1864 Waynesburg College Photo - James J. Purman

James Jackson Purman - Medal of Honor


Lieutenant James Purman was one of 63 men who was awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism in the battle at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, July 1 - 3, 1863. His was one of only two during which two men earned the award for the same actions. On the second day of the Gettysburg battle, Lieutenant Purman's 140th Penna. Regiment was forced to fall back through the Wheat Field under a withering hail of Confederate fire and an overwhelming assault. Upon observing a comrade fall wounded, Lieutenant Purman and Captain James Pipes halted in the retreat and moved the wounded man to the cover of some rocks. In this heroic action both men were shot in the leg. Ignoring calls to surrender, Lieutenant Purman braved the fire and onrushing rebel troops to make his way back to the Union lines, where he was rushed to the 2d Corps Field Hospital, where his leg had to be amputated.

While being nursed back to health in Gettysburg, James fell in love with his nurse Mary Witherow whom he later married.

James worked as a teacher in a Waynesburg "Common School", and after the war practiced medicine in Washington D.C. He held a position starting in 1881 with the U.S. Pension Office.

James J. Purman died May 11, 1915 in Washington D.C. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery along with his wife.


J.J. Purman Later in Life


J.J. Purman Later in Life


Arlington National Cemetery

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