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Home   >  Old Newspaper Articles   >  A. P. Hill, Soldier of the South - Part 4


Richmond Times-Dispatch                     November 4, 1934




'Up Came Hill' -- Soldier of the South (Part 4)

Lee Elevates Hill to Corps Commander
and Brings Accusation of Pro-Virginian From Longstreet;
Love and Wedding

By William J. Robertson IV

This is the fourth of a series of articles on the life and army career
of General A. P. Hill, whose statue adorns the Boulevard North.

Article 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5


After Jackson's death Lee threw his full weight of dependence on Hill's third army corps.

General A. L. Long, after the war, described the corps commander well when he said: "No man was more distinguished throughout the war for chivalric bearing than this brave soldier. On every field where appeared Army of Northern Virginia, he bore a conspicuous part."

Longstreet was not so kind. He resented Hill's elevation to a corps commander on Stonewall's death.

He accused Lee of favoritism to Virginians and declared, "General Daniel H. Hill was the superior of General A. P. Hill in rank, skill, judgment and distinguished services."

It was the old hate engendered by the quarrel during the Seven Days.

Lee learned to love and admire Hill, and he held no grudge when the latter saw fit to criticize him as he did near the end of Grant's hammering campaign.

Exclaimed Hill to a fellow officer: "It is ardent nonsense for Lee to say that Grant can't make a night march without his knowing it. Has not Grant slipped around him already?"

And yet he respected Lee's prowess in holding a defensive position against a tremendously superior force, and took pride in the fact that his own corps was its cap-stone . . . .


*          *          *


A. P. Hill loved three women. The first, Emma Wilson, beauteous brunette of Baltimore, was a schoolmate of his sister Lucy at Potapsco Female Seminary, Ellicott City, Md. He met her soon after his graduation from West Point, became engaged to her, but never married her for a reason that cannont be determined.

When he loved Emma Wilson he was 25.

In Washington, between 1856 and 1857, he met charming Ellen Mary Marcy, blonde, blue-eyed daughter of Major Randolph B. Marcy, explorer of the famous Red River, Federal chief-of-staff in the first years of the war.

He became engaged to her, although the exact date is not known; but her father strenuously objected.

He had two reasons. Hill was a Southerner, born of slave-holding people, and on that Red River expedition he was accompained by a young army lieutenant he liked very much.

The young man was George B. McClellan.

Tearfully, Ellen Mary, after much pressure from her parent, returned Hill's diamond ring, told him it was the end, and married Lieutenant McClellan on May 22, 1860.

Hill gave the ring, in which was engraved "Je t'aime," to his sister Lucy, hugged his disappointment and sought other flowers in the garden of girls. He was not heartbroken long.

In 1857 two charming sisters from Lexington, Ky., went to Washington for a visit and stopped at the old Willard Hotel.

One was Mrs. Kitty Morgan McClung, widow of her cousin, Calvin McClung, of Knoxville. The other was Henrietta Morgan. Both were sisters of the famous General John H. Morgan of Kentucky.

Henrietta afterward married General Basil W. Duke, one of Morgan's captains.

Hill met the young widow at a party given by a friend, Dr. Wood of Washington. A mutual attraction resulted. Early in the winter of 1857 he wrote his sister Lucy:

"I can reach you and you can reach me easily, that in case either of us be married, we can surely attend the other. Look out for mine at any time! You know I am so constituted, that to be in love with some one is as necessary to me as my dinner, and there is now a little siren who has thrown her net around me, and I know not how soon I may cry, 'Pecavvi!' and yield up my right to flirt with whom I please. She is a sensible little beauty, and if the spasm will stay in me long enough, and she will say 'yes,' why I don't believe I could do better. Alas, though, I much fear that the good things of this world are unequally distributed in her case. Her beauty and sense are her only dowry! But, when you come down you must be prepared to spend a week at Willard's and judge for yourself. So get your fine dresses ready . . . ."

On July 18, 1859, Hill and Kitty Morgan McClung were married in the home of her mother in the outskirts of Lexington, Ky. The Rev. J. H. Morrison of the little Christ Episcopal Church where Henry Clay worshiped, officiated.

John H. Morgan, the bride's brother, was best man.

Kitty Hill was petite, vivacious, blue-eyes, stylish, possessed luxuriant light brown hair that fell to her waist, and sang like a bird.

Her old Negro mammy nicknamed her "Dolly" because when she was a child "she looked lak a doll," and Hill always called her that.

She was nine years his junior, jealous and sensitive about his previous love affairs.

Hill wrote his sister Lucy immediately after the wedding: "Don't tease Dolly about Miss Wilson and my other affair." She never did.

Four children were born to the couple, all girls: Henrietta, in Washington in 1860, died during the war; Frances Russell (1861-1917); Lucy Lee (1863-1931); A. P. Hill (1865-1871).

Frances Russell married twice, the first time James Gay, Lexington Ky.; the second to Garland Hale, Chicago.

Lucy Lee, who lived and died in Richmond, married General James Macgill of Maryland.


*          *          *


In His campaign in Virginia Kitty Hill followed her husband, quartering here at a friend's, there in a hotel, or wherever convenience demanded, accompanied by two faithful servants.

She rolled her hair in a "chignon" on top her head and transported her money and jewels therein.

In 1864, when she heard Sheridan was coming to a certain hotel, she sent her children to friends, went to the hostelry to obtain information for her husband.

As she made her get-away, she was fired upon by Federal soldiers, but escaped unharmed.

