Barnard, John G., 1815-1882

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John G. Barnard was born into a large and gifted family in Sheffield, Massachusetts. His brother, Frederick Augustus Porter Barnard was a longtime educator and president of Columbia University and namesake of Barnard College in New York City. Both John and Frederick, as well as most members of their family, suffered from a hereditary form of deafness which intensified in later years. In early life, when stationed in New Orleans, Barnard married Jane Elizabeth Brand, of Maryland, with whom he had four children. In 1860, he married Anna E. Hall of Harford County, Maryland, with whom he had three children.

In 1833, at the age of 18, Barnard graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, second in a class of forty-three cadets. As one of the top graduates of his class, he was posted as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army Corps of Engineers, embarking on a 48-year career in that branch.

Barnard's first assignment after being commissioned was as an assistant to Colonel Joseph G. Totten in constructing Fort Adams in Newport, Rhode Island, from 1833 to 1834. Totten was the foremost American military engineer of his day and served as Chief Engineer of the Army for much of Barnard's career. There the two formed a close friendship as evidenced by Barnard's extensive eulogy of Totten which was published in 1866.

Throughout his career, Barnard served on many garrison and fortification details, most notably participating in the construction of coastal defenses at Fort Columbus/Fort Jay, Fort Hamilton and Fort Wadsworth in New York City, New Orleans, Pensacola, Mobile, Fort Livingston, Louisiana, Fort Jackson, Louisiana, Fort St. Philip, Louisiana and on the Pacific Coast at San Francisco. During the Mexican–American War, he headed the construction of American defenses at the captured Mexican port of Tampico, ensuring that city's safety as a vital supply line for American forces advancing on Mexico City. He also worked on the survey of Mexican–American War battlefields. and as Chief Engineer for the Exploration and Survey of the projected Tehuantepec Railroad in Mexico, in 1850–1851.

From May 31, 1855, through September 8, 1856, Barnard served as the Superintendent of the United States Military Academy, succeeding Robert E. Lee. He then returned to work on coastal defenses, especially in the New York and New Jersey area. During a leave of absence, he studied construction projects in Europe.

Soon after the outbreak of the Civil War, U.S. Army commander Major General and Brevet Lieutenant General Winfield Scott, bearing in mind Barnard's success at defending his Tampico-based supply lines during the Mexican–American War, assigned then Major Barnard to the Department of Washington. This was the Union Army unit in charge of defending Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States. On April 28, 1861, Colonel Joseph K. Mansfield, the department commander, a former engineer himself, attached Barnard to his headquarters as chief engineer.

When the Union Army moved into Northern Virginia on May 24, 1861, Barnard oversaw the erection of fortifications on the Arlington hills. He also accompanied the Army to Manassas in July 1861 and was present at the Union defeat at the First Battle of Bull Run (Manassas). Between June 1861 and September 1861, Barnard also served on the U.S. Navy's Blockade Strategy Board. Major General George B. McClellan assumed command of the Military Division of the Potomac, the troops around Washington, D.C., on July 23, 1861. On August 15, 1861, McClellan was appointed to the command of the Army and Department of the Potomac, and Barnard became chief engineer of the Military District of Washington. As McClellan formulated his thoughts for fortifications around Washington, D.C., Barnard planned, designed and oversaw their construction.

In Barnard's A Report on the Defenses of Washington, published after the Civil War, he commented on the complexity and ever-changing nature of the project:

From a few isolated works covering bridges or commanding a few especially important points, was developed a connected system of fortification by which every prominent point, at intervals of 800 to 1,000 yards, was occupied by an inclosed field-fort every important approach or depression of ground, unseen from the forts, swept by a battery for field-guns, and the whole connected by rifle-trenches which were in fact lines of infantry parapet, furnishing emplacement for two ranks of men and affording covered communication along the line, while roads were opened wherever necessary, so that troops and artillery could be moved rapidly from one point of the immense periphery to another, or under cover, from point to point along the line.

