding out beyond 
the lines to talk with Sheridan. He treated him very hand- 
somely and did not avail of his rank to take command over 
his cavalry, but merely resumed the 5th Corps — a gen- 
erosity that General Sheridan has hardly reciprocated! 

Headquarters Army of Potomac 

Richmond and Burkeville R.R. 

10 miles north of Burkeville 

April 6, 1865 

( We are pelting after Old Lee as hard as the poor dough- 
boys' legs can go. I estimate our prisoners at 16,000, 
with lots of guns and colors. At six a.m. the three infantry 
corps advanced in line of battle, on Amelia Court House; 
2d on the left; 5th in the centre; and 6th on the right. 
Sheridan's cavalry, meantime, struck off to the left, to 
head off their waggon-trains in the direction of the Appo- 
mattox River. We did not know just then, you perceive, 
in what precise direction the enemy was moving. Follow- 
ing the railroad directly towards Amelia C.H., General 
Meade received distinct intelligence, at nine o'clock, that 
the enemy was moving on Deatonsville, intending prob- 
ably to cross the Appomattox at High Bridge. Instantly 
General Meade gave orders for the 6th Corps to face about 
and move by the left flank and seek roads in the direction 
of High Bridge, with the idea of supporting the cavalry in 

1865] The End of the JVar 349 

their attempt to head off the enemy; the 2d Corps were 
turned into the left-hand road nearest Jetersville, and 
directed to push on and strike the enemy wherever they 
could. At nine we got to the left-hand road lying some way 
beyond Jetersville, and here the 5th Corps was turned in, 
with orders to follow the road through Paineville and at- 
tack whatever they found. These prompt dispositions 
ensured the grand success of the day, which the news- 
papers have gracefully handed over to General Sheridan ! 
Here I may as well say that Lee was trying to escape 
with his large artillery and waggon trains. At first he 
thought to move directly along the railroad, through 
Burkeville, to Danville. Cut off by the 5th Corps and the 
cavalry, he now was trying to march "cross lots" and get 
to the Danville road, somewhere below us. . . . At ten, 
we got back to Jetersville, a collection of half-a-dozen 
houses with a country church. From the second story of a 
house I witnessed a most curious spectacle — a fight, four 
miles off in a straight line ! At that point was a bare ridge, 
a little above Deatonsville, and there, with my good glass, 
I could see a single man very well. It was just like a play 
of marionettes! and the surrounding woods made side 
scenes to this stage. At first, I saw only the Rebel train, 
moving along the ridge towards Deatonsville, in all haste: 
there now goes a pigmy ambulance drawn by mouse-like 
horses, at a trot. Here come more ambulances and many 
waggons from the woods, and disappear, in a continuous 
procession, over the ridge. Suddenly — boom! boom! and 
the distant smoke of Humphreys' batteries curls above the 
pine trees. At this stimulus the Lilliputian procession re- 
doubles its speed (I am on the point of crying "bravo!" at 
this brilliant stroke of the gentleman who is pulling the 
wires). But now enter from the woods, in some confusion. 

350 Meade^s Headquarters [Apr. 6, 

a good number of Rebel cavalry ; they form on the crest — 
but, boom! boom! go the cannon, and they disappear. Ah! 
here come the infantry! Now for a fight! Yes, a line of 
battle in retreat, and covering the rear. There are mounted 
officers; they gallop about, waving their tiny swords. 
Halt! The infantry form a good line on the crest; you 
can't scare them. What are they carrying? Spears.^ No, 
rails; that's what it is, rails for to revet a breastwork. 
They scramble about like ants. You had better hurry up, 
Yanks, if you want to carry that crest ! (The stage man- 
ager informs me the Yanks are hurrying and the next act 
will be — Enter Duke Humphrey, in haste.) Hullo! 
There come six fleet mice dragging something, followed by 
more: yes, a battery. They unlimber: a pause: Mash! — 
(count twenty-two seconds by Captain Barrows's watch) 
then, bang! — flash ! flash ! bang! bang! There come in their 
skirmishers! running for their lives; certainly the Yanks 
are in those woods. Now they turn their guns more to the 
left; they are getting flanked. Their officers gallop wildly. 
You seem to hear them shout, " Change front to the rear ! '* 
anyhow they do so, at a double-quick. Then one volley of 
musketry, and they are gone, guns and all! The next 
moment our skirmishers go swarming up the hill; up goes 
a battery, and down goes the curtain. 

There is no rest for the wicked. All day long the peppery 
Humphreys, glaring through those spectacles, presses 
hotly in their rear; the active Sheridan is felling trees 
across their front; on their right is the Appomattox, im- 
passible; and now, as the afternoon closes, here comes the 
inevitable Wright, grimly on their left flank, at Sailor's 
Creek. The 6th Corps charges; they can't be stopped — 
result, five Rebel generals; 8600 prisoners, 14 cannon; the 
Rebel rear-guard annihilated ! As we get to our camp, be- 

1865] The End of the TV ar 351 

yond Deatonsville, there comes a Staff officer with a des- 
patch. "/ attacked with two divisions of the 6th Corps. 
I captured many thousand prisoners, etc., etc. P. H. Sheri- 
dan." "Oh," said Meade, "so General Wright wasnH 
there.^' "Oh, yes!" cried the Staff officer, as if speaking of 
some worthy man who had commanded a battaHon, "Oh, 
yes, General Wright was there." Meade turned on his heel 
without a word, and Cavalry Sheridan's despatch pro- 
ceeded — to the newspapers ! 

Afril 7, 1865 
The country about Deatonsville (a cluster of half-a- 
dozen brick farmhouses) is a great improvement, full of 
hills, not high but steep, with a nice brook in every hollow; 
the air begins too to sniff of the distant mountains, one 
or two of whose outlying spurs may hence be seen. We 
started from camp about eight in the morning, and, on 
the ridge, just beyond Sailor's Run, we came on the 5th 
Corps, moving from right to left, in rear of the 2d and 6th 
Corps, and taking the road towards Prince Edward Court 
House. Sailor's Run is a considerable brook in the bottom 
of a deep, precipitous hollow, where the Rebel train, closely 
followed by Humphreys, had come to a hopeless deadlock. 
The road thither, for several miles, showed that their ani- 
mals were giving out. The way was completely strewed 
with tents, ammunition, officers' baggage, and, above all, 
little Dutch ovens — such a riches of little Dutch ovens 
never was seen! I suppose they bake hoe-cakes in them. 
You saw them lying about, with their little legs kicked up 
in the air, in a piteous manner! But, when we got to the 
Run, there was a complete mess! Waggons, ambulances, 
cannon filled the hollow near the bridge ! The hillside was 
white with Adjutant-General's papers scattered from sev- 

352 Meade'^s Headquarters [Apr. 7, 

eral waggons of that department; here and there lay a 
wounded Rebel, while everywhere lay broken boxes, trunks, 
ammunition-cases and barrels. It was strange to see the 
marks on the waggons, denoting the various brigades, 
once so redoubtable! At 10.30 the 2d Corps, after some 
firing, crossed the Appomattox, at High Bridge, where we 
too arrived at eleven. Nothing can more surprise one than 
a sudden view of this great viaduct, in a country like Vir- 
ginia, where public works are almost unknown. It is a rail- 
way bridge, nearly 2500 feet long, over the valley of the 
Appomattox, and is supported by great brick piers, of 
which the central ones are about 140 feet high. The river 
itself is very narrow, perhaps seventy -five feet wide, but it 
runs in a fertile valley, a mile in width, part of which is 
subject to overflow. At either end the Rebels had powerful 
earthworks (on which they were still laboring the day be- 
fore). In these they abandoned eighteen pieces of artillery, 
and, in one, they blew up the magazine, which made a sad 
scene of rubbish. . . . 

