BURNS, Robert Scott
- Born: 1835, Georgia
- Marriage: KING, Mary Jane
- Died: 14 Dec 1862, Oxford, Mississippi at age 27
Noted events in his life were:
• Military Service: Civil War Death. Regiment: 31st Infantry Regiment IL Date Mustered: 19 July 1865 Regiment Type: Infantry Enlisted Died of Disease or Accident: 9 Officers Died of Disease or Accident: 166 Enlisted Killed or Mortally Wounded: 3 Regimental Soldiers and History: List of Soldiers </cgi-bin/sse.dll?db=hdssoldiers&ti=0&F11=354&F9=Union>
The Thirty-first Regiment of Illinois Infantry, except
Companies I and K, was mainly composed of men from the southern
part of the State, the counties of Williamson, Perry,,
Franklin, Jackson, Johnson, Saline and Union furnishing the
larger number. Its rendezvous was Camp Dunlap, Jacksonville,
Illinois; but it was organized at Cairo by John A. Logan, and
was there mustered into the service by Captain Pitcher, U. S.
A., on the 18th of September, 1861, and went into camp of
instruction in the Brigade of General McClernand.
With less than two months, drill, the Regiment took part
in the battle of Belmont, Mo. , November 7, 1861, cutting its
way into the enemy camp, and with equal valor, but less
hazard. Cutting its way out again. On the 7th of February,
1862, the Regiment was at Fort Henry Tenn., and after emerging
from the muddy environments of that stronghold, it traversed
the hills of Fort Donelson, and there, amid winter snows, on
the 15th of the same month, it lost 260 men killed and
wounded--the Regiment having performed, in this engagement the
difficult evolution of a change of front to rear on tenth company,
in the heat of the battle, among tangled brush and on uneven
ground. From Donelson, the Regiment was transported by steamer
to Shiloh, Tenn., and thence it moved towards Corinth, Miss., with
the main body of the army, and reached that place only to find it
evacuated by the enemy. From Corinth the Thirty-first marched to
Jackson, Tenn., and the summer of 1862 was spent in guarding
railroads, skirmishing in the country of the Forked Deer River, and
scouting in the direction of Memphis, to Brownsville and
beyond. Ordered to the support of Gen. Rosecrans, at Corinth,
the Regiment reached that place in time to follow the
retreating foe to Ripley, Miss., where the men fed on fresh
pork, without salt, or crackers, or coffee. On this expedition
it was engaged in the skirmishes of Chewalla and Tuscumbia,
ending the 6th of October, 1862. The Regiment was with Grant
in the first campaign against Vicksburg, sometimes called the
Yokona expedition, and passed through Holly Springs to
Coldwater, at which place the men, destitute of rations in
consequence of the capture and destruction of supplies at Holly
Springs by the enemy, showed their characteristic adaptability
by carrying out at once the suggestion of Logan to convert the
timber into ashes, and, by means of the ashes, the corn of the
surrounding country into hominy.
Upon the termination of this campaign the regiment, with
the army under Grant, was transferred to a new field, that of
the operations which finally resulted in the downfall of
Vicksburg. On the 15th of January, 1863, it set out for
Lagrange, Tenn., and thence went to Memphis, by way of
Colliersville. Leaving Memphis March 10,1863, it embarked for
Lake Providence, La.; and after assisting in the attempts to
open a route by water to a point below Vicksburg, it moved,
upon the abandonment of the attempts, to Milliken's Bend, and
thence to Wanesborough. Having crossed the Mississippi below
Grand Gulf, April 30,1863, the next day the Regiment, without
waiting for rations, though hungry and weary enough, hurried
forward to the support of the comrades then engaged in battle
at Thompson's Hill, near Port Gibson, and quickly forming on
McClernand's left, under the eyes of Generals Grant and Logan,
it moved upon the right wing of the enemy at the charge step,
routing him completely, and helping to secure a speedy victory.
