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Robert March Hanes, 1890-1959
Robert March Hanes Papers (#4534). Diary, 30 April-2 December 1918
: Transcript of the manuscript, UNC-Chapel Hill, Southern Historical Collection, .


Robert M. Hanes (1890-1959), a North Carolina banker, legislator, and business and civic leader, grew up in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, a member of the Hanes family textile empire. He graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1912 and studied at the Harvard University School of Business Administration from 1912 to 1913. Hanes began a business career in 1913 as secretary-treasurer of the Crystal Ice Company in Winston -Salem, North Carolina. In July 1917, he married Mildred Borden of Goldsboro, North Carolina, and enlisted in the Army the very next month at the age of 27.

Hanes served as Captain of Battery A, 113th Field Artillery, 30th Division. He recorded his journey across the Atlantic, training for combat in France, and actual fighting conditions along the front through both a short diary he kept and numerous letters he wrote to his wife. Together, these documents give a particularly full account of a soldier's life during World War I. Hanes included descriptions of several military maneuvers, among them the Argonne Drive against the Germans, detailing the use of infantry, camouflaging of guns, endless marching at night through rain and mud, the use of spy balloons, being ordered to positions still held by the enemy, witnessing an airplane battle in which a German plane crashed close to their position, and seizing spoils such as livestock as the Germans retreated. While Hanes took care to leave the more dangerous details out of the letters to his wife, he sent her beautiful descriptions of the care they took to camouflage their position and also reported on some humorous social events that he attended. Throughout the letters, the anguish of a newly wed couple unable to begin a home life together is palpable.

Works Consulted: T. Harry Gatton entry on Hanes in William Powell ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography (University of North Carolina Press, 1996). See also Robert M. Hanes, Citizen, Banker, and Statesman (New York: Newcomen Society in North America, 1956).

Amy Davis

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