Sunday, June 2, 2013

Meyer on Meade and Sheridan

I've been reading Henry Coddington Meyer's memoirs. He was a medal of honor recipient and was in most of the civil war battles in both combat and administrative positions. He enlisted as a private and finished the war as a major so he wasn't a peer of major generals, but in his capacity as a staff officer he witnessed a number of interesting encounters. Here is one I found interesting. It occurred in General Meade's headquarters:

"When I reached headquarters I found General Meade sprawled out on the ground with his face buried in a map, he being very near-sighted. Staff-officers were constantly riding up and reporting, and about fifty feet from where he lay I saw General Grant sitting alone on a stretcher. He had nothing to say to any one and seemed unconcerned. While waiting for my instructions, I intently watched him. Presently an officer brought up a Confederate officer, who was a prisoner. Looking up, General Grant quietly asked, 'I assume you questioned him?' The officer replied, 'Yes, but he does not tell anything.' Grant then remarked, 'Ask him if he has a recent Richmond paper.' The Confederate officer said that he had and took one from his haversack, giving it to the officer, who handed it to General Grant. Grant nodded his head in acknowledgment, and remarking, 'You make take him back,' opening the paper and began to read. Just then General Sheridan rode up. Grant arose, greeted him warmly, and seemed deeply interested as Sheridan began earnestly telling him, I assume, the results of his recent movements. Receiving my instructions I then returned to the regiment."

COMMENT: My impression is that this occurred before or during the Petersburg campaign or siege. I was interested in the rather undignified appearance of Meade, lying on the ground in full view of staff officers and aides coming and going. Also, I have the impression that Sheridan and Grant both ignored Meade during this event.

One can at least see that Sheridan was no underling like Meyer who waited for instructions but the peer of Grant and Meade who feels free to rush into their presence and tell them -- or at least Grant -- something interesting or important.

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