The following excerpt is from James A. Scrymser’s reminiscence about the Civil War. Scrymser was a member of the 7th New York and, postwar, a telegraph cable pioneer. I’m very curious to see what readers think about the incident and what might have been evident in December 1861 that led to the leadership prediction…or was it just a lucky guess?
General Franklin’s Prophecy
In December, 1861, General “Baldy” Smith, had for his headquarters the Smoot House, a substantial double brick building about eleven miles from Washington, near a place called Lewinsville, Va.
On the second Saturday in December, as I remember, there was an impromptu luncheon party at these headquarters. The luncheon was attended by General McClellan, General Meade, General McCall, General Fitz-John Porter, General Hancock, General W. T. H. Brooks and General Franklin, General Smith acting as host. After the luncheon, I, with other members of General Smith’s staff, was invited to join the party, and I recall the discussion which ensued as to the probable duration of the war. It appeared to be the unanimous opinion that the war would last for some years.
It was then that General Franklin vouchsafed a remarkable prophecy, substantially as follows:
It is my opinion that the war will continue for several years and, before the war is over, every one present, with one exception, will be laid away on the shelf. That exception will be General George G. Meade; he will come out on top at the close of the war.
It was, as I have said, a remarkable prediction, inasmuch as it proved to be such a true one.
It is regrettable that General Meade himself was so over shadowed by General Grant that Meade’s great services as Commander of the Army of the Potomac were never fully appreciated, and that Meade never received the recognition to which he was so justly entitled.
Personal Reminiscences of James A. Scrymser, In Times of Peace and War –