<BGSOUND SRC="http://gmierka.tripod.com/music/The_Clear_Air.wma">
U. S. Major General Ambrose Everett Burnside
Ambrose E. Burnside

Painting: A. E. Burnside
Massachusetts MOLLUS Commandery I.D.# 00889

"Rhode Island's Own"   Part One

A Biography By: G. A. Mierka


Humility, Honor & Patriotism
To The "Enth" Degree

Even At His Own Expense

9th Corps HQ Pennant 9th Corps Brass Insignia Burnside's HQ U.S. Colors
Images from left to right:
Burnside's 9th Corps H.Q. Guidon Pennant;
Brass 9th Corps Cartridge Box Plate; and Burnside's Head Quarters U.S. Colors.

Lew Wallace Burnside in his Camp Chair The Liberation of Knoxville Burnside on his Horse, Major
Photos from left to right:
General Lew Wallace, who led the contingent that greeted Burnside in Cincinnati;
Burnside in his favorite army campaign folding arm-chair amused by the photographer;
The General riding Major are greeted by Knoxville citizens thankful for their liberation from the Confederacy they hated;
Burnside on his trusty war horse 'Major', who lived 30 years.
Burnside, a self proclaimed farmer at heart, loved all his annimals.
When it was suggested that "Old Major's" time was up, Burnside couldn't bring himself to do it.
He sadly asked a friend to finally put the animal down for him instead, while he was away for a session in Congress.

A New Command In The West

      Burnside took his 9th Federal Army Corps to Cincinnati, Ohio, on March 24, 1863, sending part to temporarily reinforce Grant in his Vicksburg Campaign.    He used the bulk of the 9th as the basis for the formation of the Union "Army of the Ohio".    Upon his arrival in Cincinnati, he was introduced to a cheering crowd led by General Lew Wallace (author of Ben Hur) who said, "The Great West love's all her sons of whom it enough to say that Ambrose Burnside is the truest and the best".    Burnside immediately set about to take his new army south through Kentucky and the Cumberland Mountains to take Knoxville Tennessee, a move that would severely interrupt Confederate supply and communications between Rebel Generals Lee defending Virginia, and Bragg desperately trying to hold on to east Tennessee.

      Since eastern Tennessee was completely loyal to the Union, Senator Andrew Johnson, from the region, was pushing for the relief of his constituents at the earliest possible time.    In the end, Burnside mounted a five month campaign that forced the surrender of Confederate forces defending the Cumberland Gap without a shot fired, by crossing the mountains at their peaks, which everyone thought was impossible.    In a rare display of temper, Confederate President Jefferson Davis, in total disbelief, ordered his own Rebel Commander, General John Wesley Frazer, in charge of defending the Gap, sentenced to treason for the surrender.    Davis called Frazer's act "Cowardly and despicable", but in 1883, Davis said Frazer had no choice.    Most military experts believed the Cumberland Gap was the most impregnable position in the world.    Earlier Davis likened it to Thermopolis of Ancient Greece defended by the 300 Spartans against the army of about 20,000 Persians.    Davis thought an army of 5,000 Confederates could easily hold off a Federal army of 50,000.    Burnside proved him wrong.    He simply maneuvered around the Gap, crossing the mountains in the least likely spot, coming down behind the Rebel stronghold, the key avenue to all the approaches in to Northeast Tennessee.    With this action, Burnside isolating the Gap and Knoxville was wide open for capture.    When Lincoln heard of Davis's rage and Burnside's success, he compared Burnside's move to Hannibal crossing the Alps to defeat the Ancient Romans.

Defeated At The Gap

General Braxton Bragg Jefferson Davis John Wesley Frazer
Images Left to Right:
General Braxton Bragg, Commander of the Army of Tennessee
Burnside's former Captain of the 3rd U.S. Artillery before the war
Confederate President Jefferson Davis
Rebel General John Wesley Frazer, who surrendered to Burnside at Cumberland Gap.