When he was colonel, Hill's regiment was the Thirteenth Virginia Infantry. In 1864 Kitty Hill presented it a battle-flag, made from her wedding dress of 1859. It may be seen today in the Confederate Museum in Richmond.

In the first engagement in which it appeared its beardless 15-year-old bearer was killed.

For Lucy Lee, men from Hill's corps made a rough-hewn cradle, used by Kitty long after the war.

Shortly before the Wilderness campaign, it was decided to have Lucy Lee christened. She was taken to the home of Colonel and Mrs. John Willis near Orange Courthouse. Mrs. Willis was the daughter of Captain Ambrose Madison, brother of President Madison.

It was a bright May afternoon and Hill commented on the early flowers and the singing of the birds.

The child was christened by the Rev. Richard Davis, rector of St. Thomas' Parish, Orange.

General Lee stood as godfather and held the child in his arms. As the minister sprinkled the water on her brow and gave her his blessing, a tear rolled down the great soldier's cheek.

Cannonading was heard in the distance and Lee and his corps commander rushed to their saddles and were soon galloping to the front.

The christening water was in an old-fashioned silver bowl that belonged to President Madison's mother.


*          *          *


Throughout his campgaign Hill never lost an opportunity to be with his little family. He was a devoted husband and a doting father, but unfortunately, little is known of his personal movements between 1861 and 1865 . . . .

Letters he wrote to members of his family were burned in recent years in a fire at Culpepper. Nevertheless, from fragmentary sources one is able to piece together his personal characteristics during the conflict.

He was not a religious man. When he was colonel of the Thirteenth Infantry, the Rev. J. William Jones of Louisa, Va., was his chaplain, and held a like post later in Hill's third army corps.

Upon reporting for duty Jones suggested to Hill that a revival meeting be held for the soldiers.

Hill vetoed the suggestion, and sent the young divine to the awkward squad with the observation that "a good fighter now is more desirable than a good preacher."

In the summer of 1864, as corps chaplain, Jones was busy distributing religious tracts among the regiments, when he met Hill.

The latter smiled good-humoredly, exclaimed "John, don't you think the boys would prefer hard-tacks to soft tracts?"

After the war when Jones wrote his famous volume, "Chist in the Camp," he enumerated the "Christian generals" in Confederate Army--Lee, Jackson, Stuart, Ewell--all were there. But, not Hill, an omission that is significant in view of his long service under him.

Hill, however, was not intolerant. At Mine Run, in November, 1863, Lee's Army was in line of battle. The commander-in-chief and his staff, accompanied by Hill, were riding toward the front. Shells were bursting in the tree-tops as they rode. Reaching the end of Hill's line, they came upon a group of ragged soldiers, holding a prayer meeting.

Although expecting an attack any moment, Lee dismounted, followed by his staff and Hill, uncovered and remained so until the leader of the meeting finished his prayer.

Had Lee not been present Hill would have preferred to move on to what he considered more important business on the battle-line.

As he resumed his saddle, he was thoughtful, almost to the point of tenderness, according to those who watched him.

Whatever may have been his religious beliefs, Hill would brook no violations of the traditional moral code.

Men were not good fighters, he argued, who broke the seventh commandment, who gambled or became intoxicated. He himself would not refuse a mint julep on proper occasions, but he hated gambling and supported Chaplain Jones vigorously in driving it out of the Thirteenth Infantry.

He was a hard swearer when the occasion demanded, but never swore before Lee, but did on one occasion before Jackson.

When Lee was moving into Maryland the first time, a team of mules halted obstinately in the middle of the Potomac. Jackson and Hill watched a sergeant trying to coax the animals with a whip and with what Hill called "lace curtain language."

Hill left Jackson, joined the muleteer, swore loudly at the animals in a way that involved their ancestry--and the mules moved on!

Jackson, observing quietly, chewed on a lemon, and said nothing. It may have been because, after all, he, too, worshipped the god "efficiency."

To Hill, cowardice in a normal man was unforgivable.

He lost no opportunity to sing the praises of subordinates in his reports, but took first-hand action when he discovered a member of his organization not measuring up to his ideas of fearlessness.

At Cedar Mountain, he saw a young lieutenant skulking from the battlefield, leaving his men leaderless, obviously badly frightened.

Hill caught up with him, took his sword away, tore his insignia from his uniform with a curse, and ordered the man out of his sight.

The lieutenant wept, picked up a musket near-by, returned and led his men to the attack with a ferocity that made Hill's eyes misty.


*          *          *


Hill was in striking contrast with Longstreet, Ewell and Daniel H. Hill. He was often confused with the last named, and in one volume on the Civil War their biographical sketches are badly mixed.

Longstreet, four years A. P. Hill's senior, was one of Lee's handsomest captains--tall, blue-eyed, brown flowing beard, well-shaped, well-poised head.

Self-will was written deep in his visage, and his worst feature was a tendency to snarl. He was jealous, argued with Lee whenever he could, sometimes bordered onto disobedience. A native of South Carolina, he continually suspected Lee of being pro-Virginian.

His dislike of Hill dated from the memorable quarrel during the Seven Days.

Daniel H. Hill, older than A. P. Hill by four years, was likewise a South Carolinian. Courageous, indifferent to any danger, he was, nevertheless, indecisive.

Dyspepsia made him irascible and he was noted throughout the army for unexpected, epigrammatic sentiments.

On the application of a soldier, asking for a furlough, who was described as an "able musician," he indorsed: "Disapproved. Shooters preferred to tooters."


(To be continued next Sunday)

(Note: November 11th article not available)


Article 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5



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