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James Samuel Wadsworth.

Vol. A. D. C., rank of Major, Gen. McDowell's staff, June, 1861; Brig.. Gen. Vols., Aug. 9, 1861; died May 8, 1864, of a wound received at the battle of the Wilderness, May 6.

It has been well said that the people of the North were themselves the true heroes of the War for the Union. They were brave, generous, hopeful, and constant; while some, to whom they had a right to look for counsel and example, were cowardly, despondent, unstable, and selfish. An intelligent foreigner declared with great truth that General Wadsworth was ‘a noble incarnation of the American people.’ He certainly displayed throughout the same earnest, self-sacrificing, undismayed spirit which they collectively manifested.

James Samuel Wadsworth was born at Geneseo, New York, October 30, 1807. He was the eldest son of James Wadsworth, who had emigrated from Durham, in Connecticut, and whose family was among the most ancient and respectable in that State. It is said that one of his ancestors was that sturdy Puritan, Joseph Wadsworth, the captain of train-bands who concealed in the famous oak at Hartford, in defiance of the authority of the tyrant Andros, the precious charter which Charles II. had given to the Colony; and who afterwards, when another intruding governor, Colonel Fletcher of New York, attempted to exercise illegal rule over the Connecticut [2] militia, caused his drums to beat and drown the reading of the royal commission, saying to Fletcher, ‘If I am interrupted, I will make the daylight shine through your body.’

James Wadsworth of Durham, and his brother William, made their way to the banks of the Genesee in the year 1790, when that whole region was a rude wilderness, from which the Indians had scarcely been expelled. They opened their path, in some places, by their own axes, and established themselves at a point called ‘Big Tree,’ which is now the village of Geneseo. They were the agents of many of the proprietors, whose lands they cleared and brought into market; and they themselves, in process of time, became the most extensive and wealthy landholders of that neighborhood. Mr. Lewis F. Allen, to whose excellent Memorial of General Wadsworth I am indebted for some of the information contained in this paper, intimates that they owed this success to the happy union of their own personal qualities. William, who had a more hardy nature than his brother, carried on all the out-of-door operations, while James, who had received an excellent education at the East, and acquired habits of system and order, managed the finances, entertained the guests, and, by his sound judgment and fine taste, contributed not only to the material prosperity, but to the picturesque beauty of that famous valley. He had graduated at Yale College, and he took into the wild country to which he emigrated a love for letters and refined social intercourse, which made it blossom early with the sweet flowers of mental and moral culture. After the population had sufficiently increased, he caused tracts upon the subject of popular education to be printed and circulated at his own expense; he offered premiums to the towns which should first establish school libraries; he procured the passage of the school-library law in 1808; he suggested the establishment of Normal Schools in 1811; he founded and endowed a library and system of lectures at Geneseo; and he provided that in all his sales a tract of one hundred and twenty-five acres in every township should be reserved for a church, and as much more for a school. When he died, in 1844, his gifts to the [3] cause of education alone had exceeded the sum of ninety thousand dollars.

His wife, the mother of General Wadsworth, who is said to have been a most intelligent and amiable woman, was Naomi Walcott, of Windsor, in Connecticut, one of a family of importance in the history of that State.

This was the stock from which he sprung, and he proved his descent by the intrepidity and vigor of his character, as well as by that frank courtesy of manners and princely generosity which always distinguished him.

He received the first rudiments of his education at the common schools of Geneseo, although much of his youth must have been given to those rough employments in the open air which the border-life of those days required, even of the sons of rich fathers. Some of his friends in New York remember him well when he was a boy of twelve or thirteen, and made a visit to the city in company with his uncle William. They had come all the way on horseback, driving a herd of cattle; and Wadsworth was then a hardy, vigorous stripling, intelligent, manly, and self-possessed.

