James Ford Rhodes (1848–1927). History of the Civil War, 1861–1865. 1917.

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  Meade’s own idea is disclosed in these words of July 5 to his wife. The Confederates “awaited one day expecting that flushed with success, I would attack them when they would play their old game of shooting us from behind breastworks.” 1  35   “Under the cover of the night and heavy rain” of July 4, Lee began his retreat. Meade followed. The strain on a commanding general during such a campaign is shown by these words to his wife on July 8: “From the time I took command till to-day, now over ten days, I have not changed my clothes, have not had a regular night’s rest and many nights not a wink of sleep and for several days did not even wash my face and hands, no regular food and all the time in a great state of mental anxiety. Indeed I think I have lived as much in this time as in the last thirty years.” In this letter, which was written from Frederick, he said, “I think we shall have another battle before Lee can cross the river.” 2  36   The heavy rains and resultant high water prevented Lee from crossing the Potomac at once and, by July 11, Meade in his pursuit had come within striking distance of the Confederate Army. While proceeding with great caution, he had determined to make an attack on July 13; but as he was wavering in mind and feeling oppressed by his great responsibility he called a council of war. Five out of six of his corps commanders were opposed to the projected attack, which caused him to delay giving the orders for it. Meade devoted July 13 to an examination of the enemy’s position, strength and defensive works; and the next day, advancing his army for a reconnaissance in force, or an assault if the conditions should be favorable, he discovered that the Confederate army had crossed the Potomac in the night.
Note 1. General Meade, II, 125. [back]
Note 2. Ibid., II, 132. [back]