Friday, May 29, 2009

Clara Judd, Civil War Spy?

U. S. MILITARY PRISON, Alton, Ill., May 11, 1863.

Statement of Mrs. Clara Judd, who has been a prisoner in Alton Military Prison over three months as a spy.

She denies being guilty. Her health is failing very fast (having been in feeble health for several years) from confinement. She wishes to be paroled and go to her parents and little children who are living in Minnesota. She makes a statement here how she came in the south and how she came to be arrested.

"I am the widow of the Rev. B. S. Judd and a native of the State of New York. My parents live in Minnesota where I also resided with my husband seven years prior to going South. We moved to Winchester in November, 1859, on account of my health and on account of there being a chance of educating our children and board them at home and keep them under home influences. We had eight children. Six of them were going to school in 1861, when my husband went to Nashville on business and while there he went to view some statuary at the capitol; accidentally stepped off the parterre and was injured so that he died in just four weeks, leaving me with seven children (one having died in the fall) without money, with a great deal of unfinished business and not a relative or Northern person that I ever saw two years before. My friends in the North wrote to have me come home, but I had taken out letters of administration and had no means and the blockade soon closed all communication.

I struggled on with my children's help who went to work at anything they could get to do until Christmas, 1862. I was censured very much because I did not put my oldest children, being boys, into the army. I could not think it my duty to let them go on either side my health being so poor and I liable to die at any time with heart disease. I thought they ought to preserve their lives to take care of those younger. At Christmas I put two of them into a Government factory to keep them from being conscripted. The factory was removed to Atlanta, Ga., in May. I was here and in the meantime I had sent the next oldest into the same business. I could not hear from them or from the North and I had no means to support my four remaining children but what I could to myself. Winchester was taken possession of five different times by the Federals. I always treated them as brothers; had a house full every time they were there. (I never had a Confederate soldier in my house.) The 1st of August Thomas took possession of the town. Among his troops I had many acquaintances who told me they were going to destroy all of the crops except enough to last six weeks. They advised me to get my little children to my parents in the North. I could not stay to dispose of anything.

I had three cows and seven acres of crops and my household goods and husband's library. I got a protection from provost-marshal for my things and a little boy twelve years old; borrowed money and took my three youngest children out on the second train through from Decherd to Nashville. I was to be gone four weeks. I arrived in Minnesota on the 11th of August. Three days after I got there I had to take my children and flee from the Indians, which detained me three or four weeks instead of two. I then started with money enough as I supposed to take me to Nashville. I intended to go back and dispose of my effects if possible and get my boys out and go to Nevada Territory for two years. I had made arrangements for my sister to take care of my little children for three years, but when I arrived at Louisville they were expecting an attack from Bragg.

"I went to New Albany and was taken sick; was there six weeks. I after incredible trouble succeeded in hiring some money to pay my expenses and take me to Nashville where I was acquainted with the clergy and would get help there. I started but could not get my trunks through farther than Mitchellville. I was very deficient in clothing myself. I thought I would go to [Louisville] and get me some funds and come back to New Albany and pay the borrowed money and get a few clothes for myself and a hand knitting-machine which I had been talking of getting for several years. I accordingly did so. Told the offices at Nashville my whole business and tried to get a pass to go and come back, but could not get one to come back. When I got to Winchester I found everything destroyed except my husband's library and the son I left gone to the same business the others were at and that I could not get my sons out. When I left I supposed Buell would keep the country. I came back and was detained at Murfreesborough three days in trying to get a pass.

When I got one I could not get any conveyance but walked eleven miles after 10 o'clock, the last three miles in my stocking feet, having blistered my feet the first three miles. I got a carriage at La Vergne to take me to where the flag officers were, as there was a flag that day. Just before I got there came a carriage from Murfreesborough bringing a gentleman who was said to be a prisoner of the South. The Federal officers would not let me through until they had been to headquarters. I wrote a statement to Rosecrans. While waiting there the person from Murfreesborough commenced questioning me. He told me he was from Connecticut. My husband and parents were from there. We soon seemed like old acquaintances. He wished to know where I stopped in Nashville. I told. Said he stopped there, and then said he would see Rosecrans about my pass; said he thought he had more power there than Colonel Hepburn. The second day after this the flag officer came out; told me that I could go, but would have to go under guard. I told them I would; I was perfectly willing. I had nothing but some open letters-those I sent to Rosecrans. I walked almost seven miles, my guard mounted.

After giving a statement to headquarters of everything I saw while in the South I went to the same hotel where Mr. Forsythe (that is the name of the prisoner from Murfreesborough) put up. He was not there and the house was full. I went to a private house where I was slightly acquainted. The next morning I went to the provost-marshal's office and got a pass to go to Louisville. I found there was a battle near and that I would either stop in New Albany or go to a god-son's in Illinois and wait until times were settled after the battle, but when the clerk gave me my pass he said I could not go. The next day I wanted to go to Mitchellville on account of getting some clothes. I accordingly sent a note to Mr. Forsythe asking him to call wishing to have him provide me with a private conveyance to Mitchelville, he having informed me while out with the flag that he had been a merchant in Nashville for some time before he went to Murfreesborough.

