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[566] and had so disposed his infantry as to make this the strongest position yet assaulted by either army.

Malvern Hill commanded all of the approaches to it and all of the surrounding country, so that while McClellan had three hundred pieces of artillery in position to belch forth their thunder and hurl missiles of destruction on every side, and his gunboats guarded his left flank and threw into our ranks immense projectiles, which our boys called “lamp-posts,” the Confederates were able to use only a few guns. Still McClellan's army was dispirited by disaster and retreat, while Lee's was flushed with victory. The Commander--in Chief felt confident of success, and issued orders for a general and simultaneous attack to be opened by Magruder and D. H. Hill. But Magruder was misdirected by his guide and was late getting into position. Hill mistook the signal, and, attacking alone, displayed distinguished gallantry only to meet a bloody repulse. Magruder attacked later and with the same result. Some ground was gained, mistakes were rectified, and preparations made for a more determined assault, which must have carried the position; but darkness suspended the battle, and at 10 o'clock McClellan began to withdraw and to resume his retreat to Harrison's Landing. Our loss here was about five thousand men, and though technically a Confederate victory (since we held the battle-field and buried the enemy's dead), yet there was a general feeling in the army that we did not pine after any more such victories.

But the thunders of Malvern Hill and the groans of the wounded and the dying could not deprive our people of that propensity for a practical joke which seemed inherent in the average Confederate soldier, and several very amusing incidents occurred. Jackson's chief of staff was Rev. Dr. R. L. Dabney, one of the ablest divines in the South, whose conspicuous gallantry is so well known, that he will, I am sure, pardon me for repeating a joke I heard at his expense. Soon after he came to Jackson, about the beginning of the Valley campaign, a swearing Colonel had said that he meant to go and hear that man preach as often as he could, “for,” said he “he is not any more afraid of bullets than the rest of us sinners, and besides he preaches like the very d — l!” And General Ewell, after hearing him preach on the heavenly rest, exclaimed, as he saw him one day conducting a battery into position under heavy fire: “Ha! it seems the prospect of getting quickly to his rest is no more cheering to him than to us reprobates.” (Ewell was then a very hard swearer, but he afterwards became an earnest Christian and a devout churchman.) A few days before the battles around Richmond, Dr. Dabney preached a sermon in which he

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H. B. McClellan (3)
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