|Brig. General David Hunter
| General David Hunter (July 21, 1802 - February 2, 1886)
Rev. Andrew Hunter (father)
From 1780 - 1785 Rev. Andrew Hunter taught at Bridgetown Academy, New Jersey. In 1791 he
became a trustee and teacher-principal of the Woodbury Academy. In 1804 he became professor
of mathematics and astronomy at Princeton, but resigned in 1808 to take charge of the Bordentown
academy. In 1810 he became chaplain of the United States Navy and directed a school at the Navy
Yard which was a predecessor of the United States Naval Academy. Rev. Andrew Hunter died on
February 24, 1823 and is buried in lot 31/27 at Congressional Cemetery.
David Hunter was born in Princeton, [or Woodbury- His own recollection was Princeton but that was
2 years before his father became a professor at Princeton] New Jersey where his father was a
clergyman connected with the college. The cousin of writer-illustrator David Hunter Struther, who
would also serve as a Union Army general, and his maternal grandfather was Richard Stockton, a
signer of the Declaration of Independence. To add to the confusion he had a cousin at West Point
at the same time from the Shenandoah Valley. Later some documentation would assume that he
was the Virginia Hunter instead of the New Jersey Hunter. He graduated from the West Point in
1822 ranking twenty-fifth in a class numbering forty members and commissioned as a second
lieutenant in the 5th U.S.
At the Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis Hunter was court-marshaled for a dispute with Col. Snelling
his command officer. First there was the issue of a challenge by Hunter to Snelling for a duel. He
was convicted but President John Quincy Adams refused to expel him from the army. Hunter was
placed on leave from October 1827 till April of 1828.
From 1828 to 1831, he was stationed on the northwest frontier, at Fort Dearborn in Chicago. On
June 30th he was promoted to first lieutenant. He was elected constable in Chicago on May 11 and
August 20, 1828.On Dec. 17, 1830, the Peoria court appointed Hunter administrator of the Wolcott
estate, together with Jean B. Beaubien and John Hamlin as appraisers, and also appointed him as
appraiser of the estate of Franois LaFramboise, Jr., together with fellow appraiser John Hamlin and
administrator Jean B. Beaubien. He succeeded Dr. Wolcott as appointed administrator of John
Kinzie's estate after Wolcott died in 1830, and took over his real estate claim of 80 acres in the NE
corner of Section 9, Township 39, immediately W of the Kinzie property. He had married Maria
Indiana Kinzie on Sept. 18, 1829, Peoria Judge Alexander Doyle officiating (The following is an
excerpt from a 1879 letter of his Chicago reminiscences: More than half a century since, I first came
to Chicago on horseback, from St. Louis, stopping on the way at the log-cabins of the early settlers,
and passing the last house at the mouth of Fox River. I was married in Chicago, having to send a
soldier one hundred and sixty miles, on foot, to Peoria, for a license. The northern counties in the
State had not then been organized, and were all attached to Peoria County. My dear wife is still
alive, and in good health; and I can certify, a hundred times over, that Chicago is a first-rate place
from which to get a good wife."); taught school to children of the settlers near the fort; was at the
fort during the 1829 visit by Lt. Jefferson Davis and helped him cross the river.
Looking out from the fort one morning in 1829, Hunter perceived on the north side of the river a
white man. Wondering who the stranger would be, he entered a small canoe, intended but for a
single person, and paddled across to interview him. It proved to be [Jefferson] Davis, and inviting
him to lie down in the bottom of the canoe Hunter ferried him across to the post. From Fort
Winnebego 2nd Lieutenant Jefferson Davis of the 1st Infantry was hunting deserters. They would
meet again on the frontier and in the Mexican War.
The passage of time was to work a strange transformation in the relations of the occupants of that
little boat in this voyage across the placid Chicago. In May, 1862, Hunter, now Major-General in the
command of the Department of the South, issued an order emancipating the slaves in the states of
Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. Davis, a president of the Confederacy, responded with a
proclamation of outlawry against Hunter, threatening in the event of his capture by the Confederate
forces to put him to death as a felon.
