Cunningham's Gravestone
8th MO Infantry (US)
Company D
Cunningham's Gravestone:
Big Creek Cemetery, Burlington, Kansas

James S. Cunningham was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor:

Medal of Honor
BIRTH Washington County, Pennsylvania
ENTERED SERVICE AT Bloomington, McLean County, Illinois
RANK/ORGANIZATION Private, Company D, 8th Missouri Infantry
MOH CITATION Gallantry in the charge of the "volunteer storming party."
PLACE/DATE At Vicksburg, Mississippi; 22 May 1863
DATE OF ISSUE 30 July 1894
extracted from


from The Burlington (Kansas) Republican, April 5, 1921, Pg. 1 (Vol. 61, No 81)

James Smith Cunningham was born at Hammersville, Washington County, Pennsylvania, December 30, 1840.   He served three years in Company D, Eighth Missouri Volunteer Infantry.   He emigrated to Kansas immediately after the war from Illinois.   He was married in May 1869 to Elizabeth Ann Clark.   To this union four children were born: Alvin N., who died at the age of eight years; Almeda Waters who resides in St. Joseph, Missouri; Giles A. of this county; and Delbert of Parsons, Kansas.   Mrs. Cunningham preceded her husband in death nine years.
Mr. Cunningham is survived by three children, three grandchildren, two brothers, two sisters and a host of friends.   He has been a very strong man having been in good health all these years, and that in spite of the fact that he served in the army for three years under the most adverse and trying conditions.   He lost his eyesight about one year ago and was found in his room quite sick and unconscious on Thursday morning March 31, 1921.   He never regained consciousness and quietly slept himself away on Friday evening April 1, 1921, without a struggle.

Rev. L. F. Waring of the Methodist church officiated at the funeral which was held at Palmer Chapel on Sunday afternoon at 2 o’clock.   A large crowd accompanied the procession from town and another crowd was waiting at the chapel.   Rev. Waring preached from the text, “Blessed are they that do His commandments that they may have right to the tree of life and enter through the gates into the city.”   The Palmer Chapel choir rendered three or four beautiful hymns.   A beautiful spirit and sincere sympathy was expressed by all present.   Two carloads of old soldiers were along to manifest their respect for their cherished comrade.

Mr. Cunningham owned a medal which he treasured very much, and which he received from the United States Congress for gallantry during the campaign against Vicksburg during the Civil War.   The medal was engraved with these words: Pvt. James S. Cunningham, Co. D, 8th Mo. Vol., for gallantry at Vicksburg, Miss., May 22, 1863.
Mr. Cunningham told how on the morning of the attack his regiment was formed in a hollow square, with the officers in the center.  Then they told how easy it would be to take Vicksburg.   After telling the men this, they asked for volunteers, and asked every man who would serve in a special charge to step forward three paces.   Mr. Cunningham wished to know everything that was going on, and so he stepped the three paces.
As they made the charge, the flag was shot from the hands of the color bearer three times, but each time he took it up again.   At last they reached the enemy’s breastworks and planted the colors, but only a very small number were left: only fifteen or twenty men.

(The obituary was provided to us by John A. Jackson, the Civil War Coordinator for KSGenWeb.   The online version is viewable at

(Click here for a explanation of why people from other states joined the 8th Missouri)