Monday, August 27, 2012

Military Monday: Pvt. James Alexander Grunden

Pvt. James A. Grunden 1841-1906
James A. Grunden was the son of Joseph and Martha (Dungan) Grunden. He was the brother of my maternal great, great grandmother, Mary Louisa (Grunden) Newby. This photo was in our collection as an "unknown" for many, many years, until I accidentally met my cousin Frances, James's great granddaughter. To my amazement, Frances had a duplicate of this same photo! This discovery was one of the most startling cases of serendipity in my early days of genealogy.

James was a private in Co. B. of the19th Indiana Infantry and a part of the famous "Iron Brigade". His outfit went through the worst: Gettysburg, Antietam, and many other big battles.The Iron Brigade suffered the highest number of battle deaths during the war. 115 men made up Co. B. when they left Richmond, Indiana in 1861 and only 10 of those men returned in 1865. James was one who returned.

James can probably attribute his survival to an accident that happened early in his service. One night while standing guard, his musket accidentally discharged, blowing off the forefinger of his right hand. This wound would prevent him from ever using a musket, so when he returned he was assigned to driving an ambulance. James drove the ambulance for nearly four years.

Some of James's story is told in On Many A Bloody Field: Four Years In The Iron Brigade by Alan D. Gaff. There is another photo of him in uniform on page 364 that was donated to the author by my cousin Frances. Frances had a large oil painting done from that photo which is now proudly displayed in her home.


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