Mount Carmel Church


On May 24, Grant and Meade made their headquarters at Mt. Carmel Church. Founded in 1773, the church was described by one observer as “a church for religion, not for show.”

In their book No Turning Back: A Guide to the 1864 Overland Campaign, Bert Dunkerly, Don Pfanz, and Dave Ruth relay a description of the church by Meade’s aide, Lt. Col. Theodor Lyman: “If you want a horrible hole for a halt, just pick out a Virginia church, at a Virginia cross-roads, after the bulk of an army has passed on a hot, dusty Virginia day!” The church, he said, “looked precisely like a town-hall, where people are coming to vote, only the people had unaccountably put on very dusty uniforms.”

The NTB authors go on to recount one of the more interesting interactions between Grant and Meade in the whole campaign:

While at the church, Grant received a dispatch from Maj. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, who was campaigning against Confederate forces in Georgia. According to Lyman, Sherman’s note said “that the army of the west had fought enough to be entitled now to ‘manoeuvre’; and that if Grant could inspire the Potomac army to do a proper degree of fighting, the final success could not be doubted.” As Meade listened to the dispatch, “his grey eyes grew like a rattlesnake’s,” wrote Lyman. “Sir! I consider that dispatch an insult to the army I command, and to me personally,” he snapped. “The army of the Potomac does not require General Grant’s inspiration or any body’s else [sic] inspiration to make it fight!!” According to Lyman, Meade “did not get over it all that day, and, at dinner, spoke of the western troops as ‘an armed rabble.’”

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