John Burke (1830 – January 18, 1871) was a Confederate adjutant general of Texas and spy. He was born in Pennsylvania. He was left an orphan by age 11. He spent many of his young days in New York doing work on the piers. He was known for doing daredevil type stunts, such as jumping from High Bridge. At some point he made his way to Texas. There he studied law at night and was a cobbler by day. He joined the Confederacy and was a member of the famous Hood's Brigade briefly until he became scout. He served early in the war as a scout for P.G.T. Beauregard, Joseph E. Johnston and J.E.B. Stuart. Later in the war he was commissioned as a spy by Robert E. Lee and went as far behind Union lines as New York, and Lee soon considered him his "favorite spy". He had many adventures and several escapes from capture. These include stories of leaping from a train while it was crossing a high trestle, hiding under a lady's petticoats to hide from Union soldiers who were chasing him, and hiding between mattresses to escape detection. His covert activities exhausted him and he returned to his home in Marshall, Texas, where he was appointed by Governor Pendleton Murrah, who was his brother in law, as adjutant general of Texas. He married Martha Virginia Taylor in 1865. He retreated to Mexico with Murrah after the defeat of the Confederacy, but returned to Marshall to practice law after Murrah's death. He died in 1871 in Jefferson, Texas.
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