Biography of General John Decatur Barry

Although he played a sad and unfortunate role in the mortal wounding of Stonewall Jackson, Barry was nevertheless promoted to general.


Born on June 21, 1839, in Wilmington, North Carolina, Barry was educated at the University of North Carolina. When the War began, he enlisted in Company I of the 18th North Carolina Infantry. In April 1862, he was elected captain of his company. As part of Branch's brigade, the 18th fought in all the major battles with the Light Division. Barry was wounded at Frayser's Farm.

After the battle of Sharpsburg, Barry was promoted to major. He was serving as major of the 18th North Carolina on the fateful night when Jackson's party attempted to ride through Lane's brigade at Chancellorsville. It was Barry who gave the orders to continue fire on Jackson's party, thinking (along with the rest of the regiment) that it was Union cavalry in the dark woods.

Nevertheless, Barry was promoted to colonel of the regiment after Chancellorsville. He took a gallant part in the assault on July 3. He continued commanding the regiment through the Overland Campaign.

When Lane was wounded at Cold Harbor on June 2, Barry was appointed general to rank from August 03, 1864. However, at Deep Bottom a few days earlier on July 27, he was wounded in the right hand by a sharpshooter, resulting in the amputation of his second and third fingers. The appointment to general was then cancelled as Barry was disabled and Lane soon returned to duty. In February, Barry was sent to command a department in North Carolina.

It was said that Barry "died of a broken heart" for his role in the death of Stonewall Jackson. He only survived the War by a few years. Returning to North Carolina in shattered health, he edited a newspaper in Wilmington, dying at the age of only 27 on March 24, 1867. He was buried in Oakdale Cemetery.

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