On September 23, 1861, President Abraham Lincoln appointed Barnard to the grade of brigadier general, U.S. Volunteers, to rank from September 23, 1861. Lincoln formally nominated Barnard as brigadier general on December 21, 1861, and the U.S. Senate confirmed the promotion on March 24, 1862. Barnard was Engineer for the Army of the Potomac between August 20, 1861, and August 16, 1862. He participated in the Peninsula Campaign and directed the siege works at Yorktown, Virginia, of offensive and defensive works on the Chickahominy River. On the march to Harrison's Landing on the James River, he reconnoitered and selected positions for the Battle of Gaines Mill, the passage of White Oak Swamp and the Battle of Malvern Hill. After the conclusion of his work in that campaign, he again was engaged in working on the defenses of Washington as chief engineer of the Department of Washington until May 1864. He had certain additional special assignments such as devising the defenses of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, during this period.

Upon the death of the Chief of the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, Brigadier General Joseph Totten, on April 22, 1864, President Lincoln nominated Barnard to be the next Chief of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at the grade of brigadier general, U.S. Army, but Barnard immediately asked that the nomination be withdrawn.

Barnard was Engineer XXII Corps, Department of Washington, between February 2, 1863, and May 25, 1864. Between May 25, 1864, and June 5, 1864, he was Chief Engineer for the Army of the Potomac. He was on the staff of General Ulysses S. Grant in the Overland Campaign between June 5, 1864, and July 4, 1864. On July 4, 1864, President Lincoln nominated and the U. S. Senate confirmed the award to General Barnard of the honorary rank of brevet major general, U.S. Volunteers, to rank from July 4, 1864, for "Meritorious and Distinguished Services during the Rebellion."

Barnard was appointed Chief Engineer of the armies in the field with his appointment to General Grant's staff. He remained in this position during the Siege of Petersburg, including the capture of Fort Harrison, the Battle of Hatcher's Run and the final assault on Petersburg, until the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox, Virginia, on April 9, 1865.

General Barnard served in the honor guard for President Lincoln's funeral in April 1865. He was mustered out of the U.S. Volunteers on January 15, 1866.

On April 10, 1866, President Andrew Johnson nominated and on May 4, 1866, the U.S. Senate confirmed the award to Barnard of the honorary grade of brevet brigadier general, USA, (Regular Army) to rank from March 13, 1865, for "Gallant and Meritorious Service in the Campaign terminating with the Surrender of the Insurgent Army under Gen. R. E. Lee." On July 17, 1866, President Johnson nominated and on July 23, 1866, the U.S. Senate confirmed the award to Barnard of the honorary grade of brevet major general, USA, to rank from March 13, 1865 "for Gallant and Meritorious Services in the Field during the Rebellion."

Barnard was promoted to colonel in the Regular Army on December 28, 1865, and continued his career in the Army Corps of Engineers until January 1881.

Soon after the close of the war, Barnard was made president of the permanent Board of Engineers for Fortifications and River and Harbor Improvements, a position which he held until his retirement from active service, in January, 1881. Barnard successfully recast the approach to coastal defenses which was required because of the obsolescence of wooden ships and muzzle loading guns. He also advocated the successful use of parallel jetties to improve the mouth of the Mississippi River. He was a prominent member of the United States Lighthouse Board from February 20, 1870, until his retirement on January 2, 1881.

The production of scientific literature in the USA was fostered by Barnard: It was largely through the influence of General Barnard that David Van Nostrand was brought into close association with a group of young army officers who became his friends and later his authors and editorial consultants. Numbered among them were William T. Sherman, H. W. Halleck, Silas Casey, Philip St. George Cooke, Quincy Gillmore, Hugh L. Scott, George W. Cullum, Philip Sheridan and many others known to history.

Barnard was an original member of the Aztec Club of 1847 as well as the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States.

Barnard was a co-founder of the United States National Academy of Sciences, as were several other senior officers of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

General Barnard retired from the Army on January 2, 1881 and died in Detroit, Michigan, on May 14, 1882. He is interred in Sheffield, Massachusetts.

