Saturday, March 28, 2015

Union Brigade Commanders Hancock and Burnside

BG Winfield Scott Hancock and Ambrose Burnside.

Winfield Scott Hancock was the son of Benjamin Franklin Hancock a school teacher in Montgomery Pennsylvania. Winfield was named after Winfield Scott, a popular American general during the War of 1812. Winfield was also a twin. His brother, Hilary  Baker Hancock. In 1840 congressman Joseph Forance nominated Hancock to the United States Military Academy at West Point. Hancock was an average student and graduated 18th in his class of 25 in 1844. During the Mexican War Hancock experienced battle at Contreras and Churubusco. He was appointed a brevet first lieutenant for gallant and meritorious service. After the war he served in such places as Fort Myers Florida, Fort Leavenworth Kansas, and southern California. In November of 1858 he was joined by his wife Allie and their children. As a Captain he served as assistant quartermaster under future Confederate General Albert Sidney Johnston. He made friends with several southern officers including Lewis A. Armistead of Virginia.
 At the beginning of the Civil War Hancock returned east and assume his quartermaster duties in the rapidly growing Union Army. He was promoted to brigadier general on Sept 23, 1861 and given an infantry brigade to command in a division of Brig Gen. William F. "Baldy" Smith. He earned the nickname "Hancock the Superb" during the Peninsula Campaign in 1862. After leading a critical counter attack at the Battle of Williamsburg, the army commander, George B McClellan telegraphed Washington stating that "Hancock was superb today." and the name stuck. At Antietam Hancock assumed command of 1st Division, II Corps following the mortal wounding of Israel B. Richardson. Hancock was elevated to Corps command after his friend John Reynolds was killed on the first day at Battle of Gettysburg. July 3, 1863 found Hancock and his troops placed on Cemetery Ridge. Across the field came Confederate General George Pickett's Division. One of the brigades that crossed that deadly field was lead by Lewis Armistead. Armistead was mortally wounded during the assault and died two days later. His friend, Winfield Scott Hancock, never came to see him before he died. He too was wounded during the assault. A bullet striking the pommel of his saddle entered his tight thigh along with wood splinters and a bent nail. He was helped from his horse and had a tourniquet applied. he refused evacuation to the rear until the conclusion of the action. After the war, Hancock continued to serve in the army. He later became a democratic candidate for the presidentcy of the United States. He lost the 1880 election to James A Garfield, also a former Union Army General. Later in 1881 Hancock was elected president of the National Rifle Association.

Ambrose Burnside was born in Liberty, Indiana and was the fourth of nine children. His great great grandfather Robert Burnside was born in Scotland and settled in South Carolina. Ambrose's father Edghill Burnside was a slave owner who freed his slaves when he relocated the family to Indiana. Through his father's political connections he obtained an appointment to West Point. In 1847 he graduated 18th out of a class of 47. During the war with Mexico he arrived after hostilities had ended and served mostly garrison duty around Mexico City. At the close of the war, Lt. Burnside served two years on the frontier serving under Captain Braxton Bragg in Nevada and California. In 1849 he was wounded in the neck by an arrow during a battle with Apache Indians near Las Vagas New Mexico. in 1852 Burnside was assigned back east to Fort Adams in Rhode Island where he met and married his wife Mary Bishop. in 1853 he resigned his commision in the regular army but held a position in the state militia. He focused his energy to the manufacture of the Burnside carbine. The Secretary of War under President James Buchanan, John Floyd contracted with Burnside Arms company to equip the cavalry with his new carbine. No sooner had he completed building the Bristol Rifle Works than another gunmaker allegedly bribed Floyd to break his contract with Burnside. This and his unsucessful congressional campaign lead to his financial ruin. He went west and worked for the Illinois Central Railroad where he met and became friends with George McClellan.
At the beginning of the war, Burnside returned to Rhode Island and raised the 1st Rhode Island Infantry regiment. He was appointed its Colonel on May 2, 1861.  He saw action a month later at First Manassas as a brigade commander. he then served in North Carolina with expeditionary forces that captured Roanoke Island and New Bern. In March of 1862 he was transfered back to Newport News Virginia.
After George McClellan's failure during the Peninsula Campaign, Burnside was offered command of the Army of the Potomac. He declined to accept because of his loyalty to his friend McClellan. He also understood his own lack of military experience. It says something about a person who can admit when they are not prepared for higher command. When John Pope's Army was defeated at Second Manassas, Burnside was again asked to take command, again he passed. At the battle of Antietam, Burnside was in command of IX Corps and experienced difficulty in crossing what was to be known as "Burnside"s Bridge." Burnside requested reenforcements from his old friend McClellan which were denied. He managed to get his men across the bridge but ran into Confederates under his old West Point Classmate A.P. Hill. After Fitz-John Porters Court Martial for the defeat at Second Manassas and Lincoln sacking McClellan for a second time, It fell on Burnside to take over the Army of the Potomac.
December of 1862 found the Confederate army under Robert E. Lee on the high ground behind a stone wall at Fredericksburg Virginia. The crossing of the Rappahannock River was mismanaged and lead to enormous casualties. He gained the nickname behind his back as "The Butcher of Fredericksburg." The following month, January 1863 found Burnside replaced by Joseph Hooker, an officer that Burnside firmly detested.
After the war he was elected to three terms as Governor of Rhode Island, he was also commander of the veterans group the Grand Army of the Republic. He was also the very first president of the National Rifle Association. He is most well known for his famous whiskers that are known as "sideburns" today.

Completed a Confederate Headquarters. This is modified from the basic Federal HQ set painted in Confederate colors.

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