The Boy General: The Life and Careers of Francis Channing Barlow

The Boy General: The Life and Careers of Francis Channing Barlow

The Boy General: The Life and Careers of Francis Channing Barlow

The Boy General: The Life and Careers of Francis Channing Barlow

Synopsis

Drawing heavily on primary source material, The Boy General is the first full-length account of a remarkable man whose life and careers -- lawyer, soldier, politician -- illuminate the dramatic changes which transformed American life in the nineteenth century. His Civil War career, comprising the bulk of the book, encompassed almost all the major campaigns in Virginia. Beginning the war as a private and rising to major general, Barlow garnered the reputation as a combat leader of unusual pugnacity and effectiveness. Twice wounded, at Antietam and Gettysburg, he played a key role in the desperate fighting which marked Grant's 1864-65 campaign against Lee. After Appomattox, Barlow returned to civilian life and entered New York State politics. Although he was an effective attorney general, initiating suits against the Tweed Ring, his unfiltered honesty harmed him politically. His public refusal to support his party's efforts during the disputed election of 1876 effectively ended his governmental prospects and he ended his life in private law practice.

Excerpt

The American Civil War provided the opportunity for many individuals to demonstrate talents in organization, leadership, and combat, which might otherwise have lain dormant. Throughout the four years of war, both sides encouraged and rewarded such men with promotion, official recognition, and public acclaim. a few of these, primarily Army and Corps commanders, although occasionally exceptional or infamous leaders of smaller or irregular units, achieved a place in the national consciousness which survived the demise of the Civil War generation. Others, whose exploits had made them household names, and sectional, if not national, heroes, slowly faded from the public awareness and fell into obscurity, largely unknown except by specialists and enthusiasts. One such man was Francis Channing Barlow, known to his men as “The Boy General.”

The nickname derived from his youthful looks, and clean-shaven face, unusual among Civil War officers. Slight of frame, unprepossessing in appearance, only his gaze betrayed the implacable energy and formidable spirit which burned within him. His men, superiors, and opponents soon learned that the young countenance masked a hard and agile mind, unshakable self-confidence, indomitable will, and an acid tongue. These characteristics, combined with an innate aggressiveness and fearlessness, made Barlow one of the most successful field and general officers in the Army of the Potomac.

Experiencing army life on several levels, from private to general, Barlow served in almost all the major operations in Virginia between 1862–65. He quickly proved his capabilities as a fighting man. He was repeatedly promoted to higher rank and entrusted with greater responsibility. the young general was increasingly handed assignments of crucial importance to the success of Federal arms, and he commonly thrust his way into much of the hottest and deadliest combat in the Virginia theater. By the time he mustered out of the United States Army in 1865, Barlow had compiled a record of achievement and distinction on the regimental . . .

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