Henry L. Burnett

Henry L. Burnett

Biographical Cyclopaedia and Portrait Gallery
Dictionary of American Biography
National Cyclopaedia of American Biography

Sarah Gibson Lansing
(17 Aug 1846, Utica NY)
(11 Feb 1877, Buffalo NY)
+ Brig. Gen. Henry L. Burnett(4 Sep 1867, Buffalo NY)
(26 Dec 1838, Youngstown OH)
(4 Jan 1916, NYC)

    Lansing Burnett[died aged 24]
    Catharine Olivia Gibson Burnett[married Robert Mercur, Jack Bell and Robert Van Deusen]

Biographical Cyclopaedia and Portrait Gallery
Burnett, Henry L., General, was born at Youngstown, Ohio, December 26th, 1838. The Burnett family -- or Burnet, as it has been frequently spelled -- is one of the oldest and most honorable in the United States. More than one of its representatives have occupied positions of eminence and usefulness in the history of the country. One of the first of the name who attained distinction was William Burnet, colonial governor of New York and New Jersey from 1720 to 1728, and afterward governor of the Colonies of Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Governor Burnet is the director ancestor of the branch of the family from which General Henry L. Burnett is descended.

Another in the line -- the grandfather of Henry L. -- was a prominent supporter of the Revolution. His name is not infrequently mentioned in old records of the time, and he shared with Robert Morris and other patriots the honor of becoming bankrupt by the dedication of his fortune to the cause of independence.

Others of the family -- near relatives of this man, and living in the same State of New Jersey -- rendered like distinguished service to the country in that early struggle. William Burnett, a prominent New Jersey physician was a member of the famous Continental Congress of 1776, and of the same body in 1780-91. From the year '76 till the close of the war he held the responsible position of surgeon-general for the Eastern District of the United States. He also suffered a great loss of property in the contest, including his valuable library, destroyed by British marauders.

He was the father of several illustrous sons: Dr. William Burnet, Jr. of New Jersey; Major Ichabod Burnet, of Georgia; Hon. Jacob Burnet, a distinguished Ohio pioneer; and David G. Burnet, colaborer with General Houston in securing the independence of Texas, elected Provisional President of the Republic of Texas, chosen Vice-President of the same during Houston's term as President, and elected to the United States Senate from Texas in 1866.

Along other collateral lines of the family were Henry Clay Burnett, of Kentucky, who served four terms in Congress, and during the War of Secession, was a representative from that State in the Confederate Senate; Peter Hardeman Burnett, born in Nashville, Tennessee, and afterwards made governor of California; Waldo Irving Burnett, of Massachusetts, author and naturalist, who gave great promise, but who was stricken down by disease at the age of twenty-six; and General Ward Benjamin Burnett, who won distinction in the Mexican War.

We have no space, however, and it is not our purpose here, to furnish a complete catalogue of the distinguished members of this family, but to consider briefly the remarkable career of one of its later represenatives. Returning to the grandfather of General Burnett, we find him a man of rare culture and polish for the times in which he lived. But there was also latent in his character the stern will-power and rugged self-reliance which had earlier enabled his Puritan ancestors to contend successfully against the obstacles of a new country. Finding himself impoverished by his patriotism, he left the State shortly after the close of the Revolution, and removed his family as far west as the territorial wilderness of Northern Ohio.

For many years a severe struggle for existence ensued, and, while he succeeded in establishing a substantial home, he could not confer upon his children the educational advantages he had enjoyed, nor create about them the atmosphere of comfort and civilization he had enjoyed in the older State. Consequently the father of General Burnett manifested more of the rugged force and less of the cultivation and refinement nad gentle bearing of the grandfather. Yet the father, notwithstanding, was a remarkable man. He was a builder, contractor, and farmer, and while devoid of anything more than the merest rudiments of an English education -- not having mastered the simple principles of arithmetic in schools -- he yet had devised an original system of mathematical calculation which answered all the purposes of his business. When Henry had mastered, not merely arithmetic, but the higher mathematics, he found his father's methods of computation as convenient and accurate as the rules in the books.

