Mrs. General Barlow

Northern Light

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Arabella Wharton Griffith Barlow

Arabella Griffith was born in rural New Jersey on February 29, 1824. Her father was a merchant who had lost all his money when he became an alcoholic. Her parents divorced when she was young and she was brought up by an elderly relative. She was educated at St. Mary’s Hall school in New Jersey.
In 1846, Arabella was living in New York City as a governess. With her personality and intellect, Arabella was able to enter in the world of intellectuals, literary-minded socialites, artists and prominent politicians of New York Society, where she made many friends, including the noted diarist, George Templeton Strong, who wrote of her, “[She is] certainly the most brilliant, cultivated, easy graceful, effective talker of womankind, and [she] has read, thought and observed much and well.”

There are no know pictures of Arabella Griffith but there is a school of thought that this MIGHT be her. It is a great picture so I am going to stick it in anyway.
View attachment 301931
Since we don't know what she looked like, we can pretend she looked like this.:whistling:

How Arabella met Francis Barlow met is not known, however, it may have been because both of them wrote articles for the New York Tribune. They also travelled in the same social circles. The ten year difference in their ages did not seem to matter to them, but it bothered some of their friends. Maria L. Daly, a supposed friend of Arabella’s, called Francis “Arabella’s boy-husband”., and thought it disrespectful when he called her “Belle”. Daly also passed along the tale of her maid announcing the visit of a “soldier and his mother”, when Arabella and Francis came to call.
Despite such often mean-spirited criticism, loved blossomed, and Francis proposed. They were married on April 20th, 1861 at St. Paul’s Church in New York City
.

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Is this the picture? I clicked on the link and got an oops!! This is the picture that seems to be the one that is identified as her, she was known for her long hair. They seemed to be intellectually well matched, and deeply in love. I just love a good "love" story, and they had one.

arabella.jpg
 

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On April 21, Barlow left to answer Lincoln’s call for troops following the attack on Fort Sumter.

Arabella followed Frank, as his family and friends called him, to Washington, where they tried to spend as much time together as possible. His three month enlistment expired and they returned to New York briefly, but Frank had re-enlisted before the end of the year. The winter of 1862 found her in Virginia, as she followed her husband’s posting. Frank visited her as often as possible, telling her of his challenges in the raw army of the Potomac.
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"My, what a long sword you have my dear!"

For woman who had led a busy life in New York, the mud of winter Virginia caused boredom, so she looked for something to do. She soon become involved in the work of the Sanitary Commission due in part to her friendship with George Templeton Strong, and her experience with her relatives and the children in her care had given her skills in nursing, which she was quick to put to use. July 1862 found her on the Virginia peninsula, at the Harrison House Hospital, tending the sick and wounded. Arabella’s rooms were not too far from Frank’s emcampment. He wrote: “It is only [a] 5 minute ride from here [camp] & I go down there once or twice per diem. The ladies have a very pleasant & well-furnished room to themselves & it is very pleasant.”

As the Army retreated from the Peninsula and in the fall headed for Antietam, Arabella and the Sanitary Commission followed. She was soon occupied with the wounded and dying from that battlefield. At some point she saw her husband being carried into the hospital tent with a wound to the face and groin. Arabella worked to save her husband’s life, tending him, as well as other wounded soldiers. At first the doctors thought his wound was mortal, but Frank was stronger than he looked and with Arabella’s loving care, he began to recover. His recovery was complicated by malarial fever. Frank was later sent to a hospital in Keedysville, where Arabella tended other wounded men as well.
 

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Eventually Arabella was able to take him to back North where, he continued his recovery. It was a slow process, and when he returned to the army in April of 1863, he was still not completely well. Arabella was probably not far behind him and may have been at Chancellorsville, but was certainly with the Sanitary Commission at Gettysburg, when Frank was again seriously wounded at Blocker’s Knoll on July 1st.
I am sure that most of us are familiar with the tale of Arabella and John B Gordon and his act of chivalry. If you are not, I will send you here, rather than repeat it. Whether you want to believe any or all of Gordon’s romantic story, which by the way was not told until 1902, is entirely up to your.https://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/07/27/a-civil-war-love-story
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Frank was wounded in the side, and while being carried off the field was shot again in the back. He was captured by the confederates and taken to a field hospital, where it was deemed that his wound was fatal. Somehow, with or without Gordon’s help, Arabella found her way to the town. Daniel Skelly, a civilian of Gettysburg, reported that:
“On the evening of the 2nd on Chambersburg Street we were halted by two Confederate soldiers who had a lady in their charge. She was on horseback and proved to be the wife of General Barlow who had come through the Confederate lines under a flag of truce looking for her husband who had been severely wounded on July 1...”

