The astonishing story of John L. Burns (d.1872) makes quite an interesting tail. A veteran of the War of 1812 and the Mexican-American War, Burns was a resident of Gettysburg, PA. when battle broke out of July 1, 1863, two months prior to his seventieth birthday. Serving as town constable, Burns was annoyed at the Confederate troops invasion and took up arms in opposition.
Carrying his ancient musket, he encountered a wounded Union soldier on his way to the battlefield and requested the soldier's rifle and ammunition. Thus armed with a then modern weapon he met with Major Chamberlain of the 150th Pennsylvania Infantry, who directed him to the McPherson Woods, where he took up position with the 7th Wisconsin. Serving as a sharpshooter, Burns fought all day, taking down a mounted Confederate officer in the course of events. He received several wounds and was forced to fend for himself as the Union troops relocated. Distancing himself from the weapon, he buried his remaining cartridges before being found by rebel forces, who left him on the battlefield. He eventually crawled to the nearest house and was later returned to his own home, where his wounds were treated by a doctor, leading to his recovery.
As a result of his actions, he was met by Abraham Lincoln when the president arrived to deliver the Gettysburg Address. His story was published in a Pennsylvania newspaper and was later told in a prominent 1865 book. He also became the subject of the poem "Brave John Burns" by Bret Harte.
Another accolade arose in the form of photos taken by prominent Civil War documentarian Mathew Brady. One such photo is presented here. This 1860s CDV type photo measures 2-1/2 x 4" and includes Burns distinctive signature at bottom. Showing remarkable preservation quality, this historic relic rates as (EX+). Signature quality is even more remarkable, showing ("8-9") potency. The reverse is printed with a publisher's credit that reads "Published by E.&H.T. Anthony, 501 Broadway, New York, from Photographic Negative in Brady's National Portrait Gallery". Also appearing on the reverse are handwritten identifying notations. Full photo LOA from JSA.