|Ambrose Powell Hill|
|November 9, 1825– April 2, 1865 (aged 39)|
Ambrose Powell Hill
|Place of birth||Culpeper, Virginia|
|Place of death||Petersburg, Virginia|
|Allegiance|| United States of America|
Confederate States of America
|Service/branch|| Confederate States Army U.S. Army|
|Years of service|| 1847-1861 (USA)|
|Rank|| First Lieutenant (USA)|
Lieutenant General (CSA)
|Battles/wars|| Mexican-American War|
American Civil War
Ambrose Powell Hill (November 9, 1825 – April 2, 1865), was a Confederate general in the American Civil War. He gained early fame as the commander of "Hill's Light Division," becoming one of Stonewall Jackson's ablest subordinates. He later commanded a corps under Robert E. Lee in the Army of Northern Virginia before his death in battle just prior to the end of the war.
A.P. Hill, known to his soldiers as Little Powell, was born in Culpeper, Virginia, and graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1847, ranking 15th in a class of 38 graduates. He was appointed to the 1st U.S. Artillery as a second lieutenant. He served in the Mexican-American War and Seminole Wars and was promoted to first lieutenant in September 1851. From 1855 to 1860, Hill was employed on the United States' coast survey. In 1859, he married Kitty Morgan McClung, a young widow, thus becoming the brother-in-law of future Confederate cavalry generals John Hunt Morgan and Basil W. Duke.
In March 1861, just before the outbreak of the Civil War, Hill resigned his U.S. Army commission. When Virginia seceded, he was appointed colonel of the 13th Virginia Infantry Regiment and distinguished himself on the field of First Bull Run. He was promoted to brigadier general and command of a brigade in the (Confederate) Army of the Potomac the following February.
In the Peninsula Campaign of 1862, he gained further promotion following his performance at the Battle of Williamsburg, and as a major general, Hill was one of the most prominent and successful division commanders of Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. Hill's Light Division (which was actually one of the largest in the army) distinguished itself in the Seven Days Battles, Cedar Mountain, Second Bull Run, Antietam, and Fredericksburg. His division formed part of Stonewall Jackson's corps; after Jackson was mortally wounded at Chancellorsville in May 1863, Hill briefly took command of the corps and was wounded himself.
After Jackson's death, Hill was promoted to lieutenant general and placed in command of the newly created Third Corps of Lee's army, which he led in the Gettysburg Campaign of 1863, the autumn campaign of the same year, and the Overland Campaign and Petersburg siege of 1864–65. He once said he had no desire to live to see the collapse of the Confederacy, and on April 2, 1865 (just seven days before Lee's surrender at Appomattox Court House), he was killed by a Union soldier, Corporal John W. Mauck of the 138th Pennsylvania, as he rode to the front of the Petersburg lines, accompanied by a lone staff officer.
Hill did not escape controversy during the war. He had a frail physique and suffered from frequent illnesses that reduced his effectiveness at Gettysburg, the Wilderness, and Spotsylvania Court House. (Some historians believe he suffered from complications of venereal disease, possibly gonorrhea, contracted as a West Point cadet. Academy hospital records show that he was admitted for treatment on September 9, 1844, "with Gonorrhea contracted on furlough.") Historian Larry Tagg described Hill as "always emotional ... so high strung before battle that he had an increasing tendency to become unwell when the fighting was about to commence." This tendency was to some extent balanced by the implied swagger and combative attitude that he displayed. He often donned a red wool hunting shirt, which he called his "battle shirt," when a battle was about to commence, and the men under his command would pass the word, "Little Powell's got on his battle shirt!" and begin to check their weapons.
Wherever the headquarters flag of A.P. Hill floated, whether at the head of a regiment, a brigade, a division, or a corps, in camp or on the battle-field, it floated with a pace and a confidence born of skill, ability and courage, which infused its confidence and courage into the hearts of all who followed it.
Hill was affectionate with the rank-and-file soldiers and one officer called him "the most lovable of all Lee's generals." Although it was said that "his manner [was] so courteous as almost to lack decision," his actions were often impetuous, and did not lack decision, but judgment. At Gettysburg, his actions precipitating the battle on July 1, 1863, before Lee's full army was concentrated, have been widely criticized.
Nevertheless, Hill was one of the war's most highly regarded generals on either side. When Hill was a major general, Robert E. Lee wrote that he was the best at that grade in the Army. He had a reputation for arriving on battlefields (such as Antietam, Cedar Mountain, and Second Bull Run) just in time to prove decisive and achieve victory. Stonewall Jackson on his deathbed deliriously called for A.P. Hill to "prepare for action;" some histories have recorded that Lee also called for Hill in his final moments ("Tell Hill he must come up."), although current medical opinions believe that Lee was unable to speak during his last illness.
- In Richmond, Virginia, known as the City of Monuments, in the Hermitage Road Historic District district, the A.P. Hill Monument is located in the center of the intersection of Laburnum Avenue and Hermitage Road. This monument is the only one of its type in Richmond under which the subject individual is actually interred.
- Fort A.P. Hill, named after Hill, is located in Caroline County, Virginia, about halfway between Washington, D.C., and Richmond.
- His sword is on display at the Chesterfield County Museum in Chesterfield, Virginia.
In popular mediaEdit
Hill was depicted in both of Ronald F. Maxwell's Civil War films, Gettysburg (1993) and Gods and Generals (2003), although played by different actors. In the former, he was portrayed by historian and Civil War reenactor Patrick Falci; in the latter, by character actor William Sanderson.
- Eicher, John H., and Eicher, David J., Civil War High Commands, Stanford University Press, 2001, ISBN 0-8047-3641-3.
- Freeman, Douglas S., R. E. Lee, A Biography (4 volumes), Scribners, 1934.
- Robertson, James I., Jr., General A.P. Hill: The Story of a Confederate Warrior, Vintage Publishing, 1992, ISBN 0-679-73888-6.
- Robertson, James I., Jr., Stonewall Jackson: The Man, The Soldier, The Legend, MacMillan Publishing, 1997, ISBN 0-02-864685-1.
- Tagg, Larry, The Generals of Gettysburg, Savas Publishing, 1998, ISBN 1-882810-30-9.
- Warner, Ezra J., Generals in Gray: Lives of the Confederate Commanders, Louisiana State University Press, 1959, ISBN 0-8071-0823-5.
- This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.
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