Daniel Hager, Sr. was born on November 15, 1801, in Amherst County, Va. He moved to Kentucky with his father John Hager, a native of Germany who came to America as a British soldier during the Revolutionary war. John Hager settled with his family in the part of Floyd Co. KY which later became Johnson County. In 1821, Daniel married Violet Porter and reared a large family of twelve children. His occupation was farmer and merchant. After Johnson County was established he became the first sheriff. Daniel Hager also represented Johnson and Floyd Counties in the Kentucky Legislature in 1845 and 1846.
When the Civil War began, Daniel Hager became involved in organizing the State militia, with the rank of General. The militia operated under the State law, and for the purpose of maintaining the neutral position of Kentucky. During the coming months it became evident that the sympathies of the State militia were predominantly Southern which led to the organization of local home guard units who were in support of the Union.
In the fall of 1861, General Hager cast his lot with the Southern cause and joined the Confederates who were organizing a force at Prestonsburg, commanded by General "Cerro Gordo" Williams. Shortly after the Confederate defeat at Ivy Mountain on November 8, 1861, a renewed attempt was made to bring Eastern Kentucky under Confederate control. A force led by General Humphrey Marshall entered the state by way of Pound Gap and made their way down the Big Sandy Valley. Daniel Hager served on Marshall's staff as assistant quarter-master. Humphrey Marshall established Paintsville as headquarters for some time, but on Christmas 1861 moved his troops to Hager's large farm which was situated about three miles south of the town.
Marshall's men immediately began the construction of some earthworks on a hill, about three or four hundred feet high, lying between two branches of a creek. The parapet was heavily revetted with logs and hewn timber and traverses for several guns had been finished. The fortifications commanded the road for a mile down the main valley and for an equal distance of the left fork of the stream which came down from the West. Records show that Hager supplied the troops with corn and oats.
On January 6, 1862, Colonel Abraham Garfield arrived with a Federal force in the vicinity of Paintsville. At the same time, a second Union force under Colonel Cranor was moving on Marshall's position by way of Hazel Green and Burning Springs. Having no intentions of being trapped and crushed by the enemy, Marshall decided on January 7, 1862, to withdraw in haste toward Prestonsburg. He gave battle three days later, on January 10, 1862, at Middle Creek in Floyd Co. KY.
When Garfield's troops arrived on Hager's Farm, the enemy had cleared the area but camp fires were still burning and food was cooking in the kettles. Garfield noted that the whole camp showed signs of panic and a most disorderly retreat.
Daniel Hager remained in the service of the Confederate Army until winter 1862. He then left the army and rented a farm in Russell County, Virginia, where he remained until April 1865.
Upon his return to Eastern Kentucky, Daniel Hager took the amnesty oath on May 4, 1865 at Louisa, HQ of United States Forces, First Division of Kentucky, Office of Provost Marshal. Hager stated that during his absence from Johnson County, KY, he was "partially and only for a short time connected with the 5th Ky Rebel Infantry, as an assistant quartermaster - and never held any other civil or military office under the so called Confederate government." According to the records, he was 63 years old, had a dark complexion, gray hair, black eyes and was 5' 10" tall.
dated May 4, 1865.
Hager applied for a Presidential pardon which was endorsed on Jan. 20, 1866, by Kentucky Governor Thomas E. Bramlette. Hager stated that he took the amnesty oath and that, "he is determined, in good faith, to conform thereto, and demean himself as a loyal citizen." He was pardoned July 6, 1866.
As was the case with many other families in Kentucky, the war had divided Daniel Hager's family. His oldest son John J. Hager joined the Confederate Army under Humphrey Marshall and was killed during the war. His son Daniel M. Hager served in the Union Army and joined the 45th Ky Mounted Infantry. His sons Samuel and Henry P. Hager engaged in steamboating on the Big Sandy River during the Civil War and supplied the Union Army with goods. Two son-in-laws also served the Union cause. Dr. Isaac Turner was a member of the 45th Ky Mounted Infantry and Captain Reuben Patrick was a famed Union scout.
In 1880, Daniel Hager served as President of the Eastern Kentucky Confederate Veterans Society, Johnson County Platoon. He died on July 5, 1887 and is buried in the Old Paintsville Cemetery.