A Civil War Biography
John Decatur Barry
Barry was born 21 June 1839 in Wilmington, North Carolina. He was a
recent graduate of the University of North Carolina when he enlisted
as a private in Company I of the 8th North Carolina Volunteers on 15
April 1861. The 8th was re-designated the 18th North Carolina on 14
November 1861. When the 18th was reorganized on 24 April 1862 Barry
was elected captain.
Barry saw action during the Seven Days battles, at Second Manassas,
and Sharpsburg. He was promoted to major on 11 November 1862. At
Chancellorsville Barry wound up in command of the 18th NC, the unit
that fired on "Stonewall" Jackson, after Colonel Thomas J. Purdie
was killed and Lieutenant Colonel Forney George was wounded. The
brigade commander, James H. Lane, praised Barry in the official
battle reports for his handling of the 18th as well as holding the
brigade which lost 3 colonels, 3 lieutenant colonels and 2 majors
during the fight.
Barry was promoted to colonel on 27 May 1863 to rank from 3 May. He
commanded the 18th at Gettysburg, leading the regiment towards the
Union center on 3 July 1863 as part of what became known as
Pickett's Charge. Barry remained in command of the 18th NC during
Grant's Overland campaign. At Cold Harbor on 2 June 1864 when Lane,
the brigade commander was wounded, Barry took over brigade command.
Barry was wounded a month later on 2 July 1864 in the trenches at
Petersburg. He was given temporary rank of brigadier general to date
from 3 August 1864 but the rank was never confirmed by the
Confederate Congress and the temporary rank was revoked when Lane
was able to return to active duty before Barry. Barry would finally
return to active duty in February 1865. He only remained with the
Army of Northern Virginia for a month.
Records disagree as to where Barry was when the war ended. Some
sources put him on detached duty in North Carolina while others
claim his wounds or illness forced him from active duty. Following
the war Barry was the editor of a newspaper in Wilmington, North
Carolina where he died 27 March 1867.
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