The Military Memoirs of General John Pope

By Peter Cozzens; Robert I. Girardi et al. | Go to book overview
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Chapter Fifteen
West Pointers to the Front

Of the many surprises to which the war of the rebellion treated us, perhaps the most noticeable in a small way were the men who came to the front both in the civil and military departments of the government. Equally surprising was the fact that of those who were expected to take the lead so few ever did so and of that few none, or scarcely any, succeeded in maintaining their position. Naturally the West Point officers were placed at the head of the army in the beginning, as they were the only persons supposed from their education and experience, to have much military knowledge. It was astonishing to observe in the early part of 1861 how completely the people of the Northern states had lost all interest in military affairs and indeed, all knowledge of war; so that when hostilities precipitated themselves upon us military operations were thought to be so scientific and mysterious that it was considered, even by the people themselves, presumptuous for any citizen to criticize, much less censure, any absurdity that any West Point man might

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