In 1833 he was appointed Captain of Dragoons. He went across the Plains twice to the Rocky
Mountains, once accompanied by Mrs. Hunter. This was a new unit for the army to help deal with
problems with Native Americans. He recruited his company in Cincinnati which was to become
company D. He arrived at St. Louis where he would again meet Jefferson Davis who was also a
Dragoon. The Dragoons were a new rather elite unit of the army. Nov. 20, 1833 they left St. Louis
for Fort Gibson. They arrived on December 17 to reduced rations and no room or forage.
He resigned from the Army in July 1836 and worked as a real estate agent in Illinois. In 1842 he
accepted the post of Paymaster in the army. His post was Fort Smith in Arkansas. He was part of
the army that saw action in Buena Vista in the Mexican War but he did not see action.
With Abraham Lincoln
In 1860, Hunter was stationed at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas. He corresponded with Abraham
Lincoln talking about his strong anti-slavery views and that the President elect was in danger (See
Hunter's Letter to Lincoln). After the election Lincoln requested that Hunter travel with him to
Washington for the inauguration (See Letter). (See coup letter) He rode on Lincoln's inaugural train
and dislocated his collarbone in Buffalo with the pressing crowd. He was assigned command of
volunteers defending the White House where they slept on the East Room carpet. According to
Hunter this assignment lasted for six weeks. The guard consisted of 100 men.
Early Civil War Commands
First he was promoted to colonel of the 6th U.S. Cavalry but within 3 days he was appointed
brigadier general of volunteers. Hunter was wounded in the neck and cheek while commanding the
second division under Irvin McDowell at the First Battle of Bull Run in July 1861. His rapid
advancement in rank was aided by Congressman Isaac Arnold, who served with Hunter at the First
Battle of Bull Run.In August he was promoted major general of volunteers. He served as a division
commander in the Western Army under Maj. Gen. John C. Fremont and was appointed as
commander of the Western Department on November 2, 1861 after Fremont was relieved of
command. (See letter from Lincoln on the appointment of General James Lane) That winter he was
transferred to command the Department of Kansas.
He received praise from General Halleck on February 19, 1862: "To you, more than any other man
out of this Department, are we indebted for our success at Fort Donelson. In my strait for troops to
reinforce Gen. Grant, I applied to you. You responded nobly, placing your forces at my disposal.
This enabled me to win the victory. Accept my most heartfelt thanks."
Department of the South
In March of 1862 he was transferred again to command the Department of the South. Hunter
arrived at Hilton Head, South Carolina, in March 1862. Preparations to retake Fort Pulaski in the
Savannah River from Confederates were already underway. Hunter sent a flag of truce to the fort
that was immediately ignored. Union troops opened fire on Fort Pulaski on April 10, 1862, and
within 30 hours had forced the surrender of the massive fortress.
General Hunter arrived in time for the surrender of Fort Pulaski. Fort Pulaski was the key to
securing the entrance to the harbor of Savannah. This brick fort was built by the American
government before the war. After the succession of Georgia it was taken over by the Confederates
from its two caretakers. General Thomas Sherman tried to bypass Fort Pulaski but the navy would
not support his plan. He was replaced by General Hunter. The real credit for the victory at Fort
Pulaski was General Q. A. Gillmore who conducted the siege operation and received the credit
from General Hunter. Gillmore would later replace Hunter as head of the Department of the South.
The significance of the siege was the successful use of rifled cannon. This demolished the fort and
with it the whole string of coastal fortifications that the U. S. had been building on the eastern
seaboard since the War of 1812. Fort Marion, the fort at St. Augustine, was now absolutely
obsolete as a coastal fortification. .
General Hunter has three major documents for Fort Pulaski:
1. His report to Secretary of War Stanton
2. His Surrender Demand
3. Surrender Document
Freedom from Slavery
Hunter Orders Slaves Freed at Fort Pulaski and Cockspur Island
On April 13 General Hunter freed all the slaves at Fort Pulaski and Cockspur Island. This was a
contraband order similar to General Butler's order earlier declaring freedom to the former slaves
who made it through Union lines.
