The grave in the tree at Arlington National Cemetery

The grave has almost been lost to a tree

Michael Burns’ grave in the rear of Arlington National Cemetery has a very large oak nearly swallowing the Civil War infantryman’s site. The standard stone marker is right next to the tree, which looks a good century old itself and obviously wasn’t there when Burns was buried in 1864. Makes you wonder what it will look like 50 years from now.

It made me wonder who was the man overshadowed by the tree. With the help of, I found his records.

Born in Ireland in 1834, Burns enlisted May 13, 1861 as part of the Union Army’s 36th Regiment, A Company filled with men from Buffalo, N.Y. The private received a disability discharge on Oct. 30, 1862 in Washington, D.C. The separation papers list “Surgeon’s CTF at Washington, D.C.” as the reason. I wasn’t able to determine what that meant.

My best guess is Burns was injured during a battle outside Washington given the discharge location. He died Feb. 20, 1864, less than four months after his discharge. Everything indicates death was caused by an infection from a battle wound, but that’s just an educated opinion.

The “Washington Volunteers” lost 37 men to wounds and 31 to other causes. Burns was one.

About Rick

Rick Snider is a native Washingtonian, long-time journalist and licensed tour guide since 2010.
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