Francis's Top Matches
About Francis Channing Barlow
Francis served in the military during the Civil War as a General on the Union side. He graduated from Harvard, 1st in his class of 1855. He was a Republican, a NYS Atty. Gen. and prosecuted the Tweed ring.
Civil War Union Major General. One of a relatively handful of Union General officers who, despite a complete lack of military training and background, turned out to be outstanding Generals. Trained as a lawyer (and graduating first in his class at Harvard in 1855), he enlisted as a Private in the 12th New York State Militia regiment at the start of the Civil War, and was eventually advanced to Lieutenant. His unit served in the First Bull Run Campaign and was mustered out in August 1861. When it became apparent that the War would not be a short one, he was commissioned as Lieutenant Colonel of the 61st New York Volunteer Infantry in November 1861. In April 1862, he was promoted to Colonel and commander of the unit, which he led with distinction during the Siege of Yorktown and the Battle of Fair Oaks in the 1862 Peninsular Campaign. In the September 1862 Battle of Antietam, he commanded his regiment and the 64th New York Infantry in the brutal slaughter that marked the Union attacks on the Bloody Lane. His units attacked the right of the Confederate position and was in pursuit after the Rebels broke when a canister shot severely wounded him, and he was thought to be dead when carried from the field. His men, however, had captured two Confederate flags and 300 prisoners. His wounds kept him from the field until April 1863, when he was assigned to command a brigade in the Army of the Potomac's XI Corps, having been promoted to Brigadier General, US Volunteers two days after the fight at Antietam. At the May 1863 Battle of Chancellorsville, while the rest of his Corps was smashed by Stonewall Jackson's celebrated Flank Attack, his brigade was detached from the larger unit earlier in the day, and was not routed. When his Corps was reorganized in the aftermath of its Chancellorsville disaster, he was assigned to command its 1st Division on May 24, 1863. In the subsequent Battle of Gettysburg on July 1, 1863, his Division held the line north of the town when only the I and XI Corps were present with John Buford's Division of Cavalry. General Barlow extended his units to touch an area now known as "Barlow's Knoll". This move weakened the Union position; when the area was attacked by men of Confederate General Richard Ewell's Corps it collapsed, unhinging the Union line. In the subsequent retreat, General Barlow, while trying to rally his men, was again severely wounded, temporarily paralyzed and captured. He was exchanged during his convalescence, and returned to command his Division, which had become part of the II Corps under General Winfield S. Hancock in March 1864, a full ten months after his wounding. His led his command in the 1864 Overland Campaign, fighting in the Battle of the Wilderness, and especially distinguishing himself at the Battle of Spotsylvania, where his Division, along with General David Birney's 3rd Division, stormed the Confederate "Mule Shoe" salient, capturing over 3000 Confederates, two Rebel Generals and twenty Confederate artillery pieces. After his participation in the carnage at the Battle of Cold Harbor, and in the initial stages of the Petersburg campaign, his wounds and exertions wracked his health, and he took an extended sick leave in Europe to recover. In April 1865 he returned to command the II Corps' 2nd Division, and he again distinguished himself at the Battle of Saylors's Creek on April 6, 1865. He was present at the Confederate surrender at Appomattox, and was promoted to Major General, US Volunteers in May 1865 (having been already brevetted at the rank in August 1864). In November of that year he resigned his commission, and was subsequently elected as Secretary of State for New York. He then served as New York's US Marshal before being elected as the State's Attorney General. In that capacity he initiated the prosecution of the infamous New York City Tammany Hall "Tweed Ring", which had been a model of political graft and corruption for many years. He also was the chief investigator looking into irregularities in the Hayes-Tilden Presidential election. General Barlow had an atypical presence for a Union officer - he was short, slight, clean shaven and spoke in a high-pitched voice. He had little military decorum, frequently wearing non-regulation checkered flannel shirts, and often wore his uniform coat unbuttoned. Yet he was a strict disciplinarian, a brave, capable and tenacious fighter, and a gritty front line officer. Barlow's Knoll is one of the more prominent places in the Gettysburg National Military park today, where a stature of General Barlow now stands on East Howard Avenue. He passed away in New York City in 1896, and is buried in his wife's hometown of Brookline, Massachusetts. (bio by: Russ Dodge)
Francis Channing Barlow (October 19, 1834 – January 11, 1896) was a lawyer, politician, and Union General during the American Civil War.
Early life and career
Barlow was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of a Unitarian minister, but was raised in his mother's home town of Brookline, Massachusetts. He studied law at Harvard University, graduated first in his class, and was practicing law on the staff of the New York Tribune newspaper when the Civil War broke out in 1861.
In April 1861, Barlow enlisted as a private in the 12th New York Militia, leaving behind his new bride, Arabella Wharton Griffith Barlow, ten years his senior, after one day of marriage. He was commissioned a first lieutenant in his first month of service. His regiment had only a three-month term of enlistment and he mustered out with his men, but soon found a new regiment. By November he was a lieutenant colonel in the 61st New York, and by the time of the Peninsula Campaign in the spring of 1862, he became its colonel.
Barlow saw his first action at the Battle of Seven Pines as part of the brigade commanded by Brig. Gen. Oliver O. Howard in the II Corps of the Army of the Potomac. At Glendale, in the Seven Days Battles, his regiment became separated from the rest of the brigade; and he exercised personal initiative by advancing his men to the sound of the fighting, encountering a Confederate battle line and leading his men in a bayonet charge against it. The enemy fled, and Barlow picked up a fallen Confederate flag. At the Battle of Malvern Hill, Barlow and his men successfully defended the line against repeated Confederate assaults.
