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days—was not an unhappy or a disappointed man. His only son had married, and grandchildren came to bring balm to the heart that had been so sorely bruised in the fair daughter's early death. With his superb physique and powerful constitution it seemed that he might long live to be one of the .most conspicuous figures of the regenerated nation, and to lift the hearts of his surviving comrades at the recurring celebrations of peace, as he had so powerfully done on the march and in battle. But the wounds of the war* and those which had been dealt by domestic affliction had come nearer to the springs of life than any one imagined. And other blows were soon to fall upon that kind heart.
On May 30, 1883, General William G. Mitchell, who had been his aid as early as the battle of Williamsburg, and had served on his staff with more than the devotion of a son, with a love and a spirit of hero-worship rare to witness, died suddenly at his headquarters. Only those who knew the tenderness of the relation between the younger man and his chief could understand the depths of that sorrow, the bereavement wrought by that loss. For twenty-one years, was any paper wanted, "Mitchell!" had been the first call; was a secret to be reposed anywhere, that faithful bosom received and kept it as faithfully as the grave; was any one to be sent upon service, any letter to be written, any stranger to be received and taken care of, any detail of duty attended to, any omission repaired, any blunder rectified, any one to be praised or thanked or scolded, "Mitchell" had been the thought and "Mitchell!" had been the cry. Let no one imagine, that the officer who had been thus near to Hancock was merely one of those staff officers-—not unknown to the army—whose claim to retention lies in their personal serviceableness, and who are little better than flunkies and valets around headquarters. When I look back and recall the many scores of staff officers whom I knew well between 1861 and 1865, I can not think of one who was so perfectly the beau-ideal of the "riding staff" as William G. Mitchell. Fearless and gallant in bearing, an admirable horseman, keen, quick, and discriminating in his observation of the field and of the fortunes of the fight, penetrating in his study of men, yet always courteous, judicious, and conciliatory in his conduct, Mitchell was throughout the war an invaluable aid, and at its close was as well equipped and as competent for the command of a brigade or a division as almost any officer in the service. But his one thought was to be of use to "the General," who had picked him out—a young lieutenant of the Forty-ninth Pennsylvania—in his first winter of service, and who had been more than a father to
* Even so late as the Dyer Court of Inquiry, in 1869, Hancock's Gettysburg wound for a time disabled him, and required him to seek temporary relief from his duties.
him. The confidence between the two was complete, the affection inexpressible.
Yet still another "insupportable and touching loss" befell Hancock when, in December, 1884, his only son, Russell, an amiable and courteous young gentleman, died in Mississippi after a brief illness, leaving three little children. These successive losses told powerfully on the constitution of the gallant general. He still kept his interest in his military duties; still busied himself in arranging his war papers; still wrote countless long letters to those who from every part of the country consulted him on points relating to the campaigns of the Army of the Potomac; still entertained all comers at Governor's Island with his usual hospitality. But the reserved strength of his once powerful nature was completely exhausted; the tide of life was running swiftly out; a mortal disease— that one which is the most usual result of care and sorrow—had begun to work within him.
In March of 1885, as commander of the Military Division of the Atlantic, he attended the inauguration of President Cleveland, as, in 1881, he had attended that of his competitor, Garfield. In the summer of that year he made his last conspicuous public appearance, as the commander of the mighty column which for hours poured through the streets of New York to testify the nation's gratitude to the great chieftain who had brought the rebellion to an end. Hundreds of thousands of Americans then for the first time saw, and looked with admiration and delight upon, the splendid soldier whose name had so long been a synonym of dauntless valor, martial enthusiasm, and prowess in battle. To the eye of the spectator he was still the superb Hancock.
Among the last expeditions of his active life was that which he made, with several officers of his former staff and with other personal friends, to the field of Gettysburg in November of 1885, at the request of" Colonel Batchelder, for the purpose of identifying certain positions which had long been in dispute, and of explaining upon the ground certain tactical manoeuvres of the second and third days. Hancock had not visited Gettysburg since the battle except once when, just after the war, he went up from Baltimore with a party which comprised his young daughter. For some time he had manifested great interest in the approaching expedition, and had written many letters to obtain the material to make this visit to the battlefield as conclusive as possible. The expedition was successfully accomplished. The scene, the presence of those who had been with him in the action, the flood of reminiscences called forth as he passed from point to point, from Culp's Hill to the place where he had fallen from his horse among the soldiers of the Vermont brigade—all combined to raise his mind, to evoke the very spirit of those memorable days, and to fill him with something like the stern joy with which he stood in his place on the afternoon of July third, and watched Longstreet's column move down Seminary Ridge on its great enterprise.
Returning to Governor's Island after this brief absence, he busied himself with his daily duties, having probably no premonition that the end was near. But the tide was now well out. In the early days of February, immediately after a trip with General Franklin to Washington, he was struck down, never to rise again. On the 9th of that month the knightly gentleman fell away. He had been true in every relation of life; loyal to the nation and its laws; brave among the bravest; honorable beyond reproach; faithful to his lights and his privileges. He had served his country well, and he had received nearly its highest honors.
It must, I think, be a source of regret to all thoughtful and fair-minded Americans that when Sherman, in February, 1884, retired by reason of age from the high office of general of all the armies of the United States, Sheridan was not advanced to that position and Hancock made lieutenant general. The wrong was righted, so far as Sheridan was concerned, while that heroic soldier lay in the very grasp of death. A repentant Congress, then first appreciating its error, hurried through both branches a bill providing for his promotion to the grade of general; and the parchment, with the President's