1.   Historical note

2.   Scope and content

3.   Provenance

4.   Processing note

5.   Inventory

6.   Subjects

    List of finding aids

    R.I.H.S. Library page

    R.I.H.S. home page

 Ambrose E. Burnside Collection

 General, Governor and Senator of Rhode Island and Ohio.

 Collected papers, 1856-1881. Bulk, 1862-1874.

 Size: 2 linear feet

 Catalog number: MSS 321

 Processed by: Rick Stattler, October 1996.

©Rhode Island Historical Society

Manuscripts Division


Historical note:

            Ambrose Everett Burnside (1824-1881) was born in Liberty, Indiana. After serving in the Mexican-American War, he settled in Bristol, Rhode Island. He was commissioned colonel of the First Rhode Island Infantry at the start of the Civil War, and then rose to Major General by March of 1862. He organized the Ninth Army Corps that July, and took command of the Army of the Potomac in November. His forces met with disaster at the battle of Fredericksburg, and Burnside was then relieved of this command. In 1863, he took charge of the Department of the Ohio, where he remained until his resignation in April of 1865.

            After the war, Burnside was involved in a wide variety of manufacturing and railroad concerns, in addition to a distinguished political career. He served as Governor of Rhode Island from 1866 to 1869, and was a Republican U.S. Senator from 1874 until his death. For more details on his career, see the 1991 biography, Burnside by William Marvel, or, for a shorter account, the Biographical Cyclopedia of Rhode Island.

Return to top

Scope and content:

            The bulk of the collection relates to Burnside's Civil War service. This includes extensive letter books, and lengthy reports to the adjutant general. There is also some scattered correspondence, incoming and outgoing, including a roll of letters from 1864 apparently pasted together by an aide. Very little of the collection (mainly loose correspondence) relates to Burnside's 1861 service; the bulk begins with his promotion to Major General in 1862.

            A package originally labelled "Official (Q.M.) Papers" has been kept together as the Quartermaster papers, though it includes a wide variety of documents, including the Army's bank transactions, correspondence of a Capt. Hurtt, and many of Burnside's personal financial dealings.

            The final box in the collection relates to the post-war years. It includes two letter books (business-related), two very sketchy diaries, a few scattered letters and other papers.

            The loose correspondence described here is indexed at the end of this finding aid; the index does not include the voluminous letter books.

            See also the records of the Old Stone Bank MSS 943, Series 25, Box 3 for the title examination certificate for property owned by Ambrose and his wife on South Main, South Water, Dollar and Dime streets in Providence. The certificate is dated May 22, 1875.

Return to top


            The provenance of this collection is miscellaneous. The bulk of the military papers and letter books probably arrived together at an unknown date, though the quartermaster papers were probably a separate gift. The various loose outgoing letters were mostly purchased or donated individually. At least 14 different small accessions have been identified. A more detailed discussion is available in the collection file at the repository.

Return to top

Processing note:

            This collection has been housed in archival boxes and folders. Miscellaneous Burnside material from various artificial collections has been integrated in.

Return to top


Box 1 (Civil War letter books):

F.1      Volume 1        Letter book, outgoing, 3/5 to 6/24/1862; nearly illegible.

F.2      Volume 2        Letter book, outgoing, (John G. Parke), 11/13/1862-1/20/1863

F.3      Volume 3        Letter book, outgoing, "Dispatches", 12/26/1862-1/20/1863.

            Volume 4        "Copies private and important dispatches and letters...", 12/19/1862-1/8/1863.

                                                Includes transcription of letter from Lincoln, 1/1/1863.

F.4      Volume 5        Letter book, outgoing, "Letters and orders", 12/6/1862-1/22/1863

F.5      Volume 6        Letter book, outgoing, 3/25 to 5/4/1863

F.6      Volume 7        Letter book, outgoing, 5/4 to 7/13/1863

Box 2 (Civil War letter books and miscellaneous)

F.1      Volume 8        Letter book, outgoing, 7/14 to 8/7/1863

F.2      Volume 9       Letter book, outgoing, "Dispatches", 9/1 to 10/2/1863

             Volume 10      Letter book, outgoing, 8/11 to 10/17/1863

F.3      Volume 11    Letter book, outgoing, 10/12 to 11/13/1863

             Volume 12      Letter book, outgoing, 11/15 to 12/9/1863

F.4      Volume 13    Letter book, outgoing, 5/20 to 8/9/1864

             Memorandum book, ca. 1864

F.5      Letters sent, loose, 1861-1863. Indexed at the end of this guide. (8 letters, 1 draft, 3

                         supporting documents)

F.6     Letters received, 1861-1864 (5 items) Indexed.

F.7      Orders, 1862-1865. Mostly 1862.

F.8      Copies of correspondence, 1862 (for report to A.G.O.?)

