Ambrose Burnside was born on May 23, 1824 at Liberty, Indiana. He was graduated from West Point in 1847. He served in the Mexican War, and later was slightly wounded during a skirmish with Apaches in 1849. He left the army in 1853, but returned in 1861 when he organized the 1st Rhode Island Infantry. He commanded a brigade at 1st Manassas, and as a favorite of Lincoln, was given command of the expedition against the coast of North Carolina. This was one of the few early Union successes in the war, and thus he was promoted to Major General of volunteers. At Antietam, his delays caused the loss of an opportunity to crush the Confederate position opposite "Burnside's Bridge." In November, 1862, Burnside was given command of the Army of the Potomac. His first battle as commander at Fredericksburg in December was a disaster as he repeatedly tried and failed to take the strong Confederate defenses. He was removed from command and sent the Department of the Ohio. He ably defended Knoxville against Longstreet in autumn, 1863. In 1864 he was with U.S. Grant in the campaign against Richmond. His failure to exploit the opening in the Confederate lines caused by the explosion of a Federal mine at the Battle of the Crater at Petersburg, Virginia ultimately resulted in his resignation from service on April 15, 1865. After the war he served as Governor of Rhode Island, and later U.S. Senator from Rhode Island until his death on September 13, 1881.
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Jul 13, 2005