He entered Hamilton College, near Utica; but after a short residence there went to Harvard, where he remained a longer time, but never graduated. About the year 1829 he became a student of law at Yale College, where he stayed a few months, and then continued his course with Mr. Webster at Boston, and finished it in the office of McKeon and Deniston at Albany. He was in due time called to the bar, but he never practised law as a profession. He preferred to assist his father in the care of the family estate, which had been increased by the property devised by his uncle William, who died a bachelor in 1833.

Wadsworth was married about this time to Miss Wharton of Philadelphia. They went abroad soon after their marriage, and upon his return Wadsworth applied himself with great spirit and success to agricultural affairs. In 1842 he was elected President of the State Society, and he always manifested a lively interest in its prosperity. He repeatedly took [4] prizes from this and the County Society for the excellence of his farm stock.

In 1844 he had the misfortune to lose his worthy father, and was thus left in sole charge of the greater part of the property, embracing, in addition to his own share, the estates of his two sisters. He continued to make Geneseo his chief residence, and was induced, both by self-interest and affection, to promote its prosperity by every means in his power. Among other generous acts, he caused the works which supply the village with water to be constructed. He was intending to erect a building there for the purposes of the literary institution which his father had founded, when the breaking out of the war prevented the execution of the project, for which, however, he provided in his will.

He made another visit to Europe, with his family, in 1854; and shortly after his return purchased a house in Sixteenth Street, in the city of New York, which he made his permanent town residence.

I now approach the time when Wadsworth's name became interwoven with the history of the nation. He had been chiefly known as a wealthy landholder,— a hospitable country gentleman,— a leading agriculturist. But the day had come which was to develop nobler aims and larger capacity than he had ever manifested before. The metal of every man's character was to be tested. None came out of the furnace purer and brighter than his.

Let me attempt to describe him as those who knew him best remember him to have been at that time. And let me first speak of his home in Geneseo; for this is necessary that we may understand the purity of his motives, the greatness of his sacrifices, and the value of his example.

His country house, as it has been represented to me by one of our most honored landscape artists, was large, but not ostentatious,— embosomed in trees, and commanding, on its western side, a prospect of the beautiful valley of the Genesee, which, with its glimpses of sparkling water, its cultivated fields shut in by rich masses of foliage, and its scattered groups [5] of oaks and elms, partook of the character of an English landscape, and reminded my artist friend of the famous view of the valley of the Thames from Richmond Hill. All these trees were relics of the primeval forest, had been preserved by the pioneer who first opened these solitudes, and had been since protected with pride and reverence by his descendants. Near the mansion was the home-farm of two thousand acres, which received the special attention of Wadsworth, and was well stocked with flocks and herds. Beyond and around, in Livingston and the neighboring counties, lay the leased lands of the estate, a domain of fifteen thousand acres altogether,— and, if regarded as one tract, as large as some German principalities.

I may not intrude upon the interior of the homestead, made charming by all that wealth and taste and affection could collect,--books, pictures, music,— the conversation of intelligent guests, and the exercise of graceful and refined hospitality. Here Wadsworth lived, in the midst of numerous, contented, and thriving tenants, two thirds of whom, or their fathers, had also been the tenants of the first James Wadsworth, and thus proved, by their continuing the relation, the justice and liberality of their landlords.

I will not attempt to give a minute analysis of the character of our friend, but only to describe some of its more striking qualities. One of these seems to me to have been his direct, straightforward manliness. He never knew fear himself, and he despised all cowards. He was also eminently true and just. He hated all shams, and loved whatever was open, frank, and genuine. Perhaps he might have seemed to some a little unsympathetic,— a little wanting in tenderness. But this arose from absent-mindedness or the preoccupation of engrossing business. There was an inner source of gentleness and sympathy in his nature which they discovered who knew him best, and saw him at times when the secret doors of the heart were unlocked. That he was thoroughly benevolent and generous is proved, not only by the alacrity and profusion with which he contributed to the Irish famine fund and other public and [6] splendid charities, but also by the readiness with which, when the crops failed, he constantly forgave the rent to those small farmers who paid in kind, and thus quietly abridged his own income to the extent, sometimes, of tens of thousands of dollars.

