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Memorial address

On the life and character of Lieut.-General D. H. Hill,

Before the Ladies' Memorial Association, at Raleigh, N. C., May 10, 1893, by Hon. A. C. Avery, Associate justice of the supreme Court of North Carolina.

Ladies of the Memorial Association, Comrades, Gentlemen
Measured by the average length of human life, almost a generation has passed away since the tocsin of war was sounded thirty years ago and aroused in conservative old North Carolina such a furor of excitement as no pen can portray and no tongue describe. As years have rolled by the reaper has gathered and the angels have garnered the ripened sheaves. One by one the spirits of our old heroes have passed over the river to again rally around their sainted leaders, Lee, Jackson and Hill, and join them in endless paeans to the Prince of Peace for achieving the most sublime of all great victories. Twenty years ago the space allotted to the soldiers at these annual gatherings was filled for the most part by comrades rejoicing in the exuberant vigor of young manhood. The eye of your orator searches in vain to-day among the silvered heads, that fill the space allotted to the old soldiers, for the manly forms of those friends of his boyhood and comrades of his young manhood, Basil Manly, Richard Badger, Phil. Sasser and James McKimmon, true and tried soldiers, who were as conspicuous for their courage in the hour of danger as for their loyalty to the sacred memories of the past when our banner had been forever furled. [111]

These object lessons constrain those of us who are now distinctively known as old veterans, to remember that the mention of the stirring days of sixty-one reminds the majority of this audience of no such vivid scenes as pass in review before the imaginations of the old soldier and the wives, sisters and daughters, whose hands in all these years have trimmed the turf, and whose tears have moistened the immortelles that cover the resting places of our loved and honored dead.

Seven States South of us had solemnly asserted their right under the Constitution to sever their connection with the Federal Union, and had, through their representatives in convention, established the provisional government of the new Confederacy, with Montgomery, Alabama, as its capital city. But North Carolina, with characteristic conservatism, still clung to the federative union of States, which was conceived in the patriotic resolves of Mecklenburg, and ultimately established by the timely strategy and heroic valor of her volunteer troops at Kings Mountain and Guilford Courthouse. In 1789 she had awaited further assurance and guarranty that her rights as a sovereign State would be respected and protected before she would agree to enter into the more perfect union then formed. In 1861, she adhered to that union, and stood under the aegis of the old flag till those in whose custody the political revolution of the previous year had placed it, had already broken the compact, and attempted the subjugation of her sister States.

The defiant answer of Governor Ellis to Lincoln's demand for North Carolina's quota of Federal soldiers, and his prompt call for volunteers to support our kindred and man our forts, went to the people on the wings of the wind. Telegrams, trains, single engines, pony express and runners were so effectually employed as to reach every precinct and every hamlet in three or four days. South Carolina had been invaded, and every voice demanded that the invader should be resisted to the death. The response of the clan to the bearer of Vich Alpine's bloody croslet was not more ready, nor supported by a more determined courage than was that of the brave sons of our grand old State to the call of her chosen chief. In a little while drums were beating, bands were playing, girls were singing, boys were shouting, flags were flying, orators were appealing, and stalwart men were weeping. But behind all this the firm resolve of the volunteer to do or die found an echo even in the heart of the [112] wife and mother. The widow, without a murmur, committed her only boy to the keeping of the orphan's God, as she proudly imprinted a parting kiss upon his brow, while the woe of the bride was tempered with that admiration which is the tribute of beauty to bravery, as she gave a last embrace to one to whom she had but yesterday plighted her faith. The stately Southern dames and the petted damsels, whose soft hands had seldom plied needle before, found their greatest pleasure then in deftly working upon caps, haversacks and knapsacks, as at a later day in cutting and stitching the coarse clothing intended for our brave boys.

The organized bodies of citizen soldiery from all parts of the State, such as the Rowland Rifles, the Wilmington Light Infantry and the Oak City Guards were sent hastily to the unoccupied forts on our coast. As the other companies thus hurriedly equipped, rushed to the capitol to tender their services, all eyes were turned to an adopted son of the State, whose education at West Point and brilliant career in Mexico, had placed him easily at the head of her citizen soldiery—and Daniel Harvey Hill was called to the command of her first camp of instruction.

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 [

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