"You may be whatever you resolve to be."
In harmony with this maxim he, after his success at West Point had been assured, wrote to a friend that "one could always do what he willed to accomplish."
He was as remarkable as a boy as he was as a youth and as a man.
Although, while an infant, deprived of the loving care and protection of both of his parents, and left penniless and dependent upon the generosity of relatives upon whom he had no special claim and upon his own efforts and resources, he ever rose superior to the conditions of adverse fortune, and, with an amazing confidence, encountered and surmounted obstacles at which a less courageous nature would have been appalled.
The brave struggle which he made to master the course of study and training at West Point, for the acquisition of which he was exceedingly poorly prepared, the distinguished success which by dint of hard, persistent, and unremitting effort, and conscientious attention to duty he achieved there, all of this valuable training and discipline and attainment were not only evidence of the superior moral and intellectual character of the man, but served to develop and strengthen those traits and qualities which constitute the elements of true greatness.
As has been repeatedly said of him: "The boy was father to the man"; and so those who knew his previous history must have been in some measure prepared for the distinguished career of the young officer in the Mexican War and the recognition which was accorded by his commanding officers to his conspicuous courage, skill, and meritorious conduct in that service; so that, entering the United States Army at the beginning of General Scott's marvelous Mexican campaign as a second lieutenant, he had been raised by three successive promotions to major by brevet.
He Rose Rapidly to Fame