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 (1861-1865) Civil War Battles (Eastern Theater)
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Steve Clements
Toronto ON Canada
Posts: 776
Joined: 2004
D. H. Hill at Gettysburg
2/14/2021 11:40:39 AM

Skimming through the early part of Coddington this a.m., and came across a lengthy discussion of Lee's need for experienced and competent officers.

I know that D.H. Hill and Lee did not exactly have form a mutual admiration society (Hill had been quite critical of Lee at times...), but I would have thought that the need for a competent and aggressive commanders might have outweighed this.

IMO, Hill was a talented officer, whose skills were underutilized by the Confederacy. Given how many incompetent officers rose to high rank, this strikes me as a gross injustice and, more importantly, a waste of a valuable and scarce resource.

Any thoughts??

s.c.
mikecmaps
CAMARILLO CA USA
Posts: 63
Joined: 2020
D. H. Hill at Gettysburg
2/14/2021 1:03:41 PM

Hi Steve,

Steve, interesting question.
Would depend on which D H Hill showed up. It’s well known that early on he was a proven hard fighter at the division level. A big part of lees problem at Gettysburg was poor performance by all three corps commanders so a proven veteran making a determined and highly competent performance may have brought surprising results. Lee was also often able to get better performance even from difficult subordinates but at times even lee had to endure petty balkiness in his officers. Hill was sent to Bragg where his insubordinate conniving got his nomination to Lt Gen. withdrawn (given to Hood) by Davis and Hill got no new command after relief by Bragg. In combat he could perform well. When not fighting his smart-alecky manner did no good.

Ultimately D H Hill was part of the chronic confederate plague of insubordinate petty officers that contributed to frequently snatching defeat from victory.
Very good question, thanks
Mike_C
mikecmaps
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 4873
Joined: 2004
D. H. Hill at Gettysburg
2/14/2021 4:02:23 PM

First rate combat commander.

Stonewall Jackson's brother in law ?

On the face of it, Lee was making a big mistake in moving him away.

On reflection, there must have been something very disruptive in Daniel Harvey's demeanour....was Lee such a bad judge ?

Regards, Phil

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"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!" "That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress." Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes
Larry Purtell
Little Meadows PA USA
Posts: 1121
Joined: 2004
D. H. Hill at Gettysburg
2/16/2021 9:22:07 AM

Quote:
First rate combat commander.

Stonewall Jackson's brother in law ?

On the face of it, Lee was making a big mistake in moving him away.

On reflection, there must have been something very disruptive in Daniel Harvey's demeanour....was Lee such a bad judge ?

Regards, Phil



D.H. Hill was a malcontent. A commander might get 5 minutes of superb leadership from Hill and a life time of grief. R.E. Lee in my opinion made the right call getting rid of Hill.
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"My goal is to live forever. So far, so good.
Steve Clements
Toronto ON Canada
Posts: 776
Joined: 2004
D. H. Hill at Gettysburg
2/16/2021 12:20:15 PM

Mike,

Quote:
A big part of lees problem at Gettysburg was poor performance by all three corps commanders so a proven veteran making a determined and highly competent performance may have brought surprising results.


Agree. The attacks on the 2nd were very badly coordinated....seems that several division commanders basically took matters into their own hands...and sat on them-:) A P Hill's performance, or lack of the same, on both the first and second days stands out. Had A.P.'s corps been commanded by D.H., matters might have been a lot different, especially on Day Two, when Mahone etc., basically went to sleep.

Ewell also gets a lot of flack from some corners, although personally I am more sympathetic to his performance. Although the attacks by Johnston and Early's divisions were not properly coordinated...and Rodes' non attack, late on Day Two, is very difficult to explain or justify.

Quote:
Lee was also often able to get better performance even from difficult subordinates but at times even lee had to endure petty balkiness in his officers.


If there was a commander that could have got the best out of D.H., it was Lee. IMO, it would be difficult to criticize Hill's battlefield performance during Seven Days or the Antietam campaign. Of course, Hill was - I gather - publicly critical of Lee's tactics, at both Malvern Hill and Antietam. Which I am sure pissed Lee off...all the more, given that Hill's criticisms were not inaccurate. Lee needed to deal with that....yeah, I get that criticizing the boss rarely goes over well, but as someone once wrote, "you don't shoot a prize bull for shitting in the yard".

Quote:
Hill was sent to Bragg ....


Who would have forecast that this relationship would not have turned out very well-:) If Hill could be critical of Lee, you have to know that he would be all over someone like Bragg-:) That was a match made in hell...