When he called he said he was going to Louisville the next day but one; wanted to see my pass. I finally told him my hurry to get through was mainly because I had heard about what time Morgan would interrupt that road and that I feared I would be left South which would trouble me very much on account of paying the money I had borrowed by a certain time, as the people had placed confidence in me. He said he was very glad I had told him as he had $30,000 worth of goods on the road or about to start, but wanted to know why I did to come back. I told him that at that time I feared come back told me before he was a widower; said he would like to become better acquainted with me; said Rosecrans had given him a pass to take my pass and have it changed to come back to Gallatin, where I could get to Murfreesborough after awhile. He went to headquarters and came back with the pass changed but laughed about the wording of it. He sid he would go with me in the morning and would be happy to render my any assistance I might need, and would introduce me to a merchant where I could get my things at wholesale.

"After we started in the morning I asked him how he came to have so much influence with Rosecrans. Said they were old neighbors, but after a little told me he was a Southern man as strong as any dared to be. I found I was in a close place. I could turn neither way, for the conductor would not wait for me to take my trunk aboard at Mitchellville, so that I could leave him in Louisville. He finally after we got there told me not to get anything contraband, but I told him there was nothing contraband while in the United States, and if I stopped finally urged me to buy. I told him I had no means; he offered me some money but I refused it. He then urged me to take the money I had brought to pay the debt I had contracted in New Albany. I was in debt in Winchester and thought if I had money it was a great temptation to buy and to stop in Gallatain and if Morgan took that part of the country it would help me out of debt but I did not yield at first.

I went to New Albany and found the lawyer gone from home. Forsythe went with me when he found now things were. He told the gentleman in the office that I had to sacrifice a great deal of my money so that I had not got the clothing I needed and that he would vouch that I would send the money back in two or three weeks through his name to Cahill and Hues, Louisville, and gave his name and theirs in writing. Then as soon as we were in the street told me to buy drugs, and he would send me whatever I wanted in the drug line, and as soon as I could get to Atlanta he would visit me and set me up in a commission store. I supposed it was all understood between him and Rosecrans.

I need not worry about it when I bought my drugs. I traded where I had bought 50 cents worth of goods while I was boarding in town. He did not stop in the store when I traded; I wondered at it. We did not get back to Louisville till 12 at night on Saturday; the ferry-boat detained us. I had agreed to receive my knitting-machine at 7 o'clock that night; I could not get it on Sunday. On Sunday evening he told me he had got a pass to go from Boyle, but he telegraphed to Nashville to see if it was all right; seemed very much elated. I ought to have mentioned before that my drugs were brought from New Albany in a carpet bag. He carried it for me and some little bundles besides. While I lighted the gas he set my things into my room and bid me was not in my room. I called the landlord. He said the guard found it standing on the out door step. I told him he did not for there was a light in the hall; Forsythe preceded me upstairs and that he set it down by my door while I was unlocking it, and that after he bid me good night I looked to see if there was anything left but there was nothing there. The landlord said [he] had it put in the office. The facts were when he bid me good night he took the satchel to the office; had it examined (the key was in it); then telegraphed to Nashville. When to Gallatin without molestation forthwith. My trunk was not opened. I told him on Sunday night I had to stay until Tuesday night on account of my knitting-machine. He said I must go with him and he would leave a line to have it expressed on the next train but I took a carriage and got it before the cars started. The officers from Nashville met us at Bowling Green and arrested me at Mitchellville, fifty miles this side of Gallatin; took me to Nashville where they confiscated everything.

"I was arrested on Monday before Christmas and have never known what evidence there was against me nor on what footing I was here until to-day. He has sworn falsely and misrepresented other things then said jocosely. The officer told me at Nashville that the fact of Gallating being attacked the very night I would have got there made it look like a preconcerted plan, but it was a feint of some of his men while like a preconcerted plan, but it was a feint of some of his men while he attacked Elizabethtown, but I knew nothing whatever more than what I had learned by Morgan's adjutant two weeks before, and I had been delayed and so had he by the Hartsville fight, and it was purely accidental my starting that day. I never spoke with Morgan nor any other officer of the Confederacy higher than a lieutenant-colonel and then only about my pass. Perhaps I ought to except General Polk. He is an old acquaintance, but politics were never mentioned. I never had anything to do with political affairs, neither do I wish to have.

"I am perfectly willing to make oath that this is as near the truth as I can get it from memory.


Nashville, January 13, 1863.
Provost-Marshal-General, Fourteenth Army Corps.

SIR: The following is the substance of the testimony elicited in the case of Mrs. Clara Judd, arrested by the army police on charge of attempting to carry through the lines articles contraband of war such as quinine, morphine, nitrate of silver, besides other goods, and one knitting-machine carried as a pattern, which articles, were found and have been purchased by her and brought within these army lines upon a pass obtained under false pretenses.

