By Arnold Blumberg Word spread like wildfire through the camps of the Army of the Potomac during the second week of November 1862: “Little Mac” was out, “Old Burn” was in. Nestled in numerous bivouacs situated from Snicker’s Gap to Warrenton, Virginia, the bombshell news was received by the troops with disbelief and despair, followed by indignation. To many of the officers and enlisted members of the army it was incomprehensible that the beloved organizer and leader of the Federal government’s premier field force, Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan, was being replaced by the genial but less than charismatic Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside. The able brigadier of the Iron Brigade, John Gibbon, spoke for many in the army when he postulated that booting McClellan proved “that the Government has gone mad.” "Old Burn" Leads the Army of the Potomac Some men are born to greatness, others have greatness thrust upon them; Ambrose Burnside was neither. Born on May 23, 1824, in Liberty, Indiana, the fourth of nine children, Burnside grew into an imposing six-footer with a large head topped with thin brown hair. After graduating 18th of 38 in the class of 1847 from the United States Military Academy at West Point, he was commissioned a second lieutenant and assigned to the 3rd United States Artillery Regiment. Service in the Mexican War was followed by a posting in New Mexico Territory. In 1853, Burnside resigned from the army and moved to Rhode Island to manufacturer a breech-lo


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