This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
 instruction from those who know more than he does; but the senior major-generals of an army cannot easily do this, and are hence greatly to be pitied, as are also, sometimes, those who are to serve under them. No delusion is more common in the heart of an American citizen than to believe that a man who has shown ability in any sphere can, at the shortest possible notice, exhibit it in the highest grade of any other sphere. It was common, too, at the beginning of the war, to cite historical instances of civilians who had, by merely buckling on uniform, become great commanders. Cromwell, Hampden, Andrew Jackson were quoted as examples; but Cromwell began military service as captain of a troop of horse, and was not commissioned even as colonel until he had gone through the battle of Edgehill. Hampden began his career as captain of a local regiment, and rose no higher than colonel. Jackson had fought through six months of Indian warfare, with three thousand men under him, before he defended New Orleans with barely twice that number. These modest precedents certainly gave no ground for entrusting the command of great army corps to men who had never before heard a shot fired in anger. There were volunteer generals who did Massachusetts peculiar honor, and who had the inestimable advantage of beginning near the foot of the ladder. Such men were Hincks, Devens, Lowell, Bartlett, Miles. With these and such as these in mind, it seems too strong an expression to say, with a recent historical writer, ‘Not one New England soldier achieved renown.’1 Bartlett left on record, in the most instructive way, not merely his own modesty but his common-sense view of high military position. He was probably, out of all those whom Massachusetts sent forth, the man who had the most precocious and innate gift for war. After he had been appointed brigadier-general of volunteers (June 20, 1864) and had been assigned to Major-General Ledlie's division of the 9th Corps, there was, it seems, some talk of giving him command of the division; but he writes to his mother, ‘I think I had rather try a brigade, before I venture any higher, although the whole division does not muster so many as a full brigade of four regiments should.’2 Yet the man who made this modest remark had seen three years of the most active service, had been in action repeatedly, had lost a leg and just escaped losing an arm, had drilled and organized two raw regiments, and had twice commanded,
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.