Portrait of David Hunter

From May 8 to July 15, 1865, David Hunter served as president of the military commission that tried the conspirators involved in President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. [Wikimedia Commons]

David Hunter - Facts

July 21, 1802 - February 2, 1886

Key facts about David Hunter, a Union general, who, as commander of the Department of the South, issued General Order Number 11, on May 9, 1862, declared the slaves in Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina to be emancipated. President Lincoln quickly rescinded the order.

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Full Name:

  • David Hunter

Birth Date:

  • July 21, 1802

Birth Location:

  • Princeton, New Jersey, Woodbury, New Jersey, Troy, New York, or Washington, DC

Parents:

  • Reverend Andrew Hunter and Mary (Stockton) Hunter

Education:

  • United States Military Academy (1822)

Occupation:

  • Military officer
  • Real estate agent
  • Land speculator

Career Summary:

  • Major General (USVA)
  • Colonel (USA)
  • Brevet Major General (USA)

Spouse:

  • Maria Indiana Kinzie (1829)

Nickname(s):

  • Black Dave

Place of Death:

  • Washington, DC

Date of Death:

  • February 2, 1886

Place of Burial:

  • Princeton Cemetery, Princeton, New Jersey

Significance:

  • Records are unclear if David Hunter’s birthplace was Princeton, New Jersey, Woodbury, New Jersey, Troy, New York, or Washington, DC.
  • David Hunter was the second of five children of the Reverend Andrew Hunter and Mary (Stockton) Hunter.
  • David Hunter’s maternal grandfather, Richard Stockton, represented New Jersey in the Second Continental Congress and was a signer of the Declaration of Independence.
  • David Hunter enrolled at the United States Military Academy on September 14, 1818, and graduated on July 1, 1822, ranking twenty-fifth in a class of forty cadets.
  • Following his graduation from West Point, David Hunter was commissioned as a second lieutenant with the 5th U.S. Infantry.
  • On June 30, 1828, David Hunter was promoted to first lieutenant.
  • On September 18, 1829, David Hunter married Maria Indiana Kinzie, who is believed to be the first child of European descent born in Chicago. Their marriage lasted fifty-six years, and produced no children.
  • On March 4, 1833, David Hunter was promoted to captain and assigned to the 1st U.S. Dragoons.
  • Between 1833 and 1836, David Hunter campaigned against American Indians in Kansas and Oklahoma.
  • On July 4, 1836, David Hunter resigned his commission to pursue a career as a real estate agent and/or a land speculator in Chicago.
  • David Hunter rejoined the army in November 1841.
  • On March 14, 1842 David Hunter was promoted to major and appointed to an army staff position as a paymaster.
  • David Hunter served at Tallahassee, Florida during the Second Seminole War (1835–1842)
  • David Hunter served with the army of occupation during the Mexican-American War (1846–1848).
  • David Hunter and Abraham Lincoln became friends in 1860.
  • David Hunter accompanied president-elect Abraham Lincoln on his inaugural train from Springfield, Illinois, to Washington, D.C., in February 1861.
  • David Hunter was promoted to the rank of colonel with the 6th U.S. Cavalry on May 14, 1861.
  • In June, David Hunter was assigned to command the 2nd Division of Major-General Irvin McDowell’s Army of Northeastern Virginia (later the Army of the Potomac).
  • On July 21, 1861, David Hunter was wounded in the neck while leading his troops into combat at the First Battle of Bull Run.
  • David Hunter was promoted to brigadier-general of volunteers, effective May 17, 1861.
  • David Hunter was promoted to major-general of volunteers, effective August 13, 1861.
  • David Hunter was appointed to lead the Western Department, headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri on November 2, 1861.
  • David Hunter was appointed to lead the Department of Kansas on November 9, 1861.
  • In 1862 David Hunter received Major-General Henry Halleck’s praise for sending troops to assist Brigadier-General Ulysses S. Grant’s Union victory at the Battle of Fort Donelson (February 12 – 16, 1862).
  • David Hunter was transferred to command of the Department of the South, effective March 31, 1862.
  • In early April 1862, in cooperation with naval forces, Hunter oversaw the bombardment and reduction of Fort Pulaski, effectively closing the port of Savannah, Georgia.
  • On April 13, 1862, David Hunter issued General Order Number 7, freeing the slaves in the vicinity Fort Pulaski in Georgia.
  • On May 9, 1862, David Hunter issued General Order Number 11, which emancipated the slaves in Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina.
  • In May 1862 David Hunter began organizing escaped or captured slaves into combat units.
  • In May 1862 David Hunter instructed his six district commanders to begin drafting former slaves from Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina into Union service.
  • On May 19, 1862, President Lincoln rescinded David Hunter’s General Order number 11.
  • In General Order, Number 60, dated August 21, 1862, Confederate President Jefferson Davis declared David Hunter an outlaw subject to execution should he be captured.
  • The War Department temporarily relieved David Hunter of his command of the Department of the South on June 12, 1863, and recalled him to Washington for special services.
  • On January 21, 1863, David Hunter returned to his command the Department of the South, where he served until June 3, 1863.
  • On June 3, 1863, David Hunter was recalled to Washington where he served in several administrative capacities for the next year.
  • On May 19, 1864, General-in-Chief Ulysses S. Grant placed David Hunter in command of the Department of West Virginia.
  • Forces commanded by David Hunter defeated Confederate troops commanded by Major-General William E. “Grumble” Jones at the Battle of Piedmont (June 5 – 6, 1864).
  • Forces commanded by David Hunter burned the Virginia Military Institute and plundered the town of Lexington, Virginia on June 12, 1864.
  • David Hunter ordered the burning of former Virginia Governor John Letcher’s home in retaliation for Letcher issuing “a violent and inflammatory proclamation … inciting the population of the country to rise and wage guerrilla warfare on my troops.”
  • On June 17 and 18, forces commanded by Confederate General Jubal Early foiled David Hunter’s attempt to occupy Lynchburg, driving the Federals back into West Virginia.
  • After David Hunter’s defeat at the Battle of Lynchburg (June 17–18, 1864), General-in-Chief Ulysses S. Grant dispatched Major General Philip Sheridan to take command of federal forces in the Valley. Relegated to subordinate administrative duties, David Hunter asked to be relieved of his duties.
  • David Hunter was brevetted to the ranks of brigadier general and brevet major general in the volunteer army, both effective March 13, 1865.
  • Following President Abraham Lincoln’s death on April 15, 1865, David Hunter served in the honor guard at the president’s funeral and he accompanied Lincoln’s body back to Springfield, Illinois for burial.
  • From May 8 to July 15, 1865, David Hunter served as president of the military commission that tried the conspirators involved in President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination.
  • David Hunter mustered out of the volunteer army on January 15, 1866.
  • David Hunter retired from active service with the regular army on July 31, 1866.
  • David Hunter died of heart failure at his home in Washington, DC on February 2, 1886, at the age of eighty-three.
  • David Hunter is buried at Princeton Cemetery, Princeton, New Jersey.
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Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title David Hunter - Facts
  • Coverage July 21, 1802 - February 2, 1886
  • Author
  • Keywords David Hunter
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date July 31, 2021
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update April 29, 2021
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