Merritt Bruen was mustered in as a Sergeant in the New Jersey Volunteer Infantry, Company K on October 2, 1861. On November 22 of the same year, he was promoted to Quartermaster Sergeant of the regiment. He served in this role until October 2, 1862, when he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant, and transferred to Company E. He served until June 27, 1864, when he was promoted to 1st Lieutenant, and named as the Regimental Quartermaster.

Bruen appears several times in Pvt. Emmell’s diaries, and we infer from the entries that they were good friends. Pvt. Emmell notates all of Bruen’s promotions, as well as his duties. We also surmise that Bruen may have kept Emmell’s diary in safekeeping when he was called to action since Bruen was the company quarter master.

There is contradictory evidence around Bruen’s death, some sources say he was killed in action, while other suggest he was wounded and died of pernicious fever. All sources point to his death place as City Point, Virginia. Emmell corroborates this in his entry from August 26, “Bruen died at City Point yesterday…..” Bruen’s official death day is decreed as August 24, 1864. He was 28 years old.

He is buried in Hillside Cemetery in Madison, New Jersey.