Monday, December 9, 2013

Participant in hanging of John Brown is buried in St. Augustine, Florida

Gen. Martin Davis Hardin
It is a little known fact that Abraham Lincoln met his future bride, Mary Todd, at the family home of a man now buried in Florida. The same man was present at the hanging of John Brown.

As a young man, the future President was friends with the Hardin family. John J. Hardin was a major general in the Illinois Militia and ran a law office and newspaper in Jacksonville, Illinois. Part of a noted Kentucky family, he became friends with a young Abraham Lincoln and was credited with stopping a duel between the future President and Illinois State Auditor James Shields.

Among those present at the Hardin home when Lincoln met the future Mary Todd Lincoln was Martin Davis Hardin, the young son of John J. Hardin.  

After his father was killed at the Battle of Buena Vista during the Mexican-American War, the young Martin Davis Hardin became a friend and protege of Abraham Lincoln. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in the Class of 1859 alongside future Confederate general Joseph "Fighting Joe" Wheeler.

In 1860, Hardin was present as an aide to Colonel Robert E. Lee when insurrectionist and murderer John Brown was hanged for leading the attack on the U.S. Arsenal at Harper's Ferry.

Grave of General Hardin
St. Augustine National Cemetery
Siding with the Union in the War Between the States, Martin Davis Hardin was appointed a brigadier general in the Union army effective July 2, 1864. He lost an arm in the Mine Run Campaign, but survived the war and served in the army until December 1870.

While practicing law in Chicago he purchased a winter home in St. Augustine, as did many other prominent Northerners of the time. By the time he died in St. Augustine in 1923, Hardin was one of the last surviving generals of the War Between the States. He spent the final years of his life in the "Generals House" at 20 Valencia Street in St. Augustine.

General Hardin, a participant in the hanging of John Brown and close friend of Abraham Lincoln, was buried at St. Augustine National Cemetery where he rests to this day.  The cross marking his grave is just to one side of the Dade Pyramids, where the soldiers who fell with Major Francis Dade during the Second Seminole War are interred.

To learn more about St. Augustine National Cemetery, please visit