duty at West Point
My taste for service in the line of the army, if I ever had any, was gone; and all hope of promotion, if I ever had any, was still further away.
I had been for more than four years about nineteenth first lieutenant
in my regiment, without rising a single file.
I was a man of family, and had already become quite bald ‘in the service of my country.’
There was no captaincy in sight for me during the ordinary lifetime of man, so I accepted the professorship of physics in Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri
But Mr. Jefferson Davis
, an intimate friend of my father-in-law, gave me a timely hint that promotion might be better in a year or two; and his bitterest personal enemy, General Scott
, gave me a highly flattering indorsement which secured leave of absence for a year.
Thus I retained my commission.
As the period of the Civil War
approached a very large part of my time was occupied in reading and studying, as coolly as possible, every phase of the momentous questions which I had been warned must probably be submitted to the decision of war. Hence, when the crisis came I was not unprepared to decide for myself, without prejudice or passion, where the path of duty lay, yet not without some feeling of indulgence toward my brother officers of the army who, as I believed, were led by the influence of others so far astray.
I took an early occasion to inform General Scott
of my readiness to relinquish my leave of absence and return to duty whenever my services might be required, and I had the high honor of not being requested to renew my oath of allegiance.
My life in St. Louis
during the eight months next preceding the Civil War
was of great benefit to me in the delicate and responsible duties which so soon devolved upon me. My connection with Washington University brought me into close relations with many of the most patriotic, enlightened, and, above all, unselfish citizens of Missouri
Some of them were of the Southern