Born in North Carolina, Robert Frederick Hoke graduated from the Kentucky Military Institute in 1854, but did not gain any military experience prior to the outbreak of the Civil War. He first enlisted in the 1st North Carolina Infantry, where he received a commission as a second lieutenant. After performing well at the Battle of Big Bethel, he received a promotion to major of the 33rd North Carolina. He fought through the Peninsula Campaign, the Seven Days , Chancellorsville, Second Battle of Manassas, and Antietam. He was promoted to brigadier general on January 17, 1863, and commanded a brigade at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville, where he was severely wounded. After he recovered from his wounds, Hoke led a brigade to North Carolina, where he participated in the Battles of New Bern and Plymouth. At the Battle of Plymouth, Hoke captured a garrison of three thousand Union soldiers, and was promoted to major general on April 20, 1864. He was recalled to Virginia, where Hoke led a division at the Battle of Cold Harbor, his actions were critical to the Confederate victory. He and his division were once again sent to North Carolina after the battle, where he participated in the defense of Fort Fisher, the Carolina Campaign, and finally at the Battle of Bentonville, where his gallantry was noted. He finally surrendered to Union forces with General Joseph E. Johnston in April of 1865, and was pardoned May 1, 1865.