Civil War Wiki
John Coburn
Personal Information
Born: October 27, 1825(1825-10-27)
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Died: January 28, 1908 (aged 82)
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Other Information
Allegiance: United States of America
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Branch: Union Army
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Rank: Brevet as Brigadier General
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Battles: American Civil War
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John Coburn (October 27, 1825 – January 28, 1908) was a United States Representative from Indiana and an officer in the Union Army during the American Civil War.

Early life and career[]

Coburn was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, were he attended the public schools. Later, he graduated from Wabash College, Crawfordsville, Indiana, in 1846. As a student, he founded the Wabash College chapter of Beta Theta Pi fraternity, the first Greek letter fraternity on the Wabash campus, and still active to this day. He studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1849, and commenced practice in Indianapolis.

Coburn was a member of the Indiana House of Representatives in 1850 and was also a judge of the court of common pleas from 1859 to 1861, when he resigned to enter the Union Army following the outbreak of the Civil War. He became colonel of the 33rd Indiana Infantry on September 16, 1861, and was mustered out September 20, 1864. In the omnibus promotions following the Civil War, he was brevetted as Brigadier General of Volunteers dating from March 13, 1865.

Congressional service[]

Coburn was appointed as the first secretary of the Territory of Montana in March 1865 but resigned at once. He was elected judge of the fifth judicial circuit of Indiana in October 1865 and resigned in July 1866. Later, he was elected as a Republican to the Fortieth and to the three succeeding Congresses (March 4, 1867 – March 3, 1875). While in Congress, he served as chairman, Committee on Public Expenditures (41st Congress), and as a member of Committee on Military Affairs (42nd and 43rd Congresses). He was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1874 to the 44th Congress.

After leaving Congress, he was appointed a justice of the Supreme Court of the Territory of Montana on February 19, 1884, and served until December 1885. He returned to Indianapolis, and resumed the practice of law. He died in Indianapolis on January 28, 1908, and was buried in Crown Hill Cemetery.

See also[]


  • John Coburn (politician) at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress Retrieved on 2008-02-12
  • Coburn, John. An address delivered by General John Coburn, on Memorial Day, May 30, 1905. Indianapolis: Jacobs Stationery and Printing Company, 1905.
  • Coburn, John. Life and services of John B. Dillon. Indianapolis: The Bowen-Merrill Co., 1886.
  • Welcher, Frank Johnson, and Larry G. Ligget. Coburn’s Brigade: The 85th Indiana, 33rd Indiana, 19th Michigan, and 22nd Wisconsin in the Western Civil War. Carmel, Ind.: Guild Press of Indiana, 1999.