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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 bewildered, 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 armies that menaced it were commanded by men who had been trained in the country's service, many of them Hancock's fellow-students in the Academy, or his comrades in Mexico, Florida, and Kansas. What would come of it? What could come of it but destruction to the republic?
Whatever should come of it, there was no question in Hancock's mind as to what his part and his place would be. For him there was not a moment of hesitation or indifference as to the coming struggle. To the very center of his being he was loyal to the Constitution and the laws; and he never valued his commission in the army so highly as when it gave him a right to be in the front rank of their defenders. He knew too many who, like his friend Armistead, had reluctantly and painfully broken the main ties of their lives in taking the other side, to indulge in puerile talk about " traitors and sour apple trees." He knew too much of the Southern temper to make light of the task before the nation, or to predict a holiday parade for the Union armies; but with all his soul he stood by the Government, and never did his faith in the ultimate triumph of that cause waver, even amid disappointment, defeat, disaster, and disgrace. Indeed, I am disposed to think that in few things does popular opinion regarding the war commit a greater injustice than in disparaging the devotion of the officers of the regular army and in attributing a superior patriotism to the volunteer. The reasons for such a notion are not far to seek. The public mind was rightfully impressed by the splendid gallantry with which the generous youth of 1861, through their own free act and choice, cut themselves off from home and friends and rallied around the flag of the Union. On the other hand, the officers of the regular army were not less naturally looked upon as accepting their posts of danger almost as a matter of business, the course of their education and their professional interests practically leaving them no choice but to fight on the one side or the other.
I believe, however, that public spirit was exceptionally strong among the officers of the regular army. They alone, of all the citizens of the United States, had been educated and bred under circumstances which made their country a constant object of regard, and which magnified and exalted every consideration relating to its honor and dignity. Those of us who remember the days before the war recall how common was the complaint that patriotism was dead; that the long reign of peace had fostered, at the best, civic virtues only; and that professional ambition and the greed of gain had dwarfed nobler and less selfish sentiments. There was in those days no instruction given regarding public affairs in the common schools, and even in most of our colleges there was no teaching of American history. The ordinary citizen of Massachusetts, of Pennsylvania, of Michigan, encountered the Government of the United States literally at the door of the post office only. Even the Fourth of July had degenerated into a mere barbaric festival of noise and boyish folly.
But the young cadet at West Point was instructed in his duties to his native land. Every morning he saw the flag of the United States run up the staff amid the discharge of artillery, and at nightfall he heard it saluted as it fell. Under that flag he performed his mimic evolutions day by day, and all his life was lived in the name of his country. His instructors were officers of the United States, many of them men who had shed their blood in the cause. How idle, then, to assume that the graduate of West Point was less imbued and instinct with patriotic sentiment than the graduate of Harvard or of Yale! And when the boy put on the dress of manhood it was the uniform of his country which he assumed. He was all his life an officer of the United States. Duty to the country became the very subject-matter of his professional career, the source, at once, and the aim, the beginning and the end, of his official life. Still, every morning the flag was saluted as it rose. Scarcely during the day did he pass out of the sight of that gay and glorious emblem of the nation's unity.