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A.E. Burnside

A.E. Burnside

Federal (USV)

Major General

Ambrose Everett Burnside

(1824 - 1881)

Home State: Rhode Island

Education: US Military Academy, West Point, NY, Class of 1847

Command Billet: Wing and Corps Commander

Branch of Service: Infantry

Unit: Ninth Army Corps


see his Battle Report

Before Antietam

Once a tailor, he graduated from the US Military Academy at West Point in 1847 and saw duty in the Mexican War and on the frontier. He resigned from the US Army in 1853 and was then a businessman and militia officer. In 1861 he organized the First Rhode Island Infantry Regiment and was its Colonel. He commanded a brigade at First Bull Run, and in August 1861 was appointed Brigadier General of Volunteers. He led successful expeditions against the North Carolina coast and New Berne and in March 1862 was promoted to Major General of Volunteers.

On the Campaign

Early on the Campaign, on 7 September 1862, he was given command of the Right Wing of the army, composed of the First and Ninth Army Corps, commanded by Major-Generals Hooker and Reno. On the morning of 15 September General Hooker's First Corps was detached from his command. He was on the Federal left flank at Antietam on the 17th, his task to cross Antietam Creek and roll-up the enemy's right. He began his attack at about 10 AM, but couldn't get across the Lower (now "Burnside's") Bridge and take the heights until about 1 PM. He then paused to reform and rearm his troops, before advancing again on Sharpsburg at about 3 PM. He advanced steadily to near the town until he was stopped and driven back by the counterattack of General A. P. Hill (just up from Harpers Ferry) at about 4 PM. For more detail, you might also want to see his Official Report about the campaign.

The rest of the War

Burnside was given command of The Army of the Potomac by President Lincoln in November 1862 and fought it at the disaster at Fredericksburg in December. He later commanded The Department of the Ohio (at Knoxville), and then the IX corps at the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Petersburg, and the Crater. He was then relieved of command and resigned April 1865.

After the War

He was a businessman - director of numerous railroads and industrial companies - 3 times Governor of Rhode Island (1866, 1867, 1868), and US Senator (1874-81).

References & notes

His bio basics from Warner.1 His picture from a photograph at the Library of Congress. His gravesite is on Findagrave.

He married Mary Richmond Bishop (1828-1876) in April 1852.


05/23/1824; Liberty, IN


9/13/1881; Bristol, RI; burial in Swan Point Cemetery, Providence, RI


1   Warner, Ezra J., Generals in Blue, Lives of the Union Commanders, Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press, 1964  [AotW citation 29754]