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3 Women Prisoners at Andersonville

Discussion in 'Campfire Chat - General Discussions' started by Bonny Blue Flag, Nov 22, 2009.

  1. Bonny Blue Flag

    Bonny Blue Flag 1st Lieutenant

    Jun 21, 2008
    Arlington, Texas
    (The original thread was entitled, "Brave Women of the CW". I have changed the title to speak directly to the subject matter at hand. The responses to the orginal thread have been included.)

    This thread is dedicated to women who went beyond the call of duty, be it as a civilian, as a soldier, a nurse, spy, crusader and others. Please add posts of your own about the women of this time.

    First of three Women of Andersonville Prison (the other two women will be added later to this thread.)
    Janie Hunt: The daughter of Thomas L. Scadden of Chicago married Captain Harry Hunt of Buffalo, NY, in June, 1863. Captain Hunt operated a coasting vessel out of New York City.

    After the wedding, all the guests were invited aboard Captain Hunt's vessel for a short pleasure cruise. All accepted the invitation. After sailing for only a few hours, they were stopped by a Federal revenue cutter and ordered to proceed to North Carolina to pick up a load of corn. It is not known why the wedding guests and bride wer not taken aboard the revenue cutter and returned safely to New York. Perhaps there was no room on the ship or perhaps it's captain attached not danger to the mission. For whatever reason, all stayed aboard and sailed to North Carolina.

    While the corn was being loaded, the ship was seized by Confederate troops. The passengers and crew were all taken into custody. Soon thereafter, the wedding guests were released and allowed to return home. Janie, hoping that her husband would soon be released, refused to leave and was allowed to remain at his side.

    The newlywed couple were held in custody until February 1864 when the Confederate authorities decided to send Captain Hunt to the new prison camp at Andersonville, Georgia. Upon hearing the news, Janie still refused to leave her husband and after much pleading, was allowed to disguise herself as a man and accompany him to prison.

    They located an isolated spot in the southwest corner of the stockade and set up their make-shift campsite. This isolated location would keep them out of the main stream of the prison population and helped Janie in concealing her identity from the other inmates, a task which became more difficult as time passed because she was already four months pregnant when she arrived at Andersonville Prison in February 1864.

    In July, 1864, Janie gave birth to a son whom they named Harry Jr. "Little Harry" was born in their tent at the corner of the stockade. She wrapped the baby in rags, which she had torn from her own clothes.

    Four days after the baby was born, a Confederate doctor named W.J.W. Kerr made a surprise visit to their tent and found Mrs. Hunt and the baby.

    Originally from Corsicana, Texas, Dr. Kerr was sent to Andersonville Prison to take charge of the dipsensary and to superintend the building of a hospital and all other buildings associated with the prison. Upon his arrival, he set up his office in the "Star Fort" directly outside the southwest corner of the stockade. While sitting in his office on the evening of his first day of duty, he thought he heard the faint cry of a baby. His inquiry resulted in one of the guards informing him that it was the baby of Captain Hunt and his wife. The next morning, Dr. Kerr went into the stockade to locate Mrs. Hunt and the baby.

    Recognizing that living conditions in the prison would put the lives of the mother and baby at risk, Dr. Kerr decided to request help for the family. He rallied the rest of the medical staff to sign a petitioin, it was approved. Janie and the baby boarded on a farm less than two miles from the prison. Mr. and Mrs. Smith, owners of the farm, reluctantly agreed to the arrangement. Janie and the baby remained with them until the end of the war. Dr. Kerr also provided Janie with material to make clothing for herself and the baby.

    Dr. Kerr was also successful in getting Captain Hunt paroled to his custody. He placed the Captain as a ward master in on of the wings of the hospital where he remained for the rest of the war.

    (Source: books.google / Women in the Civil War. Extraordinary stories of soldiers, spies, nurses, crusaders and others. By Larry G. Eggleston)


    Leah's Choice wrote:

    That's a very good story, Bonny, although a little horrifying to think of a baby being born in a terrible place like Andersonville prison. Thanks for posting it.

    Pogster wrote:

    Then there were the Nancy Harts of LaGrange, Georgia:



    The second woman held at Andersonville Prison
    Florena Budwin

    Little data is available on the second woman at Andersonville Prison. Florena was from Philidelphia, Pennsylvania. She is reported to have disguised herself as a man and enlisted in the Union army with her husband, Captain Budwin.

    The young couple supposedly fought side by side in many battles. According to a statement made by Florena at the prison camp at Florence, South Carolina, her husband was killed and Florena was captured during the same battle by Confederate forces. Some reports say Captain Budwin was killed at Andersonville Prison, after being captured along with Florena. However, there is no record of Captain Budwin ever arrived and there is no one named Budwin buried in the Andersonville National Cemetery.

    Records indicate that Florena did arrive at the prison still disguised as a man. The exact date of her husband's death and her capture is unknown, but it was in 1864.

