November 9, 1825 – April 2, 1865
Virginian Confederate Gen. Ambrose P. Hill and his large Rebel division (six brigades), called the “Light Division” for its ability to make rapid marches, were some of the Army of Northern Virginia’s most reliable fighters.
A.P., or Powell Hill, as he was often called (to distinguish him from fellow general Daniel Harvey Hill), was a 35 year old West Point trained career officer in the U.S. Army at the outbreak of the war. He resigned from that service in March 1861, and the next May he led a confederate brigade at the Battle of Williamsburg. His conduct in the battle was so distinguished that he was promoted to the command of the “Light Division,” which had not yet earned that name.
The next month, Hill and his men opened the Seven Days’ campaign and spearheaded Confederate attacks at Gaines’s Mill and Frayser’s Farm. But it was later that summer, when Hill’s division teamed up with Gen. Stonewall Jackson’s command, that they earned their reputation for fast marches and hard, dependable fighting.
Though Hill and Jackson seldom got along well personally, professionally they worked wonders. At the Battles of Cedar Mountain, 2d Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville, Hill usually wearing his conspicuous red “battle shirt,” led his men in the forefront of Jackson’s command in this spectacular string of victorious marches and battles.
Upon Jackson’s death at Chancellorsville and the army’s subsequent reorganization, Hill was promoted to lieutenant general and given command of the new III Corps. His succes as a corps commander, however, was checkered. He performed well at Gettysburg, disastrously at Bristoe Station, and his corps was almost routed in the Wilderness. After that he was seldom well enough to assume command. On April 2, 1865, one week before the Appomattox surrender, Hill was shot and killed in the fighting at Petersburg.
Fascinating Fact: In the delirium of their deathbeds, both Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson called for fellow general Ambrose P. Hill to bring up his troops.