(See General Orders, No. 7)
Emancipation Comes to South Carolina (The Sun, April 29, 1862)
A correspondent of the New York Tribune, at Port Royal, writes:
General Hunter has begun to issue free papers to the negroes entitled, under the act of Congress,
to their freedom by virtue of services compulsory rendered to the rebels---Printed forms are
prepared, requiring only to be filled with the name of the former slave and the signature of the
general commanding who emancipates him. The following is a copy of the first:
"It having been proved, to the entire satisfaction of the general commanding the Department of the
South, that the bearer, Wm. Jenkins, heretofore held in involuntary servitude, has been directly
employed to aid and assist those in rebellion against the United States of America;
"Now, be it known to all that, agreeably to the laws, I declare the said person free, and forever
absolved from all claims to his services. Both he, and his wife, and his children, have full right to go
North, South, East or West, as they may decide.
"Given under my hand, at the headquarters of the Department of the South, this nineteenth day of
April, A. D. 1862.
Major General Commanding
General Hunter's Order 11
Unfortunately for General Hunter he was not content to free slaves that were under his control but
he decided to free all the slaves in Georgia, Florida and South Carolina on May 9, 1862. This
extension was beyond his control to fulfill and subsequently on May 19, 1862 President Abraham
Lincoln, in his role as Commander-in-chief denied that General Hunter had the power to take this
In a few months Abraham Lincoln would issue the draft copy of his emancipation proclamation
which would do essentially the same thing over a larger area where he had almost no control. On
January 1, 1863 the Emancipation Proclamation issued by President Abraham Lincoln (as
commander-in-chief) took effect.
The following two documents are the orders and response:
1. General Hunter's Order 11
2. Abraham Lincoln's Response
The Effect of Gen. Hunter's Order - The Wisconsin Daily Patriot (May 28, 1862)
...The effect of Gen. Hunter's Order---The ridiculous "order" of Gen. Hunter, purporting to liberate
all the slaves in three States, has served to demonstrate two or three things to the satisfaction of
In the first place, this officer, in the estimation of the great majority of his loyal countrymen, has
written himself down as anything but "a man of sense." A man of sense, and least of all a soldier of
sense, does not proclaim a purpose or propound a policy which he cannot reduce to fact. His
performance will be equal to his programme. If he means to liberate slaves in three States, he will
first have control of the three States.
Again, a man of sense is always able to give sensible reasons for his conduct. If, as a soldier, he
declares martial law, and proposes, under that simple code, to abolish slavery, he will not commit
the ineffable absurdity of declaring that he does so because "in a free country slavery and martial
law are incompatible."
Next to the visible effect of this proclamation on its writer, and greatly more important in its
significance, is the visible impression it has left on the public mind in the loyal states. With a
unanimity that was hardly to be expected, when we consider the exasperated temper of the hour,
the loyal press has given a nearly unbroken testimony in opposition to the policy attempted to be
initiated by the military politician in South Carolina. The fact is a most instructive one, and however,
much we may regret, for his own credit, or for its probable effect on disloyal communities, that Gen.
Hunter has allowed himself to be carried by military caprice beyond the bounds of discretion, we
cannot but rejoice that he has afforded a new occasion for the reiterated expression of that popular
will which has thus far sustained the National Government in the pursuit of the policy prescribed for
it by the Constitution and the laws. They greatly mistake the American people who suppose, that
even in a time like this, they can be seduced from the safe moorings of the Constitution to launch
on the shoreless sea of a military despotism. Politicians essaying to be generals, as well as
generals essaying to be politicians, should not omit to profit by the lesson which Gen. Hunter has
caused to be taught for the edification of all concerned.....
For more negative reaction see:
letter of Peter Sturtevant to Lincoln
Telegram of Andrew Johnson to Abraham Lincoln
Letter from Alexander T. Steward to Abraham Lincoln
Letter from Reverdy Johnson to Abraham Lincoln
Letter from Hiram Ketchum to Abraham Lincoln
However there were some people pleased. The freedmen of Port Royal heard his words in their
Letter from Jas McCrea May 12, 1862
Letter from General David Hunter to National Freedmen's Relief Association
Letter from Secretary of Treasury Salmon Chase to Abraham Lincoln Supporting Hunter's
Congress passed the Second Confiscation Act in July 1862 which effectively freed all slaves
working within the armed forces by forbidding Union soldiers to aid in the return of fugitive slaves.