Governor Yates, in civilian garb of swallow tail coat and high
shirt collar, and overflowing with enthusiasm and patriotism,
witnessed this charge. After crossing the Bayou Pierre, the
men of the Thirty-first again met and dispersed their foes
at Ingram Heights, May 3, 1863, and pushed on to Raymond, where
on the 12th the Regiment hurled from its front the fragments of
a brigade which the enemy had thrown against the advance of
Grant. Moving onward, in almost ceaseless march, it took
part in the battle of Jackson, Miss,, May, 14, 1863, and thence
at midnight, on the 15th, through drenching rain, it marched
toward Vicksburg, to meet the enemy anew. About ten o'clock in
the morning of the 16th the men spread their cartridges to dry
in the sun, in an old field about five miles from Champion
Hills, from which latter point was soon after heard the sound
of battle. The men hastily gathered up their ammunition and
seized their muskets, and the Regiment followed the head of the
column at double-quick, effecting a formation with its brigade
on the right of our embattled line, where it rested for a
moment, the men lying on their faces while the hostile shells
whistled and shrieked and exploded above them. At the command
"attention" the line stood erect, with bayonets fixed; the
Brigade-commander, General John E. Smith, gave the word; McPherson
said with a smile, "give 'em Jesse!" and Logan shouted "remember
the blood of your mammies! give 'em hell!" and then the brigade
sprang forward, broke and routed the two column formation over
which waved the Confederate flag, captured the opposing battery,
turned its guns upon the retreating enemy, and took as many
prisoners as there were men in the charging brigade. In this
encounter there was crossing of bayonets and fighting hand to hand.
Sergeant Wick, of Company B, used his bayonet upon his foe, and
Sergeant Hendrickson, of Company C, clubbed his musket in a duel with
one of the men in gray.
From this point the Regiment, with the main army, followed
the retreating enemy to his entrenched lines at Vicksburg,
where it took part in the bloody assaults of the 19th and 22d
of May; its gallant Lieutenant Colonel, Reece, meeting death by
the explosion of a grenade while planting the Regimental Colors
upon the ramparts. Here the flag received 153 bullets, and the
staff was shot asunder in four places.
During the sedge the Regiment took a prominent part in the
operations against Fort Hill; and when the Fort was blown up,
on the 25th of June, by the explosion of a mine beneath it,
there came a time that tested the stuff the men were made of.
Here in the night, in that crater remembered as the "slaughter
pen," the soldiers fighting by reliefs, and within an arms
length of the enemy--some had their muskets snatched from their
hands--under a shower of grenades and of shells lighted by
port-fires, while the voices of Pearson, Goddard, Mooningham
and others, rising at times above the terrific din of combat,
cheered on their men--were deeds of valor performed which would
adorn the heroic page.
On the morning of July 4, 1863, the place of honor having
been assigned to the Brigade, the Thirty-first Regiment marched
proudly across the rents and chasms of Fort Hill into Vicksburg,
Haying made the expedition to Monroe, La., under General
Stephenson, the Regiment went into camp at Black River, Miss.,
the scene of Lawler's splendid victory, and here, on the 5th of
January, 1864, three-fourths of the men again enlisted in the
service. That night the men, formed in line, with lighted
candles held in the shanks of their bayonets, marched to the
quarters of General Force, commanding the Brigade, who appeared
before his tent and catching the splendor from the candles full
in his face cried out with enthusiasm, "Three cheers for the
Thirty-first!" But the "boys" were not going to cheer for
themselves and there were no others present to do it, so they
stood in their ranks, silent and with military air, and cheered
not nor stirred; whereupon the General shouted, "Cheer yourselves, boys!
hip! hip!" and then the cheers were given with a will, followed by
a "tiger" for the Union, and three groans for the Confederacy.
