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Bill Thayer

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 [decorative delimiter] Class of 1880

Vol. III

(Born Pa.)

George R. Burnett

(Ap'd Pa.)


Born in or near Norristown, PA.​a

Military History. — Cadet at the Military Academy, June 14, 1876, to June 11, 1880, when he was graduated and promoted in the Army to

Second Lieut., 9th Cavalry, June 12, 1880.

Served: on frontier duty at Ft. Marcy, N. M., July 28 to Sep. 9, 1880, — Ft. Wingate, N. M., and Scouting (absent as witness before a General Court Martial in New York city, Feb. 7 to June 14, 1881), to Nov. 1, 1881; and Ft. Reno, I. T., to Dec. 12, 1882; on leave of absence, and conducting recruits to the 13th Infantry, to Feb. 17, 1883; on frontier duty at Ft. Riley, Kan., and in the field, to June 19, 1883, — and Ft. Lewis and Scouting in Colorado, to Aug. 11, 1883; under instruction at the Infantry and Cavalry School of Application, Ft. Leavenworth, Kan., to July 3, 1885; on frontier duty at Ft. McKinney, Wy., to Aug. 4, 1886,

(First Lieut., 9th Cavalry, June 6, 1885)

— Ft. Du Chesne, Utah, and in the field, to Aug. 10, 1888; and on sick leave of absence, to –––––.

Vol. IV
[Supplement, Vol. IV: 1890‑1900]

Military History. —

Medal of Honor

for most distinguished gallantry in action at Cuchillo Negro, N. M., Aug. 16, 1881, in saving the life of a dismounted soldier, who was in imminent danger of being cut off, by galloping quickly to the assistance of the man, under a heavy fire, and escorting him to a place of safety; while serving as 2d Lieutenant, 9th Cavalry.

Served: On sick leave of absence, till Feb. 20, 1891.

Retired from Active Service, for disability from injury in the line of duty, Feb. 20, 1891.

Civil History. — Professor of Military Science and Tactics at the Fairfield Military Academy, Fairfield, N. Y., from Sept. 15, 1891 to Jan. 1, 1892; at the New York Military Academy, Cornwall, N. Y., till June, 1892; at the East Florida Military Institution, Gainesville, Fla., from Sept. 15, 1892 to April 1, 1893; at the Western Military Academy, Upper Alton, Ill., till Nov. 26, 1893. — Traveled in Europe for three years, and returned to the Fairfield Military Academy as Commandant of Cadets and Principal of the Institution. — Offered his services to the War Department at the outbreak of the Spanish-American war. — Post-office address, Fairfield, Herkimer County, N. Y.

Vol. V
[Supplement, Vol. V: 1900‑1910]

(George Ritter Burnett)
(Born April 21, 1858)

Civil History. — Traveled in Europe for three years; U. S. Vice-Consul and Acting Consul, Kehl, Baden, Germany, Sept., 1905 to March, 1907; Commandant of Cadets and Principal Fairfield Military Academy, Fairfield, New York, Sept., 1897 to June, 1899; offered his services to the War Department at the out‑break of the Spanish-American War; in Europe, Sept., 1899 to Sept., 1900; commandant and Principal Fairfield Military Academy, Sept., 1900 to June, 1901; Professor of Military Science and Tactics at the State University of Iowa, May 21, 1901 to Sept. 1, 1905; received the degrees of B. S., L. L. B., 1904 and M. A., 1905, from the State University of Iowa; Superintendent, Principal and Commandant Blees Military Academy, Macon, Missouri, Sept. 1, 1905, until present time, (March 30, 1908); member Sons of Revolution, Old Guard, Founders and Patriots, Society of Indian Wars, Medal of Honor Legion; Lieut.‑Colonel on Staff of Governor of Florida, Sept., 1892 to April, 1893; Major on Staff of Governor of Illinois, April, 1893 to Nov., 1893; Colonel Iowa National Guard, Feb., 1892 to Sept., 1905; Colonel Missouri National Guard, Sept., 1905 until present time, (March 30, 1908.) — Post office address, Macon, Missouri.

Died Nov. 1, 1908, at Lincoln, Neb.: Aged 51.

Buried, Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA.

Thayer's Note:

a Lt. Burnett's birthplace is from the following obituary notice in The Iowa Alumnus, Vol. VI (October, 1908–June, 1909), p53, which I transcribe here in part because those online sources that give his birthplace — as "Lower Providence Township, Pennsylvania", immediately next to Norristown — provide no source for the statement; but mostly because it is interesting in several other respects (despite minor inaccuracies but also the howler that he had a brilliant record in the Mexican War, fought eleven years before he was born), and he has no obituary notice in the Association of Graduates reports:

Col. Geo. Ritter Burnett

[image ALT: A head-and‑shoulders photograph, three-quarters right, of a rather fierce-looking man in military uniform with several medals (although he also has a somewhat worried air). He has a large handlebar mustache, and his thinning hair is parted down the middle. He is West Point graduate Gerald Ritter Burnett, the subject of this webpage.]

Col. George R. Burnett passed away October 30th at 10 P.M. in Lincoln, Neb. This news came as a shock to his many friends at the University. While his health had not been good during recent years, his death came unexpectedly.

George Ritter Burnett was born April 21, 1858, at Norristown, Penn. In 1874 he graduated from Pierce's Union Business College, Pennsylvania. Later he attended West Point Military Academy, graduating therefrom in 1880, with the rank of Second Lieutenant and was assigned to the Ninth Cavalry Regiment. In 1885 he graduated from the United States School of Application at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and about the same time was promoted to the rank of First Lieutenant. Lieutenant Burnett's service in the army was characterized by many deeds of heroism. His record in the Mexican War and in suppressing numerous Indian outbreaks is especially brilliant. He was awarded several medals on account of his distinguished service.

Friends of Colonel Burnett will remember that he habitually wore but one of these medals and it is an interesting fact that this one medal in which he took the greatest pride was awarded to him for saving the life of a negro private soldier. This soldier was dismounted, seriously wounded and in imminent danger of falling into the hands of Indians. Lieutenant Burnett galloped to the assistance of the soldier, under heavy fire, and took him to a place of safety. Lieutenant Burnett was retired from active service in 1891.

He was at one time United States consul to Straussburg,​a1 and while there became acquainted with Miss Marie Obert, whom he afterward married and who now survives him.

In September, 1901, Lieutenant Burnett became commandant of cadets at the University of Iowa, with the rank of Colonel. This position he held for four years and while there came to be held in high regard by the men of the battalion and the people of Iowa City in general. While acting as commandant of cadets he took up the study of law and graduated in 1904. In 1905 he was awarded an M. A. degree having taken his major in Political Science. He became a member of the University of Iowa Chapter of Sigma Nu, and also of the legal fraternity of Phi Delta Phi. When he left the University of Iowa, it was to take a position as the head of Blees Military Academy at Macon, Mo. This position he held until recently, when he went to Nebraska to take a similar position in a military school there.

a1 Strassburg is meant, the German spelling of Strasbourg, the large French city in Alsace occupied by Germany from 1870 to 1918. This doesn't exactly contradict the Register, which states he was consul in Kehl: Kehl is a little place across the Rhine from Strasbourg, and not in Alsace; it is the nearest town to Strasbourg that is properly in Germany. The United States government officially maintained its consulate in Germany, to which France could have no objection.

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