The tastes and propensities of the son, however, reverted to the grandfather rather than to the father. The latter discouraged him in the acquirement of any education beyond that comprised in the very limited curriculum of the primitive district schools, wishing him to follow a business career rather than a professional life. But the boy's tastes inclined him to study, and his aspirations pointed to a professional career.

As a spur to his ambition he had the example of a brilliant career of a man of his own name in Ohio, a first cousin of his grandfather, Judge Jacob Burnet, already mentioned. This man was an able lawyer and jurist, a judge on the bench, a State senator in the early Ohio Legislature, and the author of "Notes on the Early Settlements of the Northwestern Territory" -- one of the most valuable and interesting contributions to the early history of that region.

The determination of the father that his son should follow his own homely business, and abandom his dreams of education and distinction, at length aroused the resolution of Henry, who seemed to have been born with his full share of the hereditary willpower. Accordingly, one night, he stole out of the loft where he slept, and with a bundle of clothes, forty-six dollars in his pocket -- which he had carefully saved -- and two books -- "Thaddeus of Warsaw" and the "Lady of Lyons" -- he left his home, and set about the realization of his own dreams.

He was fifteen years of age at that time. He traveled one hundred miles on foot to Chester Academy, where James A. Garfield was then a student. His expenses while studying there were about $1.25 each week, which he partly met with his earnings by ringing bells, building fires, and turning his hand to whatever odd jobs offered a chance to make a penny. Young Burnett continued his studies, later on, at Hiram Institute, where, for a time, Garfield was his tutor. Afterward he entered the Ohio State and National Law School, and was graduated in 1859.

younger burnett Immediately upon his admission to the bar, in 1860, Mr. Burnett began the practice of law at Warren Ohio. But just at this juncture the war-cloud of the Rebellion burst over the country, and he enlisted in response to one of the earliest calls for volunteers. An incident connected with this fact is worthy of record as illustrating the courage, energy, and impetuousness in action which afterward characterized his service to the country.

The first command of cavalry enlisted in Ohio was authorized to be raised by a special concession from the War Department to Senator Benjamin F. Wade and Congressman John Hutchins. The call to enlist was for volunteers who should bring horses with them, for which they would receive pay at the hands of the Government. In response to this call, a company -- afterward organized as Company C of the Second Ohio Cavalry -- gathered at Warren, Ohio. Here the men were astounded to learn that, in exchange for their horses, certificates or receipts were to be given in lieu of cash, the time of payment being in the discretion of the Government.

The dissatisfaction was general. A large part of the men had come in the hope of leaving behind them the prices of their horses for the support of their families. Many refused to enlist. They were upon the point of scattering for their homes when one of their number, the young lawyer Burnett, mounted a fence, and shouted: "Those who go into this war to fight for the cause, and not to sell their horses, follow me into this yard." For a moment the men hesitated, and then, amid cheers, one after another guided their horses into the inclosure, and were soon transferred to camp at Cleveland, Ohio, where they were mustered into the service, with young Burnett as their duly elected captain, he being only twenty-three years of age.

The Second Ohio Cavalry, under command of Colonel Doubleday, was sent to Missouri, and took an active part in the battles of Carthage and Fort Wayne, and accompanied the expedition into the Cherokee country, through Arkansas and Indian Territory. The commander of this expedition devolved upon a Colonel Weir, who was utterly incompetent at the time by reason of his intemperate habits. He finally left his men stranded on the prairie near Fort Gibson, Arkansas, in a starved and dying condition, cut off from their base of supplies and all communication with the rear, while he indulged in prolonged dissipation.