      When Burnside began his maneuver over the mountains to take the Cumberland Gap, communications with Washington and the War Department were not possible.    Lincoln, Stanton and Johnson were on pins and needles for several days.    When the news by telegraph reached the Washington conveying the Gap had fallen to Burnside, and firing was heard near Knoxville, Secretary of War Stanton and Senator Tennessee Johnson hurried to see President Lincoln, who studied the wire for a moment then looked up and said he was very glad.    At first both men were surprised how calm Lincoln was.    Then they asked for his reaction.    He gently replied he never doubted Burnside was the right man for the job.    Both men remained puzzled as Lincoln quietly sat down in a chair holding the message in one hand for a moment, then he slapped his knee with the other hand and cackled with joy saying, "You see, it reminds me of Mistress Sallie Ward, a neighbor of mine, who had a very large family.    Occasionally one of her numerous progeny would be heard crying in some out-of-the-way place, upon which Mrs. Ward would exclaim, 'Thereís one of my children, not dead yet'!"

      With the fall of the Cumberland Gap Burnside easily liberated the city of Knoxville.    The jubilant Knoxville populous poured in to the streets to greet Burnside and his little army of 18,000 men with a rousing celebration, saying, "Thank the Lord, the Yankees have come and the dear old flag of Columbia [The American Flag] has come back to Tennessee !"    The ladies of the town greeted Burnside and his men by cheering and throwing flowers at the feet of Burnside (riding his horse "Major" at the head of his men), and by embracing his troops as conquering heros come to liberate them.    Everyone in town turned out in celebration as Burnside and his troops passed by them parading their way in to the city.    Many in tears rushed forward just to touch Burnside as he rode his horse before them leading his men through their streets.    Senator Andrew Johnson for the first time since the war began quickly returned home to praise Burnside for his gallant actions and great success.    The following year President Lincoln selected Johnson as his Vice Presidential running mate, an act that ferther solidified the allegiance of the people of East Tennessee.    Lincoln praised Burnside, because like the Emancipation, the effect of Burnside's East Tennessee Campaign brought about the pounding of another death nail into the coffin of the Confederacy.

Reading The News From Home

Burnside relaxing with the men
Burnside taking time in camp to read the news back home, in the Providence Journal-Bulletin.

      On September 10, 1863, Burnside again tried to tender his resignation needing to return home to Rhode Island to attend a business problem that troubled him throughout the summer.    President Lincoln wrote in reply, "A thousand thanks for the late success you have given us."    "But we cannot allow you to resign until things are a little more settled in East Tennessee."    General Halleck informed Burnside that while he was traversing the Cumberland Gap, General Lee had sent his top commander, General James Longstreet, with a large force from Virginia, west to reinforce Confederate forces under General Braxton Bragg in northern Georgia.    Together they dealt the Union Army of the Cumberland under General William Rosecrans a crushing blow at the Battle of Chickamauga, and now had it bottled up in Chattanooga under its new commander Major General George Thomas (nicknamed The Rock of Chickamauga).    Grant was hurrying to the place to take overall command, plus Hooker and the 11th and 12th Corps of the Army of the Potomac were on their way and Sherman was hurrying the Union Army of the Tennessee from their captured prize of Vicksburg on to Chattanooga as well.    Burnside's orders were to hold Knoxville and if possible try to help relieve Chattanooga.    Burnside served under Braxton Bragg in the War with Mexico and the Apache Wars, and he knew both Bragg and Longstreet from their days at West Point.    Longstreet had befuddled him at Fredericksburg.    Burnside knew what both men could do, so he dug in at Knoxville and waited for events to unfold.    He attempted to link up with Grant in Chattanooga, but his primary objective was to hold Knoxville at all costs, which he did.

A Falling Out With Grant

Battle of The Crater
U.S.Grant Ledlie Burnside
Photos from left to right:
Lieut. General & General of the U.S. Army, Ulysses S. Grant;
Brig. General James H. Ledlie; and Mjr. General Ambrose E. Burnside.

      By October 1863, Rebel General Braxton Bragg, squandered his great success at Chickamauga by splitting his out-numbered force.    Bragg sent Longstreet's Gettysburg veterans north from Chattanooga up the Tennessee Valley to engage Burnside in an unsuccessful attempt to try to re-take Knoxville.    Minus Longstreet's force, this depletion of Bragg's army caused his own demise at the fateful Battle of Chattanooga against Grant.    Bragg's mistake in tactical judgement allowed Grant to easily lift the Confederate siege over George Thomas' beleaguered Army of the Cumberland that Bragg had trapped in Chattanooga after the Battle of Chickamauga.    The entire affair around Chattanooga resulted in Grant's most masterful military victory of the Civil War.    For Burnside's part in the opperation, his outnumbered Army of the Ohio dug in and heavily forified their positions around Knoxville farther up the Tennessee River Valley and fought off every Rebel attack launched at them over several days.    Eventually Longstreet realized the situation was hopeless and retreated as Burnside's men shouted, "Remember Fredericksburg" at them from behind the Union earthworks.

