Page:Memoirs of Henry Villard, volume 1.djvu/203

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vast levies of volunteers raised subsequently, though to a diminished extent.

The Federal authorities did no better. In officering the new regiments for the regular army authorized by Congress, the most extraordinary appointments were made. Instead of filling the higher places from among the officers who had remained true to the flag, the majority of the field officers were appointed from civil life. Most of the appointees were ordinary politicians having no other than party qualifications. I remember distinctly some of the persons thus favored; one of the notorious cases being the appointment to a full colonelcy, by Secretary Cameron, of a devoted political follower, the chief clerk of the War Department, who, up to the inauguration, had been the sickly, dried-up, pedantic principal of a second-rate school in Pennsylvania. Commissions of line officers were also systematically distributed among favorites. I had a curious personal experience in this respect. I was myself offered a commission as captain in the regular army by Secretary Chase by way of compliment to the Cincinnati Commercial — an offer which, I am free to say, sorely tempted me. About the same time I was induced to interest myself in the application for a commission as lieutenant of a young German doctor from Buffalo, who was anxious to exchange the scalpel for the sword. I spoke to Mr. Chase regarding him, and a few days later he received, to his intense surprise, a commission as a captain of infantry. I am sorry to say that my protégé did not do honor to my recommendation, being dismissed for cowardice on the battle-field before he had served a year. One of my amusements in those days was to witness the private lessons in the rudiments of military lore of the appointees for field officers in the new regular regiments by old drill-sergeants. The difficulties which these colonels, lieutenant-colonels, and majors experienced at first even in keeping step and wheeling about, and later on in the manual of arms, led to very comical scenes. I believe