Play - Old John Burns
Old John Burns – Rickey Wasson & Dwight McCall
(Paula Breedlove, Mark “Brink” Brinkman)
Paulajon Music – ASCAP/Mark Brinkman Songs – BMI
“There’s my bullets, and here’s my powder horn, and I know how to use them.” -John Burns, from a letter by Colonel Callis of the 7th Wisconsin
John Burns, a veteran of the War of 1812, was in his early seventies when he heard gunfire outside his home in the Cumberland Valley. Guessing correctly it was the Union army on its way to Gettysburg; he went out to meet them. With an old flint lock pistol in hand, John Burns sought out the commander of the Seventh Wisconsin Volunteers of the Old Iron Brigade and asked to be part of the regiment. Though he was told to stay in the back, Burns refused and joined the front lines. He was shot three times, but even that could not keep Old John Burns down. He tricked rebel soldiers into carrying an innocent old man home to his wife. John Burns was considered a true Union hero. He was visited by President Lincoln when he traveled to Gettysburg in 1863, and when Burns passed away the Iron Brigade decorated his grave in honor of his service.
John L. Burns was older than the hills
And a veteran of the War of 1812
When Lincoln asked for Union volunteers
He’d already served his country well.
That brave soul in 1861
Was the first in line to join the Union cause
But they called him a man too old to serve
They didn’t see the fighting man he was.
Old John Burns he was a tough old bird
Born to hold a musket in his hands
Old John Burns left them with these words
“You haven’t seen the last of this old man”!
At Gettysburg in 1863
Old John picked up his musket one more time
When that war came to his Pennsylvania town
He proved his worth there on the battle line.
That old rifleman would stand and fight
Right beside that brave Iron Brigade
It took three Rebel guns to bring him down
Yet death would have to come some other day.