Ethan Rafuse has been doing us all a big favor by posting unexpurgated letters from Meade to his missus (see here and here).
He is able to do this because we have a turn-of-the-last-century book of correspondence edited by the general's son and can compare that published work with the handwritten original letters. In his posts, Ethan restores redactions made in the published versions and these are quite interesting.
In 1989, Stephen Sears claimed to have done the same thing in his book The Civil War Papers of George B. McClellan. Specifically, he amended some text found in McClellan's Own Story using material of unknown provenance about which he made unsubstantiatable claims. This material is what historians routinely refer to (most irritatingly) as "McClellan's letters to his wife."
Long-time readers hear the creaking of my hobby-horse and are backing slowly towards the exits. Do stay with me for a few more lines: Rafuse's efforts will help me illustrtate my point about the McClellan "letters."
Meade letters = physically exist, can be read.
McClellan "letters" = whereabouts unknown, no scholar has ever seen one (for 1861-1862).
Meade letters = edited versions were published by his son.
McClellan "letters" = edited versions of notes we think may have been taken from letters were published by his literary executor after daughter May McClellan privately amended them.
Meade letters = letters. They meet every definition of "letter."
McClellan "letters" = cryptic documents manufactured for publication under conditions unknown per agendas unknown. They meet not a single definition of "letter."
My most recent post on this McClellan "letters to his wife" swindle is here. Rafuse's work with Meade's correspondence simply cannot be performed on McClellan's so-called correspondence and I ask (beg?) that writers stop referring to these McClellan artifacts as "letters."