« PreviousContinue »
in the world, for gallantry, subordination and propriety, was com manded by the heroic Captain Marsh, and, after his fall, by the equally heroic Captain Latham, who shared the same fate. All the officers of this noble regiment, present at Sharpsburg, were killed or wounded.”
In July, 1863, D. H. Hill was made a Lieutenant-General; but his promotion was shortly followed by a fall from executive favour that practically terminated his military career. In the fore-part of this year he had been operating with Longstreet in South Virginia, and for some time held the defences of Richmond; and thence he was sent to reinforce Bragg in the West, and to take an unfortunate part in the battle of Chickamauga, where the division of Cleburne and that of Breckinridge, having come up from the Mississippi, was assigned to his corps. In this action Hill was charged by Gen. Bragg with a contumacious disobedi. ence of orders; he refusing to attack, in conjunction with Hindman, a corps of the eneny at the foot of one of the gaps of the mountains, which the Commanding General had designated for destruction, and again delaying to open the battle under Polk as wing commander. On the subject of these charges there has been much recrimination, and no little confusion in the statement of the facts. Of his failure to come to time in the second day's battle, Gen. Hill makes the following explanation in his official report : “ About midnight, Lieut.-Col. Anderson, Adjt.-Gen.,
Gen. Polk, as wing commander, and that the General wished to see me that night at Alexander's Bridge (three miles distant.) I was much exhausted, having been in the saddle from dawn to midnight, and resolved to rest till three o'clock. At that hour I went to Alexander's Bridge, but failing to find the courier whom Gen. Polk had placed there to conduct me to his tent, I rode forward to the line of battle, which I reached a little after daylight on the 20th. Gen. Breckinridge had not yet got into position, as Gen. Polk had permitted him to rest the night before on account of the wearied condition of the men. Repeated and urgent orders had been issued from the corps headquarters, in regard to keeping rations for three days constantly on hand. But owing to difficulties, and possibly to want of attention, some of the men had been without food the day before, and a division
had its rations for that day unissued, but cooked and on hand. Orders were given for their prompt issue.
“At 7.25 A. M., an order was shown me, just received from Lieut.-Gen. Polk and addressed to my division commanders, and directing them to advance at once upon the enemy. The reason given for the issue of the order directly to them was that he (Gen. Polk) had not been able to find the corps commander. I immediately replied to the note, saying that Brig.-Gen. Jackson's brigade, of his corps, was at right angles to my line, that my inen were getting their rations, and that they could finish eating while we were adjusting the line of battle. Gen. Polk soon after came on the field, and made no objection to this delay.”
The merits of the controversy which cost Gen. Hill his command we do not propose to determine, although we think we may safely risk the general remark that the penalty of relief from his command was out of proportion to his offence. His past record entitled him to consideration; he had fought hard and done meritorious service; and it must have been exceedingly painful to find himself reduced to a figure commanding State and local forces, and utterly lost to public attention in the last periods of the war.
The literary exploits of Gen. Hill made him curiously noticed in the war, and we cannot fail to observe a hunt after rude and shallow eccentricities. In his official reports he carefully eschewed the ordinary style of such documents, and worried the War Department with conceits and puns to which they were little used in the literature of the war. The enemy he officially designated as “Yankees,” sometimes “infernal Yankees," occasionally “the pirates and scoundrels.” Of an attempt of the Yankees to cross the river at Fredericksburg (1862), he wrote to the War Department: “ Finding the fire too hot for them, they fled back to town, where they were sheltered from Carter's fire. Hardaway continued to pelt them; and to stop his fire (as is supposed) the ruffians commenced shelling the town, full of women and children. The town was partially destroyed, but a merciful God kindly protected the inoffensive inhabitants. A dog was killed and a negro wounded; no other living being was injured. Finding that Hardaway's fire did not slacken, the pirates fled down the river. From Yankee sources we learned that the
pirates lost six killed and twenty wounded. Whether they over: estimated or under-estimated their loss I do not know. They sometimes lie on one side, and sometimes on another." Occasionally a pun was employed to put the enemy to ridicule—such as would have caused Dr. Johnson to button up his pockets in a hurry, and doubtless were but little relished by the severe and ascetic Mr. Seddon, the Secretary of War. When he held Richmond against some demonstrations of Gen. Dix on the Peninsula, he once dispatched to the War Department that the enemy's “Army of the Pamunkey,” or “the Monkey Army," was retiring. In another official correspondence he recommended that engineers be put to work, with orders to leave their “kid gloves behind.” At other times the literary affectation of Gen. Hill broke out into strangely coined words-a jargon that had no place in the dictionaries. Stonewall Jackson was described as having a good deal of “outcome” in him; musicians were denied furloughs on the ground that “fighters were to be preferred to tooters ; ” and on one occasion the unclean conceit was expressed that soldiers should be allowed to go home for short periods and visit the women of the country for fear that “the stay-at-homes" would propagate a race of cowards !
