252 Southern Historical Society Papers.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
October /8, 18638:30 P. M. Major- General Halleck :
Your telegram of 7 P. M. just received. If you have any or- ders to give me, I am prepared to receive and obey them; but I must insist on being spared the infliction of such truisms in the guise of opinions as you have recently honored me with, particularly as they have not been asked for. I take this occasion to repeat what I have before stated that if my course, based on my own judgment, does not meet with approval, I ought to be, and I desire to be, re- lieved from command.
GEORGE G. MEADE, Major- General Commanding.
General Halleck was undoubtedly an able, clear-headed adviser to his government. The one blot upon the character of this accom- plished man was an inherent disposition to browbeat subordinates an overbearing habit that had its first public illustration in his treat- ment of the modest, unassuming Grant early in 1862, and, subse- quently Sherman, at the close of the war. But when, in turn, he met a bulldozer like General Meade, he seemed to lack the necessary moral courage to carry the game through with a high hand. He weakened.
On the next day, on the excuse that his "truisms" were merely telegraphed as the best mode of conveying to the general in the field the "wishes of the government," Halleck apologized to Meade in the most handsome manner, if his language had " unintentionally given offence. ' ' And in a spirit that showed him to be a true soldier and a gentleman, Meade replied: " Your explanation of your inten- tions is accepted, and I thank you for it."
A word more. General Meade doggedly persisted in his policy of circumspection, and was henceforward left to his own devices in the conduct of the campaign without suggestion or comment from Washington. General Lee, his purpose accomplished, slowly re- tired to the Rappahannock, behind which he prepared to go into winter-quarters, General Meade cautiously following, watching closely for a favorable opportunity to deliver battle. On November yth he suddenly and unexpectedly attacked a Confederate redoubt at Rappahannock Station, with overwhelming numbers, making considerable captures, and successfully forcing a passage of the river.