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

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lelliott19

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Regarding Hill's sarcasm within official correspondence and reports. In Four Years Under Marse Robert, Stiles recollected:

Occasionally, in his official reports, he gave the tartest and most amusing expressions to his strenuous views and standards of soldierly courage and devotion. I recall one in which, in commenting upon the flight of a body of cavalry before overwhelming numbers, he remarks incidentally, that it takes a good man to stand and fight against heavy odds, when he has only two legs under him; but that, if you put six legs under him to run away with, it requires the best kind of a man to stand and fight.​
In another report, in describing a stampede and the crush and jam of fugitives in the highway, he says, "Not a dog; no, not even a sneaking exempt, could have made his way through." [Four Years Under Marse Robert, Robert Stiles, New York, Washington: The Neale Publishing Company, 1904, pp.66-67.]

And here's an example I ran across reprinted in the newspaper but directly from the OR:
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Daily Press., (Newport News,VA), June 11, 1905, page 9.
 

Polloco

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I'm not real sure if this can be credited to Hill. That I'm paraphrasing. Wasn't there some discussion on furloughing or letting soldiers go home on leave? The brigade general thought it a bad idea but Hill ( I think) thought "Brave soldiers should be allowed to go home and breed brave offspring. Cowards already at home breed cowardly children". I read that story somewhere and I think D.H. Hill had something to do with it but I'm not real sure.
 
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Robin Lesjovitch

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I do not think either Bob Lee nor Harvey Hill need defending. But, I think an explanation for what was actually happening in June of 1863 will help understanding.
Lee was going west and north, into PA. Lee wanted the strongest possible force to make that march.
Hill obviously would be the primary defender of NC and most of eastern VA.
Histories extravagantly refer to what Lee faced, but rarely what Hill faced.
In NC, the Union had the XVIII Corps; in SE VA, the IV and VII Corps. Together they represented a force about 40% the strength of the Army of the Potomac.
Hill got lucky. The Federal commanders proved timid. That is why we hear so little about Richmond-Petersburg during this period. And why Hill catches criticism for wanting a respectable force. The reality is Federals could have caused great troubles for the CSA in Eastern VA.
 

NH Civil War Gal

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Here is my D.H. Hill story for his birthday! This is from a book called "1861-1865 by an Old Johnnie" by Dinkins and printed by Morningside Press in 1975.

The action was taking place at Sharpsburg (or as we Yankees say, Antietam) - "While we stood here, General D.H. Hill galloped up on a yellow horse, about one hundred yards in our front, and halted. He dropped the reins and took out his field glasses and watched the enemy. Major Ratchford, his adjutant general, joined him. In a moment a shell passed through the general's horse. The horse was killed instantly, he never kicked. General Hill did not move the glass from his eyes, but shaking the stirrups from his feet stepped a few paces off and continued watching the enemy without the slightest emotion. Major Ratchford dismounted and removed the saddle and bridle from the dead horse. Finally, General Hill mounted Major Ratchford's horse and rode off. This was characteristic of D.H. Hill. Nothing could excite him. He was the coolest man in our army. We have seen Generals S.D. Lee in hot places, and have since the war spoken to him of his nerve, but he answered: "D.H.Hill was the coolest man I ever knew, I took lessons from him."
 

lelliott19

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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!
Here you go @dhh712. This is probably closer to the report that you're looking for? This one includes reference to Lee and Longstreet laughing at Hills situation. Same incident I copied in post #35 of this thread, just a more interesting version. This one, reprinted from the New York Herald, appeared in the Perrysburg Journal. (Perrysburg, OH), November 26, 1892, page 7
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James N.

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I've heard that Hill was frustrated at not receiving a corps command after Jackson's death, however I've also heard Hill rubbed Lee the wrong way. I'm not sure what the real reason is.
Hill may well have been upset, but he was already gone from the army at the time of Jackson's death, replaced by former brigade commander Robert E. Rodes.
 

James N.

