It is no wonder that there, as in Washington
, the posts of honor and responsibility should, at first (with few exceptions), have fallen into the hands of a set of superannuated worthies, or that the early employment of those who were thereafter to be the leaders of their respective sides should seem ludicrously small, in the light of subsequent events.
was given, in the outset, the humble position of major of engineers; Mahone
was ordered to take charge of the quartermasters' supplies in Virginia
was first created a lieutenant colonel, but, shortly afterward, was assigned, with full grade, to the Thirteenth Infantry, and was ordered to the Upper Potomac
, where, under General Joseph E. Johnston
, was forming the army that afterward turned the scale at Manassas
The campaign of that column was one of bloodless maneuvres, though Colonel Hill
received honorable mention for the conduct of a small, but successful, expedition against the Federal
advance at Romney
Nor in the engagement at Manassas
, which shortly ensued, was anything developed but the gallantry of the troops, and of their commanders.
It was only when the Southern
army was confronted with McClellan
's host on the Peninsula
that opportunities for distinction were fairly offered to the capable and brave.
's bearing at the battle of Williamsburg
, and the collisions that precluded settlement in the lines around Richmond
, marked him for early promotion.
On the 26th of February, 1862, he was appointed brigadier general, and assigned the First, Seventh, Eleventh, and Seventeenth regiments of Virginia infantry; and on May 25th he was commissioned major general, and placed in command of the brigades of J. R. Anderson
, and Archer
Soon was his fitness for this perilous distinction to be tested.
It will not comport with the limits of this sketch to attempt anything resembling a report of the various engagements from which General Hill
drew steady acquisitions of fame as a brilliant chief of division.
That will only be accurately done when the history of the Army of Northern Virginia shall come to be written.
But a partial exception must be made in regard to the initial steps of his career, betokening, as they did, the fiery energy and unconquerable endurance that ever afterward distinguished his course upon the field of battle.
He strode across the threshold of war as though upon familiar ground, and in all the perilous crises of after days, though experience added to the thoroughness of his dispositions, and the celerity of his attack, his qualities of vigor and boldness, of cool determination, and unflinching obstinacy, never shone brighter than in the Seven Days Fight around Richmond