In this emergency a council of the colonels of regiments composing the command was held, and resulted in the arrest of Colonel Weir. Major Burnett was detailed, with a squad of men, to make the arrest of Colonel Weir. He also prepared the manifests, issued to the soldiers in defense of this action by Colonel Salomon, of the 9th Wisconsin. Major Burnett was also dispatched, to proceed with all speed ahead, along the line of retreat, and inform General Blunt, at Fort Leavenworth, of what had been done.

Colonel Weir, released from custody by some blunder on the day following Major Burnett's departure, discovered the latter's destination, and a long race of about two hundred miles occurred between the two men, as exciting and romantic as any incident of the war. By a fortunate combination of energy, ingenuity, and good luck, Major Burnett succeeded in getting the ear of General Blunt a few minutes before Colonel Weir's arrival, thus permitting him to file prior charges, and save the troop and his brother officers from summary treatment as mutineers.

General Burnett also served under General Burnside during a part of the Knoxville campaign, and was promoted, from time to time, to the rank of brigadier-general.

In July, 1863, Captain J.M. Cutts was relieved from duty by General Burnside as judge advocate of the Department of the Ohio, and ordered to be himself tried by court-martial. General Burnside sent to the front ofr an officer to act as judge-advocate in Captain Cutts's case, and Major Burnett was selected. July 20th, 1863, General Burnett's conduct of the case of Captain Cutts resulted in his conviction; and gained General Burnett no little reputation, and he was confirmed in the position of judge-advocate of the Department of the Ohio by appointment from Washington.

His jurisdiction was eventually extended to the Northern Department, that department and the Department of the Ohio being merged into one. The duties of this position were onerous, and entailed great responsibility. Among many important cases tried by him, the conviction of F.W. Hurtt was almost as notable as that of Captain Cutts. Upon the application of Governor Morton, of Indiana, he was detailed to try the famous cases of the Indiana conspirators, and he acted in these cases at Indianapolis by day, and traveled to Cincinnati each night to direct the work of the clerks in his department, instruct the special judge-advocates under him, and examine and correct all papers before proceedings were begun in the various cases to be tried.

The Department of the Ohio included the States of Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia, while the Northern Department embraced the great Northwestern States, where were situated nearly all the Government military prisons. Cases were constantly arising for trial in connection with these prisons. The burden of work thus thrust upon General Burnett's shoulders might easily have occupied the entire attention of a half-dozen men.

Scarcely had he finished the Indiana case when the trial of the still more notorious Chicago conspiracy was forced upon him. This proved to be a widespread and cunningly-planned scheme to liberate and arm the large force of Confederate prisoners at Camp Douglas. In order to secure the services of General Burnett's abilities and experience, the defendants and witnesses in this case were brought from Chicago to Cincinnati.

The strain upon him had become almost unendurable, yet while he was in the very act of delivering his closing address in the Chciago conspiracy case, a telegram was handed him from Secretary of War Stanton, summoning him to Washington to take part in the trial of the Lincoln assassins.

younger burnett

The part he performed in this capacity is a matter of national history. With Judge Holt and Hon. John A. Bingham, he shares the distinction of convicting the conspirators, and of exposing the connivance of famous Confederate officials in the attempt upon the lives of the chiefs of the Federal Government. General Burnett was appointed to prepare the official account of this trial, and the large volume published by the War Department -- "The Assassination of President Lincoln, and Trial of the Conspirators" -- was compiled under his supervision, with the assistance of a stenographer.

In two interesting papers, read before meetings of the New York State Commandery of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion, December 5th, 1888, and April 3rd, 1889, General Burnett carefully sets forth two important phases of this famous case, and completely refutes slanders which have long assailed the reputations of two of the most honorable officers concerned -- General Hancock and Judge Advocate-General Holt. These papers have been published by the Loyal Legion.