Arabella searched the town for Frank, looking when it was safe and tending the wounded when it wasn’t. After several days, she was able to locate him, in a private home, north of the town, where frank had been on July 2. He later wrote that he had been tended by “an elderly lady and her daughter [who]were very kind to me. I found some books there and passed Thursday and Friday very comfortably… The ladies and some of our wounded in the house did what nursing I required.”
Although several surgeons had given up hope, Arabella did not. Frank must have thought she was like an angel, falling once again from the sky to nurse him back to health.

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In August she travelled with him to Baltimore, where doctors were able to remove the bullet from his abdominal wound and slowly he began to recover, but not as quickly as he had hoped. Arabella stayed with him until the following spring when he once again returned to the army and she to nursing.
 

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During the Overland Campaign, Arabella was in Fredericksburg, which had been converted into a vast hospital to deal with the wounded of the constant fighting. She got the nickname of “the raider” for her forays into the countryside in search of supplies for the hospital and small comforts for the soldiers. In her book, Women of Gettysburg, Eileen Conklin quoted an unknown co-worker as saying:

“At Fredericksburg she had in some way gained possession of a wretched-looking pony, and a small cart or farmer’s wagon, with which she was continually on the move, driving about town or the country in search of provisions or other articles as were needed for the sick and wounded… Many a fractured limb rest upon a mattress improvised from materials sought out and brought together from no one knew where but [that] earnest sympathizing woman.”
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Later in the campaign, Arabella was near the Cold Harbor battlefield and at other locations along the James and Petersburg lines. The climate and the arduous work began to take its toll on her health and by the time the siege had begun at Petersburg, she was sick enough that Frank sent her to Washington to stay with friends and recover her health. She was suffering from Typhus and Frank was worried. She was worn out and had little strength to fight the disease. On July 15th, there was cause for hope when her fever broke, but on July 28th, when Frank returned to camp after the fighting at Deep Bottom, he received word of her death the day before.

Theodore Lyman, wrote that Barlow was “entirely incapacitated by this sudden grief,” and rumours ran through camp that Arabella’s death “had driven Barlow insane.” Immersed in his grief, Frank took his beloved wife home to New Jersey, where she was buried in Somerville, N.J.
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A fitting tribute to Arabella came from her friend and co-worker, wrote Miss Helen Gibson:

“You say I am getting familiar with death. Yes; but death wears its most solemn aspect when it touches our individual lives. Sometimes it makes terrible voids in our hearts. I groaned aloud last night, so heavy was my heart when I knew I should not again see Mrs. Barlow.”

Frank never forgot the tenderness and love that Arabella had shown to him, as his wife and also as a wounded warrior. As he was dying, he expressed the hope that someone would honour the women like Arabella, who had had brought so much comfort to the wounded. "The finest monument in this country would be built to commemorate the “loyal women of the Civil War,”" he assured a visiting friend.
 

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For further reading:

Christian G. Samito (Editor) “Fear Was Not In Him”: The Civil War Letters of Major General Francis C. Barlow (2004)

opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/07/27/a-civil-war-love-story

Eileen F. Conklin, Women at Gettysburg, 1863, Revisited (2013),

emergingcivilwar.com/2016/02/02/arabella-barlow-a-generals-wife-nurse-sacrifice-part-1/

emergingcivilwar.com/2016/02/02/arabella-barlow-a-generals-wife-nurse-sacrifice-part-2/

clevelandcivilwarroundtable.com/articles/biography/francis_arabella.htm – John Fazio
 

JPK Huson 1863

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Another wonderful thread on a general's wife, thanks very much NL! There are so many romanticized stories about her, too easy to forget she was from a chi chi family and could have sat out the war in comfort. She has a chapter in " Women's Work in the Civil War ', minus these details but underlining how tragic was the death of a woman whose work saved so men. Read a commentary from the era ( maybe in one of the Sanitary Commission reports? ) that it was thought sheer exhaustion contributed to her death.

I'm thinking the photo isn't her? Those ' hair ' photos tended to be post war, think this one made the rounds on Pinterest, home of the Mary and Abraham wedding photo. The thing is, as a member of an awfully well heeled family you just know somewhere exists her image.
 



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