Daniel Harvey Hill

July 12, 1821–July 12, 1821

Daniel Harvey Hill was a prominent general officer who led Confederate forces in the eastern and western theaters of the American Civil War.

General Daniel Harvey Hill, Civil War

After Confederate officials relieved Daniel Harvey Hill from duty with the Army of Tennessee, in 1863, President Davis reneged on his commitment to Hill and declined to forward his promotion to lieutenant general to the Confederate Senate. Hill reverted to the rank of major general. Image Source: Special Collections Research Center at NC State University Libraries.

Who Was Daniel Harvey Hill?

Daniel Harvey Hill was an American educator, author, and Confederate general who lived from 1821 to 1889. He is notable for his service in the Confederate Army during the American Civil War and his contributions to military strategy and education. When the Civil War began, Hill joined the Confederate Army as a colonel. After serving in several key battles, he was eventually promoted to the rank of major general. After the war, he returned to college teaching and published a periodical entitled The Land We Love.

Daniel Harvey Hill Facts

  • Full Name: Daniel Harvey Hill
  • Birth Date: July 12, 1821
  • Birth Location: York District (now York County), South Carolina
  • Parents: Solomon and Nancy (Cabeen) Hill
  • Education: United States Military Academy
  • Occupation: College professor, military officer
  • Career Summary: First lieutenant (USA), Major general (CSA)
  • Spouse: Isabella Morrison
  • Place of Death: Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Date of Death: September 24, 1889
  • Place of Burial: Davidson College, Davidson, North Carolina

Early Life

Daniel Harvey Hill (aka D.H. Hill) was born on July 12, 1821, in York District (now York County), South Carolina. Harvey (as he preferred to be known) was the youngest of eleven children born to Solomon and Nancy (Cabeen) Hill. Harvey’s paternal grandfather, Colonel William Hill, who died five years before Daniel’s birth, was an early ironmaster in South Carolina and a distinguished veteran of the American Revolution. When Harvey was four years old, his father died, leaving his family in debt. With the help of her children, Nancy Hill maintained ownership of the family’s small farm where she continued raising Harvey and his siblings.

U.S. Military Academy Cadet

Historians know little about Hill’s childhood and early education. He must have been an able learner, however, because he received an appointment to the United States Military Academy where he enrolled on July 1, 1838. Hill graduated four years later on July 1, 1842, ranked twenty-eighth in a distinguished class of cadets that included fifteen future generals in the American Civil War. Among Hill’s classmates were Union generals William S. Rosecrans, Abner Doubleday, John Pope, and George Sykes, and Confederate generals James Longstreet, Earl Van Dorn, and, Lafayette McLaws. Other notable officers with whom Hill rubbed elbows during his four years at the Academy were Simon B. Buckner, Don Carlos Buell, Richard S. Ewell, William B. Franklin, Richard B. Garnett, Robert S. Garnett, Ulysses S. Grant, Henry W. Halleck, Winfield Scott Hancock, Bushrod R. Johnson, Nathaniel Lyon, Edward O. C. Ord, Fitz John Porter, John F. Reynolds, William T. Sherman, Edmund Kirby Smith, William F. Smith, George H. Thomas, Thomas J. Wood, and Horatio G. Wright.

U.S. Army Officer

After graduating from West Point, the army brevetted Hill to the rank of second lieutenant on July 1, 1842, and assigned him to duty with the 1st Artillery at Fort Kent, Maine. Between 1843 and 1845, Hill served at various posts in the South (Savannah, Georgia; Fort Moultrie, South Carolina; and Fort Monroe, Virginia). On October 13, 1845, Hill received a commission as a second lieutenant with the 4th Artillery and deployed to Texas to serve with Zachary Taylor‘s Army of Occupation.

Mexican-American War

Hill received his first taste of combat in northern Mexico with the 4th U.S. Infantry Regiment at the Battle of Monterrey (September 21–24, 1846) during the Mexican-American War. Promoted to first lieutenant on March 3, 1847, Hill also served under General Winfield Scott at the Siege of Veracruz (March 9–29, 1847). During the war with Mexico, Hill received a brevet promotion to captain on August 20, 1847, “for Gallant and Meritorious Conduct in the Battles of Contreras and Churubusco” and a brevet promotion to major on September 13, 1847, for “Gallant and Meritorious Conduct in the Storming of Chapultepec.” After the war, the South Carolina Legislature presented Hill with a sword in honoring him as one of the three bravest South Carolinians to take part in the conflict.

