Richard Welling Burt was born April 23, 1823 in Warwick, Orange
County, New York. His parents were Foght and Elizabeth (Welling) Burt,
both of the Empire State.
Foght, a hatter by trade, remained a resident of New York until
1834. He then removed with his family to Ohio where he changed his
occupation and turned to farming, settling in Coshocton County. The family
consisted of three children R.W., Thomas H. and Josephine.
up on the farm and obtained a practical education in the common school.
During the Mexican War Burt served as a private for one year in Company B,
Third Ohio Infantry. Returning home, he married Malona Evans in 1848. He
interested himself in farming pursuits and in keeping abreast of the times by
a course of reading and indulging his taste for good books and periodicals.
Especially interested in newspaper work, Burt finally purchased and became
editor of the Progressive Age, at Coshocton, in 1853. At the end of
three years he sold the paper and embarked in the coal and grocery trade in
outbreak of the Civil War, Burt watched the conflict a few months and then
decided that he must have a hand in the preservation of the Union. He
accordingly enlisted December 3, 1861, in Company G, Seventy-sixth Ohio
Infantry. Upon the organization of the regiment he was elected Second
Lieutenant. He went with his company to the seat of war and after the battle
of Arkansas Post, was promoted to a First Lieutenancy. At the expiration of
the first term of enlistment, Lieut. Burt re-entered the ranks in March, 1864
as Captain of Company H, 76th Ohio Infantry, which he commanded until the close
of the war and was mustered out July 15, 1865.
in about thirty battles and skirmishes, including Ft. Donelson, Shiloh,
Milliken's Bend, Chickasaw Bayou, Arkansas Post, Vicksburg, Jackson, Mission
Ridge, Lookout Mountain, Ringgold, Resaca, the Atlanta Campaign and Jonesboro.
He went with Sherman on the march to the sea and then returned up through
the Carolinas to Washington where he was present for the Grand Review.
At the battle of Resaca, Georgia, Burt received a gunshot wound to the
mouth and lost most of his teeth. He had the presence of mind to save the
missle as a momento. He was also badly wounded at Jonesboro.
Burt was a poet
of no mean talent and wrote many war songs. A number of these were published
and sold very well in the army. The songs included, Sherman and the Boys in
Blue, Jeff. Davis In Petticoats, General Logan and the Fifteenth
Army Corps and various others which served to while away many a tedious
hour in camp and on the march. With previous newspaper experience, Burt also
served as the regimental correspondent for the Newark True American
throughout the war.
the service Burt established himself in the grocery business at Peoria,
Illinois. He gradually became interested in the manufacture of soap and
commenced in a modest manner. The business thrived and he formed R.W. Burt &
Co., marketing soap throughout the United States. His family thrived also. The
family included his wife Malona and four children whose names were, Oliver,
Evelyn, Isaac and Lulu. Mrs. Malona Burt departed life at her home in Peoria,
January 1, 1873. In 1876 Burt married Miss Betsy Cotton. At the death of his
second wife, in 1891, he took up his residence with his daughter, Mrs. Evelyn
Starr, and continued a member of that household until his death.
was a sound Republican and religiously, a Universalist. He was Past Commander
of Bryner Post 67, G.A.R. Department of Illinois and a member of The Society of
The Army of the Tennessee. He also was a member of the Masonic fraternity. 1906
found Burt publishing his lifelong collection of poems. He dedicated War
Songs Poems and Odes to his comrades of the Mexican and Civil Wars,
relatives and friends.
Upon his sudden
death, at the age of 89 on July 8, 1911, a news release paying homage to him
stated; "The Flag on the government building flies at half mast in his honor,
a tribute that is peculiarly fitting to a man who loved his country with
exhalted fervor and twice offered his life for its defense."
History of Peoria Co., Johnson & Co., 1880, Chicago.
Portrait & Biographical Album Of Peoria Co., Illinois, Biographical
Publishing Co., 1890, Chicago.
Coshocton Age, Coshocton, Ohio, July, 1911.
War Songs Poems and Odes, Captain Richard W. Burt, J.W. Franks & Sons,
1906, Peoria, Ill.
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