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Daniel Harvey Hill (1821-1889)

A graduate of West Point, Daniel Harvey Hill founded the North Carolina Military Institute on the West Point model. Image courtesy of the North Carolina Office of Archives and History, Raleigh, NC.

A graduate of West Point, Daniel Harvey Hill founded the North Carolina Military Institute on the West Point model. Image courtesy of the North Carolina Office of Archives and History, Raleigh, NC.

Born July 12, 1821 in York District, South Carolina, Daniel Harvey Hill was Confederate States army officer and educator.  Described as deeply religious and intellectual, Hill is most remembered for displaying an intense sense of honor, on and off the battlefield.  Hill served as a mathematics professor, founded a military institute, and was president of colleges in Arkansas and Georgia.

After graduating West Point in 1842, Hill served in the Mexican-American War.  He earned promotions for bravery and valor and eventually reached the rank of major. After the war, Hill served as a mathematics professor at Washington College (now Washington and Lee University).  Later, he joined the faculty at Davidson College in North Carolina.  Seeing a need for a “Southern West Point,” Hill founded the North Carolina Military Institute in Charlotte, North Carolina.  The school based its academic and disciplinary structures on the West Point model; however, the start of the Civil War necessitated the faculty and pupils to take up arms.

Joining the Confederate ranks as a colonel, Hill was promoted to lieutenant general following the battle of Big Bethel. Hill received a promotion to major general, and commanded a division under Lee.  He was demoted following the battle of Chickamauga, however.  He served in numerous battles: South Mountain, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Seven-Days, Seven Pines, Petersburg, Cold Harbor, Chickamauga, Bentonville and others.

Hill was an outspoken critic of Confederate general Robert E. Lee and Braxton Bragg, which eventually resulted in his expulsion from the Army of Northern Virginia.  Nonetheless, Hill had an excellent reputation on the battlefield.  James Wylie Ratchford, a South Carolinian on Hill’s staff, wrote that Stonewall Jackson, “repeatedly declared in my hearing that there was not. . . another man in the Southern army superior in his military genius than D.H. Hill.”

Following the war, Hill sought to document Southern history by establishing two literary publications: The Land We Love and My Southern Home.  He was elected to serve as the University of Arkansas’s president and later held the same position at the Military and Agricultural College of Milledgeville, Georgia.

Hill died on September 24, 1889 in Charlotte, North Carolina and is buried at Davidson College


John G. Barrett, The Civil War in North Carolina, (Chapel Hill: 1963); Hal Bridges, Lee’s Maverick General: Daniel Harvey Hill (New York: 1961); Library of Virginia, “General D.H. Hill Papers”  (

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Related Categories: Civil War
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Related Commentary: Toward an Inclusive History of the Civil War: Society and the Home Front, Edward Bonekemper on the Cowardice of General McClellan, Freedmen’s Bank Served Blacks in Post-Civil War Economy, N.C. Played Crucial Role At Civil War’s End
Related Lesson Plans: Discussion of the Lunsford Lane Narrative
Timeline: 1836-1865 , 1866-1915
Region: Statewide

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