General Ambrose Burnsides

General Ambrose Burnsides

Thank General Burnsides for the word “sideburns.”

General Ambrose Burnsides was a Union general during the Civil War known for his facial hair, which came down the sides of his face and connected with his mustache, while his chin remained clean-shaven. These enormous side whiskers became known as sideburns.

Sideburns have been around forever, but they weren’t dubbed “sideburns” until this Union general charged onto the scene. Sideburns went out of fashion in the 20th Century, at least until the 1970s when they came back, along with bell-bottom pants and loud, colorful shirts. I know. I had all of them, including the sideburns. Check out my photo below from my 1973 graduation from Montini High School. I’m not quite up to the sideburns standards of General Burnsides, but I was working on it.

That 70s Guy: I'm second in line, with the glasses--and the sideburns.

That 70s Guy: I’m second in line, with the glasses–and the sideburns.

By Doug Peterson

History by the Slice