Page:Memoirs of Henry Villard, volume 1.djvu/380

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a model of a war-god. There was only one other man in the army, as far, as my own observations went, that came near him in these external qualities — General Winfield S. Hancock. My letter of introduction from Mr. Smalley commended me very strongly to the General's confidence, yet he received me rather stiffly and coldly. This I found, however, to be his natural manner, for, after a short general conversation — his voice being most agreeable — he burst forth into unsparing criticism of the general conduct of the war in the East, of the Government, of Halleck, McClellan, Pope, and, last but not least, of his present immediate superior. He had even then an unenviable notoriety for a rash tongue, to which he added lamentably in his subsequent career. His language was so severe and, at the same time, so infused with self-assertion as to give rise immediately to a fear on my part that he might be inclined to make use of me for his own glorification and for the detraction of others. This made it prudent for me not to place myself under more personal obligations to him than I could possibly help. Hence, I abstained from requesting, as I had first intended, permission to stop at his headquarters. After an hour's talk I passed on, with the General's assurance that he should always be glad to see me.

General Sumner, on whom I next called, remembered me very well and gave me a hearty welcome. A colonel of cavalry at the outbreak of the war, he, like all regular-army officers, had had no practical experience up to that time in serving with larger bodies of troops than a regiment. He had been an excellent regimental commander, very strict in the enforcement of discipline and thorough drilling, and withal a model cavalry soldier. But he was almost too old for the proper discharge of the duties of higher command, and also lacked the natural parts for it. Yet the force of circumstances, or, rather, his rank in the regular army and the lack of competent commanders, together with his fervid loyalty and enthusiastic devotion