ePub 版

his progress to the front was destined to be long delayed. First the commanding officer at Fort Washita, deeming his services necessary at his post, refused to allow him to join his company. Then he was sent to Fort Scott, on the Missouri frontier, and afterward to Cincinnati, to assist in mustering in volunteers. It was not until Taylor's army had overrun northern Mexico, fighting the battles of Palo Alto, Resaca de la Palma, Monterey, and Buena Vista, and Scott with his column had captured Vera Cruz and had fought the battle of Cerro Gordo on his victorious march up the valley of Mexico, that the young lieutenant was, in consequence of his urgent petition, permitted to go into the field. Landing at Vera Cruz, he was assigned to duty with a command composed of fourteen companies of infantry, from various regiments, under Colonel Milledge L. Bonham, forming a part of the command of General (afterward President) Pierce, which was to be thrown forward to re-enforce Scott. The march of this column was accomplished without formidable resistance, though not without much annoyance from parties of guerrillas, which beset the road and seized every opportunity to harass the troops and cut off stragglers, couriers, and convoys. Hancock came frequently under fire; and at the National Bridge, August 12th, he commanded a company which took part in dislodging a considerable body of the enemy who had fortified the heights and inflicted no small loss upon our troops. On arriving at Puebla, Hancock joined his own regiment. The army of invasion, thus re-enforced, resumed its forward movement, nearly eleven thousand strong. The enterprise, fortitude, and composure with which that perilous march to the Mexican capital was conducted by the lionlike chieftain against vast odds can never be too highly applauded; but this narrative does not call for any account of the strategy of the campaign, or any description of Scott's splendid victories.

Regarding the young officer, youngest of the lieutenants of his regiment, whose presence furnishes the only reason for here referring at all to these operations, it is enough to say that he bore himself with promptitude, energy, and courage. The captain of his company having been wounded at Churubusco, Hancock was left in command. In the column of assault at Molino del Rey, on the 8th of September, he found himself by the side of Longstreet, Pickett, Armistead, and Edward Johnson, all of whom he was to meet as enemies on other fields. It was Edward Johnson whom, with his division, he captured in the Salient, at Spottsylvania, on the 12th of May, 1864. Armistead fell within Hancock's line on the 3d of July at Gettysburg. Pickett will ever be famous as the leader of the division which was directed upon " The Clump of Trees;" while that occasion was neither 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 i847-'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 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

« 上一頁繼續 »