Ambrose Everett Burnside
Burial Location Visited
Providence, Rhode Island August 2009


Civil War General Ambrose Burnside is buried                                          General Burnside died in Bristol, Rhode
in Providence's famous Swan Point Cemetery.                                         Island in 1881. In this photo, he is on the
                                                                                                                                    left hand side.


Burnside was given command of                                                                    As is the case with many old grave
the Army of the Potomac after                                                   markers, Burnside's stone is fairly hard to
the president became displeased                                                                   read. He was in charge during the Battle
with General George McClellan.                                                                      of Fredericksburg, a Confederate victory.

*** Interesting Facts ***

* Liberty, Indiana was the setting for the birth of Ambrose Everett Burnside, which took place on May 23, 1824. He grew up in Liberty, later attending a seminary in the town. His tenure at the seminary came to a halt in 1841, which was the year in which his mother died. After this misfortune, Burnside's father apprenticed him to a tailor. After becoming skilled in that occupation, he chose to attend West Point, graduating from the military academy in 1847. After Burnside departed from West Point, he went to Mexico, where he performed garrison duty toward the end of the Mexican-American War as a brevet second lieutenant. While serving in the New Mexico Territory in 1849, Burnside and the 3rd U.S. Artillery had an incident with a group of Apaches. During the skirmish, Burnside was wounded in the neck by an Apache arrow. He recovered, however, and remained in the army until 1853, when he resigned his commission. He settled in Rhode Island, where he had been assigned the year prior. 

* Once he resigned his commission, Burnside devoted his efforts manufacturing firearms in Bristol. He designed and patented his own rifle, the Burnside carbine, which was a breech-loading gun. He also became a major general in the state militia during this time. Burnside decided to run for public office in 1858, but was defeated in the form of a landslide. As a government contract with the Burnside carbine had fallen through and a fire had destroyed his rifle factory, Burnside went west in search of a means to make up for his financially-devastating campaign. He became the treasurer of the Illinois Central Railroad, working with fellow future Union general George B. McClellan.

* Shortly after the Civil War erupted in 1861, Burnside organized the 1st Rhode Island Volunteer Infantry, serving as its colonel. Burnside was one of the commanders at the First Battle of Bull Run that July. His regiment was mustered out of service in early August, but Burnside was promoted to brigadier general just a few days later. He was subsequently put in charge of the North Carolina Expeditionary Force and launched a campaign along the North Carolina coast, which resulted in the Union's first major successes in the Eastern Theater. For this, he was commissioned a major general and was later offered the command of George McClellan's army, though he turned down the idea. The general was again offered command after John Pope's failure at the Second Battle of Bull Run, but declined once more. Though he had some trouble in the Battle of Antietam at what is called Burnside's Bridge, he finally took over for his friend George McClellan when the latter did not aggressively pursue General Robert E. Lee's forces.

* Not too long after taking over, Burnside developed a plan to capture Richmond, which was the Confederate capital. President Lincoln approved. The plan was good in theory, but Burnside's Army of the Potomac was devastated by the forces of General Lee at Fredericksburg. He tried to redeem himself with a follow-up attack in January, which also failed and was dubbed the "Mud March". When he suggested to resign and/or have his subordinates replaced, Lincoln had General Joseph Hooker take over for Burnside. Burnside was later put in charge of the Department of Ohio, which he led during the successful Knoxville Campaign and the failure that was the Battle of the Crater. Ulysses S. Grant relieved Burnside of his command shortly thereafter. Burnside later had a meeting with Lincoln and Grant to determine his military future, but nothing was ever decided upon. He resigned his commission on April 15, 1865, the same day as President Lincoln's passing.

* Following his departure from the military, Burnside worked as the president of several railroad companies, even starting one: The Cairo and Vincennes Railroad. He was elected to three one-year terms as the governor of Rhode Island, serving from May of 1866 until May of 1869. Several years later, he was elected a U.S. senator, taking office in 1875. His political career came to an end in 1881 with his death, a result of angina pectoris. People today best remember Burnside as the namesake of the distinctive facial hair that he sported for much of his life: sideburns.

Mary Richmond Bishop Burnside (1852-1876)

Political Party: Republican Party

Last Words: Unknown
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