previous next

7% of the text is displayed below. If you wish to view the entire text, please click here

Mexican war.

Graduating in 1842, he was still a second lieutenant when he was ordered with his command into active service in Mexico in August, 1845. During the three succeeding years he participated in nearly every battle fought by our forces under the command of either Scott or Taylor, and always attracted the notice of his superior officers by his conspicuous courage. He soon rose to the rank of first lieutenant, and for gallant conduct at Contreras and Cherubusco, was breveted captain. At Chapultepec he volunteered with the storming party, and so distinguished himself among the scores of brave men who participated with him in that desperate assault as to win for himself a second brevet as major. He was one of the six officers in the whole force employed in Mexico who were twice breveted for meritorious service upon the field. Animosity, envy and a disposition to indulge in carping criticism have led to many unjust reflections upon General Hill, but the most unscrupulous of his detractors never questioned his courage or his integrity. When the legislature of his native State provided by law that three swords should be awarded to the three bravest of her soldiers who had survived the war with Mexico, many letters and testimonials from the officers of the old army were voluntarily sent to the Chief Executive, naming D. H. Hill as among the bravest soldiers in the army of the United States. Among the few of these testimonials still extant is the letter from the gallant Bee, who, in exclaiming a moment before he fell at Manassas, ‘There stands Jackson like a stonewall,’ gave to the great leader the pet name by which his soldiers called him and the world knows him, and thereby made himself immortal as its author. The letter, addressed to General Dunavant on the 26th of October, 1856, is as follows:

It gives me great pleasure to add my mite of praise to that which has already been given to Mr. Hill by his military superiors. I had the pleasure of knowing him intimately and serving with him in the storming party detailed from Twigg's division for the attack on Chepultepec. I can bear full testimony to his gallantry and to his ardent desire to do his duty well. In addition, I can testify to his State [115] pride, evinced in his going up under a heavy fire to congratulate and praise a member of the Palmetto regiment, who was behaving under fire most gallantly. For his services on that day he received honorable mention from his immediate commanders and also from Colonel McGruder, commanding a light battery, which battery Lieutenant Hill offered to support when it was menaced by a body of Mexican lancers. He received the brevet appointment of major, and was considered a loss to the service when he resigned.

Your obedient servant,

Bernard Bee, Captain U. S. Army.

From the scores of her surviving heroes of the Palmetto regiment and in the regular army the committee appointed by the State authorities selected Hill to receive one of the three swords awarded, and it is still preserved by his family.

After the close of the late war a Federal soldier wrote to General Joseph E. Johnston asking the name of a Confederate officer who, on the right of our army at Seven Pines, had made himself most conspicuous for his daring and indifference to danger. The only mark of distinction which he could give General Johnston was that he thought the officer rode a white horse. General Johnston replied that he supposed the officer referred to must have been General D. H. Hill. In writing to General Hill about the matter, General Johnston said: ‘I drew my conclusion that your horse might very well have been taken for white, and that no man was more likely to expose himself than you. Do you know that in Mexico the young officers called you the bravest man in the army?’

Marriage and life as teacher.

When the war with Mexico ended Major Hill resigned his place in the army to accept the professorship of mathematics in Washington College, at Lexington, Va. Before assuming the duties of that place he was happily married, November 2, 1852, to Isabella, oldest daughter of Rev. Dr. R. H. Morrison, and grand-daughter of General Joseph Graham, who was a distinguished soldier of the Revolution, and the father of Governor William A. Graham. Six years later he was invited to take the same professorship at Davidson College, where for five years he was looked upon as the leading spirit amongst a corps of able and learned professors. [116]

D. H. Hill was not a politician in the sense of aspiring to office or attempting to mould public opinion; but when he saw that the leaders of the North had determined that no Southerner should be allowed to take his slaves to the territory wrested from Mexico by the blood and treasure of the South as well as the North, he believed that the irrepressible conflict which Seward declared at a later day was being waged had then begun, and would be settled only upon the bloody field of battle and after a prolonged, sanguinary and doubtful struggle.