At four P.M. we heard heavy firing across the river from 
Humphreys, who had gone towards the Lynchburg stage 
road and had there struck the whole of Lee's army, en- 
trenched and covering his trains. Nothing daunted, he 
crowded close up and attempted to assault one point with 
a brigade, but was repulsed with heavy loss. A despatch 
was sent in haste to Wright, to push on to Farmville, cross 
the river and attack the enemy in rear; but, when he got 
there, behold the 24th Corps before, the bridges burnt and 
everything at a standstill. A division of cavalry forded and 
attacked, but the Rebel infantry sent ihQm to the right- 
about in short order. And so we got to camp at nine p.m., 
at Rice's Station. 

1865] The End of the War 353 

Avril 8, 1865 
We have been making our usual little picnic to-day — 
say nineteen miles — and have got about half-way between 
Burkeville Junction and Lynchburg. Did you ever see 
that Washburn, Colonel in Louis Cabot's regiment, 
rather a well-looking young man? He v>^as sent the day be- 
fore yesterday, by Ord, from Burkeville Junction, with a 
small infantry and cavalry force, to destroy the Farm- 
ville bridges, to keep back the Rebels and head them off; 
but he found the enemy there before him; they attacked 
him, got him in the forks of two runs and killed or took 
most of his command, after a really desperate fight; Wash- 
burn getting a bullet through the cheeks and a sabre cut 
in the head. Then the Rebels crossed from Farmville to 
the other side and then they burnt the bridges in our faces. 
Last night was a white frost, as my toes, under the 
blankets, suggested to me in the morning. We left be- 
times, before six, to wit; for we had to get all the way back 
to High Bridge and then begin our march thence. After 
crossing the river beside the bridge (whereof the last three 
spans had been burnt by the enemy), we bore to the right, 
into the pine woods, then kept to the left, through a poor 
wood road, and emerged on the main road, about a mile 
east of the Piedmont coal mine, just as Humphreys's rear 
guard were marching on. As they had supposed, the enemy 
had retreated during the night and now we looked forward 
to a day's stern chase. At the coal mine we found General 
Humphreys, wearing much the expression of an irascible 
pointer, he having been out on several roads, ahead of his 
column, and getting down on his knees and peering at foot- 
tracks, through his spectacles, to determine by which the 
main body had retreated. Here we got a great excitement. 


354 Meade 'j Headquarters CApr. s, 

on learning that, last night, General Williams had con- 
veyed a note from Grant to Lee, demanding his surrender. 
That, furthermore, Lee had made a reply, and that now 
General Williams had just gone forward, with a flag, to 
send an answer. All this looked favorable and gave a new 
aspect to the whole question ! The original idea of sending 
a note came from the language used by Ewell and his Staff, 
captured on the 6th. These officers had stated that their 
position was hopeless and that Lee might surrender, if 
summoned. The good Williams's mission came near being 
fatal to the messenger of peace; for, as he got in sight of 
the rear Rebel videttes and was waving away, to attract 
their attention, they shot at im and wounded his orderly. 
However, he persevered, and, with a little care, got his 
note delivered. 

We now trotted along what had been, years since, a fine 
stage road; but the present condition was not exactly fa- 
vorable to waggons with delicate springs — the road at 
present being playfully variegated with boulders, three 
feet high, which had inconvenienced the Rebel trains, as 
many a burnt waggon testified. Toiling along past the 
trains in rear of the Second Corps, we were caught by Gen- 
eral Grant, who was in high spirits, and addressed General 
Meade as *' Old Fellow.'' Both Staffs halted for the night at 
Stute's house, and, as Grant's waggons could not get up, 
we fed him and his officers and lent them blankets. Grant 
had one of his sick headaches, which are rare, but cause 
him fearful pain, such as almost overcomes even his iron 
stoicism. To show how really amiable he is, he let the 
oflScers drum on the family piano a long while before he 
even would hint he didn't like it. Towards sundown we 
could hear rapid artillery from direction of Appomattox 

Seth Williams 

1865] The End of the TVar 355 

Station, which made us anxious; for we knew it was Sheri- 
dan, and could not know the result. 

A^ril 9, 1865 
We all were up, according to habit, about daylight, with 
horses saddled, having staid near Stute's house for the 
night. In reply to a summons from Grant, Lee has sent in 
a note to say that he would meet Grant at ten a.m. to con- 
fer on measures for "peace. The Lieutenant-General an- 
sw^ered that he had no authority in the premises and re- 
fused the interview; but repeated his offer to accept the 
army's surrender on j^arole. Indeed, we suspected his 
affairs w^ere from bad to worse, for last night we could hear, 
just at sunset, the distant cannon of Sheridan. He, wdth 
his cavalry, had made a forced march on Appomattox 
Station, where he encountered the head of the Rebel col- 
umn (consisting, apparently, for the most part of artillery), 
charged furiously on it, and took twenty cannon and 1000 
prisoners; and checked its progress for that night, during 
which time the 24th and 5th Corps, by strenuous march- 
ing, came up and formed line of battle quite across the 
Lynchburg road, west of Appomattox C.H. Betimes this 
morning, the enemy, thinking that nothing but cavalry 
was in their front, advanced to cut their way through, and 
were met by the artillery and musketry of two corps in 
position — (Ah! there goes a band playing "Dixie" in 
mockery. It is a real carnival !) This seems to have struck 
them with despair. Their only road blocked in front, and 
Humphreys's skirmishers dogging their footsteps! Well, 
we laid the General in his ambulance (he has been sick 
during the whole week, though now much better) and at 
6.30 A.M. the whole Staff was off, at a round trot — (90 

