James G. Blunt – Abolitionist and Union Officer

James G. Blunt

James G. Blunt

James G. Blunt was a physician and abolitionist who became a Union Major General during the Civil War.

He was born in Hancock County, Maine, on July 21, 1826, and lived on his father’s farm until he was 14. His restless disposition led him to run away from home, and for the next four years, he worked as a sailor on the high seas, visiting ports in many parts of the world. In 1845, he gave up the sea to study medicine, and on February 20, 1849, he graduated from the Sterling Medical College in Columbus, Ohio.

The following January, he moved to New Madison, Ohio, where he practiced his profession until late in 1856. He then moved to Kansas, settling in Anderson County. He quickly became an ardent Free State supporter. When the Civil War broke out in 1861, he enlisted as a private in the Third Kansas Regiment, subsequently being promoted to lieutenant colonel. He served under General Lane at the Battle of Dry Wood Creek, Missouri. Then, he commanded a force that penetrated far into the Indian Territory and broke up a notorious band of rebels, killing the leader. In April 1862, he was commissioned a brigadier-general and placed in command of the Department of Kansas.

At once, he began active operations in Missouri and Arkansas, distinguishing himself for bravery and military skill in the battles of Cane Hill, Prairie Grove, Boston Mountains, Fort Van Buren, Honey Springs, and Newtonia. After the war, he settled in Leavenworth and engaged in business, spending much of his time in Washington, D.C.

In about 1878, symptoms of softening of the brain appeared, and he was taken to an insane asylum in Washington, D.C., where he died on July 27, 1881. The 55-year-old hero was buried at the Mount Muncie Cemetery in Leavenworth County, Kansas.

Compiled and edited by Kathy Alexander/Legends of Kansas, updated September 2023.

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Blackmar, Frank W.; Kansas: A Cyclopedia of State History, Vol I; Standard Publishing Company, Chicago, IL 1912.