The first, on "General Hancock's Relation to the Trial and Execution of Mrs. Surratt," disproves the reiterated assertion that General Hancock, then commanding the Middle Military Division of Washington, refused to surrender Mrs. Surratt on a writ of habeas corpus, issued by Judge Andrew Wylie, of the Supreme Court, and conclusively shows that the refusal to surrender the woman was by order of President Johnson, Commander-in-chief of the Army, and General Hancock's military superior; whereas General Hancock appeared before Judge Wylie, delivered the President's order, and was himself excused by the court from all responsibility, Judge Wylie declaring that the court had "no fault to attach" to him.

The other paper, on "The Controversy Between President Johnson and Judge Holt," is an equally conclusive exoneration of Judge Holt in the question of veracity between him and Preisdent Johnson as to whether the judge-advocate had withheld or suppressed the recommendation to mercy of Mrs. Surratt, signed by five members of the commission of nine which condemned the conspirators to death and imprisonment. These papers, from the hand of one of the persons most intimately connected with the history of the assassination trial, are not alone able and intensely interesting to the reader, but timely and important in setting at rest for the future historian some mooted questions which grew out of the affair.

After the conviction of the Lincoln conspirators, General Burnett undertook some special work confided to him by the War Department. When this was completed, in December, 1865, he resigned from the army, and began the practice of law in Cincinnati in association with Judge T.W. Bartley, late chief justice of Ohio. In 1869, Judge Bartley removed to Washington, while General Burnett formed a new partnership with Ex-Governor J.D. Cox and Hon. John F. Follett, of Cincinnati. This association continued until 1872, being only interrupted by the few months when General Cox served as Secretary of the Interior in President Grant's Cabinet.

During the years from 1865 to 1872 he removed to New York City, and immediately took a strong and influential position at the bar of the metropolis. In 1873 he was appointed associate attorney and counsel of the Erie Railway Company. He gave his entire time and services in this capacity throughout the administration of President Peter H. Watson, but resigned his position in 1875, when the Hon. Hugh J. Jewett succeeded Mr. Watson.

At this juncture General Burnett once more resumed the general practice of law in partnership with Hon. B.H. Bristow, William Peet, and W.S. Opdycke. He subsequently withdrew from this firm, and formed a partnership with Ex-Judge James Emott, which continued until the latter's death, several years later. Since that time he has been associated in practice with Mr. Edward B. Whitney.

The general's law practice has always been important and iminently successful, and he has been identified with many notable cases, not alone in New York State, but in various other parts of the country. He was counsel for the English bondholders in the famous Emma Mine litigation. Among the opposing counsel was the Hon. Edward J. Phelps, late United States minister to England. The final result was in favor of General Burnett's clients.

He was also associated with Hon. A.F. Walker, and made the closing argument, in 1885, in the celebrated case of the Rutland Railroad Company versus Ex-Governor Page, of Vermont. The plaintiff sought to recover something like four millions of dollars, and the evidence covered the review of Governor Page's transactions for a period of twenty-five years, covering more than fifty millions of dollars. The trial was in actual progress for nearly three months, and was one of the most heated and exciting legal battles ever fought in New England. "It is the most important civil suit on the docket for trial," declared a journal at the time, "since the celebrated case, heard in 1824, in which Daniel Webster was one of the counsel."

The resulting mental strain and tension caused the sickness or death, soon after, of several persons concerned. But, although he had been most active throughout the entire cause, the wonderful constitution which had before served him so well during his extraordinary serves as judge-advocate, once more stood General Burnett in good stead, and he merely suffered a short mental exhaustion, which a few weeks of rest entirely dissipated.

At the outset, popular prejudice was quite formidable against Governor Page; but as the case progressed, a revolution in sentiment ensued, with the result of a complete victory and vindication for the governor. This case attracted the attention of the press thorughout the country, and especially in the city of Boston. Many references to General Burnett's management of the defense and final argument of a character highly commendatory and complimentary, appeared in the leading journals. Concerning his skill in cross-examination, one editor bears this testimony: "Even if General Burnett had won no previous reputation in the legal forum, the consummate ability displayed in conducting the defense of Governor Page would stamp him as the peer of the greatest advocate of the age.