Marriage and Civilian Life

Upon returning to the United States, the army reassigned Hill to garrison duty at Fort Monroe, Virginia. While serving there, he met Isabella Morrison, the daughter of Robert Hall Morrison, a Presbyterian minister and the first president of Davidson College. Following a brief romance, the couple wed on November 2, 1848. Their marriage eventually produced nine children.

Teaching Career

Four months after his wedding, on February 28, 1849, Hill resigned from his military commission to accept an appointment as professor of mathematics at Washington College (now Washington and Lee University), in Lexington, Virginia. While living in Lexington, Hill renewed his acquaintanceship with Thomas J. Jackson (later lionized as General “Stonewall” Jackson), whom he had met while both men served in Mexico. Hill helped Jackson get a teaching position at the Virginia Military Institute, also in Lexington. He also introduced Jackson to his wife’s sister, Mary Anna Morrison, in 1856. On July 16, 1857, the widowed Jackson married “Anna” Morrison and became Hill’s brother-in-law.

Hill remained at Washington College until 1854 when he accepted a position as a professor of mathematics and civil engineering at Davidson College in Davidson, North Carolina. While at Davidson, Hill authored a textbook entitled Elements of Algebra that incorporated word problems mocking Northerners. Hill remained at Davidson for five years until receiving an appointment as Superintendent of the North Carolina Military Institute at Charlotte, North Carolina, in 1859. He remained at the school until 1861 when he resigned to accept a commission in the Confederate army.

Civil War in the East

When the Civil War erupted, North Carolina Governor John W. Ellis entreated Hill to bring his cadets to Raleigh to train recruits for the 1st North Carolina Regiment. Subsequently, the Confederate government commissioned Hill as the regiment’s colonel and deployed him to Virginia. As commander of the Department of the Peninsula, Hill gained nearly immediate notoriety for his leadership during the Battle of Big Bethel, near Fort Monroe, Virginia, on June 10, 1861. Southerners celebrated the Confederate victory in what some historians consider the first major land engagement of the Civil War. Because of Hill’s success, the Confederate government promoted him to the rank of brigadier general one month later on July 10, 1861.

As the Confederate army sorted out its command structure during the first year of the war, Hill held several commands for brief periods of 1861 and early 1862. He commanded the Department of the Peninsula (May 31–June 1861), and the Department of Fredericksburg (July 17–July 1861). By October, he was back in North Carolina as head of the District of Pamlico for two months.

Peninsula Campaign

Shortly after the beginning of the Peninsula Campaign, (March 17–August 14, 1862), the Confederate government promoted Hill to the rank of major general on March 26, 1862. During the campaign, Hill served as a division commander under Major General James Longstreet with the Rebel force that became the Army of Northern Virginia. Hill took part in the Siege of Yorktown (April 5–May 4, 1862) and the Battle of Williamsburg (May 5, 1862). Hill distinguished himself during the battles of Seven Pines (May 31–June 1, 1862), Gaines’ Mill (June 27, 1862), and Malvern Hill (July 1, 1862). After the Army of Northern Virginia forced Major General George B. McClellan‘s Army of the Potomac to evacuate the Virginia Peninsula, Hill remained behind as officer-in-charge of the tidewater area east of Richmond and consequently missed the Second Battle of Bull Run at Manassas.

Maryland Campaign

Hill rejoined the Army of Northern Virginia by September 4, 1862, when General Robert E. Lee launched the Maryland Campaign, his first of two invasions of the North. On September 14, Hill’s Division stubbornly defended Turner’s and Crampton’s gaps through South Mountain, securing critical time for Lee to unite his divided army near Sharpsburg, Maryland.

During the campaign’s pivotal encounter along Antietam Creek, Hill deployed his division on the morning of September 17 in a strong defensive line along a sunken farm lane worn down by years of wagon traffic, afterward known as the “Bloody Lane.” Although greatly outnumbered, Hill’s Division staunchly defended its position in the center of the Confederate line for nearly four hours before finally giving way. During the action, Hill had three horses shot from beneath him while rallying his division, which lost over sixty percent of its strength. Despite the carnage on both sides, Hill’s steadfast resistance prevented the exhausted Federals from following up on their success when the center of the Rebel line finally broke, possibly preventing Union forces from carrying the day during the Battle of Antietam.

Battle of Antietam, Union Soldiers Marching into Battle, Painting
Battle of Antietam. Image Source: Library of Congress.

