I am glad to see that such men have the energy to be here. They are brave and willing, though, like your hub, their military education has been rather neglected. And this leads me to remark that it is a crying mistake to think, as many do, that an aide is a sort of mounted messenger — an orderly in shoulder-straps. An aide should be a first-rate military man; and, at least, a man of more than average intelligence and education. It is very difficult, particularly in this kind of country, to deliver an order verbally, in a proper and intelligent way; then you must be able to report positions and relative directions, also roads, etc.; and in these matters you at once see how deficient some men are, and how others have a natural turn for them. To be a good officer requires a good man. Not one man in ten thousand is fit to command a brigade; he should be one who would be marked anywhere as a person (in that respect) of superior talent. Of good corps commanders I do not suppose there are ten in this country, after our three-years' war. Of army commanders, two or three. When we had seen enough of the 9th Corps and had found out that Hancock had mistaken Birney's line of battle (down by Milford) for that of the enemy,--whereat there was a laugh on the chivalric H.,--we departed for the Tyler house. In one of Burnside's regiments are a lot of Indian sharpshooters, some full, some half-breeds. They looked as if they would like to be out of the scrape, and I don't blame them. . . .
May 23, 1864It was with regret that early this morning we left the fine clover field of Dame Tyler, and wended our way towards the North Anna. We crossed the Mat (or what is called South River, I am not sure which, at any rate a mere brook), and kept straight on for Garrett's Tavern. Grant,