Mrs. Judd is the widow of an Episcopal clergyman who resides in Winchester, Tenn. He died some two years since leaving a large family of some seven children. Mrs. Judd passed through our lines with permission to take her three youngest children to Minnesota, from whence the family originally came. She took them, leaving them with a sister, she herself returning and passing through our lines to the rebel army. One of her oldest boys had found employment in the rebel establishment at Atlanta, Ga. During her absence her premises were seized on by the Confederates and her children remaining were taken by this young man to Atlanta. In the autumn of 1862 she returned to Winchester, went thence to Atlanta claims to have received some $500 Southern funds of her son, which she exchanged for money current in the North. She also received funds from persons who desired her to purchase articles from the North for them. Having thus provided herself she came through our lines and was, under her representations that she wished to go to her children in Minnesota, granted a pass North. She states that from conversation of officers of the Confederate service whom she met on the cars going from Atlanta to Murfreesborough she learned I was the intention of John Morgan to strike at our railroad communications near Gallating at a certain time.

She found a traveling companion in the person of a Mr. Forsythe northward. She went as far as Louisville and Jeffersonville or New Albany, procuring the goods specified, returned on a pass to Gallatin. She states that her intention was to stop at Gallatin and set up the knitting-machine and manufacture stockings, &c., for a living, her object in doing so being that she would be near her children in Atlanta; that her living would be cheaper than in Nashville; that she supposed it would be lawful for her to hold her goods in expectation that the enemy would occupy the country and that she would then fall into their lines. It appears that she was tolerably well informed because about the time she expected it Morgan did make an attempt on Gallatin and shortly after broke the road above there.

It is respectfully submitted that she is a dangerous person to remain in these lines; that she is probably a spy as well as smuggler; that cases of this kind being of frequent occurrence by females examples should be made, and that as there is at present no proper tribunal for her especial trial or proper place of imprisonment at Nashville, she be committed to the military prison at Alton in the State of Illinois, for trial. It is well to state further that Mrs. Judd represents her son at Atlanta to be a very ingenious mechanic and that it was her intention to furnish him with the knitting-machine for the purpose of manufacturing others from it taken as a pattern.

Very respectfully,

Colonel Third Infantry, Commissary-General of Prisoners.

MILITARY PRISON, Alton, Ill., May 15, 1863.

Colonel W. HOFFMAN, Commissary-General of Prisoners, Washington, D. C.:

COLONEL; I have the honor to forward herewith an application* of the female prisoner, Mrs. Clara Judd, now in confinement in this prison, for a parole to go to her friends in the State of Minnesota. She desires this indulgence on account of her health which for some time past has not been very good. The parole is recommended by her attending physician, Assistant Surgeon Wall, of the Seventy-seventh Ohio Volunteers, the prison physician. I inclose also a copy of the charges against Mrs. Judd. From what I have seen of Mrs. Judd since she has been under my control I am inclined to think if she were permitted to go to Minnesota she would probably remain there and give no further trouble during the war.

I have the honor to be, sir, with much respect, your most obedient servant,


Major Third Infantry, Commanding the Prison.


Major T. HENDRICKSON, Third Infantry, U. S. Army, and Prison Commandant.

MAJOR: I beg leave to respectfully represent to you that the condition of Mrs. Judd's health (a prisoner of war confined in the above-named prison) is such that in my opinion she had better be paroled outside the prison walls. The utter impossibility of having any of her own sex to attend her in sickness makes it impossible for her medical attendants to render her that assistance they could under other circumstances.

Respectfully, yours,


Surgeon in Charge Military Prison Hospital.

Commissary-General of Prisoners.

ALTON MILITARY PRISON, Alton, Ill., February 16, 1863.

Colonel W. HOFFMAN, Commissary-General of Prisoners.

COLONEL: On the night of the 23rd of January last a Mrs. Clara Judd, a female prisoner, was brought to this prison in company with several male prisoners, all of whom were easily provided for except the female. I did not know what to do with her as there were no rooms about the building where cooking could be done without a great expense, as I myself with several other officers am boarding at these headquarter buildings and have her boarded at $2 per week. But I do not feel justified to continue such board without General Rosecrans. She has never had any trial but is held in this prison as a spy. Please let me know what I shall do in regard to her board. She resides near Winchester, Tenn.

I ask what can be done for prisoners of war who do not want to be exchanged and return to the reel army and rebel service but say they would positively rather be hung than return to such army and service and continue in such a war? These prisoners are nearly all Union men in feeling and some are anxious to join our ranks. Please instruct me in regard to this class of prisoners.

Colonel F. A. Dick, provost-marshal general at Saint Louis, Mo., has in some instances released prisoners of war other than those he sent to this prison, which by a letter of instructions previously [sent] to him and myself from you allowed him to release those only that he may have sent here. I call your attention to this but feel confident that Colonel Dick does not intend to assume power and improperly exercise it. A word from you on that subject is sufficient. All such prisoners as come under General Orders, Numbers 193, with your instructions added, are released by me as fast as we can satisfy ourselves as to the fact of their or they being entitled to such release. Please answer my three inquiries for instructions and oblige.

Very respectfully submitted.


Colonel, Commanding Post.

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