356 Meade^s Headquarters [Apr. 9, 

miles have I trotted and galloped after that Lee, and worn 
holes in my pantaloons, before I could get him to surren- 
der !) . An hour after, we came on the 6th Corps streaming 
into the main road from the upper one. A little ahead of 
this we halted to talk with General Wright. At 10.30 
came, one after the other, two negroes, who said that some 
of our troops entered Lynchburg yesterday ; and that Lee 
was now cut off near Appomattox Court House. This gave 
us new wings ! An aide-de-camp galloped on, to urge Hum- 
phreys to press the pursuit, and all waggons were ordered 
out of the road, that the 6th Corps might close in imme- 
diately on his rear. Away went the General again, full tilt, 
along the road crowded by the infantry, every man of 
whom was footing it, as if a lottery prize lay just ahead! 
A bugler trotted ahead, blowing to call the attention of the 
troops, while General Webb followed, crying, "Give way 
to the right ! Give way to the right ! " Thus we ingeniously 
worked our way, amid much pleasantry. "Fish for sale!" 
roared one doughboy. "Yes," joined in a pithy comrade, 
"and a tarnation big one, too!" The comments on the 
General were endless. "That's Meade." "Yes, that's 
him." "Is he sick.^^" "I expect he is; he looks kinder 
wild! " " Guess the old man hain't had much sleep lately." 
The heavy artillery firing we had earlier heard, now had 
suddenly ceased, and there was a perfect stillness — a sus- 
picious circumstance that gave us new hope. Somewhat 
before noon we got to General Humphreys, some five miles 
east of the Court House and at the very head of his men. 
He reported that he had just struck the enemy's skirmish 
line, and was preparing to drive them back. At that mo- 
ment an officer rode up and said the enemy were out with a 
white flag. "They shan't stop me! " retorted the fiery H. ; 
"receive the message but push on the skirmishers!" Back 

1865] The End of the JVar 357 

came the officer speedily, with a note. General Lee stated 
that General Ord had agreed to a suspension of hostiHties, 
and he should ask for the same on this end of the line. 
"Hey! what!" cried General Meade, in his harsh, sus- 
picious voice, "I have no sort of authority to grant such 
suspension. General Lee has already refused the terms of 
General Grant. Advance your skirmishers, Humphreys, 
and bring up your troops. We will pitch into them at 
once! " But lo ! here comes now General Forsyth, who had 
ridden through the Rebel army, from General Sheridan 
(under a flag), and who now urged a brief suspension. 
"Well," said the General, "in order that you may get back 
to Sheridan, I will wait till two o'clock, and then, if I get 
no communication from General Lee, I shall attack!" So 
back went Forsyth, with a variety of notes and despatches. 
We waited, not without excitement, for the appointed 
hour. Meantime, negroes came in and said the Rebel pick- 
ets had thrown down their muskets and gone leisurely to 
their main body; also that the Rebels were " done gone give 
up." Presently, the General pulled out his watch and said: 
"Two o'clock — no answer — go forward." But they had 
not advanced far, before we saw a Rebel and a Union offi- 
cer coming in. They bore an order from General Grant 
to halt the troops. Major Wingate, of General Lee's Staff, 
was a military-looking man, dressed in a handsome grey 
suit with gold lace, and a gold star upon the collar. He was 
courageous, but plainly mortified to the heart. "We had 
done better to have burnt our whole train three days ago " ; 
he said bitterly. "In trying to save a train, we have lost an 
army ! " And there he struck the pith of the thing. And so 
we continued to wait till about five, during which time 
General Humphreys amused us with presents of Confed- 
erate notes, of which we found a barrel full (!) in the Rebel 

358 Meade'^ s Headquarters [Apr. 17, 

waggons. It was a strange spectacle, to see the officers 
laughing and giving each other $500 notes of a government 
that has been considered as firmly established by our 
English friends ! 

About five came Major Pease. "The Army of North- 
ern Virginia has surrendered ! " Headed by General Webb, 
we gave three cheers, and three more for General Meade. 
Then he mounted and rode through the 2d and 6th Corps. 
Such a scene followed as I can never see again. The sol- 
diers rushed, perfectly crazy, to the roadside, and there 
crowding in dense masses, shouted, screamed, yelled, 
threw up their hats and hopped madly up and down ! The 
batteries were run out and began firing, the bands played, 
the flags waved. The noise of the cheering was such that 
my very ears rang. And there was General Meade gallop- 
ing about and waving his cap with the best of them ! Poor 
old Robert Lee ! His punishment is too heavy — to hear 
those cheers, and to remember what he once was! My lit- 
tle share of this work is done. God willing, before many 
weeks, or even days, I shall be at home, to campaign no 

Avril 17, 1865 

How wicked we are in this world ! — Now, when I should 
be only overflowing with joy and thankfulness at these 
great results, I keep finding myself boiling and fuming 
over the personal neglect of General Meade and the totally 
undeserved prominence given to Sheridan. Yet Meade is 
really of no more consequence in this vast question of all 
time, than a sailor, who pulls a good oar, compared with 
the Atlantic Ocean. The truth will stand out in sober his- 
tory, even for him — in the future Motleys and Prescotts. 
The plain truth about Meade is, first, that he is an abrupt, 
harsh man, even to his own officers, when in active cam- 

1865] The End of the JVar 359 

paign; and secondly, that he, as a rule, will not even speak 
to any person connected with the press. They do not dare 
to address him. With other generals, how different: at 
Grant's Headquarters there is a fellow named Cadwalader, 
a Herald man, and you see the Lieutenant-General's Staff 
officers calling, "Oh, Cad; come here a minute!" That is 
the style! With two or three exceptions. Grant is sur- 
rounded by the most ordinary set of plebeians you ever 
saw. I think he has them on purpose (to avoid advice), for 
he is a man who does everything with a specific reason; he 
is eminently a wise man. He knows very well Meade's 
precise capacity and strong points. For example, if Meade 
says a certain movement of troops should be made. Grant 
makes it, almost as a matter of course, because he is so 
wise as to know that there is one of Meade's strong points. 

