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John Burns, A ' Where's Waldo ' At 2nd Corp Hospital?

Discussion in 'Battle of Gettysburg' started by JPK Huson 1863, Aug 12, 2017.

  1. JPK Huson 1863

    JPK Huson 1863 Colonel Forum Host

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    harpersweeklyv7bonn burnscrop.jpg
    John Burns became so famous post-Gettysburg that by August, Harper's Weekly featured this etching of his home as part of their full-length cover story.

    burns hosp whole use.JPG
    This photograph of the Second Corp's hospital, has been orphaned through time, frequently. " Hospital, Gettysburg ", will be a description. Those posing? All orphaned, identifiers lost. Maybe? Hang on.

    Somewhere one of our famous nurses dismisses the famous John Burns of Gettysburg as a little faint hearted. Observed at her hospital, she's unimpressed, feeling his shaken withdrawal from bedsides a sign of weakness. She may be Sophronia Bucklin, rats, cannot find the passage. The point here is John Burns did visit at least one hospital and was documented doing so.

    burns home.jpg
    We've all seen the curmudgeonly photograph which spawned the top sketch. Harper's cover is indicative of Burn's post war fame garnered when he picked up his flintlock, went to the battlefield and began " Popping away with them black hatted fellers ". Iron Brigade. Trading the flintlock for and Enfield, he did indeed pop away.

    burns cdv 3.JPG

    ".......consisted of dark trousers and a waistcoat, a blue 'swallow tail' coat with burnished brass buttons, such as used to be affected by well-to-do gentlemen of the old school about 40 years ago, and a high black silk hat, from which most of the original gloss had long departed, of a shape to be found only in the fashion plates of the remote past " Thomas Chamberlin, 150th PA


    Both parties, nurse and Burns, involved may be forgiven their respective reactiveness. Our nurse, doubtless scooping maggots from wounds, unlikely to be excusatory towards anyone made bilious at what were to her every day sights. Burns, despite what he encountered as a citizen living inside the aftermath of a 3 day battle, unable to face the concentrated gore inside a hospital tent. Link is to Arabella Wilson's ' Disaster, Struggle, Triumph ', 1870, She includes an account of the hospital during the battle- it's extremely good.
    https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=hvd.hx2p79;view=1up;seq=11

    Please know there is less than no intention here of ' Look what I have discovered! ' It's a question and maybe a theory based on what I've picked up over a few years- and this photograph. It's the 2nd Corp hospital, Gettysburg. I've picked out the nurses in it dozens of times, wondering who they might be. This hospital took hits during the battle. According to Mrs. Arabella Wilson's book, published in 1870, following the 126th NY, surgeons were killed here.

    Is this John Burns, for some reason posed with his famous rifle, at the Second Corp Hospital? Why would a rifle be displayed so prominently in a photograph? Pretty sure, the reason would not be it was a ' rebel ' rifle- hundreds of them littered the battlefield, not a rarity.
    burns closer w gun use.JPG
    And what on earth is the other subject of this photograph, the white, shapeless ' stuff ' held by 5 men, unless there are more?

    Before scoffing, please look more closely?

    burns copy blue.jpg
    Why display that rifle?

    Burns guns and john 2nd corp  blue.jpg
    Burn's rifle, snipped from one of his photographs as he sat outside his home, is on the left. Close-up, rifle displayed in photo, next to it. Isn't that a flintlock, too? See arrow? No, this older man does not seem to be wearing the exact, same high-crowned hat as in his studio photo but men who wore that style may have had more than one, no?

    Been sitting on my hands not to ask this for awhile. Scoffing occurs, which is fine- but it really is just a question slash theory, I am not building a Gee-Whiz case, honest! Burns did go to the hospitals, sure looks like him, that rifle seems to be a flintlock and is weirdly sitting in the middle of a photograph- why? ( This gentleman seems to be vaguely smiling- may throw an ID off, considering we just do not see the tough old guy doing that. )

    gettysburg mrs burnsa.jpg
    You just know his wife saying " Please do not do that again, John ". Burns only survived the war by 7 years, hope he'd be pleased he is so well remembered.
     

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  3. Tom Elmore

    Tom Elmore First Sergeant

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    Nice detective work, and convincing considering just the ancient garb and the musket.
     
  4. JPK Huson 1863

    JPK Huson 1863 Colonel Forum Host

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    Thank you! It gives me the willies, suggesting this kind of thing when 150 years of genuinely well trained eyes have been peeled towards these old treasures. Truly. You just get nosy- as in ' What are those fluffy white handfuls everyone seems to be showing the photographer? ' And ' Goodness, he looks just like John Burns '. and ' Why is there a flintlock, out in the open? ' Who knows, someone may come along with reasonable explanations why it's all hooey.