Quote:
In combat he could perform well. When not fighting his smart-alecky manner did no good.


I think that what really stung was that most of his carping (what Lee referred to as his "croaking") was bang on. And the Confederacy was still hung up on senior officers acting like good Christian gentlemen. Yeah, kill the enemy, but don't swear at them...

s.c.
Steve Clements
Toronto ON Canada
Posts: 776
Joined: 2004
D. H. Hill at Gettysburg
2/16/2021 12:29:00 PM

Larry,

Quote:
D.H. Hill was a malcontent. A commander might get 5 minutes of superb leadership from Hill and a life time of grief. R.E. Lee in my opinion made the right call getting rid of Hill


I believe that your "5 minutes of superb leadership" is unduly harsh. Not an expert on Hill, but what, if any, criticisms do you have concerning any of his battlefield performances?

Frankly, both the ANV and the AoT were full of whack job division and corps commanders. And the less said about army commanders such as Bragg and Hood, the better-:) So to shunt Hill off to the boonies strikes me as a waste of a very rare commodity in the Confederacy, i.e. a (senior) battlefield leader who "could kick ass and take names'.

Yes, Hill was a pain in the ass. But he was often/usually right.

Frankly, Lee needed to be willing to be a more heavy handed with some of his Lieutenants, especially at Gettysburg, but also in general. He (Lee) did not like confrontation. Well, when you are the boss, sometimes you gotta have a little confrontation-:) That's part of the job...and it was a part that Lee shied away from. Again, everyone was too worried IMO about being a "gentleman".

s.c.
mikecmaps
CAMARILLO CA USA
Posts: 63
Joined: 2020
D. H. Hill at Gettysburg
2/16/2021 12:47:16 PM

Steve,

I think you are right that Lee and Davis needed to deal directly and forcefully with bad behavior at the highest level.

Actually, a major problem contributing to confederate defeat was the habitual insubordination of even higher ranking officers and Davis simply coddled it, even contributed. Sending a relatively effective combat leader away was part of the problem too. Woodworth in “No Band of Brothers” details several cases each one having effect on combat/strategy. Davis’ incompetent handling made the problem worse by allowing it to continue. He failed to enforce anything resembling regular order and discipline at the highest level. Even when charges were preferred Davis allowed them to be dismissed and bad actors were often just moved to another location where their insubordination contributed to another defeat; Loring & Vicksburg. Hill certainly showed he was a good fighter, had some strict discipline been enforced in ’61-62 he may have been able to contribute effectively in PA or TN. Bragg has a terrible reputation but his army was the dumping ground for many problem “Generals.”

its a great question that shows clearly and directly and exactly why armies have a strict code of discipline.

Thanks,
Mike_C
mikecmaps
john hayward
Allenstown NH USA
Posts: 870
Joined: 2004
D. H. Hill at Gettysburg
2/16/2021 4:42:20 PM

Gentlemen

DH Hill was at his best when he had good men on either side of him and was fighting without full responsibility on the battlefield. Hill's sharp comments after Antietam do not exhibit the qualities of a "croaker" which Lee thought was one of Hill's defects. Hill's disposition to find fault with his comrades may help explain the difficulty in using to best advantage his undeniable qualities.

At South Mountain Hill felt a terrible sense of loneliness but as soon as Longstreet came up and Lee was close at hand, he fought the type of battle he liked-hard combat, where he might fight with all his strength and cunning and was not responsible for strategy. No officer seemed to get more fire power from a given number of troops.

Not one for self- criticism, after the battle Hill once again became the highly critical subordinate. "Had Longstreet's Division been mine at daylight...the enemy would have been disastrously repulsed."
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"When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 4873
Joined: 2004
D. H. Hill at Gettysburg
2/16/2021 4:57:31 PM

Once Gary Gallagher came to London and gave a lecture about Lee.

He gave a very glowing account of Lee's qualities as a commander.

The thing I remember most clearly is his allusion to the removal of DH Hill : to have managed that in such a discreet and expeditious manner was an accomplishment that spoke volumes about Lee's management skills. Gallagher remarked that such a move would have caused a mighty furore in the West.

Regards, Phil
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"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!" "That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress." Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes
Steve Clements
Toronto ON Canada
Posts: 776
Joined: 2004
D. H. Hill at Gettysburg
2/16/2021 5:19:13 PM

Quote:
Once Gary Gallagher came to London and gave a lecture about Lee.

