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[34]

This letter, bold and almost presumptuous in its tone, pleased Governor Andrew so much, by its manly earnestness, that he at once ordered Captain How to the command of the camp where the Nineteenth Massachusetts Regiment was in process of formation; and before the Nineteenth left the State, How was commissioned as its Major.

Major How fully redeemed his pledges to the State, and justified the expectations of his friends. Soon after the arrival of the Nineteenth Regiment at the seat of war, the affair at Ball's Bluff gave him an opportunity of distinguishing himself. General Lander, with whom he became an especial favorite, was wounded in this engagement. Major How earnestly pleaded for permission to lead a charge on the Rebels with the few men of the Nineteenth who were at hand; and when permission was finally given, he dashed upon them gallantly, and captured the only prisoners taken during that affair. Official reports and newspaper accounts alike gave him the highest praise. It is said that he received four balls through his clothes, and it seemed almost miraculous that he escaped injury.

He gave promise of rising speedily in the service. He was the model of an officer,—cool, courageous, and withal kind and generous. A letter, written by one who had good opportunity of judging, states that the humblest private never asked a reasonable favor at Major How's hands which was not readily granted, and adds: ‘It is no disparagement of our other excellent officers to say that none of them possessed so much of the old chivalric spirit we so much admire in the olden times.’ The following extract is from another writer:—

His personal appearance was in an unusual degree commanding. He made a brief visit to Washington last autumn (1861), and when there attracted much attention, being regarded as one of the finest forms that were to be seen on Pennsylvania Avenue, at that time a place where military men of all ranks were frequently seen. His conversation and correspondence gave evidence of his being guided by a true patriotic spirit, and that he was accustomed to reflection upon the stirring events in which he was taking a part. At an early day, in a letter to a friend, he said, “The more I think of it (the war), the more I am convinced that it is to be no short ”

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F. W. Lander (1)
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