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John F. Hanna Diary
Civil War Cadet Life
Manuscript #0317
Full Text Transcription

Hanna Diary Home 

Notes about the transcription 

  • Hanna's portion of the diary consists of 37 pages of text. The first two pages are in very poor condition and several words are missing; subsequent pages are in excellent condition.
  • Hanna spelling has been retained. Words that are missing, illegible, or a probable "logical fit" are always noted in [brackets]. Parentheses are Hanna's own, as they appear in the original manuscript.
  • Numbered notes appear throughout the text; view this page for additional information about people and events mentioned by Hanna. The notes page also includes a list of the commonly used cadet slang that appears throughout the diary. Links to other relevant documents on our website are also provided.

Full text transcription

Diary Diary Diary 

April 1864 

continued from book that was presented to me by Will.

Sunday 17th. 

The last date upon which I have written was Sunday 17th inst,. viz. today. I wonder what I shall have to make record of in this book. My Cadetship1 is drawing rapidly to a close and as I look back through the two years that I have been at the Institute I am forced to say that the time spent has been pleasant and to a great extent profitable. I have formed many friendships and become aquainted with very many individuals. I must recall the word many as applied to friends. I made reference to more intimate aquaintances [word missing] application. As to real staunch friends such as we may look to in time of need, I can count only few, but the few are as valuable as a whole [word missing]of passing friends.

My character too has undergone a change since Jan. of 1862. I was [word missing] invincible to the public opinion, still when I [word missing] to take a calm and deliberate view of affairs that feeling of independence and that spirit of determination which I so much have tried to possess myself with has come to my rescue and make me to look on [other] side of the picture, as the good [several words missing].

..earnest "I don't care" to all the shallow bickering of the deceitful populace. It is not my nature to be at all times gay. Sometimes [in] the very midst of excitement and pleasure I will unconsciously drop [in]to a seemingly surly mood and allow then the bad part of nature to predominate, but enough for the "Ego" as Col. Preston2 says, let's have a little of the "Non Ego" and put the monologue off to another occasion, as when I talk love to some pretty one, & c.

Yesterday Tom Davis3 and "Ego" (thus I go again) visited the Misses D.4 and enjoyed ourselves very much with one exception in regard to Tom, who was a little worried that Miss C had not answered a note he had written her on Wednesday last. In the evening however when I walked with Miss C to the Dress Parade the matter was very amicably adjusted. I think I offended Miss M yesterday [while] looking at an Ambrotype shown to me by Miss C, which she did not [want] me to see. I think I was justifiable for Miss C said that her sister remarked that she did not care whether she showed it to me or not. Yesterday, when I returned with Miss C to her home I sent word to [Miss] M asking if she would not come down & shake hands with me, make up and be good friends again. The reply was "Tell Mr. Hanna that I am asleep and cannot come"! I expect there will be a fight on hand and I must of course [make] preparations, fix my ammunition, etc.

[I] visited Misses Wmsn 5 accompanied by S.D.D. There is on Thurs[day] [several missing words] visits over there will be more frequent than [bottom sentences missing].

...on one of them. If joke succeeds, I will tell what it was; but if it does not succeed I will not mention anything about it.

Last night Tom came to my room and we enjoyed an hour very much by looking some back pages of my Diary. He remarked what I had not thought of before, that my journal belonged to himself as much to me and it gave me much pleasure to see how glad he was to see his name so often written down by me. If Tom and myself split our aquaintanceship, then I shall say and believe that friendship has "run up the spout" everywhere and never dare to trust myself to it again.

Tuesday 19th 

I will have good reason to remember yesterday. Especially the last part of the day. In the morning, the 1st class made its first recitation on "Army Regulation" of C.S. In Mineralogy, I tested or rather experimented to find out what mineral it was that Col. Gilham6 gave me (for discovery). I was successful in proving it to be "Hornblende" but had some difficulty in making it fuse not being yet well skilled in the use of the Blowpipe. Sam Shriver7 got a letter from his father which stated that a big fight would occur in the neighborhood of Orange or Culpeper Ct. House in the course of a few days. [That] Stuart's cavalry force amounted including late [r-----] to 25000--that Longstreet's & Polks command [words missing]...through in route for Lee, that many ambulances and stretchers had been sent to the front. All which was very indicative of active movements and probably offensive on our side.