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Brady, Mathew B., ca. 1823-1896. Grant, seated, surrounded by 14 standing staff members, in front of wooden building, City Point, Va., [1865 Apr. 12] [graphic]. Duke University Libraries, Duke University Library; Perkins Library
referencedIn George Brinton McClellan Papers, 1783-1898, (bulk 1850-1885) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Mrs. E. H. Wright. Letters from Union Generals MS 111., 1864 Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University
referencedIn Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States Commandery of the State of Massachusetts Civil War collection, 1724-1933 (inclusive);, 1861-1912 (bulk). Houghton Library
creatorOf John Gross Barnard letter, 1866 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
creatorOf Barnard, J. G. (John Gross), 1815-1882. Papers. United States Military Academy, USMA Library
referencedIn Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth, 1807-1882. Letters to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1761-1904 (bulk 1820-1888) Houghton Library
referencedIn Woolsey family papers, 1750-1969 (bulk 1811-1921) Yale University. Department of Manuscripts and Archives
creatorOf Barnard, J. G. (John Gross), 1815-1882. Papers, 1864-1865. Duke University Libraries, Duke University Library; Perkins Library
creatorOf Barry, William F. (William Farquhar), 1818-1879. Civil War letters received and farewell dinner memorabilia, 1861-1862, 1867. Buffalo History Museum, Research Library
contributorOf Letters Sent by General J. G. Barnard from Headquarters at Camp Winfield Scott, 4/14/1862 - 6/24/1862 United States. National Archives and Records Administration
creatorOf Duane, James C. Letterbooks of J.C. Duane, 1864-1865. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn James E. Babb Memorial collection, 1860-1942 Yale University. Department of Manuscripts and Archives
creatorOf Barnard, J. G. (John Gross), 1815-1882. Autograph letter signed : New York, to William W. Belknap, [18]74 Aug. 7. Pierpont Morgan Library.
referencedIn Woolsey family papers, 1750-1969 (bulk 1811-1921) Yale University. Department of Manuscripts and Archives
referencedIn Haskin, Joseph A. (Joseph Abel), 1818-1874. Letter : Washington, D.C., to [John Gross] Barnard, [Washington, D.C.], 1862 Aug. 29. Texas Christian University
creatorOf Barnard, J. G. (John Gross), 1815-1882. Letter : Washington, D.C., to J[ohn] A[aron] Rawlins, n.p., 1865 May 14. Texas Christian University
referencedIn Babb, James Elisha, 1864-1934. James E. Babb Memorial collection, 1860-1942 (inclusive). Yale University Library
referencedIn McClellan, George Brinton, 1826-1885. George Brinton McClellan papers, 1783-1898 (bulk 1850-1885). Library of Congress
referencedIn Woolsey family papers, 1750-1969 (bulk 1811-1921) Yale University. Department of Manuscripts and Archives
creatorOf Barnard, J. G. (John Gross), 1815-1882. Plan general de las haciendas Marquesanas, itsmo [sic] de Tehuantepec, republica Mexicana : Levantado por order del sor Duque de Terranova y Menteleone ultima desendiente y heredero de los lienes de Hernan Cortez. William L. Clements Library
referencedIn Barnard, John G. -- Brigadier General United States. National Archives and Records Administration
referencedIn Consolidated Military Officer's File of Colonel John G. Barnard, Corps of Engineers United States. National Archives and Records Administration
referencedIn Telegrams Received by General John G. Barnard, 11/1862 - 10/1863 United States. National Archives and Records Administration
creatorOf Delafield, Richard, 1798-1873. Papers. United States Military Academy, USMA Library
contributorOf Memoranda of General John G. Barnard Regarding Forts, 5/23/1863 - 7/18/1864 United States. National Archives and Records Administration
referencedIn Blair Family Papers, 1755-1968, (bulk 1829-1892) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Blair, Francis Preston, 1791-1876. Blair family papers, 1755-1968 (bulk 1829-1892). Library of Congress
creatorOf Barnard, J. G. (John Gross), 1815-1882. Letter, 1872. Duke University Libraries, Duke University Library; Perkins Library
creatorOf Munther, Frederic Reinhold, fl. 1864. Papers. United States Military Academy, USMA Library
creatorOf Records of the Adjutant General's Office. 1762 - 1984. Generals' Papers and Books. 1830 - 1884. Papers and Books of John Gross Barnard
referencedIn Frederick M. Dearborn collection of military and political Americana, Part III: The Civil War: The Union, 1804-1915. Houghton Library
referencedIn Philip Case Lockwood memorial collection of Civil War portraits and autographs, 1862-ca. 1886. Houghton Library
Role Title Holding Repository
contributorOf Barnard, J G - New York - 1856 - File No. B293 United States. National Archives and Records Administration
