Responded to Virginia's call.
And now the young soldier's cup seemed full, with nothing more to be desired.
In the enjoyment of domestic felicity, possessed of fortune, surrounded by friends, with every prospect of speedy promotion and advancement in his chosen profession, he had every inducement to side with the Union
, and every selfish consideration appealed to him to cast his lot with the government he had served from boyhood, and to remain with the flag he had marched under in foreign lands.
When the year 1861 was ushered in, and he saw State after State withdrawn from the Union
, and heard their senators and representatives resign their seats in Congress, and war became inevitable, he was urgently appealed to by his army associates to remain in Washington
, and was promised that in the event he remained he would not be required to use his sword against his native State.
But the good Virginia
blood which coursed through his veins, and which came to him from revolutionary sires, claiming kindred with the old Culpeper
minutemen, acknowledged allegiance to no power save Virginia
And as soon as the secession of his State became a fixed fact he resigned his commission in the army, and bidding farewell to old friends and comrades, reported to duty to Governor Letcher
, and was commissioned colonel of Virginia volunteers. Colonel Hill
was at once ordered to report to General Joseph E. Johnston
, then in command of the troops on the upper Potomac, and was assigned to the command of the Thirteenth Virginia Infantry,
made up of companies from the counties of Orange
, and Frederick, in Virginia
, and one company from Baltimore, Maryland
This regiment was composed of splendid material, and by his training and discipline and from the spirit he infused into its officers and men, it was made equal to the best of the regular troops, and became as well known throughout the Army of Northern Virginia as its first loved commander.
Of this regiment General Lee
said: ‘It is a splendid body of men.’
said: ‘It is the only regiment in my command that never fails.’
General Jeb Stuart
said: ‘It always does exactly what I tell it.’
And General Early
said: ‘They can do more hard fighting and be in better plight afterwards than any troops I ever saw.’
From Harper's Ferry
this splendid body of men carried the battle-flag of their regiment into every battle fought by Lee
, and never failed.
To the last, the remnant of the regiment was as undaunted, as unwavering, and as ready to respond to the order to charge
as at the beginning, and when at the surrender they stacked arms in front of a division of the Federal
army, and set their faces homeward, they marched off with the swinging gait of Jackson
's foot cavalry, cheering for Jefferson Davis
and for the Southern Confederacy.
Though their first loved commander was then dead on the field of honor, his spirit was still with them.
‘They were as brave as ever fought beneath knightly plume or on tented field.’
The pass at Roncesvalles
looked not on a braver or a better band when fell before the opposing lance the harnessed chivalry of Spain
At the battle of Slaughter's Mountain
, when the left of the Confederate
line of battle was flanked and driven back in confusion, the Thirteenth remained unshaken, and at the word, sprang forward in the face of the advancing column of the enemy to save a battery of Colonel Snowden Andrew
's artillery, left unsupported and in imminent danger of being captured.
After saving the battery and checking the enemy's advance they held their ground while almost surrounded, until A. P. Hill
's division came to the front, and with his victorious line they assisted in driving back the assailing columns for over a mile, and when night closed the pursuit bivouacked in the very front of the Confederate
lines, within a pistol-shot of the enemy's position, and fully a mile in advance of the rest of the division.
But, asking pardon for this digression, we return to our subject.