On May 31, 1865, having received news that General E. Kirby Smith had surrendered all Confederate forces in the trans-Mississippi, General John Bell Hood entered Natchez, Mississippi, surrendering to Major General J. W. Davidson of the U. S. Army. Hood and his party, traveling to Texas to attempt to raise a 25,000-man army to continue the war, thus became the last of the leading Confederate generals to surrender. Receiving his parole, he proceeded to Texas, via New Orleans. In late June of 1865 he visited Houston and proceeded to San Antonio, where he resided until October. In October he traveled to Washington, D. C. in an attempt to visit Jefferson Davis, and to inquire into the status of his parole. In December he visited his mother in Mt. Sterling, and returned to New Orleans in January of 1866.
Although he intended to settle in his previously adopted home state of Texas, Hood found that New Orleans offered more opportunities for post-war security, that city having been spared much of the destruction of the war. He had borrowed $10,000 from friends in Kentucky, and would begin his new life in New Orleans.
New Orleans became the post-war home to many ex-Confederate generals. Among them were, in addition to Hood, James Longstreet, P. G. T. Beauregard, Jubal Early, fellow Kentuckian Simon Buckner and "Fighting" Joe Wheeler. Hood, with business associates John C. Barelli and Fred N. Thayer, in February 1866 established "J. B. Hood and Co., Cotton Factors and Commission Merchants." Hood had been offered funds from a statewide fund raising appeal in Texas, but declined when he decided to reside in New Orleans.
On April 30, 1868, with Simon Buckner as his best man, Hood married Anna Marie Hennen. She was the daughter of a prominent New Orleans attorney, Duncan N. Hennen, and granddaughter of Alfred Hennen, a Justice on the Louisiana Supreme Court. She was described as beautiful, charming, and had been educated in Paris, France.
Hood's cotton brokerage business initially struggled, and in early 1869, at the invitation of Longstreet, Hood took over the operation of his former commander's struggling insurance business. During the period from 1870 through 1878, it appeared Hood prospered in the insurance and cotton businesses, and various other enterprises. He purchased and resided in a spacious house in the upscale Garden District with his wife, her recently widowed mother, and their growing number of children. The elegant house still stands (May 2001) at the corner of Camp and Third Streets, occupied by the Stevenson family.
During his post war years, Gen. Hood traveled extensively and was a frequent speaker at gatherings of Confederate veterans. One "Oration" by Gen. Hood was to the Survivors Association of the State of South Carolina in Charleston on Dec. 12, 1875. The General spoke on a wide variety of military, politcial and social issues. A transcript of his Oration can be read here.
Hood and his wife had eleven children in ten years, including three sets of twins. Their first daughter Lydia was born in 1869, the next year twins Annabel and Ethel. In 1871 John Bell, Jr. was born, followed by Duncan in 1873. Twins Marion and Lillian were born in 1874, and then, remarkably, another set of twins, Odile and Ida, in 1876. The tenth child, Oswald, was born in 1878, and finally Anna, in 1879.
In 1878, calamity struck the Hood family, along with many others in New Orleans.
A yellow fever epidemic ravaged the city during the summer and resulted in the deaths of more than 3,000 people. New Orleans was virtually isolated, and the Cotton Exchange closed. All but two insurance companies in the city went bankrupt. During the winter and spring of 1878-1879 Hood was wiped out financially. He was forced to allow his personal insurance policies to lapse, and he mortgaged his house to its fullest value.
During the summer of 1878 Hood, as did most wealthy citizens, moved his family from the city. Spending the dangerous months at the Hennen family retreat near Hammond, Louisiana, they had been spared the terror of the epidemic. However, finances would not allow the family to move out of the city during the summer of 1879. During the entire year of 1879 there were only six confirmed deaths due to yellow fever in New Orleans. Unfortunately, three would occur in the Hood home.
One month after the birth of their eleventh child, Mrs. Hood was stricken with the fever. After initially appearing to have recovered from the affliction, she became ill after bathing, relapsed and died on Sunday, August 24, 1879. Completely devastated by the loss of his wife, struggling physically from his crippling war wounds, and under the stress of financial ruin and its impact on the security of his eleven young children, Hood contracted yellow fever on Thursday, August 27th. His eldest daughter Lydia fell victim on the same day. At noon on Saturday, August 29th, Lydia died, and the following day John Bell Hood died.
He was buried the next morning at Lafayette Cemetery in the Garden District of New Orleans. A few years later his body, along with his wife and daughter's, was moved to the Hennen family crypt in Metairie Cemetery in New Orleans.
Anna Marie Hood's elderly mother survived, but was in poor health, and would die the following year. With no means of support, the ten surviving orphans were adopted by the following families:
- Annabel and Ethel - Mr. and Mrs. John Morris, New Orleans
- John Bell, Jr. - Mr. and Mrs. James Russell, Jonestown, Mississippi
- Duncan - Miss Clementina Furniss, New York City
- Marion and Lillian - Mr. and Mrs. Thatcher Adams, New York City
- Odile and Ida - Mr. and Mrs. George T. McGehee, Woodville, Mississippi
- Oswald - Mr. and Mrs. Charles H. Harney, Lexington, Kentucky
- Anna - Mr. and Mrs. Moses E. Joseph, Columbus, Georgia
*** Oswald's adoptive family is incorrectly identified as "Harvey" in virtually every Hood biography. He was adopted by Mr. and Mrs. Charles Harrison Harney. Likewise, Marion and Lillian's adoptive parents are incorrectly identified as Mr. and Mrs. Thatcher McAdams in all biographies, when the correct name is Mr. and Mrs. Thatcher Adams. This information is per Mrs. Mary Hood (Harney) Pearlman, of Asheville NC, and James Bagg of Galveston, Texas, great-grandchildren of General Hood.
A charity fund was soon established that would ultimately raise over $30,000 for the support and education of the orphans. Anna would die in infancy and the surviving nine children would receive their shares of the fund at the age of 21.