Transcript:Indiana, United States. Biographical and Genealogical History of Wayne, Fayette, Union and Franklin Counties/B/Burkhart, John


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John Burkhart (p 898)

Captain John Burkhart, ex-soldier of the rebellion and superintendent of the Brookville water-works, was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, April 29, 1837, and is a son of Robert and Magdalena (Leis) Burkhart. Robert Burkhart came to this country from Baden, Germany, and first located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1833. He engaged in work at his trade --- edge tool making. In 1835 he went to Cincinnati, where he engaged in a general blacksmithing business. He made many of the tools for the Little Miami Railroad. This was the first railroad to enter Cincinnati and he had a contract to make a large number of picks when his career was cut short by death, in 1842, at the age of thirty-two years. His wife died thirteen years later, at the age of forty-eight years. One daughter and three sons composed this family, each of the sons doing duty in the Civil War. Robert, the eldest, was in a Missouri regiment, under Generals Lyon and Sigel, and later, in 1863 and 1864, in the Army of the Cumberland; John is our subject; Caroline, the only daughter; and Joseph, who served three years in the Sixth Ohio Regiment.

Captain John Burkhart attended the public schools of Cincinnati, and when fourteen years of age was placed in the bell and brass foundry of George W. Coffin & Company to learn the trade of brass-moulding and pattern-making, going to school in the winter. After three years, on account of impaired health, he was forced to quit the brass works. At the age of seventeen he left school and for two years and a half was engaged in various branches of starch-making in the St. Bernard and Lockland, Ohio, starch factories. In the latter part of 1856 he accepted a situation in R. G. Smith's machine shop, Fay's Building, Cincinnati, Ohio. In July, 1858, Joseph Cooper and Washington McLean purchased the Whitewater Canal and now offered Captain Burkhart a more remunerative position, in connection with canal work. Accordingly he came to Brookville, and took charge of a steam-dredging machine and when not engaged with the dredge assisted in the repairing of locks, aqueducts, dams, etc.

April 23, 1861, he dropped civil pursuits and enlisted in Captain John Burton's company, later known as Company C, Thirteenth Indiana Volunteers. However, before Burton's company was assigned to any regiment, Captain Burkhart, with a number of others, withdrew from Burton and joined the Sixteenth Regiment of Indiana Volunteers, under Colonel P. A. Hackleman (the late General Hackleman, killed in the battle of Iuka, Mississippi), at Richmond, Indiana. The regiment was called into service for one year, and was part of General Banks' column in the Shenandoah Valley and before Washington, taking part in all marches and actions of that column from July, 1861, to May 15, 1862, when the regiment was discharged at Washington City, and Captain Burkhart returned home and took up his work where he had dropped it, on the Whitewater Canal. July 15, 1862, he enlisted in Company C, Sixty-eighth Regiment of Indiana Volunteers, at Laurel, Indiana; assisted in recruiting the company; was made sergeant and later promoted to first sergeant, and then to second lieutenant. He was taken prisoner at Munfordville, Kentucky, but was paroled and exchanged and was than granted thirteen days' furlough. A few days were spent in Indianapolis, after which he moved to Louisville, Kentucky, thence, via Cumberland River, to Nashville, arriving there the day after the battle of Stone River. From January 1, 1863, to March, he did garrison duty at Nashville and then proceeded to Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Here he marched in a foraging expedition with Colonel Hall and was engaged in an eleven days' raid against Morgan, in which the latter was routed. His regiment belonged to Reynolds' division, Fourteenth Army Corps, under General George H. Thomas, and they were engaged in a three-days skirmish about Hoover's Gap and finally formed in battle, thereafter making rapid marches and driving the enemy before them through Manchester and from their stronghold, Tullahoma, and across Elk River to the foot of the mountains bordering the Tennessee River.

During this campaign, lasting seventeen days, it rained almost continuously. While in bivouac on Elk River they received the news of the victory at Gettysburg and surrender of Vicksburg. They then moved to Decherd Station, thence across the mountains, over University Heights, camping there four days. They then proceeded through Sweden's Cove to Jasper, situated near the Tennessee River; crossed the river in dug-outs at Shell Mound, where a fruitless attempt was made to save a large viaduct at Whiteside that had been fired by the rebels. They crossed the Raccoon Mountains at the tri-state line and entered the Trenton (Georgia) Valley, remaining four days in that valley. They then moved around the sand ridge into Lookout Valley; hurried across Lookout Mountain, at Stephen's Gap, in the night to support General Negley's division; were on the skirmish line for two days following at Pond Springs; on the night of September 18 marched all night, moving from Pond Springs to near Gordon's Mills, and engaged in the battle of Chickamauga September 19 and 20. On the afternoon of the 20th their gallant colonel, Edward A. King, then acting brigade commander, was killed. They withdrew in the night in the direction of Chattanooga, later retired into the city, built fortifications and did picket duty until the 18th of November, and that night took a desirable piece of timber and advanced the picket lines, the enemy retiring without firing a shot.

When the call for troops came in December, 1864, our subject raised a company, Company F, One Hundred and Forty-sixth Indiana Volunteers, under Colonel Merritt C. Welsh. This regiment went to the front the following March, doing duty in the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia, where they remained until after the close of the war, and were finally discharged August 31, 1865. Captain Burkhart served three years and thirty days, and was ready for duty every hour of this time. He had the good fortune of receiving no wounds or being otherwise disabled.

After the war Captain Burkhart engaged in contracting and building. He designed and built many residences in Brookville and vicinity, had part of the contract for remodeling the court-house, and furnished the plans for the system of water-works in operation since 1891, of which he has been superintendent since its completion. He also furnished the plans for the rebuilding of the Laurel Dam of the Brookville & Metamora Hydraulic Company. In 1884 he removed the old brick house which was the birthplace of General Lew Wallace, and replaced the same with a modern residence.

In November, 1862, John Burkhart and Mary Grossman were united in matrimony. Her parents were Simon and Catharine Grossman. The children born to this couple were: Catharine, wife of E. C. Butler; William, who married Lillian Bradburn; Mary, who married Willick Wilson; Edward C. and Magdalena.