    Those handfuls of white ' whatevers ' are making me a little crazy. Cotton bandages? Food? It must be connected with this visit made by the man with a hat who looks like John Burns, and a flintlock on an earth mound, a few feet away.
     
  5. Package4

    Package4 First Sergeant Trivia Game Winner

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    The two muskets that you are comparing are not the same, the "prop" next to Burns is a half stock musket and the one in the picture is not, though IIRC the "prop" was not the musket he used. I would also assume that Burns would have still been on crutches, since the picture is full of Summer foliage, so not too long after the battle and do not see them in the photo.

    I like where you are going though...........
     
  6. Pvt.Shattuck

    Pvt.Shattuck Sergeant Major

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    I think you've discovered a lost photo of John Burns. Not conclusive of course, but nice work! I'm was skeptical at first but on closer examination, I'm convinced. Wow.
     
  7. mofederal

    mofederal 2nd Lieutenant

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    That could be hardtack in their hands, I guess to show they are being fed. Just my guess, but it could be anything. Thank you for posting this. Great detective work. Thank you!
     
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  8. Aussie Billy Sherman

    Aussie Billy Sherman First Sergeant

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    Great work. I love seeing this kind of detective work using technology that historians haven't had at their fingertips in the past.
     
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  9. JPK Huson 1863

    JPK Huson 1863 Colonel Forum Host

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    That is all kind and helps me not feel quite so idiotic thinking this guy could be Burns- fooling around in old photos, especially with rifles, gives me big, fat willies. I see yep, an expert was able to squish that! Gun experts and historians can make ID's through the worst photos, incredible stuff.

    Seriously, sat on my hands forever and ever, looking at this. One of my favorite Gettysburg photos, because the ' hospital ' stories of women coming from all the heck all over our country are so poignant. Why it was posed so oddly has always been baffling and why on earth a Burns lookalike was sitting ........ .

    burns porch socks.JPG
    He's in his socks in this post-battle, famous photo- crutches are nearby. Who knows, wound requiring crutches may have healed enough by the hospital visit not to need them? I did enlarge and browse around the area where the old guy is sitting, holding fluff, could find none.

    Hardtack, or food, makes sense- could have brought supplies. The cry went out for more and more, not that citizens needed prompting. What you love is the single dollar here and there, and a box of shirts, or a few peaches. From peaches everywhere. One article, from Adams County Sentinel, first week Aug. 1863
    cc news2.JPG
     
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  10. PeterT

    PeterT 2nd Lieutenant

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    Gee it does look like him!

    What are they holding? ..... could it be cotton? My thoughts .... Is this their way of expressing the futility of the battle, of the war?

    Cotton = slavery = secession = war

    Just wondering ........
     
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  11. JPK Huson 1863

    JPK Huson 1863 Colonel Forum Host

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    It does look like cotton- unless there was some medical item which was similar? It's such a peculiar pose, men holding handfuls of white ' fluff ', perhaps some symbolic meaning is the only solution! Boy, they could have taken pity on us 150 years in the future and explained themselves!
     
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  12. JPChurch

    JPChurch Private

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    Very cool image. That does look like Burns. I wonder what the photographer did before he posed/ captured this image. Did he say, "Ok, some of you up front will be holding this white stuff; you too Mr. Burns but we want you to have this top hat on." What puzzles me is, that if that is indeed Burns in the photo, why the musket prop was placed so far away from him. It must not have been the one he used maybe? Too bad the photographer didn't capture more images of this occasion. I like the two nurses seen in the background. What a shame he didn't ask them to step forward along with some of the doctors and take another photo or two.
     
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  13. Robert Rutledge

    Robert Rutledge Private

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    This is very interesting. Would like to see what professionals think.

    The man sitting behind the rifle seems to be sitting on a pile of white fluffy stuff as well.
    It looks kinda like wool from a freshly shorn sheep.

    I don't know if this helps or not, but there is a book about the 2nd Corps hospital called Grappling with Death by Roland Maust. It is VERY expensive, from the looks of things.
    The cover of the book has that image on it.
    Maybe someone has access to this through a library or something....
    https://www.amazon.com/Grappling-Death-Second-Hospital-Gettysburg/dp/0890293376

    Apparently the book has lists of wounded treated, doctors, nurses, and volunteers who worked at the 2nd corps. So that information exists somewhere for the author to include it.
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2017
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  14. JOHN42768

    JOHN42768 2nd Lieutenant Trivia Game Winner

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    Thanks for posting
     
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  15. JPK Huson 1863

    JPK Huson 1863 Colonel Forum Host

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    Right? It's all the conversations you have in your head about this photograph! Plus, you just know out of all these people, someone wrote a letter home saying " Dear Margaret, What an odd day. A photographer came by...... " Some explanation of the entire thing is there. White stuff and all.

