Henry Alanson Barnum
Henry Alanson Barnum was born at Jamesville, Onondaga County, New York, on September 24, 1833. Securing his early education at Syracuse (New York) Institute, he was successively a teacher, law student, and member of the bar and of the local militia company. He enlisted at the beginning of the Civil War and was at once elected captain of a company of the 12th New York. This regiment fought at First Manassas and was swept from the field in utter confusion, although one account reported that Barnum's company "remained firm." At the battle of Malvern Hill during the withdrawal of George B. McClellan's army from the White House to Harrison's Landing, Barnum was wounded and, presumed dead, was left on the field after leading a charge at the head of his regiment. The remains of another officer were buried under a headboard bearing Barnum's name. Actually, Barnum was taken to the Malvern house by his own men, where he was captured by the Confederates and imprisoned in Richmond; he was later exchanged. His wound bothered him until the end of the war, and necessitated 22 several leaves of absence from the 149th New York, a regiment he had organized. He fought with this regiment at Gettysburg in Geary's division of the XII (Slocum's) Corps, and was transferred with it when the XI and XII Corps were consolidated after Chickamauga and sent west. At Lookout Mountain he sustained another wound, but took part in the Atlanta campaign, where he was again wounded. He later commanded a brigade in the "March to the Sea." At Savannah he led the Federal advance over the already evacuated defenses. Barnum received postbellum the brevets of brigadier and major general of volunteers and was also appointed full brigadier on May 31, 1865. After the war he served in various public sinecures and was active in the Grand Army of the Republic. He died in New York City on January 29, 1892, and was buried in Oakwood Cemetery, Syracuse.
Medal of Honor:
The President of the United States
of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of
Honor to Colonel Henry Alanson Barnum, United States Army, for extraordinary
heroism on 23 November 1863, while serving with 149th New York Infantry, in
action at Chattanooga, Tennessee. Although suffering severely from wounds,
Colonel Barnum led his regiment, inciting the men to greater action by word and
example until again severely wounded.
General Orders: Date of Issue: July 16, 1889
Action Date: November 23, 1863
Division: 149th New York Infantry
Reference: Generals in Blue. Lives of the Union Commanders by Ezra J. Warner. Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge.