ZOUAVE ABIJAH BARNES 146th NEW YORK, GARRARD’S TIGERS, POW WELDON RAILROAD, DIED AT SALISURY PRISON, LEFT BEHIND AN ORPHANED DAUGHTER

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Item Code: 172-5850

This touching pair of images are preserved in the family album pages in which they came, along with the period notations at the top of each. They have been placed side by side in a modern frame for display. At right a bearded man in civilian clothes and wearing a hat is shown in a carte-de-visite albumen photo full standing, resting his hand on the back of a chair in a photographer’s studio. At top a family member has written in pencil, “Abijah W. Barnes - / Nettie’s Father.” At left the same man is shown from the knees up in a tintype, posed in front of a painted military camp scene wearing the light blue zouave uniform of the 146th NY, “Garrard’s Tigers.” The white turban worn around his fez shows clearly, as does the rifle with bayonet fixed that he holds at his side. His oval US belt plate shows at his waist and the ends of his sash are visible under his forearm on the viewer’s right. On his upper chest at left he wears the Maltese Cross corps badge of the 5th Army Corps. The family inscription at the top of the page reads, “Abijah W. Barnes / starved in Prison at / Anderson/ville.”

Barnes actually met his death from “chronic diarrhea and starvation” at Salisbury prison camp in North Carolina, which had a death rate of about 25 percent among some 4,000 prisoners during its operation, but Andersonville was likely a better-known name to the grieving family. Barnes, a farmer, enlisted at age 25 on 8/28/1862 at Boonville, NY, and mustered into Co. D of the 146th NY as a private 10/10/62. He left behind his wife Annette, whom he had married in 1857, and their young daughter, also Annette, born in June 1860.

The regiment saw active service in the 5th Corps throughout the war, including here at Gettysburg on Little Round Top, but taking significant casualties earlier at Chancellorsville and elsewhere and later at the Wilderness in Grant’s 1864 campaign. Barnes seems to have been a good soldier, making sergeant at some point in March-April 1863 judging by muster roll abstracts. HIs wife died in January 1864 and his daughter likely lived with Barnes’s parents while he remained in the army. He made it through some of the worst fighting seen by the regiment. A statement by a fellow soldier supporting a pension application for his daughter indicates they were both captured August 19, 1864, which would be during operations against the Weldon Railroad at Petersburg, but that Barnes died at Salisbury February 9, 1865. The regiment lost in service 1 officer and 126 men killed or mortally wounded in battle and another 2 officers and 187 men who died of disease and other causes. Barnes was one of the 88 officers and men in the latter category who perished while in enemy hands. His father became his daughter’s guardian after his death.

Zouave images are scarce. Armed and identified zouaves are even scarcer. This soldier has an especially touching history as well.  [sr] [ph:L]

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