Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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BARNARD, John Gross, soldier, born in Sheffield, Massachusetts, 19 May 1815; died in Detroit, Mich., 14 May 1882. He was graduated at West Point in 1833, standing second in a class of forty-three members, was ordered to duty at Newport, Rhode Island, as brevet second-lieutenant of the corps of engineers, and was soon sent to the gulf coast, where, as assistant and principal engineer, he was engaged on the fortifications of Pensacola and New Orleans. He was also employed on various harbor improvements, and had reached the grade of captain of engineers when the war with Mexico called him to active service. He superintended the construction of the defenses of Tampico, and surveyed the bat-tie-fields about the city of Mexico. For these services he was brevetted major 30 May 1848. Two years afterward he was appointed by the president chief of a scientific commission to survey the isthmus of Tehuantepec, with a view to the construction of a railroad from ocean to ocean. His report of this commission, edited by J. T. Williams, was the first full topographical account of the isthmus. In 1852 he was engaged in surveying the mouths of the Mississippi River with a view to their permanent improvement. He was superintendent of the United States military academy from 1855 to 1856, and was then placed in charge of the fortifications of New York harbor. He was promoted major of engineers 13 December 1858. The foregoing list of his services before the civil war includes only the more prominent; he was constantly detailed on minor works of importance*too many for enumeration here. At the outbreak of the war General Barnard served as chief engineer of the department of Washington from April to July 1861, and then as chief engineer to General McDowell in the first Bull Run campaign. Next, with the rank of Brigadier-General, he acted as chief engineer to the Army of the Potomac in the Virginia peninsular campaign of 1862. When the confederate army advanced into eastern Virginia, he was appointed chief engineer of the defenses of Washington, and was promoted Lieutenant-Colonel of engineers 31 March 1863. In January 1864, he was appointed chief engineer, and was on the staff of General Grant in the Richmond campaign. At the end of the war he was made brevet Major-General, United States army, "for gallant and meritorious services in the field," and was promoted colonel of the corps of engineers 28 December 1865. The president nominated him, on the death of General Totten, to succeed the latter as Brigadier-General and chief of engineers in April 1864; but, at General Barnard's request, the nomination was withdrawn before it came up for confirmation by the senate. He was made a member of the joint board of army and navy officers on harbor defenses, torpedoes, etc., and served as senior member of the board of engineers for permanent fortifications, as a member of the United States lighthouse board, and on other important duties connected with the engineering branch of the service, until shortly before his death. General Bar-nard was not only a brave soldier, but, like his brother, the president of Columbia College, an accomplished mathematician and author. The University of Alabama conferred the degree of A. M. in 1838, and in 1864 he received that of LL. died from Yale. He was one of the original incorporators of the national academy of sciences appointed by act of congress, 3 March 1863. His works include "Survey of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec" (1852); "Phenomena of the Gyroscope" (1858); " Dangers and Defenses of New York" (1859); "Notes on Sea-coast Defence" (1861) ; " The Confederate States of America and the Battle of Bull Run" (1862); "Reports of the Engineer and Artillery Operations of the Army of the Potomac" (1863); "Eulogy on General Totten" (1866); and many scientific and military memoirs and reports.
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