Hill’s Demise

Despite his heroics at the sunken road, the Battle of Antietam marked the beginning of Hill’s military demise. Six days before the conflict, on September 11, 1862, members of the 27th Indiana found a copy of Lee’s campaign plans. They quickly passed the document up the chain of command where Union officials verified its authenticity. Upon receiving the copy of Lee’s orders, Union General George B. McClellan boasted, “Here is a paper with which, if I cannot whip Bobby Lee, I will be willing to go home.” The information no doubt aided the Union forces and Lee blamed Hill for its loss. Hill adamantly denied Lee’s accusations, but to no avail. When the Army of Northern Virginia next engaged the Army of the Potomac at the Battle of Fredericksburg (December 11–15, 1862), Lee held Hill’s Division in reserve. Hill’s participation, minor as it was, proved to be his last major action as a member of Lee’s army.

Department of North Carolina

After missing the action at Fredericksburg, a despondent Hill considered resigning his commission, citing chronic health problems. When Lee offered him a position closer to his home, Hill reconsidered. On February 7, 1863, Hill assumed command of the Department of North Carolina. His duties included defending eastern North Carolina against Union coastal incursions, securing staples for the Confederate armies, recruiting soldiers, and rounding up deserters. On May 28, 1863, Confederate authorities expanded Hill’s department to include southern Virginia up to Petersburg.

When Lee reorganized the Army of Northern Virginia following the death of Stonewall Jackson at the Battle of Chancellorsville (April 30–May 6, 1863) he bypassed Hill as one of his three corps commanders. Throughout the Gettysburg Campaign, Hill spent his time guarding Richmond and building defenses around Petersburg.

Civil War in the West

The surrender of Vicksburg, Mississippi on July 4, 1863, magnified the Confederacy’s crushing defeat at the Battle of Gettysburg the day before. As if events were not dire enough for the Confederacy, Major General William Rosecrans‘ Union forces were bearing down on General Braxton Bragg‘s Army of Tennessee near Chattanooga.

Army of Tennessee

Bragg’s command structure was in disarray. His personal relationship with Lieutenant General William J. Hardee (one of Bragg’s three corps commanders) was so poisoned that Hardee requested a transfer. In need of a competent general to replace Hardee, Confederate President Jefferson Davis traveled to Richmond on or about July 10 and offered the position to Hill. Davis’ offer tempted Hill, but he noted that Major General Alexander Stewart out-ranked him in the Army of Tennessee command structure. Davis resolved that issue by offering to promote Hill to the rank of lieutenant general (pending legislative approval). Hill accepted Davis’ offer. On July 14, 1863, the Confederate War Department notified Bragg that “Lieutenant General D.H. Hill” had been “ordered to report to you and now on the way.” Hill joined the Army of Tennessee in Chattanooga within the week and on July 19 Bragg issued General Orders, Number 152 (AOT) stating “Lieutenant General D. H. Hill is assigned to the command of the Second Corps (late Hardee’s). This corps will henceforth be known as Hill’s corps.”

Battle of Chickamauga

Hill’s arrival did little to stem the onslaught of the Army of the Cumberland following Rosecrans’ successful Tullahoma Campaign. By September 9, 1863, Bragg abandoned Chattanooga and headed south into Georgia. Rather than stopping to rest a nd refit his weary forces, Rosecrans’ followed. On September 19, Bragg turned and attacked his pursuers near Chickamauga Creek in Catoosa County and Walker County, Georgia. Hill’s corps fought well during the Battle of Chickamauga (September 19–20, 1863) and helped drive Rosecrans back into Tennessee.

Battle of Chickamauga, Rosecrans and Bragg in the Field
Battle of Chickamauga. Image Source: Library of Congress.

Despite the Confederate victory at Chickamauga, Bragg’s failure to go on the offensive while Rosecrans’ army was retreating displeased his senior officers. Hill played a leading role in drafting a petition sent to President Davis calling for Bragg’s dismissal. When Davis traveled to Tennessee to assess the situation, Hill was especially vocal and acerbic in his criticism of Bragg. Despite damaging testimony from several notable general officers, including James Longstreet, John C. Breckinridge, and Simon B. Buckner, Davis eventually sided with his old friend, Bragg.

Davis authorized Bragg to rid himself of his mutinous subordinates and on October 11, 1863, Bragg singled out Hill. Two days later, Davis wrote to Bragg:

GENERAL: I have received your application of the 11th instant, for the removal of Lieutenant General D. H. Hill from a command in the Army of Tennessee. Regretting that the expectations which induced the assignment of that gallant officer to this army have not been realized, you are authorized to relieve General D. H. Hill from further duty with your command.

Bragg quickly issued General Orders, Number 33 on October 15, 1863, stating that:

Lieutenant General D. H. Hill, with the staff brought by him to this army from Virginia, is relieved from duty in this department, and will report to General S. Cooper, Adjutant and Inspector General, Richmond.

Adding insult to injury, Davis reneged on his commitment to Hill and declined to forward his promotion to lieutenant general to the Confederate Senate. The humiliated officer reverted to the rank of major general and returned to Virginia without a command.

Hill saw little action during the rest of the war. In 1864, he volunteered to serve under General P. G. T. Beauregard and took part in the Battle of Proctor’s Creek (May 12–16, 1864) and the Second Battle of Petersburg (June 15–18, 1864). Later, when General Joseph E. Johnston was scraping together forces to defend the Carolinas during the last days of the rebellion, Hill served with the Army of the South and was engaged at the Battle of Bentonville (March 19–21, 1865). A few weeks later, Hill surrendered with the rest of Johnston’s forces at Bennett Place, near Hillsborough, North Carolina (April 17–26, 1865).

Post-Civil War Life

After the war, Hill settled in Charlotte where he founded and published a periodical entitled The Land We Love. In 1877, he returned to the field of education serving as president and as a professor at Arkansas Industrial University (now the University of Arkansas). In 1884, Hill moved to Georgia, where he received an appointment as president of the Middle Georgia Military and Agricultural College (later Georgia Military College) at Milledgeville in 1885.

Death

In 1889, the painful effects of stomach cancer forced Hill to resign and return to Charlotte. He died there on September 24, 1889, at age sixty-seven. Hill’s remains are buried on the campus of Davidson College, Davidson, North Carolina.

Daniel Harvey Hill Significance

Daniel Harvey Hill was significant because he was an American educator, author, and Confederate general who made important contributions to military strategy and education. After serving in the U.S. Army during the Mexican-American War, Hill was a professor at Washington College and Davidson College. When the Civil War began, Hill joined the Confederate Army and fought in several key battles, eventually rising to the rank of major general. After the war, he returned to college teaching and published a periodical entitled The Land We Love.

