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Myers, though their family was small, their table was always stretched to its full capacity; and that the officers stationed at or visiting the post were accustomed to draw lots for the chairs which were placed for as many as could be seated. This story truly expresses the custom of Hancock's headquarters, whether in camp or in the field. The fare might be but bacon and hardtack; but, such as it was, every one was welcome to a share. Many hundreds of surviving officers of the war will remember the frank and genial invitation to a friendly glass with which an interview in his tent, perhaps not wholly pleasant in itself, almost invariably ended. Entertainment, indeed, was an instinct with him. I well remember his calling a young Confederate officer out of a small body of prisoners passing his tent, and saying to him with a courtesy that was inexpressibly winning, “Ilieutenant, I am sorry to see you in trouble, pray take a glass of whisky and water with me.” When, in August, 1864, I was a prisoner in the hands of the enemy, LieutenantGeneral Hill sent a staff officer to say that he had given orders to have me treated with all possible consideration, because Hancock had always been so kind to his (Hill's) soldiers, when prisoners. • A civilian might regard such a matter as of little importance from a military point of view, but every soldier will know better. It has been said that half the victories of diplomacy are won at the dinnertable; and likewise, while a first-rate soldier may be a curmudgeon, and while a commander may choose to rule entirely by mere force, that man who knows how to mingle diplomacy with authority, to smooth the asperities of service, and to conciliate universal regard, has a wholly additional source of power in handling large masses of men. Soldiers are punctilious, sensitive, and quick to take offense. Next to absolute justice, nothing goes further to anticipate and avoid causes of dispute and to keep troops united, harmonious, and enthusiastic, than courtesy, suavity, and hospitality at headquarters. Such, in his character, bearing, and qualifications for service, was Hancock, when, at his own request, he was ordered East in the summer of 1861, that he might take an active part in the war which had broken out amid direful portents on the Atlantic slope. Upon his arrival in Washington, it was first intended that he should be assigned to duty as chief quartermaster on the staff of General Robert Anderson, of Fort Sumter fame, who had been appointed to the command of the Union troops in Kentucky. When one remembers that Philip Sheridan was sent away from the field to buy horses for the army on the eve of the battle of Shiloh, he can believe that almost anything was possible to the men who were then selecting chiefs for the Union forces and assigning the officers of the regular army to their several stations. Fortunately such a blunder was not committed in Hancock's case. His day for quartermaster service, valuable as that training had been to him, was past. So manifestly was he a commander in every lineament, in every motion, that it was seen to be absurd to keep such a soldier upon staff duty when an army of hundreds of thousands was to be officered; and, on the 23d of September, he was made a Brigadier-General of Volunteers, and assigned to the Army of the Potomac. In the organization of divisions, which took place during the winter, Hancock, to his great gratification, found himself commanding a brigade in the division of William F. Smith, universally known as Baldy Smith, who had been a student with him at the Academy, and with whom his relations had always been most intimate and cordial. General Smith, an officer of engineers, enjoyed a high reputation for intellectual ability, and not less for good fellowship and geniality. With such an agreeable association on the one side, and, on the other, with the difficult task before him of shaping and tempering four raw regiments * into a perfect instrument of war, which should not fail under the severest strain of military duty or break in the fiercest shock of battle, the first winter of the great rebellion passed rapidly away. No commander ever more carefully prepared in camp for success in the field than did Hancock, here and, through all his subsequent career. Most, perhaps, think of him as a kind of meteor on the battlefield, an object of admiration or of terror, flashing hither and thither, achieving his triumphs by sheer brilliancy of bearing, force of intuition, and mysterious power over men. In fact, it was with infinite labor that he forged the weapon his hand was to wield with such effect. He knew that the greater the force exerted the more likely was the sword to break under the blow, unless it were perfectly wrought; and it was with care and pains inexpressible that he shaped and tempered it for the conflict. If at Williamsburg, in his first encounter with the enemy, he met and easily vanquished the Confederate force sent against him, led on one wing by D. H. Hill, and on the other by Jubal Early, it was not more by reason of the great tactical skill, calm courage, and majestic bearing which stamped upon him McClellan's epithet, “Superb,” than of the training to which his troops had been subjected. Of Hancock in the winter camps of 1861, two things especially require to be said: First, while he was a strict disciplinarian, he was incapable of any of those silly brutalities which a few officers of the regular army who were set over volunteer regiments, and many volunteer officers who thought they were imitating regular-army methods, practiced during the first year of the war. Second, although a “regular ” in every fiber of his being, Hancock was altogether destitute of that snobbishness regarding volunteers which was exhibited by so many small minds, in so many great places, during the first year of the rebellion. He recognized the fact that the war was to be waged by volunteers; and that, however much the regular army had to give to the vast masses of earnest soldiers swarming in from East and from West to the defense of the Union, it was, after all, these men who were to bear the heat and burden of the great conflict. He saw that it was of supreme importance to promote the self-respect and self-confidence of volunteer regiments; to lead them to think that they could do anything, and were the equals of anybody; and that to be everlastingly talking about the regular army, bewailing the lack of its methods and forms, instituting odious comparisons, and sneering at the deficiencies of the new troops, was a very poor way of accomplishing that object. Hancock not only never sneered at volunteers— he did not, incredible as it may seem, even patronize them. He made them feel—by his evident respect, his hearty greeting, his warm approval of everything they did well—that he regarded them as
* Fifth Wisconsin, Forty-ninth Pennsylvania, Forty-third New York, Sixth Maine. General Hancock's staff consisted at this time of his brother, Captain John Hancock, Assistant Adjutant-General, and Lieutenants W. G. Mitchell, Isaac B. Parker, and Charles S. McEntee, aids.