Edward Burleson was born in Buncombe County, North Carolina in 1798. The son of Captain James Burleson, Edward served in his father's regiment during the War of 1812.
Burleson was appointed captain of militia in Howard Company, Missouri in 1817. He was also colonel of militia in Hardeman County, Tennessee (1823-30). He moved to Texas in 1830 and served as lieutenant colonel of the militia of Austin.
After the outbreak of the Texas Revolution Burleson joined the forces led by Samuel Houston. On 28th November, 1835, a group of volunteers under the leadership of Burleson and James Bowie attacked a Mexican mule train. It was believed that the mule train was taking silver to pay the Mexican soldiers under the control of General Perfecto de Cos. After a brief gunfight the Mexicans fled leaving behind their mules. The Texans discovered the mule packs contained grass rather than silver.
On 1st December, 1835, Burleson was appointed commander-in-chief of the volunteer army. Samuel Houston and his small army, including Burleson, retreated eastward following the fall of the Alamo. When Houston reached Buffalo Bayou he took up a defensive position by the River San Jacinto. General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna and his army of 1,500 men arrived across the prairie on 20th April. After coming under artillery fire the Mexicans moved back to some trees that provided them some protection from the Texans.
On 21st April 1836, Houston sent a small party of men under the leadership of Deaf Smith, to destroy Vince's Bridge and therefore cutting off the only means of escape. Burleson, as commander of the First Regiment, led the attack on the Mexicans and organized resistance ended within 20 minutes. About 630 Mexicans were killed and 730 soldiers, including General Santa Anna, were captured. Texan casualties included 16 killed and 24 wounded.
Samuel Houston negotiated with Santa Anna who eventually agreed to withdraw all Mexican troops from Texas. On 22nd October, 1836, Houston became the first president of the Republic of Texas. On 12th June, 1837, he became Brigadier General of the Militia established by the First Congress of the Republic of Texas.
Burleson defeated Mexican insurrectionists (April 1838), the Cherokees at Pecan Bayou (25th December, 1839) and the Comanches at the battle of Plum Creek (August, 1840). He also served under Alexander Somervell against the Mexican invasions of Texas in 1841 and 1842. During the Mexican War Burleson took part in battles at Monterrey and Buena Vista.
Edward Burleson died of pneumonia on 26th December, 1851.