Daniel Harvey "D.H." Hill
By John T. Marck
Daniel Harvey Hill was the youngest of eleven children, born in York District, South Carolina on July 12, 1821.Desiring to have a career in the military at an early age, he entered West Point at seventeen, graduating in 1842, twenty-eighth in a class of fifty-six. In this class Daniel was one of fifteen who would become generals.
Following his honorable service in the military during the Mexican war, he resigned from the army to first teach at Washington College in Virginia, then at Davidson College in North Carolina. In 1861 when the Civil War began, Hill was the superintendent of the North Carolina Military Institute.
Following his first service of the Civil War, winning at the Battle of Big Bethel, he was promoted to brigadier general that same day. On March 26, 1862, he was promoted to major general and fought under General Joseph Johnston at Yorktown, Williamsburg, and Seven Pines. He then commanded under General Robert E. Lee, serving at the Seven Days' Battles, Second Bull Run, South Mountain and Antietam. For a short period of time, Hill commanded the Department of North Carolina.
Although brave in character, this sometimes translated to reckless in action, but did earn him great respect from his men. Hill also was very outspoken, often harsh toward his fellow officers, and as such, his relationship with them suffered. With this attitude, Hill also had the audacity to castigate two of Jefferson Davis' favorite "full" generals, that of Robert E. Lee and Braxton Bragg. As Hill was a major general, it certainly was not in his best interest to criticize full generals; those that outranked him, at least not publicly.
Consequently, this was something that Jefferson Davis could not forgive. Hills' criticism of Lee came about when Hill blamed Lee for the Confederate defeat at Malvern Hill, and Hill's refusal to admit any responsibility for the loss of Special Order No. 191, known as Le's lost order, that contained the Lee's Antietam battle plan, that led to a quarrel between Hill and Lee. This dislike for each other remained, and finally did end, but only on the death of Robert E. Lee.
Although critical of Bragg as well, Hill was promoted to lieutenant general on July 11, 1863, and was assigned to the Army of Tennessee, interestingly under Bragg's command. At the Battle of Chickamauga, Hill fought in a glorious manner, and deserved the credit for the defeat of Major General William Rosecrans and his Union troops. Again, in a very bitter disagreement after the battle, Hill publicly attacked Bragg for his failure to pursue the defeated Union army. Additionally, Hill and several other officers accused Bragg of being incompetent as a result of the ambivalent orders Bragg was issuing during the battle. Accordingly, Hill called for the removal of Bragg.
General Bragg, who blamed Hill entirely for the indignity on his character, retaliated by accusing Hill of delaying an attack on the morning of September 20, during the Battle of Chickamauga. The only problem was that this alleged attack had not been ordered. Although unethical and unjustified, Hill was removed from command and his promotion to lieutenant general withdrawn. From this point, Hill held no other commands, and only saw action briefly at Petersburg in 1864 and Bentonville in 1865 for the remainder of the war.
Although Hill's criticism of Bragg was justified, as Bragg was less than noteworthy, Bragg outranked Hill, leaving him little recourse.
After the war ended, Hill went on to become the editor of two publications: The Land We Love, which was a Southern literature magazine published between 1865 and 1869 containing articles on the Confederate military, and The Southern Home, published between 1870 and 1877.
In 1877, Hill went back to teaching, and accepted the position of president of the Arkansas Industrial University, that later became the University of Arkansas. After working in this position, he then accepted the presidency of the Georgia Military Academy.
Hill wrote many articles after the war, unfortunately, defending his military reputation, something he never should have had to do.
Daniel Harvey Hill died in Charlotte, North Carolina on September 24, 1889.
Copyright © 1993-2022 by John T. Marck. All Rights Reserved. This article and their accompanying pictures, photographs, and line art, may not be resold, reprinted, or redistributed for compensation of any kind without prior written permission from the author.