      In the end Longstreet was forced by Burnside to retreat farther up the Tennessee Valley back in to southern Virginia.    Burnside's second victory at Knoxville was particularly sweat against Longstreet, given what Longstreet did to Burnside's Grand Army of the Potomac at Fredericksburg nine months earlier.    For Bragg, his fate was sealed.    Bragg's overwhelmed Confederate army at Chattanooga was first pushed off of Lookout Mountain by Hooker's 11th and 12th Corps (operations that also included Rhode Island's General George Sears Greene-hero of Culp's Hill).    After the fall of Lookout Mountain, General Philip H. Sheridan routed Bragg's Rebel Army off of Missionary Ridge around Chattanooga, in the end a complete victory by Grant's combined forces of Sherman's Army of the Tennessee and Thomas' re-supplied Army of the Cumberland.    Bragg's debacle required the shattered Confederate forces in the west to fall back in to northern Georgia, giving up all of Tennessee, setting the stage for Sherman's Atlanta Campaign in the spring of 1864, followed by the 'March to the Sea'.    Had Burnside been pushed out of Knoxville by Longstreet, this would have jeopardized Grant's entire campaign to relieve Chattanooga in October 1863.    Plus, Jefferson Davis may have dealt harshly with the Knoxville and East Tennessee populous who did not support Secession or the Confederate Cause.    Represented by U.S. Senator Andrew Tennessee' Johnson, "East-Tennesseens" actually denounced slavery and were staunchly opposed to the Confederacy.    But the summer and fall of 1863, ended up victorious months for Lincoln and the Union.    As the fall military campaigns of 1863 ended, Burnside was allowed to go on 'leave' and return to Providence for a short time to settle his affairs.    However, in the spring of 1864, Burnside was once again in command of his beloved 9th Corps, and returned east to support the Army of the Potomac under Burnside's friend and West Point Classmate, Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant (appointed by Lincoln, the War Department and confirmed by Congress as 4-Star Lieutenant General-in-Chief of all Union Armies, superseding Major General Henry W. Halleck).

      By the spring of 1864, General Grant was poised and ready to begin a new and coordinated campaign against Rebel Generals Robert E. Lee in Virginia, and Joseph E. Johnston in Georgia.    William T. Sherman would lead the effort in Georgia, but it was unclear who would ultimately lead the effort in the field under Grant in the east.    Lincoln was displeased with Army of the Potomac Commander, Major General George Gordon Meade's performance after Gettysburg and Meade's Mine Run Campaign.    The months of 1864, would become the most horrific, destructive and bloodiest months of the entire war, especially in Virginia, Georgia and South Carolina.    Grant's over-all calculated strategy was to whittle down the south's ability to deploy fresh troops to fight in the field, while at the same time take large sections of the southern population and supply out of the war once and for all.    Throughout Grant's invasion of Virginia, Burnside led the 9th through the savage Battles of the Wilderness (a horrific 3 day battle), Spottsylvania (an 11 day slaughter), the North Anna, Cold Harbor (where the Union lost 10,000 men in the first 15 minutes of fight), and all the way to the Siege of Petersburg, an important rail supply junction located south of Richmond and the James River.    Grant, now the Supreme Union Army Commander (the nation's first 4 star General of the Army and the first man ever to out rank George Washington), commanded operations in the field over General Meade's Army of the Potomac and Burnside's 9th Corps.

      In the Spring 1864, Virginia Campaign, Grant's two major Union Armies in the east (the Army of the Potomac and the 9th Corps) would suffer about a thousand casualties for each mile of the first forty miles of territory they moved against Lee; earning Grant a new nickname, "Butcher Grant"---a name unintentionally given to him due to an off the cuff remark made by the President's First Lady, Mary Todd Lincoln, and picked up by newspaper reporters, who exploited this in the media and Congress.    At first Meade mistakenly believed Lincoln would turn to him due to Grant's staggering losses.    Worse yet, Grant thought Burnside might be showing signs of depression due to the pressures of combat and nasty politics.    Grant was un-swain by media criticism and ignored the politics.    That made Secretary of War Stanton uneasy, because he saw what happened to Burnside in the winter of 62.    But Burnside and Sheridan were perfect choices to watch Grant's back.

