A Baby Born in Hell


FIRST OF ALL, leave a comment to get your name in a drawing for a signed copy of TRIED AND TRUE, and if I mail it fast, you’ll get it before it releases!

I do a lot of research for my books, as all authors do. And I start reading and find something fascinating and there’s a link to click to learn more, then I read that and there’s a sub-topic that sounds interesting with a link, so I click that….and on and on and on.

Research can suck up a LOT of time. But man oh man is it ever fun.

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And once in a while I read something that gives me CHILLS.

When I do that, I know I’m onto something that if I twist it around, just so, it could make a book.

Such was my reaction when researching Andersonville Prison because Seth Kincaid spent time there.

I found this woman who’d had a BABY in Andersonville prison.

No one knew there was a woman in there (further research has revealed three women)

To make it even better I found a first person account of the baby written by a guard. The way he describes it is truly chilling.

The guard hearing something he absolutely knows cannot be. The sound of that baby crying.

Seeing with his own eyes the closest thing he can imagine to a miracle in that pit of death and suffering. A baby. A woman. Life in the midst of death.

FiredUp - CoverSo I mentioned that baby’s birth in Fired Up, in which I had my hero Dare help with the birth.

I write a more detailed account of that story in a free novella on my blog Closer Than Brothers.

And I had Dare be affected by it much as that guard said he was.

But beyond that book I started reading up on women who’d disguised themselves as men. There were 700 women who fought in the war disguised as men…that are known. I can only imagine how many names were never known. And many of those 700 names were revealed in diaries discovered after the women’s deaths, sometimes years, even decades after the war, because to be surrounded by men like that was so improper it was unthinkable—a secret a woman took to her grave.

This inspired my new series Wild at Heart

And book one of that series Tried and True is releasing in about two weeks. In fact, I’m not sure, but I think it’s shipping from Amazon. I know they let someone put up a review. Doesn’t that mean it’s shipping?

Back to my point….I’ve written about some of these women disguised as men before in P & P https://petticoatsandpistols.com/2012/09/13/women-in-combat-as-men/

I mentioned the baby once very briefly here : https://petticoatsandpistols.com/2013/01/17/trouble-in-texasa-new-series-begins/

And here’s a detailed account (thought I’ve heard several slightly different versions) if you want to read more. This article is called: A Baby Born in Hell


But the highlights of the baby are these

Mother—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. Their ship was confiscated and forced to North where it was seized by Confederate troops. The passengers and crew were all taken into custody. The wedding guests were released and allowed to return home—all but her husband, an officer in the Union army. Janie refused to leave his side.

The newlywed couple were held in custody until February 1864—and it is believed they were treated humanely and still hoped to return home. It was during this time that Janie conceived her child. Then Captain Hunt was sent to Andersonville. Janie disguised herself as a man. It is believed she did this with the permission of her guards but they didn’t reveal that she was a woman to the people in Andersonville. She accompanied Captain Hunt to prison.

She was four months pregnant when she arrived in hell—Andersonville.

Mary Connealy
Mary Connealy

Janie gave birth and kept the baby, Harry Jr. hidden for four days before someone realized they heard a baby crying.

Janie and Little Harry were removed from the prison and sent to live nearby. One account said she lived in a tent near the prison yard. Another said she boarded on a farm. One version said they tried to send Janie and the baby home but Janie still refused to leave her husband.

Captain Hunt was allowed to work in the camp hospital, a much safer place than in the general population and it’s believe this was at least in some part responsible for the fact he survived when so many did not. So his stubbornly loyal wife and that miracle baby helped to save him. The whole family was reunited and returned home after the war.

No further record of that baby is known…which is odd because Janie and her husband were well known people. It is possible that the baby was never told where he’d been born to shelter him from the ugliness of Andersonville.

What’s your reaction? Do you get chills? Is that an author thing? Can you believe a woman could live disguised as a man in the midst of hundreds of men, sleeping side by side in tents and in the open and not be found out?

I get into all of that in Tried and True and I have a lot of fun confounding a very confused hero who thinks anyone who does realize that Kylie Wild is a woman, ten seconds after meeting her, is a fool

Leave a comment to get your name in the drawing for a signed copy of Tried and True.


Tried and True

Kylie Wilde is the youngest sister–and the most civilized. Her older sisters might be happy dressing in trousers and posing as men, but Kylie has grown her hair long and wears skirts every chance she gets. It’s a risk–they are homesteading using the special exemptions they earned serving in the Civil War as “boys”–but Kylie plans to make the most of the years before she can sell her property and return to the luxuries of life back East.

