Hill, G. Powell. "First Burial of General Hill's Remains." SHSP 31 (1891), pp. 183-186.
FIRST BURIAL OF GENERAL HILL'S REMAINS.
The following communication was elicited by the account in the Dispatch of July 2, 1891, of the removal the preceding day of the remains of Lieutenant-General A. P. Hill from Hollywood to the receptacle that had been prepared for them in the foundation of the Hill monument on the Hermitage road. Mention is there made of the first interment of the General's body, which is very far from being correct. The temporary burial of the body in Chesterfield, where it remained several years, was an act of necessity and not of choice or pre-arrangement. As the only surviving relative who participated in the sad rites of burial of our distinguished dead, I feel that it is my privilege as well as duty to make the correction and explain why his grave has remained sop long unmarked by tombstone or shaft, and why he was not buried in his native county (Culpeper). General Hill was killed near Petersburg April 2, 1865, and the next day (that memorable Sunday that needed the existence of the capital of the Confederacy) a messenger reached my home in Richmond bearing to me the first sad news of the General's death, and that his body was then en route to the city (by ambulance), with the request that I would take charge of and if possible bury it in Hollywood. The bearer of that message was Henry Hill, Jr., a nephew of the General, and son of Colonel Henry Hill, Paymaster-General of Virginia, who was formerly a paymaster in the United States army. It was about four o'clock in the afternoon when Henry Hill, Jr., reached my house. He had left the body of the general in care of the ambulance driver about half way between Petersburg and Richmond in order to apprise me, so that the necessary preparations for burial might be made with as little de;lay as possible. He said to me that it was the wish of the General's wife and brothers that if the body
Page 184 Southern Historical Society Papers.
could not be buried in Hollywood to have it taken to Culpeper, and in the latter event, if it were possible, to meet the General's wife and children Monday morning at the refugee home of my father in Chesterfield county, on the James river just below the old Bellona Arsenel, and they would accompany it to Culpeper.
The excitement and confusion in Richmond incident to the evacuation of the city by the Confederate as well as State authorities, rendered it impracticable for me to bury the General's remains in Hollywood, even if the necessary arrangements had been perfected, and I abandoned that purpose and determined if possible to carry out the second request of the family--namely, to take the body to Culpeper.
Owing to the crowded condition of the road from Petersburg to Richmond and the long delay at the Manchester end of Mayo's bridge caused by the flight of people from the doomed city, the ambulance bearing the General's body did not reach Richmond until after one o'clock Sunday night. The driver had been directed by Henry Hill, Jr., to take the body to his father's (Colonel Henry Hill's) office, at that time located in the basement of the old Court of Appeals building that stood on the southeast corner of the Capitol Square at the intersection of Franklin and Twelfth streets. I was assistant paymaster under Colonel Hill and had charge of the office, and by direction of Governor (Smith) I had packed up all the books and papers belonging to the Paymaster-General's office, and placed them on the canal-boat that conveyed the Governor and cadets out of the city. I did not know until the General's remains reached Richmond that a coffin had not been provided. My cousin (Henry Hill, Jr.) had failed to mention this fact, and I naturally supposed that the body had been prepared for burial before it left Petersburg.
Time was pressing us closely, as we were expecting the entrance of the Federal troops into the city at any moment. The stores on Twelfth, Thirteenth, Main, and Cary streets had been broken into, and in many instances sacked and fired. Belvin's furniture store had been opened at both ends (the rear being then on Twelfth street), and my cousin and myself entered the rear door, hoping to find a representative to whom we could apply for a coffin. after making repeated calls and receiving no answer, we secured a coffin and took it to a vacant office (which had been occupied by General P. T. Moore, about where the St. James' Hotel now stands). We removed the body from the ambulance into the office, where we washed his face and removed his gauntlets, and examined his body to discover
Page 185 Lieutenant-General A. P. Hill.
where the fatal ball had entered. We discovered that it had shot off the thumb of his left hand and passed directly through his heart, coming out at the back. We hastily placed the body in the coffin (which was rather small), and putting it in the ambulance, left the city by way of Fourteenth street and Mayo's bridge, slowly and sadly wending our way through Manchester and up the river to my father's refugee home. He had refugeed from Culpeper county.
When our small but sad funeral cortege, consisting of myself, cousin (Henry Hill, Jr.) and the ambulance driver, had reached within a mile of my father's home, I rode ahead to apprise the family of our coming, believing that the General's wife and children had already reached there with the sad news. I found the family at breakfast and totally ignorant of the sad changes that had taken place within the past forty-eight hours. The General's family had not arrived, and the condition of his remains was such as to give us serious doubts as to the practicability or advisability of attempting to convey them so great a distance across the country in an ambulance (more than one hundred miles to Culpeper). We decided then and there to give his remains temporary burial, and at some future day remove them to his native county and place him by the side of his parents. The grave was hastily dug, and, with the assistance of my father's butler, I made a rough case to receive the coffin. We buried the body about 2 P. M., April 4, 1865, in the old Winston burying-ground, where it remained until removed to Hollywood several years later through the kind efforts of Colonel William H. Palmer and his army associates.
My father (the late Thomas Hill, Jr., of Culpeper) and Colonel Henry Hill were brothers, and were first cousins and brothers-in-law of General Hill, they having married his sisters. Colonel Henry Hill and his wife (the General's sister) were at that time staying at my father's refugee home. Only a few days before the General was killed, he, with his wife and children, had spent several days at my father's to recuperate his health. He returned to his command before his furlough expired. During this visit to my father's home he accompanied Colonel Hill to Richmond, and while seated in our office talking with several prominent citizens who had called to pay their respects, the subject of the evacuation of the city was touched upon, which seemed to greatly annoy the General, and he remarked that he did not wish to survive the fall of Richmond. That was on Wednesday. Three days later he gave up his life for his country.
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After the close of the war it was the desire and purpose of his relatives to remove the body to Culpeper, and suitably mark his grave; but his army associates (particularly his own staff officers) asked that this sad but sacred testimony of love and esteem might be assigned to them, which was acquiesced in and no further effort was made by his own family or relatives to do honor to his memory. We felt aggrieved that his grave remained so long unmarked by slab or shaft, or other indication of carrying out such a promise, save the purchase and beautifying of a section in Hollywood, and the removal of the body under the direction of Colonel Palmer and others of his staff and army associates to that beautiful city of the dead.
I was not favorable to the second disturbance and removal of the General's remains, and I believe such were the feelings of a majority of his surviving relatives, as we believe it was wholly unnecessary and furthermore, we think it would have been far more desirable had the monument been erected over the grave in the most beautiful God's Acre in his native State, and where he has been sleeping for nearly a quarter of a century. Nevertheless we are grateful to the kind friends who have interested themselves in perpetuating the memory of one who was greatly beloved by all who knew him, and whom the immortal Lee and Jackson honored by their confidence.
The Captain Hill mentioned as having been detailed by Colonel Palmer to take charge of the General's remains and to take them to Coalfield for burial was perhaps Captain Frank T. Hill, a nephew and aide-de-camp to the General. He probably turned the body over to his brother Henry, who delivered it to me at Richmond, with instructions as heretofore mentioned. There was no prearranged plan to bury the body in Chesterfield.
G. POWELL HILL.