Edward Burleson was born in North Carolina December 15, 1798. He served as a private in the War of 1812. On October 20, 1817, Burleson was appointed a captain of militia in Howard County, Missouri; he was commissioned colonel on June 13, 1821, in Saline County, and was colonel of militia from 1823 to 1830 in Hardeman County, Tennessee.
He arrived in Texas on May 1, 1830. On August 11, 1832, he was a member of the ayuntamiento at San Felipe de Austin. On December 7, 1832, he was elected lieutenant colonel of the militia of Austin Municipality. In 1833 he was elected a delegate to the Second Convention in Mina. From 1830 to 1842 he defended settlers in numerous engagements with hostile Indians. On May 17, 1835, in Bastrop he was elected to the committee of safety and was therefore unable to attend the Consultation of 1835, although he had been elected a delegate. On October 10, 1835, in Gonzales he was elected lieutenant colonel of the infantry in Gen. Stephen F. Austin’s army. On November 24, 1835, Burleson became general of the volunteer army and replaced Austin. On November 26, 1835, he fought in the Grass Fight during the siege of Bexar. His father was active in this battle, which was won by the Texans.
On December 1, 1835, Burleson was commissioned commander in chief of the volunteer army by the provisional government. On December 6 he entered Bexar and, with Benjamin R. Milam, wrote a report to the provisional government. On December 14, 1835, he reported on the success at Bexar to the provisional governor, Henry Smith. The volunteer army disbanded on December 20, 1835, and Burleson raised a company and rode to Gonzales in February 1836. By March 10, in Gonzales, he was officially elected colonel of the infantry, First Regiment. On April 21, 1836, at the battle of San Jacinto, he commanded the First Regiment, which was placed opposite Mexican breastworks and was the first to charge them. Burleson accepted the sword and surrender of Gen. Juan N. Almonte.
From July 12 to December 1836 he was colonel of the frontier rangers. In 1837 he surveyed and laid out roads to Bastrop, La Grange, and other Central Texas places. On June 12, 1837, he became brigadier general of the militia established by the First Congress of the Republic of Texas. As a representative of the Second Congress from September 26, 1837, to May 1838, Burleson served on the Committee on Post Offices and Post Roads, the Committee on Military Affairs, and the Committee of Indian Affairs, of which he was chairman. In 1838 he was colonel of the First Regiment of Infantry in the new regular army and on April 4, 1838, defeated Mexican insurrectionists under Vicente Córdova. In the spring of that year Burleson laid out the town of Waterloo, the original settlement of the city of Austin. He was elected to the Senate of the Third Congress but resigned on January 19, 1839, at President Mirabeau B. Lamar’s request, to take command of the Frontier Regiment. On May 22, 1839, Burleson intercepted a Córdova agent with proof that Mexico had made allies of Cherokees and other Indians. He defeated the Cherokees under Chief Bowl in July 1839.