      To win the war Grant brought two highly experienced Generals east with him, Major General Ambrose E. Burnside and Major General Philip H. Sheridan.    Grant and Lincoln were confident both Burnside and Sheridan would give great assistance in the successful conclution of the war.    This action caused an immediate problem with Major General George G. Meade, the Hero and Victor of Gettysburg, who was still in command of the Army of the Potomac.    Burnside was Meade's senior, Sheridan, Meade's junior in rank.    Grant placed great regard for both men, which displeased Meade.    When Grant's spring campaign began in May 1864, Burnside felt this was no time for dissention among the ranks of the Union Army's top field commanders.    Still, Grant was firmly resolved to attack Lee in Central Virginia with two separate armies, one led by Meade and the other led by Burnside.    Burnside's force was built around the 9th Army Corps.    While Burnside finished gathering his portion of the army in Northeastern Virginia, Grant launched Meade's main body, the Army of the Potomac against Lee in Central Virginia.

G.G. Meade Mary Todd Lincoln A.E. Burnside
Photos left to right:
Major General George Gordon Meade, formerly a Division Commander of the 5th Corps
took over for General Hooker after Chancellorsville and led the Army of the Potomac
to victory at the Battle of Gettysburg.

"First Lady" Mary Todd Lincoln, who openly criticized General Grant's high casualty rate.
President Lincoln called Meade, "A Canttankerous, Damned Old Goggly Eyed Snapping Turtle"
But he saved Pennsylvania in 1863, and perhaps the war at Gettysburg.

Major General Ambrose E. Burnside, General Meade's senior, who voluntarily stepped aside
for the Good of the Service allowing Meade to command the Army of the Potomac without question.

"Burnside": Drawing By; G.A. Mierka, 07.

      On May 5th 1864, Lee attacked Meade amidst the entanglements of the Wilderness, just south of the Rapidan River, near the old Chancellorsville Battlefield.    Burnside's army group was ordered to make haste to the front.    In the words of General Grant, Burnside moved up rapidly to help stabilize the line with his entire force.    He acted with such speed and efficiency Grant viewed Burnside's actions as a "Remarkable March".    Once the battles of the spring were joined, through the engagements at the Wilderness then at Spottsylvania, constant friction arose between Meade and Burnside, all initiated by Meade.    Almost immediately Meade began to pick apart everything Burnside did in a negative way and stewed over the arrangements made by Grant concerning Burnside's separate command.    Sheridan sympathized with Burnside and worried the situation might become increasingly problematic to the war effort in Virginia against Lee.    Burnside agreed with Sheridan.    There is much evidence proving the seriousness of this matter, because it may have effected the overall performance of the Union Army against Lee at the Wilderness and Spottsylvania.    Grant was content to issue his orders concerning troop movements and engagements to Burnside and Meade separately, as if each man commanded two different Union Armies deployed under Grant against Lee---the same as he did at the Battle of Chattanooga.    However, according to author-historian Augustus P. Woodbury, even though Burnside and the 9th Corps performed all their duties "promptly and effectively", and did all that was asked of them by Grant, Burnside himself once again made to supreme sacrifice of his rightful and well earned military position to settle the matter.

      Throughout the Civil War, especially in the east, each time there existed problematic issues of rank, needless jealousies and petty politics within the Army of the Potomac, the results were poor performance and higher casualties.    Lincoln and Stanton's answer to all this on the eastern front was Grant, Burnside and Sheridan.    Lincoln also wanted Burnside back.    In his War Paper (Personal Narrative), titled, "Ambrose Everett Burnside", written, published and read by Augustus P. Woodbury before the Rhode Island Soldiers and Sailors Historical Society, 1882, Chaired by Elisha Hunt Rhodes, Woodbury wrote:  "In other respects the most notable act was one which capitally illustrated Burnside's magnanimity of character.    At the beginning of the campaign (1864), the Ninth Corps was an independent command.    There were, therefore, two distinct, although co-operative armies in the field.    Burnside and Meade received their orders from Grant.    It was an arrangement, which was not altogether satisfactory to either party.    Burnside saw its disadvantages and also its remedy.    He was Meade's senior and superior in rank.    But he was willing to waive all considerations of this kind, when he saw that the good of the service wouldn't be promoted by such a course.    At his (Burnside's) suggestion, therefore General Grant, on the 25th of May, issued an order incorporating the Ninth Corps with the Army of the Potomac, and Burnside thus voluntarily came under the command of one who, in former days, had been a commander of one of his divisions".

