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Ambrose Burnside Biography

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Produced in Indiana in May 1824, Ambrose Burnside was a Union major general in the American Civil War and dad of “side whiskers,” afterwards known as sideburns. With the assistance of his dad, Burnside received an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1843, however he had trouble adapting to his brand new, regimented life and came close to being expelled several times. He was an excellent pupil, nevertheless, and despite his troubles with acculturation, Burnside graduated in 1847, 18th in his class of 38 pupils.

From the school, Burnside was commissioned a brevet second lieutenant in the 2nd Artillery and served through the Mexican-American War. Subsequent to the war, in 1853, Burnside resigned his commission and founded Bristol Rifle Works, a firm that made breechloading rifles. The company failed, and Burnside headed back to the military, this time as a major general of the Rhode Island militia.

When the Civil War started, Burnside directed the Rhode Island Infantry to Washington and was charged with protecting the city. Subsequently, in 1861, Burnside commanded a contingent of infantry through the initial battle of Manassas and later was made a brigadier general of volunteers for his actions. Burnside took charge of the North Carolina Expeditionary Force, consisting of three brigades, and he and his guys dug in and established a foothold in North Carolina. The success of the assignment supply Burnside with his next rung up the military ladder, as he was shortly promoted to major general of volunteers in March 1862. Under General Ulysses S. Grant, Burnside participated in the Overland campaign, which contained the battles of the Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House, and Cold Harbor.

His undoing, yet, was waiting in the conflict of Crater. Burnside had his guys fill a Union mine lying under Confederate places with explosives and detonate them. The explosion broken up Confederate troops as intended, but Burnside was slow to use the move and Union soldiers were lost. In the wake, in April 1865, Burnside resigned his commission. In April 1966, Burnside was elected governor of Rhode Island, and he served three one-year periods. Beyond his battlefield exploits, Ambrose Burnside is recalled for his distinguishing facial hair,a style now called sideburns, which took its name from Burnside’s own last name.

Ambrose Burnside Biography