Stephen Gano Burbridge

Stephen Gano Burbridge, grandson of a Revolutionary War veteran, was born in Scott County, Kentucky, on August 19, 1831. He attended Georgetown College and Kentucky Military Institute, practiced law, and engaged in farming. He was commissioned colonel of the 26th Kentucky (Union) Infantry on August 27, 1861, and brigadier general of volunteers to rank from June 9, 1862. Burbridge took part in the battle of Shiloh and commanded a brigade of the XIII Corps in the expedition which reduced the Post of Arkansas and also in the Vicksburg campaign. Early in 1864 he succeeded General Jeremiah T. Boyle in the command of the District of Kentucky. Boyle had been execrated, but Burbridge was actively loathed by a majority of the population over whom he had extensive civil and military powers. He was moderately successful in the field—he was, for example, awarded the brevet of major general on July 4, 1864, for repulsing John H. Morgan's abortive invasion of the state —but his administration of Kentucky earned him the enmity of the duly constituted civil authorities as well as of the populace. Among his arbitrary measures were the arrest of persons suspected of opposing the reelection of Lincoln; the regulation of commodity prices to force farmers to sell to the Federal government at figures below the Cincinnati market; and the establishing of a system of reprisals against civilians to suppress guerrilla depredations—a system originated by Boyle but expanded by Burbridge. Relieved from his command in January, 1865, he resigned his commission in December. After the Civil War he and his family were socially and financially ostracized. In 1867 he confessed that he was not "able to live in safety or do business in Kentucky" and complained that "my services to my country have caused me to be exiled from my home." He was a frequent but unsuccessful supplicant for Federal office. General Burbridge died in Brooklyn, New York, on December 2, 1894, and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

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Reference:  Generals in Blue.  Lives of the Union Commanders by Ezra J. Warner.  Louisiana State University Press.  Baton Rouge.