Daniel Hitchcock was born in Massachusetts and graduated from Yale University. He moved to Providence, Rhode Island where he became an attorney and was suspected by the authorities of involvement in the Gaspee Affair. At the start of the American Revolutionary War he formed Hitchcock's Regiment of infantry in the Rhode Island Army of Observation. He was first appointed lieutenant colonel in command of the regiment when it marched to serve in the Siege of Boston in 1775. His regiment was renamed the 11th Continental Regiment during 1776. That year, he led his troops at Long Island, Harlem Heights, and White Plains.
He was promoted to colonel in November 1776. His regiment was renamed the 2nd Rhode Island Regiment at the start of 1777. He led a small brigade of Rhode Island troops at Assunpink Creek and Princeton. At the latter action on 3 January 1777, George Washington publicly thanked him for his efforts. He died ten days later of tuberculosis at Morristown, New Jersey.