Joseph K. Barnes

Joseph K. Barnes was born in Philadelphia on July 21, 1817. After attending school in Northampton, Massachusetts, and Harvard University, he studied medicine and was graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1838. Barnes was appointed to the medical corps of the army in 1840. He saw three years of service against the Florida Seminoles, was with the "Army of Occupation" which crossed the Rio Grande during the Mexican War, and was later with General Winfield Scott's forces in the capture of the city of Mexico. When the Civil War opened, Barnes was ordered east from Vancouver barracks. In 1862, while on duty in Washington as a surgeon with the rank of major, he was noticed by Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, who was looking for a replacement for Surgeon General William Alexander Hammond. Barnes supplanted Hammond, first as "acting surgeon general" and subsequently as brigadier general and surgeon general on August 22, 1864. Barnes conducted himself admirably, and attracted a group of brilliant men to the army medical service. Brevetted major general, U. S. Army, on March 13, 1865, he officiated at the deathbeds of two presidents of the United States: he closed the eyes of Abraham Lincoln, and sixteen years later attended the mortally wounded James A. Garfield. General Barnes was retired on June 30, 1882, and died in Washington on April 5, 1883. He was buried in Oak Hill Cemetery.

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Reference:  Generals in Blue.  Lives of the Union Commanders by Ezra J. Warner.  Louisiana State University Press.  Baton Rouge.