Burnside was born in liberty, indiana, the fourth of nine children, burnsides family origins were of a scottish nature which included, his great-great-grandfather robert burnside (1725-1775) was born in scotland and settled in the province of south carolina. His father, a native of south carolina, was a slave owner who freed his slaves when he relocated to indiana. Ambrose attended liberty seminary as a young boy, but his education was interrupted when his mothers death in 1841. After this tragic event, he was apprenticed to a local tailor, eventually becoming a partner in the business. His interest in military affairs and his father’s political connections obtained an appointment to the united states military academy in 1843. He graduated in 1847, ranking 18th in a class of 38, and was commissioned a brevet second lieutenant in the 2nd u.S. Artillery. He traveled to veracruz for the mexican-american war but arrived after hostilities ceased and performed mostly garrison duty around mexico city. At the close of the war, lt. Burnside served two years on the western frontier, serving under captain braxton bragg in the 3rd u.S. Artillery, a light artillery unit that had been converted to cavalry duty, protecting the western mail routes through nevada to california. In 1849, he was wounded by an arrow in his neck during a skirmish against apaches in las vegas, new mexico. In 1852, he was appointed to the command of fort adams, newport, rhode island, and, while there, he married mary richmond bishop of providence, rhode island, on april 27. The marriage, which lasted until burnside’s death, was childless. In 1853, burnside resigned his commission in the united states army, although maintaining a position in the state militia, and devoted his time and energy to the manufacture of the famous rifle that bears his name, the burnside carbine. The secretary of war under president james buchanan, john b. Floyd, contracted with the burnside arms company to equip a large portion of the army with his carbine and induced him to establish extensive factories for its manufacture. The bristol rifle works were no sooner complete than another gun maker allegedly bribed floyd to break his $100,000 contract with burnside. Burnside ran as a democrat for one of the congressional seats in rhode island in 1858 and was defeated in a landslide. The burdens of the campaign and the destruction by fire of his factory contributed to his financial ruin, and he was forced to assign his firearm patents to others. He went west in search of employment and became treasurer of the illinois central railroad, where he worked for, and became friendly with, one of his future commanding officers, george b. Mcclellan. At the outbreak of the civil war, burnside was a brigadier general in the rhode island militia. He raised a regiment, the 1st rhode island volunteer infantry, and was appointed its colonel on may 2, 1861. Within a month, he ascended to brigade command in the department of northeast virginia. He commanded the brigade without distinction at the first battle of bull run in july, committing his troops piecemeal, and took over division command temporarily for wounded brig. Gen. David hunter. After his 90-day regiment was mustered out of service, he was promoted to brigadier general of volunteers on august 6, and was assigned to train provisional brigades in the army of the potomac. His civil war appointment were as follows: colonel 1st rhode island infantry (2nd may 1861); commanding 2nd brigade, 2nd division, (army of northeastern virginia (june july 1861): brigadier general u.S.V. (6th august 1861): commanding north carolina expeditionary force, (december april1862), commanding department of north carolina (13th january 10th july 1862); major general u.S.V. 8th march 1862): commanding 9th corps army of the potomac 22nd july 3rd september 1863); commanding department of the ohio (25th march 11th december 1863); although burnside was unsure about his command abilities he obeyed president lincolns order placing him in command of the army of the potomac (7th november 1862); after his failure at fredericksburg he was replaced by general hooker. However; president lincoln was unwilling to lose burnside from the army and assigned him to command the department of the ohio and his old ix corps. In ohio, burnside issued his controversial general order number 38, making it a crime to express any kind of opposition to the war. Burnside used it to arrest former ohio congressman and candidate for governor of ohio, clement vallandigham, a prominent leader in the copperhead peace movement, and try him in a military court (despite the fact that he was a civilian). Burnside also dealt with confederate raiders such as john hunt morgan. In the knoxville campaign, burnside advanced to knoxville, tennessee, and making a stand against confederate forces and, winning the thanks of congress (28th january 1864). He continued under general grant and eastern service for the remainder of the war. Blamed for the failing of the petersburg mine assault, he was sent on extended leave. This led to his eventual resignation (15th april 1865). His post war career is noted for his governorship of rhode island. Despite his failure at antietam, in seizing the bridge, which now bears his name and, the disastrous mud march burnside remained a popular figure in post war society. He died suddenly of “neuralgia of the heart” (angina pectoris) at bristol, rhode island, and is buried in swan point cemetery, providence, rhode island. an equestrian statue in his honor was erected in the late 19th century in burnside park in providence.