    After her capture, Florena was imprisoned at Andersonville, Georgia. The alias she was using is unknown. She was held there at Andersonville until late 1864, when she was transferred with many other prisoners to the new prison being constructed at Florence, South Carolina.

    The federal government began construction of the stockade at Florence, South Carolina on September 17, 1864. While construction was underway, the Confederate government transferred 6,000 prisoners to the new prison from Charleston to Florence.

    These prisoners were all sick or diseased. They suffered from small pox, yellow fever and exhaustion, among many other illnesses.

    In late 1864, Florena Budwin, along with many other prisoners, was transferred to Florence to help relieve extreme over-crowding at Andersonville. During her short time at the Florence stockade, Florena helped care for the many sick and diseased soldiers. While serving in this role, she was stricken with pneumonia and required medical attention. The Confederate doctor treating her discovered her gender.

    Upon making this discovery, the doctor moved her to a private room where she could get special treatment. When questioned by the doctor, she stated her name was Florena Budwin. She revealed that she disguised herself as a man and joined the army to be near her husband, Captain Budwin. She further stated he was killed in the battle in which she was captured.

    When word spread that there was a woman in the prison, the ladies of Florence donated food and clothing for her. However, despite recieving better treatment, she died on January 25, 1865, at the age of twenty.
    Her death was only one month before all sick prisoners were released to the Union army.

    Between September 17, 1864 and the end of February 1865, when the prison closed, 2, 322 prisoners had died. Florena is buried with the others in the National Cemetery at Florence, South Carolina. She is buried under her own name in grave number D-2480.

    She was the first known woman to be buried in a national cemetery. Each year since her death she has been honored on May 30th, National Memorial Day, as flowers are placed on her grave in tribute to her sacrifice.

    The reasons prompting this young couple to enlist in the army after being married for such a short time are unknown. The greater mystery is why Florena stayed at Andersonville Prison and why she let the Confederate authorities transfer her to yet another prison. Since, as she reported, her husband was dead, she seemed to have no reason to continue to suffer the hardships of prison life. She could have revealed her gender to her captors and been set free.

    Perhaps she stayed to continue doing her duty to her country and to honor the memory of her husband, or maybe she felt a duty towards the sick to help ease the suffering and pain of the war. Whatever the reasons, Florena stayed true to these beliefs even at the cost of her own life.

    Source: Andersonville and Other Hellholes by Burt Kalman



    Union_Buff wrote:

    Thank you so much for this really interesting thread Bonny :smile:

    I've never actually heard stories about women in the CW, other than the ones about the women soldiers.
    Copper, 83rd, PA INF wrote:

    Thanks for the interesting story.

    Yet another book I'm going to have to add to my collection.

    reading48, Hannah and Union_Buff like this.

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  3. Bonny Blue Flag

    Bonny Blue Flag 1st Lieutenant

    Jun 21, 2008
    Arlington, Texas
    Even less is known about the third woman discovered at Andersonville Prison. She is buried in the National Cemetery at Andersonville under a tombstone marked, "Unknown". Her sex was not discovered until she died in captivity. Possibly her clothing was removed to be given to another needy prisoner. No one knew her real name, so instead of using her alias, the grave is marked as an unknown.

    The only bit of information about this unknown woman comes from the recorded events of another woman soldier named Madame Collier.

    Madame Collier was a Federal soldier, diguised as a man, who was captured and sent to Belle Isle Prison in Richmond, Va. Her gender was later discovered and she was taken back to the Union lines under a flag of truce.

    Once released, she returned to the Confederate soldiers and defiantly stated there was still a woman at Belle Isle Prison. She refused to give the name of the woman, and only said that she was disguised as a man.

    On March 1, 1864. General Judson Kilpatrick,under orders from President Lincoln, led 3,500 mounted raiders on Richmond with the objective of capturing Richmond and releasing the prisoners held at Belle Isle and Libby prisons.

    The raid on Richmond failed, but it made the Confederate government realize that Belle Isle was not a secure place to keep prisoners. The prison was closed and all the prisoners were transferred to the new prison at Andersonville, Georgia.

    If Madame Collier's account was accurate, the woman from Belle Isle Prison was among the transferred to Andersonville in early 1864. She very well may be the woman buried in the grave marked, "Uknown".

    Hopefully, some day, when more information is discovered, a name will be put on her tombstone and she will be given the recognition she deserves.

    Source: Andersonville and Oher Hellholes by Burt Kalman


    reading48 and Union_Buff like this.
  4. Bonny Blue Flag

    Bonny Blue Flag 1st Lieutenant

    Jun 21, 2008
    Arlington, Texas
  5. Hannah

    Hannah 2nd Lieutenant

    Apr 29, 2011
    Interesting stuff! I've heard of the unknown female prisoner.

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