Francis Stebbins Bartow
Francis Stebbins Bartow was born
on September 6, 1816, in Savannah, Georgia, the son of Dr. Theodosius and
Frances Lloyd (Stebbins) Bartow. The son graduated first in his class at
Franklin College (later the University of Georgia) in 1835 and attended Yale Law
School, but did not graduate. Returning to Savannah, he studied law under
Senator John Berrien and later married Berrien's daughter. Bartow soon became a
prosperous Savannah lawyer, planter, and slave-owner. A Whig like his
father-in-law, Bartow served in the state house in 1841, 1847, and from 1851 to
1852, and in the state senate in 1843. He made an unsuccessful run for the U.S.
Congress, as a "Know-Nothing" in 1857. Once a Unionist, by 1860 Bartow had
evolved into an active secessionist, delivering eloquent disunion speeches
throughout the South.
As captain of a Savannah militia company, the "Oglethorpe Infantry," Bartow helped seize Fort Pulaski from federal authorities on January 3,1861. The previous day Bartow had been elected, as an immediate secessionist, to the Georgia Secession Convention. "Of high social standing and great personal magnetism,"' he was elected by the convention to the Confederate Provisional Congress. In Congress he served as chairman of its Military Affairs Committee. Preferring field duty, he left Congress that spring and on May 21, 1861, he was commissioned captain of Company B of the 8th Georgia. On June 1 he was commissioned colonel of the 8th. The regiment was ordered to the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, where Bartow was placed in command of the 2nd Brigade of the Army of the Shenandoah. Early in the First Battle of Bull Run on July 21,1861, Bartow's brigade became engaged with the Union flanking column. Exhibiting great personal gallantry, the "impetuous Bartow" was mortally wounded near the Henry House, shot through the heart while grasping the regimental flag and calling on his disorganized troops to rally. His last words were: "They have killed me, boys, but never give up the field." He is buried in Bona venture Cemetery in Savannah. In December, 1861, Cass County, Georgia, was renamed Bartow County in his honor.
Wood, Heitman, CV, CMH, and SHSP all list Bartow as a general. Less than a week after his death, the Richmond Dispatch made reference to the death of "Col. (acting Brig. Gen.) Francis S. Bartow," the "acting general" title referring to his leading a brigade.' From this sprung the widespread contemporary belief that Bartow was a general. Although he undoubtedly would have received speedy promotion to brigadier's rank, no record of his appointment as general exists.
Reference: More Generals in Gray. Bruce S. Allardice. A companion volume to Generals in Gray. Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge. LA.