A Triangle: Hill Marries
27 October 2011 No Comment
I visited Lexington, Kentucky several years ago to learn more about A. P. Hill’s beloved “Dolly.” She was born Kitty Morgan into one of Kentucky’s most prominent families. Her grandfather, John Wesley Hunt, was the first millionaire west of the Alleghenies. Her mammy thought she looked like a china doll and thus nicknamed her Dolly, a name that A. P. Hill adored. When her grandfather died her mother inherited his house in Lexington— Hopemont, and a huge amount of money.
Lovely young Kitty married her first cousin Calvin McClung and moved with him to Louisville. But he died early in their marriage and then their infant son died. Overcome with grief, she returned to Hopemont. Her sister insisted that Kitty accompany on her on a visit to Washington hoping the exciting new social circuit would lift her out of her grief. And there she met A. P. Hill, a dashing army officer nine years her senior. It was love at first sight.
The couple married in the parlor of Hopemont July 18, 1859. George McClellan did not travel from Illinois to attend the wedding. Thus the oldest of Dolly’s six brothers, John Hunt Morgan, was best man. As she stood between her brother and husband who would both gain fame as Confederate warriors, little could the new bride imagine that both would give their last full measure of devotion to the Confederacy.
When the war erupted, John Hunt Morgan and her older brothers stole the rifles from the Lexington armory and headed south to fight for the Confederacy. Morgan became the first partisan ranger and began striking Union supply lines in Kentucky. He was called the “Rebel Raider” and the “Marion of the West.” His exploits are legendary but he was ultimately betrayed and shot in the back in Greenville, Tennessee in 1864. Today Hopemont, now called the Hunt-Morgan House, is open to the public.
The marriage of Dolly and A. P. Hill was exceedingly happy from first to last. Dolly’s income eased financial pressures and the Washington social whirl was exciting for the couple who made friends so easily because they loved each other so obviously. A daughter later said, “Their union was ideal as Father was a man of unusually fine traits, gentle and courteous, a wonderful sense of humor, and a charming man.”
The two became inseparable—not even war could keep them apart. Theirs would become one of the truly great love stories of the Civil War.
Where, you may be wondering, was George McClellan all this time? He had left the army to take a job as chief of engineers of the Illinois Central Railroad. But in March 1858 he was still pining away over Ellen Marcy.
Stay tuned for “McClellan Perseveres.”