b. 23/06/1846 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. d. 08/06/1896 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 12/1862 Stones River, Tennessee.
John G. Bourke was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Irish immigrant parents, Edward Joseph and Anna (Morton) Bourke. His early education was extensive and included Latin, Greek, and Gaelic. When the Civil War began, John Bourke was fourteen. At sixteen he ran away and lied about his age; claiming to be nineteen, he enlisted in the Fifteenth Pennsylvania Volunteer Cavalry, in which he served until July 1865. He received a Medal of Honor for “gallantry in action” at the Battle of Stones River, Tennessee, in December 1862. He later saw action at the Battle of Chickamauga.
His commander, Major General George H. Thomas, nominated Bourke for West Point. He was appointed cadet in the United States Military Academy on October 17, 1865. He graduated on June 15, 1869, and was assigned as a second lieutenant in the Third U.S. Cavalry. He served with his regiment at Fort Craig, New Mexico Territory, from September 29, 1869 to February 19, 1870.
He served as an aide to General George Crook in the Apache Wars from 1872 to 1883. During his time as aide to General Crook during the Apache Wars, Bourke kept journals of his observations that were later published as On the Border with Crook. This book is considered one of the best firsthand accounts of frontier army life, as Bourke gives equal time to both the soldier and the Native American. Within it, Bourke describes the landscape, Army life on long campaigns, and his observations of the Native Americans. His passages recounts General Crook’s meetings with Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, and Geronimo as the General attempted to sign peace treaties and relocate tribes to reservations. Bourke provides considerable detail of towns and their citizens in the Southwest, specifically the Arizona Territory.
Bourke married Mary F. Horbach of Omaha, Nebraska, on July 25, 1883. They had three daughters together. Bourke died in the Polyclinic Hospital in Philadelphia on June 8, 1896, and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
Gallantry in action.
BURIAL LOCATION: ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY, ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA.
SECTION 1, GRAVE 32-A
LOCATION OF MEDAL: FAMILY.