Fully persuaded that the inevitable conflict was near at hand, and that it was his solemn duty to prepare the rising generation of his adopted State to meet it, he, in 1859, gave up his pleasant home and his congenial duties at Davidson College for those of commandant and manager of the Military Institute at Charlotte.

He harbored no unkind thought of the noble men and women of the North who held opinions different from his own. He respected even the honest fanatic, who fairly and openly contended for his convictions; but he hated cant and hypocrisy, despised duplicity and dishonesty, and leveled at them his most effective weapons-ridicule and sarcasm. For that portion of our Northern brethren who came to the South to drive hard bargains with our people and cheat them by false pretences, he felt and expressed the most sovereign contempt. For the men of the North who coveted the wealth of the Southern planter, and the women who envied their Southern sisters because of the ease and leisure incident to the ownership of slaves, he made no attempt to conceal his hatred and disgust.

Major Hill brought with him to Raleigh his three professors, Lee, Lane and McKinney, two of whom fell later at the head of North Carolina regiments, and one of whom was the successor of the noble Branch as the commander of one of our best and bravest brigades. He also brought with him almost the whole corps of cadets, whose services proved invaluable as drill-masters of the ten thousand volunteers then in the camp of instruction of which Hill took charge. For his services in the camp of instruction, General Hill was allowed to select twelve companies to compose the first regiment of volunteers. The officers of these companies were all leading and influential citizens, and the rank and file were among the first young men in the State in intelligence, wealth and social position. The service of six months proved a training-school for that splendid body of [117] volunteers, that ultimately placed them at the head of companies, regiments, brigades and divisions. Among its originial officers were Major-General Hoke, Brigadier-Generals Lane and Lewis, Colonels Avery, Bridgers, Hardy, W. W. McDowell, J. C. S. McDowell, Starr, Pemberton, Fuller, and a score of others, while a number from the rank and file fell at the head of both companies and regiments at later stages of the struggle.

