Burnside's reputation as a McClellan creation is undeserved. He made a great splash in Rhode Island politics as the head of a prewar "high tech" manufacturing concern, and he reaped political, if not financial capital, from this venture.

Burnside went to war a politically-wired celebrity. He was assiduously sponsored by William Sprague, the influential governor of Rhode Island who spent much time in D.C. and who married political diva Kate Chase (daughter of Salmon Chase, the radical head of the Treasury Deaprtment).

One wonders if Burnside's failure as an arms manufacturer affected the war - and in how many ways. According to this article there are still a few '54 Burnside carbines out there.