Col. Henry A. Barnum
Commanding Officer of the Regiment
Medal of Honor Recipient
This officer entered the U.S. service May 13, 1861 as Captain of
Company I, 12th N.Y. Infantry, at the age of 27; and afterwards in October 1861 was
promoted to Major of that regiment. He served with distinction with that command,
including the Peninsula Campaign under McClellan, until July 1, 1862, when he was
dangerously wounded by gunshot through the left ilium, at Malvern Hill, VA. At the
time the wound was supposed to be mortal; his body was abandoned and fell into the hands
of the enemy, but afterwards he returned to the Union lines, so far recovered from his
injury as to accept a commission as Col. in the 149th Regiment, dated October 4, 1862,
rank September 17, 1862, and was mustered into service with the regiment at Syracuse, NY.
Not being able to assume immediate command, he joined the regiment
in the field on the eve of its departure from Fairfax Station, VA, January 18, 1863.
The occasion of taking command was auspicious and seemed very opportune, as the
feelings of the officers and men were greatly depressed, and by reason of his knowledge
and experience, some relief was expected from their deprivations and sufferings, but
unfortunately he was soon compelled to submit to further surgical operations, and on the
1st of April obtained leave of absence and went to Albany, NY, for treatment under Dr.
He next joined the regiment at Edward's Ferry, MD, when it was on
its way to Gettysburg, but was still too ill to render active service only part of the
time, and at Ellis' Ford, VA, August 6, 1863, was compelled a second time to leave the
regiment, and went to Washington for treatment.
He again joined the regiment at Wauhatchie November 10, 1863, and
received a flesh wound in the right forearm while leading the charge of his regiment on
Lookout Mountain, Tenn., November 24, 1863.
On the 23rd of December following, in pursuance of an order of
General Thomas, in special recognition of the gallantry of the regiment in recent
engagements, he was detailed as its Colonel to convey the captures flags taken by it and
other regiments to the War Department at Washington, and also received a leave of absence
for twenty days, to take effect after the performance of such duty. For
this service no recognition was given at the time, but later Col. Barnum
received the Medal of Honor from the War Department. While absent in the
performance of this duty, Col. Barnum received further surgical treatment, and
being disabled for field duty, was placed on recruiting service for the
regiment, and again joined his command at Kenesaw Mountain, Go., about June
26, 1964, and a few days later was wounded by a fragment of shell in the right
side at Peach Tree Creek, Ga., July 20, 1864.
On the 10th of September, following by the death of Col.
Ireland at Atlanta, the command of the 3rd Brigade developed upon Col. Barnum,
and he continued in the performance of this duty to the close of the war.
At Savannah, Ga., Col. Barnum had the proud honor of
leading his brigade, first of Sherman's command, into the captured city, and
under General Geary had charge of its western portion during the occupancy by
General Sherman. Soon after the capture of Savannah, Col. Barnum
received the brevet rank of Brigadier General of U.S. Volunteers, and
afterwards at Washington D.C. the full rank of that grade to date May 31,
1865, and soon afterwards the brevet rank of Major General of U.S. Volunteers
to date from March 13, 1865.
His resignation from the service occurred Jan. 9, 1866.
After the war General Barnum was frequently honored in
public and private life, and among other tokens of public favor are the