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[231] making him captain, the lieutenant was promoted without the consent of the men, or, what was harder to bear, some officer hitherto unknown was sent to take command. This was no doubt better for the service, but it had a serious effect on the minds of volunteer patriot soldiers, and looked to them too much like arbitrary power exercised over men who were fighting that very principle. They frequently had to acknowledge, however, that the officers were all they could ask, and in many instances became devotedly attached to them.

As the companies became decimated by disease, wounds, desertions and death, it became necessary to consolidate them, and so the social pleasures received another blow. Men from the same neighborhoods and villages, who had been schoolmates together, were no longer in companies, but mingled indiscriminately with all sorts of men from anywhere and everywhere.

Those who have not served in the army as privates can form no idea of the extent to which such changes as those just mentioned effect the spirits and general worth of a soldier. Men who when surrounded by their old companions were brave and daring soldiers, full of spirit and hope, when thrust among strangers for whom they cared not and who cared not for them, became dull and listless, lost their courage and were slowly but surely “demoralized.” They did, it is true, in many cases, stand up to the last, but they did it on dry principle — having none of that enthusiasm and delight in duty which once characterized them.

The Confederate soldier was peculiar in that he was ever ready to fight, but never ready to submit to the routine duty and discipline of the camp or the march. The soldiers were determined to be soldiers after their own notions, and do their duty for the love of it as they thought best. The officers saw the necessity for doing otherwise, and so the conflict was commenced and maintained to the end.

It is doubtful whether the Southern soldier would have submitted to any hardships which were purely the result of discipline, and, on the other hand, no amount of hardship clearly of necessity could cool his ardor. And in spite of all this antagonism between the officers and men, the presence of conscripts, the consolidation of commands, and many other discouraging facts, the privates in the ranks so conducted themselves that the historians of the North were forced to call them the finest body of infantry that was ever assembled.

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