Friday, September 3, 2010

The Chief Commissary

Union Brigadier General William Wallace Burns was born September 3rd 1825 in Coshocton, Ohio, the son of Joseph Burns. He received an appointment to the United State Military Academy at West Point, graduating 28th out of a class of 38 in 1847. He served as a Lieutenant in the 3rd US Infantry at various Indian postings in the West and Southwest. In 1858 he took a staff commission possision to Captain as Commissary of Subsistence.

In the opening months of the Civil War he was Chief Commissary in the West Virginia Campaign under General George B McClellan. Burns received an appointment to Brigadier General in September 1861, and the next spring he was in command of a Brigade in General John Sedgwick’s Division of the Second Corps during the Peninsular Campaign. He rose to command of the First Division of the Ninth Corps during the Battle of Fredericksburg. Burns must have preferred commissary, as he resigned his commission in March 1863 and took the rank of Major, serving as the Chief of Commissary in the Department of the Northwest until the end of the war.

After the war Burns stayed with the Commissary Service on duty in Washington Territory and was promoted to Colonel in 1884. He received a brevet to Brigadier General for meritorious service in the Civil War. Burns retired September 1890. He died April 19th 1892 at Beaufort, South Carolina, and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

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