The Unfortunate Career of General Ambrose Burnside

Ambrose Everett Burnisde; a General, Inventor, and Rhode Island Politician. Burnside is a figure in American history that is buried by his failures by many historians. Many forget about his successes such as the innovative land and sea assaults of his North Carolina Expedition of 1862, and the Knoxville Campaign of 1863. Most however know him for the Burnside Bridge at the Battle of Antietam in 1862, the disastrous defeat at the Battle of Fredericksburg in 1862, the frustrations during the Mud March of 1863, or botched assault at the Battle of the Crater in 1864. During all of these failures there was a factor that he himself could not control like crossing a creek and scaling the heights on the other side at Antietam, the precious pontoon bridges arriving weeks late to Fredericksburg, the unpredictable weather bogging down his campaign, his subordinates not carrying out the plans correctly or going behind his back. It does not seem right that Burnside takes all the blame for his failures while his successes are forgotten to history. General Ambrose Burnside was nothing more than a victim of scapegoating and his reputation as an officer should be properly adjusted.

Burnside's personal battle flag. (Image comissioned by author for private collection)