President in May last; but have always been deterred by reflecting on the arduous and unremitting nature of your duties. The men are, however, so anxious and so earnest in their desire to be ordered on active service that I have conquered my reluctance to troubling you.
The wish of the men to see active service in the field is increased by the taunts of the disloyal amongst us, who are always ready to whisper mischief into any ears open to receive it. These people tell the troops that the Government distrusts either their loyalty or courage or both, and will not, therefore, confide to them any duty they could betray. This is galling to their pride and patriotism alike, and they feel a sense of injury and degradation in remaining idle while others are fighting and dying in a cause that they love as devotedly as the best of those who have shed their blood for it. Under the influence of the taunts that they are regarded by the Government as half traitors or wholly cowards, both officers and men have besought me, and on more than one occasion with tears, that I should exert myself to have them sent into the field, where they could vindicate their hereditary claim to loyalty and manhood.
I have done what I could, but without success. Whether it was in consequence of a doubt of the efficiency of the regiments or a distrust of my own qualifications I cannot say. In the latter there might be justice, in the former there is none, for there are not two better regiments in the field that the First and Second Maryland. As to the latter, I can only say that I would strive not to be in the way, and that to obtain service I will serve under any one.
We will have in the course of a few days four complete regiments of infantry, a regiment of cavalry, and two batteries of artillery of four guns each. The First Regiment of Infantry is with General Banks; the Second is at Annapolis; the Third and Fourth Infantry, as well as the cavalry, are here. The batteries- Hampton's and Thompson's First and Second Maryland Batteries-are with General Banks.
What I ardently desire, and what I was promised on the 11th of May last, was that I should have the command of the three-years' Maryland troops that I should raise or have raised. I would wish to be sent on service with the First and Second Regiment. They are well drilled, and I feel that I could rely on them, as I could also upon a couple of the squadrons of cavalry and the batteries of artillery. The others are yet without discipline, though they promise now to be soon equal to the others.
Can't you, dear judge, do something to have all the Maryland troops united at Annapolis, or elsewhere, or anywhere, where they would be convenient to some of the expeditions which are to depart or which have already departed?
The President will recollect that I was to raise and command one or more regiments, not exceeding a brigade. If I am not deemed competent for any important position, give me a subordinate one. I am willing to follow until the moment comes that no jealousy will be created by leading. Such a time comes on every battle day, when the best leadership is to be in front. It is a leadership, too, which only excites jealousy when jealousy can no longer do any harm; that is, after the battle has been won or lost.
But I do not wish to complain, and I do not complain of any one. I have no cause of complaint against any one. I have been treated with uniform kindness and courtesy by all my superiors. I could not, if I were disposed, show a single act of injustice, not even one of omission, that I could set down as such.