In the afternoon Maj. Moore and Capt. Eauf visited us. After supper I took a smoke and after reading over Intellectual Philosphy went around to Shafer's8 room (23) in order to borrow his Army Regulations. Just as I was entering the door of his room, I heard the sentinel cry "No visiting allowed". I then called Shafer to his door and told him what I wanted. He wanted me to come in, but I told him that I could not as "that fool of a sentinel would not allow me to do so". I must say here that although it is strictly speaking the duty of a sentinel to prevent visiting; still when there are no Subs9 about, most any Cadet will allow another to visit, provided he (the visiting Cadet) assumes the responsibility, and expects to be reported if the Sub should happen to "come around". As I was returning to my room the sentinel, whose name is Smith E.10 as designated from the many other Smiths who are Cadets, approaching me said, "You had no right to say what you did a while ago." I replied in terms that I do not like to mention here (for I was very angry) and pronounced him a scoundrel; whereupon he returned the compliment and [word missing] me at the same time. I felt then just like attacking [him] immediately and would have done so, as I do not like [word missing] matters, had not a regard which I generally have for military discipline prevailed. I told him to see me immediately after he was relieved. I was nervously excited and going in my room I trembled like a leaf. I would not have acted in a manner so hastily in what I have already mentioned had not I thought that the man was guided by malious motives against me. It seems that for the last two months he had been seeking for opportunities to make reports against me, and I have heard lately that he was overheard to remark that there was "one man in the 1st class whom he would make walk straight". Besides, I have noticed that for several successive tours of guard duty, he would walk on post No. 3 which is opposite my door (before Taps). Whether this was from chance in the No. or from preconc[eived] arrangements on his part I am not able to say.

The 3rd Relief is relieved at "Taps", or rather 10 minutes before. At about 15 minutes before I went to my room door, and as soon as the Corporal cried out "Sentinel relieved!" I went down stairs, soon followed by my enemy (for I thought him to be such). Although I was desirous of letting no one know what was going to happen or rather had happened; still I could not refuse to allow those whom he had chosen to act as his friends to accompany him. The Cadets so chosen were Jarratt11 and Ridley12, no bad wishers of mine I know; for immediately after the 1st word of the difficulty they both had come to my room and endeavored to have things adjusted, saying that Smith E. wished, for, I do not know what purpose, to postpone "the meeting" until the following evening. I replied "No! That it was "not my nature to defer such affairs" and told them that if they acted as "seconds" to Mr. Smith, they might inform him that I and not my friend or friends wanted to see him as soon as he came off post. But to proceed ---George and Herb,13 in spite of my opposition would insist on coming and followed me round the corner of Barracks where as soon as I got on the sod, I turned around and as the "scoundrel" came up struck him full in the face. It was not a hard knock on my part; for he did not seem to mind it, but closing in on me, tried to get good holds to throw me, which he came very near doing. I am not good wrestling nor fighting either, having had but very few fights in my lifetime. I managed to get him round the neck and both coming down together, I saw my advantage and taking it dealt some good blows in the face and the head. I was getting very weak. We rolled over and I came up on top, but in the change of position, he managed to get one of my fingers between his teeth and nearly bit it in two, though the nail. I kept striking him in the face, disdaining to retaliate in the same cruelty that he had been guilty of. He finally hollered "Enough!" when I let him up and came in Barracks. While I had him on the ground some one said make them get up and try it again. I told them, "No! That I was no pugilist" and George Bennett said that "If anyone touches John, he will have me to fight." I liked George ten times better for his remark and I am determined that he shall never have to cry in vain for help when I am about.

I regretted very much the occasion of the affray both on account of the sin I committed in getting angry and as I dislike to be pointed out and looked at by fellow cadets as "a fighter". I do not wish it to be understood that I fear public opinion from the remark just made. My finger pained me much during the night. I hold now no particular enmity against Smith, still as I have always considered him beneath me and as his recent transaction has not tended to raise him in my estimation, I never wish to have anything to do with him again. I told him so.

In spite of preceding occurences, having cooled down considerably and commenced to read Cyc. of Eng. Literature when Patton14 (Sergt. of guard)came to the room and informed us that my little friend Nelson15 had been reported absent from Taps and no one knew where he was. Sam, Herb and self got permission to go out and hunt for him, thinking he might be sick somewhere. We went up town, called at Genl. Pendleton's and at Hotel made many inquiries, but all in vain. We returned after about 2 hrs search to find out that he was in the Hospital. I went to see him this morning. He is not very sick and will "be out" tomorrow.

The papers contain items of Northern news that are very interesting. I allude to the procedings of the Yankee Congress particularly. In the paper of this date, or rather yesturday's date, which I have filed, it will be found that two Maryland members have been speaking quite nobly in our favour,their names are [Long] and Harris. Gold was quoted in Baltimore at 179. I hope my parents will not feel the effects of the panic that I fear must inevitably succeed the rapid depreciation of gold in Yankeedom.

I am curious to know how our Govt. will act in regard to Mexico. It is now our turn to recognize. We should not be too hasty, but act prudently in acknowledging Maximillian as a lawful sovereign (I think there is no doubt of this being done) in order that Napoleon and others may not be led to believe that the Confederacy is "boot-licking".

Sunday 24th April 1864 

On Wednesday last I was O.D. In the morning finding a cavalry sabre on Col. Shipp's 16 desk in the Commandant's Office, I determined to acquaint myself, as much as self instruction would allow, with the "Sabre Exercise." The consequence was that I tired the muscles of my arm very much until dinner time; but proceeded in going through all that was prescribed in Patton's Cavalry Tactics. I visited the sentinels after Taps, "devilled" them a little and getting sleepy, retired at 11 0'clock. Willie Nelson passed the night with me.

On Thursday afternoon, having received a note from Miss Lymp W. regretting that she could not accompany me in a walk, I went to Tom Davis' room and got him to go with me to the cliffs. While there I told him all about a disturbance or rather a fight that had taken place the day before between Geo. Bennett and a man by the name of Payne17, with whom I myself once came into collision. George told the cadet mentioned that he had acted dishonourably in forwarding such an application by which he was reinstated by the Board of Visitors. He wished to creep out even after this insult, but George insisted on his fighting. He was too strong for Bennett; yet got in the affray every bit as much as he gave, and then told George he was satisfied. I have good reason to think that Payne is a coward.

On Friday I unexpectedly made a 3 on Engineering, as I had studied the lesson but very little. At two O'Clock I was up town and was glad to find Miss C.D. willing to go walking with me. The door was opened for me at her house, by her older sister with whom I had had I slight quarrel on the Saturday before. From the manner in which she acted, I supposed her to be still "playing mad." I enjoyed much, yes very much, the walk with Miss C. There is a great difference in this young lady between being in her company alone and with others. When by herself she is quite talkative and, I was a little surprised to see, inclined a little to romp. I was absent from Drill, but was present as Dress Parade. I made arrangements for Tom Davis and myself to go for wild flowers on yesterday afternoon. I must say that on Friday, Miss C. and myself suceeded in gathering a "nice little" (as the ladies say) bouquet.

While sleeping very sweetly yesterday morning I was awakened to be very agreeably surprised in seeing Felix standing beside me. He had arrived not long before on the Packet Boat from Lynchburg. I soon dressed and taking a walk with him to the gate, had a long talk, him telling me and I telling him much information. We took breakfast at the Lexington Hotel. He had come on business with the Q.M. of this post and had an order from the Surgeon General to receive from this Q.M. a sum of $52000 a hospital fund that had here accumulated.

Agreeable to engagement, Tom Davis and I went at the appointed hour to take the walk projected. Miss M came into the parlor 1st and informed us that an arrangement made by her would, if we were willing, take precedence over ours. It was that Miss C. and Tom should go "sketching" and Miss. M and Mr. Hanna try an Equestrian expedition. I was most happy to accede to such an offer and being mounted on a very fine horse named John, by the by accompanied Miss Mary to Cave Spring on the bank of North River. We passed the walking party at the ruins of the old College18, or the old ruins of the college- better say both for "short".

In our ride, we went through a fine wheat field belonging to Col. Reed. Miss Mary told me that I would have to pay the fine if any was incurred, indeed we had already incurred one but I argued back that she led me in there, that the horses were hers and that even if I was indicted I should try to postpone the trial until next fall (carry it to the Grand Jury for instance) at which time I would be away from here & forgotten entirely no doubt.

We were (Tom and myself) at Dress Parade at which Felix expressed himself gratified. After supper, Tom D. and Tunstall his room mate came to my room, bringing their instruments where we discoursed some very good music- at least the auditors said so. I made Felix stay with me all night. At about 11'O Clock, Sam came up from Weston's room where he had been dicussing in conjunction with Weston- Minge - Hardy - Morson 19 the propriety of our offering our services to Genl. Lee. I was "high in" for anything of the kind and was at the time of an opinion that we should go anyhow. We discussed the matter this morning or rather the class did as I was at the Mess Hall taking breakfast with Felix and little Frank Tomes20, a good friend of mine and a good boy. I met as I returned from the Mess Hall a committee on its way to see Shipp. I joined them and we stated the object of our visit. The Comdt. was seemingly in favour of our going , "but" he said, "you should not go without orders as you are State soldiers." He told us that Genl. Smith21 had written to Gov. Smith offering our services and that the letter had been forwarded to Genl. Lee through the Gov. I asked him if he would take command of 2 companies organized & determined.

When we returned from seeing Gen. Smith to whom we were recommended to go by Comdt., we found quite an excitement raging in barracks. I believe the whole corps would have volunteered to go anyhow, but such conduct our class decried and after the conversation we had with Genl. Smith the 1st class determined to apply for their diplomas and accompany this application with another for a furlough in case objections were argued to our immediate graduation. These applications were sent in this morning. I do not think either will be accepted. Felix left in afternoon. Before supper I visited Mrs. Bull's folks who invited me to tea; but I declined to come some future time. After supper a little Washingtonian friend of mine named Price22 entertained in his very talkative manner by describing the play of "Jack Sheppard". At about 8 Oclock I laid down as I did not feel well- slept until Taps, after which remained up until 11 1/2 O'Clock in order to prepare the lessons for the morrow.

Monday 25th 

The Corps was turned out at 11 O'Clock in order to pay military honor to Genl. Rosser's command23 as they passed. The Cadets became very tired in holding their pieces at a "Present" so long (about 25 mins.) I am much obliged to Genl. Rosser for "getting us off" with Natural History. In afternoon answered a note of thanks for a piece of music which I gave to Tom Davis to send to his sisters. I did not want my name to be mentioned, but "Short" did mention it and the consequence was the reception of this note or card from the Misses Davis.

