October 4, 1907


After Forty-two Years They Hold a
Celebration -- Each Had Believed
the Other Dead -- Separated
in Heat of Battle.

As Alexander H. Burke, former governor of North Dakota was riding in a passenger elevator at the Midland hotel yesterday afternoon, he was accosted by a stranger who noticed his G. A. R. badge and who, himself an old soldier, asked the conventional questions heard wherever two of the old veterans meet. Before the elevator had reached the end of the trip, he discovered that the stranger was a boyhood friend who had been torn from his side in the famous fight in the woods at Chickamauga, and whom he had mourned as dead for forty years. The stranger was Colonel Lewis Ginger, one of the few who escaped death or capture in the awful slaughter when General E. A. King and nearly his whole command fell before the terrible fire of Confederate cannister. As the recognition became mutual the two men clasped hands and there was something suspiciously like moisture in the eyes of both.

Without more ado each dropped for the while his business, and they went to Colonel Ginger's room, where they spent the rest of the afternoon recalling their boyhood days and telling of the things fortune had sent to them in the forty-two years since their dramatic parting. The story they told was like a leaf from some forgotten romance.


It seems that both were fired with patriotic zeal when the call to arms came in '61, and though Burke was but 12 years old and Ginger 14, in some way they managed to secure enlistment in the Seventy-fifth Indiana. Burke became drummer boy for his company, while his chum was detailed as orderly to Brigadier General King. They served together in the terrific campaign that ended with Chickamauga.

At Chickamauga just before the crisis came they were upon the advance firing line, so close to the enemy they could hear the rattle of accouterments in the midst of the cannonading. Their command was cut off from the main body and all but surrounded.

General King rode up close to where the boys were standing.

"Orderly," he commanded to young Ginger.

The soldier turned and saluted. "Go over there and tell Cap--"

The command was never completed, for a the gallant general was struck, and he sank dead into the arms of his orderly.


Seeing that all was over, Ginger sprang upon his horse and burst through the gray lines just as they were closing in. As he turned for a minute he saw Burke in the hands of two Southern soldiers. When he leaned over his horse's side to escape the shower of bullets sent after him. Burke thought he had been shot and was falling to his death.

Burke was carried away to a Southern prison, while Ginger made his way back to the Union lines and finished the war in harness. Each imagined the other was killed. Not until they met at the Midland hotel yesterday did they learn the story of mutual escape from destruction.

Although Governor Burke afterwards became the chief executive of one of the Northern states and Ginger won fame as an inventor and promoter, neither imagined that the other was his boyhood friend. They celebrated the meeting by a dinner last night at the governor's home, where they told over and over again the story of that memorable day when the flower of a great army was withered away in flame and smoke.