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Ambrose Burnside, the Union general, was a major player on the Civil War stage from the first clash at Bull Run until the final summer of the war. He led a corps or army during most of this time and played important roles in various theaters of the war. But until now, he has been remembered mostly for his distinctive side-whiskers that gave us the term "sideburns" and as ...more
Hardcover, 552 pages
Published November 1st 1991 by University of North Carolina Press
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Sympathetic biography of the much-maligned Civil War General comes off as an egregious case of special pleading. Marvel shows convincingly that Burnside was a nice guy who was often manipulated by ambitious colleagues. His descriptions of Burnside's victories in the Outer Banks and Knoxville make good reading, even if (especially with the latter) he's inclined to overrate their importance. When it comes to Burnside's more famous blunders though he really reaches. Like any defender of incompetent ...more
Ambrose Burnside may not be many people's favourite Civil War Commander but in this 1991 biography, the author, William Marvel, presents Burnside in a light previously not seen before. The Federal general comes across as a man who cared deeply for his men and was honest in his dealings with other commanders and his subordinates. The author presents his case that Burnside's reputation was tarnished by other Federal commanders who wished to pass on the blame of their failures to this man who would ...more
It was fine, but it comes off as an apology for Burnside, rather than an actual biography. I realize that a biographer often has to present an argument about his subject, especially when his conclusions run counter to the general verdict that other historians have landed on, but there's a fine line between argument and pure advocacy. The whole story seems to boil down to: "Burnside was a capable general, and a good man. Everything bad that happened to him was the result of misunderstandings or ...more
Most historians have relegated Ambrose Burnside to the scrap heap of failed Civil War generals. That label could not be further from the truth. His method of leadership was more apt to be considered modern than those surrounding him were capable of understanding. He led by example and was inclined to let his subordinates make tactical decisions without looking over their shoulders. He also expected his superiors and peers to be equally capable of carrying out whatever was needed for the current ...more