He gave a very glowing account of Lee's qualities as a commander.

The thing I remember most clearly is his allusion to the removal of DH Hill : to have managed that in such a discreet and expeditious manner was an accomplishment that spoke volumes about Lee's management skills. Gallagher remarked that such a move would have caused a mighty furore in the West.

Regards, Phil


Hi Phil,

My memory may be a little foggy....but in late 62/very early 63, I think that Hill was back with the ANV (he and his division were at Fredericksburg).....but wanted to retire from the service. Hill had a bad back (from memory), and being in the saddle much of the day was very painful (and may have contributed to his propensity to be very sarcastic...that was appreciated by few to none). Hill felt that he was no longer fit for service in the field.

I seem to remember that Lee pressed him to stay in the service and to take command in North Carolina i.e. that was a type of service that Hill's body could handle. To be fair, Lee wanted Hill to replace G.W. Smith...whom Lee held a low opinion of...

When Lee was preparing for the Gettysburg campaign, he did his best to strip the coastal defenses (now under Hill) of battle tested brigades...and promptly butted heads with D.H. Hill.

s.c.
john hayward
Allenstown NH USA
Posts: 870
Joined: 2004
D. H. Hill at Gettysburg
2/16/2021 5:45:41 PM

Steve

I also read that he suffered from dyspepsia which might make anyone grumpy
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"When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 4873
Joined: 2004
D. H. Hill at Gettysburg
2/17/2021 4:18:06 AM

Quote:
Quote:
Once Gary Gallagher came to London and gave a lecture about Lee.

He gave a very glowing account of Lee's qualities as a commander.

The thing I remember most clearly is his allusion to the removal of DH Hill : to have managed that in such a discreet and expeditious manner was an accomplishment that spoke volumes about Lee's management skills. Gallagher remarked that such a move would have caused a mighty furore in the West.

Regards, Phil


Hi Phil,

My memory may be a little foggy....but in late 62/very early 63, I think that Hill was back with the ANV (he and his division were at Fredericksburg).....but wanted to retire from the service. Hill had a bad back (from memory), and being in the saddle much of the day was very painful (and may have contributed to his propensity to be very sarcastic...that was appreciated by few to none). Hill felt that he was no longer fit for service in the field.

I seem to remember that Lee pressed him to stay in the service and to take command in North Carolina i.e. that was a type of service that Hill's body could handle. To be fair, Lee wanted Hill to replace G.W. Smith...whom Lee held a low opinion of...

When Lee was preparing for the Gettysburg campaign, he did his best to strip the coastal defenses (now under Hill) of battle tested brigades...and promptly butted heads with D.H. Hill.

s.c.


Steve,

Thanks for telling me this.

It puts a very different complexion on the impression I took away from Gallagher's lecture.

Whenever I read the accounts written by DH Hill in my beloved Battles & Leaders volumes, I'm always profoundly impressed by his discerning depiction of the performance of the southern fighting man. He strikes me as very much the soldiers' soldier.

I wonder if he was a tad irreverent at times. Anecdote has it that, when a soldier requested to be transferred from a combat role to become a bugler in the regimental band, he replied request denied : we need shooters, not tooters.

Regards, Phil


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"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!" "That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress." Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 4873
Joined: 2004
D. H. Hill at Gettysburg
2/17/2021 6:16:19 AM

Quote:
as someone once wrote, "you don't shoot a prize bull for shitting in the yard".
.



No, but on your doorstep ?

Regards, Phil
----------------------------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!" "That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress." Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 4873
Joined: 2004
D. H. Hill at Gettysburg
2/17/2021 8:30:50 AM

Steve,

Two interesting comments about DH Hill.....

Shelby Foote ....an accomplished hater, with a sharp tongue he was never slow to use on all who crossed him, including now the President...

Here's one that you will approve of, from Glenn Tucker :

One of the best fighting records in the army....was that of North Carolinian Daniel Harvey Hill ....... An explanation of the need would undoubtedly would have taken Harvey Hill back to Virginia to command the Third Corps, and possibly to change the fate of the Confederacy at a critical moment at Gettysburg. A void in the army as it moved north was the absence of the other Hill.


Regards, Phil
----------------------------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!" "That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress." Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes
Steve Clements
Toronto ON Canada
Posts: 776
Joined: 2004
D. H. Hill at Gettysburg
2/18/2021 10:24:57 AM

Quote:
Steve

I also read that he suffered from dyspepsia which might make anyone grumpy



John,

Must admit that I had to google "dyspepsia" -:) Guessing Hill either had an ulcer or perhaps GERD. Neither would have benefited from the "everything cooked in bacon grease" cuisine of the CW-:)

Phil,

Many thanks for digging up those quotes...

