The History of Archery and Sideburns

Civil War Army General Ambrose Burnside is commonly known among facial hair enthusiasts as the originator, and namesake, of sideburns. General Burnside was well liked among the military, as well as in his following career in politics. He was known to be extremely personable and memorable, and committed to his unusual (at the time) facial hair. He was also the first president of the National Rifle Association (NRA).

His notable facial hair is also known as muttonchops, balcarrotas, side whiskers, and even greaser sleeves, but “sideburn” is the simple reversal of “Burnside”, possibly the only human whose legacy is built into the name of a partial-beard.

General Burnside’s history can be traced back to his birth in Indiana, where he was the fourth of nine children. His father came from North Carolina, the settling spot of Burnside’s great-grandfather Robert, who arrived from Scotland in the mid-18th century.

Also back in Scotland, in a different time of war, archery was developed from hunting origins as a battle technique that allowed firing from afar, allowing soldiers to fight without hand-to-hand contact, as well as defend castles and estates. Archers had to maintain skill and accuracy, and soon, superior archery skill meant promotions up through the military.

Royal Stewart Tartan

Royal Stewart Tartan

Due to this rising interest in becoming an accurate archer, and desired skill by royalty, archery became a common practice and quickly developed into the art and sport that it is today. In 1677, “His Majesty’s Company of Archers” was established in Scotland, offering a sum of money and prize each year for the winner of the 180 yard competition.

This annual competition was embraced by royal families and citizens alike, and the sport of archery has grown to be an essential part of Scottish history. Throughout periods of up and down prosperity, the sport and tradition of archery was highly supported by the Royal family of Stewart, whose passion helped keep it alive over centuries.

The history of Scotland is rich with archery, as is Clan Stewart, ancestors of one Andrew Stewart, or as you may know him, Chops, the archer with the side burns.

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