Wadsworth had excellent natural powers of mind, but little academic cultivation. His intellectual ability was developed rapidly in the latter years of his life. He was an original thinker. His judgment was always clear and sound; but he disliked the details of business and the petty cares of an office. He seized with great quickness the point of a law question, or any other matter which was the subject of his reading or conversation. He also was a capital judge of character, and had the art, which distinguishes many leading minds, of sifting the knowledge of those who engaged in discussions with him, by putting a few pointed questions. No one had more tact than he in talking with the farmers of his neighborhood. He rode about among them on his small pony in the most simple and unpretending manner, and his advice had always an important influence in forming and directing their opinions.

He was entirely free from all false pride. He never, directly or indirectly, boasted of his wealth or his connections. In his manners he was simple, cordial, and unaffected. Mr. Lothrop Motley says of him, in a letter which I have read: ‘I have often thought and spoken of him as the true, original type of the American gentleman,— not the pale, washed-out copy of the European aristocrat.’ In his dress and equipage he observed a simplicity which was almost Spartan. He had no trinkets or curiosities of the toilet. He was extremely temperate in eating and drinking, and despised all the epicureanism of the table.

He was now in the flower of his age. His figure was tall, well-proportioned, and firmly knit. The glance of his gray eye was keen and determined. His Roman features were well rounded, and his hair, which had become prematurely white, added to the nobility of his expression.

Such is an imperfect outline sketch of the man and of his [7] home in Geneseo, as they appeared in the autumn of 1860, when the great conspiracy, which had for many years been plotting at the South to destroy the national government, proceeded from seditious language to treasonable acts, and finally dared to inaugurate civil war. James Wadsworth took at once the most open, manly, and decided stand on the side of the Union. From that moment till the day of his death he postponed all private affairs to public duties, and devoted his time, his thoughts, his wealth, and all the power which his position gave him, to the service of his country.

To this he was impelled by his political principles, no less than his personal character. He had come of old Federalist stock, and learned from his father to respect the Constitution and the national government which the people had created under it. So long ago as 1848 he had supported the Free-Soil party, which had proposed his name as a District Elector. He was consistent and persevering afterwards in his efforts on the same side. In 1856 he had received the nomination of State Elector from the Republicans; and now, in November, 1860, he was chosen a District Elector for Lincoln and Hamlin.

He owned immense tracts of land and had numerous tenants; and this, to a superficial observer, might seem likely to have diverted his sympathies toward the Southern slaveholders. He was also connected, by the marriage of one of his sisters, with a noble English family, and his associates and intimate friends had been chiefly formed among the wealthy classes, and in circles where the fires of patriotism were burning very low, if they had not gone out altogether. Some of his closest friends were indeed representatives of the best Southern society,— men possessing that refined and winning manner, the faint tradition of Huguenot politeness, which seems, in a few instances, to have survived the adverse influences that surrounded it, and which has been nowhere more unduly praised than at the North. But notwithstanding all these hindrances, Wadsworth remained a true, brave, Northern democrat. Mr. Lothrop Motley, in the letter from which I have already quoted, says of him: ‘He believed, honestly, frankly, and unhesitatingly, [8] in democracy, as the only possible government for our hemisphere, and as the inevitable tendency of the whole world, so far as it is able to shake off the fetters of former and present tyrannies. He honored and believed in the people with his whole heart, and it is for this reason the people honored and believed in him. . . . . It has always seemed to me that he was the truest and most thoroughly loyal American I ever knew; and this, to my mind, is his highest eulogy, feeling as I do how immeasurably higher the political and intellectual level of America is than that of any other country in the world!’

No man valued his fellow-beings more than Wadsworth for the high qualities of mind and heart, and, I may add, the strong right-arms which God had given them, and no man less for their clothes, their trivial accomplishments, or the company they kept. No man more thoroughly despised that counterfeit chivalry which was neither truthful nor merciful, but repudiated its promises to pay, and, instead of defending the oppressed, hunted its trembling fugitives with bloodhounds.

