In the two previous posts, I examined the combat debut of the 93rd New York and connected that story to some of the famous images taken by Timothy O’Sullivan in August 1863. In this post I intend to do more of the same. Here, we will see some images of a well-remembered casualty from the 93rd.
On May 6, 1864, the 93rd New York lost one of its most beloved officers, Captain Dennis Edwin Barnes, a 36-year-old lumber dealer from Schroom, Essex County, New York. Barnes inspired soldierly qualities among his men, and one veteran recalled years later, “Those who knew him best said that he seemed a stranger to fear, and was above all meanness so often shown by some in scrambling for position.”
Captain Barnes fell on the evening of May 6, as the battle seesawed up and down the Orange Plank Road. During the confused fighting, no one bothered to carry off his body. Lieutenant Waters W. Braman, who had recently served under Barnes in Company C, felt great remorse when he learned that Barnes’s body had been left behind. “There is my old Capt. (Barnes),” Braman wrote his fiancée, “who was killed in the fight of the second day. His company neither carried his body off the field or took the things from his pockets, and my company passed right over the body.” By the time anyone cared to collect Barnes’s personal items, wrote Braman, “the Rebels had stripped him of everything.”
Most distressing, Captain Barnes’s younger brother, Lieutenant Charles Talbot Barnes, had been wounded earlier in the day. The younger Barnes described his wounding and the last words he ever spoke to his brother:
I . . . was first struck by a ball hitting my tin cup and plate in my haversack, which made things jingle, but did not hurt me. It however was some time after this, near night, when another ball struck me squarely in front and I went down sure. When two of the men lifted me to my feet I could not stand without support. Seeing my sword sticking up in the clay a few feet in front, I undertook to step to or reach it and could not move my limbs, and I was assisted to it by the two men putting an arm over each of their shoulder, when I could move my feet by taking very short steps. I have often thought how singular it was that I should have asked to be helped to the sword instead of asking one of them to get and hand it to me. No doubt the ball stunned me, and the terrible pain might have turned my head for a few moments. I was borne to the rear in this position, my arms over their shoulders. One of the men was John McDermott; I forget who the other was. I had not gone but a few paces when my brother, Capt. Barnes, came to me and asked: ‘Are you hurt badly, Charles?’ I said both ‘yes’ and ‘no,’ and he looked to find where the ball had struck me, and, in a practical way, examined me and returned to the company. This was the last time I ever saw that brave and noble brother.
As Lieutenant Barnes waited for an ambulance, he had bright hopes for victory. He remembered the unusual feeling of losing all sense of worry about the welfare of his brother:
After I had been borne to the rear and placed on a stretcher by the roadside, waiting for an ambulance, I could still hear the roar of musketry from our lines, and although as one half dead, I felt like cheering the brave men. I have since thought how different the feelings of one soldier for the safety of his brother soldier as compared with civil life. In this case, I remember when I fell it was a sense of great relief to think that my dear brother, Capt. Barnes, was still left to attend to and look after command. The thought or concern of his getting hurt was lost in my great anxiety and hope for gaining the day. That such a hope in victory should (as did with most of the soldiers) predominate over fear for self or hope for safety of near and dear friends, seems, to look back upon, as unnatural, and almost like a dream.
After the battle, Barnes’s widow tried to claim the body, even contacting more than one New York Congressman to secure a truce, but in the end, it did not matter. The Confederates buried Barnes’s earthly remains and they were never seen again.
This is Captain Dennis E. Barnes, who was killed on May 6, 1864. Can you find Barnes in the image below?
Timothy O'Sullivan took this image on or about August 4, 1863. It depicts the officers of the 93rd New York. If you didn't pick out Barnes, consult the key below. I've identified the officers.
Front Row (seated on ground, left to right): Captain Samuel McConihe, Quartermaster Sylvester Alvord
Middle Row (seated on chairs, left to right): 1st Lieutenant William Bramhall, 1st Lieutenant William Kincaid, 1st Lieutenant Edson Fitch, Captain Henry P. Smith, Lt. Col. Benjamin C. Butler, 1st Lieutenant Robert Robertson, Adjutant Haviland Gifford, 2nd Lieutenant Robert L. Gray, Captain Dennis Barnes, Captain Nathan J. Johnson
Back Row (standing, left to right): Captain John Bailey, Captain William Randles, 2nd Lieutenant George Bushnell, unknown, 1st Lieutenant Francis Bailey, Captain William V. S. Beekman, 1st Lieutenant Waters W. Braman, 2nd Lieutenant Jay H. Northup, 2nd Lieutenant William Ball, 1st Lieutenant Silas S. Hubbell, 2nd Lieutenant John J. Sherwood, Surgeon Strobridge Smith, 1st Lieutenant Joseph Little, Sergeant-Major Wilbur Mosher
Here's a close-up of Captain Barnes. Thumbs up if you found him in the first look.
This is the only officer who I have been unable to identify. However, my guess is that it is Lt. Charles T. Barnes, the younger brother of the slain captain.
This is an identified image of Lt. Charles Barnes, who after being wounded at the Wilderness, bid a final goodbye to his older brother, Dennis.