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Edward Burd Grubb, Jr.
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Personal Information
Born: November 13, 1841(1841-11-13)
Place of Birth: {{{place of birth}}}
Died: July 7, 1913 (aged 71)
Place of Death: {{{place of death}}}
Birth Name: {{{birth name}}}
Other Information
Allegiance: United States of America
Participation(s): {{{participations}}}
Branch: United States Army
Union Army
Service Years: {{{service years}}}
Rank: Brigadier General
Service number : {{{servicenumber}}}
Battles: American Civil War
Relations: {{{relations}}}
Other work: {{{otherwork}}}

Edward Burd Grubb, Jr. (known as E. Burd Grubb) (November 13, 1841 – July 7, 1913) was a Union Army regimental commander in the American Civil War who was later appointed by President Benjamin Harrison as United States Ambassador to Spain. He served in three regiments, commanded two of them, and became a brevet Brigadier General of Volunteers. He was also a noted foundryman, business owner and New Jersey politician who was close to Woodrow Wilson.[1]


Born in Burlington, New Jersey, to Cornwall ore mine owner Edward Burd Grubb and his wife Euphemia Parker, E. Burd Grubb was educated at Burlington College and graduated in 1860, just five months before Abraham Lincoln was elected as President.[1] In May 1861, he enlisted in the 3rd New Jersey Volunteer Infantry. Commissioned as a first lieutenant, he served as an aide to Brig. Gen. George W. Taylor during the 1862 Peninsula Campaign and the August 1862 Northern Virginia Campaign that culminated in the Second Battle of Bull Run.[2]

In November 1862, he was promoted to Major, and was transferred to the 23rd New Jersey Volunteer Infantry, a nine-month enlistment unit made up of men from his hometown of Burlington and various parts of Burlington County.[3] In March 1863, despite his youth, he was promoted to Colonel and commander of the regiment when its previous leader, Col. Henry O. Ryerson, left to take command of the 10th New Jersey Volunteer Infantry. Colonel Grubb led his regiment as it participated in his brigade's assault on Confederate positions at Salem Church during the May 1863 Battle of Chancellorsville. He was wounded in action, and was mustered out when his regiment's enlistment expired by law in June 1863.[3]

After a year spent in recruitment and recruit training, he was commissioned as colonel and commander of the 37th New Jersey Volunteer Infantry, a 100-day enlistment unit. The new regiment then served in the trenches of Petersburg, Virginia, and in garrison duty until it was mustered out in October 1864. One night after arriving in the Trenches, with few arms and little ammunition, the regiment came under fire and took some casualties. Their helplessness in this situation gave rise to the nickname they would bear in the New York Times, "Grubb's Game Chickens".[1] Colonel Grubb's younger brother Parker Grubb, serving as the 37th New Jersey's regimental Adjutant, died of disease during the regiment's service.[3]

In recognition of his service, E. Burd Grubb received a brevet promotion to Brigadier General, United States Volunteers on March 13, 1865, for "gallant and meritorious services during the war."[1]


After mustering out later in 1865, Grubb returned to Burlington and established himself as a prominent iron manufacturer, taking over the family's business that went back to his great great grandfather, Peter Grubb.[4] In 1868, he married Elizabeth Wadsworth Van Rensselaer (1848–1886), daughter of an important area family. Burd and Elizabeth had one daughter. He was elected to the Burlington City Council where he served as its president for two years. Grubb and his wife found time to travel extensively in Europe and accompanied Baron de Lesseps through the Suez Canal. His 1869 account of the canal and its technical aspects was the first such article to be published in the United States.[5] In 1872, he had fellow veteran Frank Furness design him a house on the river, still known as "Grubb Cottage".[6] In 1874, he built a 12-acre (49,000 m2) estate at Edgewater Park, New Jersey, called "Grassmere", where he annually entertained the survivors of the 23rd regiment.[7]

In February 1874, Burd was elected into the First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry (an independent Company of the PA National Guard that had once been George Washington's personal bodyguard during the American Revolution). Grubb was elected as the 16th Captain of the Troop, a position he served for 14 years with a break during his foray into politics. This period saw many critical reforms of the National Guard structure that helped ensure an effective mobilization and deployment for World War One. Burd resigned from the troop in 1896, but later regretted the decision and requested a commission as a colonel in the Expeditionary Force that went to Cuba in 1898.[8]

He was also a colonel in the New Jersey National Guard. His main contribution came during the 1881 centennial celebration of the Siege of Yorktown, where he commanded the New Jersey regiment that won a ceremonial silver cup for being the best drilled unit. He stayed active in veterans affairs, serving as New Jersey Department Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, as well as hosting the annual reunions of his veterans.[1]

The General was on a safari in Africa when his wife died in 1886. Upon his return, he proposed to his long time friend, Harriet Hubbard Ayer, the noted woman's rights activist who made a fortune manufacturing beauty creams. However, she declined his proposal.[9]

Political career[]

File:General E Burd Grubb G302.png

The c1898 painting of General E. Burd Grubb by Thomas Eakins is now in the collection of Yale University.