      Burnside understood, as did, for example, General Nathanael Greene of Rhode Island, (who likewise willingly stepped aside to allow General Sullivan to assume command of the New England Continental Army during the Revolution and the Battle of Rhode Island), that petty differences over rank would be counter productive to the war effort.    Plus, Burnside himself experienced this problem during his Fredericksburg Campaign.    He therefore concluded after the Wilderness and Spottsylvania, and the Union failure to defeat Lee, that the Federal Army had enough of this internal behavior and stepped aside, hoping to satisfy Meade by allowing Meade to become his commander in the field.    Burnside took this action himself out of his vision of patriotism and loyalty to Grant and Lincoln.    Afterwards Grant never forgot Burnside's actions and looked upon Meade in a somewhat different light, which may partially explain why years later Grant as President appointed Sheridan over Meade as General of the Army, an act that greatly offended Meade.    However, Burnside's action after Spottsylvania did not fully satisfy Meade, who still saw Burnside's presence, even as a Corps Commander, to be a potential threat to his position if something went wrong in the summer and fall battles that lay ahead to end the war against Lee and the Confederacy.

      After Spottsylvania Grant resolved to keep fighting Lee no matter what.    He kept the Union Army moving south towards Richmond in a continual flanking march to Lee's right and east, and engaged in another series of battles (the worst being Cold Harbor) that concluded the first phase of Grants Campaign on the James River, southeast of Richmond.    Except for Burnside, unlike all Grant's predecessors in the east, at the conclution of each unsuccessful battle Grant refused to retreat.    Like Rhode Island's famous General Nathanael Greene (second under Washington) in the Revolution during the Southern Campaign against Lord Cornwallis, Grant was determined to win his Civil War Campaign against Lee, even if it meant that he lost every battle.    Burnside and his 9th Corps were in part of the vanguard of Grant's offensive against Lee from then on.

      By the time the Army of the Potomac crossed the James and reached Petersburg, frustrated every step of the way by Lee, Grant was in no mood for the continuance of a longer and more protracted war by laying siege to the town.    Everyone was exhausted and edgy.    Earlier Grant's army had missed a golden opportunity to take the wide-open town in the beginning phases of the Petersburg Operation, but was forced by Lee to lay siege anyway.    To try to break the deadlock and force a quick end to the war, Burnside and the 9th proposed to end the siege by trying an unusual plan of attack against Lee's well-entrenched Rebels.    Grant was skeptical at first, but allowed General Meade to approve the plan.    Once the original plan was drawn up Grant whole-heartedly supported it.    Former Pennsylvania miners of the Union Army put the plan in motion.    They started out by running a tunnel from the Union lines up to and under the Rebel Line.    Then they planted a massive explosive charge under Lee's defense.    The idea was to blow an enormous hole in Lee's line, then rush the entire 9th Corps, 12,000 men, through the hole to take the city by storm before Lee had time to react.

Partial Scene Of The Mine Explosion
The Crater
Photo Above:
The Enormous Crater Blown In Lee's Confederate Line At Petersburg.
It Became The Sad Grave of Many-a-Good-Men, Both Blue & Gray---Black & White.
After it was all over, hundreds of men elsewhere along the lines on both sides
broke down and cried.

      The Battle of the Crater began with the largest explosion ever seen by anyone, but ended in a Union disaster because General Ledlie, one of the key commanders entrusted to spear-head the attack was drunk and not at his post to lead and co-ordinate his men.    General Ferrero (of the Gang of 7 in 1862), Ledlie's commanding officer, was also noticeably absent in the attack and just as responsible for the disaster.    Ledlie of New York, was found hiding in a "bomb proof shelter" or bunker well to the rear during the entire battle.    Later he was brought up on charges and court-martialed for cowardice, drunkenness and gross dereliction of duty.    Ledlie was found guilty and dismissed from Federal U.S. Army Service.

