SOLDIERS I HAVE MET
In speaking of soldiers I shall do better to pay slight attention to the men of chief importance; for them the trumpets have sounded sufficiently and I came into personal contact with only one or two. Grant, I saw once, after he was Lieutenant-General, on the platform of a railroad station submitting stoically to the compliments of a lively crowd of women. Once again I saw him, in academic surroundings, sturdy and impassive, an incongruous element among the caps and gowns; but it was among such men that he won what is to my mind one of his greatest victories. What triumph of Grant’s was greater than his subjugation of Matthew Arnold! I rode once on the railroad-train for some hours immediately behind Sheridan, and had a good chance to study the sinewy little man in his trim uniform which showed every movement of his muscles. Though the ride was hot and monotonous I was impressed with his vitality. He seemed to have eyes all around his head. The man was in repose, but it was the repose of a leopard; at a sudden call, every fibre would evidently become tense, the servant of a nimble brain, and an instant pounce upon any opposition could be depended upon. What a pity, I found myself thinking, that the fellow has no longer a chance for his live energy (the war was then well over), and I had to check an incipient wish that a turmoil might arise that would again give a proper scope to his soldierly force. Happily there was no longer need for such service, but I feel that Sheridan was really more than a good sword. One finds in his memoirs unexpected outbursts of fancy and high sentiment, and he could admire the fine heroism of a character like Charles Russell Lowell. It is fair to judge a man by what he admires.
At the Harvard commemoration of 1865, standing under the archway at the northern end of Gore Hall, I encountered the thin, plainly clad figure of Ralph Waldo Emerson. I was in soldier’s dress and as he gave me a nod of recognition he said, looking at my chevrons, very simply but with feeling, “This day belongs to you.” Passing around then to the west front, I had before me a contrast in a brilliant group marshalled by my friend and classmate Colonel Theodore Lyman, in the centre of which rose the stately figure in full uniform of Major-General Meade. “Ah, Jimmy,” said Theodore with the aggressive geniality which his old associates so well remember, “come right here,” and catching me by the arm he pulled the corporal into the immediate presence of the victor of Gettysburg. “This is Corporal Hosmer,” said he, “and this, Jimmy, is Major-General Meade,” introducing us with much friendly patting of my shoulder and a handling of the Major-General almost equally familiar. He had long been a trusted member of Meade’s staff but the war was over and a close friendship held them on common ground. “He has written a book, General, about the war.” Then came a word of commendation and the tall General, as he gave my hand a cordial pressure, beamed down upon me with pleasant eyes. In the peaceful time that had come, we were all citizens together; the private and the General were on a level, though that aquiline face had been called upon not long before to confront, at the head of one hundred thousand men, the hosts of Lee.