He had opposed the extension of slavery into the Territories, and he befriended the negro as he did any other unhappy human being who needed his assistance. For this he was called by that name which then seemed to some persons the most opprobrious which party ingenuity could invent,— the name of ‘Abolitionist.’ Perhaps the application of this name to him may add another to those examples in history, where that which was devised as the instrument of shame became afterwards the badge of immortal honor. Wadsworth saw with his clear eye that a deadly struggle had now begun between systems of society entirely repugnant to each other,— between the civilized democracy of the nineteenth century and that ferocious spirit of bastard feudalism which, strangely enough, found a more congenial home on the banks of the Mississippi than it had ever enjoyed on the Neva or the Danube. No charms of social intercourse, no claims of private friendship, obscured the clearness of his vision on this point. He attributed at once to the Southern conspirators a spirit of determined [9] aggression, a calculating, comprehensive treason, which Northern optimists were at first reluctant to admit. He saw that the laws of population and the irresistible opinion of the world forbade them from delaying an enterprise which their mad ambition had long before planned, and that all temporizing measures on our part would be idiotic and pusillanimous.

Accordingly, in that comedie larmoyante, created by crafty Virginia politicians, and misnamed the Peace Conference, upon whose doors should have been written Claudian's words,

Mars gravior sub pace latet,

Under the show of peace a sterner war lies hidden,

in that assembly, in which he took his seat on the 8th of February, 1861, he wasted no time in speeches, but constantly voted against all measures that seemed to jeopard the honor and independence of the loyal States. On the 17th of February, upon his motion, the delegation of New York virtually resolved to vote ‘No’ upon the chief sections of the report of the committee which summed up the action of the Conference; and the State of New York was spared the mortification of assenting to overtures which weakened the position of the North, while they failed to propitiate the Southern conspirators.

For the time was now at hand when the action of deliberative bodies was to be of no account, and the safety of the nation to depend upon military measures alone. Fort Sumter was attacked and captured. The soldiers of Massachusetts were assaulted in the streets of Baltimore. The railroad communication with the capital was interrupted, and the supplies for the troops there were nearly cut off. In respect to this latter danger, the clear, practical mind of Wadsworth seized at once the difficulties of the situation, and devised the remedy. With great promptness and energy, he caused two vessels to be loaded at New York, on his own account, with provisions for the army, and accompanied them to Annapolis, attending personally to their delivery. During that interval of great [10] anxiety between the first demonstration of the enemy against Washington and the commencement of General McDowell's campaign, Wadsworth was in constant communication with Lieutenant-General Scott, and was employed by him in executing delicate and important commissions. But he was not content with the performance of duties which, however difficult and responsible, made his example less valuable than in the more dangerous service of the field. He soon determined to enter upon this, notwithstanding the sacrifices it involved. Let us remember that he was now considerably past the military age; that his private affairs were numerous and engrossing; that he was able to give wise counsel and large pecuniary aid to government, and fulfil, in this way, every duty which the most exacting patriotism might be supposed to require. He had, as we have seen, a home made attractive by everything which wealth and taste and the love of friends could supply. He had six children,— three sons and three daughters,—some of whom were just coming into the active duties of life; and, while they needed his careful supervision, their affection and high promise made the parting from them all the more difficult and trying. Wadsworth resisted all these temptations, and rejected all these excuses. In June, 1861, he became a volunteer aid on the staff of General McDowell, and fought his first battle in the disastrous affair of Bull Run. His intimate friends declared, when they heard of his resolution to take military service, that this was equivalent to the sacrifice of his life. They knew his bravery was so impetuous that he would court every peril and exposure, and that he would never survive the war. These predictions, alas! were too surely to be accomplished, but not until a later day. They were, indeed, very nearly fulfilled at Bull Run. Nobody was more conspicuous than Wadsworth in every post of danger. He had a horse shot under him in his efforts to rally the panic-stricken troops. He seized the colors of the New York Fourteenth, and adjured that brave regiment to stand up for the old flag. As cool and collected as a veteran, he was one of the last to leave the field, and was most active in restoring order on the retreat, and in assisting, [11] at Fairfax Court-House, to preserve the government property and to relieve the wounded.