On Board River Queen in Potomac River 
April 23, 1865 

I think I must write you a letter, though it may get to 
you not much before the winter, to tell of the end of our 
campaign. Monday April 10 is a day worthy of descrip- 
tion, because I saw the remains of our great opponent, the 
Army of Northern Virginia. The General proposed to ride 
through the Rebel lines to General Grant, who was at 
Appomattox Court House; and he took George and myself 
as aides ; a great chance ! for the rest were not allowed to go, 
no communication being permitted between the armies. 
At 10.30 we rode off, and, passing along the stage road, 
soon got to the picket line, where a row of our men were 
talking comfortably with an opposite row of theirs. There 
the General sent me ahead to see some general of theirs 
who might give us a guide through the lines. I rode a little 
beyond a wood, and came on several regiments, camped 

360 Meade^s Headquarters [Apr. 23, 

there. The arms were neatly stacked and the well-known 
battle-flags were planted by the arms. The men, looking 
tired and indifferent, were grouped here and there. I 
judged they had nothing to eat, for there was no cooking 
going on. A mounted officer was shown me as General 
Field, and to him I applied. He looked something like 
Captain Sleeper, but was extremely moody, though he at 
once said he would ride back himself to General Meade, by 
whom he was courteously received, which caused him to 
thaw out considerably. We rode about a mile and then 
turned off to General Lee's Headquarters, which consisted 
in one fly with a camp-fire in front. I believe he had lost 
most of his baggage in some of the trains, though his estab- 
lishment is at all times modest. He had ridden out, but, 
as we turned down the road again, we met him coming up, 
with three or four Staff officers. As he rode up General 
Meade took off his cap and said: "Good-morning, Gen- 
eral." Lee, however, did not recognize him, and, when he 
found who it was, said: "But what are you doing with all 
that grey in your beard .f^" To which Meade promptly re- 
plied: "You have to answer for most of it!" Lee is, as all 
agree, a stately -looking man; tall, erect and strongly built, 
with a full chest. His hair and closely trimmed beard, 
though thick, are now nearly white. He has a large and 
well-shaped head, with a brown, clear eye, of unusual 
depth. His face is sunburnt and rather florid. In manner 
he is exceedingly grave and dignified — this, I believe, he 
always has ; but there was evidently added an extreme de- 
pression, which gave him the air of a man who kept up 
his pride to the last, but who was entirely overwhelmed. 
From his speech I judge he was inclined to wander in his 
thoughts. You would not have recognized a Confederate 

1865] The End of the JVar 36I 

officer from his dress, which was a bkie military overcoat, 
a high grey hat, and well-brushed riding boots. 

As General Meade introduced his two aides, Lee put 
out his hand and saluted us with all the air of the oldest 
blood in the world. I did not think, when I left, in '63, for 
Germantown, that I should ever shake the hand of Robert 
E. Lee, prisoner of war! He held a long conference with 
General Meade, while I stood over a fire, with his officers, 
in the rain. Colonel Marshall, one of his aides, was a very 
sensible and gentlemanly man, and seemed in good spirits. 
He told me that, at one time during the retreat, he got no 
sleep for seventy -two hours, the consequence of which was 
that his brain did not work at all, or worked all wrong. A 
quartermaster came up to him and asked by what route 
he should move his train : to which Marshall replied, in a 
lucid manner: "Tell the Captain that I should have sent 
that cane as a present to his baby; but I could not, because 
the baby turned out to be a girl instead of a boy!" We 
were talking there together, when there appeared a great 
oddity — an old man, with an angular, much-wrinkled 
face, and long, thick white hair, brushed a la Calhoun; a 
pair of silver spectacles and a high felt hat further set off 
the countenance, while the legs kept up their claim of 
eccentricity by encasing themselves in grey blankets, tied 
somewhat in a bandit fashion. The whole made up no less 
a person than Henry A. Wise, once Governor of the loyal 
state of Virginia, now Brigadier-General and prisoner of 
war. By his first wife he is Meade's brother-in-law, and 
had been sent for to see him. I think he is punished already 
enough: old, sick, impoverished, a prisoner, with nothing 
to live for, not even his son, who was killed at Roanoke 
Island, he stood there in his old, wet, grey blanket, glad 

362 Meade 'j Headquarters 

to accept at our hands a pittance of biscuit and coffee, to 
save him and his Staff from starvation! While they too 
talked, I asked General Lee after his son "Roonie,"^ who 
was about there somewhere. It was the "Last Ditch" 
indeed! He too is punished enough: living at this mo- 
ment at Richmond, on the food doled out to him by our 
government, he gets his ration just like the poorest negro 
in the place! We left Lee, and kept on through the sad 
remnants of an army that has its place in history. It would 
have looked a mighty host, if the ghosts of all its soldiers 
that now sleep between Gettysburg and Lynchburg could 
have stood there in the lines, beside the living. 


Headquarters Army of Potomac 
April 19, 1865 

Lt.-Col. Theo. Lyman, A. D. C. 

Colonel: — In parting with you after an association of 
over twenty months, during which time you have served 
on my Staff, I feel it due to you to express my high sense of 
the assistance I have received from you, and to bear testi- 
mony to the zeal, energy, and gallantry you have dis- 
played in the discharge of your duties. Be assured I shall 
ever preserve the liveliest reminiscences of our intercourse, 
and wherever our separate fortunes may take us, I shall 
ever have a deep interest in your welfare and happiness, 
which, by the blessing of God, I trust may be long con- 

Most Truly Your Friend 
Geo. G. Meade 

Maj.-Genl U.S.A. 

' He was at Harvard with Lyman. 



Abbot, Henry Livermore, 76, 318, 

332; death, 95, 97. 
Adams, Charles Francis, Jr., 104. 
Agassiz, Louis, iii. 
Aide-de-camp, qualities of, 121. 
Aiken house, 219, 220. 
Alden, Algernon Sidney, 257, 289. 
Alexandria, Va., 4. 
Anderson, — — , 265. 
Anderson house, 115, 128. 
Annoy, use of word, 247. 
Appleton, Nathan, 72, 127, 169. 
Appomattox campaign, 303; High 

Bridge, 352. 
Armistice, 154, 170, 201. 
Armstrong house, 114. 
Army, on the march, 29, 55; reinforcing, 

31, 177; intercourse with enemy, 106, 

153, 181; formation of, 263. 
Assaults, effect of too many, 148n. 
Atlanta, capture of, 228. 
Atlanta, iron-clad, 161, 163. 
Avery, Martin P., 171. 
AjTes, Romeyn Beck, 234, 236, 242, 


Babcock, Orville Elias, 161, 314. 

Bache, , 204. 

Badajos, English at, 207. 

Badeau, Adam, 314. 

Baldwin, Briscoe G., 125. 

Barlow, Francis Channing, 109, 117, 
135, 157, 215, 216; described, 107, 158, 
189; at Cold Harbor, 144; at Peters- 
burg, 186. 

Barnard, Daniel P., 343. 

Barnard, George, 91 n. 

Barnard, John Gross, 248, 290. 

Barnes, Joseph K., 248. 

Barney, Hiram, 249. 

Barrows, William Eliot, 350. 

Barstow, Simon Forrester, 7, 48, 64, 232, 

Bartlett, Joseph Jackson, 72. 

Battle, a great, 101. 

Beauregard, Pierre Gustave Toutant, 
173«, 201, 222. 

Benham, Henry Washington, 23, 335; 
described, 241. 

Benson, , 280. 

Bethesda Church, 140. 

Biddle, James Cornell, 24, 48, 69, 70, 
122, 168, 204, 228, 249, 265, 289; on 
leave of absence, 59; camp command- 
ant, 67; Meade and, 176; early hours, 
239; excitement, 241; cigar incident, 

Bingham, Henry Harrison, 253. 

