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[462] James. The former was several years older than his two young companions, and of so noble a character that Cabot's friends acknowledge with gratitude their obligation to him for his good influence over their absent soldier-boy. The result was, that when Governor Andrew wrote to Colonel Lee, requesting him to send from his regiment a certain number of young men as officers for the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts, Cabot was among those to whom the offer was made. It was a question of duty against inclination, but he did not hesitate. His decision gave great pleasure to his friends, who knew his previous anxiety to join a different service, and who had refrained from expressing their wishes in this respect, because they would not interfere with the freedom of his choice.

He entered the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts, commanded by Colonel Robert G. Shaw, in company with Adjutant Garth Wilkinson James, to whom he was deeply attached, and his very kind friend and adviser, Captain (afterwards Brevet Brigadier-General) A. S. Hartwell. Captain Simpkins joined the regiment at a later period. Cabot served at first as Second Lieutenant in Captain Hartwell's company, but soon received the command of Company H, then newly forming. He found the men neither so awkward nor so dull of apprehension as he had supposed, and the ridicule he had expected did not annoy him. ‘After the first burst of laughter was over,’ he says, ‘I have had nothing to stand against, and sympathy from a great many quarters where I did not expect it.’

And yet he saw great difficulties in the future, and, under the new responsibility, was doubtful as to his fitness for his office. This stimulated rather than impaired his efforts, and notwithstanding his youth he became noted for careful drill and discipline, so that his men improved rapidly under his instructions, and appeared well in camp and on parade. Still, much was wanting to their complete efficiency as soldiers; and in the performance of his duty their young Captain obeyed his own conscience and the kind and wise counsels of his Colonel, the bright exemplar of fidelity to whom he looked in his moments of doubt.

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