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    John Burns, The Old Hero of Gettysburg, Letter Signed "John L. Burns". Also known as the "One Man Army of Gettysburg," Burns was a seventy-year-old War of 1812 and Mexican War veteran who lived at Gettysburg. When the Civil War broke out, he was one of the first to volunteer, but was rejected because of his advanced years. When the rebels invaded the Cumberland Valley and started to march toward Gettysburg, he grabbed his old musket and started shooting. When he saw the troops carrying his beloved Stars and Stripes coming in, he ran to offer his services, ending up with a Wisconsin regiment. They soon recognized his expertise with a gun and replaced his old musket with a first-rate rifle and gave him 25 rounds of cartridges. He fired 18 of his rounds, killing three rebels (by his count) and receiving three wounds himself. He was left behind on the field. When the Confederates found him there in citizen's attire, he somehow managed to talk his way into being taken home and having his wounds treated. Stories of his bravery soon spread and he became a national folk hero, with articles and poems written about him. General Doubleday even entered the account of his actions into the official report. After the war, those touring the battlefield often visited him. Upon his death in 1871, the national press carried his obituary.

    This lot contains a letter signed "John L. Burns". One page, 5" x 8", Gettysburg, March 30, 1864, apparently in reply to an autograph request, in part: "...Not being a good penman, I have a friend to answer for me, subscribing my own name." Fine condition, lightly mounted to a folder with a group of contemporary clippings. From the Henry E. Luhrs Collection. Accompanied by LOA from PSA/DNA.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    February, 2006
    20th-21st Monday-Tuesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 4
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 503

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