A Triangle: Hill Moves On
Mrs. Marcy had mixed emotions about her daughter’s broken engagement to A. P. Hill. She too had won—and lost. Her hope was for Ellen to marry McClellan but that hope seemed blasted by the Hill affair.
Everyone was through but Hill. He had been clearly rejected, but there was still the matter of his honor to be settled. He was a proud man who valued his honor, so much so that he would later challenge fellow Confederate General James Longstreet to a duel. He wrote a letter to Captain Marcy demanding justice and accusing Mrs. Marcy of starting the rumors. He demanded “That Mrs. Marcy correct this false impression with anyone who may have heard it and she should make known the name of the informant to be used by me as I may see fit.”
Captain Marcy, a man of honor, wrote his wife demanding to know if Hill’s charges were true. If so, he would insist upon Ellen marrying Hill as reparation. However, Mrs. Marcy was able to explain it away to her husband’s satisfaction.
Hill returned to the Washington social circuit and within a year spied across a crowded room the woman who would hold his heart until death.
He wrote his favorite sister Lucy, “You know that I am so constituted, that to be in love with someone is as necessary to me as my dinner, and there is now a little siren who has thrown her net around me, and I know not how soon I may yield up my right to flirt with whom I please. She is a sensible little beauty, and if the spasm will stay in me long enough, and she will say yes, why I don’t believe I could do better.” Hill courted her throughout 1858. To him, she was always “Dolly” the nickname given her by her Mammy. That is the name she became known by in Virginia.
Late spring 1859 Hill wrote McClellan, “I’m afraid there is no mistake about it this time, old fellow, and please God, and Kentucky bluegrass, my bachelor life is about to end, and I shall swell the number of blessed martyrs who have yielded up freedom to crinoline and blue eyes. She is young—24 yrs. 7 mos. gentle and amiable, yet holy, and sufficiently good looking for me—and what’s more—I know that you will like her and when you come to know her, say that I have done well. I believe her income is close to mine—and if this be so I am glad for her sake, and if not I will not be disappointed. I expect to be married in Lexington, Kentucky on July 18, and if you could ride down from Chicago, you know there is no one whose presence would delight me more.”*
Stay tuned for “McClellan Perseveres”
*From “The Class of 1846: From West Point to Appomattox” by John Waugh (Highly recommended)