On the afternoon of July 1, 1863, wearing a vest, dark coat & trousers & a high silk hat the only Gettysburg civilian known to have participated in the battle reported to Colonel Langhorne Wister of the 150th Pennsylvania Infantry & requested permission to join the fight. A veteran of the War of 1812, John Burns fought side by side with several Union regiments that day. His actions earned him the respect of the soldiers he fought alongside with. He was wounded three times & had to be carried from the field.
Burns recovered from his wounds & for the remaining years of his life was a local hero.
The Pennsylvania General Assembly elected to honor this man’s memory by erecting a memorial near the site of his service at the McPherson Farm.
The memorial was dedicated on July 1, 1903 & inscribed at the base are the words used by General Doubleday in his official report commending the heroism of this local citizen.