Wife of Confederate General Daniel Harvey Hill
Isabella Morrison was the daughter of a Presbyterian minister, Reverend Doctor Robert Hall Morrison, who was the first president of Davidson College near Charlotte, North Carolina. She was also the granddaughter of General Joseph Graham, who had seen extensive service in the Revolutionary War, including the Battle of Charlotte, and the Battle of Cowan’s Ford on the Catawba River.
Image: General Daniel Harvey Hill
An intelligent woman, Isabella had met Daniel Harvey Hill while he was visiting one of his married sisters, who lived near Cottage Home, the residence of the Morrisons in Lincoln County, North Carolina. Born in York District, South Carolina, “Harvey” had graduated from West Point in 1842, and subsequently served on the frontier and in the Mexican War.
On November 2, 1848, Isabella Morrison married Hill. In February, 1849, Harvey resigned from the army and traveled with his young bride to Lexington, VA, where he accepted a position as a Professor of Mathematics at Washington College. The college was later renamed Washington and Lee in honor of Robert E. Lee, who served as president of the college after the Civil War.
In Lexington, Harvey renewed his acquaintance with T.J. (later “Stonewall”) Jackson, whom he had met during the Mexican War. Harvey recommended Jackson for a teaching position at the Virginia Military Institute, also in Lexington, in 1851. Isabella’s sister Mary Anna married Jackson in 1857.
Isabella and Harvey would have nine children in all. Daniel Harvey Hill, Jr. would serve as president of North Carolina State College. Their youngest son, Joseph Morrison Hill, would preside as the Chief Justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court from 1904 to 1909. The Davidson College Cemetery contains the graves of three sons of Harvey and Isabella Hill who died as children. Willie Morrison Hill, Robert Hall Morrison Hill, and James Irwin Hill.
Harvey was mathematics professor at Davidson College, until 1859, when he decided to set up a military school of his own. With some financial support from interested patrons, Hill set up the North Carolina Military Institute in Charlotte. The school had hardly begun its operation when the Civil War began.
Isabella’s brothers were also in the Confederate service. Joseph Graham Morrison was a student at the Virginia Military Academy (Class of 1865), but he left school and was commissioned Lieutenant and Aide-de-Camp on Stonewall Jackson’s staffin June 1862. He witnessed firsthand Stonewall’s mortal wounding at the Battle of Chancellorsville in May 1863. Robert Hall Morrison, Jr. was an aide to General Barringer, and became a physician after the War.
With the coming of the Civil War, Hill led the 1st North Carolina Infantry Regiment at the Battle of Big Bethel Church on June 10, 1861 – the first land battle in the state of Virginia. He was promoted to brigadier general the same day, and was given the rank of major general in early 1862 and lieutenant general in 1863. He served for the first two years of the war in the eastern theater and participated in the Peninsular Campaign and the battles of Second Bull Run, South Mountain and Antietam, all in 1862.
Harvey Hill was blamed by some contemporaries for the loss of a copy of General Robert E. Lee‘s Special Order 191, which was discovered by Union pickets on September 13, 1862. The lost order had been hand-copied by Jackson’s adjutant, Robert Chilton, and sent to Hill, who insisted he never saw that copy, but received the same written order directly from Lee. The document revealed Lee’s plans for the invasion of Maryland to Union commander George McClellan.
In the summer of 1863, Hill was reassigned to the Confederate Army of Tennessee, performing admirably at the Battle of Chickamauga under General Braxton Bragg. Hill was certainly the smartest general officer in the Confederate Army, but he had a habit of criticizing his superiors, first General Robert E. Lee and then Bragg.
In a bitter disagreement after Chickamauga, Hill publicly attacked Bragg for his failure to pursue the defeated Union army. Hill and several other officers accused Bragg of being incompetent, and petitioned Confederate President Jefferson Davis to remove Bragg from service. Instead, Davis relieved Hill of his command, and he subsequently led troops only twice, at Petersburg and at Bentonville, both in 1865.
Graves of the Hills
After the war, Isabella and Harvey Hill settled in Charlotte, NC, where he established a monthly magazine and a weekly newspaper. He was president of the University of Arkansas (1877–84) and of the Middle Georgia Military and Agricultural College (1886–89).
Daniel Harvey Hill died in Charlotte of stomach cancer on September 24, 1889. I found no record of Isabella’s death.