and then a.p. hill came up mast head

Joining Jackson

Last updated June 13th, 2007 by Jenny

John Daniel was the editor of the Richmond Examiner newspaper. He had served briefly with Hill as a volunteer on his staff. On his own accord, Daniel wrote a highly complimentary account of the Light Division's actions at the battle of Frayser's Farm. The Examiner published the article. The account hinted that James Longstreet, Hill's superior, had not been present during the fighting. This was not true.

Excerpt from the Examiner, July 2, 1862

About four o'clock Monday afternoon, General James Longstreet having been called away, the command of his division was assumed by General A.P. Hill, who with both divisions --that of James Longstreet and his own-- engaged the enemy at a later hour in the evening.

The battle was thus fought under the immediate and sole command of General A.P. Hill, in charge of both divisions.

Never was a more glorious victory plucked from desperate and threatening circumstances.

One fact is very certain, and that is that the battle of Monday night was fought exclusively by General A.P. Hill and the forces under his command.

Hill's division has constantly been used on the enemy's front at every stage of the contest from Beaver Dam and Cold Harbor to the late field in the vicinity of Darbytown, to which no name has yet been given. It is a melancholy evidence of the achievements of this division, that out of a force of 14,000 men, with which it went into action on Friday evening last, it now cannot probably bring more than 6,000 efficient men into action.

Longstreet was upset by the account Daniel wrote and the light it cast on his own actions at the battle. He felt that Hill had had Daniel write the account (Hill had nothing to do with it), or that at least Hill should have had the account rescinded. Longstreet chose to draft a reply to the rival Richmond Whig. He signed it with the name of his chief of staff, G. Moxley Sorrel. The article appeared on July 11th. The day after James Longstreet's "reply" was published in the rival Richmond Whig, A.P. Hill sent a letter to Lee asking to be relieved from further command with James Longstreet.

James Longstreet's Response from the Whig

Since the commencement of the Chickahominy campaign some articles have appeared in the Richmond Examiner which are calculated to do injustice to some of the officers and to alarm our people. No one in the army has any objection to Major General A.P. Hill's being supplied with all the notoriety that the Examiner can furnish, provided no great injustice is done to others. His staff officer, through the columns of the Examiner, claims that he had command of the field on Monday for a short time, intimating an improper absence of some other officers. General Lee and Major General James Longstreet rode upon the field together, and some hours before Major General A.P. Hill. Both of these officers remained upon the field and slept there, neither having left it for an instant. Major General James Longstreet was absent from his usual position for an hour perhaps, for the purpose of putting one of Gen. Hill's brigades (Gregg's) into action.

The "eight thousand" claimed to have been lost by Gen. A.P. Hill's Division alone will cover the loss of the entire army during the week's campaign. Trifling wounds will swell the list above this figure, but the actual loss will fall short of it. Exaggerated statements of casualties, like those made by the Examiner, are calculated to be a great injury to the army, both at home and abroad.

Lee apparently did not like confrontation. He adopted a ignore it and hope it goes away attitude -- perhaps the brewing feud between two of his most important lieutenants would just blow over. Lee thus did not respond promptly to Hill's letter.

Hill meanwhile began investigating and querying his commanders. To Hill, like the later quarrel with Jackson, the affair was one of honor. Hill felt James Longstreet had challenged his honor. James Longstreet apparently felt no love towards Hill.

When Hill did not get his transfer, he began to act childishly. Upon receipt of a routine report from James Longstreet, Hill simply returned the document with the endorsement, "General Hill declines further communications with Major Sorrel." Obviously meant to draw James Longstreet's wrath, the tactic worked. James Longstreet sent Sorrel back with word that the order was written by his command and thus had to be answered. Hill still refused. The two commanders struck up a sharply worded but indecisive correspondence. James Longstreet became exasperated and tired of Hill's antics. He summoned Sorrel, told him to don sash and sword, and to place Hill under arrest, confined to camp. Sorrel so arrived at Hill's tent. Dressed informally, Hill saluted Sorrel, and Sorrel communicated the order. Hill couldn't have been shocked. He stiffly saluted again and sat back down in his chair in silence. It was the first time since his third year at West Point when he was arrested for an unrecorded infraction that Hill had received such an order placing him into arrest. Command of the Light Division went to J.R. Anderson; with his resignation on the 17th to take over the important Tredgar Iron Works in Richmond and L. O'Bryan Branch took over command of the Light Division.

Not one to simply sit by and just idly sulk, Hill began again an angry correspondence with James Longstreet. According to Sorrel, it culminated with arrangements of a "hostile meeting", i.e. Hill challenged James Longstreet to a duel. Arrangements were under way (allegedly, James Longstreet had gone so far to choose D.H. Hill and Robert Toombs as his seconds, which is interesting and ironic given that D.H. Hill had recently also challenged Toombs to a duel!) when Lee stepped in to prevent his two lieutenants from possibly killing each other. Lee restored Hill to command of his division and transferred him to Jackson's wing of the army. Though Sorrel felt that Hill and James Longstreet became "fairly good friends", relations between the two probably remained cool, but courteous. In his memoirs, James Longstreet was often not very complimentary (and when he was it seemed to be grudgingly so) of Hill. He leveled false charges that the only reason why Powell Hill was promoted to command a corps was because he was of Virginia birth. James Longstreet whined that "General Daniel H. Hill was the superior of General A. P. Hill in rank, skill, judgment and distinguished services." He also claimed Richard S. Ewell (Jackson's successor to command the Second Corps) to be far superior to Hill as commander of a corps. Lee certainly did not think that Ewell was superior; while Hill's poor health gave Lee a good reason to "get rid of" Hill, as he did with Ewell, Lee notably did not do so. D.H. Hill was an ornery man who did not get along with almost anyone and questions of competence also exist around him.

