Cadet Samuel Hannah Letter

Stonewall Jackson's Death: Events at VMI

The location of the original letter is unknown. A transcription only is located in Cadet Hannah's biographical file at VMI. 

VMI Institute
May 17, 1863 

 I was Officer of the Day when the body of Gen. Jackson was brought in Barracks; no military escort accompanied him from Richmond only a few citizens, among them the Gov. His body was said to be embalmed, but of no avail. Decomposition had already taken place, in consequence of which his face was not exposed to view as the features were said not to be natural. The coffin was a perfect flower bed and under, that which was presented to his wife by the President, the first new Confederate flag ever made. His body was placed in his old Section room which will remain draped for six months.

Gen. Smith then requested that none of the flowers should be removed from the coffin which was an impossibility although I had a Sentinel posted over the remains. Still the Sentinels would remove things for themselves and of course they were afraid to inform on others for fear of being caught at it themselves. I did not think in right to take what others had placed there as a memorial of their love and esteem for our beloved Jackson, although I would prize a trophy like that the highest imaginable. Still as it had been entrusted to me to see that all was kept right, so long as his body was under my charge I couldn't conscientiously take any of the flowers when I knew that every cadet was afraid to let me see him take or touch the body.

He only remained in Barracks one day and night. He was buried on Friday the 15th of May. Dr White preached his funeral, the old Gentleman seemed and I know he was deeply afflicted, for from all accounts the Gen. took quite an active part in the church and was the founder of the Colored Sunday School and the main stay of it as long as he was in Lexington.