A Civil War Biography

Francis Channing Barlow

Barlow was born 19 October 1834 in Brooklyn, New York. He attended Harvard, graduating at the top of the class of 1855 then studied law in the office of William Curtis Noyes, one of the most prominent legal minds in New York City at the time. Barlow was admitted to the bar in 1858 and began a practice in New York City. He also was on the editorial staff of the New York Tribune.

When war erupted he enlisted as a private in the 12th New York state national guard. The regiment was one of the first to answer the call for volunteers sailing from New York on 21 April 1861. The 12th was officially mustered into US service on 2 May for three months. It only took part in minor skirmishes in the Shenandoah Valley before being mustered out on 5 August after its term of enlistment expired.

Barlow had been promoted to 1st lieutenant on 1 May. He enlisted in the 61st New York which was organized in New York City on 25 October 1861and was assigned as a lieutenant colonel. The 61st NY was attached to the II Corps of the newly formed Army of the Potomac and participated in George B. McClelland's peninsula campaign. Barlow was promoted to colonel on 14 April 1862 during the siege of Yorktown. He jointly commanded the 61st and 64th New York regiments at Antietam where he was severely wounded in front of the Confederate position in the now famous sunken road.

He was promoted to brigadier general on 19 September 1862 and returned to duty in time to command the 2nd Brigade/ 2nd Division/ XI Corps at Chancellorsville. On the first day at Gettysburg Barlow was in command of the 1st Division/ XI Corps when he was wounded and left for dead. Stories say he was found by Confederate Brigadier General John B. Gordon who took Barlow prisoner but provided comfort and arranged for Barlow's wife, an Army nurse, to pass through the lines to administer to what was believed to be her dying husband. Barlow recovered however and after being exchanged he commanded the 1st Division/ II Corps at the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor, and Petersburg. He was brevetted major general of volunteers on 1 August 1864.

His health failing Barlow took sick leave but returned to active duty in time to command the 2nd Division/ II Corps at Sayler's Creek. He was commissioned a major general on 25 May 1865 and, the war ended, resigned on 16 November 1865. After the war Barlow returned to his law practice in New York City. He became active in Republican politics and was one of the founders of the American Bar Association. He was elected secretary of the state of New York in 1865 and served until President Ulysses S. Grant appointed him United States marshal of New York's southern district. Barlow resigned in October 1869. He was elected New York Attorney General in 1871. He investigated the Hayes-Tilden election irregularities and began the proceedings that brought down "Boss" Tweed and his group of corrupt politicians in Tammany Hall. After leaving the office of attorney general in 1873 Barlow returned to his law practice. He died on 11 January 1896 in New York City.

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