out; he was made captain in 1838, and, meanwhile, leading a somewhat uneventful life, he slowly acquired a reputation as a reliable officer.
In 1841, he was put in charge of the defenses of New York, and in this position he remained until the outbreak of the Mexican War
The part he played at this crisis throws much light upon his character and his after career.
He distinguished himself in Mexico
more brilliantly, perhaps, than any other officer of his years, and thus he gave proof of his native military bent and of the thoroughness with which he had studied the art of war. He was not in sympathy with the political ‘Jingoes’ of the time, a fact which affords a measure of his mental rectitude.
But he was modestly indisposed to speak out upon political matters, being, as he conceived, a soldier charged with executing the will of his country as expressed by its statesmen.
It might have been predicted that, in the event of a civil war, such a man would side with that part of the nation in which he was born and bred, that his services would be strictly military in character, that the thought of making himself a dictator or even of interfering with the civil administration would never cross his mind.
He would exhibit the highest virtues of the soldier and the private citizen; he would not, like Washington
, go farther and exhibit the highest virtues of the statesman.
It is probably best for his own fame and for the Nation that this should have been so. The Republic is fortunate in possessing three men, each consummate in private character, two illustrious in the separate spheres of military and civil command, Lee
the soldier, and Lincoln
the statesman, and one unique in combining the two high orders of genius, the greatest of Americans
, the ‘Father
of his Country.’
At the beginning of the Mexican War
was attached to General Wool
's command in the Northern
He attracted notice chiefly by his brilliant scouting.
Early in 1847, at the request of General Winfield Scott
, he joined the