Edward M. Burns, BiographyPorter County biographical sketches . . . .

Transcribed biography of Edward M. Burns


This worthy citizen is one of the prominent officials of the G. A. R. of Valparaiso, and a man well respected by all acquainted with him. He is a descendant of sterling Scotch stock, and his grandfather, Peter Burns, came from that country to this, and settled in Maryland, where he reared his children, five in number, John, James, William, Samuel, and one daughter, not remembered. Peter Burns was an engineer in the works in Athens County, Ohio, and was a fine mechanic. He was hard working and industrious and an honorable, upright man. His son, James Burns, father of subject, was born in America, and was an officer in the Rebellion, being First Lieutenant of Company B, Fifty-seventh Pennsylvania Regiment. He was captured with most of his entire command at Gettysburg, and was confined in both Libby and Andersonville prisons, and afterward in Salisbury prison, being a prisoner over twenty-two months.

When in good health he had weighed 195 pounds, and when released from prison he tipped the scales at ninety-five pounds. He made his escape from prison three different times, once from Libby, and was captured by rebel pickets next day. His second escape was from Andersonville, where he was re-captured by means of blood-hounds. The third attempt was from Salisbury, and he would have escaped here had he not been so weak. He was captured by a patrol.

Mr. Burns was in Burney's famous division and in many battles, the Twentieth Indiana being in the same division. He never recovered from the effects of his imprisonment, and died in the Keystone State about 1880. In his active days he was an engineer and boatman. He was first married to Miss Frances Baker of Pittsburgh, and to them were born five children: Samuel, William, Edward M., Mary E., and George W. Mrs. Burns died in the fifties, and Mr. Burns' second wife was Miss Hannah --------. The last union resulted in the birth of eight children: John, Clara, Perry, Sarah, Payton, Laura, Cora and Nora (twins). Samuel Burns, the eldest son, by the first wife, was in the same Regiment with his father, and was shot dead in battle at Chancellorsville. William was in a Pennsylvania regiment, was wounded and died at the battle of the Wilderness. Edward M., our subject, was born near Chauncy, Athens County, Ohio, and received but little education until after the war. He was a strong, rugged boy, and, after the death of the mother and the second marriage of the father, he was put out to live with William H. Maxwell. This was when he was about five years of age. In 1853, Mr. Maxwell moved West, and settled in LaPorte County, Indiana, and from there to Selma, Delaware County, Indiana, where he remained until the fall of 1854. From there he went to Iowa and settled on a farm in Jackson County, but in 1856 moved to Linn County, and in the spring of 1860 to La Porte County, Indiana. Here our subject left him, for he had been a cruel master and gave him no education whatever.

Our subject went to work for a Mr. Wright of LaPorte until the war broke out, and on the 18th of April, directly after the firing of Fort Sumter, he enlisted in the first company that went from LaPorte County in the three months' service. At Indianapolis this was organized into the State Guards, Company G, Fifteenth Indiana, and was mustered into the United States service under the same organization, June 14, 1861. On July 11th, he was with his company at Rich Mountain, but the enemy retreated, and later he was in the battle of Greenbrier, West Virginia. Leaving West Virginia, he went with his command via Parkersburg, West Virginia, to Louisville, Kentucky, thence marched through Kentucky to Nashville, Tennessee, and later fought at the battle of Shiloh. After this he was in the retrograde movement back to Louisville, and was under fire at the battle of Perryville for four hours. The regiment returned to Nashville, and on the 25th of December, 1862, marched out for Murfreesboro, and was in the battle of Stone River. Out of 440 men of the Regiment, forty-four were killed, and 199 killed and wounded. The only two regiments that held their position all day were the Fifteenth and Fifty-seventh Indiana, and the Fifteenth was the only regiment that made a counter-charge during the battle. Had this position been lost the battle would have been lost Mr. Burns was captured and held prisoner for about one-half hour, when he was recaptured by the Fourth United States Cavalry. During this battle, a ball passed through his blouse on the side and another cut the skin on the right side of his head, from the effect of which the nerves are affected to this day.

