About John Decatur Barry
John Decatur Barry (June 21, 1839 – March 24, 1867) was a brigadier general in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War. At the Battle of Chancellorsville, Barry gave the order to fire on Stonewall Jackson's party believing they were Union cavalry. When Barry died in 1867, some of his friends and family said he "died of a broken heart" for his role in Jackson's death.
On July 3, 1863, Barry led the 18th North Carolina regiment during Pickett's Charge at the Battle of Gettysburg.
Barry was born in Wilmington, North Carolina. He was educated at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Barry enlisted in Company I of the 18th North Carolina Infantry when the Civil War began. He was elected captain of Company I in April 1862. The 18th was part of Lawrence O'Bryan Branch's brigade, and took part in all of the major battles with A.P. Hill's Light Division. Barry was wounded at the Battle of Frayser's Farm during the Peninsula Campaign.
Following the Battle of Antietam, Barry was promoted to major. At the Battle of Chancellorsville, Barry gave the order to fire on Stonewall Jackson's party as they attempted to ride through James H. Lane's brigade, believing they were Union cavalry. Despite the error, Barry was promoted to colonel of the 18th North Carolina after the battle. He led the regiment during Pickett's Charge on July 3 at Gettysburg. Throughout the 1864 Overland Campaign, Barry continued to lead the 18th North Carolina.
Lane was wounded at the Battle of Cold Harbor on June 2 and Barry was appointed brigadier general to replace him. However, on July 27, at the Battle of Deep Bottom, he was wounded in the right hand. The wound caused him to lose two fingers to amputation. Because he was disabled and after Lane returned to lead the brigade, the appointment to brigadier general was cancelled. In February 1865, Barry was ordered to command a department in North Carolina.
Barry did not even live two years after the surrender of the Confederate forces. Returning home in poor health, he edited a newspaper in Wilmington before dying on March 24, 1867. Some of his friends and family said that Barry "died of a broken heart" for his role in Jackson's death. He is buried in Oakdale Cemetery in Wilmington.[