Friday, May 24, 2013

May 24, 1863 (Sunday): Meade and Reynolds Consult

General George G. Meade

May 22, 1863.
    GENERAL: An issue having been raised between the commanding general and myself in regard to the construction to be placed on the language I used at the consultation of corps commanders held on the night of May 4, I would esteem it a personal favor if you would, at your earliest convenience, state your recollection of what I said, and the impression it made on you at the time.
    Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

    GEO. G. MEADE,

May 24, 1863.
Major General GEORGE G. MEADE,
Commanding Fifth Army Corps, Army of the Potomac:
    GENERAL: Your note of the 22nd instant has been received. My recollection of the substance of the remarks made by you at the consultation of the corps commanders, held on the night of the 4th of May, is that you were decidedly in favor of an advance in the direction of Fredericksburg at daylight the next morning; that you considered this army had already too long been made subservient to the safety of Washington, and you threw that out of the question altogether. This drew the remarks from General Sickles. I simply said, as my corps was the only one which had not been engaged, I would not urge my opinion, but that I agreed with you.
    I am, general, very respectfully your obedient servant,

    Major-General Volunteers.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 25, Part 1, Page 510.

An interesting exchange between two of the principal players in the upcoming drama at Gettysburg.  Disputes over recollections and actions were common during the war and even more so afterward.  Here Meade is prompting Reynolds to recollect Meade's position during a critical point in the Chancellorsville campaign.  It could be argued Hooker had bigger things to worry about at this point, and rightfully so, but generals in this war always fought with one eye on the enemy and one on public and political opinions.

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