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I'll add a D. H. Hill story I remember from Lee's Maverick General: Although he was raised a devout Christian, supposedly he didn't like that before every meal his family took turns daily reciting a verse from scripture; his favorite was the shortest one he could find: "Jesus wept."
 

luinrina

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I'll add a D. H. Hill story I remember from Lee's Maverick General: Although he was raised a devout Christian, supposedly he didn't like that before every meal his family took turns daily reciting a verse from scripture; his favorite was the shortest one he could find: "Jesus wept."
I remember that story too - but it wasn't Harvey who chose the shortest quote he could find. It was his brother John, and Harvey had fits of laughter about that. (p. 17) :smile:

Also from Lee's Maverick General (p. 153):

When noncombatant officers of his headquarters staff grew too boastful about their military prowess, he was likely to ride into the combat zone and take them along, "treating" them, as he put it, "to a little airing in a fight." He also had a grimly humorous way with any skirmisher who got too cautious or careless in action. He would ride out to the man, make him stand beside his horse, and give him a leisurely shooting lesson amid the enemy bullets.​
 
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CSA Today

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I'll add a D. H. Hill story I remember from Lee's Maverick General: Although he was raised a devout Christian, supposedly he didn't like that before every meal his family took turns daily reciting a verse from scripture; his favorite was the shortest one he could find: "Jesus wept."
It was mine too, my 8th-grade teacher once required each class member to memorize and then recite a Bible verse before the class the next day. :redface:
 
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Sbc

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Hill was not removed from command in the ANV...at the end of 1862, Hill was not well and planned to leave the service...the command in North Carolina came open due to events outside the ANV and Hill accepted that command rather than leave the service,. Longstreet became the Dept commander (SE VA and NC)..there were various operations and troop movements during this time, none of which ever came to completion...Longstreet was recalled to the ANV in May..parts of the two divisions he had taken with him were jumbled in with other troops in the three districts that constituted the Dept....Lee inquires of Hill about available troops, Hill is not much help ..the reason was that Hill only knew about troops under his direct operational control. There seems to have been some communication difficulty as Lee had assumed that Hill had taken Dept command on Longstreet's departure, but that had not happened, the three districts then had no common command. Lee saw that Hill was given Dept command, but the realities of Lee's intentions cause problems. Lee wants all of the veteran troops he can get to take on his march. Understandable. Hill does not want to lose all the veterans, as he realizes he will have to defend NC, Petersburg, Richmond and all its approaches. It is at this point Lee and Hill have a soured relationship. President Davis intervened,diplomatically, but not entirely in Lee's favor.It is at this point, when Hill was not with the ANV that Lee will not have him in his chain of command again..
Thanks for this background information—new to my ears
 

Robin Lesjovitch

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Thanks for this background information—new to my ears
OK, it would be best to study some of this yourself. My summation is not inaccurate, but is far from complete. But it is more complete than general histories allow. The attitudes of Lee, president Davis and the CSA War Dept concerning SE Va and NC were not always in concert during the war. I'm not sure one can study these things enough to come to any final conclusions. The interactions of Lee, Beauregard, Davis and Seddon a year later is just as interesting. Incidentally, Harvey Hill, with no posting, assisted Beauregard as a volunteer in '64.
 

Bruce Vail

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Hill was not removed from command in the ANV...at the end of 1862, Hill was not well and planned to leave the service...the command in North Carolina came open due to events outside the ANV and Hill accepted that command rather than leave the service,. Longstreet became the Dept commander (SE VA and NC)..there were various operations and troop movements during this time, none of which ever came to completion...Longstreet was recalled to the ANV in May..parts of the two divisions he had taken with him were jumbled in with other troops in the three districts that constituted the Dept....Lee inquires of Hill about available troops, Hill is not much help ..the reason was that Hill only knew about troops under his direct operational control. There seems to have been some communication difficulty as Lee had assumed that Hill had taken Dept command on Longstreet's departure, but that had not happened, the three districts then had no common command. Lee saw that Hill was given Dept command, but the realities of Lee's intentions cause problems. Lee wants all of the veteran troops he can get to take on his march. Understandable. Hill does not want to lose all the veterans, as he realizes he will have to defend NC, Petersburg, Richmond and all its approaches. It is at this point Lee and Hill have a soured relationship. President Davis intervened,diplomatically, but not entirely in Lee's favor.It is at this point, when Hill was not with the ANV that Lee will not have him in his chain of command again..
It's just not credible to think Hill gave up a major command in the ANV to go to NC unless he was pushed out. The affair of his departure is murky, and deliberately so, in order to protect the reputations of senior commanders on both sides of the dispute. I've often wondered whether Lee and the other senior Confederate generals blamed Hill for the Lost Order, and that was the real reason he was pushed out of the ANV.
 
