Burnside, Ambrose Everett

Burnside, Ambrose Everett, 1824–81, Union general in the U.S. Civil War, b. Liberty, Ind. He saw brief service in the Mexican War and remained in the army until 1853, when he entered business in Rhode Island. In the Civil War, Burnside commanded a brigade at the first battle of Bull Run and was made (Aug., 1861) a brigadier general of volunteers. His expedition to the North Carolina coast (1862), resulting in the capture of Roanoke Island, New Bern, Beaufort, and Fort Macon, won him a major generalcy and much prestige. He commanded under G. B. McClellan in the Antietam campaign and shortly afterward succeeded that general in command of the Army of the Potomac. After a costly defeat at the battle of Fredericksburg (see Fredericksburg, battle of) in Dec., 1862, Burnside asked President Lincoln either to sustain him in dismissing Joseph Hooker and several other generals who opposed his plans, or to remove Burnside himself. Lincoln relieved him in favor of Joseph Hooker. As commander of the Dept. of the Ohio (Mar.–Dec., 1863), he occupied E Tennessee, took Knoxville, and repulsed James Longstreet's attempt to recapture the town. In 1864 he commanded under generals Meade and Grant in Virginia. Held partially responsible for the fiasco at Petersburg, he was relieved. Burnside was elected governor of Rhode Island in 1866 and was reelected in 1867 and 1868. From 1875 to his death he was a U.S. Senator. He originated the fashion of wearing long side whiskers, thus the term burnsides or sideburns.

See biography by B. P. Poore (1882); K. P. Williams, Lincoln Finds a General (Vol. II, 1950).

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