"His name deserves to be recorded in the first list" -- Colonel Dixon Barnes, 12th South Carolina

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Andy Cardinal

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Dixon Barnes was born on October was born on October 9, 1816. I could not find much about his life prior to the war except that his wife Charlotte died in 1846 at the age of 27. They had a daughter Mary, who was 6 at the time of her mother's death.

Barnes raised what became Company I of the 12th South Carolina at Lancaster. The regiment was mustered into service on September 1 under the command of Colonel Richard G.M. Dunovant. Barnes was elected Lieutenant Colonel.

The 12th served in the South Carolina coastal defenses that fall, then transfered to Virginia in April 1862 where they were assigned to Maxcy Gregg's brigade. Colonel Dunovant resigned on April 2 and Barnes was promoted to command the regiment. Barnes led the South Carolinians into battle at Gaines's Mill, where he was wounded. He was wounded again at Second Manassas.

According to Robertson's biography of A. P. Hill (footnote 6, p. 340): "On the day after Hill's release [from arrest], the white-haired and courtly Col. Dixon Barnes of the 12th South Carolina permitted his hungry men to take apples from trees adjacent to the road on which they were marching. Paxton saw this violation of orders and, with Jackson's approval, placed Barnes under arrest." As Hill's division prepared to go into action at Harper's Ferry Barnes begged to be allowed to go into battle with his men as a private. Maxcy Gregg refused the request, but then A. P. Hill intervened: "General Gregg, I order you to give Colonel Barnes his sword and put him in command of his regiment." (Robertson, p. 137).

Barnes led his regiment to Sharpsburg. According to the text of The History of a brigade of South Carolinians, known first as "Gregg's" and subsequently as "McGowan's brigade" (p. 48-49):

Col. Dixon Barnes, of the Twelfth regiment, was wounded by a Minie ball, in the thigh, and died two or three days subsequent to the battle. He was a native of Lancaster District, South Carolina, and perhaps forty-five
years of age. He was of large fortune, and until the war devoted himself to agriculture. Elected major of the Second South Carolina infantry (Kershaw's) in the winter of 1861, he served with that regiment until the summer of the same year, when he was elected to the lieutenant-colonelcy of the Twelfth South Carolina. He succeeded Col. Dunnovant in the command of the regiment in the spring of 1862.


Of all our losses in the summer campaign, he was certainly the greatest. In camp he drilled his regiment with remarkable care and exactness, and governed it with admirable discipline, while on the field of battle he led it with a gallantry and coolness unsurpassed in this army. I think that all who have witnessed his conduct will bear me out in saying, that no officer in the brigade executed so many
brilliant and successful charges as he. He was the head and heart of his splendid regiment, commanding the attention and admiration of all by his handsome form and martial bearing, and animating and fortifying them with his clear, ringing voice. No appearances staggered him, no obstacles stayed him. When he was ordered against a line of the enemy, he invariably broke it, and with slaughter. Indeed, so fierce and impetuous were his charges, that it was sometimes necessary to recall him. Nor was he less cool and obstinate in defence than gallant in attack.


In unofficial life he was equally noteworthy. A clear, quick apprehension marked all his writings and conversations, his manners were full of courtesy and refinement, and through the whole ran a most pleasant vein of cheerfulness and humor.

A skilful officer, a brave soldier, an honest man, his name deserves to be recorded in the first list of those who gave their lives for the Southern Confederacy.

Barnes died on September 27.
 

Andy Cardinal

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From the Lancaster Ledger, October 15, 1862​

It became out painful duty to record the death of Colonel Dixon Barnes of the 12th South Carolina Regiment, who died at Charleston, Virginia on the 27th ultimo, from the effects of wounds received in the battle of Sharpsburg, Maryland on the 17th ultimo.

Since the commencement of this unholy war our district has sustained the loss of many worthy and useful citizens, but none who filled so large a sphere of usefullness, and none who occupied so prominent a place in her confidence, as the one who deceased she is called upon now to mourn. His death creates a void which cannot be easily filled, and causes a gloom throughout the District, the like of which has not been occasioned by any prior event of this war -- well may the district be shrouded in mourning, for she has indeed lost her most honored representative whether in the councils of her State or in the armies of her county. And not only the District of Lancaster is bereaved, but the State of South Carolina loses one of her ablest councellors, and the Confederate Government sustains in his death the loss of a gallant and efficient military officer.