A.P. Hill acted childishly during the feud with James Longstreet, but Lee's Old War Horse's track record suggests he was no saint. James Longstreet established a habit of engaging in feuds away from Lee's Army of Northern Virginia including with McLaws, Law, and many others after the War. James Longstreet was not universally liked by his subortinates; within a week of Gettysburg, Lafayette McLaws, later to be one of James Longstreet's scapegoats in the horrible Knoxville Campaign, wrote his wife "During the engagement he was very excited, giving contrary orders to every one, and was exceedingly overbearing. I consider him a humbug, a man of small capacity, very obstinate, not at all chivalrous, exceedingly conceited, and totally selfish." Cadmus Wilcox also did not like James Longstreet. Wilcox was a reticent man who had a lot of friends on both sides (including a mutual friend with James Longstreet, Grant); of him it was said "no man on either side had more true friends." Wilcox and James Longstreet had some sort of falling out in November 1862 over the conduct of the Seven Days and Wilcox wanted to get away from James Longstreet's command; Lee prevailed upon Wilcox to stay for the good of the service. In two private, 1869 letters Wilcox wrote Porter Alexander that James Longstreet was selfish and cold-hearted, caring but little for anyone but himself.

So was life in the Army of Northern Virginia!

Anyway, as mentioned previously, as a result of James Longstreet and Hill's disagreement, Lee felt he had no choice but to transfer Hill over into Jackson's wing of the Army. Hill would have been best to smooth over his differences with "Pete," for Jackson was a far stricter man than James Longstreet. Jackson was a very religious fellow; he was also extremely secretive and lacked the personality of a "people person." He was in many ways Hill's opposite. Although they had been in the same West Point class together, Hill was of the upper class while Jackson was an orphan. Things came easily to Hill at the Point whereas Jackson had to struggle mightily. Where Hill was outgoing and fun loving, Jackson was dour, quiet, and kept to himself. The aloof Jackson handled his troops and their officers with iron handed discipline, whereas Hill was beloved by his troops and subortinates and kept them in line by fostering their esprit de corps. There was something to be said for Jackson's discplince. There was no doubt Jackson's way was efficent; Rev. J. William Jones noted:

He {Jackson} put A. P. Hill under arrest several times, and there were charges and countercharges between these accomplished soldiers, until General Lee intervened to effect a compromise... Jackson probably put more officers under arrest than all other Confederate generals combined. He was probably sometimes too severe. I have reason to believe that General Lee thought that he was too severe both on Garnett and A. P. Hill. But there can be little doubt that if there had been more stern discipline in the Confederate Army, it would have been more efficient.

It may have been efficent, but it didn't inspire love. Respecting Jackson for his fighting prowess, Hill's top brigade commander, Dorsey Pender, noted wryly, "I never will vote for his being President."

Differences in command philosophy was only the beginning. A.P. Hill was particularly suspicious of religious people, and although he got along fine with religious men like Dorsey Pender, the fact that Jackson was, in Hill's mind, overly religious was another strike against him. But perhaps the largest strike against Jackson in Hill's mind was Jackson's tardiness during the Seven Days Campaign. As a result of Jackson's lack of presence, Hill's Light Division took the brunt of the hard fighting.

For his part, Jackson apparently respected Hill as a fighter. He even once recommended Hill for command of his old Stonewall Brigade. A professional officer, like Jackson, would be very particular about the choice of his successor for his unit; A.P. Hill showed that tendency when he hand selected Dorsey Pender to head the Light Division. (If he could not have Hill for the post, Jackson requested Robert Rodes, the long mustached "Norse God of War" who would shine brightly too as a Confederate division commander. Jackson ended up getting neither, but his choices are interesting for their quality and later successes in the upper echelons of the Army).

Jackson demanded unquestioned obediance; anyone could turn to the sad case of Richard Garnett at Kernstown to see that clearly. Lee, sensing Jackson's penchant for unquestioned obedience to orders and knowing Hill was a very touchy man (particularly after the James Longstreet feud), tried diplomatically to tell Jackson just that fact. Lee wrote Jackson:

A. P. Hill you will, I think, find a good officer, with whom you can consult, and by advising with your division commanders as to your movements much trouble will be saved you in arranging details, as they can act more intelligently. I wish to save you trouble from my increasing your command.

Hill did not have that long to settle in under Jackson before another campaign opened. Disgusted with McClellan's performance in the Seven Days, Lincoln dispatched a new general, the bombastic and blustering John Pope who had been successful in some relatively minor Western battles. Pope's blustering and bragging was not looked upon kindly by his Eastern counterparts. Pope, unlike the gentlemanly McClellan, also did not respect the private property of civilans. Many Confederates, including Lee, took an immeditate dislike to Pope, him a "miscreant" that had to be dealt with.

Home >> Narrative >> 1861 | Related: Cedar Mountain

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