      The attack at the 'Crater' or sometimes called the 'Mine Explosion', ended up being a Union slaughter and accomplished absolutely nothing except it caused thousands of casualties on both sides.    Grant lost his temper and initially blamed Burnside for the disaster.    At the time he felt the attack might have succeeded but he thought it was not well coordinated.    Meade therefore believed that Burnside was ultimately responsible for the disaster.    General Grant was so furious over the debacle he sent Burnside home on an extended leave of absence pending an investigation.    In Grant's testimony after the affair he put the blame not only on General Ledlie, who was supposed to be in command of the lead attacking Division, he also extended blame for the disaster to all superior officers all the way up the chain of command to himself.    Afterwards General Meade who disliked Burnside, never recalled him back to duty in the Army of the Potomac throughout the remainder of the war.    Lincoln and the War Department could do nothing to interfere with Meade's decision because they were on the eve of the election of 1864 against a formidable opponent for the Presidency; Lincoln's former commander of the Army of the Potomac, the Democratic Party nominee and Lincoln's arch rival, George B. McClellan.    Although Burnside still regarded McClellan as a friend, he did not support McClellan for President.    Burnside, a Rebublican, remained loyal to Lincoln, Grant and the Union Cause.

      There is some indication that (like Grant) Burnside himself started to lose confidence in the "Mine Explosion" and battle plan as well, because the night before the Battle of the Crater, Burnside held a conference with his 9th Corps Generals and made the unusual decision to draw straws to see which of his generals and their unit would lead the attack.    Burnside did this because 12 hours before the pending attack, Meade changed Burnside's original plan.    Burnside was frustrated by this because he had his units practicing and training for days prior to the event.    Burnside's original plan called for his "Colored Division" to spearhead the 9th Corps attack, because he viewed them as being among the best of his entire Corps.    He like Lincoln admired Frederick Douglas and the African-American men who risked everything to fight for the cause of the Union.    Burnside (like Theodore Roosevelt and Black Jack Pershing later at San Juan Hill) saw them as his tuffest fighters who could be completely trusted to accomplish their assigned objective.    Meade disagreed.    He worried the press might say they put their "Colored Troops" (who specially trained for three weeks for the battle) in front knowing full well they would endour the lion's share of the casualties.    So Meade changed the Battle Plan 12 hours before the attack.    This mistake was never addressed.    In the end, General Ledlie (a political general), widely understood to be Burnside's least capable field commander, unfortunately drew the short straw.

      When Ledlie's troops launched their attack and entered the Crater after the huge explosion they paused in horror to look at the destruction and terrible carnage it caused.    Other troops followed and all jammed in the Crater.    Had Ledlie been with his men to take the hill beyond the crater, in all probability Lee's Army could have been defeated once and for all at Petersburg, instead of Appomattox.    The men who jammed in to the Crater were totally unprepared for the shocking and sickening sites they witnessed in the Crater.    Their hesitation to advance through the Crater, due to the lack of a line officer at the scene (Ledlie), gave Lee's rebel commanders enough time to react, turn the tables of the battle and trap the Union Regiments while they were still inside the Crater, like a shooting gallery.    The Colored Division that actually trained for the attack tried to break out and take the last hill before Petersburg, beyond the Crater, but were driven back into the chasm due to a lack of support by the disorganized herds on men piling up inside the hole.    The incredible situation became unavoidable in the heat of the moment due to the complete break-down of Union leadership caused by the absence of Ledlie and Ferrero.    To make matters worse the Rebels gave no quarter to African American Union troops also caught inside the Crater with their white Union comrades.    The rebels were heard laughing and shouting, "My God, they're trapped in their own hole !    Capture the white soldiers, shoot the blacks and their white officers" !    At one point all of Ledlie and Ferrero's regiments tried to surrender as they jammed together under fire from all sides and the dead and wouned piled up in great numbers at the bottom of the Crater.    The huge Crater was a hole blown 200 feet in length along Lee's line; 50 feet wide; and 25 feet deep.    And, thousands of men in Blue became stuck in it like "fish in a barrel".

