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 General Wadsworth was very successful in gaining the love of his men. His high sense of justice and true republican respect for manliness, wherever he found it, soon convinced them that, if they did their duty, they should be rewarded. They knew, too, that he made their comfort his constant study. These qualities endeared him greatly to his troops, and when, before the battle of Fredericksburg, he rode with his staff unexpectedly into the encampment of his old brigade, the soldiers of all the four regiments rushed tumultuously towards him and made the skies ring with their shouts of welcome. But there was another and a better reason why his soldiers loved him, and also why he was always a reliable officer: he was so cool and collected under fire. ‘He had a habit,’ says an intelligent writer, who saw him at the front just before his death, ‘of riding about the foremost line, and even among his skirmishers, which somewhat unnecessarily exposed his life. He knew very well how to handle his division, and he knew how to hold a line of battle,—how to order and lead a charge,— how to do the plain work which he liked best; and at Gettysburg he showed how much a plucky, tenacious leader can do with a handful of troops in keeping back and making cautious an overwhelming force of the enemy. He was pertinacious; did not like to give up or back out; and was not a man safely to be pressed, even by a force much superior to his own.’ General Meade writes of him: ‘The moral effect of his example, his years, and high social position, his distinguished personal gallantry and daring bravery, all tended to place him in a most conspicuous position, and to give him an influence over the soldiers which few other men possess.’ And General Humphreys, General Meade's chief of staff, in speaking of the qualities he showed on the field on which he lost his life, writes: ‘In the two days of desperate fighting that followed our crossing the Rapidan, he was conspicuous beyond all others for his gallantry, prompter than all others in leading his troops again and again into action. In all these combats he literally led his men, who, inspired by his heroic bearing, continually renewed the contest, which, but for him, they would have yielded.’
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