The Regiment was with General Sherman in the campaign
against Meridian, Miss., after which the re-enlisted men the
"Veterans"-took their furloughs, starting for home the 19th of
March, 1864. Having returned to the front, by way or Cairo,
the Regiment camped from the 6th to the 15th of May at Clinton,
on the Tennessee River, and thence marching by way of Rome,
Ga., sometimes collecting, herding and driving beef-cattle, and
sometimes skirmishing with the enemy, it joined Sherman's army
at Ackworth Station. It was in the skirmish at Big Shanty, and
at brush Mountain the assault upon Kenesaw on June 27, 1864;
also in the battles around Atlanta, on the 21st, 22d and 28th
of July, of which that on the 22d. was the most terrible,
the men fighting sometimes on one side of the earthworks,
sometimes on the other. The Regiment was also engaged in the
battles of Lovejoy Station and Jones borough, and was with
Sherman in the mock pursuit of Hood upon his invasion of
Tennessee. Retracing its steps, the Regiment reached Atlanta
on the Thirteenth of November, and on the 15th it there
beganwith Sherman the triumphant march to the sea, and on it
marched, with that magnificent army, cutting roads through
tangled forests, bridging streams for the passage of the troops,
tearing up railroad- tracks, twisting the rails "as crooked as
rams, horns" "discovering" and devouring sweet potatoes and
other provender, surging over the country "from Atlanta to the
sea," "shouting the battle cry of freedom" and proceeding by
way of Millen, it arrived the 10th of December, 1864, at
Savannah. Here the Regiment went into camp on the rice
plantation of Dr. Owen, where the rice was consumed for
food, the husks being first beaten off by means of wooden
mortars and pestles appropriated from the slave quarters near
by. One of the incidents of the day was the encountering of a
battery mounted on a flat car, pushed along the railroad by a
4th of January, 1865, the Thirty-first bade farewell to
Savannah, and shipped on the steamer Harvest Moon, and after
the novel experience and sights of a sea voyage, disembarked at
Beaufort, S. C., where it remained, enjoying the luxury of
fresh oysters at low prices, until the 13th. To this succeeded
some skirmishing at Fort "Pole-'em-till-they-go," as the men
called it--which was evacuated by the enemy. On the 30th of
January the march began through the Carolinas, by way of
Salkahatchie, Orangeburg--which was captured, after some
fighting by the Regiment's skirmishers,--Columbia scourged by
destroying flames--Winsborugh, Cheraw, Fayetteville captured by
foragers--and Bentonville--scenes of the last great struggle of
Johnston's army, and the Regiment came out of the swamps, out of
the pine forests, "out of the wilderness", the men ragged, dirty,
many of them barefooted, to Goldsborough, N. C. , where it
arrived the 24th of March, 1865, and where letters from home and
news from the world were received. These and the prospects of the
nearing of the end were cheering and refreshing to the men who
for 54 days had been without communication with home or the world,
and were weary with long marching and fighting.
On the 14th of April, 1865, the Regiment was with the army
at Raleigh, N. C. Signs of the ruin of the Confederacy and the
dispersion of its armed forces were apparent on every hand.
Soon came the surrender of Johnson's army--the only force which
could oppose the onward march of the Union troops to Richmond,
and the Regiment formed a part of the host to which that army
On the 9th of May the Regiment was at Richmond, on the
19th at Alexandria and on the 24th of May, with faded and
tattered uniforms, tent with martial step and bearing, in
column of company, eyes front, it marched through the principal
avenues of the capital, in that grand review of the returning
armies in presence of the great leaders, civil and military, of
the republic--the most magnificent and imposing spectacle ever
witnessed by the city of Washington. The end had been attained!
Soon afterwards the Regiment was moved to Louisville, Ky.,
arriving at that place on 11th of June, where it was assigned
to provost-guard duty. On the 19th of July, 1865, it was
mustered out of the service, by Lieutenant Aug. P. Noyes, A. C.
M., 3d Division 17th Corps. It was then moved to Springfield,
Ill., where it arrived on the 23d of July, 1865 and there on
the 31st of the same month, the men received their final
discharge, and separated for their homes those who were left of
At the time of the discharge there were present 25
officers and 677 enlisted men. When first organized the
Regiment numbered 1,130 men. It had recruited 700. The
casualties, including men discharged before final muster out,
amounted to 1,128. In the course of its existence the Regiment
had been commanded by four Colonels, and had had five
Lieutenant-Colonels and six Majors. Of the 25 officers
discharged at the final muster out, all save the chaplain had
risen from the ranks.
In the campaigns of Sherman this Regiment had marched
2,076 miles. This part of its history is included in that of
the Brigade to which it belonged--the 1st Brigade, 3d
Division, 17th Corps Army Of Tennessee. The Regiment
marched 2000 miles under Grant, and on expeditions other than
those of Sherman. It served in the hostile States of Missouri,
Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, Alabama,
North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. Before January 1,
1863, the history of the Regiment is comprised in that of the
1st Brigade, 3d Division, Reserve Army of Tennessee.
