previous next
[704] was thus cut off from his command. Mounting rapidly, he set out, accompanied by a single courier, to break through the pickets of the enemy, and rejoin his scattered troops. Dissuasion was attempted, but he repelled it, and dashed off at full speed. General Ord, in the meanwhile, had thrown forces in the direction of the river, and Hill, spinning across the path of these, came suddenly upon a group of sharpshooters. Their summons to surrender was met by a charge toward them; the next moment the fatal shot was fired, and dead on the outposts fell A. P. Hill.

No history of him las yet been written; no stone marks his resting-place in Hollywood Cemetery. If the memories of war are to be perpetuated, not forgotten should he be — that Virginia soldier who never lost a post that duty gave him to defend, and who never failed to crown an attack if not with success — with the blood-red crown of terrible endeavor. In what has been here written there is but the faintest-outline of his brilliant campaigns. From Richmond to Chancellorsville, Hill's “Light Division” was either in the van as charging column, or came later into action as the well-chosen forlorn hope. At Sharpsburg, in the gathering dusk of a doubtful field-when the left wing was barely standing, the centre hardly resistant, the right already overwhelmed — with his worn and his numerically weak, but invincible column, Hill struck the exultant enemy, swept the debatable ground, gave courage to a despirited army by his ever advancing musketry, and saved, what bid fair to be, a day of decisive defeat. Follow him to the Potomac, thence to Rappahannock, to the Wilderness, throughout the wasting and wonderful struggle from the Mattaponi to Petersburg — the record of battles won, of positions saved, of guns and prisoners captured, gives Hill an emphatic claim to a soldier's fame. His death illustrates the character of his soldiership. Not as some of his equals in rank did his fidelity fall under the certainty of disaster; but manfully and well, in the very hour of defeat, he gave himself a sacrifice to one of the few remaining chances of saving the army.

The dead leaders, upon whom the world has lavished honors, leaned upon Hill as strong men upon a staff, and were not disappointed. And it is memorable and remarkable that Lee and Jackson — the magnet and meteor of the Confederacy-should, in their dying moments, have given their last earthly thoughts, their last coherent utterances, to this brave soldier and steadfast patriot. In the paroxysm of death, General Lee called on Hill “to move forward;” and, when Jackson was crossing the river to seek the shade of the trees, his last words were: “Tell A. P. Hill to prepare for action.”

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
A. P. Hill (6)
Fitz Lee (2)
T. J. Jackson (2)
Ord (1)
Tell A. P. Hill (1)
D. H. Hill (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: