I’ve been spending a lot of time lately looking through old issues of the National Tribune, THE Union veterans’ paper after the Civil War. My main goal is to find articles pertaining to the Siege of Petersburg, but I’ve found a lot of other fascinating things, and I’ve only reached early 1882. The paper was founded in 1877. Here’s one I had to share with readers in the hope that some of you might be able to shed a little background on this story.
In the January 7, 1882 issue of the National Tribune, a short article appeared on page 3 in column 1 titled “The Battle of Gettysburg-What General Ewell Wished To Do.”1 In the article, which is mainly composed of a letter purported to have been written by General George G. Meade in 1876, Meade claims that Ewell wanted to attack Culp’s Hill on the evening of July 1, 1863, but Robert E. Lee specifically ordered him not to. Ewell related that Lee saw Slocum’s Corps approaching and wanted to wait for the rest of the ANV to come up. Has anyone heard this version of events before? If so, have historians debunked this as a fiction created by Ewell after Lee died? I’m eager to hear what readers think.
UPDATE: Reader Dave Jordan pointed out that Meade died in late 1872, so the 1876 date had to be wrong. Dave investigated further and found that the letter was written in 1870 to the editor of the Burlington (VT) Free Press. It later appeared in the New York Times as well as making its way into the National Tribune below. As Dave asks in the comments, was this letter included in The Life and Letters of George Gordon Meade? I searched Google Books and was indeed able to find the letter in that book on pages 352-353, so it is absolutely genuine.
I’ve included the article in its entirety as an image below for interested readers:
- Meade, George G. “The Battle of Gettysburg-What General Ewell Wished To Do.” National Tribune 7 January 1882. 3:1. ↩