American Civil War: Major General Daniel Harvey Hill

D.H. Hill during the Civil War
Major General Daniel Harvey Hill. Photograph Source: Public Domain

Daniel Harvey Hill: Early Life & Career:

Born in the York District of South Carolina on July 21, 1821, Daniel Harvey Hill was the son Solomon and Nancy Hill.  Educated locally, Hill received an appointment to West Point in 1838 and graduated four years later in the same class as James LongstreetWilliam RosecransJohn Pope, and George Sykes.  Ranked 28th in a class of 56, he accepted a commission in the 1st US Artillery.

 With the outbreak of the Mexican-American War four years later, Hill traveled south with Major General Winfield Scott's army.  During the campaign against Mexico City, he earned a brevet promotion to captain for his performance at the Battles of Contreras and Churubusco.  A brevet to major followed his actions at the Battle of Chapultepec.

Daniel Harvey Hill - Antebellum Years:

In 1849, Hill elected to resign his commission and left the 4th US Artillery to accept a teaching post at Washington College in Lexington, VA.  While there, he befriended Thomas J. Jackson who was then serving as a professor at the Virginia Military Institute.  Actively engaged in education over the next decade, Hill also taught at Davidson College before receiving an appointment as superintendent of the North Carolina Military Institute.  In 1857, his ties to Jackson tightened when his friend married his sister's wife.

 Skilled in mathematics, Hill was well-known in the South for his texts on the subject.

Daniel Harvey Hill - The Civil War Begins:

With the beginning of the Civil War in April 1861, Hill received command of the 1st North Carolina Infantry on May 1.  Dispatched north to the Virginia Peninsula, Hill and his men played a key role in defeating Major General Benjamin Butler's Union forces at the Battle of Big Bethel on June 10.

 Promoted to brigadier general the following month, Hill moved through a number of posts in Virginia and North Carolina later that year and into early 1862.  Elevated to major general on March 26, he assumed command of a division in General Joseph E. Johnston's army in Virginia.  As Major General George B. McClellan moved to the Peninsula with the Army of the Potomac in April, Hill's men took part in opposing the Union advance at the Siege of Yorktown.

Daniel Harvey Hill - Army of Northern Virginia:

In late May, Hill's division played a central role in the Battle of Seven Pines.  With the ascent of General Robert E. Lee to command of the Army of Northern Virginia, Hill saw action during the Seven Days' Battles in late June and early July including Beaver Dam Creek, Gaines' Mill, and Malvern Hill.  As Lee moved north following the campaign, Hill and his division received orders to remain in the vicinity of Richmond.  While there, he was tasked with negotiating an agreement for the exchange of prisoners of war. Working with Union Major General John A. Dix, Hill concluded the Dix-Hill Cartel on July 22.  Rejoining Lee following the Confederate victory at Second Manassas, Hill moved north into Maryland.

While north of the Potomac, Hill exercised independent command and his men comprised the army's rearguard as it moved north and west.  On September 14, his troops defended Turner's and Fox's Gaps during the Battle of South Mountain.  Three days later, Hill performed well at the Battle of Antietam as his men turned back Union assaults against the sunken road.  Following the Confederate defeat, he retreated south with his division serving in Jackson's Second Corps.  On December 13, Hill's men saw limited action during the Confederate victory at the Battle of Fredericksburg.

Daniel Harvey Hill - Sent West:

In April 1863, Hill departed the army to begin recruiting duty in North Carolina.  Following the death of Jackson after the Battle of Chancellorsville a month later, he was irritated when Lee did not appoint him to corps command.

 After protecting Richmond from Union efforts, Hill instead received orders to join General Braxton Bragg's Army of Tennessee with the provisional rank of lieutenant general.  Taking command of a corps consisting of the divisions of Major Generals Patrick Cleburne and John C. Breckinridge, he led it effectively at the Battle of Chickamauga that September.  In the wake of the triumph, Hill and several other senior officers openly expressed their unhappiness with Bragg's failure to capitalize on the victory.  Visiting the army to resolve the dispute, President Jefferson Davis, a longtime friend of Bragg, found in the commanding general's favor.  When the Army of Tennessee underwent a reorganization, Hill was intentionally left without a command.  In addition, Davis decided not to confirm his promotion his promotion to lieutenant general.

Daniel Harvey Hill - Later War:

Reduced to major general, Hill served as volunteer aide-de-camp in the Department of North Carolina and Southern Virginia in 1864.  On January 21, 1865, he assumed command of the District of Georgia, Department of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.  Possessing few resources, he moved north and led a division in Johnston's army during the final weeks of the war.  Taking part in the Battle of Bentonville in late March, he surrendered with the rest of the army at Bennett Place the following month.  

Daniel Harvey Hill - Final Years:

Settling in Charlotte, NC in 1866, Hill edited a magazine for three years.  Returning to education, he became president of the University of Arkansas in 1877.

 Known for his effective administration, he also taught classes in philosophy and political economy.  Resigning in 1884 due to health issues, Hill settled in Georgia.  A year later, he accepted the presidency of the Georgia Agriculture and Mechanical College.  In this post until August 1889, Hill again stepped down due to ill health.  Dying at Charlotte on September 23, 1889, he was buried at the Davidson College Cemetery.

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