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Birth and education.

He was born in York District in the State of South Carolina on the 21st of July, 1821. He traced his descent neither from the Cavaliers of England nor from the Huguenots of France, but from the sturdy sons of liberty-loving Scotland, who migrated to the north of Ireland and ultimately planted colonies in Pennsylvania, Virginia, North and South Carolina, where they educated, elevated and dominated the people with whom they came in contact. His paternal grandfather, William Hill a native of Ireland, had landed in Pennsylvania, and moving South with the stream of Scotch-Irish that populated the valley of Virginia and Western North Carolina, built, with Colonel Hayne as his partner, in 1770, an iron foundry in York District, which within the next decade was the only point south of Virginia where cannons were cast for the use of the colonial armies. He was colonel of a regiment in Sumpter's brigade, and fought gallantly under him in many engagements. While Colonel Hill was confined to his home by a wound received in battle, a detachment was sent from the British force at Charleston to destroy his foundry, and he barely escaped with his life by hiding under a large [113] log and covering himself with leaves. When the battle of King's Mountain was fought, Colonel Hill's command had been disbanded, but he went to the field as a volunteer, and was honored by being invited to the council held by Campbell, Sevier, McDowell, and other distinguished regimental commanders, to determine the plan of attack. He made a number of suggestions that were adopted and proved the value of his opinion as a soldier. For twenty years after the war Colonel Hill was the trusted representative of his district in the State Senate of South Carolina, and was the intimate friend of Patrick Calhoun, the father of the great statesman and orator, John C. Calhoun. General Hill's mother was Nancy Cabeen, the daughter of Thomas Cabeen, a native Scotchman, who was Sumpter's trusted scout and ‘the bravest man in his command,’ as the General himself often declared. Two uncles of General Hill were soldiers in the second war with England, and one of them was the adjutant of Colonel Arthur P. Hayne's regiment. Solomon Hill, his father, died when his son Harvey was but four years old, leaving him with four other children to bereared by a mother who was noted for her piety, culture, common sense and devotion to her children. Like all Scotch and Scotch-Irish Presbyterians of the old school, she exacted of her sons the most rigid observance of the Sabbath. Dr. John Hill, a somewhat wayward brother of General Hill, often declared, after he had reached middle age, that during his boyhood he always ‘took the blues on Thursday morning because Sunday was coming.’ The boys were required, each in his turn, to select and read a morning prayer when the family assembled for breakfast. Some of General Hill's heartiest laughs were provoked by the recollection of the ludicrous mistakes made by this little brother in his efforts to find and read the shortest petition in the book without regard to its fitness for the occasion.

Sprung from a race of soldiers by the paternal as well as the maternal line, it is not strange that the earliest ambition of D. H. Hill led him to seek for a place at West Point and to look forward to a military career. Under the rigid physical examination now prescribed for an applicant, he would have been rejected without hesitation. He entered the institution in 1838, and but for feeble health, would have pressed to the very front of a class of which Generals Longstreet, A. P. Stewart, G. W. Smith, R. H. Anderson and Van [114] Dorn of the Confederate, and Rosecranz, Pope, Sikes, Doubleday, Stone and Reynolds of the Federal army were members.


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