|Birth: ||Oct. 28, 1877|
Concord (Knox County)
|Death: ||Nov. 29, 1939|
District of Columbia
District Of Columbia, USA
The following is taken from pages 244 to 247 of the "Seventy-First Annual Reunion of the Association of the Graduates of the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, June 10th, 1940." With minor editing by the creator of the memorial (Bro. K. Robison, Sons of Spanish American War Veterans).
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Charles Burnett was born at Concord, Tennessee, on October 28th, 1877, and died at Walter Reed on November 27th, 1939, following a three months' illness from an attack of coronary thrombosis.
He was appointed to the Military Academy from Illinois in 1897, graduating in the class of 1901. As a cadet he was prominent in athletics, playing end on the football team. Assigned to the 15th Cavalry upon graduation, he served with that regiment in the Philippine Islands from 1901 to 1903, participating in an engagement against hostile Moros at Bacayauan, Mindanao, on August 20th, 1903. From 1903 to 1906 he served at Fort Myer and Fort Ethan Allen with the same regiment. On March 15th, 1905 he married Frances Hawks Cameron of Virginia at Fort Ethan Allen, Vermont. Returning to the Philippine Islands in 1906, he served with the 4th Cavalry and as aide to General John J. Pershing until December of 1907, when he came back to the United States with the 4th Cavalry, serving at various stations until 1911, when he was sent to Tokyo, Japan, as a Japanese language student and military attache. He returned to the United States in November of 1914 and served with the 1st Cavalry until 1917. He served as the Division Inspector of the 86th Division at Camp Grant, Illinois, until February of 1918, when he sailed for France. He graduated from the General Staff College at Langres, France, on May 30th, 1918, and was assigned as the G-3 of the 30th (Old Hickory") Division, which had just arrived in the Calais area. He served with this division throughout the war, participating in the major operations of the Somme and Ypres-Lys offensives. As a result of his brilliant service he was recommended by the division commander for a brigadier generalcy. After the Armistice he became the Chief of Staff of Base Sector No. 1, St. Nazaire, France, where he performed yeoman service. He was recalled to Washington in September of 1919 and sent to Japan as Military Attache, remaining there until February of 1924. During the earthquake of 1923 in Japan, when the United States Embassy and his own residence were wrecked and burned, he was the foremost figure in the organization not only of relief to Americans but in making all arrangements for facilitating the Red Cross relief to the stricken Japanese. He returned to the United States to take the War College course of 1924 and 1925 and was immediately thereafter sent back to Japan as Military Attache from 1925 to 1929. In 1930 he was adviser to the Delegation of the United States of America at the London Naval Conference, where his profound understanding of Japanese affairs was of great value. He commanded the a squadron of the 3rd Cavalry Regiment at Fort Ethan Allen from 1930 to 1932; was the Chief of the Military Attache and Foreign Liaison Section, G-2, War Department General Staff, from 1932 to 1936; commanded the 6th Cavalry at Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, from 1936 to 1937; and was the Chief of the Bureau of Insular Affairs with the rank of Brigadier General from 1937 to 1939.
General Burnett was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal with the following citation: "For exceptionally meritorious and distinguished services as G-3 of the 30th Division during its operations in Belgium and northern France; subsequent to the Armistice he functioned as Chief of Staff at Base Section No. 1 in a most creditable manner. He has rendered services of much value to the United States."
"General Burnett's American medals indicate the extent of his services in war, and his foreign decorations his services in efforts to promote peace. From the U. S. he received the Philippine Campaign Medal, the Spanish-American War Medal, the Mexican Border Medal, the Victory Medal with four bars (representing participation in four major battles) and The Distinguished Service Medal. From foreign governments he received the Japanese Order of the Rising Sun, the Swedish Order of the Sword, the French Order of Officer of the Legion of Honor, the Mexican Order of Military Merit, the Equador Order of Abdon Calderon, the Italian Order of the Crown and the Czecho-Slovak Order of the White Lion.
"When the news of General Burnett's death was cabled abroad a mass of telegrams and letters of sympathy came to his widow. Over a hundred came from Japan, including one from the Minister of the Imperial Household. The Secretary of State and General Pershing sent Mrs. Burnett letters of condolences expressing their high regard for the qualities and character of her husband."
It is difficult to express in words the qualities of such a rare character as Burnett. The following extract from the Japan Times after the earthquake of 1923 is a fitting tribute:
"If there is any bright aspect to the terrible earthquake calamities with which Japan is visited, it may be said to be the outpouring of unalloyed sympathy which the United States, among all nations, is the first to extend.
"And it is especially fortunate for both nations that, as the Red Cross of America is typified in the minds of Japanese by the figure of Judge Payne, so is the American Army visualized for us by Colonel Burnett, who so admirably combines in his person the quality of courage with gentleness, of unassuming power with kindliness,-in short the possessor of that quietude of soul which all Japanese regard as being the most admirable trait of the Samurai, whatever his land."
The following letter has recently been received:
March 6th, 1940.
Dear Mme. Burnett:
I have the honor to acknowledge, with sincere appreciation, receipt of the mementoes of the late General Burnett, presented to me through Major General Yamauti, former Military Attache to the Japanese Embassy in the United States…
The people of Japan and particularly the Japanese Army have long been grateful from the bottom of their hearts for the close friendship that existed between General Burnett and themselves, and his graduation ring from West Point and the button from his General Staff Officer's uniform will be cherished as fitting symbols of the high esteem and deep respect with which he will always be regarded.
It is my pleasure and privilege to inform you that these mementoes shall be kept forever in the official residence of the Minister of War, so that all might revere the memory of General Burnett.
Again, may I express my heartfelt gratitude.
Yours most cordially,
Shunroku' Hata, General, IJA, Minister of War.
Mme. Charles Burnett, Hotel Earle, Washington Square, New York City, N. Y.
It is of further interest to note that the Memorial Book which is being published in Japan for the first anniversary of General Burnett's death has the crossed American and Japanese flags beneath the West Point coat of arms.
Frances Hawks Cameron Burnett (1884 - 1957)*
Arlington National Cemetery
Created by: Kenneth Robison II
Record added: Oct 24, 2012
Find A Grave Memorial# 99532479