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Narrator: Philip J. Burger, 91, of Hamilton

Mr. Burger was born 1843 on the Rhine, Germany, the son of John C. and Mary Frances (Issler) Burger, who were married 1829. In order to have more freedom, they came to the United States. The father was a cutler by profession and of course, located in a big city to practice his trade. The home was in Philadelphia and little Phil was sent to a German Lutheran school where he recited in German. In 1854, the father decided to go to Iowa and the children were of course sent to school but alas! it was an English school and little Phil knew no English so he had to go back in the first reader and learn his a-b-c's with little fellows while he was twelve years old. Soon however, he overcame this obstacle and went where he really belonged.

When the war came, he enlisted in the 26th Iowa Cavalry. He had no hesitation; to him, the country was his country and secession was wrong. Many of the fellows were not so eager "to fight for niggers" which was the felling common at the beginning of the war.

He tells with great earnestness of the evening dress parade in which the adjutant read the offer to the Southern States to keep their slaves if they would withdraw from secession. Then three months later, again there was a dress parade and again the adjutant read orders to the company. The South had rejected the offer made by the U.S. Government. Now the Adjutant asked all who were ready to preforce the war with shot and shell to step five paces forward. Every man moved forward. From that time on, it was a deeper spirit that moved the soldiers; they were fighting for a union.

I asked him why he voted for Lincoln. It was Lincoln's second term and Phil Burger's first vote for a president. He said because in the conduct of the war, he (Lincoln) had shown that he was a great leader. Mr. Burger had no past politics to settle the matter for him. He saw Lincoln at a public demonstration about 1862. He said he was homely, but no one saw that because he looked grand.

When Mr. Burger decided to leave Iowa and come to Breckenridge, Mo., to farm in 1878, his Iowa friends joked him about going down among the Rebels but he told them that the war was over, there now were no Johnny Rebs.

Interviewed June 1934.


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