Stories of D H Hill: Happy Birthday General Hill (12 July 1821–24 September 1889)

Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

lelliott19

Captain
Forum Host
Silver Patron
Joined
Mar 15, 2013
Messages
6,033
1562649156875.png

Rather than a traditional biography, I thought it would be fun to create a thread of anecdotes - either stories others told about D H Hill or stories he told about others. As a founding member of the Official D H Hill Fan Club, I felt it my duty and obligation to start this thread. I realize that D H Hill is not a "popular" choice for many. There are just a handful of members of the fan club.:D But I hope that many contributors will post anecdotes in this thread.
1562645582546.png

Confederate Lieutenant General Daniel Harvey Hill, more commonly known as D. H. Hill, was born 12 July 1821 at Hill's Iron Works, in York District, South Carolina. His parents, Solomon and Nancy Cabeen Hill. His paternal grandfather, Col. William "Billy" Hill, an Irish immigrant who operated an iron works which manufactured cannon for the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. His maternal grandfather was a Scottish immigrant. Daniel Harvey Hill was West Point educated, abrasive, demanding, a strict disciplinarian, deeply religious, sometimes brilliant, sometimes not. I've always found his dry sarcastic wit endearing.

Here's one of my favorite examples of Hill's tactful sarcasm. Writing to Jubal A Early in response to Early's request for information for use in his memoirs, D H Hill writes:

"In comparing my statistics with yours in my address, I wished to say, "General Early knows more of Confederate history than any man now living, probably for the reason that he has never moved out of the Confederacy"--but I know you did not like some haversack anecdotes which were entirely to your credit, and which endeared you to thousands of our people. You were so fortunate, or unfortunate, as to be considered the wittiest man in the army and doubtless many clever and witty things were put upon you in consequence."​

Now, it seems to me you'd have to read that and easily understand Hill's intent? Knowing that Jubal Early was reversed at Cedar Creek; lost the confidence of his army; and was removed from command by General Lee? But apparently Early missed Hill's sarcasm? Early was evidently so flattered that he included the comment in his own memoirs entitled Lieutenant General Jubal Anderson Early C.S.A. Autobiographical Sketch and Narrative of the War Between the States. :D

Here's a funny story Hill told as part of an address he delivered on Oct. 22, 1885 before the Reunion of the Virginia Division, A. N. V. Association:
At Yorktown, a colonel called out his regiment, formed it in line and began to scold the men sav-agely for some breach of discipline. In the midst of his vituperation a donkey began an unmerciful bray, when a unanimous shout came up from the impenitent and sorrowless gray-coats, " Hold on. Colonel, one at a time, one at a time." There is a delicacy of insinuation about this reply, which makes it unsurpassed and unsurpassable. No! I was not that colonel....:rofl:
And here's a snip from a "noble and eloquent tribute" to the memory of D H Hill. Originally published in the The Charleston News and Courier, the piece was reprinted in the Charlotte Democrat on October 4, 1889, about a week after his death.
1562645981037.png

The Charlotte Democrat., October 04, 1889, page 3.
Please add your favorite D H Hill anecdotes, in celebration of his birthday July 12th. @OldReliable1862 @BillO @Nathanb1 @luinrina @RochesterBill @Stony

OP Image from: Elements of Algebra, D H Hill, J.B. Lippincott, 1857, p. 124.
 
Last edited:

lelliott19

Captain
Forum Host
Silver Patron
Joined
Mar 15, 2013
Messages
6,033
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

OldReliable1862

Sergeant
Forum Host
Joined
Jul 2, 2017
Messages
739
Location
Georgia
I think one of my favorites would be D. H. Hill's story of the well-aged Theophilus H. Holmes emerging from his tent and cupping a hand to his ear, shells bursting all around him, saying placidly, "I thought I heard firing."

Turns out this story probably wasn't true, but I do like it.
 
Last edited:
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

luinrina

Sergeant Major
Forum Host
Silver Patron
Joined
Jul 30, 2018
Messages
2,055
Location
Germany
here's a great image of DH. He was definitely "swoonworthy." :D I just love this picture!
View attachment 315485
:wub:

If you want to read something from Hill, I can recommend his Mexican War diary. The part of him swooning over a Mexican lady... what a great plot!

