Abram B. Brant
On June 25, 1876 there stood a young man who was 5’5 7/8” with hazel eyes, light hair, and a fair complexion holding onto a bucket full of water near the Little Bighorn River in Montana. Bullets were buzzing around him as he bravely navigated his way to the injured so they could obtain the care they so desperately needed. Private Abram B. Brant was just one of fourteen soldiers who received a Medal of Honor for his efforts to help the wounded during the Battle of the Little Bighorn. His citation states that he “brought water for the wounded under a most galling fire.”
Brant was born in the late 1840s; his tombstone is marked 1849, but many historians speculate he was actually born a year or two earlier and that the 1849 comes based from his age given upon enlistment, which is generally an unreliable source. It is also speculated that Abram Brant came from a wealthy family; his sister Mary graduated from the Dutch Reformed School in New York in the same class as Cornelius Vanderbilt II, who himself came from a well-to-do background. Brant was the youngest of five children born to John C. Brant and Mary H. Brant in New York where his father was a successful stone mason from New Jersey. John C. Brant is said to have been one of the first investors of the New York Tribune, which was established in 1841 by his good friend Horace Greeley.
At age 22, Abram B. Brant was a civil engineer recorded as living at the Temperance House in Sparta Township, Sussex County, New Jersey. It is unclear where he went after this, but on September 27, 1875, Brant enlisted in the military in St. Louis, Missouri, with the help of Lieutenant William Thompson. He was assigned to Company D, 7th Cavalry and was shipped off to fight in the Indian Wars.
After having his run at the Battle of the Little Bighorn, Brant’s name does not appear in any military records until his death on October 4, 1878, which was the night before he was set to receive his Medal of Honor. A newspaper article from the Daily Deadwood Pioneer-Times gives all the details of the terrible event:
A fatal accident occurred yesterday at 2 a.m. at Camp Sturgis, by which Abraham Brant, a Private of Company D, Seventh Cavalry, lost his life. Brant, along with several other soldiers, was until a late hour in the night attendance at Lola’s Variety Show, enjoying themselves. After a while one of the party proposed a game of cards, which was assented to and they repaired to Brant’s tent, where they all engaged in the game. After playing for some time the game broke up in a row, when someone proposed a fight. Brant, who was not a party to the game, but who had been drinking heavily remarked that he would give him all the fight he wanted, and quickly getting a revolver made an effort to use it. Here the first sergeant interfered and attempted to quell the disturbance, in doing which the revolver, that was in Brant’s hand, exploded, the ball striking him in the stomach just below the naval, causing death in a few minutes.
Brant was a well-liked man and served as Company Clerk at Camp Sturgis until his death.14 He was buried at the Fort Meade Post Cemetery in an unmarked grave, but a memorial gravestone has been set up in the area he is thought to be resting.
Written by Katie Haigh