[CIVIL WAR]. MEADE, George Gordon (1815-1872), General. Autograph letter signed (''Geo. G. Meade, Maj. Genl. Comg.'') to an unnamed Captain, Headquarters Army of the Potomac, 2 August 1863. 2 pages, 8vo, integral blank.
[CIVIL WAR]. MEADE, George Gordon (1815-1872), General. Autograph letter signed ("Geo. G. Meade, Maj. Genl. Comg.") to an unnamed Captain, Headquarters Army of the Potomac, 2 August 1863. 2 pages, 8vo, integral blank.
THE VICTOR OF GETTYSBURG CONFESSES THAT "MY POSITION IN A VERY TRYING ONE." Writing to an old military comrade, less than a month after Gettysburg, Meade candidly voices his trepidations over his elevation to commander of the Army of the Potomac and Lee's escape: "Your letter...asking my favorable offices in behalf of Col. Bidwell was duly received. I shall be very happy to do any thing in my power for your sake...Should his name be sent up to me I will forward it with a favorable endorsement, on your recommendation. I received...your kind letter on my being assigned to the command...My position is a very trying one, and I would gladly exchange it for the command of the Old Search and the Lake Survey. Those were happy days."
Meade had spent much of his army career in the Topographical Engineers, surveying the Great Lakes (1857-1861), the Florida Keys, Delaware Bay, and even helping lay out the route for the Long Island Railroad. His success at Gettysburg is rightly seen as the turning point of the war and the defeat that sent the rebel army on its long, slow path of destruction. But Meade's timid and ultimately ineffective pursuit of Lee's defeated army angered President Lincoln and in an unmailed letter of July 14 (the day Lee recrossed the river), he predicted that "the war will be prolonged indefinitely" by Lee's escape. "Your golden opportunity is gone, and I am distressed immeasurably because of it" (Basler, 6:328).