Hill clearly did not suffer fools gladly....frankly, he was a "talent" not uncommon in many organizations. Usually very good at what they do, but with limited patience for organizational b.s., and an inability to control one's tongue when dealing with what they regard as gross incompetence.

s.c.
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 4873
Joined: 2004
D. H. Hill at Gettysburg
2/18/2021 11:31:11 AM

Steve,

All in the realm of “ might have beens” , of course, but I think that DH Hill would have turned Gettysburg in the South’s favour.

Regards, Phil
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"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!" "That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress." Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes
john hayward
Allenstown NH USA
Posts: 870
Joined: 2004
D. H. Hill at Gettysburg
2/18/2021 2:33:23 PM

Phil

It is possible that DH Hill would have been an upgrade over AP Hill but nowhere in AP Hill's track record up to that point could Lee had foreseen what his performance would be in July 1863. AP Hill did have problems with Jackson but who didn't? DH Hill had problems with everyone.On the Peninsula he criticized Magruder, Holmes,Whiting, Toombs, even Jackson. There were even problems in his own division. Later on after Antietam it was Longstreet and even Lee. He griped about Davis. In general he was a PITA. Pretty soon you have to decide is he worth it?
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"When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."
Steve Clements
Toronto ON Canada
Posts: 776
Joined: 2004
D. H. Hill at Gettysburg
2/18/2021 4:00:11 PM

John,

Quote:
AP Hill did have problems with Jackson but who didn't? DH Hill had problems with everyone.On the Peninsula he criticized Magruder, Holmes,Whiting, Toombs, even Jackson.


A.P. not only fought with Jackson, on almost a continual basis, he also fought with Longstreet, in fact I believe he challenged Longstreet to a duel after Seven Days....which is why, I believe, that A.P.'s division ended up with Jackson...to get A.P. away from Longstreet.

Well, somewhat ironically, DH did get along well with Jackson, and if he criticized Jackson for his lack of activity at Glendale etc., the criticism was well deserved. As for the other four officers that you noted, I think that Lee would agree with D.H.'s "criticisms....since he did a pretty good job of getting rid of most of them-:)

Basically, almost all of Lee's Seven Days battles were poorly executed. And except for Gaine's Mill, all were tactical defeats....that little Mac chose to view them otherwise is something else entirely-:)

And yes, A.P. did criticize Lee over Antietam, in his after battle report. Which was more than justified...maybe not politically wise, but that is a separate issue.

A better question might be, what "criticisms" offered up by D.H. were invalid?

s.c.
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 4873
Joined: 2004
D. H. Hill at Gettysburg
2/19/2021 4:09:59 AM

Steve and John, Mike and Larry,

Doesn’t this tell us how important the role of personal conduct is in the functioning of hierarchy ?

It’s hard to imagine a more formidable combat performance than that displayed by DH : unfortunately for the confederacy, his zeal for fighting was not confined to the battlefield.

Regards, Phil
----------------------------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!" "That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress." Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes
john hayward
Allenstown NH USA
Posts: 870
Joined: 2004
D. H. Hill at Gettysburg
2/19/2021 12:33:00 PM

Gentlemen

The CSA officer corps seemed to be tighly wound, prideful, and a bit touchy about things. Little things grew into big things rather quickly. Perhaps Lee was trying to find generals he could work with smoothly and DH Hill just didn't fit. His name came up often because many saw his performance in combat as excellent but other things, his lack of a filter, overruled it.
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"When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."
scoucer
Berlin  Germany
Posts: 2839
Joined: 2010
D. H. Hill at Gettysburg
2/20/2021 7:56:28 AM

Quote:
Gentlemen

The CSA officer corps seemed to be tighly wound, prideful, and a bit touchy about things. Little things grew into big things rather quickly. Perhaps Lee was trying to find generals he could work with smoothly and DH Hill just didn't fit. His name came up often because many saw his performance in combat as excellent but other things, his lack of a filter, overruled it.


Something that JR Price always pointed out, the rigid code of honour. An obssession with reputation and no slight was forgotten.

Trevor
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`Hey don´t the wars come easy and don´t the peace come hard`- Buffy Sainte-Marie Some swim with the stream. Some swim against the stream. Me - I´m stuck somewhere in the woods and can´t even find the stupid stream.

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