Tuesday 26th 

I remained awake after Rev. Intend to do so every morning hereafter. If Will was here he would be saying "Make some exceptions, John, as when you are O.D. or when you feel more than usually sleepy". On last night (I forgot to mention it in yesturday's account) I accompanied by invitation Tom Davis and his roommate Tunstall to the Rockbridge Hotel where I enjoyed a fine supper. Apprehended some danger of being "caught" by Sub. But "came out all right".

A Furlough was published in favour of Cadet Stanard24 who lives at Orange County Court House. He is a nice fellow and like him very well. He will take a letter for me tomorrow morning and deliver it to Mr. Padgett, the gentleman at Orange Ct. House who forwards my letters to Prince William. Herbert and I intend to walk up the path every morning immediately after Rev. to say the Rosary, which is about as little as we could do to make us remember our holy church. We pray for Will. I hope he will comply with the only request I ever made him.

Wednesday 27th 

In the morning, Col. Shipp delivered to us a lecture on the Military Organization of France, to be the beginning of a series on all such organizations of different countries. He is hurrying us though Battallion drill at a rapid rate. We only commenced on Monday and already have we gone through the "successive formations" of "forward into line," "into line faced to the rear" etc. I am endeavoring to learn all that I can about the drill and read over before hand what I expect will be carried through in the evening.

After Dress Parade, Jim (cold) handed me a letter from Will. He expects, he says in his letter, to leave for the army in a very few ays and tells me to direct my next letter to his bro. at Lynchburg. I hope that Will may go through the war unscathed.

After supper, Tom Davis coming to my room, we played over some duets on violin. Just at study drum was much surprised to see Herbert's elder brother who visited "33" accompanied by Major Moore and Capt. Eauf(?)."Ki", as Herbert calls him came up on the stage, brought no news except that Richmond is about to "run up the spout" in the [illegible] line. He represents the [illegible] as very bad, and charges enormous $380 a month. They remained until Tattoo. We used candlelight, gas having given out.

Thursday 28th. 

Col. Preston told us this morning that he would be absent for the following two weeks. His absense will cause a little respite for us, as we will have in the meantime no Intellectual Philosophy. An order was published in the afternoon at 2.P. that there would be a "General Muster" on Saturday at 8 0. Employed the afternoon in studying Cavalry Tactics and reading the papers. I have made a bet with George Bennett that the Corps of Cadets would be ordered out in less than a month. The stake is a dinner at the Rockbridge Hotel. I have heretofore neglected to say that the Mr. Brady, referred to in my record (in old book) of Sunday 17th is the same gentleman who was a banker in Philad. and in whose banking establishment John Maher Esq. defaulted so heavily.

Friday 29th 

The lecture under "old Tom"25 this morning was on "Locomotives" and quite interesting. After dinner Tom Davis and I went up town but was disappointed in finding out that the ladies whom we wished and went to see had gone to the country. Their mother having given us the general direction, we started to hunt them up. We happened after reaching the cedars to come all of a sudden, upon a beautiful spot which by the combination of nature and art contrasted most beautifully with the rough surroundings. Seats covered with moss very tastefully, and situated in well chosen positions. Trees mounded up about about their roots into pretty green hillocks. The approaches to the cute little spring neatly sh[---] and wherever nature failed the hand of art with well educated taste coming into play. All together indeed tended to impress me with the belief that I was looking upon as Romantic a little dell as it had ever been my fortunate lot to see.

The ladies had during the past week been very busily employed in superintending their arrangement of this, their annual spring and summer flowery resort. We had learned that they would not be back until late as their plan or programme for the day was to go fishing. Tom and myself not wishing to "get an absent from drill and Dress Parade" thought it better for us to return instead of proceeding our search further. So cutting the letters "D" & "H" we placed them conspicuously in the moss and returning by way of the "Hollow" warned Mrs.D not to mention that we had found their "Summer Retreat". No doubt there will be some fun when they find out that we have discovered their little nook about which they are want to tell us about so much.

After supper, having been invited to A.S.A26 to a sociable "Short" and self repaired to the house of the ladies that we most frequently visit to see if they were not going too. They said that they were too much wearied after their fatiguing ramble and we had to go by ourselves, not however until we had played over many pieces on our respective instruments. (Curious mode of expressing myself, I must confess). Arriving at the Academy at 9 O'Clock, remained until 11 1/2. Had a tolerably agreeable time. But there were some there who did not have such a very pleasant time, that is to judge from appearances manifested. A certain young lady in L. at the time that Rosser's Brigade was encamped so near here, was heard to make the remark that "Cadets were Insipid when cavalry were about" The Cadets heard of it and, not willing to force their society upon anybody, have since that remark was made been very slim in their [illegible] to the lady making it. On last night, their slight seemed studied. Besides myself, not one talked to her the whole evening and my conversation was induced by Miss Leilla Warwick (there goes a full name). At 10 1/2 O' Clock, the young lady to whom reference has been made said she was sick, left the room accompanied by Miss Leilla, who coming back about 5 minutes afterwards said that she wished me to do her a favour and go home with Miss L.C. I of course consented. On the way home which was but a short distance, I led the conversation in order that she might not have time to revert to the feelings that were uppermost in her mind. I am almost sure that she was feigning sickness. She certainly made an unfortunate remark, no matter whether she meant it or not. I referred to this lady and to the remark made by her in my diary of the trip to Rosser's Camp. During the remainder of the evening, was most agreeablely entertained by Miss Leilla.

