149th NYSV

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The 149th New York State Volunteer Infantry

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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. March.

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 following:

Served as Inspector of State Prisons
Member of the State Legislature
New York Harbor Master
Director of the Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association for New York
Department Commander of the GAR for the State of New York

Barnum Genealogy Website 
Barnum Family Website 
Website Regarding Col. Barnum's Hip Injury 
General Barnum's Gettysburg Speech 

 

 

 
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Last updated: August 18, 2001.