General Francis Channing
Barlow ~ 'The Boy General'
Reproduction Number: LC-MSS-44297-33-194 (b&w negative)
Collection: James Wadsworth Family Papers
Repository: Library of Congress Manuscript Div Washington,
.... Fort Sumter was fired upon on April 12,
1861, and President Lincoln called for 75,000 militia from
the northern states on April 15th. Francis C. Barlow enlisted
as a Private in Company F of a three month militia regiment,
the 12th New York, on April 19, 1861.
Francis married Arabella Wharton Griffith on
April 20th and sailed from New York to Fortress Monroe,
Virginia, on April 21. The 12th New York was sent to the
Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and served in General Patterson's
Army north of Winchester. The Battle of Bull Run was being
fought at that time, but Francis did not participate. On
May 1rst Francis C. Barlow was appointed a First Lieutenant.
The three month term of the 12th New York expired and
Francis Barlow was mustered out at New York City on August
Francis C. Barlow re-entered the service
on November 09, 1861, as Lieutenant Colonel of the 61st
New York Infantry Regiment, the "Astor Regiment." The
regiment left New York on November 9th for Washington D.C.,
where it became part of the 2nd Corps of the newly formed
Army of the Potomac commanded by General McClelland.
The 61st New York participated in McClelland's
Peninsula Campaign and saw action at the Siege of Yorktown
and the Battle of Fair Oaks. Francis C. Barlow was promoted
to full Colonel on April 14, 1862, during this campaign.
After the Peninsula Campaign, Lee invaded Maryland which
led to the Battle of Antietam near Sharpsburg, Maryland.
Colonel Barlow commanded jointly the 61st New York and
the 64th New York, and they were positioned in front of
a Confederate position called the Sunken Road. As the Union
forces were following up their repulse of a Confederate
counter attack, Colonel Barlow was severly wounded in the
groin by grape-shot. On September 19, 1862, two days after
the Battle of Antietam, Francis C. Barlow was promoted
to Brigadier General.
General Barlow commanded a brigade at
the Battle of Chancellorsville, Virginia, on May 1-4, 1863,
and at the Battle of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on July
1-3. 1863. At Gettysburg he fought on the right flank of
the Union position, had a hill (Barlow's Knoll) named for
him, was severely wounded and his brigade was overwhelmed
by the Confederates. He was found on the field by Confederate
General John B. Gordon and from this incident has come
one of the most notable human interest stories of the Civil
General Gordon discovered General Barlow on his back
and did not appear likely to survive. A minie ball had
passed through his body near the spine and he was paralyzed.
Gordon gave him a drink, carried him to the shade of a
tree and asked his name. Barlow told him,gave him some
letters and asked that his wife, a nurse with the Union
Army, be sent for. General Gordon sent her a flag of truce
and arranged for her safe passage through the lines. Under
her care, Francis Barlow survived and recovered, and he
went on to other battles in the war. On August 1, 1864,
he was breveted to Major General and this promotion was
confirmed on May 25, 1865. He resigned his commission on
November 16, 1865.
After the war, Francis C. Barlow resumed
his law practice at New York City. He was active in Republican
politics, he was one of the founders of the American Bar
Association, he investigated the Hayes-Tilden election
irregularities and he held several public offices. As Attorney
General for New York, he conducted the prosecution of the "Boss" Tweed
ring of Tammany Hall.
Meanwhile, General John B. Gordon had risen to prominence
as both Senator and Governor of Georgia. By coincidence,
and unknown to each other, both he and Barlow were invited
to a political dinner at Washington. Their re-introduction
to each other after the span of years evoked a curious
and happy reunion. Both had believed the other to be dead
and this chance reunion resulted in a lasting relationship.
Francis Barlow's wife Arabella had died during the war
on July 27, 1864, at Washington DC and they had no children.
After the war, in 1867, he married second, Ellen Shaw,
a daughter of Francis George Shaw of West Roxbury, Massachusetts.
Their children were Robert Shaw Barlow, born July 4, 1869,
Charles Lowell Barlow, born on October 10, 1871, and Louisa
Shaw Barlow, born on July 27, 1873.
