Ambrose Burnside


An HMS American Cultures Collaborative Production



Ambrose Burnside was a Union general during the Civil War. The facial hair of sideburns are named after Ambrose Burnside, his last name reversed. He became the general after the Battle Antietam when General McClellan was fired. However his position was short lived. Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president and commander in chief at the time pressured Burnside to attack the Confederates at Fredericksburg. This later became known as the Battle of Fredericksburg, and the Union suffered many casualties along with losing since their platoons were not supported and the soldiers were not organized when crossing Rappahannock River. The second and final failure of his career was at what is known today as the Battle of the Crater. Both the Union and Confederates were entrenched in the ground. Burnside had an idea to take coal miners and dig a hole under the Confederate trench. Then, the Union would fill it up with gun powder and would set it on fire, which would explode the trench. The explosion created a crater, and then the Union forces began to move in. The person in charge of the troops for the Union was James H. Ledlie, and supposedly, he was drunk while his troops marched on. Without leadership, the troops marched into the crater, not realizing they had to go around. The Confederates could take shots at them from the top of the crater since the Union troops couldn't get out. The horrible loss led to Burnside to be put on temporary leave, but he never was called for to lead again.


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Ambrose Burnside with his famous sideburns



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