1. Education

November 14, 1862 - President Abraham Lincoln approves Major General Ambrose Burnside's (left) plan for capturing the Confederate capital at Richmond. A native of Rhode Island, Burnside entered the army in 1843, and graduated from West Point four years later. With the outbreak of the Civil War, Burnside quickly moved through the ranks and led a successful campaign in North Carolina in 1861 and 1862. After commanding IX Corps, Burnside declined Lincoln's offer to lead the Army of the Potomac following the failure of the 1862 Peninsula Campaign believing he lacked the ability. Pressured into accepting that fall, he was badly beaten at the Battle of Fredericksburg and replaced by Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker. Returning to IX Corps, he was assigned to command the Department of the Ohio and led a successful campaign against Knoxville. Brought back East in spring 1864, he led IX Corps during the Overland Campaign. In July 1864, his corps was beaten when it attacked Confederate fortifications during the Battle of the Crater. In the wake of the defeat, he was relieved and left without assignment for the remainder of the conflict. After the war, Burnside served as governor of Rhode Island and represented the state in the US Senate.

Union Leaders of the Civil War:

Photograph Courtesy of the National Archives & Records Administration

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