Stephen G. Burbridge
|Stephen Gano Burbridge|
Major General Stephen G. Burbridge
|Nickname||"Butcher" Burbridge, "Butcher of Kentucky"|
August 19, 1831|
|Died||December 2, 1894
Brooklyn, New York
|Place of burial||Arlington National Cemetery|
|Allegiance|| United States of America
|Service/branch|| United States Army
|Years of service||1861-1865|
|Rank||Brevet Major General (Civil War)|
|Battles/wars||American Civil War
- Battle of Shiloh
- Battle of Fort Hindman
- Battle of Champion Hill
- Bayou Teche Campaign
- Battle of Bayou Bourbeux
- Battle of Mt. Sterling
- Battle of Cynthiana
- Battle of Saltville I
Burbridge was born in Georgetown, Kentucky. He attended college at Georgetown College and the Kentucky Military Institute in Frankfort, and subsequently became a lawyer. Upon the outbreak of the Civil War, Burbridge formed his own Union regiment and ultimately officially joined the Union Army as a colonel.
After participating in several Civil War campaigns, including the successful final Battle of Cynthiana against John Hunt Morgan, Burbridge in June 1864 was given command over the state of Kentucky to deal with the growing problem of Confederate guerrilla campaigns. This began an extended period of military siege that would last through early 1865, beginning with martial law authorized by President Abraham Lincoln. On July 16, 1864, Burbridge issued Order No. 59 which declared: "Whenever an unarmed Union citizen is murdered, four guerrillas will be selected from the prison and publicly shot to death at the most convenient place near the scene of the outrages." During Burbridge's rule in Kentucky, he directed the execution and imprisonment of numerous people, including public figures, on charges of treason and other high crimes, many of which were baseless.
While continuing in charge of Kentucky, in October 1864, Burbridge led Union assaults against the salt works near the town of Saltville, Virginia as part of the Battle of Saltville. Burbridge controversially led black troops into battle, which ultimately failed. Wounded troops left behind were killed by Confederate soldiers, with special ire directed toward the black troops.
During the 1864 presidential campaign, Burbridge tried to ensure re-election of Lincoln, suppressing support for George B. McClellan. His actions included arresting prominent persons favoring the candidate, including Lieutenant Governor Richard T. Jacob, and Judge Bullitt, both of whom he deported to Richmond, Virginia.
After a falling out with Governor Thomas E. Bramlette, including an attempt to take control of his troops and arms in February 1865, Burbridge was dismissed from his role of overseeing operations in Kentucky. Bramlette had quickly complained by telegram to Secretary of War Stanton, writing:
“This unwarranted assumption of power by an imbecile commander is doubtless instigated by those who have long sought to provoke an issue with the State, and which I have prevented.”
Lincoln revoked Burbridge's order, and decided to replace the general with Major General John Palmer. Burbridge soon resigned from the army.
- List of American Civil War generals
- 5th United States Colored Cavalry
- American Civil War fortifications in Louisville
- Confederate Martyrs Monument in Jeffersontown
- Great Hog Swindle
- Kentucky in the American Civil War
- Louisville in the American Civil War
- The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Government Printing Offices, Washington, D.C. 1879.
- Odis Lee Harris, "Union General Burbridge Brought Hate and Terror to His Kentucky," The Kentucky Explorer, February 1995.
- Collins, Lewis (1979). History of Kentucky. Southern History Press. ISBN 0-89308-168-X.
- Foust, Patricia (editor) (1986). Historical Times Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Civil War. HarperCollins.
- Bush, Bryan S. (2008). Butcher Burbridge: Union General Stephen Burbridge and His Reign of Terror Over Kentucky. Morley, Missouri: Acclaim Press. ISBN 0-9798802-5-4.
- Bryan S. Bush, "Major General Stephen Gano Burbridge: 'The Scourge of Kentucky'", at author's official website
- "Stephen G. Burbridge". Find a Grave. Retrieved 2009-06-23.