      Although Ledlie was convicted of extreme cowardice and actions unbecoming of a gentleman officer of the Union Army and thereby drummed out of service for his disgraceful behavior, General Meade also felt the buck ultimately stopped with Burnside (his former commander of the Army of the Potomac).    Burnside was Ledlie's 9th Corps Commander at the Crater.    This is why Burnside initially received the lion's share of the blame in the media for the disaster.    In the aftermath, it was General Meade of Pennsylvania, (not Grant of Illinios) who took the initiative to charge Burnside in a Court of Inquiry on 4 specifications pertaining to his conduct and his command performance as result of the Battle of the Crater.    The Court of Inquiry consisted of 3 Generals: Winfield Scott Hancock (Head or Presiding Judge of the Court), Romeyn B. Ayers and Nelson A. Miles.    All 3 of the General Officers on the panel were junior in rank to Burnside, a violation of the standard U.S. Military Courts Marshal Proceedings Code.    In matters such as this the rules stipulated that Burnside must be judged by officers of his rank or higher, not lower.    Plus, the Judge Advocate for the prosecution was a known head-hunter, and a member of General Meade's Staff.    But Burnside did not shrink from the investigation and provided a highly detailed account of his actions that actually impressed the Court as well as the War Department.    After 17 days of deliberation the Military Court found Burnside not guilty on "all" the charges and specifications against him.    In fact the Courts Marshal also added, "Not withstanding, the failure to comply with orders and to apply military principles ascribed to General Burnside, the Court is satisfied and believe that the measures taken by him would insure success".    Secretary of War Stanton and the President were completely satisfied with the findings of the Court.    Years later Grant visited Burnside in Rhode Island and admitted he never had full confidence in Meade's battle plan and Burnside really did all he could at the Battle of the Crater.

      In light of the verdict of the Court of Inquiry as to the Conduct of the Battle of the Crater, if the army was to assume the buck stopped with the commander, it would appear the court may have had trouble deciding which commander to place the blame:  Burnside (Commander of the 9th Corps) who developed a sound plan that Grant thought would work; or Meade (hero of Gettysburg) who commanded the Army of the Potomac and who approved the operation at the Crater only after he himself changed the original plan.    General Meade was never called to give testimony or be cross-examined by the defense during the proceedings.    Grant testified, but Meade didn't.    Concerning this matter, it should also be noted that prior to the Crater, Burnside and Grant held a friendship for each other that extended back to their days at West Point.    In fact Grant brought Burnside and his 9th Corps east from Tennessee to independantly support the Army of the Potomac when Grant went east to Washington D.C. to take command of the entire Union Army.    On the other hand, it was well known that Grant did not have complete faith in Meade's ability to command large scale army opperations in the field, which is why Grant as Supreme Union Commander accompanied the Army of the Potomac in the field during all the opperations in Virginia against Robert E. Lee.    After the war, Grant as President of the United States, promoted General Phil Sheridan over Meade, an insult that Meade never forgot.    In the end everyone seemed to be content to place the sole blame for the disaster of the Crater on Generals Ledlie and Ferrero, and took no further disciplinary actions against anyone else up the chain of command, but as Grant said, all were equally to blame, even Grant himself.

Ulysses S Grant President Lincoln Meade
Photos left to right
Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant, General of the Army, MOLLUS ID# 02006
At Appomattox he regretted approving Burnside's furlough.
President Abraham Lincoln, who supported Burnside and who was glad that Burnside was vindicated.
Major General George Gordon Meade (Victor at Gettysburg) commander of the Army of the Potomac under U.S. Grant,
felt threatened by Burnside who was senior in rank to Meade.
Meade, not Grant, ordered the investigation in to Burnside's conduct at the Battle of the Crater.
The argumentative Meade wanted Burnside relieved, but didn't completely get his way.

Romeyn B. Ayers Winfield Scott Hancock Nelson A. Miles
Photos left to right
Major General Romeyn Beck Ayers, MOLLUS ID# 00447,
respected Burnside's abilities as a combat field commander.
Major General Winfield Scott Hancock, MOLLUS ID# 00161, also a hero of Gettysburg
respected Burnside and presided over the court of inquiry in to Burnside's conduct at the Battle of the Crater.
Hancock went out of his way to exonerate Burnside in the wording of the court's verdict.
Major General Nelson Appleton Miles, MOLLUS ID# 01818, agreed Burnside did all he could at the Battle of the Crater.
All three judges appointed by Meade to review the case were junior in officer grade to Burnside,
a violation of the U.S. Military Tribunal Code of Conduct.

