I’ve tried to stay out of the monument debate as long as I could — mainly to retain my sanity and avoid making enemies on either side. That was at least until a Civil War general’s remains became involved.
On June 6, I saw a photo posted on Twitter by fellow ECWer Edward S. Alexander. He was chronicling what was going on in Richmond, and shared a picture of Confederate Lt. General Ambrose Powell Hill’s monument splattered with brown and white paint. Odds are that this statue will be coming down soon. (Just a note: If you are feeling compelled to leave a comment for or against the removal of Confederate monuments, this blog post isn’t the place to do it.) The A.P. Hill Monument is different than the other monuments coming under fire because the general’s remains are stored in the statue’s 24-foot pedestal. (I have also read that the general’s remains are buried under it.)
Alexander did a wonderful job covering the events surrounding Hill’s death in this past ECW post. He will be discussing Hill’s three burials during the Seventh Annual Emerging Civil War Symposium. You will have to wait until August to get the juicy details of the bizarre journey Hill’s body made after being killed in April 1865.
Hill’s remains ended up being moved to Lot N-35 of Richmond’s Hollywood Cemetery in 1867. Twenty-five Confederate generals are currently buried here, the most than any other cemetery in the nation. Hill was unceremoniously buried in an unmarked grave at Hollywood. The only indication that he was buried in this location were the words “Lt.-Gen. A.P. Hill” inscribed in the curbing in front of his grave. During the late 19th century, members of the Pegram Battalion Association, some of which had served with Hill during the war, felt this was an unworthy way to honor the general, and set out to do something about it.
Initially, they planned to place a statue over Hill’s grave at Hollywood, but Major Lewis Ginter spearheaded the movement to relocate Hill’s remains to the intersection at Laburnum Avenue and Hermitage Road. One newspaper called this located “a very beautiful one at the corner nearest the city of Major Ginter’s country place.” The Ginter Real Estate Development Company — owned by Major Ginter — conveniently donated the land. The statue and pedestal — costing $15,000 — would be far enough away from the other Confederate monuments erected on Monument Avenue to avoid it being dwarfed by them, while also serving as a centerpiece in the neighborhood.
In July 1892, members of the Hill Monument Association, with the consent of Kitty Morgan Forsyth (Hill’s widow, who had remarried after his death), exhumed Hill’s remains. “I was not favorable to the second disturbance and removal of the General’s remains,” family member G. Powell Hill, wrote, “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.” This statement indicates there was some division among family members regarding the relocation. After four hours of digging, Hill’s bones were removed. Funeral Director Langdon T. Christian placed them in a container for safekeeping. That evening, Hill’s remains were stored in a sarcophagus in the granite pedestal that would serve as the base for an 8-foot tall bronze statue, designed by William L. Sheppard, not yet completed. (A maquette of the statue is on display at the American Civil War Museum.)
The placement of the A. P. Hill Monument has been debated for years for obvious reasons, including the hazard it poses to traffic. (Forty-three crashes were reported at this intersection in 2019.) Efforts were made to return Hill’s remains to Hollywood Cemetery in 1966, to no avail. In 2009, the Sons of Confederate Veterans proposed to move them to Richmond’s restored Oakwood Cemetery, where thousands of Confederate soldiers are buried. Now, it only seems practical to relocate Hill for the fourth, and hopefully last, time. But to where?
Of course, Hollywood or Oakwood are options. Another suitable location is Fairview Cemetery in Culpeper, Virginia, where Hill’s mother, father, two sisters, and a brother are buried. Besides, his family originally wanted him buried there. The question is, will one of these cemeteries take him? If Hollywood, Oakwood, or Fairview won’t, surely some other cemetery will.
Unpopular as this may be to some, it’s time for Hill to be moved from its current location. Some family members, while appreciative of the effort to commemorate the general, according to G. Powell Hill, would have rather seen him left buried at Hollywood. The city of Richmond must act now to ensure Hill’s remains are properly cared for when his monument is removed.
