from their lines, in their front, and took a good many prisoners. The division of Ricketts, which Hancock called a “weakly child,” suddenly blazed out, and charged with the bayonet; an example I hope it will follow up! The “weary boys” at first broke and ran as usual, but Ricketts, their new commander, a man of great personal courage, pitched into them and kept at them, till finally, on the 1st of June, he got them to storm breastworks, and now I hope and believe they will continue good troops. Such are the effects of good pluck in generals. You hear people say: “Oh, everyone is brave enough; it is the head that is needed.” Doubtless the head is the first necessity, but I can tell you that there are not many officers who of their own choice and impulse will dash in on formidable positions. They will go anywhere they are ordered and anywhere they believe it is their duty to go; but fighting for fun is rare; and unless there is a little of this in a man's disposition he lacks an element. Such men as Sprigg Carroll, Hays (killed), Custer and some others, attacked wherever they got a chance, and of their own accord. Very few officers would hold back when they get an order; but the ordeal is so awful, that it requires a peculiar disposition to “go in gaily,” as old Kearny used to say. Last night the 2d Corps marched, to form on the left of the 6th at Cool Arbor; it was badly managed, or rather it was difficult to manage, like all those infernal night marches, and so part of the troops went fifteen miles instead of nine and there was any amount of straggling and exhaustion. I consider fifteen miles by night equal to twenty-five by day, and you will remember our men have no longer the bodily strength they had a month before; indeed, why they are alive, I don't see; but, after a day's
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Table of Contents:
I. First months
IV . Cold Harbor
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