Leutinent General Daniel Harvey Hill
Hill graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1842, ranking 28 out of 56 cadets, and was appointed to the 1st United States Artillery. As an infantry officer he distinguished himself in the Mexican-American War, being brevetted to captain for bravery at the Battle of Contreras and Churubusco, and brevetted to major for bravery at the Battle of Chapultepec. Among the slaves owned by the Hill family during Daniel Harvey’s youth was Elias Hill, whom Daniel Harvey helped teach to read and write and who later became a preacher and led his congregation in emigrating to Liberia.
On November 2, 1848, he married Isabella Morrison and they would have 9 children in all.
In July 1857, Isabella’s younger sister, Mary Anna, married Professor Thomas J. Jackson of the Virginia Military Institute. Hill and Jackson, who would later earn the nickname “Stonewall” as a Confederate officer, had crossed paths during the Mexican-American War, and later developed a closer friendship when both men lived in Lexington, Virginia in the 1850s.
At the outbreak of the Civil War, D.H. Hill was made colonel of the 1st North Carolina Volunteers, the “Bethel Regiment”, at the head of which he won the Battle of Big Bethel, near Fort Monroe, Virginia, on June 10, 1861. Shortly after this, he was promoted to brigadier general and commanded troops in the Richmond area. By the spring of 1862, he was a major general and division commander in the Army of Northern Virginia. He participated in the Yorktown and Williamsburg operations that started the Peninsula Campaign in the spring of 1862, and as a major general, led a division with great distinction in the Battle of Seven Pines and the Seven Days Battles. Hill’s division was left in the Richmond area while the rest of the army went north and did not participate in the Northern Virginia Campaign.
In the Maryland Campaign of 1862, Hill’s men fought at South Mountain. Scattered as far north as Boonsboro, Maryland when the fighting began, the division fought tooth and nail, buying Lee’s army enough time to concentrate at nearby Sharpsburg. Hill’s division saw fierce action in the infamous sunken road (“Bloody Lane”) at Antietam, and he rallied a few detached men from different brigades to hold the line at the critical moment. Confederate defeat was largely due to the interception by McClellan of a Special Order from Lee to his generals, revealing the movements of his widely separated divisions. Some have claimed that D.H. Hill received two copies of this order, of which one went astray. But Hill said he only received one copy.
Hill’s division was largely unengaged at the Battle of Fredericksburg. At this point, conflicts with Lee began to surface. On the reorganization of the Army of Northern Virginia after Stonewall Jackson’s death, Hill was not appointed to a corps command. He already had been detached from Lee’s Army and sent to his home state to recruit troops. During the Gettysburg Campaign he led Confederate reserve troops protecting Richmond, and successfully resisted a half-hearted advance by Union forces under John A. Dix and Erasmus Keyes in late June. In 1863, he was sent to Gen. Braxton Bragg’s newly reorganized Army of Tennessee, with a provisional promotion to lieutenant general, to command one of its corps. In the bloody and confused victory at Chickamauga, Hill’s forces saw some of the heaviest fighting. Afterward, Hill joined several other generals openly condemning Bragg’s failure to exploit the victory. President Jefferson Davis came to personally resolve this dispute, in Bragg’s favor, and to the detriment of those unhappy generals. The Army of Tennessee was reorganized again, and Hill was left without a command. Davis then refused to confirm Hill’s promotion, effectively demoting him back to major general. Because of this, Hill was mostly relegated to the sidelines for the rest of the war and fought in no more significant battles.
After that, D.H. Hill commanded as a volunteer in smaller actions away from the major armies. Hill participated in the Battle of Bentonville in North Carolina, the last fight of the Army of Tennessee. Hill was a division commander when he, along with Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, surrendered on April 26, 1865.
From 1866 to 1869, Hill edited a magazine, The Land We Love, at Charlotte, North Carolina, which dealt with social and historical subjects, and had a great influence in the South. In 1877, he became one of the first presidents of the University of Arkansas, a post that he held until 1884, and, in 1885, president of the Military and Agricultural College of Milledgeville, Georgia until August 1889, when he resigned due to failing health. General Hill died at Charlotte the following month, and was buried in Davidson College Cemetery.