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[343] severe shock to his rugged constitution from the exposures of the service, and was a soldier in a regiment which was so reliable, and had done such gallant service, that it was sure to find its place in the thickest of the fight in any future campaign. All this he had done and endured with no higher rank than that of Sergeant, while of a nature more than ordinarily ambitious, and while feeling as deeply as any one could that his abilities and education entitled him to be a commissioned officer. Ways were opened to him of procuring an officer's position elsewhere; friends were suggesting to him that he had done his share of the hard work of the war. But to his own mind there seemed but one line of conduct for him to follow. He must at all events continue in the war until the Rebellion was crushed; and remaining in the service, he must abide with his old regiment, and receive his promotion there, or not at all. So he writes to his parents entreating them to be contented and to overcome their natural disappointment until his furlough, at least; and on December 20, 1863, he deliberately re-enlisted in the ranks.

To those who knew his peculiar temperament, there was something more in this action than either patriotism on the one side or personal indifference on the other. For this resolute, hardy, self-trained young man there was a kind of pride in the very humbleness of his station, and in the thought that the rank which others sought through private favor or influence would come to him through his deserts, or not at all. Some personal opposition or discouragement which he encountered within his own regiment perhaps increased his unwillingness to leave it. He had spent most of his life in conquering obstacles, and could patiently bide his time while conquering a few more. He was far from being an unambitious man; but his was a kind of ambition which enjoyed the thought of suddenly emerging from obscurity and ascending several steps at once, or, should this fail, of going down to posterity as simple Sergeant Brown. This last is the alternative which fate chose for him, and this the laurel which after all suits his strong nature best.

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Charles Brown (1)
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