Birney, David Bell, 77, 82, 92, 94, 114, 
117, 121, 135, 137, 150, 233; described, 
107, 188; at Cold Harbor, 146; at Pe- 
tersburg, 165, 170, 174; death of, 266. 

Blake, Peleg W., 169. 

Blunt, . Miss., 76. 

Boissac, , de, 254. 

Boleslaski, , Austrian officer, 20. 

Bonaparte, Napoleon, 114. 

Bootekoff, , 62. 

Botiano, , 308, 311. 

Botts, John Minor, 46, 82. 

Boydton plank road, 293, 347. 

Bradley, Joseph P., 315. 

Breckinridge, John Cabell, 136. 

Brevets, distribution of, 257, 289. 

Briscoe, James C, 82. 

Brockenbrough, Mrs., 131. 

Brooks, William Thomas Harbaugh, 148. 

Buford, John, 15, 40, 50; described, 21; 
advice to a volunteer aide, 35. 

Bullets, explosive, 102. 

Biu-nside, Ambrose Everett, 87, 91, 93, 
94, 96, 97, 106, 108, 110, 114, 128, 134, 
140, 211; at church, 120; corps in- 
corporated, 127; at Smith's, 149; at 
Petersburg, 164, 167, 168, 197; mine, 
199, 200, 310. 

Bushwhacking, 295. 

Butler, Benjamin Franklin, 118; orders 
demonstration, 68; Petersburg and, 
160; described, 192; Smith and, 192; 
visit to, 193, 204, 279; sharpshooters 
and, 205; Dutch Gap canal, 213, 282; 
stampeded, 237; cabinet rumor, 266; 
devices, 284. 

Cabot, Louis, 353. 
Cadwalader, Charles E., 69, 130, 210. 
Cadwalader, S., 359. 
Calling the hours, 276. 
Cameron, Simon, 317. 
Cannon, management of, 202; wooden, 




Carr, Joseph Bradford, 67. 180. 

Carroll, Samuel Sprigg, 92, 139. 

Casey, Silas, 262. 

Castle-Cuffe, Viscount, see O'Connor. 

Cattle, stampede of, 275. 

Cavada, Adolph, 65, 210. 

Cavalry, southern, 125; boastfulness, 

Chambliss, John Randolph, Jr., 216. 
Chanal, colonel de, 178, 179, 191, 193, 

199; love of trees, 195. 
Chapin's farm, 233. 
Charles City, 156. 
Chesterfield station, 122. 
Chickahominy River, 157. 
Childer's house, 346. 
City Point, 163; explosion, 209. 
Civilians, visiting, 145. 
Clapp, Channing, 23, 241. 
Cohorns, 135. 
Cold Harbor, battle of, 118; described, 

Cold Spring, N. Y., sword for Warren, 25. 
Collis, Charles Henry Tucky, 247. 
Commissioners, Christian, 231, 288. 
Comstock, Cyrus Ballou, 81, 126. 
Concord, Transcendentalists, 260. 
Conscription, Rebel, 132. 
Contrabands, 287. 
Cook, arrest of the, 88. 
Cortez, Jos6, 23. 
Counselman, Jacob Henry, 18. 

Coxe, , 74. 

Craig, John Neville, 244. 

Crawford, Samuel Wylie, 89, 169, 181, 

234, 242, 253, 279, 299, 316. 331; 

portrait, 312. 
Crittenden, Thomas Leonidas, 116, 128. 

Crow, . 172. 

Cullum. George Washington. 223. 

Culpeper, Va.. cavalry raid. 16. 

Cummings house. 321. 

Curtis, Arthur Russell, 318. 

Custer, George Armstrong, 77, 139; 

described, 17. 

Dabnet's Mill, 330. 333. 

Dahlgren. John Adolph, 290. 

Dalton, Edward Barry, 90, 184, 210, 

Dana, Charles Anderson, want of tact, 

Da vies, Henry Eugene, Jr., 253, 347. 
Dead, care for the, 48. 
Deatonsville. fight at, 349, 351. 
Delafield, Richard, 290. 
De Ray. , 205. 

Devereux, John H., 4. 

Dickinson, , 13. 

Division, moving a, 184. 

Doyle, Sir Charles Hastings, 244. 

Draft, quality of, 209. 

Draper, Simeon, 249. 

Dresser, George Warren, 253. 

Duane, James Chatham, 196/i, 223, 257, 

260, 289. 291. 293, 306, 339. 
Dutch Gap canal, 213, 233, 282. 

Earle, William, lieutenant-colonel, 49. 
Early. Jubal Anderson, 182, 185n, 190, 

210. 216, 294, 320. 

Early, , 36. 

Earthworks, use of, 99, 143. 240. 

Eaton. Amos Beebe, 248. 

Egan, Thomas Washington, 252. 

Ely's Ford, 86. 

Epps's house, 183. 

Eustis, Henry Lawrence, 33. 89. 91. 

Ewell. Richard Stoddert, 90. 93. 184; 

retreats, 45; suggests Lee's surrender, 


Falls. . 212, 214. 

Farquhar, Francis Ulric, 138. 

Fay, Harry C, 213. 

Ferrero, Edward, 102, 310; described, 

180; anecdote, 212. 
Fessenden, Francis, 248. 
Fessenden, William Pitt, 249, 259. 
Field. Charles W., 360. 
Fitzhugh, Norman R., 286. 
Flag of truce, 149, 170. 
Flint, Edward A., 278, 311. 
Forbes's naked-eyed Medusa, 226. 
Forsyth, James William, 357. 
Fort Fisher, 316. 
Fort Harrison, 281. 
Fort Stedman, 323. 
Fort Wadsworth. 249. 

Freikle, , 287. 

French, William Henry, 26, 52, 53, 60, 

80; described, 10; at Kelly's Ford, 43; 

failure to connect, 54; rage of, 57. 
Freeman's Bridge. 294. 

Garland. John, 313. 
Garrett's Tavern, 121. 

Gatineau, , 262. 

General, and details of movements, 214. 

Germanna Ford, 86. 

Germans, poor showing, 131, 207, 214, 

277, 285. 
Getty, George Washington, 88, 89, 91, 

92, 94, 300. 



Gettysburg, battle of, 7. 

Gibbon, John, 92, 103, 134, 147, 291. 
329, 338; described, 107, 268; on 
Jericho, 135. 

Girardey, Victor J. B., 216. 

Globe Tavern, 219, 233, 234. 

Graham, William Montrose, 16. 

Grant, Lewis Addison, 175. 