contributorOf Barnard, J G - Louisiana - 1847 - File No. B514 United States. National Archives and Records Administration
contributorOf Barnard, J G - 1846 - File No. B738 United States. National Archives and Records Administration
contributorOf Barnard, J G - New York - 1858 - File No. B109 United States. National Archives and Records Administration
contributorOf Barnard, J G - District of Columbia - 1855 - File No. B603 United States. National Archives and Records Administration
contributorOf 1863 - Barnard, J G - File No. B700 United States. National Archives and Records Administration
contributorOf 1864 - Barnard, J G - File No. B1073 United States. National Archives and Records Administration
contributorOf 1861 - Barnard, J G - File No. A673 United States. National Archives and Records Administration
contributorOf Barnard, J G - New York - 1855 - File No. S638 United States. National Archives and Records Administration
contributorOf 1861 - Barnard, J G - File No. B470 United States. National Archives and Records Administration
contributorOf Barnard, J G - District of Columbia - 1852 - File No. B97 United States. National Archives and Records Administration
contributorOf 1863 - Barnard, J G - File No. B974 United States. National Archives and Records Administration
contributorOf Barnard, J G - Massachusetts - 1856 - File No. B294 United States. National Archives and Records Administration
contributorOf Barnard, J G - District of Columbia - 1855 - File No. B12 United States. National Archives and Records Administration
contributorOf Barnard, J G - State: [Blank] - Year: 1833 - File Number: B233 United States. National Archives and Records Administration
contributorOf 1863 - Barnard, J G - File No. B106 United States. National Archives and Records Administration
contributorOf Barnard, J G - State: [Blank] - Year: 1860 - File Number: B56 United States. National Archives and Records Administration
contributorOf Barnard, J G - 1846 - File No. B738 United States. National Archives and Records Administration
contributorOf Barnard, J G - New York - 1859 - File No. B359 United States. National Archives and Records Administration
contributorOf Barnard, J G - 1855 - File No. B519 United States. National Archives and Records Administration
contributorOf Barnard, [Blank] - District of Columbia - 1854 - File No. B205 United States. National Archives and Records Administration
contributorOf 1876 - File No. 1321 (Barnard, J G - New York) United States. National Archives and Records Administration
contributorOf Barnard, J G - New York - 1855 - File No. E112 United States. National Archives and Records Administration
contributorOf 1861 - Barnard, J G - File No. B226 United States. National Archives and Records Administration
contributorOf Barnard, J G - New York - 1895 - File No. B20 United States. National Archives and Records Administration
contributorOf Barnard, J G - State: New York - Year: 1859 - File Number: B359 United States. National Archives and Records Administration
contributorOf Barnard, J G - 1846 - File No. B847 United States. National Archives and Records Administration
contributorOf Barnard, J G - Louisiana - 1848 - File No. B672 United States. National Archives and Records Administration
contributorOf Barnard, J G - 1855 - File No. B329 United States. National Archives and Records Administration
contributorOf 1861 - Barnard, J G - File No. E98 United States. National Archives and Records Administration
referencedIn 1861 - Barnard, J G - File No. A652.5 United States. National Archives and Records Administration
contributorOf Barnard, J G - District of Columbia - 1863 United States. National Archives and Records Administration
contributorOf 1877 - File No. 7970 (Barnard, John G - Louisiana) United States. National Archives and Records Administration
contributorOf Barnard, J G - District of Columbia - 1855 - File No. B693 United States. National Archives and Records Administration
contributorOf Barnard, J G - District of Columbia - 1852 - File No. B90 United States. National Archives and Records Administration
contributorOf Barnard, J G - New York - 1857 - File No. B188 United States. National Archives and Records Administration
contributorOf 1865 - Barnard, J G - File No. B1216 United States. National Archives and Records Administration
contributorOf Barnard, J G - 1846 - File No. B540 United States. National Archives and Records Administration
contributorOf Barnard, J G - District of Columbia - 1849 - File No. B415 United States. National Archives and Records Administration
contributorOf 1865 - Barnard, J G - File No. B552 United States. National Archives and Records Administration
contributorOf Barnard, J G - State: [Blank] - Year: 1847 - File Number: B514 United States. National Archives and Records Administration
contributorOf Barnard, J G - State: [Blank] - Year: 1860 - File Number: B321 United States. National Archives and Records Administration