In the outset of this discussion of the career of

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Harper's Ferry (West Virginia, United States) (12)
North Carolina (North Carolina, United States) (9)
Mexico (Mexico, Mexico) (8)
Sharpsburg (Maryland, United States) (7)
Yorktown (Virginia, United States) (5)
Hagerstown (Maryland, United States) (5)
Fredericktown (Maryland, United States) (5)
Martinsburg (West Virginia, United States) (4)
Malvern Hill (Virginia, United States) (4)
Fredericksburg, Va. (Virginia, United States) (4)
Washington (United States) (3)
Pennsylvania (Pennsylvania, United States) (3)
Maryland (Maryland, United States) (3)
Gaines Mill (Virginia, United States) (3)
Williamsburg (Virginia, United States) (2)
West Point (Virginia, United States) (2)
Sherman, Grayson County, Texas (Texas, United States) (2)
Missionary Ridge, Tenn. (Tennessee, United States) (2)
Mexico (Mexico) (2)
Jackson (Mississippi, United States) (2)
Charlotte (North Carolina, United States) (2)
Augusta (Georgia, United States) (2)
Washington, Ga. (Georgia, United States) (1)
Virginia (Virginia, United States) (1)
Vicksburg (Mississippi, United States) (1)
United States (United States) (1)
Tennessee River (United States) (1)
Powhite Creek (Virginia, United States) (1)
New Bern (North Carolina, United States) (1)
Murfreesboro (Tennessee, United States) (1)
Meadow Bridge (West Virginia, United States) (1)
Loudoun Heights (Virginia, United States) (1)
Lexington, Va. (Virginia, United States) (1)
Leesburg (Virginia, United States) (1)
Georgia (Georgia, United States) (1)
Fortress Monroe (Virginia, United States) (1)
Edgefield (Tennessee, United States) (1)
Dunbar (United Kingdom) (1)
Contreras (New Mexico, United States) (1)
Churubusco (Indiana, United States) (1)
Chepultepec (Alabama, United States) (1)
Charles City (Virginia, United States) (1)
Chapultepec (Baja Caifornia Norte, Mexico) (1)
Baltimore, Md. (Maryland, United States) (1)
Appomattox (Virginia, United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
D. H. Hill (139)
R. E. Lee (40)
James Longstreet (36)
Stonewall Jackson (31)
George B. McClellan (25)
Braxton Bragg (17)
James A. Walker (14)
A. P. Hill (14)
Patrick Cleburne (13)
Jefferson Davis (11)
John C. Breckinridge (11)
Official Records (10)
Robert D. Johnston (9)
Joseph E. Johnston (9)
McLaws (8)
Ambrose P. Hill (7)
Frank Cheatham (7)
Gray Thomas (5)
James W. Ratchford (5)
Halleck (5)
C. S. N. Forrest (5)
George B. Anderson (5)
W. H. Taylor (4)
J. E. B. Stuart (4)
G. W. Smith (4)
L. E. Polk (4)
J. Longstreet (4)
Robert Edward Lee (4)
Huger (4)
John B. Hood (4)
R. H. Chilton (4)
Jonathan M. Stone (3)
W. T. Sherman (3)
Rodes (3)
Fitz John Porter (3)
Pender (3)
J. C. S. McDowell (3)
J. E. Johnston (3)
Robert F. Hoke (3)
Cooke (3)
Benjamin Butler (3)
Buckner (3)
R. H. Anderson (3)
C. S. Winder (2)
Harry Whiting (2)
Sumner (2)
A. P. Stewart (2)
Ruffin (2)
Ripley (2)
Reynolds (2)
Stephen D. Ramseur (2)
McGruder (2)
M. P. Lowry (2)
Lane (2)
Keyes (2)
D. B. Hill (2)
Heintzelman (2)
Hancock (2)
Garland (2)
Franklin (2)
Dix (2)
Clitz (2)
P. R. Cleburne (2)
H. D. Clayton (2)
Branch (2)
G. T. Beauregard (2)
Henry L. Wyatt (1)
Winthrops (1)
Theodore Winthrop (1)
George Washington (1)
W. T. Walthall (1)
Virginians (1)
Twigg (1)
Toombs (1)
Montford S. Stokes (1)
James M. Stevenson (1)
Starr (1)
Stanton (1)
Seward (1)
T. M. Scott (1)
Thomas L. Rosser (1)
Dean Richmond (1)
M. W. Ransom (1)
G. W. Randolph (1)
Pope (1)
Leonidas Polk (1)
Pemberton (1)
R. H. Morrison (1)
Duncan K. McRae (1)
McKinney (1)
W. W. McDowell (1)
J. B. Mc-Gruder (1)
Basil C. Manly (1)
Longtreet (1)
Lincoln (1)
Liddell (1)
Owen Lewis (1)
Letcher (1)
Robert E. Lee (1)
Edward Johnson (1)
Hooper (1)
Hills (1)
Hardy (1)
Sidney Hardee (1)
Bryan Grimes (1)
Ulysses S. Grant (1)
William A. Graham (1)
Joseph Graham (1)
John B. Gordon (1)
Gist (1)
Seaton Gales (1)
Fuller (1)
Frasier (1)
Volney Ellis (1)
Ector (1)
Jubal A. Early (1)
Jubal Early (1)
Duryea (1)
Dunavant (1)
Doles (1)
Cromwell (1)
William R. Cox (1)
C. C. Cox (1)
A. H. Colquitt (1)
Jesus Christ (1)
Cary (1)
John Brown (1)
Bridgers (1)
Bernard Bee (1)
A. C. Avery (1)
G. B. Anderson (1)
Archer Anderson (1)
Americans (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: