John Byrd Hall, Jr., of Fredericksburg, Virginia, left his studies at the Theological Seminary of the Protestant Episcopal Church in Alexandria, Virginia, in 1861, to join the Confederate Army. He was 20 years old. He enlisted in the Fredericksburg Light Artillery (Capt. Pollock's Company Virginia Light Artillery) on August 6, 1861, and served with that unit until his death at Chancellorsville, Va., on May 3, 1863. John was one of thirteen children born to John Byrd Hall (1787-1862), a wealthy druggist in Fredericksburg, and his wife Harriet Stringfellow (1801-1888). When the Civil War began, the two eldest sons, Horace B. Hall (b. ca. 1824) and Robert B. Hall (b. ca. 1829) were also druggists in Fredericksburg. Franklin S. Hall ( b. 1839) was a medical student, and John B. Hall, Jr. (b. ca. 1841) had just started his first classes at the seminary in Alexandria. Two younger siblings, Marshall S. Hall (b. 1843) and Caroline Hall (b. ca. 1845) were living at home with their parents in Fredericksburg.
Franklin, John Jr., and Marshall Hall all joined the Confederate Army. Eighteen year old Marshall was the first to enlist, joining the Fredericksburg Light Artillery on May 11, 1861. Then, in July, Franklin joined the Hanover Light Artillery (Nelson's Company Virginia Light Artillery). And on August 6, 1861, John B Hall, Jr., enlisted in the Fredericksburg Light Artillery. After John's death, his brother Franklin was transferred to the Fredericksburg Light Artillery, so that all three Hall brothers eventually served in the same unit. Both Franklin and Marshall Hall survived the War.
Fellow soldiers who served with John B. Hall, Jr., near Aquia Creek, Va., and who are mentioned in Hall's August 10-September 20, 1861, diary are: John L. Berry, Carter M. Braxton, R.M. Carmichael, William Chewning, Lieut. John C. Eustace, Bob Gordon, Matthew Gregory, Buck Hart, Taliaferro Hunter, Thomas Hutchinson, Ed. Jett, [Robert] Byrd Lewis, R. Semple, Leonard Sparrow, Van Buren Stallard, James Taliaferro, Lewis Thorburn, and his brother Marshall C. Hall. Dr. [Rev. William] Sparrow was one of four professors at the seminary in Alexandria, Va., in 1861. He was in frequent contact with his former student John B. Hall, Jr., after John joined the army. The "Misses Hedgman" referred to in the diary were Lucinda and Mary Hedgman, the teenage daughters of P.D.G. Hedgman of Stafford Co., Va.
The Union officer who made a handwritten copy of John B. Hall, Jr.'s diary was Capt. John P. Reynolds. Reynolds was born in Salem, Massachusetts, on June 1, 1840. He served with both the 8th and the 19th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry between August 1861 and Nov. 5, 1863. After the War, he returned to Salem, where he raised a family. Between 1880 and 1910 he worked as a clerk at the State House in Boston. He died on June 19, 1919.