Saturday 30th 

Had a grand muster. Met in the morning a Mr. Wise from Alexandria. This gentleman called to see us at "Star Hill" in July 1861 accompanied by Lieut. Semmes of Capt. Triplett's heavy artillery, then stationed at Manassas. On this afternoon we (L.D.D and self) were to go to the country; but rain prevented. Of course we paid a visit. The Misses D walked with us to the Hill and with them we returned aft. D.P. At night visited Genl. Smith's. Dr. Chaplin was there. Had a very pleasent time. Enjoyed very much the Dr's music on violin. There is certainly (I borrow a particular emphasis for this word from a young lady up town) a soul in violin, but it requires a much better performer than I to let hearers know of its existence. Dr. Chaplin can do this. Genl. Smith read to us a letter received from Genl. Lee in which he (Genl. Lee) expressed his gratificaition to know that the efficient corps of Cadets were at his disposal and though he did not deem it prudent to remove them at present from this section, still if he needed them at any time hence he would not hesitate to call them to him and knew in such an event that their services would be very useful. He ordered Genl. Smith to report to Genl. Breckinbridge in case of emergency.

Sunday May 1st, 1864 

The day turned out a beautiful one though the dimness of the morning did not indicate it. In afternoon, by previous engagement, "Short" and ---why myself of course--- took a walk to the "Dove House in the cedars" and I intend to call it, nor did we go alone. If it did not seem like being too well aquainted, I would say that "June Sweetness" accompanied us. Mrs. D did not mention a word about our being in the country on Friday to her daughters, and consequently they were greatly surprised and somewhat disappointed to find out that we had seen their "little dell" as one of the the ladies called it. A plan was formed and laid before us for acceptance that we should take a trip to Mr. Brady's on next Saturday.

I have indeed come to the conclusion that I am seeing as jovial a time as I have been called upon to spend or "kill" since "the war began", an expression which I notice a learned ex official gentleman accustomed to make use of. I refer to ex Gov. Letcher. On Saturday he was at Mr. D's while we were practicing. He complemented our music very much. I do not see what I have done that I cannot accept the invitation for next Saturday. Tom D. and I have have made up our mind to make available (and avail) every opportunity between now and July 4th27. I have reckoned my calendar so far, after the 4th "it's sorta foggy" as I have not formed definite plans of action.

Monday 2d 

I wrote a letter to Will. At about 3 O'Clock we had a terrible hurricane. I do not mean to infer a frightful one. The breeze however was pretty strong and unroofed new Barracks. Last night we had frost which I expect destroyed the fruit trees. The weather has undergone a great change in the last two days, turning much colder on Sunday evening. The wind alluded to was accompanied by a heavy rain. The weather up here is as changable as- - - I was about to say a woman-- but it might be said that I was speaking from experience. The mail brought George a letter from Dick Chaffin28, enclosing letters from Col. William L. Jackson the most flattering documents in their lines I ever read. He told Dick that he regretted to hear of his serious disability and hoped in case he found himself at any time hereafter fit for the field he would get an assignment and report to him as he was desirous of the services of so gallant a youth. George Bennett's eminent satisfaction at seeing these letters of Dick's commander gave evidence of the true friendship he has for "Goat". I like "Old Goat". I was finishing a letter to him when the mail arrived bringing his letter to George. I mention the receipt of his and forwarded my letter this morning. The papers contained nothing important. The disaster at Plymouth has considerable discomfited the Yankees.

Tuesday 3d 

O.D. today. It is now 3 o'Clock P.M. I wrote letters to C.C. Shriver Esq. and to Frank Vaughan. Enjoyed much my dinner. Jim (cold cook at mess hall) had prepared for me some fritters, my old time favorite dish. After dinner commenced a book called "No Name" by Wilkie Collins. I like the style of the writer very much.

I mentioned some time since under date of Sunday 24th ult. that our class had applied for immediate graduation or furlough in order to enable us to be in the impending fight. I have referred in my diary of last Saturday to the letter of Genl. Lee to Genl. Smith. While sleeping on Woodbridge's29(Sergt. Maj) bed in Adjt's room, I was awakened by Weston to hear the letter read of which I here make a copy. The 1st is the answer of Board of Visitors through its President to 1st Class. The 2nd is a letter sent over from Genl. Smith's office this afternoon to Col. Shipp in an envelope marked "O.B."

