Killed at Antietam, Capt. Hanna wanted horse that was 'fast as hell'

January 21, 2020

6th Georgia Captain John Guinn Hanna was killed at Antietam on Sept. 17, 1862. Historical photo courtesy Neal Thompson.


Editor's Note: The following in an excerpt from the Civil War history blog of John Banks concerning the life and especially the death of Capt. John Hanna, the Confederate officer for whom the south Dade neighborhood now known as Rising Fawn was formerly named. Thanks to reader Neal Thompson for pointing it out and to Banks for permission to republish it here.


While exploring a Missionary Ridge neighborhood in Chattanooga, Tenn., recently, I met Neal Thompson, a gregarious, semi-retired attorney with a gift for storytelling. The 70-year-old Tennessee native has deep Southern roots: Ancestors in the 5th Tennessee survived the Federal assault on the southern end of Missionary Ridge on Nov. 25, 1863, a little more than a mile from his house.


John Guinn Hanna, another of Thompson's Confederate ancestors, wasn't as fortunate. The 27-year-old captain in Company B of the 6th Georgia -- the "Lookout Dragoons" -- was killed at Antietam on Sept. 17, 1862. At about 8:30 that morning, the 6th Georgia was in the northeast corner of David R. Miller's cornfield when two Ohio regiments closed unobserved within 30 yards of their line. According to a post-war history:


It was but a moment before the Captain [Hanna] of the 6th Georgia approached Lieutenant Colonel [James] Newton and reported that they were being flanked and instantly both the Captain and Newton were killed by the first volley of the 66th Ohio.


Hanna and his wife Virginia had a 2-year-old son named William, who died less than two months after John was killed in Maryland. Although Captain Hanna has a marker in a family cemetery in Rising Fawn, Ga., his remains apparently were never returned to his native soil.


In the kitchen of his house on Missionary Ridge, Thompson showed me photographs of his ancestors. His late father, who loved history, compiled information on Hanna -- a signed copy of a request for clothing for his men, copies of regimental returns and other documentation.


Photo: Neal Thompson poses with battle artifacts found in his Missionary Ridge neighborhood in Chattanooga.

On June 27, 1862, Hanna was wounded at the Battle of Gaines' Mill, near Richmond, where he recuperated in a hospital. Weeks before he died, Hanna wrote a letter to his father back in Rising Fawn, requesting a horse that was "fast as hell" to replace another that was shot and killed under him.

No word if he got the horse.


Thankfully, the copy of the image above of Hanna, looking resplendent in his officer's uniform, survives.

And Neal Thompson proudly shares it with us.


--John Banks Twitter: @johnnybanks


Editor's Note: Journalist John Banks is author of Connecticut Yankees at Antietam and Hidden History of Connecticut Union Soldiers, both of which feature profiles of soldiers and others. If you'd like to read more of his blog, click his photo above to go to the home page. 


If you'd like to contact Neal Thompson, the Hanna descendant and collector, you may email him at


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