The cross-examination of the expert McLaughlin -- conducted so courteously and gentlemanly that the witness was repeatedly falling into the error that the examiner was Clement's counsel, and yet so turning the expert's testimony that it became evidence for the defendants -- is but one instance of the ability of the man." "Keen, polished," remarked another editor, "with perfect confidence in himself, his case, and his client, a few sentences from General Burnett will clear away the cobwebs from a law point in a very few minutes."

Space does not permit us to dwell upon other numerous and important cases which General Burnett has tried.

In politics the general has always been an ardent Republican, doing more or less work on the stump in various States in every national campaign. He has never held civil office, however, having never been an applicant, nor allowed himself to become a candidate for political preferment.

The general is a member of a number of clubs, including the Union, Colonial, Century, and Metropolitan. He is first vice-president of the Ohio Society, and for several years was president of the Land and Water Club.

His wife, a lady of great literary culture and high social position, was formerly Miss Tailer, of one of the old Washington Square families of New York City. She is descended from Governor Tailer, who was governor of Massachusetts during the Colonial period.

Dictionary of American Biography II p. 298
Brigadier-General Henry Lawrence Burnett. Union soldier, lawyer was born in Youngstown, Ohio, the son of Henry and Nancy Jones Burnett, and a descendant of William Burnet, colonial governor of New York.

At fifteen, determined upon getting an education, he stole away from home, equipped with a bundle of clothing, forty-six dollars, and copies of Thaddeus of Warsaw and the Lady of Lyons, and walked about one hundred miles to Chester Academy. Admitted to the school, he remained for two or three years, when he entered the Ohio State National Law School, from which he graduated in 1859. In the same year he began the practice of law at Warren. On the outbreak of the Civil War he became active in support of the Union. At one of these meetings he was challenged by a man in the audience with the question, "Why don't you enlist?" "I will," he promptly replied.

He at once volunteered in Company C of the 2nd Ohio Cavalry, of which he was chosen captain on August 23. With his regiment he was sent to Missouri and saw service in the actions at Carthage (near Joplin in the southwest of the state) *, Fort Wayne, and Gibson, later taking part in the campaigns in Southern Kentucky. In the fall of 1863, with the rank of major, he was appointed judge-advocate of the Department of the Ohio. A year later at Governor Morton's request, he was sent to Indiana to prosecute members of the Knights of the Golden Circle and later took part in the cases growing out of the Chicago conspiracy to liberate the Confederate prisoners at Camp Douglas.

In these trials, he obtained seven convictions. He was also prominent in the trial of L.P. Milligan for treason before a military commission. He was brevetted a colonel of volunteers March 8, 1865, and in the omnibus promotions of March 13 was brevetted a brigadier-general.

In the prosecution of the assassins of Lincoln he served under Judge-Advocate Joseph Holt with General John A. Bingham as a special assistant, and seems to have borne a major part of the preparation of the evidence. [A paper which he wrote on this topic was given as a talk at the Goshen Presbyterian Church and is preserved at the Goshen NY Library and Historical Society.]

After the trials he moved to Cincinnati, where he practiced law with Judge T.W. Bartley until 1869, and then with Ex-Governors J.D. Cox and John F. Follett until 1872.

He then moved to New York, where at various times he was in partnership with E.W. Stoughton, with B.H. Bristow, William Peet, and W.S. Opdyke, and with Judge James Emott. He was for a time older burnett counsel for the Erie railroad, and was engaged in many noted cases, including the litigation over the Emma mine, in which he acted as attorney for the English bondholders.

Probably his greatest case was that of the Rutland Railroad Company against John B. Page: in the closing argument he spoke for sixteen hours with a "consummate ability" that stamped him "the peer of the greatest advocate of the age" (D. McAdam and others, Bench and Bar of New York, 1899, II, 64). He was an organization Republican, a participant in the party councils, and was on especially close terms with McKinley who used to call him "Lightning Eyes Burnett."

