Site hosted by Build your free website today!

Private Robert Pinkney Burnett

Robert Pinkney Burnett
Company A, Infantry Battalion

Private Robert Pinkney Burnett enlisted with his company, The Greene Rifles from Greene County, Georgia, at Camp McDonald in Cobb County on June 26th, 1861. Upon enlistment, the company was a part of the 4th Georgia State brigade but would shortly become a part of the Infantry Battalion of the Phillips Legion. The 28 year old Robert Burnett is shown in the 1860 Census as a painter living in Greensboro, Greene County. His wife, Dorcas is 20 and they already have three young sons, John, 4, Edward, 2, and Robert, 8 months. Robert had married Dorcas at Marietta, Ga on August 20th, 1854.

An article published in the February 1st, 1861 edition of the Augusta Daily Constitutionalist provides us with a unique insight into the newly formed Greene Rifles. It was written bu the paper's editor following a trip to Greensboro, Ga. After describing the town, he proceeds to discuss the Greene Rifles, "Upon the evening of our arrival, the newly organized company of the county, "The Greene Light Rifles", were on parade dress, and we were kindly invited to be present at their drill room and parade ground.

Perfection in drill was not looked for in a corps which does not number as many weeks in age as many of our city companies do in years, but the evolutions gone through were very accurately performed and in precision of step, fine forms and manly bearing, they look every inch, soldiers. The uniform is blue and gold, the hats ornamented by drooping plumes.

The most commendable characteristic is the perfect subordination, so hard to obtain in an assembly of gentlemen, and which is yet the first duty of the soldier. The spirit of obedience and the zeal with which they went through the long and fatiguing drill, gives abundant promise of the service they can render the State on the field.

The company is most efficiently commanded by Captain Robinson, and as he does not rely on the memory of his past experience, but on a close study of Hardee, there is no doubt that the "Rifles" will own rank with those other companies, whose perfect drill is the peculiar pride of the State. Many of our citizens will remember the showy uniform of the few, who heard the news in time to be present with us from old Greene, at the taking of the Arsenal."

The photograph of Robert Burnett would appear to be that worn in this prewar period as it seems to match the description given in the newspaper account. The photo does present an interesting blend of features from the epaulets to the sword belt/sash. These are typically associated with officer's uniforms, but the presence of his rifle and the absence of a sword clearly indicate that he is an enlisted man. These may well have been props provided by the photographer or friends to "jazz" up the photo. His weapon appears to be the US Model 1841 Rifle often referred to as the "Mississippi Rifle".

Robert's service records indicate that he was a highly reliable soldier as he shows as "present" on all muster rolls with no indication of any wounds or serious illness until he is captured at Sailors Creek, Va on April 6th, 1865. After imprisonment at Point Lookout, he took the Oath of Allegiance on June 24th, 1865 and was released. His oath shows him to be five foot, nine and one half inches tall with greyish hair and blue eyes.

We know a bit about his postwar life from an application for a widow's pension filed by his wife in 1901. She says that they moved out to Arkansas in 1872 and that Robert died at Lonoke (sp?), Arkansas on December 10th, 1878. She then moved back to Georgia in 1879. She also mentions that she and Robert had seven children. She would live on until June 18th, 1921, surviving Robert by forty two years.

Photo courtesy of Mr Trey Bayer of Spring, Texas

Written by:Kurt Graham

Phillip's Georgia Legion