網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

the first nor the last in which Longstreet and Hancock encountered each other as commanders of opposing forces. The adjutant of the regiment having been killed at Molino del Rey, Hancock was appointed to his place, from which he shortly afterward retired to take command of a company. He was brevetted first lieutenant for “gallant and meritorious conduct at Contreras and Churubusco,” to date from August 20, 1847. In the severe battle of the 13th of September, which resulted in the occupation of the City of Mexico by our troops, Hancock was again engaged with credit. He remained in Mexico until the last division of our victorious army was withdrawn upon the conclusion of the treaty of peace. During the march to the coast he acted as regimental quartermaster and commissary. On his return to the United States he was assigned to duty as quartermaster at Fort Crawford, Prairie du Chien, Iowa, and here he remained until the spring of 1849, when he was ordered to Fort Snelling, Minn. After reaching his new post he was granted five months' leave, to enable him to visit his home in Pennsylvania, from which he had been five years absent. It has been said that when Hancock went to the Military Academy it was his father's plan that he should, sooner or later, retire from the army, as was the fashion in those days, and take up the profession of the law. But after the stirring scenes in which the young man had been engaged during 1847–48, such a lame and impotent conclusion was in no man's thoughts. The real bent of his character, the most congenial employment of his powers, had become manifest beyond the possibility of mistake. By nature Hancock was a soldier, every inch of him, and he now felt it in every fiber of his being. He delighted in the exercise of authority. He enjoyed the active business of camp and the march, while, by what might almost seem a contradiction, he loved “papers,” rejoicing in forms and regulations and requisitions. He had had a taste of the sterner parts of war, and he liked them. The smoke of battle had t been in his nostrils, and he found it fragrant. The stir, the clash, the collision, the fierce encounter, the intense excitement of battle, the danger and the terror, suited his ardent, aggressive, martial temperament. And then he was profoundly ambitious of distinction, waking slowly to that honorable passion, but at last thoroughly possessed by it, and determined to win his way and make a name for himself in his chosen profession. In the autumn of 1849 Hancock rejoined his regiment, of which he had been made adjutant, at St. Louis, and was soon appointed to act as aid on the staff of Brigadier-General N. S. Clark, commanding the military department which extended from the Indian country to the British possessions on the north. On the 24th of January, 1850, he was married to Miss Almira Russell, daughter of a St. Louis

merchant. The union was a happy one at the time, and remained a happy one until it was broken by death. A son, Russell Hancock, was born early in their married life. The only other child, a daughter, Ada Hancock, was born several years later, in Florida. In Missouri, either at St. Louis or at Jefferson Barracks, Hancock remained until 1855, reaching his first lieutenancy in the Sixth Infantry, January 27, 1853. He became assistant adjutant general of the Department of the West, with headquarters at St. Louis, January 19, 1855, having by this time acquired a wide reputation for his mastery of army business and his knowledge of the regulations. He was appointed assistant quartermaster in the army, with the rank of captain, November 7, 1855, and was assigned to duty in Florida. The occasion was one which allowed the exhibition of the highest abilities in the equipment of expeditions and the supply of troops. The Seminole War had broken out in a country most difficult of access to regular troops and affording opportunity for all the artifices of savage warfare. Captain Hancock was stationed at Fort Myers, on the Caloosahatchee River, and here he displayed so much energy, foresight, care, and industry, that, when General Harney was ordered from Florida to Kansas, in consequence of the border troubles which had broken out, he applied for and obtained Hancock's transfer to the same field. In Kansas, Hancock remained on duty with the troops in the field or at the depot until about the middle of 1858, when he set out under orders to join his regiment at the headquarters of the Department of Utah. With several officers, a train, and a small infantry escort he proceeded to Fort Bridger, accomplishing a march of more than seven hundred miles in twenty-six days. At Fort Bridger all the companies of the Sixth Infantry were united for the first time in sixteen years. Here Hancock resumed the duties of regimental quartermaster. The original destination of the regiment had been Oregon, where it was to reenforce Colonel Edward J. Steptoe's command, then engaged with the Indians; but it was now ordered to proceed to California. The difficulties of equipping the troops from such a starting point for their long and possibly perilous march of eleven hundred miles were enough to task even Hancock's abilities as quartermaster. He had to deal with half-starved animals, broken-down wagons, and limited supplies; but by the 21st of August the column was in motion, with its train of one hundred and twenty-eight wagons, directed upon the formidable and then littleknown Sierras. Fortunately, no unusual snowstorms impeded the movement; and the troops and trains were finally brought into Benicia in even better condition than when they started. This result was considered at headquarters as reflecting the highest honor upon Captain Hancock. In conducting such

a march Hancock was no mere wagon master, who thinks it enough if he finally, somehow, gets his train into camp. His views of duty were always lofty; and his report to the quartermaster general, on the close of this expedition, contains a large amount of carefully selected and well-ordered information regarding the nature of the country traversed, the practicable routes of travel, the supply of water and of grass, with maps and tables of distances, which would have done credit to an engineer officer, and which bore testimony to the high conception of military service which actuated Hancock in the daily performance of duty. After his arrival at Benicia, Hancock took a leave of absence to enable him to go East and bring back his family. Proceeding by way of Tehuantepec, he rejoined Mrs. Hancock, passing several weeks in

Washington, and then set out again by the Isthmus

of Panama for his post in California. Shortly after his arrival he was appointed chief quartermaster on the Pacific coast, with headquarters at Los Angeles, where he remained from May, 1859, until August, 1861. Here he was when the slow dispatches from the East brought the terrible tidings of attempted secession and flagrant rebellion. In

blood and fire a new era had dawned upon the be

wildered, awestruck, breathless nation. The people of eleven States had renounced their allegiance; the forces of the Union had been beaten and scattered in battle; the capital itself was threatened. The

« 上一頁繼續 »