Page:Memoirs of Henry Villard, volume 1.djvu/199

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General, was a similarly positive, intolerant, and determined character. He and Fox were the best haters of the Rebellion in the Administration, and for them the Government was far from moving fast and vigorously enough in its suppression. Blair, however, was very much of a practical politician, and no one believed more strongly in the legitimacy of the distribution of offices among the ruling party. I also became acquainted with his father, Francis P. Blair, Sr., and his brother, Francis P. Blair, Jr., of St. Louis, later a Congressman and Federal general. The father and sons formed a most remarkable trio, possessing a common character. There was no more influential family in the United States at the time. They likewise were not averse to being frequently mentioned and well spoken of in the public journals.

The greatest curiosity was naturally felt throughout the North in the doings of the volunteer troops about Washington, and I was therefore instructed by my employers to make them a special feature in my daily reports. For that purpose I paid regular visits to the regimental camps on the outskirts of the city, to facilitate which I was authorized by the Herald to buy a saddle-horse. My daily rides were most enjoyable in various ways. Delightful weather was the rule throughout May and June. The several hours I spent every afternoon in the saddle afforded an agreeable and healthful exercise. Then, some of the regimental headquarters, of which I made the rounds, formed uncommon centres of attraction. Among the officers of some of the New York, New England, and Western regiments, the very flower of the youth of the land could be found. They were remarkable for intelligence, patriotism, and devotion to duty. Nor did they lack the qualities from which the lighter joys of early manhood flow. In their canvas abodes, mirth and gaiety ruled during the off-duty part of the day, and visitors were made to join in various frolics. It was also true, however, that not a few of the regiments consisted of a very low order of ele-