Ambrose Burnside lived with his father, Edghill Burnside, his mother, Pamela Burnside, and nine other siblings. In his childhood, he worked as a tailor. Thinking that he could do more with his life, his father helped him enroll in West Point, where Burnside graduated 18th out of 47 in 1847. After his graduation, Burnside was assigned to be an artillery officer in the Mexican-American War. Shortly after the war ended, he resigned his military status and tried his hand at trying to make a new type of breech-loading rifle.
His rifle business was not going to plan. No one wanted to buy the rifle and it was too expensive to keep manufacturing. Struck with debt, he had to sell his patent for the rifle. At this time, Burnside decided to go back into the military and became a general in the Rhode Island Militia, soon taking the forces into the Civil War. With his militia, he fought at the battle of Bull Run. Sadly, the Union lost, but due to his efforts, he was promoted to a brigadier position with McClellan.
During this time, Burnside was facing inner turmoil. Lincoln, President of the U.S, offered Burnside to lead the Army of the Potomac twice, but each time, Burnside politely declined. Burnside thought that he wasn't good enough to lead the army, and had little faith in himself, even though he provided outstanding service to the army. Instead, Lincoln promoted him to Major.
Shortly after being appointed a Major, Burnside and his troops were transferred to McClellan's branch of the army; where they fought in the Battle of Antietam. However, due to slowness and inefficiency in the transfer of troops to the battle, Burnside caused many casualties and ended the battle without a victory. This made Mclellan mad. However, Lincoln was getting frustrated with McClellan and dismissed him, and made Ambrose Burnside general of the Army of the Potomac.
Burnside's term as a general didn't last long; he was only in command for three months. In this time, He only led one major battle: The Battle of Fredericksburg. There, he led 20,000 Union Troops into battle, Only to suffer a bad defeat with 13,000 casualties. This grand failure occurred only because of individual error with communication between Burnside and other officers. Not even one month later, Burnside was dismissed as general.
Ambrose Burnside contributed many impactful things for America. For one, Burnside contributed his service in many battles, and even led one. Though he may have been a contributing factor in the Union's failure, his valor and tenacity will not be forgotten for many generations to come. Another concept he created was the modern day sideburns. Those stylish hairs he had on the side of his head became popular among men. Even after all these years, It became a fashion trend still living today.
One admirable thing about Burnside was his humbleness. Even though he possessed great strength and leadership skills, he wasn't boastful in his abilities. Unlike many other generals, Burnside was not full of himself. Sometimes, this is an admirable trait to have. Another admirable skill Burnside possessed was his ability to think about the greater good. Even with prestigious training at West Point, Burnside declined Lincoln's first two offers to become leader of the Army of the Potomac. Instead, Burnside urged for Lincoln to let McClellan lead. Burnside could of chose right then and there to lead the army, but he knew that his abilities were sub-par compared to McClellan. So, Burnside thought about the greater good of the army and put aside his own virtues to let McClellan lead.
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History.com Staff. "Ambrose Burnside." History.com. A&E Television Networks, 2009. Web. 17 Apr. 2017. <http://www.history.com/topics/american-civil-war/ambrose-everett-burnside>.
Marvel, Contributed By William. "Ambrose E. Burnside (1824–1881)." Burnside, Ambrose E. (1824–1881). N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Apr. 2017. <http://www.encyclopediavirginia.org/burnside_ambrose_e_1824-1881>.
The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. "Ambrose Everett Burnside." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 04 May 1999. Web. 17 Apr. 2017. <https://www.britannica.com/biography/Ambrose-Everett-Burnside>.