previous next
[102] United States Military Academy, and was known to have been a some-time officer of the army, serving in Magruder's battery in Mexico during the campaign of Scott from Vera Cruz to the capital city.

it was even intimated that he had won certain brevets there for service at Vera Cruz, Contreras, and Chapultepec, rising from the grade of second lieutenant to that of major within a period of eighteen months, but to the youthful sense all that was very ancient history, of a piece with the Peloponnesian War, for instance, and the mists of antiquity hung about the record and made its outlines very vague. To the young, ten years seems a great while, and during that period their reticent, rigid instructor had been quite out of touch with anything Military other than their cadet battalion or the gun details of the institute battery of 6-pounders, with human teams, which it was his duty to put through their evolutions on the drill-ground.

the human side of this man has almost no record during these years, apart from what comes to us through the letters to his wife; he was not a man who wore his heart on his sleeve, and life seems to have always been to him as a trust, for which he held himself strictly accountable, and which was not to be squandered in trivialities of any sort. As we know now, he had much to do, and the time for it was to be all too brief for its full accomplishment; yet he seems to have been not quite devoid of some sense of humor, in spite of his habitual reserve and aloofness.

it is related that upon one occasion, at this stage of his career, he propounded to his class this question, ‘young gentlemen, can any of you explain to me the reason why it has never been possible to send a telegraphic despatch from Lexington to Staunton?’ several theories were advanced, such as that the presence of iron ore in the surrounding mountains might have had the effect of deflecting the electric current. At last, one boy—the dullard of the class, usually—suggested,

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)
hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Winfield Scott (1)
John Bankhead Magruder (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: