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Volume 37, No. 4 – April 2024

The President’s Message:

What a great evening we had at the March 13th Round Table meeting. Patrick Falci presented a fabulous program.  A.P. Hill was a traveling man in more ways than expected.  On April 2nd Patrick will conduct a memorial service for A.P. Hill near Petersburg, Virginia in Dinwiddie County.  In April of 1912. a monument was placed at the intersection of Boydton Plank Road and Duncan Road.  He was killed about 600 yards northward from this marker,” being shot by a band of stragglers from the Federal line on the morning of April 2, 1865.”

Gerridine LaRovere

April 10, 2024 Program:

On Wednesday, April 10th Adam Katz will present a program about companies that were in business during the Civil War and are still viable today.  What company is still manufacturing a candy that soldiers ate during the Civil War?  Come to the meeting and find out. Adam always has an interesting program for us.

March 13, 2024 Program:

FalciWhat follows is a very mildly edited transcript of what our friend Patrick Falci said.  I have made good use of a Japanese voice to text program Notta.  The picture of Patrick comes from his presentation in March 2016 to our group.

So, use your imagination.  We are going to talk about General A.P. Hill.  So, next year will be the bicentennial of the birth of General A.P. Hill.  But we're going in the other direction now.  The name of this presentation is You Can't Keep a Good Man Down.  The four burials of General A.P. Hill.  As a matter of fact, that original title is from my wife, Joan.  I have to give her credit or I'd be in the doghouse tonight.  What I want to do is start off with the death of General A.P. Hill.  The war had been going on for four long years since April 1861.  Now we're at April 1865. General A.P. Hill was always there for Robert E. Lee.  Always in the nick of time.  It was A.P. Hill.  “Up came Hill.”  But now towards the end of the war, the south was getting weaker and weaker and weaker.  And the north was getting stronger and stronger.

Robert E. Lee had said that if it ever becomes a siege, it is just a matter of time.  Well, U.S. Grant and the Army of the Potomac had encircled Petersburg and Richmond; the siege was real.  Richmond, the capital of the Confederacy, was where the lines extended from Richmond 30 miles down to Petersburg.  A.P. Hill was not a well man.  He had several illnesses throughout his life and everything kept building up.  He was the only one that Robert E. Lee could depend on.  1865, January, General Hill had to take a leave of absence because of his health issues.  It was getting tighter and tighter and tighter around Richmond and Petersburg.  A.P. Hill came back on April 1st.  In his pocket he still had his papers for his leave of absence.  He didn't have to come back but he wanted to be there.  He knew that soon it might be all over with the Army of Northern Virginia and maybe his life also.

Who knew?  Well, when he returned that day on April 1, 1865, he was in the saddle for 15 hours of excruciating pain, kidney problems, and flank pain.  He suffered so much, but he knew General Lee depended on him.  That night he tried to get some sleep.  Then the next morning, around midnight he couldn't sleep.  In the distance, you could hear a cannon fire.  The roar of the Union artillery. 

HillHill woke up at his headquarters.  There he had his wife, who was seven months pregnant at the time.  Also with him, he had his two little girls.  He got up.  Instead of putting on his red battle shirt, which he gained fame all those times going into action, he put on a white linen shirt that his wife had made for him.  Then he put on his shell jacket, and being that it was brisk, early that morning, he put on a cape and his hat.  He decided to go over to Robert E. Lee's headquarters, which was about 15 miles away.  It was 4:30 in the morning.  There was a break, a breach in the lines at Petersburg in A.P. Hill’s section.  He decided to saddle up Champ, and he took with him his two couriers, Sergeant Tucker and Trooper Jenkins, and headed out to see Robert E. Lee.

Lee knew the situation, knew the health of A.P. Hill, and he called out General Hill, “take care of yourself.”  However, Hill kept riding and riding to the sound of the guns.  And finally, about six o 'clock that morning, when light was starting to come through the clouds, Hill was trying to get to the headquarters of General Harry Heath.  It was that section that the Union forces had broken through.

And then while they were riding on the Boyden Plank Road, Hill and the two couriers saw two Yankees in the road.  They pulled out their pistols and the two Yankees surrendered.  Trooper Jenkins took them to be interrogated by Robert E. Lee.  Hill kept riding, and then again, a company of Union soldiers were in the road.  There were too many for Hill and Tucker to handle.  The pair started going through this wooded area.  Light was coming through the tree line.  Hill goes over to Sergeant Tucker and says “if anything should happen to me, you must report it to General Lee.”  Two Yankees of the 138th Pennsylvania, Corporal John Mark and Private Dan Wofford hiding behind a tree, saw the two Confederates riding closer and closer and closer.  They didn't know who they were.  They didn't know it was General Hill.  But they decided to fire on them.  So now, Hill got closer, and he saw those Yankees, and he told Tucker, “We must take them.”  They had taken the other two Yankees earlier, so they were going to take these two, so they got closer.  They got within ten yards when the Yankees lifted up their 58-caliber rifles and fired!  The bullet, fired by Dan Wofford, missed both Hill and Tucker.  But the bullet, fired by Corporal John Mark, hit Hill, severed his thumb, went into his chest, ripped through his heart, and killed him instantly.

He was dead before he even hit the ground.  Tucker, remembering A.P. Hill's last orders, looked back and saw his General lying face down on the ground.  He grabbed Champ, the superior horse, and rode back to tell of the death of A.P. Hill to Robert E. Lee.  When Tucker finally approached the General and started talking about the death of A.P. Hill, Lee, had a choking voice and tears swelled in his eyes.  He said, he is now at rest and we who are left are the ones to suffer.  A half hour later, members of the 5th Alabama Battalion, the headquarters guard of A.P. Hill, found the body.  They lifted the body and they brought it to Hill's headquarters.

While they were approaching, Hill's wife, Dolly, was looking out the window and she saw her husband's body.  She lifted her arms and said, the general is dead.  “The general is dead.”  Well, there she is, looking at her husband with a mangled thumb, this hand that still had the wedding ring on, with a bullet through his heart.  What was she going to do now?  She had her two little girls.  She was seven months pregnant.  She was now a widow.  What was she to do?

Well, she decided to bring the body to Richmond to be buried in Hollywood Cemetery, the place of heroes.  A place where Jeb Stuart is buried.  In the morning of April 3rd Hill's body, in a broken-down old wagon, was on the road.  They tried to go into Richmond, but Richmond was in flames.  The Yankees were about to go through the whole area and take over the Confederate capital.  At Bevin's funeral parlor, they found a small coffin large enough to put the body in.  But there was no way to bury him in Hollywood Cemetery and they had to leave the city.

They considered Culpeper, VA, but the body was not embalmed.  It would be over 100 miles away, and with the spring air warming up, that made no sense.  And plus, by traveling in Yankee-infested territory, what might have happened?  Maybe the Yankees would have captured the wagon of a Hill's wife, their little girls, and the body of A.P. Hill.  So, they figured the most important thing to do now is bury the general and maybe at a later point retrieve his body.  On April 4th, they buried him at the Winston Family Cemetery without any religious services, without any military honors, no headstone, nothing.  They just figured, let him lie there, let him lie in peace, and at some point, we will retrieve the body.

Well, as we know, on April 9th, Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia.  Can't go no further with the Army without his trusted general, A.P. Hill.  In 1867, they decided to retrieve General Hill's body.  They decided it was time to bury him in the Hollywood Cemetery, the place of heroes, where other generals were buried there after the war.  Rumor had it that he was buried standing up, and considering that he had not been embalmed, the body was still in decent condition.  So, he's buried there, no services at all, no religious service, no military honors at all.  For this Lieutenant General of Robert E. Lee, not even a headstone was placed there, just the name Lieutenant General A.P. Hill on a curb, not too far from his grave.

As time goes by members of the 3rd Corps, his corps, Hill's corps, and members of the Light Division, the famous Light Division, “up came Hill,” it was always the Light Division, decided that it was time to honor their general with the monument.  So many other generals of lesser rank had received honors, but not their general.  So, they decided to form the A.P. Hill Monument Association to start and get funds together.  And so gradually, gradually, they started getting money and what they wanted to do was to have a monument.  Now you see, Robby Lee died in 1870 on October 12th.  Among his very last words were “strike the tent,” his mind must have been wandering back to the battlefield.  And he said, tell A.P. Hill he must come up.  His last thoughts were on A.P. Hill.  

Well finally there were enough funds to build a monument to Hill.  It would take place in Richmond.  Now it would not be a large equestrian statue as Robert E. Lee had in what would be known as Monument Avenue.  It would be a statue of Hill standing, standing there in Richmond. It would be on the corner of Hermitage Road and West Laburnum Avenue.  They went to Hollywood Cemetery and retrieve the body.  But the superintendent at Hollywood Cemetery would not release the body.  Why?  Because he needed a letter from A.P. Hill's wife.  The men tried to get a letter.  They got one from his daughter.  The superintendent would not accept it.  So, then time would go by and finally A.P. Hill's wife gave a letter to be presented to the superintendent at Hollywood Cemetery to finally release the body. 

In the meantime, W.L. Shepherd, a local artist in Richmond, was designated to sculpt a headstone, a headstone in the likeness of General Hill.  But it would not be ready until the next year, 1892.  In 1891, a six -foot base was there.  Hill's body was taken out of Hollywood Cemetery and placed within the base of the monument.  Still, buried underneath that base, several feet down, without any services, no military honors at all.  Finally, there would be an unveiling on May 30, 1892, Memorial Day, 15,000 spectators were there to honor General Hill.  They unveiled the headstone and the base, there were parades, there were honors, but still, when he was buried, there was nothing, and that was the third burial of A.P. Hill.  That stood, that statue, that base where he was buried, is different from all the other statues that have been coming down.  That was his grave.  

As we well know, some years ago, the statues on Monument Avenue came down.  The statue of Robert E. Lee came down. President Jefferson Davis' statue came down.  Jeb Stuart, the great cavalryman, his statue came down, and the mighty Stonewall, his statue came down.  But there was one statue left, General A.P. Hill.  Why?  Because it was his grave.  Finally, finally, it was decided that that must come down too.  After being there for 130 years, on December 12, 2022 the crane came, took that headstone away, and they started taking apart the base.  The next day, which just so happened to have been the anniversary of the Battle of Fredericksburg, two people were designated to retrieve the body, the remains, and what was left of General Hill.

John Hill is the closest collateral descendant of A.P. Hill.  He was selected because A.P. Hill did not have any direct descendants.  He had four daughters and two lived to adulthood.  By the time they were married, they were too old to bear children.  With John was Andrew Morehead.  Andrew Morehead is the funeral director in Richmond, Virginia.  I am friendly with both of them.  And they decided that they would be the ones to retrieve the body and bring it to the funeral home where Andrew Morehead worked.

On December 13, 2022, a hole was dug.  And the amazing thing about it, before they ended up going down, they tried to get in touch with the Valentine Museum, known as the Museum of the Confederacy, and the Virginia Historical Society.  Nobody knew where Hill's body was at the base.  Well, lo and behold, I've been studying the general for well over 30 years and I pretty much knew where he was placed several feet down.  Many people thought he was at the base, but no, because if you look at the monument, it was on a hill and you could dig and you dig and you dig and it wasn't directly under it but, over on the side.  He actually was on the side of the base, several feet below.  Andrew Morehead was directing everything.  John Hill ended up going in there and what he found was a small container.

InturnmentHe opened the container, he saw a skull, he saw a few bones, pieces of uniform and some buttons. He gathered a body bag that was provided by Andrew and the remains were put in that body bag.  Over that body bag was put a small Virginia flag and the body bag was put in a hearse and brought to the Bennett Funeral Home in Richmond.

It was decided to have a final burial, truly a final burial in Culpeper.  I got a call from Andrew Morehead.  Andrew and John Hill were talking, and being that I had honored General Hill for well over 30 years, they asked me to do the eulogy for General A.P. Hill.  It would be the greatest honor I will ever receive in life.  So, I go down to Richmond in January, and it was decided that the event would take place on January 21st, the 199th anniversary of the birth of Stonewall Jackson.  I arrived in Richmond the night before and stayed with Andrew Morehead at his home.

The next day we go over to the funeral parlor.  Andrew opens the casket.  I see the body bag there.  Andrew says, do you want to say anything to General Hill?  So, you know in the casket, there's a cushion there with the head of the deceased.  So, I go up to the general.  Of course, it's the body bag.  And so, I'm wishing the general safe journey.  I was tapping the scull of General A.P. Hill.  Andrew is about to close the casket.  He puts a small Virginia flag that was draped over the body bag, over the body bag again, in the casket.  He closes the lid, and he puts a large, unreconstructed, Civil War era flag of old Virginia over the casket.  Andrew and me start rolling the casket over to the hearse.  

