Items from the estate of William Porter Burnham, Major General commanding the 82nd Division in WWI.
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David Roe Burnham was a career army officer, who had served during the Civil and Indian Wars. He first mustered in with the 67th PA Infantry in 1861 as a 1st Lieutenant; captain in 1863, and mustered out of that regiment in September of 1864. He took a commission in the regular army in 1867 as a 2nd Lt. in the new 35th U.S. Infantry, later becoming part of the 15th Infantry in the reorganization of the army in 1869. Burnham remained with that regiment as 1st Lt. and Captain until October, 1884; retiring on June 15, 1891. This grouping of material includes his MOLLUS Medal No. 3536.
William Power Burnham, was born in 1860, at Scranton, PA. He attended the USMA 1877 to 1880, but left prior to graduating; later enlisting and quickly rising to the rank of sergeant in Company “E,” 14th U.S. Infantry, and later obtained a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 6th infantry in 1883.
His first duty assignment began with the 6th U.S. Infantry, at Fort Douglas, Utah until 1889, and served with several other regiments up to the Spanish American War. Promoted to Colonel of US Volunteers, he took command of the 4th Missouri Infantry, After the war he was in the Philippines, Panama, out west again, etc.
At the start of WWI, Burnham was promoted to Brigadier and given the command of the 164th Infantry Brigade, and at the same time took command of the 82nd Division during the period of organization. He is created with naming of the “All-American” Division. He commanded the unit in combat in France in several offensives, and later replaced, taking the assignment as Military Attache in Athens, Greece where he served until July of 1919.
This grouping includes William’s MOLLUS Medal No. 3658, insignia from the 1900-WWI period, with some of the better items being a pair of general stars, made by N.S. Meyer; his general officer gold campaign hat cord, a Puerto Rico and Philippine Campaign medal ribbons, and other insignia.
Also, there is his major general’s field flag, measuring 18×28 inches (backed on linen. at one time intended to frame or mount). The flag would have flown in camp or headquarters in the field, It shows use and age soiling; probably used during the war, not some extra that sat in a trunk. A small French flag is pinned to the Flag.
Finally there is a framed letter from the commanding general of the 82nd Division, MG W.B. Palmer; writing to Gen. Burnham’s son, thanking him for the framed picture of his father with the Mayor of Toul, France, and a division map used in WWI. The date of “May 1950” is written on the back of the frame. Gen. Palmer signed the 82nd Division letterhead.
A small of nice group of material for an important WWI general.
The 6th infantry cap badge was removed from this lot prior to sale. (7/30/20) JPM.