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Stephen Gano Burbridge
[[Image:300px|center|200px|border]]Major General Stephen G. Burbridge
Personal Information
Born: August 19, 1831(1831-08-19)
Place of Birth: {{{place of birth}}}
Died: December 2, 1894 (aged 63)
Place of Death: {{{place of death}}}
Nickname: "Butcher" Burbridge, "Butcher of Kentucky"
Birth Name: {{{birth name}}}
Other Information
Allegiance: United States of America
Participation(s): {{{participations}}}
Branch: United States Army
Union Army
Service Years: {{{service years}}}
Rank: Brevet Major General (Civil War)
Service number : {{{servicenumber}}}
Commands: {{{commands}}}
Battles: American Civil War
- Battle of Shiloh
- Battle of Fort Hindman
- Battle of Champion Hill
- Bayou Teche Campaign
- Battle of Cynthiana
- Battle of Saltville I
Awards: {{{awards}}}
Relations: {{{relations}}}
Other work: {{{otherwork}}}

Stephen Gano Burbridge (August 19, 1831 – December 2, 1894), also known as "Butcher" Burbridge or the "Butcher of Kentucky", was a controversial Union Major General during the American Civil War.

Early life[]

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.

Civil War[]

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."[1] 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.[citation needed]

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.

For the sake of ensuring Lincoln was reelected[citation needed], Burbridge tampered with the 1864 election in Kentucky.[citation needed] Burbridge arrested candidates and campaign participants he considered objectionable as well as people he thought might vote for someone other than Lincoln.[citation needed] Even Lieutenant Governor Richard Taylor Jacob and Kentucky Supreme Court Chief Justice Joshua Bullitt were arrested and taken away. Despite Burbridge's efforts, George B. McClellan won the state by a wide margin, even though Lincoln was reelected.

After a falling out with Governor Thomas E. Bramlette, including an attempt to take control of Governor Bramlette's troops and arms, in February 1865, Burbridge was dismissed from his role of overseeing operations in Kentucky. He resigned from the army soon thereafter.

Later years[]

Burbridge later moved to Brooklyn, New York, where he died. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

See also[]

32x28px United States Army portal
32x28px American Civil War portal


  1. Beach, Damian (1995). Civil War Battles, Skirmishes, and Events in Kentucky. Louisville, Kentucky: Different Drummer Books. p. 177. 
  • 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. 

Further reading[]

  • Bush, Bryan S. (2008). Butcher Burbridge: Union General Stephen Burbridge and His Reign of Terror Over Kentucky. Morley, Missouri: Acclaim Press. ISBN 0979880254. 

External links[]