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Robin Lesjovitch

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It's just not credible to think Hill gave up a major command in the ANV to go to NC unless he was pushed out. The affair of his departure is murky, and deliberately so, in order to protect the reputations of senior commanders on both sides of the dispute. I've often wondered whether Lee and the other senior Confederate generals blamed Hill for the Lost Order, and that was the real reason he was pushed out of the ANV.
There is no evidence that Lee knew any details of "the lost order" until later when McClellan's report became public. That controversy begins much later.
Hill's situation needs examining. Since becoming a Maj Gen, Harvey Hill had mostly been operating under command of the Army. During 2nd Manassas Hill had remained around Richmond to cover McClellan , rejoined the ANV for the MD campaign and had mostly operated under Lee's orders even though he was nominally in Jackson's Wing. Hill again was the last to march on Fredericksburg. There he certainly realized he was now under Corps orders rather than Army orders. I will not attempt to analyze Hill's thoughts, but he surely was struck that he had sorta been demoted through no misstep or mistake of his own. Even though he was a friend and brother-in-law of Tom Jackson, I doubt he relished the thouught of spending a winter in N VA as a subaltern. He had chronically been disposed towards some ailments, none of which bothered him while in active campaign. Hill wrote his resignation. Lee did not think much of this, even though Hill was not personally one of his favorite people. The job in NC offered a solution. And, Hill will still be under Lee's command.
The pathological difficulties between Hill and Lee come later in '63, and could never be remedied. A number of historians have identified the problems, but not the chronology. I think even D S Freeman misses.
 

dhh712

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Here you go @dhh712. This is probably closer to the report that you're looking for? This one includes reference to Lee and Longstreet laughing at Hills situation. Same incident I copied in post #35 of this thread, just a more interesting version. This one, reprinted from the New York Herald, appeared in the Perrysburg Journal. (Perrysburg, OH), November 26, 1892, page 7
View attachment 315913

Yes, that's the one! I bet I read about it in that one Harvey bio that's published by Hal Bridges, but this may be where the author got the source. I can't quite recall it from his letters. Haha--Lee and Longstreet both were laughing at him! how cute. You may know of this already, but there's an unpublished Harvey bio, a college student's dissertation. It went more into his pre-war and post-war days than Bridge's bio did, which I'm always more interested in.

I wish I could remember the name of paper, the dissertation. I'm sure I have it somewhere amongst my research papers (there was a site where it could be purchased from, that is how I have it; darn, I wish I could remember the name of that website even--all I can come up with is that is has "u" in it somewhere, from what I can remember. Now that doesn't seem very helpful!).
 
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lelliott19

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https://www.leesburgva.gov/visitors/history-of-leesburg
Stiles also tells this one, which occurred in December of 1861 at Leesburg, VA:

"....he gathered a large escort and rode up and down the river bank in a manner calculated to attract the fire of artillery, and when the enemy accepted his invitation and the shell came singing over and buried itself in the earth hard by, he called for a pick and shovel, dismounted and dug it up with his own hands, apparently unconscious that other shells were shrieking and bursting about him and his improvised and somewhat nervous staff. Of course this impressed us no little; exactly how, it would be difficult to say. One thing, however, was clear - that this apparent unconsciousness of personal peril was in no degree "put on," that our general was undoubtedly "to the manner born." [Stiles., p. 67.]​

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