Illustrations of the War in AmericaThe Illustrated London News, vol. 40, no. 1139, p. 376.
April 12, 1862
Graphic Illustrations and a detailed account of the Federal expedition to Pamlico Sound have appeared in this Journal from the pencil and pen of our Special Artist and Correspondent, who shared in the danger of that adventure, and the first page of our present Number bears a portrait of its gallant commander.
Ambrose Everett Burnside was born at Liberty, Union county, Indiana, on the 23rd of May, 1824. At the age of eighteen he was entered at West Point, and graduated fifteenth in a class of forty-seven members, in 1849. He was breveted Second Lieutenant in the 2nd Artillery, and was transferred the next year to the 3rd Artillery. Joining his regiment in Mexico, he marched in Patterson's column to the city of Mexico, where he remained till peace was declared. Returning to the North, he was stationed at Fort Adams, in Newport harbour. In 1849 he was attached as First Lieutenant to Captain Bragg's battery, and was engaged for three or four years in frontier service in New Mexico. In an engagement with the Apache Indians in August, 1850, near Los [sic] Vegas, Lieutenant Burnside commanded a company of twenty-nine men, who killed eighteen Indians, took nine prisoners, and captured forty horses. For this action he was recommended for promotion. He afterwards served as Quartermaster to the Commission which surveyed the boundary line between the United States and Mexico. In 1851 he crossed the plains from the Gila River through the Indian territory, travelling twelve hundred miles in seventeen days, with an escort of but three men, bringing despatches from Colonel Graham to the President. Lieutenant Burnside was next stationed at Fort Adams, and while there he resigned his commission for the purpose of devoting his attention to the manufacture of a breech-loading rifle of his own invention, and took up his residence at Bristol, R.I. His new enterprise proving unfortunate he went to Chicago, and entered the office of the Illinois Central Railroad Company as cashier of the land department, while George B. (now General) M'Clellan was general superintendent, and afterwards vice-president of the company. After holding the position of cashier for two years, Burnside was elected treasurer of the company, and removed to New York. While acting in this capacity, soon after the outbreak of the rebellion, he received a telegraphic despatch from Governor Sprague notifying him that the 1st Rhode Island Regiment of one thousand men was raised, and asking him to take the command. In half an hour he left his office and was on his way to Providence. The regiment was one of the first which went to Washington, and took part in the engagement at Stone Bridge, Colonel Burnside acting as Brigadier-General during that battle. His conduct on that occasion commended him to the attention of the authorities at Washington, and on the 6th of August he was appointed Brigadier-General of Volunteers. General M'Clellan, who knows his worth and military capacity, selected him to command the expedition to Pamlico Sound, one of the most important expeditions projected since the commencement of the war. The Burnside expedition, by the latest accounts, was carrying out its plan very successfully, and had occupied Beaufort, which the Confederates evacuated on their advance, previously blowing up Fort Macon and burning the Nashville to hinder her falling into the hands of the Unionists.
Our correspondent bore testimony to the indomitable energy and judgment shown by General Burnside in the trying circumstances to which he was subjected during the progress of the expedition; and he is corroborated by the Philadelphia Inquirer, which publishes the following anecdotes of the General's conduct during the disastrous storm off Hatteras:—"General Burnside was ubiquitous; he was everything—everywhere. With nothing to distinguish him but his yellow belt, in his blue shirt, slouched hat, and high boots, he stood like a sea god in the bows of his light boat, speaking every vessel, and asking affectionately about the welfare of the men. His master-mind lost nothing in this time of terror. Suddenly learning that the troops were suffering for water he made the beach near Fort Clark, and, directing the work of the condenser there, he succeeded in preparing the sea water for drinking at the rate of three hundred gallons an hour, and the sun had scarcely set last Monday week when he had the fleet supplied. At one time he was begged to take some rest, but this he refused to do, exclaiming, 'The contractors have ruined me, but God holds me in his palm, and all will yet be well.' "
On the 10th ult. the advance of the Federal forces on Centreville and Manassas took place—the subject of the Engraving on page 362 (from a sketch by our Special Artist) being the approach of the Union column to the abandoned Confederate works on Centreville heights. Beyond is seen the smoke from one of the numerous burning camps destroyed by the Secessionists on evacuating the positions. Many of the "guns" in the forte were dummies, being nothing more that [sic] huge painted logs placed there as substitutes for the guns which the Confederates had been gradually removing for the previous month. The town of Centreville, at least the cluster of half-ruined shanties that compose it, is over the brow of the hill, and Manassas lies seven miles further on.
Our Special Artist has forwarded to us an Illustration, given on page 366, of the Federal cavalry scouts entering the Dépôt at Manassas Junction, on the 10th ult. The first into Manassas was a party of cavalry scouting in advance of the Federal columns, The dépôt was found to be on fire, all kinds of stores smouldering in heaps or lying strewed about in the greatest possible confusion. There were great numbers of muskets, pistols, and bowieknives—the latter with "Yankee-slayer" engraved in large letters on the blades—all kinds of wearing apparel and officers' trunks, and military stores of every description. The station was surrounded by earthworks and fascine batteries. All the guns had been removed, except here and there one which had tumbled into a ditch. Here, as at Centreville, there were some sham wooden cannons. Judging from the reckless sacrifice of stores at this place, the Confederates, during the latter part of their retreat, must have been panicstricken.