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: RPD2
Almira Cornelia Penniman Barlow