Ambrose Everett Burnside, an American soldier, born at Liberty, Ind., May 23, 1824. He graduated at West Point in 1847, was stationed at Fort Adams, Newport, R. I., and subsequently sent to New Mexico, where he commanded a squadron of cavalry, and acted as quartermaster in the boundary commission, 1851-'2. Having invented a breech-loading rifle, he- resigned his commission in 1853, and established a manufactory for its fabrication in Rhode Island. This proving unsuccessful, he became treasurer of the Illinois Central railroad, at its office in New York. In 1861 he was appointed colonel of the 1st regiment of Rhode Island volunteers, which marched to Washington four days after the issuing of the call by the president. He commanded a brigade at the battle of Bull Run, after which he was made brigadier general. In January, 1862, he was placed in command of an expedition to North Carolina, and captured Roanoke island, New Berne, and Beaufort. He was recalled at the close of the campaign on the peninsula, and ordered to Fredericksburg, where he remained until after the defeat of Pope at the second battle of Bull Run. During the confederate invasion of Maryland Burnside was placed under the command of McClellan, gained the battle of South Mountain, Sept. 14, 1862, commanded the left wing at Antietam, and afterward one of the three corps into which the Union army was divided.
On Nov. 7 he superseded McClellan in the command of the army of the Potomac. He moved from the Rapidan to Fredericksburg on the Rappahannock, intending to cross the river at that point and move upon Richmond; but before he was prepared to cross, Gen. Lee had taken possession of the heights on the opposite bank. Burnside crossed Dec. 12, and on the next day endeavored to force the confederate lines. His repeated attacks, however, were all repulsed, and in the engagement the Union loss was 1,152 killed, 9,101 wounded, 3,234 missing - 13,487 in all; the confederate loss was 595 killed, 4,061 wounded, 653 missing - 5,309 in all. Several officers of high rank severely criticised his measures, and he asked that they should be removed, tendering his resignation of the command in case they were not. His resignation was accepted, and he was succeeded by Gen. Hooker, Jan. 26, 1863. In May he was assigned to the command of the department of the Ohio, taking with him two divisions of the 9th corps, and soon afterward arrested 0. L. Vallandigham for expressing disloyal sentiments. Early in June the 9th corps was detached from Burnside's command, and sent to aid Gen. Grant at Vicksburg. During this absence occurred Morgan's raid, after which Burnside undertook to free East Tennessee from the confederates.
In this he was successful, and received the thanks of congress. Late in September the 9th corps was restored to the command of Burnside. Gen. Lee had in the mean while sent Longstreet to Tennessee with a strong force from Virginia. Burnside fell back to Knoxville, where he was besieged till the beginning of December, when the siege was. abandoned on the approach of Sherman with a detachment from Grant's army. Burnside was then relieved from the command in the west, and in January, 1864, again placed in command of the 9th corps, to which a division of colored troops was attached. The original design was to send this corps to North Carolina; but Grant, now in chief command, required it in Virginia. Grant having crossed the Rapidan on May 4, the 9th corps followed the next day, and took part in the battles of the Wilderness, Spottsylvania, and the North Anna, May 6-25. The corps was now attached to the army of the Potomac, and placed under the immediate command of Gen. Meade, Burnside waiving his seniority in rank. In the subsequent operations, down to the siege of Petersburg, the corps bore a prominent part. During the early part of the siege Burnside's lines were close to those of the enemy, and opposite them was a strong redoubt, forming an important part of the confederate defence.
Burnside undertook to blow up this work by running a mine beneath it. This was completed in a month, and was exploded on June 30. The redoubt was blown up, but the general assault which was to follow the explosion was not made, and the effort proved a total failure. Burnside proffered his resignation, which the president refused to accept, but gave him leave of absence. He was not again called into active service, and resigned April 15, 1865. In 1866 he was elected governor of Rhode Island, and reelected in the two following years. Since 1869 he has been engaged in business. In the autumn of 1870, being in Europe, he was admitted within the German and French lines in and around Paris, and ineffectually endeavored to mediate between the belligerents.