Friday, September 07, 2012

John L. Burns, Battle of Gettysburg.

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On the first day of the battle, Constable John L. Burns of Gettysburg, over seventy years of age, upon hearing the firing, seized his old-fashioned rifle, ran across the field and offered his services to Colonel Wister of the One Hundred and Fiftieth Pennsylvania. Afterwards he went over to the Second Wisconsin on the right of the Iron Brigade. He wore an old banged-up, bell-crowned hat, and swallow-tailed coat. His unique dress and temerity in venturing into so dangerous a place without occasion, seemed the act of an insane zealot, and invited the jibes of the men. Thence he passed on to the Seventh Wisconsin where he remained awhile. Next he passed over to the Twenty-fourth Michigan and was with the latter regiment in the east edge of McPherson s woods, when he was wounded. He fought till three bullets were lodged in his body. His wounds were dressed by Assistant-Surgeon Collar of the Twenty-fourth Michigan. On July 15, 1863, Chaplain W. C. Way wrote of him thus:

We called upon the old patriot, Mr. Burns, the other day and found him quite comfortable. He is the man, though past seventy, who shouldered his musket and went to the field and fought with the Iron Brigade. He is made of the right kind of
stuff. Let his name be recorded in history as an example of mature patriotism.

General Doubleday commended his conduct and the old man s fame has found a place in the school literature of the land. Many a youth has declaimed the poet s lines on his patriotic conduct. He lived to be over eighty years old and lies buried by his wife at Gettysburg.

1 comment:

Rebekah said...

It's impressive how many elderly men fought in the Civil War. I guess they didn't have a choice since both sides were in desperate need of more soldiers, but it's impressive nonetheless.