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Committed everything to God.

To know D. H. Hill as the soldier of iron nerve, who rode unmoved in showers of shot and shell, or rebuked in scathing terms a laggard or deserter, was to understand nothing of his true nature. When the battle of Bethel was over and others were feasting or carousing, Hill had fallen upon his knees and was returning thanks to Almighty God who, he believed, directed the course of every deadly missile hurled by the enemy with the same unerring certainty that ordered the movements of the multitudes of worlds in the universe, and into whose keeping he daily committed himself, his wife and little ones, his staff and his soldiers with the calm reliance of a child, that as a kind father he would provide what was best for him and them.

On the day after the fight at Bethel he wrote his wife: ‘I have to thank God for a great and decided victory and that I escaped with a slight contusion on the knee. * * It is a little singular that my first battle in this war should be at Bethel where I was baptized and worshipped till I was sixteen years old, the church of my mother. Was she not a guardian spirit in the battle, averting ball and shell? Oh God, give me gratitude to Thee, and may we never dishonor Thee by weak faith!’ Still later he wrote his wife: ‘I look for a battle about the first of October. Pray for me that I may be well. (He was then in delicate health.) * * We are in the hands of God, and as safe on the battlefield as anywhere else. We will be exposed to a heavy fire, but the arm of God is mightier than the artillery of the enemy.’

After the battle Governor Ellis issued a commission of Brigadier General to him, as Governor Letcher had done at an earlier date in the case of Jackson, but President Davis delayed giving him the appointment till September, 1861. The response to a letter from his [121] wife written during this interval, in which she complained of the delay, shows how little the outer world understood his character or his motives. ‘You must not be concerned about my commission (he wrote). I feel too distrustful of my own skill, coolness and judgment. I have never coveted and always avoided positions of trust and responsibility. The offices that I have held have not been of my seeking.’


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