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 And much more the Massachusetts man with two hundred years of tradition behind him wished to go with his neighbors, to be commanded by men whom he knew,—by a local shoemaker rather than by Julius Caesar. It is to be noticed that much the same conditions of local organization are carefully preserved in the model army of the world, that of Germany. General Sheridan tells us that ‘a local or territorial system of recruiting’ is ‘the very foundation of the German army.’1 Joined with this, there were no doubt minor considerations. In entering a new regiment a man took his chance with the rest for speedy promotion; in an old regiment he took his place at the foot, and could count pretty surely on remaining forever in the ranks. The natural American instinct of rising was in the way of this self-sacrifice. Again, by an impulse possibly natural but most ungracious, the new recruit in an old regiment was apt to be received not kindly or even gratefully, as one who brought aid to the whole, but with a foolish contempt and derision, amounting to actual severity and hardship. ‘The lot of the recruit in an old company was at the best not an enviable one, and sometimes was made very disagreeable to him. He stood in much the same relation to the veterans of his company that the freshman in college does to the sophomores, or did when hazing was the rule and not the exception. . . . He easily became the butt of his company. . . . Many of the veterans seemed to forget how they themselves obtained their education, little by little, and so ofttimes bore down upon recruits with great severity.’2 After July 21, 1862, when an order was obtained from the Secretary of War, promising that new recruits assigned to any regiment should be mustered out with the regiment, it became much easier to secure recruits for old regiments. ‘Most of our regiments in the field had two years yet to serve, and there was a general belief that before the expiration of the regiments' terms the war would be at an end. The effect of the order was to send nearly five thousand men to fill up the depleted ranks.’3
1 Personal Memoirs, II, 450.
2 J. D. Billings, Hard-tack, etc., p. 202. Compare the graphic description in Parker's 32d Mass. Vols. of the derisive and unmannerly reception of a recruiting force by an old regiment (pp. 45, 46). The regiments in the Confederate service were more generally filled up. See De Leon, Four Years in Rebel Capitals, p. 178.
3 Adjutant-General's report, January, 1865, p. 51.
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