F.9      Report to Adjutant General's Office, 11/26/1864

F.10    Report to Adjutant General's Office, 12/13/1864 (2 drafts)

F.11    Report to Adjutant General's Office, 11/13/1865 (2 drafts)

F.12    Report to Adjutant General's Office, 12/13/1865 (2 drafts)

F.13    List of 9-month regiments, Fall of 1862

F.14    Printed general orders of the Department of the Ohio, 1863

F.15    Miscellaneous:

                        Commission as Major General of the Militia, 6/26/1856

                        Lease, Burnside to the Providence & Worcester R.R., 4/1/1864

                        Resolution of thanks, General Assembly of Ohio, 2/17/1862

Box 3 (odd-sized box):

F.1      Roll of correspondence glued together with the following inscription on the outside: "Roughs of telegrams Jany to Apl 1864 no. 21" The dates of the telegrams actually span 3/28/1864 to 5/3/1864. The bracketed number that appears in the upper right hand corner of each document is the page number referred to in the index. There are 102 telegrams in the roll.

Box 4 (Civil War Quarter Master papers - slim box)

F.1      Charges in settlement of personal accounts with officers, ca. 1862-1863.

F.2      Canceled checks, Bank of Commerce in New York City, 7/1861-12/1862. With bank account record, 1862.

F.3      Account of General Burnside with the Q.M. Department, 1862-1872

F.4      Burnside's personal settlement with the U.S. Treasury, 6/1863

F.5      Spencer estate and miscellany, 1863

F.6      Correspondence regarding Illinois Central R.R. land deal, 9/1861 to 11/1861. Included in index.

F.7      Letters from L. Easterbrook, 9/1861 to 11/1861

F.8      Capt. F.W. Hurtt correspondence, 8/1862 to 12/1863

Box 5 (post-Civil War papers):

F.1      Volume 14      Letter book, outgoing, 10/14/1865 to 6/9/1866

F.2      Volume 15      Letter book, outgoing, 11/1/1869 to 8/22/1871. Indexed in front of volume. Includes letters signed by Burnside and by D.R. Larned as secretary-treasurer of the Indianapolis and Vincennes Railroad.

F.3      Letters sent, loose, 1865-1881. 16 items. Indexed at end of this guide.

F.4      Letters received, loose, 1865-1874. 6 items. Indexed.

F.5      Diary, 1868. Brief sporadic entries, mostly business.

F.6      Diary, 1869. Brief sporadic entries. Includes business accounts.

F.7      Address to the Society of the Burnside Expedition and of the Ninth Army Corps, n.d. Also

                        a newspaper account of a different meeting of the Society, 5/12/1874.

F.8     Manhattan Bleaching and Dyeing Company, Lodi, New Jersey - Correspondence, insurance,

                        etc., 1873-1874.

F.9      Commonplace book, mostly of Civil War-related poetry, n.d.

F.10    Scrapbook of engravings and clippings, ca. 1881, kept by unknown collector.

Return to top


Alexander, Isaac H.

Beatty, John (1828-1915)

Bishop, F.O.

Cadwalader, Maria

Cutts, James M.

Diaries, 1868-1869

Easterbrook, L.E.

English, James E. (1812-1890)

First Rhode Island Volunteer Infantry Regiment

Foster, John G. (1823-1874)

Goddard, William (1825-1907)

Hoppin, William W. (1807- )

Hurtt, Capt. F.W.

Illinois Central Railroad

Indianapolis & Vincennes Railroad

Knight, Sylvester R.

Larned, Daniel Reed

Lee, Robert E. (1807-1870)

Lincoln, Abraham (1809-1865)

Lippitt, Francis I.

Manhattan Bleaching & Dyeing Company

Meade, George G. (1815-1872)

Parke, John G. (1827-1900)

Perry, Alex

Providence & Worcester Railroad


Richmond, L.C.

United States - History - Civil War, 1861-1865

Woodbury, Augustus (1825- )


Index to loose correspondence.

Citations are to box and folder number. Burnside's letter books, and the roll of correspondence in box 3, are not indexed here. See Binder 1 and Binder 2 for indexes to the letter books Volumes 1-13 and the Roll of correspondence in Box 3.


Alexander, Isaac H. Of Crompton, RI

        5.3: From A.E.B., 2/8/1881. Pension case. On reverse is a draft of a letter from Alexander to Sen. H.B. Anthony, 4/9/1882.


Beatty, Gen. John.

        5.3: From A.E.B., 8/29/1874. Regrets inability to attend reunion of the Society of the Army of the Cumberland.


Bishop, F.O. Of Lonsdale, RI

        5.3: From A.E.B., 3/19/1881. Inquires whether map was received. Written by secretary.


Buffum, Mrs.

        2.5: From A.E.B., 2/3/[1863?]. List of battles. With 2 supporting letters: Edward D. Pearce to Mr. Bliss, 6/7/1908, and Mary R. Kimball to Dr. Lord, 7/14/1918.


