Brothers-in-law Generals Wore Confederate Gray
By O.C. Stonestreet
July 6, 2010
This is the story of three men who married sisters, all daughters of the Rev. Robert Hall Morrison, the first president of Davidson College. The men were Thomas Jonathan Jackson, Daniel Harvey Hill and Rufus Clay Barringer. All were Confederate generals during the Civil War. Lieutenant General Jackson (1824-1863) is better known by his nickname, "Stonewall." Lt. Gen. Hill (1821-1889) usually went by his initials, "D.H.," and Brigadier General Barringer (1821-1895) may be unknown to all but Civil War buffs.
Thomas J. Jackson was born in Clarksburg, Va., now West Virginia. He was the central character in the 2003 movie, "Gods and Generals," based on the historical novel of the same title and is perhaps the most famous Confederate officer after Robert E. Lee. Many armchair historians, as well as those with academic credentials, maintain it was the absence of Jackson at the Battle of Gettysburg that sealed the fate of the Confederacy.
Jackson’s last battle was at Chancellorsville, Va., just a month before Gettysburg. While scouting out the terrain in the dark for the next day’s battle, Jackson was accidentally shot by "friendly fire" from a Confederate unit.
Jackson’s left arm was amputated and he died of complications of pneumonia on May 10, 1863. He is buried in Lexington, Va. Jackson married Mary Anna Morrison in July, 1857. His first wife, "Ellie" Junkin, died during childbirth in 1854. Jackson, a West Point graduate and veteran of the Mexican War, was an instructor at the Virginia Military Institute when the Civil War began. He and D. H. Hill became friends while both lived in Lexington and it was probably Hill who introduced his wife’s sister to widower Jackson.
D. H. Hill was born in what would become York County, S.C., graduated from West Point in 1842, and won several battlefield promotions during the Mexican War. He resigned from the U.S. Army in 1849 and taught mathematics at Washington College (now Washington and Lee University) in Lexington, Va., for several years before leaving there to teach the same subject at Davidson College. In 1859 he left Davidson College to become the superintendent and math instructor at the newly-established North Carolina Military Institute in Charlotte, N.C. The Institute stood where the current YMCA on Morehead Street now stands.
He married Isabella Sophia Morrison in 1848. The couple had nine children. Hill joined the Confederate Army at th beginning of the Civil War and, with the rank of colonel, commanded the First North Carolina Regiment (afterwards known as "The Bethel Regiment’) during the first battle of the War, the Battle of Big Bethel, near Fort Monroe, Va.,which was a Confederate victory. By 1862 Hill was a major general. One historian has commented that Hill, ever the mathematician, held back his forces from battle until the last possible moment, but when he attacked, he held nothing back, nothing in reserve, that he "fell on the enemy like an avalanche." During the Battle of Antietam, Md., he had three horses shot from beneath him. Following the death of Jackson, his brother-in-law, Hill was not promoted to command of a corps, but was sent to North Carolina to help with recruiting. He also assisted in protecting the Confederate capital, Richmond. This was due, in part, to a personality conflict with Gen. Lee. Sent to the Confederate Army of Tennessee, Hill commanded a corps in the Battle of Chickamaugua and was one of a group of officers highly critical of Gen. Braxton Bragg, a favorite of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Hill was sidelined and his last major battle was at the tragic Battle of Bentonville, N.C., fought when the War was basically lost. Following the War Hill returned to Charlotte and beginning in 1866, published and edited a Southern history magazine, "The Land We Love." He next served as the first president of the University of Arkansas and then held the same position at the Georgia Military and Agricultural College. D. H. Hill died in Charlotte in September, 1889, and is buried in the Davidson College Cemetery. There is a North Carolina Historic Highway Marker on Highway 115 just north of the college denoting Gen. Hill’s final resting place. Mrs. Hill survived her husband by 15 years and died in December of 1904. She rests beside her husband.
Rufus Barringer was born to a prominent Cabarrus County family in 1825. He graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1842, returned to Concord, N.C., became a lawyer and got into politics. He represented Cabarrus County in the lower house of the state legislature from 1848 to 1850. With the start of the War, Barringer, who is not known to have had any military training, volunteered and because of his education and connections, was made captain of a cavalry company in the First North Carolina Cavalry Regiment.
A quick learner, Barringer was steadily promoted and by 1864 had achieved the rank of brigadier general. He is said to have been wounded three times while fighting in 76 engagements with Union forces. He was cited for bravery seven times. Barringer was captured by disguised Union cavalrymen in April of 1865 and was imprisoned until July. After the War he returned to Cabarrus County, then moved to Charlotte, where he became a Republican. Local Democrats regarded him as a traitor and his brother-in-law D. H. Hill, an elder in the First Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, reportedly refused to serve Barringer Communion. Barringer transferred his membership to the Second Presbyterian Church in that city. Entering politics again, Barringer unsuccessfully ran for lieutenant governor. In 1888 he switched parties, again becoming a Democrat. Barringer’s first marriage was to Eugenia Erixene Morrison in 1854. They had a son and a daughter. Following her death from typhoid fever in 1858, Barringer married again and following the death of this second wife from tuberculosis, married a third time. Barringer died of cancer in February of 1895, and is buried in Charlotte’s historic Elmwood Cemetery. His third wife and three sons survived him. There are several photographs of Gen. Barringer and his first wife and the flag of the Cabarrus Rangers in the The Concord Museum, 11 Union Street, Concord, N.C.
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