William Wallace Burns was born at Coshocton, Ohio, September 3, 1825. At 17 he was appointed to the United States Military Academy from which he grad in 1847, ranking 28th in a class of 38. He was posted to the Infantry, and served during Mexican War on recruiting duty, then spent several years at various Indian posts in the West and the Southwest. In 1858 he accepted a staff commission as Commissary of Subsistence with the rank of Captain.
In the first months of the Civil War, he acted as George B. McClellan's Chief Commissary in the West Virginia Campaign. He was appointed a Brigadier General of Volunteers on September 28, 1861, and in the Peninsular Campaign the following Spring commanded a Brigade of John Sedgwick's Division of II Corps, during which he was wounded and favorably mentioned by McClellan. On sick leave for some months, he commanded the 1st Division of IX Corps at the battle of Fredericksburg. He evidently preferred administration to field command, for on March 20, 1863, he resigned his Volunteer commission and reverted to his staff rank of Major and Commissary. He served as Chief Commissary in Departmentt of the Northwest until the close of the war and later discharged with distinction the same duties in various Southern departments.
Following the war he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in the Commissary Service in 1874 and to Colonel in 1884.
In the meantime he had been breveted Brigadier General for gallant and meritorious services in the Civil War. He was retired on September 3, 1899 and later died at Beaufort, South Carolina. He was buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery.
April 20, 1892 – Brigadier General William W. Burns, United States Army, retired, died suddenly at Beaufort, South Carolina, yesterday. He was born in Ohio in 1825 and was a cadet at the Military Academy at West Point from 1842 to 1847. He was appointed from Ohio. After graduating from the academy in 1847 he was made Second Lieutenant of the Third Infantry, and served in 1847 on recruiting service in the war with Mexico. He was made First Lieutenant of the Fifth Infantry in August 1850.
During the next six years he saw active service in the Indian wars, which occupied the attention of the troops at that time. In 1856-57 he took active part in hostilities against the Seminole Indians in Florida. He became Captain of the Fifth Infantry on January 19, 1859.
At the breaking our of the rebellion he was Chief Commissary of Subsistence of the Department of the Ohio, and was engaged in Major General McClellan’s campaign in Western Virginia in 1861. He was made Brigadier General of Volunteers September 28, 1861 and took part, with the Army of the Potomac, in operations on the Upper Potomac in the Shenandoah Valley and in the Virginia Peninsular Campaign. He was engaged in the battle of Fair Oaks in May 1862 and at the battle of Peach Orchard and Savage Station, where he was wounded. General Burns was in the Rappahannock campaign of the Army of the Potomac in December1862 and January 1863. He resigned his volunteer commission March 20, 1863, and was brevetted Brigadier General of the United States Army March 18, 1865, for gallant and meritorious service during the rebellion.
From 1865 to 1869 General Burns served in the Commissary Departments of the South and East, the Division of the Pacific and Chief Commissary of Subsistence of the Division of the Atlantic and the Department of the East. He was retired from active service September 3, 1889, being sixty-four years of age.
Michael Robert Patterson was born in Arlington and is the son of a former officer of the US Army. So it was no wonder that sooner or later his interests drew him to American history and especially to American military history. Many of his articles can be found on renowned portals like the New York Times, Washingtonpost or Wikipedia.
Reviewed by: Michael Howard