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J. O. Humphreys Civil War Diary

Identifier: MS-0517
J. O. Humphreys served with the 1st Independent Ohio Infantry Regiment during the Civil War. He was mortally wounded at Petersburg.


  • 1864


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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

This diary has a fascinating history. Private J. O. Humphreys was among the Union soldiers who briefly occupied Lexington, Virginia in June 1864--an event known locally as "Hunter's Raid." The Union forces, led by General David Hunter, destroyed several VMI buildings, as well as much of the cadet library and laboratory equipment.

An unknown Union officer discovered the Order Book for the VMI Corps of Cadets, (containing administrative details of cadet life from January 17, 1862-May 7, 1864) and it eventually came into Humphreys' possession. He used the empty pages in the back of the volume to record this account of his unit's activities from late April through early July, 1864; he described the the events at VMI and Lexington in his entry of June 12.
About the 1st Independent Ohio Artillery Battery

Humphreys was subsequently mortally wounded at Petersburg, Virginia. Before he died, he gave the Order Book to his best friend, Private Harvey Rhodes. The book was cherished by Rhodes, who settled in Indiana after the war and lived to the age of 82, and was inherited by Rhodes' son. The original Order Book, now including the diary, was returned to VMI in the 1970's, more than one hundred years after its disappearance. The unit was organized at Camp Chase on July 6, 1861, under Captain James R. McMullen. It served in West Virginia and temporarily in the Army of the Potomac; saw action at the Battles of South Mountain and Antietam; joined General Hunter's expedition to Lynchburg, Virginia, June 1864; Battle of Winchester July 24; retreat to Williamsport, Md.; ordered to Martinsburg, W. Va., and saw duty there guarding stores till March, 1865; moved to Harper's Ferry, then to Washington, D.C. for garrison duty; mustered out June 26, 1865.

Physical Location

The diary pages are physically located in the VMI Corps of Cadets Order Book dated January 1862-May 1864.

Repository Details

Part of the Virginia Military Institute Archives Repository

VMI Archives
Preston Library
Lexington VA 24450