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More Snapping

8 March 1864 – . . . Genl Doubleday & Sickles are the agents.  I hear today that the ultra-radicals are determined to have me out, and that all Mr. Wade’s disclaimers to me when before the Committee are fudge and that neither he or Zach Chandler are going to show me any quarter.  To add to my perils, if perils they are, Grant is to be in Washington tonight . . . I understand he is indoctrined with the notion of the superiority of the western armies, and that the failure of the Army of the Potomac to accomplish anything is due to its commanders.  If he raises any such point I think it will be conclusive of my fate.  Well let it be so.  God knows, I shall be satisfied if any better or more successful man can be found.  My conscience is clear that I have done my duty.  Per contra to show the confidence that military men have in me I have received messages from the following officers that they would be willing to take corps under me—Genl Harney, Hunter, & Burnside—all of whom have commanded armies themselves and are my seniors. . . .I have a note from Gibbon today, in relation to the attack on me.  He advises open war with my enemies as my best course, in which not satisfied with attacking my military reputation, they impugn my loyalty & attribute expressions to me I never dreamed of using.  This I think indicates weakness on their part and desperation.  I shall go to Washington day after tomorrow to add to my testimony & meet charges which I did not know when I was last there. . . . Grant has reached Washington and I presume in a short time my will fate will be settled.  It is said he is greatly smitten with Baldy Smith, and if so, in connection with this clamor against me, he may make a change.  Of this I am indifferent, but my reputation I will battle for to the last.  Birney and Pleasonton have appeared in the hostile ranks.  The former I am not surprised at, but the latter’s course is the meanest and blackest ingratitude, for . . . but my intercession he would have been relieved long since.  His vanity is however so overweening, that to show how much he knew, he has been giving the Committee his views and opinions on different events where I chose to differ from him.  All this makes me heartsick. . .

14 March 1864 – . . . you may look now for the Army of the Potomac putting laurels on the brow of another rather than your husband.  I was pretty well prepared for this.  Also for the announcement that Sherman was to be made a major general in the regular army and to take Grant’s command in the Southwest.  Indeed, I wish they would fill the remaining vacant Maj. Genlcy for I believe one motive for Hooker’s share in the attempt to break me down, was his fear that I would interfere with his chance of getting this place which his friends are working like beavers to get for him.  I believe however from all I can find out, that the recent attack has utterly failed and recoiled on its authors.  The principal, of whom would be ruined by it but for certain influences in the White House, which I can not overcome. . . .

16 March 1864 – . . . I do not know whether you have seen this communication of “Historicus”.  It is the most [?] and detailed piece that has yet appeared and from the intimate knowledge of the events of the battle displayed and the quotations from and references to official documents, some of the most confidential character, that were never made public, it is evident was either written by Sickles or the data furnished by him.  I agree with Gibbon that injury may arise from newspaper articles and pamphlets in certain cases, but I do not believe in the policy of keeping perfectly silent and allowing your enemies to poison the public mind, without making some effort to place the truth before them.  This is all I intend to do. . . I am glad you like Grant’s photograph. . . The only think I don’t like about him is the influence a certain friend or ours seems to have over him—an influence which I have seen operate to the injury of three other individuals and which I fear will in time prove injurious to Grant. . .

18 March 1864 – . . . By the by I have just received a Richmond paper of the 16th inst., which “gives the result of a council held when Grant was in Washington says the great operations of the spring are to be in Va. that Grant is to command the Army of the Potomac and Meade to be reduced to a corps or division commander, unless he should be court-martialed for malconduct at Gettysburgh, which reports say is very probable.”  Don’t you think this is pretty good for Rebel news?  The Times today says I am certainly to be removed notwithstanding the persistent denials to the contrary.  Baldy Smith has been made a Maj. Genl. of Volunteers with his old date.  Sherman will be made a Maj. Genl. in the Regular Army if Grant is consulted, and Hooker will be made another, if his Radical friends in Washington can bully the President into doing it.  This has been one of the motives for trying to break me down, as it would not look very well to give the Hero of Chancellorsville promotion over the head of the Hero of Gettysburgh unless the latter is first stripped of his laurels. . . .  For my part if I am to be virtually superseded by having a superior in the field, I don’t know but what it would be better for me to be taken away altogether. . .

Comments (7) to “More Snapping”

  1. Well, he was certainly right about Baldy Smith (the “friend” mentioned in the March 16 letter).

  2. Do we know who the 3 individuals are who were injured? Rosecrans? Granger?

  3. I think Burnside is one of the 3.

  4. Meade’s comments suggest Hooker was quite the political general.

  5. One of the three has to be Franklin. Brooks and Cochrane may be the others. They were all part, along with Smith, of the Sixth Corps “conspiracy” after Fredericksburg.

  6. since Franklin seems to have been Smith’s best friend and continued close thereafter, and since Brooks and Cochrane were allies in the Smith/Franklin “cabal” against Burnside after Fredericksburg, wouldn’t the three injured persons have likely been someone else, perhaps as previously noted someone from the West, where Smith had served just prior to this time? by the way, Granger and Rosecrans were quite unpopular with Grant independent of any influence by Smith

  7. Bob,

    Meade wrote “I have seen operate to the injury of three other individuals”. Meade could not have seen what Smith did while in the west, a relatively short period of time; but Meade was directly familiar with Smith’s service in the east. So I dont see that it could be anyone in the west. The “cabal” after Fredericksburg was certainly injurious to Franklin, Broosk and Cochrane, thus they could be candidates if Meade felt Smith was the cause of the “cabal”.