From the Richmond Times, 1/25/1902, p. 8, c. 5
A FAMOUS SPY RETURNS HERE
Hudson, of War Fame, on a Visit to Richmond.
TRIED TO KIDNAP MR. DAVIS
Was Himself Captured and Placed in Castle Thunder, from Which He Escaped – An Interesting Character.
A big, broad shouldered man speaking a lingo that belongs only to a Kentuckian, sauntered into the State Library yesterday morning and asked to see the files of Richmond papers published during the war. Granted his request, he began carefully to peruse the publications bearing dates from January to April, 1864, until he found a copy of the Richmond Examiner of the date of April 26, 1864. His frank face brightened as he read an article, under the caption “Spy,” that told of the escape from Castle Thunder of a Federal spy, Hudson by name.
It was the same Hudson that was then reading of his own escape. After thirty-eight years the man who had last been in this city as a prisoner, charged with the blackest crime a man can commit in time of war, stood reading with proud interest the few lines that told of his escape.
But Hudson was the principal character in another war incident that was far more important to the Confederacy than his leaving, unpardoned, his cell. He was the man appointed by General Ben (“Beast”) Butler to kidnap President Davis and bring him into the Federal lines. The plan miscarried and Hudson, although captured as a spy, was not confronted with the part he took in the plot until after the war, when the secrets of both sides came to light under the protection again of a united government.
A BOLD PLAN.
The plan that Hudson was to have carried out was most audacious; it was almost impossible. The spy had gained entrance to Richmond, in the disguise of a Confederate soldier. He had studied the home and public life of the President and he knew the methodical regime of that important person’s every-day life. General Butler was informed of this knowledge that Hudson had and he was the very man to lead the dare devil expedition. Hudson was told to select his associates and he took seven men, in whom he had the uttermost confidence. They remained true.
The plan was to intercept the President and his secretary as they left the Executive Mansion at a certain time, gag them and throw them in a wagon that was to be near by and throw loose hay over the pair. Then the party with the aid of forged passes was to leave Richmond and as quickly as possible enter the Federal lines, then within eight miles of Richmond.
That reads nice in cold type, and for the Federals would have been the saving of thousands of dollars and many men. But Hudson became too reckless, and before he could carry out the orders of his commander he lost his entry through the lines around the city and was forced to flee. Nothing daunted, he made another attempt to enter the city an attempt that proved fatal to the project. By a circuitous route Hudson reached Wilmington, N. C., in disguise, and obtained passage on a train over the old Wilmington and Weldon railway to this city. While on the train he engaged in conversation with Governor Shorter, of Alabama, and his language led the executive to suspicion that Hudson was playing a false role. A secret service detective was, also, a passenger on the same train, and Governor Shorter told him of the conversation he had just had with Hudson, and it was decided to arrest the spy. He was brought to Castle Thunder, in this city.
After a short incarceration in prison, Hudson, through the treachery of a negro employee at the castle, obtained a forged pass through the Confederate lines. After many vicissitudes, he reached Mosby’s command at Front Royal, Va., was sent out as a scout, a position he desired so that he could enter the Federal lines, which he did, and later arrived in Washington. Hudson’s idea in not joining the Federal army around Richmond at the time of his escape, but to keep in the Confederate lines, was to accumulate information for his Government. He was an adept at forgery and twice signed the name of General Winder to passes admitting him to the headquarters of the Confederate commanders.
Hudson’s visit to the city this time is not without adventure, as he came near losing his grip by leaving it in the care of a dishonest saloon-keeper. The former enemy of the Confederacy left the grip at the saloon Thursday until he could secure a lodging place. He went to Zimmerman’s Hotel and after registering went back to the saloon for the grip. No one there knew of it, until the police put in an appearance, when the grip suddenly appeared.
Since the war Hudson has lived in the mountains of Kentucky, enjoying the adventurous life of a mountaineer. He maintains a mysterious silence about his present visit, but from his care in collecting war data it is ostensibly for the purpose of securing a pension, or else incorporating the adventure in a memoir. He spent the day sight-seeing and visited many points that were familiar to him during the war. None of these attracted his attention more than the Jefferson Davis Mansion, at Twelfth and Clay, where, had not providence miscarried plans, he was to enact a drama that would have made him famous.