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Veritas, visa et mora; falsa, festinatione et incertis valescunt.–TACITUS.
HENRY T. COATES & CO.
It should be obvious that I cannot fitly portray General Meade's character and work without evidencing that I knew him personally, and without so speaking. The duty assigned me would be additionally difficult if I should not only be hampered by a supposed necessity of circumlocution in referring to him, but in referring to other sources of my knowledge. I therefore purpose, in the reader's interest as much as in my own, to avoid these difficulties by directness of statement upon the basis of what is for the most part extant evidence. The explanatory background might form the subject of voluminous notes, or would by its introduction in the main text serve to dam the current of the narrative; but being in either case equally objectionable, both of these alternatives are rejected in favor of the one here described and adopted. At the same time it is incumbent upon me to declare explicitly of General Meade, as one of the sources of my knowledge, that whatever I have to say regarding his civil life is derived from my own observation and family knowledge, but that, as to his military life, as circumscribed by the limits of the Civil War, I have no information whatever as given by him to me personally. General Meade is therefore not to be held responsible for the opinions here expressed with reference to the
events of the war, except in so far as his acts made him responsible, rightly or wrongly, for my own conclusions. I do not remember ever having asked him a question about the war, or his ever having volunteered to speak of it, or having spoken of it to me. My action was brought about by my observation, that every quid nunc seemed disposed to bore him with questions about military matters, and by the fact that I felt great regard for the rest to which I thought him entitled after the troublous associations of the times. Doubtless, I could have learned much from him, had I so desired, for he was always frankly expansive in his talks with me, and often, after his death, I regretted that I had not sometimes taken opportunities to learn much that would have been interesting. But when, in the course of time, I came to be confronted with the duty of writing a memoir of him, I rejoiced that there was nothing in my possession of testimony of his to me, regarding his relation to the war, to be drawn upon for my work. Thus both he and I have escaped suspicion of the introduction of at least direct bias in what I have said.
It becomes necessary for me, for self-protection, in writing this memoir, to include a statement without which I should place myself in a false position, through omitting mention of action over which I had no control. When, some years ago, I wrote the article, “George Gordon Meade and Family," for Appleton's Cyclopædia, an interpolation, unauthorized by me, was made in it regarding the battle of Gettysburg, including the statement that General Meade had neglected to occupy Little Round Top. As I was not in any way re