Cadwalader, Maria. Of New York.

        5.3: From A.E.B., 2/28/1880. Congratulations on engagement.


Childs, George W. Of Philadelphia

        5:3: From A.E.B., 5/3/1876. Declines invitation.


Comstock, Lt. Col. C.B.

        2.6: To A.E.B., 7/26/1864. Sandbags from Gen. Benham.


Comstock, Capt. I.L.

        5.3: From A.E.B., 3/9/1867. Resignation as a Director.


Cutts, James M. Of New York City.

        5.4: To A.E.B., 11/13/1865. Clearing record with Burnside.


Easterbrook, L.E.

        4.7: To A.E.B., six letters, 9/1861 to 11/1861. Railroad business; shipping wheat.


English, James E. Governor of Connecticut.

        5.3: From A.E.B., 12/7/1868. Letter of introduction for Gen. Tompkins.


Fearing, George R.

        5.3: From A.E.B., 5/12/1871. Social greeting.

        From Peck Collection.


Foster, Brig. Gen. John G. (1823-1874)

        5.3: From A.E.B., 9/19/1868. Inspection of steam valve.


French, W. Harrison. Of Chicago.

        5.4: To A.E.B., 4/20/1867. Thanks for commission.


Goddard, Maj. William

        2.5: From A.E.B., 1/1/1862. Ives is well.

        5:3: From A.E.B., 4/17/1878. Will have case ready by Saturday. Might not be William Goddard.


Harris???, ___

        5.3: From A.E.B., 12/24/1879. Will send letter today.


Harris, Col. Of Indianapolis Arsenal.

        5.4: To A.E.B., 4/11/1867. Declines invitation.


Hayes, ___

        5.3: From A.E.B., undated. In Bristol; will meet this afternoon.


Hoppin, William W. (1807- ) Former R.I. Governor, of Providence

        2.5: From A.E.B., 6/21/1861. Cannot take brother in regiment.


Ingalls, Rufus. Assistant Quartermaste General.

        5.4: To A.E.B., 10/22/1867. Telegraph: "When will Genl Sheridan be in Portland Maine."


Knight, Sylvester R. 1st Lt., Co. D, 1st R.I. Infantry

        2.6: To A.E.B., 8/11/1861. Prisoner of war in Richmond, Va.


Larned, D.L. Of New York.

        5.3: From A.E.B., 1/31/1874. Thanks for letter.


Lee, Robert E. Confederate General.

        2.5: From A.E.B., 1/16/1863. Incomplete draft of letter requesting civilian evacuation before artillery bombardment.


Lippitt, Gen. Francis I.

        5.3: From A.E.B., 10/14/1866. Thanks for book.


Locke, Thomas J. Assistant Adjutant General

        2.6: To A.E.B., 7/9/1864. Circular order.


Loving, Charles G. Jr.

        5.4: To A.E.B., 4/12/[1867?]. Accepts invitation.


Lydig, Col.

        5.4: To A.E.B., 4/18/1867. Accepts invitation.


Meade, Gen. George

        2.6: To A.E.B., 7/27/1864. "What is the reason the powder cannot be carried to the mine at once? It is of great importance the mine should be loaded without delay."


Perry, Alex. Of Bristol.

        5.3: From A.E.B., 5/13/1865. Business.


Phillips, W.M. Of Illinois Central RR Co., N.Y.

        4.6: To A.E.B., 12/26/1861. Railroad business.


Rathbone, Col. Of Washington, D.C.

        5.4: To A.E.B., 4/10/1867. Declines dinner invitation.


Richmond, L.C. Of Bristol.

        2.5: From A.E.B., 1/12/1863. Cannot offer place to Mr. Henshaw. With transcription.


Scammon, J. Young President, Chicago Union League.

        2.6: To A.E.B., 6/6/1863. Resolution of support from League.


Smith, C.M. Of the Illinois Central RR Co., N.

4.6: To A.E.B., 10/14/1861. Railroad business.

Stead, Thomas R. Quartermaster General, Providence, R.I.

        2.5: From A.E.B., 4/30/1861. Bills of exchange for transportation of 1st Rhode Island               

        Detached Militia.


Waldron, Rensaleer. Of Bristol, RI

        5.4: To A.E.B., 11/24/1876. Receipt for $550 paid by D.R. Larned.


Woodbury, Augustus (1825- ). Clergyman of Providence.

        2.5: From A.E.B., 3/15/1862. Again victorious.


"Miss Addie".

        2.5: From A.E.B., 5/16/[1861?]. Private letter; her brother a good officer in the regiment.



        5.3: From A.E.B.. 5/25/1880. Sending map of U.S. to "your institution" (possibly the R.I.H.S.?).

        2.5: From A.E.B., undated. To a fellow officer, military plans. Hastily pencilled note.


End of finding aid - return to top