Lee's Surrender at Appomattox

Lovell Painting of the Surrender
Officers Present for the Signing of the Surrender From Left to Right:
Lieutenant General Robert E. Lee, CSA (seated); Lieutenant Colonel Charles Marshall, CSA;
Major General Philip H. Sheridan, USA; Lieutenant Colonel Orville Babcock, USA; Lieutenant Colonel Horace Porter, USA;
Major General Edward O.C. Ord, USA;
Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant, USA (seated);
Brigadier General Seth Williams, USA; Lieutenant Colonel Theodore S. Bowers, USA;
Lieutenant Colonel Ely S. Parker, USA (Cherokee); Major General George Armstrong Custer, USA.
Grant said the one man most deserving and missing from this momentous event was Ambrose E. Burnside.

Waiting For The Call To Return To Military Duty
That Never Came
Burnside at Home Burnside Happy the War is Over Burnside Reflecting on His Career
General Ambrose E. Burnside, at age 41, back in Providence, Rhode Island.
Burnside resigned his commission in the Army the day after President Lincoln's assassination at Ford's Theatre,
on April 15, 1865.
Now that the war was won, it was time to do his duty to help win the peace.
Even with the sorrow of the death of his friend and leader, President Lincoln,
Bunside believed all men of leadership capacity must follow Lincoln's lead,
"With Malice Towards None".

      Out of all the professional officers of the rank of field grade commanding General in the Union Army, and/or General of the Army, selected by the War Department and approved by Congress to preside over the Army of the Potomac and other Union Armies, there were really only three officers of that caliber President Lincoln clearly liked as a person, admired as a military strategist and respected as a leader of soldiers: Henry Wagger Halleck, Ambrose Everett Burnside and Ulysses Simpson Grant.    Lincoln recognized Halleck was a wizard at administration, a good strategist, but marginal with soldiers.    He recognized Grant was extremely tenacious and focused, a brilliant strategist and good with his soldiers.    He recognized Burnside was a fiercely loyal patriot who would not hesitate to sacrifice himself for the cause, a great strategist and very compassionate with his soldiers.    All three men were solidly loyal to the President and he returned his loyalty to them as much as he could.    During the four and a half bloody years of the Civil War, out of all the other Union officers, Halleck, Grant, Sherman and Burnside were really the only men Lincoln actually went out of his way to insist Congress approve and the War Department appoint to their command positions.    Of all the top Union Army Commanders and most of their subordinates throughout the entire war, only Generals McDowell, Pope, Hooker and Meade were never inducted as members of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States (MOLLUS); the fraternal-veteran corps of Union officers, currently a hereditary version of the original MOLLUS organization under its original 1865 charter, which still exists today.    Ironically, after the President's assassination, Joseph Hooker, the man most disrespectful to President Lincoln and his superior officers, and the most critical of America's democracy during the war, was somehow selected to coordinate and command the military arrangements and logistics of the Nation's mourning, including the Lincoln funerals, train transport and ceremonies held from Washington D.C. to Springfield, Illinois, a situation most people felt to be complete hypocrisy.

      After Lee's surrender at Appomattox, Burnside went to Washington to congratulate President Lincoln, the man he so nobly served, who welcomed him warmly.    Burnside and his wife Mary were among the many people sitting in the audience attending the popular comedy, 'Our American Cousin', at Fordís Theater, the night President Lincoln was assassinated.    Just minutes before the assassin John Wilks Booth burst in to the balcony where the President and First Lady sat viewing the play, the President, one final time, leaned forward in his chair to see Burnside sitting in the audience below him.    As if fate would have it, Burnside seemed to simultaneously look up at Lincoln, who nodded and smiled down at him, making obvious eye contact, catching the attention of those who sat near the Burnsides.    This final friendly gesture of Abraham Lincoln moments before the assassin's bullet took the life of the President was indelibly stamped on the mind of Burnside till the day he died.    This tender moment would become the final symbolic order from his Commander-in-Chief to do all Burnside could to help carry out his wishes of American Reconciliation.

Final Moments of a Friend
The Lincoln Assassination

Rhode Island's Own BY RI MOLLUS

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