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[306] 25th of November, 1861. On the 1st of the following January, 1862, he joined his regiment at Camp Benton, near Poolesville, Maryland, and with characteristic energy entered at once upon the duties of his new career. The winter at Camp Benton was spent in pursuing the usual round of camp duties, and the only active service in which the regiment was engaged was in picketing the Potomac from Edward's Ferry to Seneca Mills. Lieutenant Ropes soon gave evidence of a fitness for military life which fulfilled the expectations of his friends, and proved to them that he had not mistaken his calling. Particular in the discharge of the minutest details of duty, he became known to his superiors as an efficient and trustworthy officer. In a letter written soon after he joined his regiment he says:—

My little experience has taught me that business ability, fairness of judgment, consistency of character, and a spirit of disregard of personal comfort are necessary to a good officer. Above all, he must be prompt, and not make mistakes.

Another letter, written by him some time after, illustrates some traits in his character. He says:—

You speak of discouragement. I have never for an instant felt discouraged or looked wistfully towards home. When I lay abed sick, I was, of course, very uncomfortable and in pain; but I have never once wanted to go home, and shall not, until the regiment returns, if my life is spared to return with it. Of course we have all sorts of discomforts, and perhaps I am not quite so cheerful as I used to be in Cambridge, and do not see enough of the fellows, &c., but I am not in the slightest degree discouraged or disappointed with my profession; and although I long to see the war over for the sake of the country and humanity, and would very well like to come back as one member, however humble, of a conquering army, and lay aside the sword, yet personally I am willing to stay for any length of time. I find here an opportunity to do as much good as I shall find in any profession. My time is occupied very fully, my pay is sufficient, my trade honorable, and one which calls out all the ability a man may possess. I have enough of pleasant companions, and I can see nothing better to look forward to in life. As to the danger, somebody must endure it, and why not I? Above all, I feel now it is my duty. If I live till the war is over I shall probably find some other path open. So do not think I am discouraged,

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