General Francis Channing Barlow died on January 11, 1896,
at New York City and he was buried at Brookline, Massachusetts.
|The Dublin Post, originally published in the Boston Globe Copy
of Original Article
Dublin, Georgia Wednesday, March 19, 1879
Francis C. Barlow and John B. Gordon
Boston Transcript Photo
courtesy of Jeffrey Keene
You may not be aware that it was General Gordon's command
which struck the flank of the eleventh corps on the afternoon
of the first day at Gettysburg, and after a short but desperate
conflict, broke its lines and swept it from the field.
In that fight General Barlow, of New York, commander of
the first division, fell dangerously, and it was thought,
mortally wounded. He was shot directly through the body.
Two of his men attempted to bear him through that shower
of lead from the field, but one was instantly killed, and
General Barlow magnanimously said to the other: "You
can do me no good; save yourself if you can." Gordon's
Brigade of Georgian's in its wild charge, swept over him,
and he was found by General Gordon himself, lying with
up-turned face in the hot July sun, nearly paralyzed and
apparently dying. General Gordon dismounted from his horse,
gave him a drink of water from his canteen, and inquired
of General Barlow his name and wishes.
General Barlow said: "I shall probably live but a
short time. Please take from my breast pocket the packet
of my wife's letters and read one of them to me," which
He then asked that the others be torn
up, as he did not wish them to fall into others hands.
This General Gordon did, and then asked: "Can I do
anything else for you, general?" "Yes," replied
General Barlow, earnestly. "My wife is behind our
army. Can you send a message through the lines?" "Certanly,
I will," said Gordon, and he did. Then directing General
Barlow to be borne to the shade of a tree at the rear,
he rode on his command. The wife received the message and
came harmlessly through both lines of battle and found
her husband, who eventually recovered.
Since General Gordon's election to the
United States senate, both he and General Barlow were invited
to a dinner party in Washington, and occupied opposite
seats at the table. After introductions, General Gordon
said: "General Barlow, are you related to the officer
of your name who was killed at Gettysburg?" "I
am the man," said Barlow. "Are you related to
the Gordon who is supposed to have killed me?" "I
am the man," said General Gordon. The hearty greeting
which followed the touching story, as related to the interested
guests by General Barlow, and the thrilling effect upon
the the company can better be imagined than described.
|<< Major General Francis C. Barlow
Brigadier General John B. Gordon>>
From Francis Channing Barlow by Edwin H. Abbot, Harvard Graduates Magazine, June 1896:
"Francis Channing Barlow was born in Brooklyn, New York, on Octo¬ber 19, 1834, but was raised in his mother's hometown, Brookline, Massachusetts. Graduated from Harvard in 1855, he went to New York, studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1858, and practiced until the outbreak of the Civil War. Barlow enlisted as a private in the 12th New York, a three-month regiment from which he was mustered out in August. He reentered the army as lieutenant colonel of the 61st New York to commence a meritorious military career. As colonel of the 61st and later as brigadier general of volunteers (September 19, 1862), he served throughout the Peninsular campaign and at Sharpsburg under George B. McClellan, where he was severely wounded. "After the war Francis Channing Barlow entered politics and was twice elected secretary of the state of New York; served as United States Marshall; was elected state attorney general, in 1871, and initiated the prosecution of the 'Tweed Ring.' After the expiration of his term he practiced law until his death in New York City on January 11, 1896; he was buried in Brookline."
|Harpers Weekly, October 07, 1865
Major-General Francis C. Barlow, the Union candidate for
Secretary of State in New York, is one of the most heroic
and skillful of our soldiers. One of his achievements,
the capture of a whole rebel division with its Generals
at Spottsylvania, was perhaps the most brillian single
feat of the war. Enlisting as a private in New York regiment
upon the fall of Sumter, his high capacity, dauntless courage,
and loyal devotion, carried him rapidly from the ranks
to the Colonecy. At Fair Oaks his regiment, the New York
Sixty-first, was nobly conspicupuous. At Antietam he captured
two stands of colors and three hundred prisoners, and,
leading in the hottest fire, was fearfully wounded and
left for dead upon the field.