In the organization of the national army, Governor Morgan, supposing he had a right to propose the names of two major-generals from his State, sent Wadsworth's and Dix's to the President. Wadsworth, however, upon learning that but one was allowed, immediately declined the intended honor, considering General Dix to be better qualified for the service. Afterwards, in the summer of 1861, Wadsworth was made a brigadier.

Whatever may be the judgment of intelligent critics upon the expediency of taking generals from civil life, and however unsatisfactory they may consider the reasons which influence the government in making such appointments, it is admitted by all that Wadsworth received his commission with diffidence, and that his genius, which was essentially military, coupled with his attention to his duties, soon made him an efficient officer. His brigade was attached to the Army of the Potomac, and stationed in the advance, near Upton's Hill. He lay there during the autumn of 1861 and the succeeding winter, impatient at the delay of the Commander-in-Chief in moving upon Manassas, and always insisting upon what has since been proved to be true, that the enemy's force there was for a long time too weak to resist any serious attack upon it, if we had made one. He asked, indeed, permission to follow the retreating enemy, but was refused.

In March, 1862, General Wadsworth was appointed Military Governor of Washington, and for nine months discharged the very delicate and responsible duties of that office with great satisfaction to the government. A competent writer, who served under him, says:–

While he gave the citizens all the liberties consistent with public safety, he took vigorous measures against traitors, spies, blockade-runners, and kidnappers. He seized the slave-pen, discharged the captives, and permanently established the rule that no negro should be taken out of the District of Columbia, under color of the Fugitive Slave Law, without an examination on the part of the military authorities respecting the loyalty of the master. . . . [12] Great pains were taken by General Wadsworth to facilitate the change of these people from bondage to freedom. He organized a contraband bureau, established permanent quarters, taught the poor blacks how to work for themselves, and made the confiscated goods of the blockade supply their wants. Amid political and military embarrassments, he succeeded in pioneering the way to practical emancipation while commanding the fortifications and twenty-four thousand troops.

Gurowski says, in his Diary, that he was the good genius of the fugitive negroes. But for him, great numbers of them would have been remanded to the slave-whip.

In the autumn of 1862, and while he was still in command of Washington, he received the Union nomination for Governor of New York. This had been offered to him, in 1848, by the Free-Soil Democrats, and again, in 1856, by the Republicans, but he had declined it on both occasions. He now thought it to be his duty to accept the position, and, in his letter to the President of the Convention, stated in a clear and forcible manner his opinions of the questions involved in the canvass. He assumed that the election would turn upon the necessity of sustaining the national government in its effort to maintain its territorial integrity, and upon the Proclamation of Emancipation; and he showed that to carry out the latter measure would be the most effectual, as well as humane, method of putting down the Rebellion.

He afterwards came to New York and made a speech, which had a homely earnestness and force about it that was better than all the polished elegance of the schools. It was full of quaint, outspoken honesty, which reminds us of Abraham Lincoln. ‘I stand before you,’ he said, ‘a candidate for your suffrages, but, if I know my own heart, I come with no personal aspirations. I have seen with pain the undue and exaggerated commendations with which my friends have referred to me. . . . . The man who pauses to think of himself, of his affairs, of his family even, when he has public duties to perform, and his country lies prostrate, almost in the agonies of dissolution, is not the man to save it.’ It seems strange now, when we can view this election in the light of subsequent events, that [13] Mr. Seymour should have defeated General Wadsworth by a majority of more than ten thousand.

General Wadsworth's term of service in Washington lasted for nine months. A friend who saw him constantly at that time says that he felt more deeply and more painfully the disasters of the country than almost any one he met. He suggested certain movements to the President which were disapproved by more experienced military minds; but they showed, at any rate, his personal courage and his restless patriotism. He constantly applied for more active duty, and in December, 1862, the government ordered him to report to Major-General Reynolds, then in command of the First Corps. General Reynolds gave him his First Division, and this he led, with great gallantry, at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville.