In January 1898 McKinley appointed him federal district attorney for the southern district of New York, and on the completion of his four-year term he was reappointed by Roosevelt.

Burnett married three times.

His first wife was Grace (Kitty) Hoffmann died at age 26; his second, Sarah Lansing died aged 29. His last wife was Agnes Suffern Tailer, of a prominent New York family, who survived him.

In his later years he spent much of his time at his country home, Hillside Farm, Goshen, NY, where he kept a large stable of harness horses which he drove on the track of the Goshen Driving Club.

In the middle of November 1915, while at the farm, he was taken ill with pneumonia. Despite his serious condition he insisted on being taken by train to his city home, where, two months later, he died.

National Cyclopaedia of American Biography Vol. 14, page 272
BURNETT, Henry Lawrence, soldier and lawyer, was born in Youngstown, O., Dec. 26, 1838, son of Henry and Nancy (Jones) Burnett, and a descendant of Thomas Burnett, who came from England and settled first in Lynn, MA and later in Southampton LI. Among his ancestors are William Burnett, colonial governor of New York and New Jersey (1720-28), and Dr. William Burnett, a member of the Continental congress of 1776, and a surgeon-general in the revolutionary army. General Burnett's grandfather was Samuel Burnett, who contributed largely of his fortune to the American cause, and after that struggle settled in the wilderness of Ohio, where he established a home and renewed his fortune.

Henry L. Burnett was educated at Chester Academy, where he was a fellow student with James A. Garfield. Later he attended Hiram Institute under Garfield's tutelage, and after graduating at the Ohio State and National Law School was admitted to the bar in 1860. He began his practice at Warren, Ohio.

At the outbreak of the civil war, he enlisted as a private in the 2nd Ohio cavalry, and was elected a captain upon its organization. He served under Col. Doubleday, in Missouri, taking active part in the battles of Carthage and Fort Wayne, also making the expedition of the Union forces into Cherokee county through Arkansas and the Indian Territory. He served under Burnside in the Knoxville campaign, and was promoted through the various ranks to brigadier-general.

In 1863 he was appointed judge advocate of the Ohio and Northern departments and assigned to the Army of the Cumberland. He managed the "Hurtt" case, the "Indiana conspiracy" and the notorious "Chicago conspiracy", in which the defendants and witnesses were brought to Cincinnati in order to secure his services.

While making the closing address in this case, a telegram from Sec. Stanton summoned him to Washington to take part in the trial of President Lincoln's assassins. He took charge of the investigation relating to the assassination, prepared the testimony for the trial, and was one of the judge-advocates on the trial. Gen. Burnett published papers completely refuting the slanders against Gen. Hancock and Judge Holt in which they were charged with refusing to serve on Mrs. Surratt a habeas corpus and of suppressing or withholding the recommendation to mercy.

In 1865 Gen. Burnett resigned from the army and engaged in the practice of law, first in Cincinnati, O., and later in New York city. He was for a time associated attorney and counsel for the Erie railroad. In general practice, he was associated in turn with Judge Emott, Benjamin H. Bristow, William Peet and William S. Opeyke, and Edward B. Whitney. He was counsel for the English stockholders of the Emma Mine, and in the case of the Rutland Railway Co. against Gov. Paige of Vermont. He was for eight years U.S. attorney for the southern district of New York.

He was a commander of the military order of the Loyal Legion; president of the Ohio Society; member of the Metropolitan, Union and Republican clubs and of the Century and the Bar associations.

He was married in 1859 to a daughter of Judge Benjamin F. Hoffman, law partner of Gov. David Todd; she died in 1854. He was again married in 1867, to Sarah G. Lansing who died in 1877, and again in 1881, to Agnes Suffern, daughter of Edward N. Tailer.