Richmond, April 29th 1864

Young Gentlemen

I have the honor, in behalf of the Military Institute, to acknowledge your communications of the 25th and 26th inst. proposing to join the army of Genl. Lee in time for the battle which is believed to be impending. I should very imperfectly convey the sentiments of my colleagues, and my own, if I omitted to state our admiration of your spirit and purpose. It is honorable in you to aspire to a position in our army, at a moment when the highest expectations of valor and endurance will be required, and issues of vast importance wait upon the battle. Your solicitude to share in the dangers of the conflict identifies you with our heroic men in the field, and is a guaranty that in you there is a reserve, worthy to succeed the veterans who have done the highest honors to our arms. Yet young gentlemen, we cannot accede to your request. It is not proper that we should in the absence of the sanctions of your fathers. Genl. Lee in a letter now before me, whilst appreciating your patriotic spirit, expresses the opinion that it is better for the present for you to continue in your place "where you may render valuable aid in the defense of our western frontier, which may be menaced simultaneously with the general advance of the enemy in the East".

He adds that it is very gratifying to him to know that your corps is so freely placed at his disposal. With such high authority for declining your appeal, we feel sure of your cheeful acquiesence.

I am with very sincere respect,
Yours faithfully
William H. Macfarland
Presdt.
B.V. Va. M. I.

To the Cadets of First Class, Virgn. Mil. Institute

 

Head Quarters
Vir. Mil. Institute
May 3, 1864
Lt. Col. S. Shipp- Corps of Cadets

Col,

I have received from the Adjt. Genl. the accompanying communications from Hon. W.H. Macfarland, Pres. of the Board of Visitors, as expressing the unanimous response of the Board of Visitors to the communication of the 1st Class dated April 25, 1864.

I am also directed by the Adjt. Genl. to say that the board took into consideration the report of Lt. Col. Shipp Comdt. of Cadets, of the merit & peculiar qualifications for office of the present 1st Class of Cadets which you Genl S. submitted through me with a view to recommending them to the President for commission in the army when they shall graduate, and pronouncing their claims, after a careful scrutiny of their qualifications, mental, moral and professional, to be much above the general standard of graduates; and deeming a recommendation of them, before the class graduates, as premature, determined to graduate them as early in the annual session as possible and then recommend them to the President for Commissions. The Board does not doubt that the class will then sustain the high character ascribed to it by yourself and Col. Shipp. Meantime I shall take occasion to communicate with the President and Secretary of War unofficially.

I remain, Col, Very Respt,
Francis H. Smith, Supt.
 

Below is the letter from Genl. Lee, relative to the Corps of Cadets joining the Army of N. Va. together with the orders that accompanied its publication to the Corps.

Head Quarters Va. Mil, Institute
May 2nd 1864
Genl. Orders No. 14

I. The Superintendent has received through the Adjt. of Va. the following letter from Genl. R.E. Lee, C.S. Army of N. Va.

Head Quarters Army of N. Virginia
25th April 1864

Maj. Genl. Wm. H. Richardson
Adjt. Genl. of Va. Richmond

Genl, Your letter of the 22nd inst. inclosing that of Genl. Francis H. Smith, in which he proposes to tender the services of the Corps of Cadets at the Va. Mil. Institute for the approaching campaign is received. I desire to express my appreciation of the patriotic spirit that actuates Genl. Smith in making this proposal and my gratification at finding it meets with your concurrence. I do not think, however, it would be best at this time for the Corps to be called to this army. It is now in a situation to render valuable aid in defending our Western frontier which may be menaced simultaneously with the general advance of the Enemy in the East. It will thus prevent the necessity of detaching troops from the army. I think it would be advisable for Genl. Smith to hold the command in readiness to cooperate with Genl. Breckinridge and Genl. Imboden in case of necessity, and to notify those officers of the fact. Should it at any time become necessary or expedient to have the services of the Cadets with this army, it is very gratifying for me to know that they are so freely placed at my disposal.

Very Respectfully,
Your obedt. servant
R.E. Lee, Genl.

II. The Commandant of Cadets will hold the Cadets in readiness for any duty to which they may be called as indicated by the foregoing order of Genl. Lee.

By Command Maj. Genl. F .H. Smith
J.H. Morrison
A.A. V.M.Inst.

While the Corps was at drill, I went with Capt. Bull to Miss Jennie Smith's. 30 Met there Miss Lizzie Letcher and the Misses Compton. Walked with Miss Letcher and the Misses Compton as far as Institute gate. Miss Letcher has the same "merry merry laughing face" and to judge from the slight acquaintance that I have with her she travels on the Sunny Side of the path way of life and induces by her cheerfulness many to follow suit. At supper told Glazebrook 31 that a report which I had heard he was circulating- no I mistake here- (I must not exaggerate) which he had told to several in regard to his having been engaged to a certain young lady in Lexington, was most emphatically denied by that young lady. He denied having made such a statement. George Bennett received a letter from Will, who is in camp near Gordonsville. He was very well when writing. George had written what I did not wish him to make mention of to Will. I allude to a difficulty which I had with a fellow cadet not long since. The papers announce that Genl. Burnside has reinforced Grant. Oh, how bloody will be the coming battle.

