John Lawrence Burns (September 5, 1793 – February 4, 1872), veteran of the War of 1812, became a 69-year-old civilian combatant.
During the American Civil War, when the Rebels invaded Gettysburg in the summer of 1863, John Burns as a citizen of Gettysburg grabbed his rifle and joined up with the Union Army in the midst of the battle. He was wounded, but survived to become a national celebrity.
When in November 1863, President Abraham Lincoln visited Gettysburg, the one person he truly wanted to meet was John Burns. They sat together on the afternoon of November 19 as they listened to the Third Gettysburg Address.
If John Burns were alive today, he would be 225 years old.