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Hill, D. H. (Daniel Harvey)

By Christopher Meekins, North Carolina Office of Archives and History, 2020

12 July 1821-24 Sept. 1889

Daniel Harvey Hill served North Carolina and the Confederacy as a general and, after the Civil War, took a leading role in shaping the memory of the conflict. He was born July 12, 1821, in York County, South Carolina, to Solomon and Nancy Hill. He was the youngest of eleven children. Hill attended West Point where he graduated in 1842 at the age of twenty. He served with distinction in the Mexican War and rose to the rank of major. In 1848 he married Isabella Morrison, daughter of Davidson College president Robert Hall Morrison, making him brother-in-law to Stonewall Jackson.

A photograph of Daniel Harvey Hill, circa 1865-1875. Image from North Carolina State University. In 1849 Hill resigned from the army and became a professor of mathematics at Washington College in Virginia where he taught until 1854 when he then took a teaching job at Davidson. From there he went on to become the superintendent of the North Carolina Military Institute in Charlotte. With the outbreak of the American Civil War in 1861, Hill was one of the first to join the Southern forces. He served at Big Bethel before being promoted to brigadier general. In March 1862, Hill was promoted to major general and subsequently took part in the battles of Seven Pines, Antietam, Fredericksburg. In spring 1863, Hill was assigned to the Confederate Department of N.C. but, as the Army of Northern Virginia marched into Pennsylvania, he was recalled to defend Richmond. Hill successfully defended Richmond from Union forces in late June 1863. His success garnered a promotion from Confederate president Jefferson Davis to lieutenant general and a transfer to serve in Tennessee under Braxton Bragg. In the battle of Chickamauga, Hill’s men were in some of the heaviest fighting. Hill joined several other Confederate officers complaining about Bragg’s inaction at the battle – a move that angered Davis who then withheld the promotion from the CSA legislature for approval. Hill was removed from the Army of Tennessee and returned to North Carolina. He fought in the final battles in North Carolina at Wyse Fork and Bentonville.

While teaching mathematics, Hill wrote a textbook that showed his bias in favor of the South. Word equations used examples from Northern and Southern regions – the language in such equations always derided Northerners and praised Southerners. This bias continued in his post-war writings and played a large role in shaping and sustaining the Lost Cause version of the American Civil War.

Living in Charlotte, Hill’s post-war publications began in 1866 with the magazine The Land We Love, and three years later continued with a weekly paper The Southern Home (established 1870). Hill’s editorial statement left no doubt as to the thrust of the newspaper: “Devoted to the vindication of the truth of Southern History, to the preservation of Southern Characteristics, to the development of Southern Resources, under the changed relations of the Labor System, and the advancement of Southern Interests …” The devotion was to the White Supremacist’s Lost Cause interpretation of Southern History.

Hill left Charlotte in 1876 and became president of the University of Arkansas. He stayed in Arkansas until 1885 and then moved to Georgia, where in 1887 he became the president of the State Agricultural College in Milledgeville. With his health in decline, Hill moved back to Charlotte where he lived until his death on September 24, 1889. He is buried in the old cemetery at Davidson College.

A son, Daniel Harvey Hill, Jr., served as president (1908 – 1916) of State College (now North Carolina State University), where the library is named in his honor.


Hal Bridges, Lee’s Maverick General: Daniel Harvey Hill (1991)

J. B. Alexander, History of Mecklenburg County (1902)

Nathaniel C. Hughes Jr. and Timothy D. Johnson, eds., A Fighter from Way Back: The Mexican War Diary of Lt. Daniel Harvey Hill, 4th Artillery (2002)

William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, III, 132—sketch by John G. Barrett

D. H. Hill Papers, Southern Historical Collection, UNC-Chapel Hill

The Southern Home, 20 January 1870

Image Credits:

Van Ness. "Daniel Harvey Hill, Father of D. H. Hill, Jr." Photograph. Special Collections Research Center at NCSU Libraries. North Carolina State University. (accessed July 24, 2013).