Grant, Ulysses Simpson, 87, 93, 123, 131; 
described, 80, 81, 83, 156; confidence 
of, 91; Lee's retreat, 102; in danger, 
105, 210; on fighting in the east, 126; 
headaches, 130, 354; at Petersburg, 
164, 166, 179, 248; French language, 
178; Meade and, 224, 272, 359; bal- 
ance, 243; humor, 269; visits Butler, 
279; in Mexican war, 313; presenta- 
tion of medal, 318; demands Lee's 
sittrender, 354, 355. 

Grant, Mrs., 316. 

Gravelly Run, 329. 

Graves, soldiers', 180. 

Greek fire, 280, 283, 284. 

Gregg, David McMurtrie, 15, 20, 103, 
216, 224, 234, 252, 278, 285, 287. 294; 
resigns, 310. 

Greyhound, steamer, 204. 

Griffin, Charles, 26, 87, 88, 114, 127, 232, 
233, 235, 242, 316, 329; anger of, 90, 

Guerillas, repressing, 5; operations, 39, 

Guinea Bridge, 119. 

Gurley house, 234. 

Guzman, captain. 178, 179, 183, 190, 

Hagood, Johnson, 222. 

"Hail Columbia" and North Carolina 
regiment, 182. 

Halleck, Henry Wager, 37, 68; difference 
with Meade, 35; Butler on. 193. 

Halsted, George Blight, 317. 

Hamlin, Hannibal, 76. 

Hampton, Wade, 252. 

Hamyl, , 151. 

Hancock, Winfield Scott, 88, 90, 93, 96/1, 
107, 119, 121, 122, 129, 145, 148, 150; 
qualities to command, 60, 204; de- 
scribed, 82, 91, 120, 189; white shirt, 
107, 134; at the Salient, 110; on Rick- 
etts' division, 139; before Petersburg, 
162, 168, 197, 216, 221, 224, 233, 234, 
251; on Lyman, 177; on Shaw. 191; 
plundering, 288. 

Hancock's cavalry, 221. 

Hapgood, Charles Eager. 150. 

Hartranft, John Frederic. 323. 

Harvard Club, Washington, i. 

Harwood, Franklin, 201. 

Hatcher's Run, 292, 309, 329, 337. 

Haw's store, 131. 

Hayes, Joseph, 186, 220, 224; dinner 
party, 71; wounded, 90. 

Hays, Alexander, 42. 82. 139; death of, 

Hayter, Arthur Divett, 241. 

"Heavy Artillery," 81. 

Henderson, Mary, ii. 

High Bridge, Appomattox, 352. 

Hill. Ambrose Powell, 88, 89, 93, 94, 222. 
293, 294; death of, 341. 

Hoke, Robert F.. 136. 

Holbrooke, — -, Dr., 72. 

Holland, Sir Henry, 21. 

Holman, Silas Atherton. 316. 

Hood, John Bell, 296. 

Hooker, Joseph, 93, 114; described, 230. 

Humphreys, Andrew Atkinson, 36, 57, 
60, 65, 68, 69, 232, 277, 316, 318, 324, 
329, 345, 346, 352, 353. 356; described. 
6. 73. 78, 108, 307; on horses, 8; re- 
joins army. 64; mystery, 76; before 
Petersburg, 163, 217, 234, 237; on war. 
243; new command. 279, 285, 326; at 
races, 321. 

Hunt, Henry Jackson. 63. 197. 275, 277; 
on Grant, 313. 

Hutchins, Benjamin Tucker, 16. 

Huts for winter quarters, 60. 

Ice, 135. 

Indian, picket, 242. 

Ingalls, Rufus, 34, 60, 163, 279. 

Irish, good qualities, 131, 208. 

James River, 158. 
Jericho Bridge, 122. 

Jeter. . 129. 

Jetersville. 342. 345, 349. 
John, history of, 274. 
Johnson, Edward, 111. 

Johnson, , 183. 

Johnston, Joseph, 102rt. 
Joinville, Prince de, 95. 

Kearny, Philip, 139. 

Kellogg, , 61. 

Kelly's Ford, 43. 

Kelly's house, 140, 143. 

Kennedy, Joseph Camp Griffith, 73. 

Kent, , 179. 

Kilpatrick, Judson, 15. 68, 76; raid, 77, 

Kirkpatrick. , 274. 



Landron house, 114. 

Lazelle, Henry Martyn, 286. 

Leave of absence, 59. 

Ledlie, James Hewitt, 167, 199, 310. 

Lee, Robert Edward, 163, 184; move- 
ment by, 29, 30; retreat, 102; anni- 
hilation, 124; character, 125; Appo- 
mattox campaign, 303, 305; effort to 
escape, 349; siurenders, 355, 357; de- 
scribed, 360. 

Lee, WilHam Henry Fitzhugh, 362. 

Leigh, Bishop, 281. 

Letterman, Jonathan, 22. 

Lever, Charles James, "Tony Butler," 

Lincoln, Abraham, 319; merciful policy, 
117; reelection, 154, 204, 245, 259; 
government, 247; review of troops, 
322; described, 324. 

Linear house, 220. 

Locke, Frederick Thomas, remark of, 47. 

Long's Bridge, 156, 157. 

Longstreet, James, 94, 95, 122, 126. 

Loring, Charles Greely, 200, 211, 239, 

Ludlow, Benjamin Chambers, 54, 56. 

Lunn, , 276, 277. 

Lyman, Elizabeth (Russell), iii, 3. 

Lyman, Mary (Henderson), ii. 

Lyman, Richard, i. 

Lyman, Theodore (1st), i. 

Lyman, Theodore (1792-1849), ii. 

Lyman, Theodore (1833-1897), account 
of, i; joins Meade's staff 1; with 
Pleasonton, 14; goes to Washington, 
36; astronomical observations, 44; 
thirty-first year, 226; visits the North, 
228, 303; important, 335; meets Lee, 
361; Meade's letter, 362. 

Lyon, Nathaniel, 9. 

McClellan, Arthur, 70, 112. 
McClellan, George Brinton, 141, 262. 

McGregor, , 234. 

McKibbin, Chambers, 220. 
McLaughlen Napoleon Bonaparte, 261, 

McMahon, John E., 154. 
McMahon, Martin Thomas, 107, 247. 
McParlin, Thomas Andrew, 115, 221. 
Macy, George Nelson, 97, 215. 
Madison's ordinary, 119. 
Mahon, Lord, see Stanhope. 
Mahone, William, 188. 
Mangohick Church, 130. 
Maps, difficulties of, 136. 
Marivault, , de, 290. 

Marseilles, anecdotes of, 191. 

Marshall, Charles, 361. 

Marshall, Elisha Gaylord, 199. 

Martyn, steamer, 319. 

Mary landers, 221. 

Mason, Addison Gordon, 69, 122, 249. 

Mat, the, 121. 

Matile, George Auguste, 212. 

Matin6e musicale, 317. 