contributorOf Barnard, J G - State: New York - Year: 1835 - File Number: B149 United States. National Archives and Records Administration
contributorOf Barnard, J G - New York - 1855 - File No. B188 United States. National Archives and Records Administration
contributorOf 1861 - Barnard, J G - File No. B946 United States. National Archives and Records Administration
contributorOf 1865 - Barnard, J G - File No. B452 United States. National Archives and Records Administration
contributorOf Barnard, J G - 1842 - File No. B279 United States. National Archives and Records Administration
contributorOf 1863 - Barnard, J G - File No. B932 United States. National Archives and Records Administration
contributorOf 1866 - Barnard, J G - File No. B26 United States. National Archives and Records Administration
contributorOf Barnard, J G - California - 1854 - File No. B594 United States. National Archives and Records Administration
contributorOf 1861 - Barnard, John G - File No. B715 United States. National Archives and Records Administration
contributorOf 1863 - Barnard, J G - File No. B891 United States. National Archives and Records Administration
contributorOf Barnard, J G - New York - 1835 - File No. B149 United States. National Archives and Records Administration
contributorOf Barnard, J G - District of Columbia - 1863 United States. National Archives and Records Administration
contributorOf Barnard, J G - New York - 1857 - File No. B435 United States. National Archives and Records Administration
contributorOf Barnard, J G - New York - 1895 - File No. B103 United States. National Archives and Records Administration
contributorOf 1867 - Barnard, J G - File No. B30 United States. National Archives and Records Administration
contributorOf 1861 - Barnard, J G - File No. B1248 United States. National Archives and Records Administration
contributorOf 1861 - Barnard, J G - File No. B80 United States. National Archives and Records Administration
contributorOf Barnard, J G - 1833 - File No. B233 United States. National Archives and Records Administration
contributorOf 1863 - Barnard, J G - File No. B422 United States. National Archives and Records Administration
contributorOf Barnard, J G - 1846 - File No. B847 United States. National Archives and Records Administration
contributorOf Barnard, J G - New York - 1854 - File No. B594 United States. National Archives and Records Administration
Relation Name
associatedWith Babb, James Elisha, 1864-1934. person
associatedWith Barry, William F. (William Farquhar), 1818-1879. person
associatedWith Barton, William Eleazar, 1861-1930, person
associatedWith Belknap, William W. (William Worth), 1829-1890, person
correspondedWith Blair family family
associatedWith Brady, Mathew B., ca. 1823-1896. person
associatedWith Burnside, Ambrose Everett, 1823-1881. person
associatedWith Dearborn, Frederick M. (Frederick Myers), b. 1876 person
associatedWith Delafield, Richard, 1798-1873. person
associatedWith Duane, James C. person
associatedWith Haskin, Joseph A. (Joseph Abel), 1818-1874 person
correspondedWith Henry, Joseph, 1797-1878 person
associatedWith Hilyard, J. E. person
associatedWith Lockwood, Philip Case, 1844-1897 person
correspondedWith Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth, 1807-1882 person
correspondedWith McClellan, George Brinton, 1826-1885. person
associatedWith Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States. Commandery of the State of Massachusetts, collector. corporateBody
associatedWith Munther, Frederic Reinhold, fl. 1864. person
associatedWith Rawlins, John A. (John Aaron), 1831-1869. person
correspondedWith United States. Army corporateBody
memberOf United States. Army. Corps of Engineers corporateBody
memberOf United States. Army of the Potomac corporateBody
alumnusOrAlumnaOf United States Military Academy corporateBody
associatedWith William E. Barton Collection of Lincolniana (University of Chicago) corporateBody
associatedWith Woolsey family. family
associatedWith Woolsey family. family
associatedWith Woolsey family. family
Place Name Admin Code Country
Newport RI US
Virginia VA US
District of Columbia DC US
Detroit MI US
Sheffield MA US
Petersburg VA US
New Orleans LA US
New York City NY US
West Point NY US
Tampico 02 MX
Pittsburg PA US
Subject
Petersburg Crater, Battle of, Va., 1864
Overland Campaign, Va., 1864
Bridges
Civil War, 1861-1865
Light House Board
Peninsula Campaign, 1862
Mexican War, 1845-1848
Bull Run, 1st Battle of, Va., 1861
Scientific publications
Siege of Petersburg, Va. (Richmond--Petersburg Campaign), 1864-1865
White Oak Swamp, Battle of, Va., 1862
Gaines' Mill, Battle of, Va., 1862
Malvern Hill, Battle of, Va., 1862
Occupation
Scientists--19th century.--United States
Soldiers--19 century.--United States
Engineers--19th century.--United States
Activity

Person

Birth 1815-05-19

Death 1882-05-14

Male

Americans

English

Information

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