    The thing is, maybe there is, somewhere, a photo with those nurses, too? Have frequently thought photographers had to have done more than one shot, when set-up? It was such a big pain, right? He lugged that thing all over fields, set it up, got everyone posed- and only one photo? Seems an exhausting way to make a living. OH I know! The famous photo of the Sanitary Commission house, in Gettysburg? When NYPL released their collection, someone here found yet another, same place, different traffic. We just never know what's out there, pretty cool wondering!
     
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  16. JPK Huson 1863

    JPK Huson 1863 Colonel Forum Host

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    Thank you! I'd bumped into small bits and pieces, nothing comprehensive so very cool someone collected the entire thing.Trust the experts! Whomever wrote the piece included in the first 126th NY's war time account said it had taken hits during the battle, Sure highlights how frequently doctors were killed, guess a few were lost.

    Sheep! I wonder. Someone bring one, for food? The hospitals were actively asking for food- all the months they existed.

    Wish some of these books were not so pricey? Puts them out of range for most of us. No complaining here, merely observation. It's probably very valuable in content and deals with the cover photo.
     
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  17. Package4

    Package4 First Sergeant Trivia Game Winner

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    I remembered reading about the accounts of Burns fighting on July 1 and finally found the source, David G Martin's Gettysburg July 1 pgs. 371-377.

    According to various accounts, Burns came onto the field with an old flintlock, bullets in his pockets and a powder flask. When he asked to join the 7th Wisconsin, his musket was exchanged for a captured enfield from one of Archer's "sharpshooters" and he was also offered a belt and cartridge box, which he turned down, stuffing his pockets with enfield cartridges. He was wounded three times (arm, leg and chest) and had to ditch his weapon and cartridges when the Iron Brigade pulled back or he would have been considered either a spy or "bushwacker", since he was fighting in civilian clothes. He was subsequently treated by a confederate doctor and released when he told confederate officers he was searching for help for his invalid wife . He dragged himself to the cellar door of the nearest house and was conveyed home the next day in a "rickety bone-wagon, by a horse too decrepit to be wanted by the enemy".

    I find it doubtful that he was ever able to retrieve the weapon that he carried onto the field, since he was housebound, after the battle and discarded weapons were picked up by the federal army, by the wagon load and sent to arsenals for rework, parts and destruction.

    The weapon leaning against his wall was either a second arm, or most likely one donated for the photograph by a neighbor.
     
  18. Robert Rutledge

    Robert Rutledge Private

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    I couldn't find a reference to a sheep in the battle.
    *shrugs* I never would have guessed I would be trying to solve a sheep mystery. haha

    I was thinking about bread as well. There is a pile of bread towards the right side of the picture. On top of a box that is on top of a barrel. Bread seems to have been much needed at the 2nd Corps hospital and I could see it being a source of joy to actually get some.

    Maybe if they had ripped the softer inside of the bread out of the crust it would look like white fluffy stuff? A stretch, admittedly. Maybe a breadologist can offer an opinion? It seems like a No to me, but I'm spitballing.

    The book looks like it was $60 when it was new, but it was a small run of books I think. $60 still seems kinda high but it was something like 1000 pages total and a pretty niche item. So to me that is a fair price.
     
  19. Willoughby Run

    Willoughby Run Cadet

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    The man sure looks like John Burns to me!

    From Greg Coco’s book, “A Vast Sea of Misery” (which includes a less detailed copy of the photo), the site of the 2nd Corps hospital is on the Jacob Schwartz farm.

    On July 2, Surgeon Justin Dwinell first located the hospital 1½ miles to the rear of where the Baltimore Pike crosses Rock Creek, on the property of George Bushman, near where The Outlet Shoppes are today. On July 3, he moved the hospital farther downstream to the Jacob Schwartz farm because of artillery fire. That’s a pretty long distance from Confederate artillery batteries, perhaps they were getting overshoots from Hurt’s Battery’s Whitworth cannons. The hospital was located on both sides of Rock Creek, just downstream from where White Run joins Rock Creek.

    Because of the heavy rains on July 4 and 5, the position flooded with a number of patients drowning because one side of Rock Creek was low-lying ground. So on July 5, the hospital was moved to higher ground on the Schwartz farm. The hospital was active until the last patient was transferred on August 8 and the hospital closed within the next week.

    There is a question about why there are no crutches in the photo. We know that John Burns was wounded a number of times (arm, leg, and trunk). The Matthew Brady photo of John Burns in the rocking chair with crutches and musket nearby was taken in mid-July, 1863. He may have recovered enough by the end of July or early August to not need crutches.
     

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