|Burr had this piece of flattened lead in his left ankle for decades before|
it was removed. Neither the piece of lead nor Burr's X-ray are currently
on public display at the New England Civil War Museum in Rockville, Conn.
Burr was wounded during the 16th Connecticut's disastrous experience in farmer John Otto's 40-acre cornfield outside Sharpsburg. The piece of lead was surgically removed sometime early in the 20th century. An X-ray of Burr's ankle, apparently taken in the 1890s, and the piece of lead are two of the quirkier items -- Dunkard Church shingle, anyone? -- in the collection of the outstanding little museum about 20 miles northeast of Hartford.
Burr's tale is amazing and quite sad.
Francis W Burr, Bela's brother and also a private in Company G of the 16th Connecticut, was shot in the groin at Antietam and died in Locust Spring Hospital near the battlefield on Oct. 11, 1862. Bela Burr, who also suffered a gunshot wound to his right shin, astoundingly lay on the battlefield 48 hours near the body of Captain John L. Drake of the 16th Connecticut before he was discovered and taken to the nearby Otto barn for treatment. Burr was transferred to a hospital in Frederick, Md., before he was sent to Knight General Hospital in New Haven in March 1863. Burr, who lived in Farmington, Conn., before the war, was discharged from the Union army because of disability on Nov. 20, 1863 and eventually settled in Rockville. (1)
|Burr was listed among the Antietam casualties in the Hartford Courant |
on Sept. 26, 1862. His brother, Francis, also was wounded at Antietam.
He died of his wounds on Oct. 11, 1862.
"Read the simple story of his experience," the Courant wrote, "and ask yourself if you think $30 a month paid to him in his old age is a national extravagance. Money can never measure the debt we all owe to the true heroes of the great struggle, among whom the quiet and unassuming men like Burr are as truly entitled to be counted as the great generals whose names are part of history."
A longtime newspaper editor and publisher in Tolland (Conn.) County, Burr died April 29, 1908. It's unclear if he ever received his $30-a-month pension.
Why did the old soldier, a member of the Rockville G.A.R. post that eventually became the museum, save the piece of lead and X-ray? People collect stuff -- weird stuff like this, this and, quite sadly, this. It's only human nature.
(1) Hartford Courant, March 19, 1908, Page 8