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along the very front of raging battle, the inspiration of every soldier, the incarnate genius of war.
These remarks are appropriate to the place of the subject of this memoir among the illustrious soldiers who have been taken for the purposes of the present series. Of them all, Hancock was the only one who never had a separate command. All the others, perhaps through most of the campaigns to which they owe their fame, exercised the full authority, bore the whole responsibility, of men intrusted with the destiny of armies. It was, therefore, to the justness of their military conceptions, and to the skill and care and pains with which their plans were worked out, that their reputation was mainly due, though something must be allowed for personal bearing and influence, something also for fortune. Hancock, on the other hand, though he often conducted expeditions of a corps or of two corps, out from one or the other flank of the Potomac army, always did his work in execution of orders as precise as the situation allowed, never far beyond the reach of messengers from general headquarters, often under the very eye of the commander in chief. In the actions which contributed most largely to his fame he commanded a corps, or a wing of a line of battle, under the immediate authority and direction of a superior officer. It is, therefore, to the love soldiers bear toward a daring and brilliant subordinate, and to the delight the
popular mind feels in contemplating the heroic and romantic qualities in war, that Hancock owes the fame which has given him a place in the present series. That—if any one not the commander of a separate army is to be taken for such a purposeHancock is entitled to the honor, few will deny. His rightful pre-eminence among all the corps commanders of the Union army in the great war of secession can not be better stated than in the words of General Grant :
“ Hancock stands the most conspicuous figure of all the general officers who did not exercise a separate command. He commanded a corps longer than any other one, and his name was never mentioned as having committed in battle a blunder for which he was responsible. He was a man of very conspicuous personal appearance. Tall, well formed, and, at the time of which I now write, young and freshlooking, he presented an appearance which would have attracted the attention of an army as he passed. His genial disposition made him friends, and his personal courage and his presence with his command in the thickest of the fight won for him the confidence of troops serving under him." - Grant's Personal Memoirs, vol. ii, page 539.
BIRTH AND EDUCATION.
WINFIELD Scott HANCOCK was one of twin brothers, born February 14, 1824, to Benjamin Franklin and Elizabeth Hancock, then resident in the village known as Montgomery Square, in Montgomery County, Pa. The name of the county is popularly reputed to have been given in honor of the patriot general who fell in the assault on Quebec
In some notes now lying under my hand, however, General Hancock suggests that the name may have been derived from Montgomeryshire in Wales, many of the early settlers of the Pennsylvania shire having been of Welsh origin, as other wellknown names besides that of Merion testify.
Benjamin Franklin Hancock had been born in Philadelphia in 1800 ; his father, Richard, an Englishman ; his mother, Ann Maria Nash, a Scotch
His wife, Elizabeth Hoxworth, a native of Montgomery County, was of English and Welsh ancestry. The name was originally Hawkesworth. Members of that family had served in the French and Indian wars, in the Revolutionary army, and in
the War of 1812. After his marriage, Benjamin Hancock supported himself by public teaching, until he was admitted to the bar in 1828, upon which he removed with his wife and his twin sons to Norristown, in the same county. Here another son was born to him, and here the family continued to reside until it was dissolved by death, Mr. Hancock passing away in 1867, Mrs. Hancock in 1879. Benjamin Hancock was a man of a noble presence, fair, tall, and strong, like his illustrious son; dignified and courteous in bearing, honorable and faithful alike in private and in professional relations. He took an active part in the affairs of the community, and throughout his life commanded the affection and the respect of his fellow-citizens.
It hardly needs to be said of such a man as Winfield Scott Hancock became, that in boyhood he was spirited, energetic, honorable, and a leader among his playmates and schoolmates. The reader will doubtless be thankful for being spared the incidents which are sure to be related of any one risen to high distinction. With intelligent and cultivated parents, one of whom had for years been engaged in teaching, and with excellent schools at hand in the thriving borough which held the family home, a lad of young Hancock's intellectual activity and ambition could not fail to secure a sound and thorough elementary training. The region in which he was brought up was one of the loveliest of Pennsylvania. All influ
ences, alike those of the family, of the community, and of the school, concurred in giving a full and harmonious development to his excellent natural powers of body and of mind.
I have spoken of Hancock's intellectual activity and ambition. I would not be understood as attributing to him a lofty intellectuality such as might, in a different career, have made him a leader of thought or speculation. He was, in the main bent of his nature, meant for action and for coinmand. But all that we hear of his childhood and his youth shows that he had a strong and constant desire to distinguish himself. He took a prominent part in the debates of his school and of a small literary and philosophical club composed of the boys of the village. He was fond of the society of his elders, and listened eagerly to the discussion of political issues. At the age of fifteen' he was selected to read the Declaration of Independence to his fellow-townsmen on the 4th of July. It is related that, even four years earlier, he had taken a great interest in politics, and on the setting up of a new Democratic newspaper in Norristown, in which his father had some share, entered the office as a volunteer compositor. It is clear that, had he not become a sol. dier, he would have been a keen politician, one who would have had to be reckoned with in the affairs of his State and perhaps of the nation. Indeed, though Hancock was one of the most soldierly men that