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WINFIELD SCOTT HANCOCK, OF PENNSYLVANIA.
Entered July 1, 1840, aged sixteen years, four months; graduated June, 1844.
Fourth Class, June, 1841 (54 members).
General standing 32
Number of demerits 85
Third Class, June, 1842 (44 members).
General standing 35
Rhetoric, grammar, and
Number of demerits 140
Second Class, June, 1843 (34 members).
General standing 18
Number of demerits 36
First Class, June, 1844 (25 members).
General standing 18
Infantry tactics 6
Artillery tactics 11
Mineralogy and geology .... 9
Number of demerits 46
In all military exercises Hancock excelled, and he showed marked aptitude for the routine of cadet life, qualified by a certain liking in the earlier years of the course for boyish escapades. The records of the Academy do not show that, while a cadet, he ever held the appointment of corpora) or sergeant, but do show that he was appointed on the 23d of June, 1843, a cadet lieutenant, tenth in order of rank. The foregoing table shows that while his general average was far from high, he did well in drawing, in tactics, in natural history, and in ethics. The number of demerits, which appears somewhat formidable for the first half of his course, falls off markedly during the last half.
Kent's Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States at this time formed a part of the course at West Point. To these, at his father's request, he added the reading, six times through, of Chitty's Blackstone, with the study of a law glossary. In a note under my hand General Hancock explains his father's wish by the remark, "In fact, he intended me finally to become a lawyer." Resignations from the army soon after graduation from the Military Academy were in this period very common. I have already stated that nine of Hancock's small class did so resign, while to any one at all familiar with the history of the war the names of Grant, Sherman, McClellan, Hooker, Burnside, "Stonewall " Jackson, and many others, will readily occur as among those who in other classes left the service for civil careers which were interrupted by the outbreak of the rebellion.
Doubtless it was to the course of extra reading referred to, combined with the strong political bias acquired in his childhood, that Hancock owed that interest in matters of government and law which led him to take up so actively the question of the rights of citizens in the seceding States during his administration of the military district comprising Louisiana and Texas, in 1867-68. Those who held strongly by the reconstruction acts, and hence disapproved General Hancock's course at this time, were much disposed to look upon his measures and reports merely as a political " card," played by an ambitious officer; but those who had known him long were well aware that he was always fond of discussions regarding the powers of the General Government, and maintained opinions on the subject of a highly conservative character.
DOWN TO THE GREAT REBELLION.
It has been shown that Hancock's career at West Point was in no sense distinguishes. He was as far as possible from being one of those prodigies who, appearing every now and then in college or academy, command, often in an absurd degree, the admiration of their fellows, and arouse expectations of a general conflagration when once they shall get into the world. Nor was this failure of Hancock to attract special attention during his undergraduate life due to diffidence or modesty or early disadvantages on his part, or to adverse conditions in the Academy, or to envy or jealousy on the part of his comrades. The fact is, there was no reason at all why Hancock should make a mark at West Point. The qualities which, in their degrees and proportions, made him eminently powerful and successful as a corps or wing commander were not those which would give academic distinction; while the bigness of the plan on which he was cut out, though not as yet made up, and his youth and comparative immaturity upon entrance, caused his career to be, on the whole, rather less than more conspicuous than might have been conjectured from his subsequent achievements.
And again, although the young soldier was soon to be brought into the midst of stirring events, and was to be given an opportunity to show his mettle, under the eyes of great captains, in great and memorable actions, he was not destined to win early renown. We shall not truly appreciate Hancock if we fail to see that he was not of that kind. His ultimate success was to be pre-eminently through character, which in a subaltern affords small ground for distinction, and through training, which requires years of experience in petty duties and small commands.
Graduating from the Academy on June 30th, Hancock was, on the 1st of July, 1844, brevetted second lieutenant in the Sixth Infantry. The company to which he was assigned was then stationed at Fort Towson, in the Indian country, near the Red River and the Texan border. The region abounded in the noblest of game, and the officers of the army posts were quite as much occupied in the pursuit of it as in regimental work. Hancock was a keen sportsman, and the exhilarating life of the two years spent here were admirably suited to bring out the spirit of the man and fill up his frame. On the 18th of June, 1846, he received his commission as second lieutenant, and was assigned to a company of the Sixth, then stationed on the borders of Mexico, where war was impending. But