Friday 6th 

On Monday afternoon, took a walk with old Mrs. Bull. Visited Mrs. Smith's (Genl.) where was told that I was carrying on a flirtation with the old lady. Mrs. Bull reminds me much, by her dignified and refined manners of my dearly loved Grandmother. At drill, as soon as the Corps had marched out on the parade ground, Col. Shipp told Charles Hardy 32 alias "Sumter" and myself that he would relieve us from drill that evening and allow the supernumerary Lieuts. or those not in charge of Companies to have a chance. Charles & I, very glad to hear it came to Barracks and arranging our toilets a little went up town, myself to be disappointed in finding the ladies whom I went to see not at home.

Found Charles H. in front of Hotel and went with him to the Misses C. with whom we walked to limit gate. The command "Attention" had been given by Col Shipp preparatory to D. Parade and the music was beating up and down the line when we (Charles and myself) returning with the ladies for their home passed Lieut. Preston 33 ("Sub") who was standing at a gate near Washington College. We would have been reported by this gentlemen (if this qualification is merited by him) had he not been reminded that we were in limits before the companies marched from the Battalion Parade.

I have here to record a circumstance which will rivet the impression upon me that Lieut. Preston lacks courtesy of one who would call himself a man. On Wednesday night, a few moments before Tattoo, Tom Davis who was O.D. came to my room to inform me that Charles Hardy and myself had been reported for being "out of limits" after E. Parade. I put on my cap and went at once to see Lieut. Preston, the supposed reporter. I knocked at his door and after being told to come in found him in bed. I asked him if he was not mistaken in regard to the report he had made against Mr. Hardy and myself. He said "No sir, I reckon not". I then told him that we had gotten back before the companies left the hill and was going further to explain why we were not absent, when he said, "I don't wish to be disturbed tonight, Sir". ane rolled over in his bed. I remarked that it "had never been my intention to disturb him at any time" and hastily- I regretted afterwards that I acted rudely in slamming the door; but I was mad enough- to express the insignificant estimation in which I have always held him. He is a "Rat Sub"- I mean by this that he never was a Cadet- and received an appointment as Prof. of Latin after losing an arm at Port Republic. At the supper table last night, I expressed my opinion to a 1st Cousin of his, named Cocke, who sits at my table, in regard to the occurrence of the night before, and remarked that I had always been led to believe although I never liked Lieut. Preston, that his manners were those of a gentleman.

I took tea on this (Wednesday) afternoon with Mrs. Bull's folks. Yesterday afternoon I took a walk to "the cliffs" with Miss Lymp Williamson whom I found quite as lively in her action and talk as ever. She would run up and down the hill bordering North River, disdaining my assistance. We had much flirtation conversation and I would have had a most agreeable time had not a very severe headache annoyed me. She pulled up an "Indian Turnip" and told me to give Mr. Davis a piece of it. Tom was too sharp however to "be bit"; but "Joe" Claybrooke34 believed me when I told him it would turn to jelly and to the indescribable merriment of Charles Hardy and my own amusement started to masticate a good sized slice of it, when suddenly he stopped and looked serious. He pleasantly acknowledged the sell and the serious expression was moulded most effectually into the real "uneasy grin". 

In the morning of Tuesday last, George Bennett, while looking at a likeness of Will, which Felix had brought me from Lynchburg and from him, let it fall upon the floor and broke it "all to pieces". I was very angry and to keep from making George likewise by some unkind remark and (not meant) I left the room. The face on a piece about the size of this figure. (I shall keep it and have it enclosed in a suitable case). I received yesturday evening, after drill a letter from Miss Julia [Brauner]who kindly offers to forward any letter from me provided Mr. Hammill will take such to the District. I receieved this evening a letter from A.E. Saunders who is at Kinston expecting daily to receive orders to march on Newbern. He tells me that Beauregard left Kinston on May 1st, the date of his letter, and that his hair is as white as it is possible for it to be, caused by the bombardment at Fort Charleston. It is said that the hair of everyone in that city if effected more or less on that account. He gave me directions by which I could send a letter to Miss Nellie his sister. I must write to her this week.

I spent in company with Tom Davis the evening at Capt. Bull's. Bev. Stanard, a friend of mine (cadet) returned from off furlough. He was to have brought Miss Mollie Bull from Orange, but the young lady was not ready at the time he left. To judge from the papers there will be a fight on Saturday or Sunday.

Saturday 7th May 1864 

The day proved to be beautiful one and in every manner adapted for the frolic anticipated except that it was a "leetle too warm". I have already mentioned that it was the intention of a party to visit Mr. Brady's today. Houston told me after Rev. that the plan had been formed. Tom D. & I to go by his home, take breakfast, and then joined by Miss Lizzie L. to adjourn to the Misses Davidson from which place we should start.

