Colonel William Brainerd Barton


Images from the Richard Ferry Collection.
Used with permission.

Barton's Brigade

Commanding the first brigade was Colonel William B. Barton of the Forty-eighth New York Infantry. He had joined the regiment on 26 July 1861 at the age of 26. Less than a year later, Lieutenant Colonel Barton assumed command of the regiment, and was promoted to colonel, after the sudden death, on 18 June 1862, of Colonel James H. Perry, the regiment's first commander. Barton led the unit with distinction during the Battery Wagner defeat, and in early 1864 was commanding a brigade at St. Helena, South Carolina. Transferred to command of the brigade which included his old regiment, the Florida expedition gave Barton his first opportunity to lead a brigade in battle. The other two regiments in his brigade were the 47th New York Infantry, commanded by Colonel Henry Moore, and the 115th New York Infantry, commanded by Colonel Simeon Sammon.

Colonel Barton began the war as a captain and quickly rose in rank. The young colonel performed capably at Olustee, where he was second in command of the Union forces, and indeed for the remainder of the war. He was wounded several times, including a severe wound in the thigh at Battery Wagner. Afterwards, he was sent north to recover and did not return to the regiment until 23 October 1863. Another wound, received before Richmond, was through the lungs, from which he never fully recovered. On 3 December 1864, due to his wounds which caused physical impairment, he was discharged from the Army at his own request. In March 1865, he earned a brevet promotion to brigadier general in recognition of his wartime services.

After the end of the war, he went to Pittsburg where he assisted in the construction of street railways. A bank failure ruined his business and he moved to California, where he managed the California Theatre. Years later he returned to New York and secured a lease on the Bijou Theatre. Later, he sold the lease and was engaged in producing plays in New York and on the road. As his health began to fail, the wound in his lungs began to trouble him and hastened his death.

Colonel Barton's Official Report of the Battle

External Web sites related to the Battle of Olustee
Morrisville, New York, local history site on William B. Barton
William Barton's grave site

Union Order of Battle
Battle of Olustee home page