Medal of Honor Monday - Private Bruner's Perilous Position

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Lieutenant General
Managing Member & Webmaster
Apr 1, 1999
Martinsburg, WV
Private Louis J. Bruner


Service/Branch: United States Army​
Entered Service On: Date Not Available​
Entered Service At: Clifty Brumer, Indiana​
Unit: Company H, 5th Indiana Cavalry​
Rank: Private, promoted to Quarter Master Sergeant of Company H before leaving the service.​
Discharged: Date Not Available​


Location of Action: At Walkers Ford, Tennessee​
Date of Action: December 2, 1863​
Date Award Issued: March 9, 1896​
Citation: Voluntarily passed through the enemy's lines under fire and conveyed to a battalion, then in a perilous position and liable to capture, information which enabled it to reach a point of safety.​
Additional Notes:
One on the most precarious and interesting situations in the War of the Rebellion was furnished by the investment of Knoxville, where General Burnside and his army were cooped up for a considerable time, very much to the alarm and anxiety of President Lincoln and his cabinet, as well as that of General Grant. On the other hand, Burnside confirmed his previous record as an aide soldier by maintaining his position intact, in the face of a bitter siege, conducted by General Longstreet.​
With the Chattanooga situation taken well in hand, General Grant began the campaign for the relief of General Burnside, and soon General Longstreet was forced to raise the siege in order to turn his attention to the Federal cavalry who were harassing his rear.​
This brigade consisted of the Fifth Indiana and Fourteenth Illinois Cavalry the Twenty first Ohio Battery, the Sixty fifth, One hundred and sixteenth and One hundred and eighteenth Indiana Volunteers under command of Colonel Graham. At Walker's Ford on the Clinch River December 2 1863 the Sixth Indiana Cavalry, under Colonel Thomas H Butler, was suddenly attacked at daylight many of the cavalry being still asleep. The Confederates had during the night captured the outer picket post at the gap entrance to the mountain, where the Manordsville Road leads toward Walker's Ford, and they had done this without discovery. Then just at dawn they drove in the reserve pickets, and so reached the Indiana men who occupied the elevated ground north of the Clinch River. The Confederates rested their right a few hundred yards to the southwest close to an area of timber where they had been driven by the Indiana cavalry. A hot struggle lasting five hours followed. Colonel Butler contesting stubbornly every inch of ground.​
The Confederates had just made a spirited attack on the right wing of the cavalry, driving it back when Private Louis J. Bruner, Company H, and acting orderly of Colonel Butler, was dispatched with orders to Major Mell H. Soper, to occupy some timber on the left extending to the mountain.​
Major Soper at once began executing the move when the Confederates made a spirited attack on the right wing of the cavalry, and drove it back for some distance, though they failed to break the Union lines. Then by a quick move they extended their lines to the mountains cutting off the major and his battalion. Curiously enough neither the major, nor the rebel commander realized the importance of the situation. Major Soper was ignorant of the danger from capture, the Confederates did not know that they had the Union men at bay. Colonel Butler however fully appreciated the seriousness of the situation, and at once consulted with the officers of his staff. "Soper might extricate himself by making for a small ravine in the mountain," he suggested. Just then Bruner rode up to the group of officers. Saluting the colonel, he placed himself at the latter's disposal for any service which might be required to accomplish the rescue of Major Soper. Colonel Butler accepted the offer, and without losing time Bruner rode away toward the lines of enemy hidden from their view by high banks and bushes. Presently he reached a road leading to the Confederate line, and quite close thereto. The distance from the position they occupied to the timber which Bruner desired to reach was very slight. He plied his spurs, and lying close to the back of his mount dashed to and through the Confederate line to safely reach the timber two or three minutes later.​
So unexpectedly, and suddenly had Bruner made his appearance that the Confederates were too much dazed to understand the situation, until it was too late. They fired very few shots at the daring rider who got through their lines without injury. Once among the trees, Bruner made his way to Major Soper, told him of his precarious position, and pointed out the ravine as a means of escape. The major immediately dismounted his battalion, and accompanied by Bruner, reached and entered the ravine, and so returned safely to Colonel Butler's line.​
Image & Text Excerpted from: Deeds of Valor, Walter Frederick Beyer & Oscar Frederick Keydel, Perrien-Keydel Co., 1902, Pages 296-297.

Birthdate: October 6, 1834​
Birthplace: Monroe County, Indiana​
Spouse: Caroline Pfeiffer​
Died: January 28, 1912 (aged 77) in Portland, Indiana​
Buried: Green Park Cemetery, Portland, Indiana​
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