David Hunter bigraphy, stories - Union Army general

David Hunter : biography

July 21, 1802 - February 2, 1886

David Hunter (July 21, 1802 – February 2, 1886) was a Union general in the American Civil War. He achieved fame by his unauthorized 1862 order (immediately rescinded) emancipating slaves in three Southern states and as the president of the military commission trying the conspirators involved with the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.


Colm Meaney portrays Hunter in the 2011 film The Conspirator.


Early years

Hunter was born in Troy, New York,Warner, p. 243. or Princeton, New Jersey.Eicher, p. 310. He was the cousin of writer-illustrator David Hunter Strother (who would also serve as a Union Army general) and his maternal grandfather was Richard Stockton, a signer of the United States Declaration of Independence. He graduated from the United States Military Academy, in 1822, and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the 5th U.S. Infantry Regiment. Records of his military service prior to the Civil War contain significant gaps. From 1828 to 1831, he was stationed on the northwest frontier, at Fort Dearborn (Chicago, Illinois), where he met and married Maria Kinzie, the daughter of the city's first permanent white resident, John Kinzie. He served in the infantry for 11 years, and was appointed captain of the 1st U.S. Dragoons in 1833. He resigned from the Army in July 1836 and moved to Illinois, where he worked as a real estate agent or speculator. He rejoined the Army in November 1841 as a paymaster and was promoted to major in March 1842. One source. claims that he saw action in the Second Seminole War (1838–42) and the Mexican-American War (1846–48).

In 1860, Hunter was stationed at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and he began a correspondence with Abraham Lincoln, focusing on Hunter's strong anti-slavery views. This relationship had long-lasting political effects, the first of which was an invitation to ride on Lincoln's inaugural train from Springfield, Illinois, to Washington, D.C., in February 1861. During this duty, Hunter suffered a dislocated collarbone at Buffalo, due to a crowd pressing the president-elect.

Civil War

Soon after the firing on Fort Sumter, Hunter was promoted to colonel of the 6th U.S. Cavalry, but three days later (May 17, 1861), his political connection to the Lincoln administration bore fruit and he was appointed the fourth-ranking brigadier general of volunteers, commanding a brigade in the Department of Washington. He was wounded in the neck and cheek while commanding a division under Irvin McDowell at the First Battle of Bull Run in July 1861. In August, he was promoted to major general of volunteers. He served as a division commander in the Western Army under Maj. Gen. John C. Frémont, and was appointed as commander of the Western Department on November 2, 1861, after Frémont was relieved of command due to his attempt to emancipate the slaves of rebellious slave holders. That winter, Hunter was transferred to command the Department of Kansas and, in March 1862, was transferred again to command the Department of the South and the X Corps.

Hunter served as the president of the court-martial of Maj. Gen. Fitz John Porter (convicted for his actions at the Second Battle of Bull Run, but for which he was exonerated by an 1878 Board of Officers), and on the committee that investigated the loss of Harpers Ferry in the Maryland Campaign. He also served briefly as the Assistant Inspector General of the Department of the Gulf.

General Order No. 11

Hunter was a strong advocate of arming blacks as soldiers for the Union cause. After the Battle of Fort Pulaski, he began enlisting black soldiers from the occupied districts of South Carolina and formed the first such Union Army regiment, the 1st South Carolina (African Descent),The famous 54th Massachusetts was the first black regiment raised in a Northern state. which he was initially ordered to disband, but eventually got approval from Congress for his action. A second controversy was caused by his issuing an order emancipating the slaves in Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida:

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