Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Andersonville Prison

A Pleasure Cruise

A prison surgeon, Dr. W. J. W. Kerr, also heard the cries of the infant. Dr. Kerr who was originally from Corsicana, Texas, had just arrived at Andersonville that day. He inquired among the guards and learned of the plight of the Hunt family. Concerned for the welfare of the mother and child, the doctor convinced his superiors to remove the Hunts from the compound, and when he learned how they had come to reside at Andersonville, he started a petition to have them paroled. The doctor was moved when he discovered that the Hunts had been newlyweds when they were captured.

According to an article Kerr wrote for Confederate Veteran magazine, Jane Scadden Hunt of Chicago and Captain Harry Hunt of Buffalo, New York, were married in the summer of 1863 in New York City. Captain Hunt ran a sailing vessel out of that port, and to celebrate his marriage, he invited several members of the wedding party to accompany him and his new bride on a pleasure trip into the Atlantic. They had been at sea only a few hours when they were intercepted by a Union revenue cutter and ordered to sail to North Carolina to pick up a load of corn for the war effort. They reached North Carolina without incident, but while loading the vessel, they were captured by Confederate troops. Recognizing that the crew was made up of noncombatants, the Southerners released all but Captain Hunt. His wife, thinking he would be released in a few days, refused to leave him; but instead he was finally sent to Andersonville Prison and both were held as prisoners of war, the article read.

The Hunts had been at Andersonville for 13 months when their baby was born. During part of that time Mrs. Hunt apparently disguised herself as a man. She had a trunk that contained some clothing and $5,000 in greenbacks, which was stolen by prison marauders. When her baby son arrived, she had only a few strips of cloth in which to wrap him.

Dr. Kerr addressed his petition to General Winder, who was in charge of the post, but the commandant of the stockade would also have a say in the Hunts fate, and that job belonged to Captain Henry Wirz, the man responsible for ordering the dead line. The Swiss-born Wirz was reputed to be iron-willed and cold-hearted. The doctor wondered how the commandant would respond to the Hunts predicament.

 

 

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