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Civil War Soldiers - Hunter

Hunter, David, major-general, U.S. Army, was born in Washington, D. C., July 21, 1802, was graduated at West Point in 1822, and after becoming captain in the 1st dragoons in 1833, resigned his commission in 1836 to go into business in Chicago. He rejoined the army as paymaster with the rank of major in 1842 and was chief paymaster of Gen. John E. Wool's command in the Mexican war, serving after that at New Orleans and at other posts, including those on the frontier. He was assigned, in Feb., 1861, to accompany President-elect Lincoln from his home in Springfield, Ill., to Washington, but at Buffalo his collar-bone was dislocated by the pressure of the crowd that gathered to see Lincoln, and he did not arrive at Washington until May 14. He was then appointed colonel of the 6th U. S. cavalry, and three days later was given a commission as brigadier-general of volunteers. He commanded the main column of McDowell's army in the Manassas campaign, was severely wounded at Bull Run, July 21, 1861, and on Aug. 1, 1861, was made major-general of volunteers, serving under Gen. Fremont in Missouri, and on Nov. 2 succeeding him in the command of the western department. He commanded the Department of Kansas from Nov., 1861, until March, 1862, and by his prompt reinforcement of Grant at Fort Donelson, at the solicitation of Gen. Halleck, made possible the victory of Feb. 16, 1862. In March, 1862, Gen. Hunter was transferred to the Department of the South, with headquarters at Port Royal, S. C., and his first effective movement was the capture of Fort Pulaski, April 11, 1862. Finding there a large number of able-bodied, idle negroes, willing to enlist in the United States service, Gen. Hunter on April 12 issued an order declaring that slavery and martial law were incompatible, further declaring free all slaves in Fort Pulaski and on Cockburn island, Ga., and on May 9, he extended the declaration to slaves in Georgia, Florida and South Carolina. On May 19, President Lincoln issued a proclamation which declared Gen. Hunter's order entirely void and given without authority. On June 16, 1862, an expedition against Charleston by way of James island resulted in the disastrous battle of Secessionville an attack which, according to Gen. Hunter's report, was made contrary to his orders. Gen. Hunter organized the 1st S. C. volunteers, a regiment composed of refugee slaves which was the first of the kind to be mustered into the U. S. volunteer service. In September he was ordered to Washington and was made president of a court of inquiry to investigate the causes for the surrender of Harper's Ferry and other matters, and he subsequently served as president of the court-martial instituted by Gen. Pope to try Gen. Fitz-John Porter for disobedience to orders. He was placed in command of the Department of West Virginia in May, 1864, defeated a Confederate force at Piedmont on June 5, moved on Lynchburg on the 8th by way of Lexington, where he burned the place, and on the 16th of June invested Lynchburg, falling back then by way of the Kanawha river, thus bringing his army to the Ohio river and leaving the valley for several weeks open to the mercy of Early. Gen. Hunter was then on leave of absence until Feb. 1, 1865, after which he served on courts-martial, being president of the commission that tried the persons who were charged with conspiring for the assassination of President Lincoln. He was brevetted major-general U. S. A., March 13, 1865, and was mustered out of the volunteer service in Jan., 1866. He was retired the following July and died in Washington, D. C., Feb. 2, 1886.

Source: The Union Army: A History of Military Affairs in the Loyal States 1861-1865, Volume 8 Biographical, 1908
 


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