I’m not one to propose something without including a solution. So here it is: I suggest setting up a committee of historians and archeologists to advise how and where Hill’s remains should be moved — handling the details of exhumation, the logistics of transportation, selecting a suitable location, and deciding on the most appropriate type of memorialization. Hill saw service in the U.S. Army after graduating from West Point in 1847, so the Department of Veterans Affairs will provide a government-issued headstone free of charge if this is deemed to be the most appropriate way to mark Hill’s new grave. I, for one, would be more than willing to sit on this committee to see to it that Hill’s remains are properly taken care of. I’m sure other historians would be willing to as well. I’ll leave others to debate the fate of his monument.
It may seem like a colossal undertaking to relocate Hill’s remains. Try reading about one man’s effort to remove Confederate Brigadier General Bushrod Rust Johnson’s remains from an Illinois cemetery to Tennessee. (Noble K. Wyatt’s tale is at the end of the revised edition of Charles M. Cummings’ Yankee Quaker Confederate General: The Curious Career of Bushrod Rust Johnson.) The challenges Wyatt faced during the 1970s were far more daunting considering the obstacles he had to overcome and the limited resources he had available.
Richmond’s Monument Avenue Preservation Group (not the Monument Avenue Preservation Society) and others are fighting tooth and nail to resist the removal of the statues from Monument Avenue. We can’t predict the future, but there needs to be a plan to ensure that Hill’s remains don’t end up being desecrated, aren’t stowed away in a storage unit, or aren’t lost. I’m far less concerned with the fate of a monument than I am with a man’s remains. Let’s make sure this is the last and final time Ambrose Powell Hill is moved and permit this soldier to rest in peace.
 G. Powell Hill, “First Burial of General Hill’s Remains,” in Southern Historical Society Papers, Vol. 19, edited by R.A. Brock (Richmond, VA: Published by the Society, 1891), 183.
 James I. Robertson, Jr., General A. P. Hill: The Story of a Confederate Warrior (New York: Random House, 1987), 321-22.
 “The Hill Monument,” Richmond Dispatch (Richmond, VA), April 7, 1891; Brian Burns, Lewis Ginter: Richmond’s Gilded Age Icon (Charleston, SC: The History Press, 2011); S.A. Cunningham, ed., Confederate Veteran Magazine, Vol. 17 (Nashville TN: S.A. Cunningham, 1909), 509; Robertson, Jr., General A. P. Hill, 323.
 Robertson, Jr., General A. P. Hill, 323-24; Mary H. Mitchell, Hollywood Cemetery: The History of a Southern Shrine (Richmond, VA: The Library of Virginia, 1999), 114; The Roanoke Times (Roanoke, VA), March 18, 1892; “The Hill Statue,” The Big Stone Post (Big Stone Gap, VA), March 11, 1892; Hill, “First Burial of General Hill’s Remains,” 186.
 “Confederate Group Offers to Move Lt. Gen. A.P. Hill’s Body,” Style Weekly (September 2, 2009), https://www.styleweekly.com/richmond/confederate-group-offers-to-move-lt-gen-ap-hillts-body/Content?oid=1378709; Wyatt Gordon, “Removing one Confederate monument in Richmond is not just about racism—but safety,” Greater Greater Washington (April 3, 2020), https://ggwash.org/view/76932/removing-one-confederate-monument-in-richmond-is-not-just-about-racismbut-safety; “Why Richmond, Why?!? Shrinking Space Around A.P. Hill Statue,” Richmond-Time Dispatch (November 5, 2012), https://www.richmond.com/why-richmond-why-shrinking-space-around-a-p-hill-statue/article_fcba590c-3a3d-11e2-a237-0019bb30f31a.html.
 Hill, “First Burial of General Hill’s Remains,” 183-84.
 Noble K. Wyatt, “The General Goes Home,” in Charles M. Cummings, Yankee Quaker, Confederate General: The Curious Career of Bushrod Rust Johnson (Columbus, OH: The General’s Books, 1993), 418-36.