Local land agent Aaron Masterson is fascinated with Kylie from the moment her long hair falls from her cap. But now that he knows her secret, can he in good conscience defraud the U.S. government? And when someone tries to force Kylie off her land, does he have any hope of convincing her that marrying him and settling on the frontier is the better option for her future?

“Another great laugh-out-loud historical romance with memorable characters who have charm, style, grace, and a bit of mischief.”
–RT Book Reviews on In Too Deep

“Connealy’s style is fast-paced and spritely and sure to keep drawing fans.”
–Publishers Weekly

“With her trademark humor, Connealy weaves a delightful tale that is sure to please her fans and win new readers.”
–Library Journal on Over the Edge

Website | + posts

Author of Romantic Comedy...with Cowboys including the bestselling Kincaid Brides Series

41 thoughts on “A Baby Born in Hell”

  1. Thank you for starting my morning with such a fascinating post. I love that history can often be as much or more interesting than fiction. And yes, I did get the chills from your post. What an amazing woman.

    I can’t wait to read Tried and True.

  2. Mary, yes it does give me chills to think that a baby was born in that terrible hell hole. The hero in an upcoming book spent time there so I did a lot of research of my own. I just can’t imagine a woman, let alone a baby, surviving in such a place. So many men didn’t. Maybe that’s why there’s no record of the child.

    Congratulations on your new book. Great cover!

  3. What an incredible tale, Mary! Talk about your research gems. That one is fabulous. I can’t wait to read Tried & True. I’ve always thought the cover was gorgeous, but now that I know a little more about the history behind the tale, I’m even more intrigued.

    What a brave woman Mrs. Hunt was. I’m so thankful she and her husband and baby all survived the horrors of Andersonville. Not exactly the honeymoon they’d planned, I’m sure. Wow!

  4. I can’t imagine how she gave birth quietly so that no one heard her in labor. I’m a total wimp. I remember my labor pains and I KNOW there would have been some yelling/screaming if not for an epidural. What a woman! Congrats on your new release!

  5. What a fascinating story! Knowing it really happened makes ir more so. I can’t wait to read the book!

  6. After seeing some of the pictures of women dressed as men, I can believe they pulled it off. But at the same time, I know from experience (having perhaps in my youth played a prank on a friend at her place of employment), that it’s really hard to disguise facial structure, especially since men tend to have wider jaws. Even with a fairly realistic fake goatee, there were some who speculated I was not a man, purely based on face shape (since I had the height and lack of curves going for me).

  7. Lis K, I think there was so much misery there maybe the moans and even screams didn’t even penetrate. I read one place that a low steady noise rose up twenty four hours a day of men suffering, like the wind, it blew over the place constantly and added to the darkness of the spirits that plagued Andersonville.

  8. Kristi, the connection is that my heroines in the Wild at Heart series all served in the war disguised as men. None of them had a baby in Andersonville. (I never thought of making them do that!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

  9. Great post. I love learning little known facts about history. I would love to win a copy of your new book.

  10. It’s incredible how much inner strength those women must have had to hold their own being disguised as men. I’m sure there is some fascinating history there. I was really surprised at the number- 700! That’s amazing. Please include me in your giveaway! Thanks!

  11. I love all your books and would love to win one especially one signed by you. Your books are a joy to read.

  12. what a great women to learn about1 they had to be so strong back then. But I got more admiration for her than chills. It took a lot of courage, faith and Love to do that! What an Inspiring story!

  13. Wow, a baby born in those conditions! Great post. It doesn’t give me “chills” but just sadness for those conditions. But maybe that is because I’m not a writer. 🙂 I don’t know that I could have pretended to be a man just to fight the war – reminds me of the movie Mulan. I’d rather stay at home and fight the battles behind the scenes – the ones that ruled the controlling parties.

  14. Mary Connealy’s books are always a good read. I look forward to each of her books-would love to have an autographed copy of her latest book!

  15. p/s second thought even in what seemed like the grimmest of circumstances the baby was to be born at that time for a reason. The Lord blessed her with a baby at that time and place maybe even to save them from dying in that jail or something worse. I love seeing the light in this story!

  16. Well that post title grabbed my attention… wow, what amazing info is out there that we do not realize… thanks for sharing! Love the book’s cover!

  17. Great post Mary, I love your books and would love to read this one. I am a pretty tough women but not sure I could have went through what these women went through.

  18. Susan Johnson, that’s the fun thing about research AND about Petticoats & Pistols. All those tidbits you find, the fascinating characters, the outlandish escapades.

    They’re so fun to explore.

