Saturday, 06 July 2013 16:03 | Written by Compiled by James Johnson
The following thrilling narrative was related by B. D. Beyea, who spent several days on the battle-field in search of the body of Captain C. H. Flagg, who fell in that terrible fight: "In the Town of Gettysburg live an old couple by the name of Burns. the old man was in the war of 1812, and is now nearly seventy years of age; yet the frosts of many winters have not chilled his patriotism, nor diminished his love for the old flag under which he fought in his early days. When the rebels invaded the beautiful Cumberland Valley, and were marching on Gettysburg, old Burns concluded that it was time for every loyal man, young or old, to be up and doing all in his power to beat back the rebel foe, and , if possible, give them a quiet resting-place beneath the sod they were polluting with their unhallowed feet. The old hero took down an old State musket he had in his house, and commenced running bullets. The old lady saw what he was about, and wanted to know what in the world he was going to do. "Ah," said Burns, "I thought some of the boys might want the old gun, and I am getting it ready for them." The rebels came on. Old Burns kept his eye on the lookout until he saw the Stars and Stripes coming in, carried by our brave boys. This was more than the old fellow could stand. His patriotism hot the better of his age and infirmity. Grabbing his musket, he started out. The old lady hallooed to him: ,Burns, where are you going? O, says Burns, I am going out to see what is going on. He immediately went to a Wisconsin regiment, and asked them if they would take him in. They told him they would, and gave him three rousing cheers. The old musket was soon thrown aside, and a first-rate rifle given him, and twenty-five rounds of cartridges. The engagement between the two armies soon came on, and the old man fired eighteen of his twenty-five rounds, and says he killed three rebels to his certain knowledge. Our forces were compelled to fall back and leave our dead and wounded on the field; and Burns, having received three wounds, was left also, not being able to get away. There he lay in citizen's dress and if the rebs found him in that condition, he knew death was his portion; so he concluded to try strategy as his only hope. Soon the rebs came up, and approached him saying: Old man what are you doing here? I am lying here wounded, as you see, he replied. Well but what business have you to be here? and who wounded you? our troops, or yours? I don't know who wounded me; but I only know that I am wounded, and in a bad fix. Well what were you doing here?- what was your business? If you will hear my story, I will tell you. My old woman's health is very poor, and I was over across the country to get a girl to help her; and coming back, before I knew where I was, I had got right into this fix, and here I am. Where do you live? inquired the rebels. Over in town, in such a small house. They then picked him up, and carried him home and left him. But they soon returned, as if suspecting he had been lying to them, and make him answer a great many questions; but he stuck to his old story, and they failed to make anything out of old Burns, and then left him for good. He says he shall always feel indebted to some of his neighbors for the last call; for he believes some one had informed them of him. Soon after they left a bullet came into his room, and struck in the wall about six inches above where he lay on his sofa but he don't know who fired it. His wounds proved to be only flesh wounds, and he is getting well, feels first-rate and says he would like one more good chance to give them a rip.
Saturday, 06 July 2013 16:01 | Written by Compiled by James Johnson
Headquarters Second Brigade First Division First Army Corps Gettysburg, July 5, 1863 DEAR BROTHER-I am all safe yet. This brigade commenced the battle on the 1st. We had to march five miles and were thrown immediately forward into the fight without support. We were exposed to a very heavy artillery fire and were scarcely on the field before my horse was killed by a shell. This division only was engaged and this brigade was on the extreme right of the line. We came in at a double quick and found ourselves within two hundred yards on the rebel line of battle as soon as we reached the top of the ridge in our front. Of course the musketry immediately commenced and I must say I was never in a hotter fire in my life. We lost a proportion of over a third of all the men we had engaged in the first onset. D. H. Hill's whole corps was opposed to us and his line extended at least half a mile beyond our right. In less than half an hour, the right of our brigade was completely enclosed, Gen. Reynolds had been killed in our immediate front and we were ordered to fall back, which we did. After my horse was killed, I mounted an Orderly's. We formed a new line and again advanced but I cannot give details now. We commenced fighting at ten o'clock A. M. and continued almost constantly engaged till four in the afternoon when we fell back through the town. I had two horses killed under me during the day, the General had one killed and two wounded. Two of his staff were wounded. There were nine horse killed and wounded in the staff during the day. In that day's fight, the 11th corps which came up on our right about two o'clock P.M. proved themselves a set of arrant unmitigated cowards and lying wretches. The miserable cowardly pups fought about an hour and then fell back leaving us to be almost completely surrounded by the rebels; yet they claim to have covered our retreat. We fought forty minutes after they left us and would never have gone back had not the 11th corps uncovered our right flank On the second I was knocked off my horse by a flattened ball but immediately mounted again. It did not hurt me much, we were behind breastworks at the time. In haste Your brother Tom
