Portrait of James G. Blunt

On January 22, 1863, the U.S. Senate confirmed James G. Blunt’s promotion to the rank of major general in the volunteer army, effective November 29, 1862. [Library of Congress]

James Gillpatrick Blunt - Facts

July 21, 1826–July 27, 1881

Key facts about Major General James G. Blunt, a prominent Union officer who served in the Trans-Mississippi Theater of the American Civil War.

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Birth Date:

  • July 21, 1826

Birth Location:

  • Trenton, Maine

Parents:

  • John and Sally Gillpatrick Blunt

Education:

  • Ellsworth Military Academy (?)

Occupation:

  • Physician
  • Lawyer
  • Army officer

Career Summary:

  • Major General U.S. Volunteer Army
  • Commander of the Army of Kansas,
  • Commander Army of the Frontier
  • Commander District of the Frontier
  • Commander District of Upper Arkansas
  • Commander District of Southern Kansas

Spouse:

  • Nancy Carson (Putman) Blunt

Place of Death:

  • Washington, D.C.

Date of Death:

  • July 27, 1881

Place of Burial:

  • Mount Muncie Cemetery, Leavenworth, Kansas

Significance:

  • Although the records are not certain, James G. Blunt may have attended the Ellsworth Military Academy, where he may have been exposed to some martial training that served him well during the Civil War.
  • At age fourteen, James G. Blunt left the family farm and went to sea as a crew member on a merchant marine ship.
  • In 1845. James G. Blunt abandoned life on the ocean and immigrated to Columbus, Ohio, to attend Starling Medical College where his uncle, Dr. Rufus Gillpatrick, was an instructor.
  • In 1849, James G. Blunt graduated from medical school and moved to New Madison, Ohio, to practice medicine.
  • While residing in New Madison, Ohio, James G. Blunt became an active member of the fledgling Republican Party.
  • On January 15, 1850, James G. Blunt married fourteen-year-old Nancy Carson Putman, the daughter of a locally prominent citizen. Their marriage produced two children: Sadie, born in 1851, and Rufus, born in 1865.
  • In 1856, James G. Blunt moved to Anderson County, Kansas, where his uncle Rufus had moved a few years earlier.
  • In the late 1850s, James G. Blunt joined a militia force in Kansas that included noted abolitionists Jim Lane and John Brown.
  • In 1859, James G. Blunt served as a representative to the constitutional convention that drafted the Wyandotte Constitution under which Kansas was admitted to the Union as a free state on January 29, 1861.
  • On July 24, 1861, James G. Blunt was mustered into volunteer service as a lieutenant colonel of the Third Kansas Volunteer Infantry Regiment.
  • James G. Blunt was promoted to brigadier general in the volunteer army on April 18, 1862.
  • James G. Blunt assumed command of the Department of Kansas on May 5, 1862.
  • Rebel insurgents routed James G. Blunt’s Army of Kansas at the First Battle of Newtonia on September 30, 1862.
  • On October 12, 1862, James G. Blunt’s Army of Kansas became one of three divisions of Brigadier General John M. Schofield’s Army of the Frontier.
  • On November 20, 1862, due to illness, Brigadier General John M. Schofield temporarily turned over command of the Army of the Frontier to James G. Blunt.
  • James G. Blunt’s soldiers successfully scattered the Rebel forces at the Battle of Cane Hill (Arkansas) on November 28, 1862.
  • On December 7, 1862, James G. Blunt led the Army of the Frontier to victory at the Battle of Prairie Grove (Arkansas).
  • On December 28, 1862, James G. Blunt led the Army of the Frontier to victory at the Battle of Van Buren (Arkansas), solidifying Federal control of Northwest Arkansas.
  • On January 22, 1863, the U.S. Senate confirmed James G. Blunt’s promotion to the rank of major general in the volunteer army, effective November 29, 1862.
  • On June 9, 1863, John M. Schofield issued General Orders, No. 48 (Department of the Missouri) appointing James G. Blunt to command the District of the Frontier.
  • On July 17, 1863, James G. Blunt’s forces from the District of the Frontier defeated Brigadier General Douglas H. Cooper’s Confederate troops at the Battle of Honey Springs (also known as the Affair at Elk Creek).
  • On September 1, 1861, James G. Blunt’s troops occupied Fort Smith, Arkansas, the former Union outpost (which had been in Confederate control since April 23, 1861) without firing a shot.
  • On October 6, 1863, a band of about 400-500 Confederate guerillas led by William Quantrill, murdered about 80 men accompanying a wagon train led by James G. Blunt near Baxter Springs, Kansas.
  • On October 19, 1863, Major General John M. Schofield issued General Orders, No. 118, (Department of the Missouri) relieving Blunt of command of the District of the Frontier.
  • Secretary of War Edwin Stanton reinstated James G. Blunt as commander of the District of the Frontier on March 12, 1864.
  • Secretary of War Edwin Stanton telegraphed James G. Blunt on April 18, 1864, to inform Blunt that he was once again being relieved of command of the District of the Frontier and to report to Leavenworth, Kansas.
  • On August 2, 1864, Samuel R. Curtis selected James G. Blunt to command the District of Upper Arkansas.
  • In October 1864, Samuel R. Curtis placed James G. Blunt in command of the 1st Division of the Army of the Border.
  • On October 10, 1864, Samuel R. Curtis issued special orders naming James G. Blunt as commander of the District of Southern Kansas.
  • James G. Blunt’s division of the Army of the Border successfully fought delaying actions against Confederate General Sterling Price’s army at the Second Battle of Lexington, Missouri (October 19, 1864), the Battle of Little Blue River (October 21, 1864), and the Battle of Byram’s Ford (October 22–23, 1864).
  • On October 23, 1864, James G. Blunt’s division of the Army of the Border took part in the Union victory at the Battle of Westport.
  • James G. Blunt’s division of the Army of the Border defeated Confederate General Sterling Price’s army at the Second Battle of Newtonia (October 28, 1864).
  • On July 29, 1865, James G. Blunt mustered out of volunteer service.
  • Following the Civil War, James G. Blunt resumed his medical practice in Leavenworth, Kansas.
  • During the late 1860s, James G. Blunt was admitted to the Kansas bar.
  • In 1869, James G. Blunt moved to Washington, D.C., to practice law.
  • In 1879, at the age of fifty-three, James G. Blunt was committed to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital for the Insane, in Washington, D.C.
  • James G. Blunt died at the age of fifty-five on July 27, 1881, at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital for the Insane, in Washington, D.C., from what doctors described as “softening of the brain.”
  • James G. Blunt was buried at Mount Muncie Cemetery, Leavenworth, Kansas.
  • James G. Blunt’s wife, Nancy, died thirty-two years later and was laid to rest next to the general in 1913.
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Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title James Gillpatrick Blunt - Facts
  • Coverage July 21, 1826–July 27, 1881
  • Author
  • Keywords James G. Blunt
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date July 31, 2021
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update April 28, 2021
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