Promoted to Brigadier his recovery from apparently hopeless
injuries enabled him to take part in the great day of Gettysburg,
when he was again so severly wounded that he fell into
the hands of the enemy, but seemed so nearly dead that
they left him, and he was recaptured by our men. By the
most unremitting and tender care once more able to join
the army, he commaned the first division of Hancock's Second
Corps when the final campaign in Virginia opened. The army
moved on the 3d of May, and forced its bloody way through
the Wilderness. On the 12th, at the earliest dawan, Barlow's
Division at the head of the assaulting column broke over
the rebel works, and, clubbing muskets, captured three
thousand prisoners, an entire division, with Major-General
Edward Johnson and Brigadier Stuart. Pushing on with his
division and fortunately unhurt, he was actively engaged
in the field when the sad news of his wife's death reached
him - a wife worthy of a soldier.
Married upon the even of his departure for the war, his
wife shared his fortunes, and with a zeal like that of
her husband in the field, this accomplished and admirable
woman devoted herself to the care of the sick and wounded
soldiers in the hospitals. Her duties were most arduous;
her devotion unwearied; and stricken at last by mortal
illness in the Fredericksburg hospital, she died, refusing
to allow her husband to know of her peril until it was
During the final campaign, at the instance of General
Grant, the Brigadier was made a Major-General, and emerged
untouched, save by the prostration of illness.
Young, accomplished, experienced, of tried ability, and
utterly free from personal and partisan cliques and intrigues,
General Barlow __ly heads the ticket of the great body
of honest men of New York who will have no terms with any
kind of rebellion, and whose hearts beat in unison with
his own for that Union and Liberty for which he has so
bravely fought and so cruelly suffered.
Copy of the original
THE ELEVENTH CORP, from Gettysburg National Park
Eleventh Army Corps of the Army of the Potomac was
organized in 1862 under General Franz Siegel. Many
of the Union regiments of this corps were composed
of German immigrants and had served honorably up
until the Battle of Chancellorsville, Virginia. It
was there that the corps was stampeded during an
overwhelming assault by General "Stonewall" Jackson's
corps, driving the Union soldiers from the field.
Post-battle accusations of cowardice
caused the morale in the Eleventh Corps to plummet.
A stigma of shame hung over the corps, though they
knew that they were good soldiers and could fight
well if led well. The disaster at Chancellorsville
was caused by a poor choice of position. The position
assigned them at Gettysburg on July 1 was not any
better than the one from which they ran two months
After the death of General Reynolds
on July 1, General Oliver O. Howard assumed command
of all Union forces at Gettysburg, and command of the
Eleventh Corps fell upon the shoulders of Major General
Carl Schurz. After conferring with Howard near Cemetery
Hill, Schurz pushed two divisions of the corps through
Gettysburg and into the fields north of the college
on the right flank of the First Corps. Quickly taking
advantage of what ground was available, Major General
Francis Barlow pushed his 1st Division
to a small hill overlooking Rock
Creek, driving back Confederate skirmishers
General George Doles' brigade. It was not long before Doles'
men returned and skirmishing broke out along the front
as Confederate batteries on Oak Ridge and north of Gettysburg
began to send shot and shell into the Union regiments.
The few Union batteries responded
with accurate and destructive fire. Captain Hubert
Dilger's Battery I, 1st Ohio Light Artillery was placed
on a small knoll west of the Carlisle Road. Captain
Dilger was an expert artilleryman and used his battery
to flank Confederate positions on the ridge.
The captain was known amongst his
men as "leather
breeches" for the leather pad sewn to the seat of
his riding trousers though this was not all he was known
for. He had a keen eye for placing artillery and his battery
had gained a reputation with their fighting skills displayed
at Chancellorsville. (Dilger eventually received the Congressional
Medal of Honor for his actions there.) From this rise of
ground, Dilger's gunners set to work shattering one of
the southern batteries on Oak Ridge and driving another
into retreat. Joined by the 13th New York Battery, Dilger's
gunners fought throughout the afternoon and were some of
the last Union troops to leave this portion of the field.
The battery even fought within the town limits until finally
being pulled into a position near Cemetery Hill that evening.
