James William Barnes
James William Barnes, a brigadier
general of Texas state troops, was born on October 5, 1815, in Hancock County,
Georgia, the son of Thomas and Sarah Barnes, planters in that county. He was
educated in the local schools and at Sparta Academy. Barnes taught school for
two years and then volunteered for the Seminole War, rising to the rank of
sergeant. In 1839 Barnes removed to Kemper County, Mississippi. Going to Texas
the next year, Barnes first lived in Polk County. In 1842 he settled in Anderson
in Grimes County, establishing his farm two and a half miles east of town. When
not farming, Barnes's main activity was with the Baptist Church. "One of the
strongest and most active of the earlier great Baptist laymen," he was elected
treasurer of the Baptist state convention at its organization in 1848. He was
also treasurer of the Union (Baptist) Association and a regular contributor to
the Texas Baptist Herald. He was a trustee of Baylor University from 1852 to
1872, and as an active agriculturalist, he wrote learned papers for agricultural
On the outbreak of the war Barnes was commissioned colonel of the 4th Regiment of the Texas State Troops, a temporary organization. In 1863 he was elected captain of a company of Texas state troops based in Grimes County. In September of 1863 Barnes, with a detachment of militia, took over Camp Grace Military Prison. The Union prisoners, not generally respectful of their southern guards, found Barnes a model jailer, "in every thought and word and deed a perfect Christian gentleman ... as good a man as a rebel could be." In December the prisoners were transferred to another prison. At this time Governor Pendleton Murrah appointed Colonel Barnes brigadier general of Brigade No. 5, Texas State Troops.' Barnes's efforts in that post met with general approval; Major General John B. Magruder, the Confederate commander in Texas, praised Barnes as "a true patriot and man of good sense" after Barnes mediated a dispute between Magruder and Governor Murrah over who would control the reserve army in Texas. Barnes also commanded as colonel a regiment in the "Reserve Corps of Texas" to the end of the war. Barnes saw no field duty; his duties involved hunting draft dodgers and deserters.
After the war General Barnes was heavily involved in railroad promotion in his adopted state and became vice president of the International Railroad Company. A Republican politically, Barnes never ran for elective office, yet with his statewide reputation for common sense and honesty he wielded considerable influence. General Barnes died on October 22, 1892, in Anderson. He is buried on the Barnes estate, Prairie View, southeast of Anderson.
Reference: More Generals in Gray. Bruce S. Allardice. A companion volume to Generals in Gray. Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge. LA.