The experience of the last four years has proved the truth of the assertion of military men, that war is a science which must be studied like any other, and that civilians cannot be extemporized into generals. It must be confessed, however, that the genius of some civilians eminently fits them for command; and a campaign or two may supply the want of early professional study. As I have already stated, Wadsworth seems to have been one of these natural soldiers. He manifested decided ability in conducting the retreat of his troops at Chancellorsville. After effecting a difficult crossing of the river, he was ordered to recross. It was intended that this should have been done in the night, but the order did not reach him until after daylight. He got three or four regiments over without being observed, owing to the cover of earthworks; but the enemy soon after saw the movement, and opened upon him with shot and shell. One bridge had been taken up the day before. The remaining one was lost three times during the recrossing. General Reynolds ordered the movement to be suspended as impracticable, but Wadsworth convinced him it was not, and completed it with a loss of only about twenty killed and wounded, and the same number of artillery horses. He remained until the last regiment crossed, preceding only the skirmishers and pickets. [14]

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.’ [15]

This is high praise, and from the most competent sources, to be given to a man who had never been under fire until he had passed his fifty-third year, and whose life had been occupied in quiet agricultural pursuits. It was the blood of theZZZ which tingled in his veins in those days of uishable love of coun-,—the inborn hatred cherous, which made uch a home as I have kable horrors of the ualities like these, he campaign which suc-Chancellorsville. At sion of the First Corps he assumed charge of ision had received the o action at nine in the four in the afternoon, the army. He had imated the fight everyuncil of war held after porary commander of one of three who, with of the enemy; but his A competent military n the mind of any unrse been adopted, the y captured or put to once of good judgment this occasion. the Eastern Division, ssisting in the arrangeundertaken, however, 1864, he was sent upon special service to the Mississippi Valley, and made an extensive tour through the Western and Southwestern States. It was on [16] the eve of his departure that he made to the paymaster from whom he had always drawn his pay the remarkable declaration, that he desired to have his accounts with government kept by one and the same officer, because it was his purpose, at the close of the war, to call for an accurate statement of all the money he should have received, and then to give it, whatever might be the amount, to some permanent institution founded for the relief of invalid soldiers. ‘This is the least invidious way,’ said he, ‘in which I can refuse pay for fighting for my country in her hour of danger.’

When General Grant finally began his campaign, Wadsworth was placed in command of the Fourth Divison of the Fifth Corps, which was composed of his old division of the First Corps, with the addition of the Third Brigade. He crossed the Rapidan on Wednesday, the 4th of May. On the 5th and 6th the battle of the Wilderness was fought. It was here that the event occurred which his friends, knowing his impetuous valor, had feared from the first. Wadsworth was mortally wounded. This heroic termination of a noble career, and its attendant circumstances, are described in simple and touching language by his son, Captain Craig Wadsworth, in a letter which is published in Mr. Allen's Memorial. Captain Wadsworth was attached to the cavalry division, which was guarding the wagon-train; but, by permission of his commanding officer, he went to the front, and remained with his father for two or three hours on the morning of the memorable 6th, and while the fight was going on. There is also an interesting description of it by a Confederate officer, which has been communicated to the family, but never yet published.