Meade, George, 36, 48, 75, 359. 

Meade, George Gordon, 97, 107, 122, 
338; at Key West, iii; accepts Lyman 
as volunteer aide, 3; manner of riding, 
8; at Gettysburg, 12; characteristics, 
25, 38. 57, 61, 73, 123, 128, 134, 138, 
148, 167, 176, 188, 225, 358; differ- 
ence with Halleck, 35; visits Washing- 
ton, 36, 48; well laid plans, 46; succes- 
sion to, 60; illness, 64, 345, 355; in 
danger, 105, 232, 238, 332; Sheridan 
and, 105, 271, 348; Sherman's des- 
patch, 126; before Petersburg, 165, 
214, 242; Burnside and, 200; rumored 
removal, 204; force reduced, 210; good 
sleeper, 217; Grant and, 224; engineer, 
246; report, 256; fraudulent votes, 
264; services, 271; major-general, 283; 
pay, 287; bon-mof, 298; in Petersburg, 
340; on Lee's surrender, 358; meets 
Lee, 360; letter to Lyman, 362. 

Meigs, Montgomery Cunningham, 248. 

Meherrin Bridge, 295. 

Mercier, , chef, 265, 276. 

Merritt, Wesley, 68, 346. 

Mexicans at Headquarters, 23. 

Miles, Jeremiah, 206. 

Miles, Nelson Appleton, 150, 292, 322, 
331, 337, 338. 

Milford, 119. 

Miller, Theodore, 324. 

Miller, William DeWitt, 225. 

Mills, Charles James, 233, 332, 338. 

Milroy's weary boys, 98. 

Mine Run, 55, 68. 

Mitchell, John Fulton Berrien, 48. 

Mitchell, William Galbraith, 82. 92, 
134, 150, 226, 233, 253, 288. 

Moncure house, 122. 

Monocacy Bridge, 185. 

Montbarthe, Vicomte de, 254. 

Morale, in army, 115, 179. 

Morgan, Charles Hale, 233, 288. 

Morris, William Hopkins, 67. 

Morris, , 312. 

Morton, James St. Clair, 167. 

Morton, Samuel George, 167. 

Morton's Ford, 68, 69. 



Mott, Gershom, 92, 93, 95, 108, 109, 217, 

Mott's division, misconduct, 92, 93, 95, 

109, llO/i, 114, 208, 252, 294. 
Mt. Carmel Church, 122. 

Namozine Road, 342, 346. 

Negro, Virginia, 67; free and slave, 
74; troops, 102, 162, 180, 256, 262; 
"aunty," 183; Petersburg mine, 199, 
214; burying Rebel dead, 203«; arm- 
ing southern, 245; poker game, 269. 

Nesmith, James Willis, 280; on Bull 
Run, 284. 

New London, Conn., 223. 

Newspapers, errors of, 100. 

Newton, John, 33, 56, 60, 80; visited, 9. 

Newton, Mrs., 131. 

North Anna, 122, 126. 

O'CoNTVOR, W. Ulick, Viscount Castle- 

Cuflfe, 49. 
Officers, good quality, 1 1 ; promotion, 78; 

qualities of good, 121, 266; bearing of 

Rebel 152. 
Ord, Edward Otho Cresap, 200, 233, 266, 

320, 335, 357. 
Ordinary, in Virginia, 119. 
Otto, William Tod, 212. 
Ovens, Dutch, 351. 

Palfrey, Francis Winthrop, 65. 

Parke, John Grubb, 233, 234, 236, 323, 
334; described, 213; engineer, 246. 

Parker, Isaac Brown, 288. 

Parker, Theodore, 260. 

Patrick, Marsena Rudolph, 74. 

Patten, Henry Lyman, 208. 

Pease, Charles Elliott, 358. 

Peeble house, 235, 254, 321. 

Peel, Cecil Lennox, captain, 49. 

Pell, Duncan Archibald, 212, 312, 319. 

Pemberton, John Clifford, 102. 

Perkins house, 328. 

Perkinson, , 347. 

Petersburg, manoeuvres about, 160; 
mine, 195, 310, 341; taken, 333, 339. 

Phillips, Charles Appleton, 169. 

Picket line, described, 301. 

Piney Branch church, 104. 

Piatt, Edward Russell, 123. 

Pleasonton, Alfred, 75, 79, 80; Lyman 
with, 14; for command, 60. 

Pleasants, Henry, 195, 198. 

Plunder, demoralizing effect, 40; Han- 
cock and, 288. 

Point of Rocks, Appomattox River, 193. 

Pontoon bridge, 130, 159. 

Po-Ny, 119. 

Pope, John, 60. 

Poplar Grove church, 234. 

Porter, David Dixon, 249. 

Porter, Georgia Ann (Patterson), 249. 

Porter, Horace, 142. 

Potter, Alonzo, 167. 

Potter, Robert Barnwell, 166, 212, 219, 

234, 237, 296, 297, 334. 
Pourtales, Louis Auguste de, 212. 
Pratt, Mary, 26. 
Prisoners, provost, 13; Rebel, 32, 45, 

324, 336, 347. 
Punishments, 243. 

Raccoon Ford, 19, 68, 69. 

Races, horse, 321. 

Railroad construction, 311. 

Rapidan RJver, 51. 

Rawlins, John Aaron, 91?i, 114»!. 

Reams' station, 224, 234. 

Rebels, fighting qualities, 87, 99, 100, 
208; privations, 132; valuable quali- 
ties, 186; wearing down, 245, 271; 
deserters, 305, 310; appearance, 324, 

Revere, Paul Joseph, 34. 

Review of troops, 9, 316, 318; 2d corps, 
75; 9th corps, 261. 

Rice, James Clay, 109, 180. 

Rice's station, 352. 

Richmond, fall of, 343. 

Ricketts, James Brewer ton, 98, 139, 144, 
174, 176, 177, 184, 208, 232, 299. 

Riddle, William, 293. 

Ring, , 172. 

Robertson's Tavern, 53, 54, 58. 

Robinson, John Cleveland, 104. 

Rock\yell, , Rev., 74. 

Roebling, John .\ugustus, 240. 

Roebling, Washington Augustus, 56, 
168, 253; described, 240. 

Rogers, William Barton, 315. 

Rosencrantz, Frederick, 63, 64, 177, 183, 
193, 202, 204, 210, 232, 244, 249, 277, 
304, 306, 309, 315, 336; first meeting, 
6; on the English, 268; major, 290. 

Roumania, 307. 

Rowley, William Reuben, 84, 164. 

Rush's Lancers, 130. 

Russell, David Allen, 128, 144, 177. 

Russell, Elizabeth, iii. 

Russell, George Robert, iii. 

Russell, Henry Sturgis, 161, 164, 165, 

Russians on horse, 61. 



Sailor's Run, 351. 