SUNDAY RECORD, November 11, 1990
front grave
MARY TROY, Record Correspondent
GOSHEN NY -- When Charles Munster visited his relatives graves in Slate Hill Cemetery as a boy, he found them by looking for a majestic monument that seemed to reign over the plots below.

The name "Burnett" was chiseled in the stone, which bore a bronze plaque. The monument marks the Goshen grave of a Civil War general and lawyer who investigated the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.

The Goshen Library has a yellowed, 49-page transcript of a report compiled by Henry Burnett, a special judge advocate, after the investigation.

front grave In conversational style, the soldier/lawyer recounts the sleuthing that ultimately uncovered a conspiracy.

The document makes fascinating reading, not only for the facts it contains, but for its unabashed revelation of emotions about the murder of a beloved president.

Burnett told of being summoned on April 17, 1865, from Cincinnati by the Secretary of War Edwin Stanton to help in the investigation in Washington, D.C.

"The gloom of that journey to Washington and the feeling of vague terror and sorrow with which I traversed its streets, I cannot adequately describe and shall never forget," Burnett wrote.

He described people moving about with bowed heads and sorrowful faces. Men spoke in tremulous tones with quivering lips. Cabinet members and others in authority wore anxious expressions with a sense of determination.

The general said soldiers especially loved Lincoln, feeling as though they had a personal relationship with the president. In bursts of unbridled loyalty they were given to shouting, "We are coming, Father Abraham!" Burnett wrote that the soldiers wept like children when told "Uncle Abe" was dead.

In the document, Burnett noted that at the start of the investigation, little was known about the assassin. John Wilkes Booth was the alleged culprit and rumors were rife that he was part of a conspiracy. But authorities had little to go on at first.

What was known, he wrote, is that a tall, dark man, about 30 years old, forced his way into the president's box at Ford's Theatre and shot his victim. He stabbed another man who tried to hold him, then leaped to the stage shouting, "Sic semper tyrannis," and fled out the rear door.

An amusing note, if one is possible, told of a witness who said he heard Booth shout, "I'm sick. Send for McManus."

(What the assassin really said translates roughly to "Thus always the fate of tyrants.")

Eight accomplices were convicted in the crime. Booth, the trigger man, died in a shootout with Army and Secret Service forces on April 26, 1865, 12 days after the murder.

front grave Although little is known about Burnett locally, Civil War history buffs at Pine Bush High School have gathered some information about his career.

Freshman Dan Wittenburg did some research and found that Burnett was born in Youngstown, Ohio, in 1838 and died in New York City in 1916. He was a graduate of Ohio State National Law School and served as a major in the Ohio Cavalry. [Following an injury received when his horse fell on top of him, Henry Burnett was moved from his field military position to a desk job as Judge Advocate for the Department of the Ohio. He subsequently was promoted to Colonel.] In recognition of outstanding service in the Bureau of Military Justice, the lawyer received an honorary promotion allowing him to use the title of general.

The "Dictionary of American Biography" says Burnett lived in New York City and married three times. His third wife, Agnes Suffern Tailer, was from a prominent New York family. They had a country home in Goshen called Hillside Farm where they kept a large stable of harness horses. Burnett loved to exercise the animals at the Goshen Driving Club.

In November 1915, according to the book, he contracted pneumonia at his farm in Goshen. Though critically ill, Burnett insisted upon being transported to the city, where he died two months later.

Last month, when Charles Muenster returned to the South Church Street cemetery, brush and weeds had taken over Burnett's grave. Pushing the growth aside, he discovered the neglected memorial stripped of its bronze plaque.

Muenster, a Vietnam veteran, was upset at the insult to Burnett's memory. He feels a kinship with the 19th century soldier and wants the plaque restored and the grave maintained as a local historic monument.

Muenster says a soldier who served his country as well as Henry Burnett deserved better treatment.


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