Congress also passed the Militia Act of 1862 on July 17, 1862 which authorized the recruitment of
African Americans by the President Lincoln as troops and made them and their families "forever
free." (if their owners were supporting the Confederacy)
Forming Black Regiments
He enlisted black soldiers and formed the 1st South Carolina (which became the 33rd USCT). This
earned him the nickname of "Black Dave." He was given a death sentence from President Jefferson
Davis for arming the slaves. He also issued an order emancipating the slaves in Georgia, South
Carolina and Florida which President Lincoln personally rescinded. By September 1862 Lincoln
released the preliminary draft of the Emancipation Proclamation.
His orders on the regiment formation:
On May 8, 1862 Hunter issued his order creating the first African-American regiment. While most of
the regiment was abandoned before the summer was out Company A stayed in existence and
became part of the 1st South Carolina Regiment (33 USCT).
Order to Create Regiment
General David Hunter and his response to Congressional Inquiry over Hunter's Regiment
By his actions and all the officers that raised black regiments General Hunter and all officers who
raised black regiments were declared outlaws by the Confederacy. See CSA orders and Hunter's
General Hunter's system of impressment of freedmen for service in his regiment in the Port Royal
area caused problems in the Treasury Department and with the freedmen.
See Chase to Stanton, May 27, 1862
Laura Towne one of the teachers wrote on General Hunter's intolerance to any resistance with
raising his regiment: "General Hunter, who has always suspected the superintendents of preventing
enlistments and frowning on negro soldiers, became so exasperated by them that he threatened to
send them home in irons if they oppose the negro regiment any more."
By August 25, 1862 the Secretary of War and Abraham Lincoln caught up with General Hunter
authorizing the formation of African-American regiments. Company A, 1st South Carolina (later the
33rd USCT) was the first African-American regiment in the War of the Rebellion.
To see General David Hunter and Col. Louis Bell's dispute read St. Augustine and the Civil War
Defeat at James Island
On June 16 troops under General Hunters command were defeated at the battle of James Island,
near Charleston. Brig. Gen. Benham in direct violation of General Hunter's orders, made an attack
upon the enemy.
Defends his Actions
In a letter to Steven H. Tyng, President of the National Freedmen's Relief Association General
Hunter defended his proclamations and arming of troops. The letter would be published in the New
York Tribune and later republished in the American Missionary the press organ of the American
Leave of Absence
After Hunter was given a 60 day leave of absence he returned to DC with only two free weeks to
serve on a court marshal hearing in the case of Major General Fitz Porter. Hunter served on the
court-martial of Fitz-John Porter and the committee that looked into the loss of Harpers Ferry.
Return to the Department of the South
He was back in command in the Dept of the South in January 23, 1863 after the death of his
successor. He was relieved again in June 1863.
Southern Attitude on General Hunter arming African-Americans (The New York Herald Feb
"...The feeling against General Hunter is very bitter in Savannah, and it has been determined to
hang him as soon as he can be captured. Captain Kinzie acted as the colonel of general Hunter's
original negro regiment, and in the interview he had under the flag of truce with the rebel officers
he was assured that, once among them as a prisoner, no power would be able to save his neck
from the rope. The recent negro raids along the Georgia coast have created a good deal of
consternation among slave owners, who fear for the safety of their persons and their property; if
they are to be subjected to the tender mercies of negro troops."
See capture of Lieut Cate St. Augustine and the Civil War, page 3. and captivity of Lieut Cate.
(See also letters between General Hunter and Jefferson Davis.)
An Assessment In February, 1863 (Letters from Beaufort during the Civil War)
Feb. 17. The troops will probably be here a month or two at least, before any attempt is made in
any direction. The commanding generals have quarreled,1 and one has gone North; the troops are
insufficient, the enemy on the alert and strongly defended. The history of the Department so far
might read: the forts were taken, one thousand-odd children were taught to read, and one negro
regiment was formed. Hunter seems to be a narrow, self-willed man "to me” who doesn't know much
about his affairs. At first the soldiers were allowed to go wherever they pleased; consequently they
poured over our end of the island, confusion coming with them. They cheated, they plundered, they
threatened lives, they stole boats, poultry, hogs, money, and other property, they paid for dinners
with worthless Richmond money, taking good bills in exchange. They behaved like marauders in an
enemy's country, and disgraced the name of man, American, or soldier. The houses of one whole
plantation they burnt to the ground in the night. For three whole days and far into the night I did
nothing but chase soldiers and ride about to protect the people. The consequence of it all is that
the soldiers are now tied up in camp pretty firmly.
