2012-05-31 / Local & State

Burial Of Civil War Officer United Pittsburgh



PITTSBURGH (AP) – Capt. Jacob Brunn was leading troops he recruited in Pittsburgh into the Battle of Williamsburg on May 5, 1862, when he died fighting Confederate forces.

Within minutes, Brunn’s first lieutenant, Martin V. Miller, was killed and his second lieutenant, Joseph F. Dennison, severely wounded. Southern forces took a dozen men as prisoners.

Brunn, a Jewish salesman, was the first officer from Pittsburgh to die in the Civil War, according to newspaper accounts. He was buried in Reserve 150 years ago today.

His death in Virginia brought the war home to Pittsburgh, said Andy Masich, chairman of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission and CEO of Heinz History Center in the Strip District.

This was their first battle casualty. ... The entire city turned out for the funeral,’’ he said. “The city put religious and political differences aside to honor the man who was first to fall.’’

Civil War buffs who visit Troy Hill Cemetery often overlook Brunn’s grave. The flat, bronze marker reads “Capt. Jacob Brunn’’ and has an incorrect date of death, a mistake that might have occurred when the original marker was replaced some years ago, said Steve Miller, caretaker at the cemetery.

Dave Dickson and his wife, Marlene, were surprised to learn the small plot of graves near their home includes such a luminary.

That won’t happen again, said Ed Ambrose, commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7090 in Troy Hill.

Brunn’s grave was among 1,500 that received flags and holders from VFW members last weekend.

Brunn died in “a short but intense battle,’’ said Michael Kraus, curator at Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum in Oakland. Because the month of his birth is uncertain, he died at age 33 or 34.

“A well-educated, well-respected member of the community,’’ said Masich, Brunn volunteered April 20, 1861, barely a week after the first shots were fired at Fort Sumter, S.C. His “Friend Rifles’’ company was attached to the 70th New York Volunteer Infantry because the Pennsylvania units near Pittsburgh filled up so fast.

Before the war, Brunn was a salesman and an interpreter for the Allegheny County courts. It’s not known when he came to America, said Martha Berg, archivist at Rodef Shalom Congregation, who researched Brunn’s life in Pittsburgh. A native of what was then Prussia, a German kingdom, he learned several languages during seven years in the Prussian Army.

He was not a member of Bes Almon Burial Society, which owned Troy Hill Cemetery, so officials posthumously awarded him honorary membership and paid his funeral expenses.

Brunn’s soldiers captured at Williamsburg were released in time to be pallbearers. His widow, Lydia, died in 1910 but isn’t buried beside him.

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