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John F. Hanna diary

Identifier: MS-0317
John F. Hanna's diary contains a colorful account of life at VMI and in Lexington, Virginia during the Spring of 1864. Entries begin April 17, 1864 and end May 9, 1864. On May 10, the cadets were called to active duty at the request of General John C. Breckinridge and on May 15 participated in the Battle of New Market. The entries contain comments about VMI activities and people, Lexington social life, and discussion of personal concerns.

This volume was picked up by a Union soldier, probably when Union forces occupied Lexington in June 1864. It was ultimately fell into the hands of Septimus Knight of the 15th Pennsylvania Cavalry. The notebook was used by Knight as a diary; entries date from August 1862 (apparently copied from an earlier diary or notes) through June 1868. Most entries relate the movements and activities of the 15th Pennsylvania Cavalry. Knight's section of the volume has not been transcribed. Researchers who are interested the 15th Pennsylvania should contact the Archives to request photocopies.


  • 1864-1868


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There are no restrictions

Conditions Governing Use

Manuscript collections in the VMI Archives are made available for educational and research use. The VMI Archives should be cited as the source. The user assumes all responsibility for identifying and satisfying any copyright holders. Materials from our collections may not be redistributed, published or reproduced without permission from the VMI Archives. Contact the VMI Archives for additional information.


1 items

Biographical / Historical

John Francis Hanna (1843-1885) was born at the home of his grandparents in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on August 20, 1843. Before matriculating at VMI, he attended Gonzaga College and Georgetown University. He entered VMI from Manassas, Virginia, on January 22, 1862 as a member of the Class of 1864. He was a cadet First Lieutenant, Co. D., at the Battle of New Market. Fourteen members of the class, all New Market Cadets, were graduated on June 17, 1864, approximately a month after the battle. After the war he studied law at Columbian (now George Washington) University and practiced in Washington, DC. He never married. He was injured in a riding accident on October 25, 1885 and died at his home in Mt. Vernon, Virginia, on October 31.

Physical Location

Manuscripts Stacks

Related Materials

This volume is the final one in an eight volume diary begun by John F. Hanna in 1861. It is the only volume owned by VMI. References in the text to "other books" refer to previous volumes, which Hanna sent home to his sister for safekeeping.

Repository Details

Part of the Virginia Military Institute Archives Repository

VMI Archives
Preston Library
Lexington VA 24450