Arrest of General Stevenson (Letters from Beaufort during the Civil War)
The immediate cause of this trouble was a disagreement about the extent of Hunter's authority over
Foster and his command while they were in the Department of the South, but the underlying
difficulty was that Foster and his officers distrusted Hunter as an antislavery zealot.
Finding that the operations against Charleston could not go forward immediately, Foster returned
to North Carolina within a few days after his arrival in the Department of the South. His troops
remained, so restive under Hunter's command that Foster's whole staff was presently sent back to
North Carolina for alleged insubordination and is reported to have said that he would rather be
defeated than gain a victory with the aid of black soldiers, and says that he said no such thing.
The question was asked as a leading one, and before General Stevenson replied, Major Barstow
exclaimed, "You hear that declaration?" and went off and reported. Pretty small business, anyway,
though the General and most of his officers apparently are not at all waked up to the question, and
oppose the idea of negro soldiers very strongly. They seem to have been living for a year with their
old prejudices quietly slumbering without coming in contact with the subject and its practical working
as we have here, and so are not prepared for the change of opinion which has been silently
advancing here. We did not think a year ago that these people would make soldiers, though it
might be a wise measure to organize them for garrison duty to save the lives of our men in a
climate they could not bear well and where no fighting would be necessary. Now it is a matter of
fact, not opinion, as Colonel Higginson's 'report shows, that they will fight in open warfare, and will
succeed in a certain sort of expedition when white men would fail, thus being too valuable an aid in
putting down the Rebellion for us to give way to the prejudices of the mass of the soldiers. But I do
not think it strange those prejudices exist, and they can only be removed by degrees.
Abraham Lincoln Commends General Hunter on Jacksonville and USCT Troops
Washington, P. 0., April 1, 1863.
My DEAR SIR: I am glad to see the accounts of your colored force at Jacksonville, Fla. I see the
enemy are driving at them fiercely, as is to be expected. It is important to the enemy that such a
force shall not take shape and grow and thrive in the South, and in precisely the same proportion it
is important to us that it shall. Hence the utmost caution and vigilance is necessary on our part. The
enemy will make extra efforts to destroy them, and we should do the same to preserve and
General Hunter Troops too Thin
With the operations before Charleston and Jacksonville Hunter finally had to make a choice and
remove the troops from Jacksonville. (See Abraham Lincoln to Hunter to see the background of
why that choice was made.)
Observations on General Hunter by Col Higginson 33rd USCT (May 8, 1863): "I had some
talk with General Hunter. It is hard not to like him when one is with him; he seems so good-natured,
generous, and impulsive. He impressed me as being by habit lax, indolent, vacillating, and forgetful;
but as capable of being on a given occasion prompt, decided, and heroic. So far as principles of
action go, this war has nothing more to teach him; his defects are more hopeless because they
belong to his temperament and no conversion can extricate him from them. With the tonic of a
strong moral influence always beside him, he could be easily held up to the standard of a great
man; as it is, while he is asleep, the Devil sows tares, and that is a large part of the time."
Leaves the Department of the South 1863
General Orders Hdqrs Dept of the South No 16 Hilton Head Port Royal S C June 12 1863 Maj Gen
David Hunter commanding Department of the South hereby announces that he has been
temporarily relieved from command of the department and ordered to report to the Adjutant
General US Army for special service and that Brig Gen QA Gillmore has been assigned by the
President to the command of the Department of the South In turning over command to his
successor Major General Hunter congratulates the troops of the department that in General
Gillmore they will find an officer well known to them and whose worth they have long since learned
to estimate and it is the earnest hope of General Hunter that the same skill perseverance and
gallantry which so largely contributed to the reduction of Fort Pulaski more than a year ago may be
equally successful in whatever enterprises General Gillmore shall next be engaged in By command
of Maj Gen D Hunter CHAS G HALPINE Lieut Col AAG 10th Army Corps and Dept of the South
Newspaper Version (New York Herald, May 18, 1863)
The most important event of the past week was the arrival, on Thursday last, of the steamer Ben
Deford, Captain Hallett, with Brigadier General Q. A. Gillmore and staff whose advent rumor had
promised for some days before. The moment the ship came to anchor General Gillmore proceeded
ashore with General Strong, who accompanied him on the Ben Deford, and had an interview with
General Hunter. On Friday he assumed command of the Department of the South, in obedience to
a special order from the War Department, which also relieved, temporarily, General Hunter, and
instructed him to proceed to Washington, and report to the Adjutant General. General Hunter
issued on Friday his last general order, notifying his command of the change, and commending the
new general, whose reputation was so well known, to the regard of his soldiers. This general order,
as well as those of General Gillmore, I send herewith.
