Burnside revisited

April 23, 2009

I know this topic has already been beaten to death twice over, but it’s time we revisit the subject of Ambrose Burnside’s sideburns.



These things are, there’s no other way to put it, damn impressive! I’m a facial hair enthusiast myself. I like having a beard. I like visiting beards.org. I think they’re manly and beautiful things. But I never, ever had or will have in the future the audacity to grow a pair of chops like those. Talk about ingenuity!

Not only are those things brave and bold, but they were the first of their kind to be showcased on a man’s face. You might notice that the word “sideburn” and the name “Burnside” are eerily similar. Eerily similar? Okay, I may have gone too far. The comparability of the two words is not really eerie. But similar, yes. Very similar. That’s because, as you might have already guessed, the term “sideburn” is derived from ol’ Ambrose himself. He created the style!

The American Civil War period is today known for being– among other things like the costliest American war in terms of lives (which makes sense, since both sides were American) and the inevitable (but highly misunderstood) march towards slavery’s abolition– a hilarious display of increasingly wilder facial hair arrangements. Literally everybody had some sort of beard or ‘stache that at the time was considered perfectly normal but today would turn heads. And then there was one man who created a pattern of hair so unique and innovative, that it defied the accepted practice of the day and made heads turn back then.

Who was this man? Clearly, I’m talking about Burnside. I like to think about what he must have been thinking at the time. “What can I grow on my face that will stand out in a world full of men who are constantly wondering what they can grow on their faces that will stand out among the other men who are wondering what they can grow on their faces?”

He must have experimented for a while. A long while. You don’t invent the sideburn overnight. But then one day, JACKPOT! “I’ll grow a beard and a mustache, but without the rest of the beard and with a little extra mustache.”

I can’t imagine the reaction, at first, was good. People probably sniggered as he walked by. “Look at that asshole Burnside, trying to invent a new style of facial hair. What an asshole! LOL!” They probably didn’t say “LOL,” because Internet lingo/acronyms had not yet been created, but they probably did laugh out loud, which is what LOL stands for, so I take it back, they did LOL.

But over time, it grew on them. (Pun????) And Burnside, instead of being known for such awful military blunders like The Crater (at Petersburg), is instead known as a hairtastic inspiration to future male generations.

Well done, Burny.

Burny with whiteburns

Burny with whiteburns