Daniel Harvey Hill. If I were to say his name to any of his contemporaries, more than likely, all responses would come back the same-- an irascible sarcastic fellow with a profoundly queer temperament who was prone to croaking but yet was the bravest and boldest fighter in the Confederacy and who chose to fight on the most dangerous part of the battlefield thus exemplifying southern military leadership. Quite a man.
Over the next few months, I intend to take a close look at DH Hill and his division. It is my opinion that Hill was the most important individual of the Maryland Campaign and is entitled to more consideration than he has received thus far. I hope to substantiate this opinion with a series on Hill. I doubt I’ll be offering any new information, perhaps just a new way of looking at old information. To bolster my argument of Hill’s significance, I will show he had the most active division in the campaign. At Antietam alone, Hill's Division was all over the field and involved in every phase of the battle. He was the most peculiar general in an army of eccentrics, or lunatics. However, this less-than-sparkling personality was an asset to his success. He was in the center of the most controversial slip-up with the “Lost Order”. Hill held the most critical position at South Mountain and fought what was the most critical battle of the campaign (again, my opinion, I don’t want to upset the Antietam cart). In an army of chatterboxes and scribblers, Hill was the most outspoken and a prolific writer. Even before it was considered cool to degrade and denigrate superiors and colleagues, Hill was lashing out against his. Hill left the Army of Northern Virginia a few months after the Maryland Campaign ended. As a result of this departure, as well as his uncanny ability to irritate people, Hill never did receive proper credit for all the things he did do right during this campaign.
Hill was born July 12, 1821 in South Carolina. From as far back as he could remember, Hill suffered from excruciating pain. More than likely he was a victim of polio and he told others he had a weak and suffering spine. Hill’s father died when he was four and he was raised by his mother who was a bit of a manic depressive and alternated between hugs and cold shoulders. Hill’s oldest brother was a religious enthusiast and taught Hill both the spirit and letter of Presbyterian law. It was remarked that Hill’s devotion to God was so strong that he even made his brother-in-law Stonewall Jackson look like a heathen. So poor Harvey had a dead father, an unhinged mother, a fervent brother, and endless pain. Today, Harvey would see a shrink and take some pills to make himself feel better. Nonetheless, Hill learned to live with the pain and entered West Point in 1838. He graduated in 1842 and was ranked 28 out of 56. His class had a dozen notables but of those he would serve closely with during the Maryland Campaign were Richard H Anderson, Lafayette McLaws, and James Longstreet. On the other side of the field Hill would see former classmates Abner Doubleday and George Sykes. (1)
It has been stated that “professionally, his [Hill’s] service in Mexico had not only enhanced his army reputation but had also given meaning to his West Point studies of military strategy and tactics. Under Scott he had seen the uses of entrenchments, concentration of force, massed artillery, the daring attack, and the turning movement.” Hill’s Mexican War diary is a great read but other than humorous references to the strategy and tactics he employed to talk to his “little bonita”, there isn’t much about what he learned from Scott. (2)
Hill resigned from the Army in February 1849 and became a college teacher. During 1848-1854 he taught math at Washington College (now Washington and Lee) and 1854-1859 at Davidson College. In 1857 Hill published the “Elements of Algebra” which is known to have taken an anti-Yankee stance through its word problems. Some of these gems include---
A Yankee mixes a certain number of wooden nutmegs, which cost him 1/4 cent apiece, with a quantity of real nutmegs, worth 4 cents apiece, and sells the whole assortment for $44; and gains $3.75 by the fraud. How many wooden nutmegs were there?
In the year 1692, the people of Massachusetts executed, imprisoned, or privately persecuted 469 persons, of both sexes, and all ages, for alleged crime of witchcraft. Of these, twice as many were privately persecuted as were imprisoned, and 7 17/19 times as many more were imprisoned than were executed. Required the number of sufferers of each kind?
A gentleman in Richmond expressed a willingness to liberate his slave, valued at $1000, upon the receipt of that sum from charitable persons. He received contributions from 24 persons; and of these there were 14/19 the fewer from the North than the South, and the average donation of the former was 4/5 the smaller than that of the latter. What was the entire amount given by the latter?