Always efficiently commanded, and evincing soldierly
qualities in its first battle, the Regiment became in the days
of its "veteran" existence. one of the best drilled in the
service. It was, while encamped at Black River, Miss.,
after the Vicksburg campaigns, that the Regiment, under the
skillful management of Lieutenant Colonel Pearson, attained
that high degree of discipline and proficiency in drill for
which it became known, and towards which it had been directed,
under Logan and White, in the earlier days of the war. The
latter fell at Donelson and deserved the title "The bravest of
Colonel Pearson had seen service under General Prentiss
before the organization of this Regiment, and early showed an
aptitude for tactics and drill which made him a favorite with
the field and staff, while his soldierly qualities displayed at
Henry and Donelson endeared him to the rank and file. Hence he
rapidly rose from the ranks, being promoted to Commissary
Sergeant March 1, 1862, to Adjutant, May 16, 1862; to Major,
February 4, 1863 by the unanimous vote of the officers; to
Lieutenant Colonel July 1, 1863, and to Colonel September 26,
1864. On the 13th of March, 1865, he was breveted Brigadier
1865. General of Volunteers, for gallantry during the war.
Many of the officers and soldiers of the Regiment deserve
special mention and lasting remembrance, tent the space
allotted forbids a more extended account. To some of the men
were awarded medals for gallantry; among them Sergeant George W
White,of Company C, who, severely wounded in the battle of
Atlanta, July 22, 1864,resolutely and persistently refused to
be carried to the rear.
The fighting qualities of this Regiment were displayed in
14 battles and 25 skirmishes, of various degrees of importance.
It witnessed the surrender of Buckner and the garrison at
Donelson, the capitulation of Pemberton and his army at
Vicksburg, the humiliation of Johnson and his force at
Bentonville, and their final surrender near Raleigh. And a
brilliant gem in its crown of glory is the fact of its
organization as a "veteran" Regiment, at a time when
the Union cause stood so much in need of trained and tried
soldiers to complete the overthrow of armed rebellion, and to
establish upon the ruins of anarchy and slavery "a government
of the people, by the people, for the people"
Source: Illinois Adjutant-General's Report, vol. 2, p. 574
Fought on 07 November 1861 at Belmont, MO </cgi-bin/sse.dll?&ti=0&db=hdsbattle&f0=433>.
Fought on 15 February 1862 at Fort Donelson, TN </cgi-bin/sse.dll?&ti=0&db=hdsbattle&f0=2232>.
Fought on 08 March 1862.
Fought on 14 May 1862.
Fought on 22 July 1862.
Fought on 05 September 1862 at Burnt Bridge, TN.
Fought on 20 October 1862.
Fought on 20 December 1862 at Trenton, TN </cgi-bin/sse.dll?&ti=0&db=hdsbattle&f0=4822>.
Fought on 18 January 1863 at Grand Junction, TN.
Fought on 01 May 1863 at Thompson's Hill, MS.
Fought on 12 May 1863 at Raymond, MS </cgi-bin/sse.dll?&ti=0&db=hdsbattle&f0=4047>.
Fought on 16 May 1863 at Champion Hills, MS </cgi-bin/sse.dll?&ti=0&db=hdsbattle&f0=1245>.
Fought on 21 May 1863 at Vicksburg, MS </cgi-bin/sse.dll?&ti=0&db=hdsbattle&f0=4954>.
Fought on 22 May 1863 at Vicksburg, MS </cgi-bin/sse.dll?&ti=0&db=hdsbattle&f0=4954>.
Fought on 23 May 1863 at Vicksburg, MS </cgi-bin/sse.dll?&ti=0&db=hdsbattle&f0=4954>.
Fought on 27 May 1863 at Vicksburg, MS </cgi-bin/sse.dll?&ti=0&db=hdsbattle&f0=4954>.
Fought on 27 June 1863 at Fort Hill, Vicksburg.
Fought on 28 February 1864 at Canton, MO.
Fought on 20 April 1864.
Fought on 27 June 1864.
Fought on 27 June 1864 at Kenesaw Mountain, GA </cgi-bin/sse.dll?&ti=0&db=hdsbattle&f0=2828>.
Fought on 21 July 1864 at Atlanta, GA </cgi-bin/sse.dll?&ti=0&db=hdsbattle&f0=5287>.
Fought on 22 July 1864.
Fought on 22 July 1864 at Atlanta, GA </cgi-bin/sse.dll?&ti=0&db=hdsbattle&f0=5287>.
Fought on 23 July 1864.
Fought on 29 July 1864.
Fought on 08 August 1864 at Atlanta, GA </cgi-bin/sse.dll?&ti=0&db=hdsbattle&f0=5288>.
Fought on 04 September 1864 at Lovejoy Station, GA </cgi-bin/sse.dll?&ti=0&db=hdsbattle&f0=3088>.
Fought on 19 September 1864.
Fought on 19 October 1864.
Fought on 31 October 1864.
Fought on 22 March 1865 at Bentonville, NC
Robert married Mary Jane KING, daughter of Henry G. KING and Mary E CHRISTOPHER. (Mary Jane KING was born in 1838 in North Carolina.)