At the battle of Stone River, which was a two-days fight, the wounded were gathered up and brought into a field hospital. The tents not being sufficient, rails were piled up and set fire to keep the wounded warm, it being the 31st of December. A cold, drizzling rain set in. Mr. Burns was one of the soldiers detailed to assist in caring for the wounded. The scene was heartrending. Many of the dying soldiers would send messages to loved ones at home. A young Ohio soldier, not more than fifteen years of age, had been struck in the shoulder by a piece of shell which turned in passing through, and tore away the entire right breast. When dying he called Mr. Burns to him and said: "Raise me up." Mr. Burns did so, and the boy said, "Raise me on my feet." Mr. Burns replied: "Oh, no; I would not try, you can not stand on your feet." He answered, "Oh, I must; I want to see my mother," and dropped back dead.

His brigade was the first to enter Chattanooga, and was through the entire siege of Gen. Bragg there. On the re-organization of the army, the Fifteenth was assigned to Gen. Sheridan's Division. Mr. Burns was in the battle of Missionary Ridge, and his regiment made a charge up the ridge to the right of Bragg's headquarters, charged in front of the Washington Battery and captured the famous "Lady Buckenridge." This regiment went into the charge with 330 men, and in forty-five minutes had 202 killed and wounded, all the officers but one being killed or wounded. This regiment had more than twice as many killed as any other regiment. The brigade and regiment then marched to Knoxville, Tennessee, thence to Strawberry Plains, and returned to Knoxville and London, then Chattanooga. At the latter place, the Fifteenth was detailed on special duty to guard Chattanooga, and remained until June, 1864, when it returned to Indianapolis, and was mustered out June 30, 1864. During all the time Mr. Burns was with his regiment, he was in active service except about two weeks, when he was sick in the hospital at Huntsville, Alabama. In July, 1864, he returned to Westville, Indiana, and attended school until February 10, 1865, when he went to Chicago, and enlisted from the Ninth Ward for one year. He was sent to Springfield, Illinois, thence to Washington, D. C., and assigned to Company B, Fourth United States Veterans' Volunteer Infantry, commonly known as Hancock Veteran Corps. This command was sent to Washington city and guarded the prisoners who were in the conspiracy of the assassination of President Lincoln.

Mr. Burns was one of the guards on the prison wall when Payne, Harold, Atzerott and Mrs. Surratt were executed July 7, 1865. The four were hung from the same scaffold at the same time. The regiment then went to Columbus, Ohio, and one-half of it was sent to Louisville, Kentucky, Company B being among the number. In October, returned to Camp Chase and took part in the inauguration of Governor Cox. They remained at this post until discharged, February 16, 1866, after which Mr. Burns returned to Westville, Indiana, and attended school. At the same time he worked in a factory until June, 1867, when he went to Pennsylvania, and attended a school in Ohio for three months. Returning to Westville, Indiana, he remained there teaching school in the winters of 1868 and 1869 near Kingsbury, LaPorte County, Indiana, and making a record as a successful and popular teacher. He continued teaching and attending school in Kankakee County, Illinois, until 1872 and 1873, after which he taught ten months in LaPorte County, Indiana. In 1874 he came to Valparaiso, and embarked in the sewing machine business until 1877, and that year he taught school in LaPorte County, five months. The next year he was in the sewing machine business in Valparaiso, and was afterward engaged in clerking in that place until the fall of 1882, when he was appointed clerk in the Post office at Valparaiso. He was also in the Fort Wayne Railroad as mail-agent, but was obliged to give up this position on account of his health. Since that time he has been clerking in Valparaiso. In 1890 he was appointed Township Trustee of Center Township, and this position he still holds. On the 4th of December, 1884, he was married to Miss Leanora E. Woodruff, daughter of Norman B. and Mary J. (Collier) Woodruff, and three children are the fruits of this union: Norman J., Adelbert D. and Lillian F. Mr. Burns is a member of the G. A. R., was Adjutant of the post four years, senior vice-commander, and is now Commander. In politics he is a Republican. He was President of the Building Committee and one of the chief promoters in the erection of the "G. A. R. Monumental Hall," being one of the organizers of the corporation which erected this building. He is a substantial and prominent citizen, and is active in all good work.

Source: Goodspeed Brothers. 1894. Pictorial and Biographical Record of La Porte, Porter, Lake and Starke Counties, Indiana. Chicago, Illinois: Goodspeed Brothers. 569 p.
Page(s) in Source: 414-418

This biography has been transcribed exactly as it was originally published in the source. Please note that we do not provide photocopies or digital scans of biographies appearing on this website.

Biography transcribed by Steven R. Shook


CSS Template by Rambling Soul