Also, his newspaper articles about the Mexican war are entertaining. I'd have to look it up when I'm back home for the correct citation, but it went something like this: His battery hasn't received horses yet by the time they reach Texas and some General or other officer suggested using oxen. That's when his dry humor breaks through and he dramatically explains what a sight it must be for the enemy if the artillery comes dashing in, towed by oxen! :rofl:
 

lelliott19

Captain
Forum Host
Silver Patron
Joined
Mar 15, 2013
Messages
6,033
In the classic, Four Years Under Marse Robert, Stiles wrote:

Almost countless stories are told of the grim courage and grit of General [D.H.] Hill. In the first Maryland campaign he held the pass at Boonsboro for many hours with a mere handful of troops against McClellan's overwhelming numbers, thus giving time for Jackson to complete his capture of Harper's Ferry and join Lee at Sharpsburg. It is said that toward the close of the Boonsboro fight, riding down his short line, his men reported that they were out of ammunition, and that the stern old North Carolina Puritan replied: "Well, what of it? Here are plenty of rocks!" [Four Years Under Marse Robert, Robert Stiles, New York, Washington: The Neale Publishing Company, 1904, p. 66.]
1562732696154.png

Wasn't he a fairly small man , physically, I mean?
I believe D H Hill was 5'10" and slightly built.
 
Last edited:
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Joined
Feb 14, 2012
Messages
18,984
Location
Central Pennsylvania

JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Joined
Feb 14, 2012
Messages
18,984
Location
Central Pennsylvania
"A meddling Yankee troubles himself about every body's matters except his own and repents of everybody's sins except his own."​

That did make me laugh out loud. Yes, we have quite a few who'd fit the description, no arguments here. DH Hill must have been awfully interesting to talk to.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

ErnieMac

Brigadier General
Moderator
Forum Host
Silver Patron
Joined
May 3, 2013
Messages
8,983
Location
Pennsylvania
A brief story concerning D. H. Hill and James Longstreet appeared in another thread a couple years ago (see below). As the Confederates began to arrive in Sharpsburg during the 1862 Maryland Campaign prior to the battle, Longsteet and Hill established their hq's on the Henry Piper farm. The Piper family prepared a dinner accompanied by homemade wine. Hill accepted the offered wine, but Longstreet, feared the wine might be poisoned. Longstreet declined the offer until he realized Hill was suffering no ill effects, whereupon he asked for a glass.
https://civilwartalk.com/threads/at-the-piper-farmhouse.126300/
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

dhh712

Private
Joined
Jul 12, 2014
Messages
87
Location
Gettysburg, PA
Wasn't it at Sharpsburg that the front legs of Hill's horse were shot off? I would imagine some comment was said there at that incident either by Hill or a spectator.
Yes! I'd have to dig around for specifics, but it went something like this: Harvey, Longstreet and Lee were talking together and a cannon ball tore off the front legs of Harvey's horse so it went down real low in front and stuck up higher on its hind end. So Harvey was trying to get off the horse the regular way, but it wasn't working because of the horse's awkward position--and Longstreet was laughing at him! : ) (I'd probably too, actually--sorry, but I'd probably think it was cute!). So eventually Harvey figured out that it would be most expedient to slip off of the horse on its lower position.

That's how I remember the story; the details are in a book I'd have to dig around for, probably for a while since I've just moved and all my books are still in boxes!

I've always liked "Harvey". Wasn't he a fairly small man , physically, I mean?
Yes, as elliott says he was about 5'10", average height for the day but he had a spinal issue which made him stoop often so he may have appeared shorter than he actually was.
 

dhh712

Private
Joined
Jul 12, 2014
Messages
87
Location
Gettysburg, PA
His dry sarcastic sense of humor just appeals to me, JPK. Ill post some more examples, but Im hoping others will chime in with stories Ive never heard before. In the meantime, here's a great image of DH. He was definitely "swoonworthy." :D I just love this picture!
View attachment 315485
Borrowed from @Robert Gray 's 2013 post here https://civilwartalk.com/threads/d-h-hill.91069/#post-737123

OMG! Like, like, LOVE that pic! Now why on earth isn't that the typical one instead of the one in the first post? Not that he doesn't look good there too (I think he looks attractive in every picture!), but that one is gosh darn beautiful! :inlove: (Harvey thought he looked ugly, but I guess its fairly common to not think yourself looks good, but he talks about it in one of his letters).
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!
Top