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Texas A&M University, Libraries, Cushing Memorial Library & Archives Burns, William Wallace, 1825-1892
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William Wallace Burns Papers

  • US TxAM-C C000023
  • Collection
  • 1848-1910

This collection consists mainly of correspondence (1858-1888) in which Brigadier General William Wallace Burns, of the United States Army, gives detailed accounts of Civil War battles fought during the Peninsular Campaign (March-August 1862), particularly the Seven Days Battles (June 25 - July 1, 1862 ), including Peach Orchard, Allen's Farm, Savage Station, Glendale, Nelson's Farm, and Malvern Hill. Burns discusses topics such as military strategy, troop movements, military surgeons, weather conditions during battles, building pontoon bridges, building defense works and, and capturing Confederate works. One letter is present from the Mexican-American War (1846-1848).

Also included is personal correspondence with high-ranking officials such as President Abraham Lincoln, U. S. Secretary of War Charles Stanton, General Henry W. Halleck, General Winfield Scott Hancock, General George McClellan, General William Starke Rosecrans, and Major General Edwin Vose Sumner, as well as Emil Schalk who was a war journalist. The latter correspondence concerns political viewpoints on the causes of the war, primarily slavery, as well as the conduct and outcome of the war.

Some correspondence (1888-1904) was written just before and after Burns' death among family members, notably his grandchildren Lloyd Burns Magruder, who was a cadet at the United States Military Academy, and Pauline Magruder, as well as William Wallace Burns' sister Mabelle Burns, usually called "Mab." A substantial group of letters to Mabelle Burns is from her suitor for marriage, B. L. Prince. A few of the family letters from Pauline Magruder to her Aunt Mabelle Burns are written in French from Paris, France.

Also present is a substantial group of copies of military orders and official reports focused on Burns' thwarted ambitions to become Major General, and lead a Division in the Army of the Cumberland under the command of General Rosecrans. Apparently Burns believed political maneuverings of high governmental officials obstructed his promotion to Major General and precipitated his resignation as Brigadier General in 1863.

A few financial records and documents from legal proceedings are included concerning disputed rights to the "Sibley Tent," an invention whose patent royalties were eventually shared by Burns with Henry Hastings Sibley. Also present are a few documents concerning Texas real estate transactions.

Burns, William Wallace, 1825-1892