Letter to Abraham Lincoln
PRINCETON, N. J., June 25, 1863.
His Excellency ABRAHAM LINCOLN, President of the United States
SIR: YOU cannot fail to be aware that my removal from the command of the Department of the
South has been all but universally regarded as a censure on my conduct while in that command.
Satisfied and well knowing that I acted throughout in strict obedience to orders, and that my record
when published will prove an ample vindication of my course, I now respectfully request of you
liberty to make such publication of official documents and records as may be necessary to set me
right in the eyes of my friends and in the justice of history. The time has now passed when any
injurious effect to the public service could possibly arise from such publication. Knowing how greatly
your time is occupied, I shall regard your silence in reply to this note as giving me the liberty I ask
and will act accordingly. Should you deem such publications as I propose unadvisable will you be
kind enough to notify me of your opinion without delay ~ I have the honor to be, sir, very
your most obedient servant,
D. HUNTER, Major- General.
A Non-Recommendation (To Lieut-General Grant)
April 14, 1864
...I think General Hunter would not accept any command under McPherson, or if he did trouble
would follow. He is even worse than McClernand in creating difficulties. If you had him in the field
under your immediate command perhaps things would go smoothly. Before acting on General
Hunters case, it would be well for you to see his correspondence while in command of a department.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
H. W. HALLECK, Major-General, Chief of Staff.
Head of the Department of West Virginia
General Hunter Appointed Head of Department of West Virginia
He was appointed to head of this department on March 10, 1864 to August 9, 1864.
Army of the Shenandoah
In the Valley Campaigns of 1864 Hunter was appointed commander of the Army of Shenandoah. He
was to use scorched earth tactics moving through Staunton to Charlottesville with the objective of
destroying the Virginia Central Railroad. He defeated Maj. General William E. "Grumble" Jones at
the Battle of Piedmont and burned VMI. He was defeated by Early at the Battle of Lynch burg on
June 19. Sheridan took over the troops. This was Hunter's last command in the war. He was
promoted to brevet major general in the regular army on March 13, 1865.
Shenandoah Campaign - Operations Report
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF WEST VIRGINIA,
Camp near Staunton, Va., June 8, 1864.
GENERAL: I have the honor to report that on my arrival at Harrisonburg, on the afternoon of the 2d
instant, I found the enemy occupying a strong intrenched position at Mount Crawford, on the North
River, where it is crossed by the Valley turnpike, his right at Rockland Mills, and his left at
I spent the following day in ascertaining the enemy's force and position, and early on the morning
of the 4th, after sending a force of cavalry to amuse him, I moved my column by a side road and
crossed the Shenandoah at Port Republic. This movement was so little expected that we found a
large supply train of the enemy at this place, and our advance cavalry captured a part of it, with
supplies and horses.
I encamped about one mile south of Port Republic, and on the morning of the 5th, at an early hour,
advanced on the Staunton road. At 6 a.m. my advanced cavalry met that of the enemy, and after a
sharp skirmish drove them, with a loss of 75 men killed, wounded, and missing. At the village of
Piedmont, seven miles southwest of Port Republic, I found the enemy in force advantageously
The battle opened with artillery at 9 a.m., the enemy using several guns of long range and heavy
caliber. At 10 o clock the First Brigade of Infantry, under Colonel Moor, advanced on our right and
drove the enemy from his advanced position in a wood behind his line of defenses constructed of
fallen timber and fence rails. Colonel Thoburn, with the Second Brigade of Infantry, took position on
elevated ground on our left, supporting the batteries and ready for action where most needed. At
11.30 the fine practice of our artillery had silenced the enemy's batteries, and the cavalry, under
Major-General Stahel, was massed in rear of the infantry on our right.