After breakfasting at the Gov.'s a young lady, Miss McDowell by name called upon Miss Lechter and we were detained on this account from being at the appointed hour at the appointed place (There I have put the cart before the horse; but "it doesn't matter"). Between 9 1/2 and 10 oclock the elder of the Misses D was driven up in her carriage to find out what was the cause of the delay. It was soon explained and Miss L. excusing herself from Miss McD, we made the start, the humble scribbler being ordered into a buggy with Miss C. On the way out, met with an accident in having the buggy tie to break. A strap was procured from a house, however, and making fast this tie to the fillie managed to have a safe passage to the house of our hospitable host and hostess. We arrived at 12 o'clock- dined at 3. Enjoyed the company of Miss Brady and parents and also of each other, and returned at 8 oclock. I had what the ladies say a "charming time".

The ride home especially contributed to my pleasure. Miss C. and I carried on a lively conversation, joking now with Misses Mary and Lizzie, who were in the carriage in front now with Tom ("Short") Davis and again making light of serious subjects. However, "there are many true words spoken in jest" and in the course of our jovial talk there may have been remarks made that were meant on both sides, but, "we'll see" as an old Georgetown prefect was want to say. They wished to insist and did indeed on our staying to supper at the Gov's, but not having permission to be absent from quarters at night we feared "an arrest" which would make serious interference with a fishing party projected for next Saturday.

The news upon my arrival was that a fight had taken place on the Rapidan resulting with a victory to us but with heavy loss on both sides. We had two Genls. killed and captured 2500 prisoners. This news came from Staunton and I do not place much reliance in it. Went to Capt. Bull's room after supper.

Sunday 8th 

Herbert S. and myself went to Episcopal Church to hear the Rev. Mr. Johns (Episcopal Bishop) deliver a sermon and administer the sacrament of confirmation. The ceremonies were cold and cheerless to us and the sermon of Bishop Johns did not at all come up to the reputation that had been made to me of his great eloquence. He is a graceful gesturer. Walked to the Institute Hill with Miss Mary Gilham who was looking remarkably pretty. She certainly is a stylish looking young lady. I believe I can almost span her waist. After dinner Tom Davis came to my room in order to arrange a programme for the afternoon (I don't care if it was Sunday afternoon and if this is a BlueStocking community). I declined going to church of course. I had not been to a Protestant church before today for a year.

The arrangements were made as follows. Tom was to go to church with Miss Mary and probably Miss C. and the other young lady was to be requested by him to stay at home and entertain me. I jokingly made this proposition and Tom earnestly carried it into effect. I most very glad that he did for that very pleasant young lady Miss C. was awaiting me at 4 1/2 oclock at which time I arrived at her house to spend a very pleasant 2 hrs. She looked remarkably pretty this afternoon and was in unusually fine spirits. She wore a lace bodice, this displayed to effect (me) the grace of her figure. I do not take notice of such dress often; but as hers this evening made such an impression- it is right for me to mention it. I might call this a book of "impressions". However I am too well aware that it contains "expressions"- "professions"- "concessions" and frequently "confessions"- such for instance as what induced these latter remarks. One might imagine that I was in-----voluntarily making such.

It can be remarked that I have forgotten that intention of mine to mention only the initials of ladies names-- I have not as a general thing, but do write the 1st name whenever the [scene] demands it. Miss Jennie C. relative of Tom's returned from church with him or rather a little after himself and his lady (only for the occasion thus designated). I have now in my possession some writing belonging to both of the ladies 1st spoken of. They say it is of a private nature. Of course will not read it, but to tease them a little I brought it home with me. We (Tom D. and self) after supping at Rockbridge Hotel, were walking leisurely to our qtrs when George Bennett met us in great haste telling us that the "Sub" had visited. We got back just in time to avoid being reported absent longer than 10 min. I took my pen, after arriving in my room and endeavored to try my poetic genius in composing under the title of "Visiting" in its several senses

Monday 9th May 1864 

Was grieved very much in the morning to learn that Tom Davis had received bad news from home. His sister is very ill. Tom has been very much afflicted in the loss of relations since at the Institute. 1st called away to attend the dying bed of a younger sister, the grief had hardly worn off its intensity when he received news of the death of his older brother- an noble young fellow, who died of fever in camp. His sisters have been at the Hollins Institute where a severe form of Typhoid Fever broke out. Their parents immediately sent for them; but one had already contracted the disease, and this one is now no doubt greatly suffering. I from my heart wish that she may recover for my dear friend Tom's sake.

An order was published at D. Parade- accompanying a letter from Mr. Sheddon, an English gentleman, who sent a flag to the Gov. to be hoisted over Jackson's grave. Tomorrow will be the anniversary of the death of Stonewall Jackson. The Flag will be hoisted at 10 oclock. Suspension of duties has been ordered. At drill Col Smith ordered a "charge".