These literary crudities and conceits are coarse and unpleasant enough. It is to be wished that such faults were brushed from a character which is said to contain much ingrained good, a real and hearty benevolence, which, backed by and attesting the manhood of North Carolina, achieved a Thermopylæ in the war, which had no small claim on the gratitude of the South, and asserted a place in tender and proud memories of the lost cause.
On the return of peace Gen. Hill betook himself to literary pursuits, and has since edited at Charlotte, in North Carolina, a magazine, designated, by a singular figure of rhetoric, “ The Land We Love." In person the General is about the medium height and well proportioned. He has dark eyes and hair, which is becoming slightly tinged with gray. He has a serious military bearing, and carried through the war the reputation of a very rigid disciplinarian.
LIEUT.-GEN. RICHARD S. EWELL.
Gen. Ewell as the companion and friend of Stonewall Jackson.-His military life an
teriour to 1861.-Curious apparition at Fairfax Court-House.—His share in Jackson's Valley campaign. -Cross Keys.-Port Republic.—Compliment to "the Maryland Line.”—Gen. Ewell wounded at Groveton. He succeeds to Stonewall Jackson's command.-Enacts part of the old drama at Winchester.-Services in 1864.He commands the Department of Henrico.-Burning of the city of Richmond.
The companion-in-arms and trusted friend of Stonewall Jackson; the successor to the command of the dead hero, leading it from Chancellorsville to other brilliant fields of service; the maimed and worn hero of memorable battles, Richard S. Ewell, was one of the galaxy of stars that illuminated the history of Lee's army; one of that extraordinary company of Virginians who wrote their names and that of their State high in the most glorious records of the war.
In 1836 Ewell entered the Military Academy at West Point, and graduated on the 30th June, 1840, receiving an appointment as brevet second-lieutenant of cavalry on the 1st July. On the 10th September, 1845, he was made first-lieutenant, and with that rank went into the Mexican war, serving in Col. Mason's dragoons, and obtained promotion to a captaincy for gallant conduct at Contreras and Cherubusco. He afterwards served in New Mexico. When the State of Virginia seceded, he returned there, and offered his sword to the Confederate cause. A brother, one of the most amiable and intelligent scholars of the South, the honoured President of William and Mary College, and a classmate, we believe, of Gen. Lee at West Point, also assumed the military office, and saw some of the hardest service of the war on the staff of Gen. Johnston.
The first appearance of Richard S. Ewell in the war occurred in a surprise by the enemy of Fairfax Court-House, a village eighteen miles from Washington, and was attended by some ludicrous circumstances. In the night of the 31st May, 1861, a body of Federal cavalry dashed into the village and surprised the Warrenton Rifles there, who, badly armed, and with rifles without bayonets, had to encounter United States regulars, armed with sabres, carbines, and revolvers. The enemy galloped through the streets, and fired at the quarters of the troops, a random shot killing Capt. Marr, as he was selecting ground on which to form his troops. The darkness of the night added to the confusion, which was at its height, when a figure, only partly dressed, dashed forward, placing himself at the head of forty-three members of the Warrenton Rifles, who were already drawn up to receive the enemy. Having deployed the men behind a fence, he advanced towards the Federal cavalry, who were galloping back and firing right and left in the darkness. In a moment they were called upon to "Halt!" by the new leader of the Confederates, who was, in fact, none other than Colonel, afterwards Lieutenant-General Ewell. He had rushed from his bed without stopping to complete bis attire; but, in the blackness of the night, his white shirt proved a sure mark. A ball wounded him in the shoulder, and disabled him; when Ex-Governor Smith ("Extra Billy'), who was also accidentally in the village, took the command and completed the discomfiture of the enemy, who fled by a cross-road to Alexandria.
At Manassas, 1861, Ewell commanded a brigade, which, however, was not actively engaged in that first important conflict of arms. His efficient and distinguished service commenced when he was sent to reinforce Jackson in the Valley of the Shenandoah; and to this campaign he made a most important contribution, fairly dividing its honours with his superiour. At Cross Keys, with Elzey's, Trimble's and Stewart's brigades—Taylor's brigade having been ordered to Port Republic-short of five thousand men, he engaged Fremont's army; and unaided by Jackson's presence, without any support whatever from him, and with the possibility of retreat barred by a river in his rear, he fought a most difficult battle, and achieved the twin decisive victory of the campaign. The general features of the ground on which he fought were a valley and rivulet in his front, woods on both flanks, and