At 1 o'clock the First Brigade attacked the enemy's line in front, but failed to carry it, and fell back
after a spirited contest. At 1.30 the enemy was observed to be massing his force on our right,
opposite the first Brigade, and orders were immediately sent to Colonel Thoburn to move his
brigade across the open valley between, and attack the enemy's position in flank. At 2 p.m. the
enemy made a determined attack on the First Brigade, which gallantly sustained itself, assisted by
Von Kleiser's battery and a cross-fire from Morton's and Carlin's batteries on our left. Meanwhile
Thoburn's brigade, having crossed the valley, fell upon the enemy's exposed flank with decisive
effect, crushing his whole line and driving a portion of his force over the steep bank into the river,
which covered his left. Simultaneously Colonel Moor's brigade rushed over the works in front, and a
brigade of cavalry, under Colonel Wynkoop, charged upon his right flank and rear. The enemy fled
in confusion, leaving over 1,000 prisoners in our hands, including 60 officers.
The killed and wounded are estimated at 600 men. Brig. Gen. William E. Jones, commanding
forces, was killed on the field and his body fell into our hands. From papers found upon his person
it is ascertained that the enemy's force was between 6,000 and 7,000 men, and 16 guns, among
them two 20-pounder Parrotts, and one 24-pounder howitzer. In addition to his loss upon the field,
the enemy in his precipitate retreat lost an equal number at least by straggling and desertion.
General Vaughn, upon whom the command devolved, fell back upon Waynesborough with the
wreck of his army.
On the next day, June 6, I occupied Staunton without opposition, capturing 400 sick and wounded,
who were paroled, and large quantities of commissary and ordnance stores, which were destroyed
or distributed among the troops. All the railroad bridges and depots, and public workshops and
factories in the town and vicinity, were also destroyed. A rebel force under General McCausland
and Col. William L. Jackson, stationed at Buffalo Gap, to oppose the advance of General Crook, on
hearing of our occupation of Staunton, fell back precipitately and escaped southward. General
Crook, with his whole command, in fine condition, joined me to-day, having brushed away the
enemy's corps of observation and destroyed the Virginia Central Railroad west of this place.
These results have been accomplished with a loss to this command of less than 500 men in killed
and wounded. On the march and in action the troops have behaved admirably. The combined
force, now in fine spirits and condition, will move day after to-morrow to the accomplishment of its
I am, general, very respectfully, your most obedient servant.
ADJUTANT-GENERAL U.S. ARMY.
Visit Home (Daily State Gazette, September 9, 1864)
Major General David Hunter paid a visit to Princeton a week or two ago. The Standard says that he
was looking very well. Major Samuel W. Stockton, of Gen. Hunter's staff, accompanied Gen. Hunter,
and spent some days in Princeton. Gen. Hunter is, we believe, a native of Princeton. His mother
resided there for many years previous to her death, and the people of Princeton were well
acquainted with the family. Major Stockton is a nephew of Gen Hunter, and son of the late S. W.
Stockton, Esq. who was a brother of Commodore Stockton.
He was on the honor guard at the funeral of Abraham Lincoln and accompanied his body back to
Springfield. He was the president of the military commission that tried the conspirators of Lincoln's
The trial began on 10th May, 1865. As well as Hunter the military commission included leading
generals such as Lewis Wallace, Robert Foster, August Kautz, Thomas Harris and Alvin Howe. The
Attorney General, James Speed, selected Joseph Holt and John Bingham as the government's
Mary Surratt, Lewis Paine, George Atzerodt, David Herold, Samuel Mudd, Michael O'Laughlin,
Edman Spangler and Samuel Arnold were all charged with conspiring to murder Lincoln. During the
trial Holt attempted to persuade the military commission that Jefferson Davis and the Confederate
government had been involved in conspiracy.
He was the author of Report of the Military Services of General David Hunter, U.S.A., during the
War of the Rebellion, published in 1873.
His death was due to heart failure on February 2, 1886. He died in Washington D.C. and was
buried in the Princeton Cemetery, Princeton, New Jersey.
|General David Hunter
|General David Hunter
|General David Hunter - old age
|General David Hunter
Grave at Princeton NJ
|Jeff Davis as a young man
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