As tension grew between the North and South, Hill advocated for the creation of “West Points of the South” and in 1858 Hill helped establish the North Carolina Military Institute. He was the superintendent, professor of math and artillery, and president of the board of directors. With the outbreak of war, all staff and students left the school and entered Confederate service. (3)
During April 1861-July 1862 Hill served in a variety of administrative posts and fought in the battles of Big Bethel Church (June 10, 1861), Seven Pines (May31-June 1, 1862), and Seven Days’ (June 25-July 1, 1862). Initially, Hill was appointed as a Colonel in North Carolina’s state service (April 24, 1861). After his performance at Big Bethel, Hill was rewarded with a promotion to Brigadier in the Confederate army (July 10, 1861) and then assigned a division and promoted to Major General the following year (March 25, 1862). He earned the reputation of being the premier North Carolinian in Confederate service. He, along with John A Dix, negotiated a prisoner exchange system (Hill-Dix Cartel, July 22, 1862) that lasted until the end of 1863. After this task, Lee placed Hill back in charge of the North Carolina department with the objective of securing the North Carolina/Virginia border (July 29, 1862). Hill did not perform to the standards that Lee had expected causing Lee to write Davis that Hill was “an excellent executive officer, [but] does not appear to have much administrative ability. Left to himself he seems embarrassed and backward to act.” In response, on August 21 Davis recalled Hill to Northern Virginia. Hill resumed command of his division and put it on an unmerciful march in attempt to catch up with Lee. Despite the effort, Hill did not make it in time to participate in the campaign against John Pope. However, on September 2 Hill was in place and ready to embark on the Maryland Campaign with Lee. (4)
Hill’s Division consisted of--------
George B Anderson- (2nd 4th 14th 30th NC)-
Born in North Carolina. Graduated from West Point. He was Lieutenant of the Dragoons, surveyed a railroad route to California, and engaged in very active frontier duty. Resigned from US Army in 1861 and offered his services to North Carolina. In May 1861 he was appointed Colonel of the 4th NC. At Seven Pines, in the absence of the actual Brigadier, Anderson commanded the brigade and and for his gallant conduct was rewarded with rank of Brigadier a few days later in June 1862.
Alfred H Colquitt- (13th AL, 6th 23rd 27th 28th GA)-
Born in Georgia. Graduated from College of NJ. Returned to Georgia and practiced law. Served in the Mexican War and achieved the rank of Major. In 1853 was elected to the US Congress as a Representative for one term. Served in Georgia’s state legislature. Was an ardent secessionist and was elected to the Georgia Secession Convention in 1861. When Georgia seceded in January 1861, Colquitt immediately joined the Confederate army. Colquitt entered as a Captain but quickly became Colonel of the 6th GA in May 1861. He became a Brigadier in September 1862.
Roswell S Ripley- (1st & 3rd NC, 4th & 44th GA)-
Born in Ohio. Graduated from West Point. Served with artillery in Mexican War. In 1853 Ripley was stationed in Charleston and resigned from the army. Once South Carolina seceded, Ripley offered his services to the Confederacy. His artillery at Fort Moultrie bombed Fort Sumter. Ripley was placed in charge of repairs of Fort Sumter after it was evacuated. He was promoted to Brigadier in August 1861. In early 1862 Ripley requested a transfer and he was sent to Hill. Ripley was considered to be the most cantankerous man in Confederate service.
Robert E Rodes- (3rd 5th 6th 12th 26th AL)-
Born in Virginia. Graduated from VMI. Was a VMI professor until 1850 when he took a job as a railroad civil engineer. In 1860 Rodes was hired back at VMI but never took the position due to a lack of funding. In January 1861 Rodes was recalled to Alabama where he had been elected as Captain of the Warrior Guards in Tuscaloosa (similar to a shotgun wedding, Rodes had joined this militia group when he was stationed in Alabama as an engineer and now had to go back and actually fulfill his military obligation). In May the company was mustered in as part of the 5th AL and Rodes was elected Colonel. He was promoted to Brigadier in October 1861.
Samuel Garland- (5th 12th 13th 20th 23rd NC)-
Born in Virginia. Graduated from VMI and then received a law degree from University of Virginia. Practiced law in Lynchburg. In early 1861 both Garland’s wife and young son died from influenza. In April 1861 Garland was Captain of the Lynchburg Home Guard. Mustered in the 11th VA in Richmond with Jubal Early as Colonel. Early was promoted to Brigadier four days after muster and Garland became Colonel. In May 1862 Garland was promoted to Brigadier and took over Early’s brigade due to a wound that would keep Early out of action for several months.
Scipio F Pierson (Artillery)- Carter’s King William (VA), Hardaway’s (AL), Jeff Davis (AL), Jones’ Peninsula (VA).
Next Up--- Hill & the Lost Order (Part II)
1.Lee’s Maverick General by Hal Bridges, 1991. Pg 16-18.
2.Bridges pg 22.
3.Bridges pg 27. Elements of Algebra by DH Hill, 1857. Pg 124, 151, 153.
4.Bridges pg 89-90.