Salient, taking of the, 110; map, 113. 

Sanders, William Wilkins, 163, 177, 199. 

Sanford, Charles W.. 255. 

Sanford, Henry Shelton, 262. 

Sanitaries, 135, 182, 183. 

Satterthwait, , 291. 

Schack, George von, 322. 

Schuyler, Philip, 292. 

Sedgwick, Arthur, 224. 

Sedgwick, John, 60, 66, 98, 106, 180; in 

command, 36; at Kelly's Ford, 43, 

44, 45; on Butler's demonstration, 68, 

69; marches, 77; death of, 107. 
Sentry, a patriotic, 206. 
Sergeant, William, 295. 
Seward, William Henry, 259. 
Seymour, Truman, 98, 299. 
Shaler, Alexander, 98. 
Shaw, Robert Gould, 257; death of, 1. 
Shaw, , 134, 250, 285; described, 

Shells, behavior of mortar, 261, 270. 
Sheridan, Philip, 136, 300, 332, 347; 

chief of cavalrj', 81 ; described, 82, 327; 

Meade and, 105/), 271, 348; raids, 125, 

320; to command, 210; major-general, 

270; credit claimed, 351. 
Sherman, John, 115. 
Sherman, William Tecumseh, 271, 281, 

296, 305; reflects on Army of the 

Potomac, 126; described, 327. 
Shot, behavior of round, 149. 
Sickles, Daniel Edgar, 60. 
Sleeper, Jacob Henry, 49, 225, 266; 

resigns, 310. 
Sleeping-car, 229. 
Slocum, Henry Warner, 22. 
Smith, William Farrar, 136, 137, 143, 

160; described, 140; lunch, 148; before 

Petersburg, 161, 164rt; Butler and, 

Smyth, Henry Augustus, 275. 

Snyder, , 72. 

Soldier, qualities of a great, 163. 
Spaulding, Ira, 311. 

Spaulding, , 26. 

Spies, Rebel, 244. 
Spotsylvania, operations near, 104. 
Sprague, William, 75, 115, 188. 
Stanhope, Arthur Philip, Lord Mahon, 

Stanton, Edwin McMasters, 234, 247, 

248, 264, 266; daughter, 314. 
Starr, James, 104. 

Stephenson, Sussex Vane, captain, 49. 
Steuart, George H., 111. 

Stevenson, Thomas Greely, 95, 116. 

Stony Creek station, 285. 

Stragglers and pillaging, 117, 331; Bar- 
low and, 157; Warren and, 291. 

Stuart, James Ewell Brown, 18; death, 

Summerhayes, John Wyer, 268. 

Sumner, Charles, 78. 

Surgeon, English fusileer, 115. 

Sutherland's station, 339, 341. 

Swede, a visiting, 41, 63; indignation of 
a, 262. 

Sykes, George, 34, 52, 53, 60, 80; visited, 
8; at dinner, 72. 

Ta, the, 119. 
Thanksgiving Day, 278. 
Thatcher, Horace Kellogg, 171. 
Theatre, engineers', 311. 
Thomas, George Henry, 296. 
Thomas, Henry Goddard, 211. 
Thomas, Lorenzo, 290. 
Thompson, — , 130. 
Todd's Tavern, 103. 
Tompkins, Charles H., 112. 
Townsend, Charles, 22. 
Trobriand, Philippe Regis de, 256. 

Trowbridge, , 312. 

Tyler, John, 159. 

Tyler, , 185. 

Tyler house, 121. 

Upton, Emory, 109. 

Vermont captain, exploit of a, 174. 

Via's house, 140. 

Virginia, devastation, 48; houses, 301. 

Volunteers, 209. 

Votes, fraudulent, 263. 

Wadsworth, James Samuel, 90, 180. 

Wadsworth, Craig, 125. 

Wainwright, Charles Shells, 296. 

Walker, Mary E., 6n. 

Wall house, 339. 

Wallace, Lewis, 185. 

Wallace, , 341. 

Walsh, James William, 343. 

War, general featm-es, 124; ending the, 

Ward, John Henry Hobart, 82; relieved 
from command, 106. 

Warren, Gouverneur Kemble, 32, 34, 42, 
45, 53, 60, 69, 104, 106, 108, 114, 119, 
122, 127, 128, 134, 138, 140, 242, 279, 
316, 330, 333; presentation of sword, 
25; manoeuvres, 50; at Mine Run 56; 



Morton's, 70; Sheridan's dislike, 106h; 
defect, llOn; search for, 146; feeling, 
147; before Petersburg, 168, idl7, 221, 
233, 234, 251, 294, 297; narrow escaixj, 
219; stragglers, 292; relieved of com- 
mand, 333. 

Washburn, Elihu Benjamin, 318, 319. 

Washburn, Francis, 353. 

Washington, D. C, HarA'ard Club, i; in 
1863, 4. 

Waste in the war, 207. 

Way, a covered, 203. 

Webb, Alexander Stewart, 42, 45, 59, 
94, 307, 313, 317, 345, 356; described, 

Weld, Stephen Minot, Jr., 128, 211. 

Weldon railroad, 217, 224, 226, 234, 294. 

Wheaton, Frank, 91, 299; before Peters- 
burg. 175, 177. 

White, Julius, 219. 

Wilcox's wharf, 163. 

Wilderness, the, 53, 89; battle of, 98. 

Wilkinson, Morton Smith, 75. 

Willcox, Orlando Bolivar, 212, 234, 310. 

Williams, Seth, 23, 60, 110, 123, 171, 
221, 253, 270; on Sunday work, 28: 
brevet denied, 289; messenger to I^e, 

Williams house, J 73, 189. 

Wilson, James Harrison, 82, 104, 136. 

Wingate, , 357. 

Winthrop, Frederick, 300. 

Wise, Henry Alexander, 162, 361. 

Women in camp, 64, 65, 74, 75, 314, 317, 
318; dinner party, 71; ultra-seces- 
sionist, 119; poor, 129. 

Woodruff, George, 315. 

Wooch-uff, Henry Dwight, 287. 

Woody's house, 140. 

Woolsey, Charles W., 253. 294. 

Wooten, Thomas J., 152, 187. 

Worth, William Scott, 64, 210. 318. 

Wounded, spirit of the, 71, 128. 

Wright, Horatio Gouvemeiu-, 88, 90, 98, 
108, 110, 111, 112. 114, 128, 135, 137, 
138, 140, 143, 145, 148, 179, 190, 314, 
350, 352; on Mott's men, 110«; before 
Petersburg, 173, 184, 334, 337; poor 
luck, 300. 

Wyatt's house, 301. 

YoRKE. Victor A., 42, 267. 
Young. . Dr., 26. 

ZacksniI'SKA jZakrzewska, Marie 
Emzabeth], 5. 

63 1 


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