The officers of the 304th New York Regiment, including the lieutenant (Lt. Hasbrouck), the red-bearded officer, the captain, the regimental colonel (Col. MacChesnay), the brigadier general, and the division general, are consistently shown as leaders who demonstrate great courage, sound judgment, and motivation.
In every battle, the officers cajoling and encourage their men to fight and to fight harder. Even if the soldiers do not always appreciate the way the officers must treat them in order to motivate them, the treatment is fair and consistent, even if sometimes harsh.
In all instances, the Union officers lead their troops with bravery and courage. The officers give and receive the respect necessary to win battles and, ultimately, to win wars. This is not easy work (to force men to face death — indeed, to lead them into the face of death), but the officers throughout this work do so. Not with malice, but with realistic explanations and motivated language, tempered with an undertone of compassion. They epitomize commitment to duty and honor, the central theme of the novel.