M'Clellan's movement checked.
In the spring of 1861 General Joseph E. Johnston
, learning that General McClellan
was organizing a force on the Baltimore and Ohio railroad, about New creek
, and threatening his flank, sent A. P. Hill
with his own (the Tenth Virginia) and Third Tennessee regiments to Romney
in Hampshire county
, to observe and check the movement.
The task was accomplished by Colonel Hill
in a manner to call forth honorable mention, and on his return to the army it was confidently expected by his friends that he would be promoted and assigned to the command of the regiments then under him, but the government at Richmond
held that Virginia
had already more than her share of brigadiers, and that no more appointments would be made from that State for the time being.
That Colonel Hill
was disappointed at this there can be no doubt, but he submitted without a murmur, and with his three regiments reported to General Arnold Elzey
, of Maryland
, who had just been promoted, and whose old regiment, the First Maryland united to Hill
's three, was known as the Fourth brigade.
At the battle of First Manassas
, Colonel Hill
's regiment was not engaged, having been sent to the right flank to strengthen a position supposed to be in need of reinforcements.
The loss of this opportunity was another source of disappointment, but during the remainder of the year 1861, which was spent in masterly inactivity— Colonel Hill
was untiring in his efforts to drill, discipline and organize the raw recruits of which General Johnston
's army was composed, and by his experience, his military education, and his skill as an organizer, he contributed much to lay the foundation for the future success and efficiency of that army.
In March, 1862, Colonel Hill
received his long-deferred promotion, and was assigned to the command of Longstreet
's old brigade, composed of the First, Seventh, Eleventh and Seventeenth Virginia regiments then at Orange Courthouse, on the march to the Peninsula
During the manoeuvres around Yorktown
, and on the retreat to the Chickahominy
, General Hill
was distinguished for his energy and activity, and for the skill with which he handled his brigade.
At the battle of Williamsburg
, fought on the 5th of May, 1862, against his old schoolmate and friend, General McClellan
, his coolness, courage and skill won the admiration of the army and the
applause of the whole country, and marked him for speedy promotion.
In May, 1862, he was promoted to the rank of major-general and given command of the division composed of Pender
's and Branch
's North Carolina
's South Carolina
's Virginia, and Thomas' Georgia brigades.
In the army then defending Richmond
's division composed the extreme left, stationed along the left bank of the Chickahominy
, opposite Mechanicsville
, and was not engaged in the battles of Seven Pines
and Savage Station.
During the thirty days which elapsed between the promotion of General Hill
and the beginning of the Seven-Days' battles around Richmond
, he spent his time and gave his best energies to the improvement and discipline of his new command, and with what success he labored, and to what state of efficiency he brought it, let its records speak.