Daniel Harvey Hill — Facts About His Life and Accomplishments

  • Daniel Harvey Hill is more commonly known as D.H. Hill
  • Hill preferred to be called Harvey by friends and family.
  • Hill’s paternal grandfather, Colonel William Hill, was an early ironmaster in South Carolina and a veteran of the American Revolution.
  • Hill’s father died in 1825, leaving his family in debt.
  • With the help of her children, Nancy Hill maintained ownership of the family’s small farm where she continued raising Hill and his siblings.
  • Hill graduated from the United States Military Academy on July 1, 1842.
  • After graduating from the United States Military Academy, Hill was brevetted to the rank of second lieutenant on July 1, 1842, and assigned to duty with the First Artillery at Fort Kent, Maine.
  • Between 1843 and 1845, Hill served at various posts in the South (Savannah, Georgia; Fort Moultrie, South Carolina; and Fort Monroe, Virginia).
  • On October 13, 1845, Hill was commissioned as a second lieutenant with the 4th Artillery, and deployed to Texas to serve with Zachary Taylor’s Army of Occupation.
  • Hill received his first taste of combat in northern Mexico with the Fourth U.S. Infantry Regiment at the Battle of Monterrey (September 21–24, 1846) during the Mexican-American War.
  • Hill was promoted to first lieutenant in the U.S. Army on March 3, 1847.
  • Hill served under General Winfield Scott at the Siege of Veracruz (March 9-29, 1847) during the Mexican-American War.
  • During the war with Mexico, Hill was brevetted to captain on August 20, 1847, “for Gallant and Meritorious Conduct in the Battles of Contreras and Churubusco” and brevetted to major on September 13, 1847, for “Gallant and Meritorious Conduct in the Storming of Chapultepec.”
  • After the Mexican-American War, the South Carolina Legislature presented Hill with a sword in honoring him as one of the three bravest South Carolinians to take part in the conflict.
  • Hill married Isabella Morrison on November 2, 1848. Their marriage produced nine children.
  • On February 28, 1849, Hill resigned from his military commission to accept an appointment as professor of mathematics at Washington College (now Washington and Lee University), in Lexington, Virginia.
  • In 1854 when Hill accepted a position as a professor of mathematics and civil engineering at Davidson College, in Davidson, North Carolina.
  • In 1859, Hill received an appointment as Superintendent of the North Carolina Military Institute, at Charlotte, North Carolina.
  • When the Civil War erupted, Hill accepted a commission as colonel of the First North Carolina Regiment.
  • As commander of the Department of the Peninsula, Hill gained nearly immediate notoriety for his leadership during the Battle of Big Bethel.
  • The Confederate government promoted Hill to the rank of brigadier general on July 10, 1861.
  • Hill commanded the Department of the Peninsula (May 31–June 1861).
  • Hill commanded the Department of Fredericksburg (July 17–July 1861).
  • Hill commanded the District of Pamlico (October 4–November 16, 1861).
  • The Confederate government promoted Hill to the rank of major general on March 26, 1862.
  • During the Peninsula Campaign, Hill served as a division commander under Major General James Longstreet with the Army of Northern Virginia.
  • During the Peninsula Campaign, Hill took part in the Siege of Yorktown (April 5–May 4, 1862) and the Battle of Williamsburg (May 5, 1862).
  • Hill distinguished himself during the battles of Seven Pines (May 31–June 1, 1862), Gaines’ Mill (June 27, 1862), and Malvern Hill (July 1, 1862).
  • On September 14, 1862, Hill’s Division stubbornly defended Turner’s and Crampton’s gaps through South Mountain.
    During the Battle of Antietam, Hill’s division fought valiantly, defending the sunken road, also known as the “Bloody Lane.”
  • The Battle of Antietam marked the beginning of Hill’s military demise.
  • After the Battle of Antietam, Confederate General Robert E. Lee accused Hill of losing a copy of Lee’s secret orders, thereby aiding Union General George B. McClellan. Hill adamantly denied Lee’s accusation.
  • At the Battle of Fredericksburg (December 11–15, 1862), Robert E. Lee held Hill’s Division in reserve. Hill’s participation, minor as it was, proved to be his last major action as a member of Lee’s army.
  • On February 7, 1863, Hill assumed command of the Department of North Carolina.
  • On May 28, 1863, Confederate authorities expanded Daniel Harvey Hill’s department to include southern Virginia up to Petersburg.
  • Throughout the Gettysburg Campaign, Hill spent his time guarding Richmond and building defenses around Petersburg.
  • On or about July 10, 1863, Confederate President Jefferson Davis offered Hill a promotion to lieutenant general (pending legislative approval) in return for accepting an appointment as a corps commander with the Army of Tennessee.
  • Hill’s corps fought well during the Battle of Chickamauga (September 19–20, 1863).
  • Despite the Confederate victory at Chickamauga, Hill played a leading role in drafting a petition sent to President Davis calling for Braxton Bragg’s dismissal as commander of the Army of Tennessee.
  • On October 15, 1863, Braxton Bragg issued General Orders, Number 33 stating that “Lieutenant General D. H. Hill, with the staff brought by him to this army from Virginia, is relieved from duty in this department, and will report to General S. Cooper, Adjutant and Inspector General, Richmond.”
  • After Confederate officials relieved Hill from duty with the Army of Tennessee, in 1863, President Davis reneged on his commitment to Hill and declined to forward his promotion to lieutenant general to the Confederate Senate. Hill reverted to the rank of major general.
  • In 1864, Hill volunteered to serve under General P. G. T. Beauregard and took part in the Battle of Proctor’s Creek (May 12–16, 1864) and the Second Battle of Petersburg (June 15–18, 1864).
  • In 1865, Hill served with the Army of the South and was engaged at the Battle of Bentonville (March 19–21, 1865).
  • Hill surrendered with General Joseph E. Johnston’s forces at Bennett Place, near Hillsborough, North Carolina (April 17–26, 1865).
  • After the Civil War, Hill settled in Charlotte, where he founded and published a periodical entitled The Land We Love.
    In 1877, Daniel Harvey Hill returned to the field of education serving as president and as a professor at Arkansas Industrial University (now the University of Arkansas).
  • In 1884, Hill moved to Georgia where he received an appointment as president of Middle Georgia Military and Agricultural College (later Georgia Military College) a year later.
  • In 1889, the painful effects of stomach cancer forced Hill to return to Charlotte.
  • Hill died in Charlotte, North Carolina, on September 24, 1889, at age sixty-seven.
  • Hill’s remains are buried on the campus of Davidson College, Davidson, North Carolina.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Daniel Harvey Hill
  • Date July 12, 1821–July 12, 1821
  • Author
  • Keywords Daniel Harvey Hill
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date February 21, 2024
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update January 12, 2024

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