In the middle of his senior year at Harvard, a handsome fellow walked off campus and signed up for an infantry unit of the Massachusetts militia. By July 1861, with the help of his illustrious father, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the 20th Massachusetts Infantry. He subsequently served through the Peninsula Campaign, and at Ball’s Bluff, and at Antietam, and at Chancellorsville, and in the Wilderness. He nearly died from dysentery and was wounded three times, the ultimate parlay of peril for a soldier in the Civil War. By the time he was ready to return from his third convalescence, there was no 20th Massachusetts to which he could return. It had been destroyed by nearly endless combat.

Read the rest of Charlie Pierce’s piece at Esquire Politics