About the Website
Welcome to And Then A.P. Hill Came Up, an online archive of information dedicated to the life and career of Confederate General Ambrose Powell Hill (1825-1865), important general during the American Civil War. The And Then A.P. Hill Came Up website is part biography, part tribute, part research archive.
Unless you're a Civil War afficianado, you probably have never heard of A.P. Hill. Even to Civil War history buffs, Hill is a "nebulous, inconsistent figure, the most difficult to characterize of Lee's generals." One historian went so far as to term him "the mystery man of the Confederacy." Even one of his biographies is aptly titled "Lee's Forgotten General."
And yet, Ambrose Powell Hill "as much as anyone symbolized the Southern Confederacy -- its enthusiasm, its pride, its incongruity, its sacrifice."
So who was he?
He was probably the most interesting and real of Lee's generals. Whereas many of his compatriots could be summed up or described easily in a word or two, to this day Hill defys such easy description. Perhaps the finest division commander in the Army of Northern Virginia or even in the entire Confederacy, Hill was highly skilled, talented, and brave. He was immovable on the defense, relentless on the offense. He liked to sometimes wear a scarlet shirt into battle and he led a command known as the "Light Division" -- a force made of "steel rather than flesh and blood." West Point educated, he possessed charming manners, was adored by his men and officers, and was an excellent horseman and consumate gentleman. Lee considered him second only to Longstreet and Jackson, summing Hill up as "he fights his men well and takes good care of them."
His finest moment -- the moment that would help cement him in Confederate mythology and legend -- came at Sharpsburg. The Army was facing certain defeat when, in just the nick of time, A.P. Hill came up with the Light Division in tow, having made an incredible forced march. The War was prolonged for another two years and the words "and then A.P. Hill Came Up" became the watchword of the Army. Perhaps this is why when Stonewall Jackson lay dying a few months later he issued a command to "Order A.P. Hill to prepare for action!" Almost certainly this incident led Lee to utter among his dying words the cry "tell Hill he must come up."
About the Webmaster
And Then A.P. Hill Came Up was created by Jenny Goellnitz as an undergraduate student. Jenny is currently an attorney living in Cleveland, Ohio. She is a dedicated runner and a recent blood cancer survivor. In addition to And Then A.P. Hill Came Up, Jenny also writes a mainly history oriented blog entitled Draw the Sword and a column on running for Running Times magazine. A.P. Hill is still her favorite Civil War general.
To learn more about Jenny, visit her homepage at goellnitz.org. To contact Jenny, please send an email to jgoellnitz[@]gmail.com.
But there was another side to Hill. Childish feuds with both Jackson and Longstreet marred his record and have led to the label of "troublemaker." When promoted to corps command, he was not nearly as effective as he was when in command of his beloved Light Division. And for the last half of the War, he suffered terribly and visibly from a mysterious illness. This has led many historians to quickly dismiss Hill as an over-sensitive, difficult man who was a hyponchondriac and an example of the Peter Principle.
But in truth, a careful study of the record reveals Hill was a fair corps commander. Despite being handicapped by various burdens, he and his command performed particularly well in the defenses at Petersburg. A careful consideration of his career also reveals that while he did feud with both Longstreet and Jackson, Hill was a much loved and generous commanding officer who treated those who served under him as he wished to be treated. Further investigation also sheds light upon the fact he was most likely not a hypochondriac, but rather suffered from a real illness that became worse in times of stress. It also reveals that far from shirking his duty, Hill missed only one major campaign during the War and was killed upon returning early from sick leave just seven days before the War drew to a close.
If nothing else, A.P. Hill is one of the most interesting characters in a war filled with fascinating personalities. He was not a slaveholder; he believed the South's peculiar insitution was wicked. He fought for Virginia and became "the hard-hitting emodiment of the Confederacy's military might." Hill managed to pursue the hand of not one but two wives of future Union generals; he ended up with a lovely Kentucky belle instead who he adored more than anything in the entire world. He was a proud, complicated individual with an interesting story. It deserves to be told.
This, then, is the story of A.P. Hill and the men who fought under him.