John G. Burchfield (May 5, 1846 - March 8, 1935) served as a private in Company G, 13th Tennessee Volunteer Cavalry.
John Burchfield was born May 5, 1846 in Carter County, Tennessee to John and Martha (Gourley) Burchfield. He married first Margaret Baumgardner (b. January 1846) with whom he had six children. He married second Launa Stella Hyder (1876-1942); they had no children.
Although just 15 years old, Burchfield was an active participant in the bridge burnings in 1861, and helped burn the bridge across the Holston River at Zollicoffer. He wrote of his participation: "We all rode to the [railroad] station, dismounted, and rushed to the bridge. It would be impossible to describe the haste with which each man did his part. A guard was captured at the bridge, and in five minutes from the time we reach it, the flames were driven from the south end to the north end of the bridge. All re-mounted and returned by the way we came." He slept that night and "felt that death would be visited upon any of the men who participated in that night's fearful work." By noon the following day, Burchfield wrote, "I was in Elizabethton, with a gun in my hands, and was drilling a squad of the boys of my own age. D. P. Wilcox came to us and asked if we wanted to enlist. I said we were already in the army. That evening we elected him Captain of the Town Company, and he led us down to Taylor's Ford, where we received our 'Baptism' for the Union, under the fire of rebel lead, and from there to Clark's Spring and then to Elizabethton, and finally to 'Hyder's Old Field' in the Doe river cove where the 'army' disbanded."
Civil War service
Burchfield enlisted in Company G on September 24, 1863 in Carter County, Tennessee for a period of three years and mustered in October 28, 1863 at Strawberry Plains, Tennessee. He was appointed corporal October 20, 1863 by order of Colonel Miller. Burchfield was reduced to the ranks April 23, 1864 at his request. He served as an orderly in May, June, and December 1864.
He is described as 18 years old, 5' 5" tall, fair complexion, blue eyes, dark hair, and by occupation a blacksmith.
Burchfield is listed as present for duty throughout his term of service.
During the events which led to the capture of John Hunt Morgan in Greeneville, Tennessee, it was Burchfield who went to the Fry Hotel where Morgan had reportedly hid beneath the porch for a short time. According to the regimental history, "Corporal J. G. Burchfield rode on down to the Fry Hotel, where he saw Mrs. Fry, a relative of his, and stopped and shook hands with her. She said to him, 'John, Morgan is in that brick house (pointing to the Williams house) and I want you people to catch him.'"
As the war was closing, the 13th Tennessee Cavalry was one of many units hunting for Confederate President Jefferson Davis, Vice President Alexander Stephens, and the cabinet officers. Burchfield was one of the eight men who captured Brigadier General Robert Toombs, who had served as the first Confederate Secretary of War.
Burchfield mustered out with the regiment on September 5, 1865 at Knoxville. He had last been paid to August 31, 1864, owed $71.26 to the government for clothing, had been paid a $25 bounty, and was owed a $75 bounty.
In January 1866, Burchfield moved to Athens, Illinois. He moved around in Illinois until settling in Springfield where he met his first wife. He applied for an invalid's pension on April 29, 1872. The family moved to Emporia, Kansas in 1886. In December 1890 he moved to Washington, D.C. where he was appointed to the Capitol Police and later served as a watchman in a government building. Burchfield returned to Tennessee in 1902, where he was employed as engineer of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers in Mountain Home, Tennessee.
Burchfield was and active member of the Grand Army of the Republic for many years and served as a post officer.
Burchfield died March 8, 1935 in Milligan, Tennessee and is buried at Williams Cemetery in Milligan.
- District 91, Bladensburg, Maryland, 1900 U.S. Census.
- Scott & Angel, p. 74.
- Ibid., p. 74.
- Ibid., p. 75.
- Ibid., p. 175.
- Ibid., p. 244.
- He appears in an enrollment book of Civil War veterans in 1889 where he was living in Emporia, receiving $4.00 a month pension, reported developing a lung disease, and was a member of the local G.A.R. Emporia Post Number 55.