HomeBrowseAdvanced SearchAboutHelpContact

Ambrose E. Burnside Collection

Biographical Note

Ambrose Everett Burnside was born in Liberty, Indiana on May 23, 1824 to Edghill and Pamela Brown Burnside, and was the fourth of nine children. He attended the United States Military Academy for four years, graduating in 1847. He served in the Mexican-American War with the United States Army, and the American Civil War with the Union Army and ultimately received the rank of Major General. He took part in many famous battles including the First Battle of Bull Run, the Battle of Antietam, and the Battle of Fredericksburg, among many others. He was assigned to Fort Adams in Newport, RI in 1852, and married Mary Richmond Bishop on April 27th of that year. The marriage lasted until her death in 1876, and they had no children. He resigned from the Army in 1853 in order to focus on the production of his famous Burnside Carbine. At this time, he was also employed as a director for many independent railroad and industrial companies. He went on to be elected as the 30th Governor of Rhode Island, where he served three consecutive one-year terms from May 29, 1866 to May 25, 1869. He continued his political career when he was elected as a U.S. Senator from Rhode Island to the U.S. Senate in 1874, a position he held until his death in 1881. Burnside was also elected to be the first President of the National Rifle Association in 1871 and held the position for a year before resigning. Burnside is known in popular culture for his iconic facial hair, which grew down in front of his ears, joining to his mustache but with a clean-shaven chin. This style became known as “sideburns”, a term we still use to this day. Ambrose Burnside died September 13th, 1881 in Bristol, Rhode Island of heart failure. He is buried in the Swan Point Cemetery in Providence, Rhode Island.