The wrong kind of general: the resignation of union brigadier general William W. Burns
Ward, David Earl
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This study examines the career of Union Brigadier General William Wallace Burns, focusing on the circumstances surrounding his mysterious resignation of his volunteer rank in March 1863, at the height of the Civil War. General Burns, a rising star in the Army of the Potomac, seemingly assured of rapid promotion to major general, relinquished his field rank and returned to his Regular Army rank of major in the Commissary Department. Why would a well-regarded officer, not suffering from any debilitating physical problems, choose to destroy his career in such a manner? General Burns claimed in his personal letters that he was forced out through the duplicity of Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton. A War Department inquiry found no evidence to support Burns?? allegation. This thesis, after a thorough examination of the subject, offers a conclusion as to whether General Burns was wronged or if he was the victim of his own paranoia.