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[137] which demanded that Hill should know at the earliest possible moment of his proposed plan of operation, and of the prohibition applying to his own and Longstreet's divisions only against entering the neighboring town without a permit from division headquarters, by ordering its delivery direct to him.

The direct testimony bearing upon the dispute in reference to the lost order was the sworn statement of Major James W. Ratchford, Adjutant-General, that but the single copy of the order reached him, which was preserved by General Hill till his death, and the solemn statement of Hill that he himself received no other copy. Leaving out of view the difference between the original paper recorded in Lee's book and the supposed copy delivered to McClellan, there is nothing to contradict the testimony of one of the bravest and truest officers in the army of Virginia and the word of D. H. Hill. The attention of these two officers had been called to the loss of the paper within a few months after it passed into McClellan's hands, when all that had occurred in Maryland was still fresh in their memories, and they then made the same statement that the one reiterates to-day and the other published in 1886. Lee himself charged no particular person with the loss of the dispatch. While he possibly magnified (says Longstreet in his article in the Century Magazine) its effect upon the Maryland campaign, he was inclined to attribute its loss to the fault of a courier. (2 Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, page 674.) In his report of the operations in Maryland, he said (Official Records, Series 1, Vol. XIX, part 1, page 145): ‘The small command of General Hill repelled repeated assaults of the Federal army and held it in check for five hours.’ The only contradicting testimony comes from Major Taylor, of General Lee's staff, and being negative in its character, is not entitled to the weight that should be attached to the positive evidence of gentlemen of equal reputation for veracity. The substance of his statement is, that it was his habit during that campaign to send such orders directly to the headquarters of Hill's division as well as through Jackson to Hill. But he neither recalls the fact of sending the particular paper in question, nor names any officer or courier who attests its actual delivery. Admitting the high character of Taylor, as well as Ratchford, the verdict of history, under the most familiar rules of evidence, must unquestionably acquit Hill of negligence, and accord to him the high honor of saving the army of Lee by his strategy, coolness and courage.

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