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[130] later that gallant officer was astonished to hear his intrepid commander express his delight at the discovery that McClellan's whole army was approaching his front. (2 Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, page 564.) The explanation afterwards given was one that could have been safely disclosed only to a kindred spirit, such as Ruffin had shown himself to be. Hill then said that he had at first feared the movement upon his front was a feint, and that the main body of the enemy had passed through another gap, and might be thrown between Jackson and Lee. The situation was still further embarrassed by the fact that General Stuart had at daylight in the morning withdrawn his command, except the single regiment of Rosser, which afterwards did its duty so nobly, under the impression that but a small force was in General Hill's front.

It was ‘with the stern joy’ of an intrepid warrior waiting for the coming contest, that from an elevated pinnacle of the mountain he saw the four advance corps of the grand army of the Potomac, one of which was forming at the foot of the mountain. The hour and the man had met when Lee entrusted to Hill the duty of holding the approach against that army with his little band of 4,000. From Seven Pines to Malvern Hill they had never turned their backs upon the foe. They believed that their leader would require them to endure no sacrifice or face no danger that was not demanded by the inevitable exigencies of the situation. With God's help, Hill determined to save the army, as his chief ordered him to do at any sacrifice, and, if the emergency had demanded his own life, he would have met death, not as the degree of fate, but as the Providence of God, who had brought him face to face with a desperate duty. Captain Seaton Gales, the gallant Adjutant-General of George B. Anderson, on that memorable day, has summarized the important results of this battle so clearly that I prefer to reproduce his language rather than use an extract from report of history, or to make a vain attempt to improve upon it myself.

Of this battle ‘it may be safely said that in its consequences, in the accomplishments of pre-determined objects, and in the skilful disposition of small numbers to oppose overwhelming odds, it is without a parallel in the war. The division, unaided until a late hour in the afternoon, held in check the greater portion of McClellan's vast army, endeavoring with battering-ram impetus to force its way through the narrow gap, and thereby afforded time for the concentration ’

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