On July 01,
1863, this scenic knoll saw
the first day's struggle of the Battle of
Gettysburg. It was here that Union Major-General Francis
C. Barlow, of Howard's Eleventh Corps, met
with Confederate Brigadier General John B.
Though outnumbered three to one, General Doles sent his
Georgia regiments forward. The rattle of musketry echoed
over the fields as the lines closed. The 4th and 44th Georgia
regiments marched headlong toward Union troops at the small
hill, today called Barlow's Knoll. At approximately the
same time, General Early's division arrived on the field
and charged the Union position centered around the knoll.
Early's artillery opened with an explosion of shells into
the Union line.
General Barlow wrote: "The enemy soon opened on us
with his artillery. His number of guns was superior to
mine and though another battery was furnished me, I never
got it. The captain of my battery had one leg carried away,
one gun disabled and several horses killed, but still kept
in position." Barlow was referring to Lt. Bayard Wilkeson
and Battery G, 4th US Artillery. Though mortally wounded,
Wilkeson continued to direct his gunners as the infantry
units gave way all about him.
Doles' Georgians were quick to take advantage of the situation
and charged into Barlow's men, breaking the line west of
the knoll near the Alms House cemetery. Another Union brigade,
commanded by Brig. General Kryzanowski, approached the
Confederates and after a brief fight, was thrown back in
"A force came up against our front
in line of battle with supports in the rear," Barlow
continued. "We ought to have held the place easily
...but the enemy's skirmishers had hardly attacked us before
my men began to run. No fight at all was made. I started
to get ahead of them to rally them and form another line.
Before I could turn my horse I was shot in the left side,
dismounted and tried to walk to the rear. I then got a
spent ball in my back which has made quite a bruise. Soon
I got too faint to go any further and lay down. I lay in
the midst of the fire some five minutes as the enemy were
firing at our running men. I did not expect to get out
Luckily for Barlow, a Confederate officer chanced upon
the wounded general. General John B. Gordon, whose brigade
had just shattered Barlow's position on the knoll, looked
down upon the pale officer, dismounted and raised Barlow
up from the grass. After giving Barlow some water and a
sip of some spirits, Gordon ordered that he be carried
to a nearby farm for shelter. This remarkable act of compassion
probably saved Barlow's life. Confederate surgeons treated
the wounded officer who appeared to be close to death.
A message was passed between the lines to General Barlow's
wife who accompanied the Union army, and she made her way
through the lines the next day to find her wounded husband.
With her help, the general slowly recovered from his wounds,
returned to the army the following year,and led a division
of the Second Corps in the Wilderness Campaign.
The last of Early's brigades, under General Harry Hays
and Colonel Isaac Avery, charged around and into the rear
of the line. The overwhelming attack collapsed the fragile
Union line and a retreat ensued through the streets of
Gettysburg. No threats, pleas, or orders could stay the
men from leaving the field. "We ran them through the
town," wrote Colonel Clement Evans of the 31st Georgia, "and
drove them back to their entrenched hills. The victory
on the first day was of the most complete character." Fleeing
northerners ran into blind alleys and were captured. Others
hid in homes and outbuildings. Brig. General Alexander
Schimmelfennig took refuge in a pig shed where he hid for
several days. Some of the retreating soldiers panicked,
leaving equipment and wounded comrades to the fate of the
Confederates. Eventually those exhausted Union survivors
who could, made their way back to Cemetery Hill where General
O.O. Howard and General Winfield Scott Hancock were then
organizing the defenses there. The end of the day appeared
to be a humiliating Union defeat, but the soldiers had
bought time for General Meade to concentrate his forces
and forward them to the Gettysburg battlefield.
Cold Harbor, Virginia
1864 from NARA Records
Left to right, Division Commanders: Francis C. Barlow,
David B. Birney and John Gibbon, seated General Winfield
General Winfield S. Hancock and staff of
twenty-three, recognized. General Francis C. Barlow, General
David B. Birney, General John Gibbon, and Lieutenant Edward
References for General Francis Barlow, Civil
GENERAL BARLOW'S HEADQUARTERS
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