In 1889, Republicans nominated for Grubb for Governor, hoping that the war hero could beat Leon Abbett, a popular former Governor. Abbett had a easy time beating the political novice, but the liquor lobby did not take any chances. For example, more votes were counted in Jersey City's Irish wards than registered voters. Sixty-nine election workers were convicted of fraud and sent to prison. However, Abbet was able to use the scandal to his advantage by taking up Grubb's call for ballot reform.[10]

Also that year, Benjamin Harrison had been inaugurated as President and selected the Grubbs' friend, James G. Blaine as Secretary of State. Blaine arranged for the General to be one of Harrison's seven appointees to the 1890 Board of Visitors to West Point Military Academy; Grubb was elected Vice President. Among other things Grubb's committee suggested the purchase of the Academy's first Hotchkiss gun.[11] Blaine then arranged for Edward to be appointed as Ambassador to Spain.[1] During his term, Grubb negotiated a trade reciprocity treaty. In 1892, he resigned and returned to New Jersey.[12]

The General remained active and left the Republican Party to become a reformer. Grubb lost an election for Congress in 1908.[13] and actively campaigned for Woodrow Wilson when he ran for Governor two years later. Wilson and Grubb became close and the Governor often stayed at the General's home on the river.[14]

Later years[]

While in Spain, Burd met Violet Sopwith (1865–1958), the daughter of an English mining engineer working in Spain. Violet's younger brother was Thomas Sopwith who became the famous aviation pioneer.[15] Burd and Violet married before their return to New Jersey and had three children, but one died young.[14] Their son, Edward Burd Grubb III was the President of the New York Curb Exchange during the critical period after the creation of the SEC.[16]

Grubb made national news in 1908-1909 after meeting the commander of the 8th Alabama Regiment. Two units that once met as enemies at Salem Church, met again as friends at Burd's Grassmere estate.[7]

In 1911, Grubb lost his fortune in a bad investment and was appointed by then Governor Wilson as Superintendent of the New Jersey Home for Disabled Soldiers in Kearney, New Jersey. He died in Newark, New Jersey, and was buried in Saint Mary's Episcopal Churchyard in Burlington.[1][17] Violet moved back to "Grubb Cottage" then owned by the General's brother. During W.W.I, Violet chaired the British Emergency Aid Committee in Philadelphia and later retired to Maryland to live with her daughter.[15]

References and links[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 N Y Times (July 8, 1913). General E. Burd Grubb dies in 72D year - Famous old soldier passes away in Newark Hospital. 
  2. Baquet, Camille (1910). The First Brigade, New Jersey Volunteers. State of New Jersey. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Bilby, Joseph (1998). Remember, You are Jerseymen. 
  4. Cope, Gilbert (1893). The Grubb Family of Delaware and Pennsylvania. 
  5. Grubb, E. Burd Jr. (1869). "Difficulties to be surmounted in working the Suez Canal". Scientific American 21 (17): 260. ISSN 0036-8733. 
  6. "Grubb Cottage", at 46 Riverbank Street in Burlington, was for sale in Spring 2010. Philadelphia Inquirer, April 2, 2010, p. E-4.
  7. 7.0 7.1 N Y Times (July 21, 1909). Reunion of old enemies. 
  8. N Y Times (June 20, 1898). Would Advance Gen. Grubb. 
  9. Ayer, Margaret Hubbard (1957). The Three Lives of Harriet Hubbard Ayer. 
  10. Grubb, E. Burd Jr. (1892). A Campaign for Ballot Reform. 
  11. Grubb, E. Burd Jr. (1894). Report of the Board of Visitors to the United States Military Academy. United States Government Printing Office. 
  12. Grubb, E. Burd Jr. (1894). The Consular Service and the Spoils System. The Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine. 
  13. N Y Times (September 27, 1908). General Grubb for Congress. 
  14. 14.0 14.1 Grubb, David N. (2008). The Grubb Family of Grubb Landing Delaware. Salem MA: Higginson. pp. 172–174. 
  15. 15.0 15.1 N Y Times (July 5, 1958). Mrs. E. Burd Grubb, Widow of Ex-Envoy to Spain, a Union Army General, Dead. 
  16. N Y Times (February 15, 1934). Grubb Named Head of Curb Exchange. 
  17. The ornate monuments to Grubb's father and brother in St. Mary's Churchyard are attributed to architect Frank Furness. George E. Thomas, et al., Frank Furness: The Complete Works (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1996) p. 154.
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Template:Start box Template:S-ppo |- style="text-align: center;" |- style="text-align:center;" |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"|Preceded by
Benjamin Franklin Howey |width="40%" style="text-align: center;" rowspan="1"|Republican Nominee for Governor of New Jersey
1889 |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"| Succeeded by
John Kean |- |- ! colspan="3" style="background: #FACEFF;" | Diplomatic posts

|- style="text-align: center;" |- style="text-align:center;" |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"|Preceded by
Thomas W. Palmer |width="40%" style="text-align: center;" rowspan="1"|U.S. Minister to Spain
1890–1892 |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"| Succeeded by
A. Loudon Snowden |- |}