We put the casket in the hearse and then begin the drive to Culpeper, 100 miles away.  We have a police escort.  Behind that police escort, there will be 15 members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans Mechanized Cavalry.  And then there would be the hearse with Andrew driving.  I am sitting there next to him, running shotgun, so to speak, and right behind us would be the casket that contained remains the General Hill.  Behind the hearse would be 15 cars with other collateral descendants of the General.  Every single time we came to an intersection there were state police.  The Virginia State Police would stand at attention and salute.

Well word got out on the Internet, and lo and behold, you know what that meant.  For a small dignified funeral, there were between 600 and 1,000 people there.  And the police were there also, expecting maybe there would be protests, because there would be over 300 reenactors there, Confederate reenactors, with the battle flags.  There were reenactors to be ready to fire a salute.  There was an artillery cannon there, also to fire a salute.  There was a chaplain there. There were musicians there. There were bagpipes there.  All there to finally give General A.P. Hill what he deserved.  A full military funeral.  We took the casket out of the hearse and put it on a wagon.  A wagon that was pulled by two mules.  Behind that wagon would be the riderless horse, with the boots on backwards, in the stirrups.

While this was happening, music would be playing. The Vacant Chair was sung by a group called Virginia Dan.  So finally, they would bring the casket down, and they'd put it where it would be lowered into the ground.  The chaplain gave his religious service, and then it was my turn.  Originally, the family asked me to speak for 20 minutes.  Ladies and gentlemen, I could not do justice to General Hill in 20 minutes.  I was so full of the event and emotion that I went on for half an hour.  I went on for half an hour talking about the general, the man, and the husband, Ambrose Powell Hill.  While I was doing this, my voice cracked, tears welled up in my eyes.  It was something special.  I was selected because this was not a reenactment.  This was a real Confederate general who played a significant role in the War Between the States.  When my eulogy was almost over, I quoted General Lee; “Strike the tent” “Tell A.P. Hill he must come up.”  And at that moment, the riderless horse, the horse whinnied.  It was like A.P. Hill was listening and was really there.

My eulogy had come to an end.  The reenactors gave their twenty-one guns salute, and three volleys from a cannon fired.  Right before they lower the casket into the ground, Andrew Morehead and John Hill folded the flag the proper way.  And then, without knowing what was to come next, Andrew Morehead presented the flag to John Hill.  John Hill saw me standing over to one side.  He walked over to me and handed me the flag that was draped over the casket of General Hill.  I held the flag.  He hugged me.  The casket started to lower and lower and lower into the ground.  So, ladies and gentlemen, General A.P. Hill, finally, the fourth time, got the funeral he truly deserved through all these years.

And as I said, I made a quibble about, you know, it's tough to keep a good man down.  Well, he was a good man, but it took well over 130 years more than that to finally get what he deserved.  And if all goes well, ladies and gentlemen, if all goes well, maybe at the end of this year, there will be something there an obelisk.  Something that truly honors him.  Because, believe it or not, there is a plaque there now.  Andrew Morehead filled out the forms to the United States Army for a plaque.

You've been to military cemeteries.  My father is buried in one.  My mother is there also. and he has a plaque on the ground, has his name on it and his rank.  Well, General Hill has one and this was done by the United States.  It says Ambrose Powell Hill, Lieutenant General, Army of Northern Virginia, and it has the day he was born and the day he died.  So that is there because he was an American soldier, but we hope someday at some point later on down the road to put something there regarding the headstone.  There's an organization that I'm a member, a board of directors for the A.P. Hill Memorial Association.

We are trying to save the headstone.  We're not going to call it a statue.  We're not going to call it a monument.  We're calling it a headstone because it truly was a headstone.  There was a court case this past week and it wasn't decided what to do.  We're still fighting this.  They're not going to take it away.  Because there's an organization, Friends of the Battlefield at Cedar Mountain, one of AP Hill's great victories along with Stonewall Jackson, they said they'd be willing to take the headstone and put it on the battlefield where it truly belongs.  So someday, somehow, later on down the road, we can all say, finally, “up came Hill” again.  Thank you very much. Thank you very much.

Last changed: 03/27/24