1. Welcome to the CivilWarTalk, a forum for questions and discussions about the American Civil War! Become a member today for full access to all of our resources, it's fast, simple, and absolutely free!
Dismiss Notice
Join and Become a Patron at CivilWarTalk!
Support this site with a monthly or yearly subscription! Active Patrons get to browse the site Ad free!
START BY JOINING NOW!

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

Discussion in 'Battle of Gettysburg' started by JPK Huson 1863, Aug 12, 2017 at 8:24 AM.

  1. JPK Huson 1863

    JPK Huson 1863 Colonel Forum Host

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2012
    Messages:
    13,074
    Location:
    Central Pennsylvania
    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.
     

  2. (Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)
  3. Tom Elmore

    Tom Elmore First Sergeant

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2015
    Messages:
    1,436
    Nice detective work, and convincing considering just the ancient garb and the musket.
     
  4. JPK Huson 1863

    JPK Huson 1863 Colonel Forum Host

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2012
    Messages:
    13,074
    Location:
    Central Pennsylvania
    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

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2015
    Messages:
    1,415
    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

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2011
    Messages:
    1,817
    Location:
    Hollywood, FLorida
    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 Sergeant

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2017
    Messages:
    759
    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!
     
    JPK Huson 1863 likes this.
  8. Aussie Billy Sherman

    Aussie Billy Sherman First Sergeant

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2015
    Messages:
    1,473
    Location:
    Planet Earth
    Great work. I love seeing this kind of detective work using technology that historians haven't had at their fingertips in the past.
     
    JPK Huson 1863 likes this.
  9. JPK Huson 1863

    JPK Huson 1863 Colonel Forum Host

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2012
    Messages:
    13,074
    Location:
    Central Pennsylvania
    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
     
    PeterT and Wallyfish like this.
  10. PeterT

    PeterT 2nd Lieutenant

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2015
    Messages:
    3,126
    Location:
    Melbourne Australia
    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 ........
     
    JPK Huson 1863 likes this.
  11. JPK Huson 1863

    JPK Huson 1863 Colonel Forum Host

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2012
    Messages:
    13,074
    Location:
    Central Pennsylvania

    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!
     
    PeterT likes this.

(Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)

Share This Page


(Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)