Guide to the John Hood Papers, 1862-1904


John Hood (1838-1905) served as lieutenant and later captain of Co. F 80th Illinois Infantry during the Civil War, and later worked as a teacher and Presbyterian minister. His papers include material related to his military service, including a detailed, unpublished narrative of his 22 months as a prisoner of war at Libby Prison in Richmond, Virginia and other Confederate prisons in Charleston, Charlotte, Columbia, Athens, and Goldsboro. The collection also inlcudes a manuscript of a poem by George Gordon Byron DeWolfe about Robert Harmer, Quartermaster of the 80th Illinois, and a Memorial Day address by Hood in honor of John Alexander "Black Jack" Logan, Civil War general and U.S. Senator.

Collection Details

Collection Number
John Hood papers
Hood, John, Rev.
0.5 Linear Feet
David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Collection Overview

The collection contains manuscripts of several speeches John Hood gave about his experiences as a Union officer and prisoner of war during the Civil War, along with his enlistment and discharge papers, correspondence, a photograph, and materials related to his work as a pastor in the Presbyterian church in Illinois and Iowa. Of particular interest is the manuscript of a lenghty, unpublished speech Hood gave at Greene's Opera House in Rapid City, Iowa in 1884 that details his life as a prisoner of war. The narrative includes a detailed description of nearly all aspects of Hood's life at Libby Prison, ranging from how news, mail and packages were received from the North to the aftermath of a major prison break via a tunnel. Hood also discusses his experience being transferred to various places including Charleston, where he was used as human shield, and his escape, during which time he traveled more than 400 miles on foot. He notes how slaves helped him along, including giving him a Confederate uniform. Along with the manuscript are several newspaper articles reviewing Hood's speech.

The collection also includes several Memorial Day addresses by Hood, including one dedicated to John Alexander "Black Jack" Logan (1826-1886), a prominent Union Civil War general and U.S. Senator who founded Memorial Day in 1868. There is a manuscript of a poem written by George Gordon Byron DeWolfe (1835-1873) about Robert J. Harmer, Quartermaster of the 80th Illinois. Dubbed the Wandering Poet of New Hampshire, DeWolfe earned his living traveling from place to place, writing verses on people and events. According to the signature, the poem was "written in a few minutes in the National Hotel, Annapolis, Maryland."

All the documents in the collection were damaged at some point in a fire and have charred and frayed edges as a result.

More Biographical / Historical Info


Arranged alphabetically by folder title.

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How to Cite

[Identification of item], John Hood Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

Contents of the Collection

Enlistment certificates, 1862
Box 1
Folder 1
DeWolfe, George G. B. (1835-1873), "Twas R.J. Harmer ever true.", undated

Mss. of poem regarding Robert Harmer, Quartermaster, "written in a few minutes in the National Hotel, Annapolis, MD, by the Wandering Poet of N.H."

Box 1
Folder 2
Honorable discahrge and correspondence regarding ordnance and ordnance stores, 1863-1865, 1874
Box 1
Folder 3
Letter from John Hood to Rev. U. Fanklin Smiley detailing Hood's life, 1904 November 10
Box 1
Folder 4
Memorial address about John H. Logan, After 1886 December 26
Box 1
Folder 5
Memorial address at Aledo, [Illinois?], 1895 May 30
Box 1
Folder 6
Memorial address at Lisbon, 188? May 29
Box 1
Folder 7
Memorial address at Macomb, Illinois, 1892 May 30
Box 1
Folder 8
Newspaper clippings regarding Hood's lecture at Greene Opera House, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, 1884
Box 1
Folder 9
Photograph of John Hood [?], undated
Box 1
Folder 10
Outline and lecture on prison life. [Given at Greene's Opera House, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Nov. 1884?], 1884? November
Box 1
Folder 11
Terms of call (letter of appointment). First Presbyterian Church, Sparta, Illinois, 1870 June 1
Box 1
Folder 12
Terms of call (letter of appointment). Presbyterian Chruch of Galesburg, Illinois, 1889 April 30
Box 1
Folder 13

Historical Note

John Hood was born on a farm in southern Illinois on November 17, 1838. As a boy, his family moved to Sparta, Illinois, where he spent much of his adult life. He graduated from the State University of Indiana in June 1862 with the goal of pursuing a career in politics and law. Instead, he enslisted in the Union Army, being mustered in August 25, 1862 at Centralia, Illinois. He served as a first lieutenant in Co. F 80th Illinois infantry, and was promoted to captain on April 30, 1863. His regiment served as part of the ill-fated Streight's Brigade which resulted in its surrender to Gen. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest on May 3, 1863. Hood became a prisoner of war for the next 22 months, spending a year at Libby Prison in Richmond, Virginia, as well as shorter periods of time in Charleston, Charlotte, Columbia, Athens, and Goldsboro. At one point he escaped, traveling more than 400 miles on foot before being recaptured in Tennessee near Federal lines. He was eventually freed as part of a prisoner exchange in North Carolina. He returned to Co. F 80th Illinois in October 20, 1864 and was honorably discharged on May 15, 1865. In November 1865, he entered a Reformed Presbyterian theological seminary in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania. The following year, he became superintendent of the public schools of Sparta, Illinois. He received his license to preach in 1869 and completed his theological studies in 1870. From 1870 to 1878 he served as pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Sparta, leaving on June 30, 1878 to lead the Second Presbyterian Church of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He was called to service at the Presbyterian Church of Galesburg, Illinois in 1889. He died on January 29, 1905 and is buried Oak Hill Cemetery, Cedar Rapids, Iowa beside his wife.

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The John Hood Papers were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as a purchase in Jan. 2010

Processing Information

Processed by: Kat Stefko, December 2013

Accessions described in this finding aid: 2010-0080