Colonel Barnes occupied at an early period in life a prominent place in the confidence of the people of Lancaster; at the Fall elections in 1844 he was elected a Representative in the legislature – then but 28 years of age. It was remarked that he was elected a younger man and received a larger vote than many of his predecessors. He was elected in 1846; and in 1848 was elected to the State Senate, over very prominent and popular opponent. In 1852 he was not a candidate, but in 1854 he was elected to a vacancy in the Senate, occasioned by the death of Col. Huey. In 1858 he again declined to become a candidate. In 1860 at the solicitation of the people, he consented to served them and was elected senator without opposition, which position he filled up to the period of his death.

Colonel Barnes had long been identified with the States Rights party, in South Carolina and was among those who early advocated secession as the only remedy for the growing encroachments of the North upon the South. In 1861 he was the nominee of the secession party to represent his Congressional District in the proposed Southern Congress. The voice of the State, as ascertained through that election, was adverse to the policy which he advocated, and he yielded indifference to the decision of the people, but nevertheless against his own convictions of right and expediency. In 1860 when Abraham was elected president of the United States, upon principles avowedly antagonistic to the interest of the South, Col. Barnes again advocated secession as the only means of shielding the State from the degradation and ultimate ruin which a submission to Lincoln’s administration would inevitable entail upon her. Before the meeting of the legislature in 1860 he openly advocated the call of a Convention, and after the meeting of that body of which he was a member he was prominently forward in the measure which resulted in the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union.

Col. Barnes did not urge this important measure without a due appreciation of the dangers incident to it, and when his native State was threatened with the coercing power of the Federal Government, and the people in this hour of peril, looked to him as a leader, he did not forsake them or shrink from the duties before him. Nobly has he vindicated on the field of battle the principles which he advocated in the time of peace. He was unanimously elected Captain of the first volunteer company raised in the District after the secession of South Carolina and when the companies were formed into Regiments, he was elected Major of the 2nd South Carolina Regiment of State troops. In the changes which ensued upon the transfer of the State troops to Confederate service, Col. Barnes was left without a command; but not satisfied to remain inactive while his country was in danger, he returned home, raised a company for “the war," was unanimously elected Captain; and when the 12th South Carolina Regiment, in which his company was embraced, was formed, he was unanimously elected Lieutenant Colonel. Subsequently, upon the resignation of Colonel Dunovant, he was promoted to the Colonelcy.

Early in the struggle Colonel Barnes exhibited evidence of a high order of military talent. As a tactician he had but few equals, and his Regiment while on the coast in the State, deservedly sustained the reputation of being one of the best drilled and disciplined in the service. As a cool chivalric, and brave officer, his conduct in the fight at Port Royal, in the severer contests before Richmond, in the bloody Battle of Manassas, and in the trying conflicts in Maryland afford abundant and honorable proofs. His Regiment which formed a part of the Brigade of General Gregg, was ordered from the South Carolina coast to Virginia in April last. It was then a noble command, numbering over a thousand men, but alas, the casualties of war have reduced it to a mere semblance of what it once was. Its leader shared all the privations and dangers to which his command was exposed, and the longer they remained in service, the greater became the attachment of his men for him and the higher their confidence in him. In one of the Battles’ before Richmond in which is Regiment was prominently engaged and suffered heavy loss, he received a slight wound, not however incapacitating him from duty. Again in the Battle of Manassas where the 12th Regiment has won imperishable honors at the sacrifice of many noble lives, he was slightly wounded, but not disabled from duty. At the desperate conflict of Sharpsburg he again led the remnant of his command into action, and while cheering them on to new deeds of heroism – adding new luster to their already bright fame – he received a wound in both knees – the ball passing through one knee and lodging in the other – from the effects of which he died, as stated on the 27th ultimo. His remains were brought home and interred in the churchyard at Camp Creek, on Friday last, attended by a large number of sorrowing friends. He died in the 46thyear of his age.

The life of Colonel Barnes affords a noble instance of the patriotic statesman and the high tones gentleman. His great popularity was due not to any efforts of his own to seek office or position, but to the unlimited confidence which the people had in his ability and integrity. Possessed of a large dignity, with high self-respect he would descend to none of the common arts by which politicians usually court popularity; and yet the highest honors within the gift of the people of his native District were always open to his acceptance. He was on the road to still higher preferment and usefulness, but short as his career was, he leaves behind him a record which posterity will regard with pride and reverence.

Taken from http://www.claudesinclair.com/SCV-12th/Colonel-Barnes.html
 
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Andy Cardinal

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Thank you for posting about the Colonel, Andy. I'd not seen his picture before; that's a great find. I understand the original portrait is in the SC Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum in Columbia, SC.
Yes, that is where the website with the picture says. I assume the painting is prewar as he is described as white-haired in the A. P. Hill book. It may date from when he served in the state legislature.
 
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