What he did will survive as rivaling the best exploits of the most renowned in arms, and Jackson
stands among captains as Shelley
among poets-enlarged by death into the perfection of promise.
But he stands alone, so far as this country is concerned.
Nor would any judicious admirer of General Hill
(and this paper is written from a standpoint of affectionate appreciation) institute any comparison between his qualities of leadership and those of General Lee
Their respective positions well suited and well describes their distinctive capacities.
The one possessed all the characteristics of great military talent, and fell, by temperament alone, just short of genius; the other had some of those characteristics, pluck, endurance, executive ability, and magnetism in perfection; but some, as readiness of intuition and resource, were his in less degree; and some, as broadness of strategic vision, he lacked.
But his tasks were no mere mechanic registrations of the will of another; nor was that sphere, in which he was great, contracted; nor was his success on many hazardous fields attained otherwise than by a longer exercise of that individual discretion without which no man can maneuvre men. If he had no part in ordering the movements of armies, he was laden always with a large share of the responsibility of making those movements successful; and if it was not his to create the plans of battle, it was often his, after those plans had been disarranged by adverse circumstances, or thwarted by the shortcomings of others, so to wield the forces at his disposal as to turn the doubtful scale of battle.
It was asked of Napoleon
, at St. Helena; during a discussion of the merits of his marshals, whether Ney
would have been equal to the command of an independent army.
“I do not know,” was the reply; “he could never be spared to make the experiment.”
Ambrose Powell Hill was born in Culpepper county, Virginia, in the year 1825.
The “American Encyclopedia” curtly says, in continuance of the life then begun, that he graduated at West Point
in the class of 1847; served in Mexico
; resigned in March, 1861, a commission as lieutenant in the United States Topographical Engineers; entered soon after the Confederate
At the battle of Manassas
he was colonel of the Thirteenth Virginia Infantry; was subsequently promoted to be a brigade, division, and corps commander, and was killed in front of Petersburg
, on April 2d, 1865.
And this is correct so far as it goes — there is no better way of not knowing a man than to gaze upon his bare skeleton.
When Hill reported to Richmond
, in the spring of 1861, the authorities were in the full tide of experiment, both as to men and