  19. Cori Mrs. Hunt is definitely a factor in her husband’s survival because he got moved into a more humane place in the prison after she was found out.
    Dr. Kerr, the camp doctor, was touched by finding her and her loyalty and just the wonder of getting to see a baby and went to some lengths to protect all of them.

  20. Hi Heidi. Yes, 700 that they KNOW OF! Such a strange decision to go to war when you don’t have to, isn’t it?

    Several I read about went along with their husbands and fought by their side. Two I read of survived when their husbands didn’t.

  21. Colleen, it’s a harsh title isn’t it? It’s the name of one of the magazine articles I read about the baby and the TITLE gave me chills (maybe I just need to wear a sweater, huh?) 🙂

  22. Quilt Lady, hi. Honestly who DOES want to go through this. The three Wilde Sisters, Kylie, Shannon and Bailey, are asked by Aaron Masterson, “How does a woman survive war?”

    That shut them all up and Aaron remembered the way Bailey had cut him off. It wasn’t because she was eager to talk, it was because she wanted to talk about something else. The somber look on all their faces made Aaron regret bringing it up.
    Finally, Bailey said quietly, “My only answer to that is…how does anyone endure it? How is me being a woman any different than the man beside me. The fear is so big being a woman or man doesn’t matter. Maybe some women are weaker than some men, more easily frightened, but this isn’t a little thing, like being startled by a mouse or jumping when you see a snake. This is big. This is a monstrous kind of terror. Exploding cannons and bayonets. Severed limbs and reloading one-shot rifles while lead whizzes past your face. How much sooner would a woman run from battle than a man? All I know is, I never did.”
    “None of us did,” Shannon added.
    “I did my best to get out of it.” Kylie gave them all an impish grin. “I managed to become an aide to my commanding officer. I worked more with my head than a rifle.” The smile faded. “I didn’t avoid it all though.”

  23. Wow! What a story…. Thank you for sharing, Mary! I love the cover of Tried and True and I know it is a great book…. It has to be, you wrote it!!!!!! Thank you for the give away. I am sure keeping my fingers crossed on this one.

  24. Ick, this did give me chills, Mary. I can’t even imagine the horror. It’s worse than a medieval I read long ago when a woman had to give birth WHILE MARCHING in the first crusade…they were on a narrow mountain path and nobody could stop. Tried and True is another must-read for me! And indeed, gorgeous cover. xoxo

  25. Oh my goodness! Who would have ever thought that might have happened? Very interesting! I love researching different topics. Looking forward to reading Tried and True.

  26. Another series to look forward to. I can’t wait.

    I love research. It is really hard to resist the links on historical fiction and author blogs. As you said, one link leads to another and it is or can be a giant black hole that I crawl out of hours later. I just don’t have the time or a good excuse to do it. I have looked into women passing for men in the military and it appears to have been more common than thought. Their stories and reasons are varied and interesting. I had never heard Janie Hunt and her “visit” in Andersonville. As crowded as the prison was, it is surprising it took so long for the baby to be discovered. One would think some of the prisoners would have reported the baby and the fact there was a woman in the prison.

    Thanks for an interesting post and for writing such enjoyable books.

  27. Mary That would be awful. I agree I don’t see how someone would’t find out she was a woman for so long. And, sure don’t see how someone wouldn’t hear a baby for that long. Would love to have this book. Maxie

  28. I enjoyed this post Mary. i personally could not have passed as a man because of my breast size. Being a fat man wouldn’t have cut it. I was a tomboy and would try to do just about anything a boy would as I was growing up. I was ahead of my time wanting to play little league. I was better than some of the boys my dad helped coach. He wouldn’t let me work with them because I was better and he didn’t want to embarrass them. He taught me how to play. I was stuck being in girls softball. He helped coach us too. My dad had me knowing about and playing football too. I was his grease monkey and helper on anything he tried to fix. So I know that women can act like men. It’s just some body parts don’t work right. Smaller breasted women have a better chance at passing. Could not have done that in Andersonville though. That was too awful for the men let alone women. humans can be so inhumane to other humans it causes me to wonder how we managed to make it this far. Andersonville was not the first and unfortunately it will not be the last awful thing we do to each other. Would like to lighten things up with your book though. I enjoy reading your books because I can get some good laughs adn a few giggles from them.

  29. Mary, you really did do alot of research for this book. Wow! The women in the frontier didn’t have it easy & I can see why alot of them dressed as men, if they wanted to survive. Your books always tell us more about our yester-years. Would love to win a copy of Tried & True, signed by you. Thanks, for the contest.

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