A. P. Hill
For seventeen years, a growing crowd has gathered at noon on April 2nd to honor Lt. General A. P. Hill on the very spot where he was killed. Each year, actor and historian Patrick Falci has come all the way from New York to speak about and portray the Confederate general. In the past, some of Falci’s presentations have focused on the general’s death, but this year he wore a red shirt like Hill would have worn into battle and said that he wanted the audience to see Hill as a leader.
“Today, I want to commemorate and celebrate the life of Lt. General Ambrose Powell Hill,” Falci said, “out in the field, on campaign, in battle: fighting for home, family, and Virginia.”
Falci spoke about Hill’s leadership at several major engagements of the War Between the States, including the Seven Days Battle, Cedar Mountain, Second Manassas, Sharpsburg, and Gettysburg. He also spoke about Hill’s service under Robert E. Lee during the ten-month siege of Petersburg.
“Every time the federal forces tried to break through his lines, Hill would be there,” Falci said.
General Hill, who was a native of Culpeper, served the Confederacy for four years before being killed in action in northern Dinwiddie County in 1865. Hill died hours before the fall of Petersburg and one week before Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox.
Frank Earnest, Sr., of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, who introduced Falci as the speaker, said that though most actors would pursue the parts with the most lines, Falci is different.
“Our speaker today could not possibly have more honor and respect for the great General A. P. Hill,” Earnest said. “He sought out the part of General A. P. Hill in the movie Gettysburg without regard for screen time or number of lines.”
Earnest also offered closing remarks, saying that he thought it was important for parents and grandparents to teach their children to respect their ancestors.
“I want to know that 50 or 75 years from now, when I’ll surely be gone and many of you, that there’ll still be people gathering here on April 2nd to honor General A. P. Hill and continue our heritage,” Earnest said.
Becky Anderson, who attended the event along with her husband Johnny Anderson, a member of A. P. Hill Camp 167 of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, said that Falci started the event with just a few participants, but in some years since then over a hundred have attended.
“It’s really grown,” Anderson said.
Anderson said that sporadic rain might have been one reason that attendance was down this year, but over sixty people still came out for the event. The ceremony has grown to include a color guard, the playing of taps, and special music. The band Virginia Dare performed the songs “Going Home” and “The Vacant Chair,” a period song about the loss of a loved one.
Featured Photo: Actor and historian Patrick Falci portrays Confederate Lt. Gen. A.P. Hill during the annual Hill memorial earlier this month.