MADISON COUNTY —
On the morning of April 2, while riding through the woods near Petersburg, attempting to contact Maj. Gen. Henry Heth, one of his division commanders, Hill and his courier encountered two soldiers from the 138th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment.
Hill called on them to surrender, but they fired at him and his aid. The general was mortally wounded by Cpl. John W. Mauck, an obscure corporal with an undistinguished three-year service record.
The Bedford Gazette gave this account of how Hill died:
“When Mauk and Wolford were near this swamp, they saw two men on horseback advancing toward the men on the hill. These men had the appearance of officers; when they saw the men on the hill they turned toward where Mauk and Wolford were standing behind a large tree; one of the officers remained behind and the other advanced with revolver in hand and pointed it at these two men, demanding their surrender.
“Mauk and Wolford refused. The officers said they would have to surrender anyhow, as a body of troops was following them, or rather coming in toward Petersburg. The officer still advanced, and fiercely demanded their surrender, with an unmentionable epithet. Mauk replied that he would not do it and said to his comrade, ‛let's shoot them,’ and instantly each fired, Mauk choosing the foremost man, who fell from his saddle dead; the other man fell forward on his horse’s neck and rode off and the dead man’s horse followed.”
A.P. Hill died at the age of 39 and was survived by his wife, Kitty Morgan McClung, who took their two children back to her hometown, Lexington, Ky.
Hill was one of the Civil War’s most highly regarded generals on either side. He had a reputation for arriving on battlefields (such as Antietam, Cedar Mountain, and Second Bull Run) just in time to prove decisive and achieve victory.