Biography of William Burt


This biography appears on pages 187-188 in
"Soldiers' and Citizens' Album of Biographical Record containing personal
sketches of Army Men and Citizens Prominent in loyalty to the Union"
Published in 1890



William Burt, Kenosha, Wis., member of G. A. R. Post No. 230, was born in Greenwich, England, June 4, 1835. His father and mother, William and Caroline (Gasleyn) Burt, were of English origin and were the parents of 16 children, of whom only 5 are living. Susan resides in Brooklin, Iowa, Laura near Joliet and Mary Louisa, Robert and William reside in Kenosha. The family removed to the united States in 1843, locating first at Milwaukee, and successively at Racine, where the father engaged in the business of a carriage trimmer. He removed to Kenosha in 1853 and died there in 1885. The mother died in 1861. The son learned the trade of a painter and engaged with J. I. Case at Racine until 1853. He returned to work in his factories in 1856, remaining until he entered the army. Aug. 18, 1862, he enlisted in Company H, 22nd Wisconsin Infantry, for three years and went into rendezvous at Camp Utley, Racine. He was mustered in September 2d and left the state for Cincinnati on the 16th. He went from the city of pork to Covington, then to Nicholasville and to Danville, Ky., reaching that place in December after a series of continual movements, and from there they operated in foiling the plans of Morgan. Colonel Utley was a decided abolitionist and sturdily refused while in Kentucky to recognize anybody's claims to property in man, in which the regiment sustained him. But there was plenty of excitement through this fact and the men were glad to receive orders to go to Louisville, and they went successively to Nashville and towards Spring Hill, where they had an encounter with the rebels. March 4th the action at Thompson's Station took place, which was a disastrous affair for the 22d Wisconsin. More than 200 of its members were either killed, wounded or captured, and among the latter were the colonel, 11 commissioned officers of the command and a number of soldiers, including Mr. Burt. They were taken to Columbus, Tenn., kept three days in an old log house where half a hundred wounded soldiers were confined on the first night and in the morning it was found that more than a dozen had passed beyond the reach of rebel malice. From the woods in the vicinity they were marched to Tullahoma, sent thence on box cars to Richmond and incarcerated in Castle Thunder. To guards on the car, containing 70 men, on which Mr. Burt was placed, had whiskey enough to make them reckless and they lay down to sleep in front of the side doors. Somebody suggested their need of fresh air and they were rolled out. Their fate afterward was not known. En route, Mr. Burt stole a bone, thinking that the marrow would be good for soup in his need, but on arrival at Castle Thunder he was placed in a tower whose center was monopolized by a supporting pillar and he remained there 24 hours without being able to obtain a comfortable position. After 11 days at Libby he was exchanged and went to City point, thence to Fortress Monroe and Annapolis, where two weeks were passed in recruiting and obtaining fresh clothing and other necessaries. He joined his regiment at St. Louis, and went successively to Nashville, Franklin, and Murfreesboro, where they were detailed to duty on the river and remained through the winter. In the spring they were assigned to the 3d Brigade, 3d Division and 20th Corps and moved in front of Resaca. Mr. Burt was injured during the fight by being stepped on by a horse, went to the rear and thence to the convalescent camp at Kingston, where he remained a month. After return to the command he operated in skirmishes, foraging expeditions and other military service, and afterwards fought at Dallas, Pine Knob and Lost Mountain. Mr. Burt states his belief that General Sherman himself sighted the gun which killed General Polk at Lost Mountain, as he saw him take charge of one of the guns, sight it and direct the artilleryman to fire. The shot struck in the midst of the spot where Polk and his staff were standing. Mr. Burt was in all the actions in the immediate vicinity of Kenesaw, fought at Peach Tree Creek and went to the trenches in front of the city until the regiment moved to the Chattahoochie River and threw up breastworks while Sherman moved to the right of the city. One morning the pickets ran in, driven by rebels who were in front of Union troops and that day Atlanta surrendered. The command remained near Atlanta until Sherman moved to the sea, when the regiment accompanied the troops to Savannah. Mr. Burt was in the activities at Averysboro, went to Goldsboro and Raleigh and to Richmond, where Mr. Burt was badly burnt on his foot and leg and was sent to Alexandria. He saw the Grand Review in an ambulance and was mustered out at Washington, June 16, 1865. He returned to Kenosha and went, soon after, to the employ of Fish Brothers at Racine. Five years after he engaged with the Bain Wagon Company at Kenosha, where he has since operated. Mr. Burt is a much respected citizen of Kenosha and honors in his private life his long service as a soldier. He was married July 4, 1865, to Mary Devlin.




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