It seems from these accounts that General Wadsworth's command had been engaged for several hours on the evening of the 5th, and had lost heavily. Early the next morning General Hancock ordered it again into action on the right of the Second Corps. The enemy's division opposed to it was at first Heth's and afterwards Anderson's, which were strongly posted in thick woods, and supported by artillery placed in a small open field about two hundred yards in the rear. The ground declined gently from this field to Heth's position. [17]

Wadsworth charged repeatedly with his division, and drove the enemy back in disorder, but he was unable to retain his advantage. He was afterwards reinforced, and with six brigades made several other assaults. He fought with the most conspicuous bravery, and had two horses killed under him. At eleven o'clock General Hancock ordered him to withdraw, and there was a lull in the battle until about noon, when Longstreet, who had in the mean time come up, precipitated his force upon Wadsworth's left, and drove back Ward's brigade at that point in some confusion. Wadsworth immediately threw forward his second line, and formed it on the Orange and Fredericksburg Plank-Road, at right angles with his original position. It was while he was trying to hold this line with his own division, then reduced to about sixteen hundred men, that his third horse was shot under him, and he was himself struck in the head by a bullet. The enemy were charging at the time, and took the ground before General Wadsworth could be removed.

The Confederate officer, to whose account allusion has been made, states that he found him in the woods about fifteen paces to the left of the Plank-Road. None of the Federal dead or wounded were more than twenty or thirty yards nearer than he was to the open field toward which the attack had been directed. He was lying upon his back under a shelter-tent, which was extended over him at about three feet from the ground, the two upper corners being attached to boughs of trees, and the lower ones and the sides supported by muskets. The officer recognized him by a paper with his name on it, which had been pinned to his coat. His appearance was perfectly natural, and his left hand grasped the stock of one of the supporting muskets near the guard. His fingers played with the trigger, and he occasionally pushed the piece from him as far as he could reach, still grasping it in his hand. Supposing he might wish to send some message to his family, the officer addressed him. The General, however, paid no attention to the words, and it was soon evident that he was unconscious of what was passing around him, although the expression of his [18] face was calm and natural, and his eyes indicated intelligence. It was in this state that he was taken to one of the Confederate hospitals. No medical skill could save his life. He lingered from Friday until Sunday morning, the 8th of May, and then yielded his brave spirit into the hands of its Maker.

There is something touching in the manner in which his remains were recovered. One Patrick McCracken, who had been a prisoner for nine weeks in the Old Capitol, while the General was Military Governor of Washington, and had known how just and true a man he was to foes as well as to friends, saw him as he lay in the hospital on the day of his death, and, by permission of the surgeon in charge, carefully interred the body in a family burial-ground. A few weeks afterwards, through his information and assistance, it was restored to his friends, and removed with every demonstration of love and respect to his native town, where it was finally buried.

Thus died James Samuel Wadsworth, in the fifty-seventh year of his age, and in the full strength of his manhood. Many a true, and brave, and noble soldier fell on that bloody field, but none truer, or braver, or nobler than he. Many a patriot consummated there the long record of his sacrifices, but none left a brighter and purer record of sacrifices than his. In this war, which has been illustrated by so many instances of heroism, it seems almost unjust to compare one man's services with another's; and Wadsworth, with his unaffected modesty, and his reverence for worth wherever it existed, if his spirit could sit in judgment on our words, would rebuke us for attributing to him a more genuine loyalty than that which animated many a poor private who fell by his side. But when we remember how entirely impossible it was in his case that his worldly advantages should have been increased by military service, and how often it is that a mixture of motives impels men to undertake such duty, we feel that we can give our praise to him with fuller hearts, in unstinted measure, and with no reservations or perplexing doubts.

As he lay upon the field, in the midst of the dead and the dying, in that awful interval between the retreat of his own [19] men and the advance of the enemy, if any gleam of consciousness was vouchsafed to him, may we not feel confident that the recollection of his noble fidelity to his country assuaged the bitterness of that solemn hour?

‘Who is the happy warrior?’ asks a famous English poet; and the poet answers,— He is the happy warrior

Whom neither shape of danger can dismay,
Nor thought of tender happiness betray; . . . .
Who, whether praise of him must walk the earth
Forever, and to noble deeds give birth,
Or he must fall and sleep without his fame,
And leave a dead, unprofitable name,—
Finds comfort in himself and in his cause;
And, while the mortal mist is gathering, draws
His breath in confidence of Heaven's applause:
This is the happy warrior, this is he
Whom every man in arms should wish to be!

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