Saturday, 06 July 2013 15:48 | Written by Compiled by James Johnson
JULY 9, 63 W. Y. Selleck, Esq, Washington, D. C. Dear Sir:-According to your instructions, I have drawn up a list of the wounded in the 2d, 6th, and 7th regiments which I send you. I have been very busy supplying the poor fellows who lie three miles from town with bread and butter and other necessaries. They are almost starving. At first I had to buy bread at any price, but here let me mention a lady - Mrs. Dr. Horner - who must think the world of all the Badgers. She has placed at my disposal wines, jellies, bread, butter, tea, sugar, in fact anything and everything that could in any manner add to the comfort of our boys. She is a noble lady and may they never forget her name. This is not a full one by any means as many who were slightly wounded have been sent to Baltimore and other cities. I got the names of a few who were on the road to the depot and for some I had to resort to the list made out for the whole corps; but I saw nearly all myself and vouch for the reliability of the statements as to condition &c,.-When those who have been transferred to Baltimore arrive at their final destination, a much fuller list can be obtained. Drs. Ward, Arudt and Andrews are hard at work day and night. The Colonel (Lush) came around to the Court House hospital to -day to see the boys. It was a sad sight to those boys to see that left sleeve dangling at his side but he cheered them up in their sad condition by going to each one and shaking him by the hand. He looks as jolly and cheerful as if he had as many arms as "any other man." You ought to have seen the poor fellows endeavor to raise themselves up off their little bunch of straw to greet him. I hope to see a little "star" twinkling at you and me over that stump before long. Major Mansfield is also doing first-rate but wants newspapers and reading matter. When I told the boys that you had gone back to Washington for stories. they all said "bully for Selleck"; they all say also that you have done nobly in coming so soon to their relief and leaving me to attend to them; and you and they may depend that I will do all I can to out do any other State commission in caring for our wounded. They all forgot their wounds this morning when informed of the certainty of the capture of Vicksburg and burst out into three good cheers, and burst out in the song.- "They drafted him into the army," Led by Bob Scott of Co. B, 2d who is wounded in the foot. I tell you it takes (as a Dutchman remarked) "pooty much balls to kill dem fellers." respectfully, yours, &c., W. M. P. Taylor.
Saturday, 06 July 2013 15:42 | Written by Compiled by James Johnson
This was but a moment, for that respect, Which clothes all courage, their voices checked: And something the wildest could understand, Spoke in the old man's strong right hand, And his corded throat and lurking frown Francis Bret Harte
"Lancaster, April 14, 1885 Received your note of inquiry some days ago, but the changeable weather of this winter has so disturbed me that I have not been able to answer sooner, and now prevents my writing with pen and ink. Old John Burns came to the Seventh Wisconsin Volunteers of the Old Iron Brigade at Willoughby's Run, west of Gettysburg, on the 1st of July, 1863, after we, the Iron Brigade, had captured Gen. Archer's brigade in the first charge in the morning about ten o’clock. The man came up and asked me if that was my regiment. I answered, yes. He had and old flint lock gun in his hands and came to a present arms and said, " Can I fight in your regiment? I replied, "Old man, you had better go to the rear, you may get hurt." He replied, "Hurt, tut, tut, I've heard the whistle of bullets before." I insisted on his going to the rear. He insisted on fighting. I then said, "Where's your cartridge box? He patted his pants pocket and said, "There's my bullets, and here's my powder horn," pulling and old-fashioned powder horn from his blue swallow-tail coat pocket, "and I know how to use them." "Well, old man, if you will fight, take this gun," and handing him a nice silver-mounted rifle we had captured with some of Archer's men, I gave him the cartridge belt. He declined to wear the belt, but filled his pockets with ammunition. At this time nothing but skirmishing was going on in our front and he got restless, went toward the skirmish line and to it and fought nobly until I called the skirmishers in and made preparations to get out of that little end of a V, as we were flanked on right and left. We fought our way out as best we could, and in this move John Burns was wounded three times and I lost sight of him and was shot my self, and John Burns and I were left on the battlefield badly wounded, where I lay forty-three hours. Burns told me afterwards his friends took him off home after the rebels had advanced over him and through the town. General John B. Callis
Saturday, 06 July 2013 15:38 | Written by Compiled and Edited by James Johnson
The Fourteenth Wisconsin remained engaged in the duties of the siege until the surrender of the city on the 4th of July, when it was assigned the position of honor on the right, and ordered by General Ransom to take the advance in the triumphal entry of our troops into the city, the general complimenting them with the remark that "every man and officer of the Fourteenth was a hero." On the 12th of July, the regiment embarked with the rest of the brigade of General Ransom, and proceeded to Natchez, of which place they took possession on the l4th.