whose names and deeds shine on the brightest pages of the history they contributed so much to make.
My old colonel, now Lieutenant-General A. P. Hill
, and one of the most accomplished soldiers, as well as one of the most high-toned gentlemen whom the war produced, pleasantly asked of me, as he gave me a hearty greeting, ‘John’ (as he always familiarly called me), ‘don't you think the boys would prefer “hard-tack” to tracts just now?’
‘I have no doubt that many of them would,’ I replied; ‘but they crowd around and take the tracts as eagerly as they surround the commissary, when he has anything to “issue,” and, besides other advantages, the tracts certainly help them to bear the lack of “hard-tack.”
‘I have no doubt of it,’ he said, ‘and I am glad you are able to supply the tracts more abundantly than we can the rations.’
asked me if I ever had calls for prayer-books among the soldiers.
I told him that I frequently had, and he replied: ‘Well, you would greatly oblige me if you would call at my quarters and get and distribute a few which I have.
I bought a new one when in Richmond
the other day, and upon my saying that I would give my old one, which I had carried through the Mexican
war and had kept ever since, to some soldier, the bookseller offered to give me a dozen new prayer-books for the old one.
I, of course, accepted so good an offer; and now I have a dozen to give away instead of one.’
I called at the appointed hour; the general had been called away from his quarters on some important matter, but he had (even amid his pressing cares and responsibilities) left the prayerbooks with a member of his staff, with directions concerning them.
In each one he had written, in his own well-known handwriting, ‘Presented to——by R. E. Lee
been disposed to speculate, I am quite sure that I could easily have traded each one of these books containing the autograph of our great chieftain for a dozen others, and I know that the soldiers to whom I gave them have treasured them as precious mementos, or handed them down as priceless heirlooms.
(I saw one of these books several years ago in the hands of a son whose father was killed on the retreat.
It was not for sale
. Indeed, money could not buy it.)
's orders and reports always gratefully recognized