At the Battle of Antietam, commanding the 1st Brigade, 1st Division, II Corps, Barlow's men were in the center of fighting at the infamous sunken road ("Bloody Lane") and captured about 300 prisoners. He was wounded by an artillery shell in the face and by grapeshot in the groin. Brig. Gen. John C. Caldwell wrote about Barlow in his official report:
Whatever praise is due to the most distinguished bravery, the utmost coolness and quickness of perception, the greatest promptitude and skill in handling troops under fire, is justly due to him. It is but simple justice to say that he has proved himself fully equal to every emergency, and I have no doubt that he would discharge the duties of a much higher command with honor to himself and benefit to the country.
– John C. Caldwell, Official report from the Battle of Antietam
Two days after the battle, Barlow was promoted to brigadier general of volunteers. He was an unusual general, slight of build with a peaceful, boyish face, colorless cheeks without a typical general's beard, and a thin voice. He dressed informally, often wearing a "checked flannel lumberjack shirt" under an unbuttoned uniform coat. One of General George G. Meade's staff officers wrote that he looked "like a highly independent mounted newsboy." But Barlow had a reputation as an aggressive fighter with strong personal confidence. Rather than carrying the Army-issued officer sword, he wore a heavy enlisted man's cavalry saber, which he used to whack the backsides of stragglers. (His disdain for stragglers became a personal obsession. His columns on the march would be followed by a company in skirmish line with fixed bayonets to move them along.)
Barlow suffered from his Antietam wound for months, becoming emaciated and suffering from what doctors called an "influence of malaria." Although he was not fully recovered, he returned to the Army in April 1863 and commanded the 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, XI Corps, at the Battle of Chancellorsville. There, his corps was subjected to the devastating flank attack of Lieutenant General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson that routed it, but Barlow's brigade had been detached to support the III Corps and thus escaped the humiliation. After the battle, General Howard promoted Barlow to command of the 1st Division, XI Corps, replacing its wounded commander, with orders to restore the fighting qualities of its defeated brigades. Barlow immediately angered his men by arresting the popular Col. Leopold von Gilsa, and they considered him a "petty tyrant."
In July 1863, Barlow commanded his unhappy division at the Battle of Gettysburg, where he led them to a defensive position on Blocher's Knoll, which is now known as Barlow's Knoll. Unfortunately, this slight rise in the terrain was too far forward in comparison to the other XI Corps division, that of Maj. Gen. Carl Schurz; and Barlow's position formed a salient that could be attacked from multiple sides. Maj. Gen. Jubal Early's division overwhelmed Barlow's division, causing serious losses and Barlow himself was wounded and left for dead on the field. He was found and cared for by Confederate Maj. Gen. John B. Gordon, who sent him to a field hospital. According to an account written by Gordon in 1901, he allowed Barlow's wife Arabella to enter the Confederate camp to tend to her wounded husband, but this account is deemed apocryphal. The popular story continued that Gordon presumed Barlow had died and that both men met years later, being very surprised each was still alive. An examination of Barlow's subsequent war record makes this story very unlikely.
As the Confederates retreated from Gettysburg on July 4, Barlow was left behind and recovered by Federal forces. He was hospitalized for a lengthy period and could not return to the Army until April 1864, just in time for Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's Overland Campaign. He commanded the 1st Division of Maj. Gen. Winfield S. Hancock's II Corps, at the Battle of the Wilderness. At Spotsylvania Court House, his division incorporated shock tactics developed by Col. Emory Upton to quickly assault the rebel entrenchments in the "Mule Shoe", effecting a breakthrough that could be exploited by reinforcements. Hand-to-hand fighting ensued for 21 hours, the longest hand-to-hand combat in the entire war, before Barlow's division finally broke through. He fought at the Battle of Cold Harbor and the Siege of Petersburg in the same command.
At Petersburg, Barlow took another sick leave in July, but he returned to the army in 1865. He took command the 2nd Division, II Corps during the Appomattox Campaign. Barlow was promoted to major general of volunteers on May 25, 1865.
Barlow was one of only a few men who entered the Civil War as enlisted men and ended it as a generals.
Arabella Barlow, serving as an Army nurse, died of typhus on July 27, 1864, while Francis was battling in the Overland Campaign. After the war, he married Ellen Shaw, sister of Col. Robert Gould Shaw.
Leaving the army in November 1865, Barlow served as a United States Marshal and the New York Secretary of State and New York State Attorney General, prosecuting the Boss Tweed ring, before he returned to his law practice. As U.S. Marshal for the Southern District of New York, during May-July 1869 Barlow prosecuted Cuban independence rebels for violating the Neutrality Act and disbanded the filibuster expeditions on the Perit, Quaker City, and Whiting steamers. He was a founder of the American Bar Association. He was active in Republican politics and investigated the 1876 presidential election, the Hayes-Tilden election, for irregularities.
Barlow died of Bright's disease in New York City and is buried in Walnut Street Cemetery, Brookline, Massachusetts.
Barlow is featured in Winslow Homer's painting Prisoners from the Front, depicting a scene from a June 21, 1864, engagement at Petersburg, Virginia.
Maj. General Francis C. Barlow (USA)'s Timeline
October 19, 1834
New York, Kings, New York, United States
January 11, 1896
New York, New York, United States
Brookline, Norfolk, Massachusetts, United States