1865: Unidentified Colonel to Ira McLean Barton

This unsigned letter was written by the commander (possibly acting) of the First Brigade in Hardin’s Division of the 22nd Army Corps, the headquarters of which was located at Fort Reno near Washington D. C. It is known that Col. James M. Warner held this title in the late summer and fall of 1864 when they were called upon to defend Washington from Gen. Jubal Early’s raid, but it is my understanding that Warner had been reassigned prior to this letter written in January 1865. As the letter is unsigned, it might be a draft or period copy of the original.

The letter was written to Ira McLean Barton (1839-1876), the son of Levi Winter Barton (1818-1899) and Mary Ann Pike (18xx-1840) of Newport, Sullivan county, New Hampshire. Ira originally served as captain of Co. E, 5th New Hampshire Volunteers. He resigned his commission when he could not get along with its commander, Col. Edward E. Cross. In September 1863, he accepted a commission in the 2nd New Hampshire Heavy Artillery and was promoted to Lt. Colonel on 29 September 1864. He was then transferred to the 1st New Hampshire Heavy Artillery and finally breveted the rank of Colonel on 13 March 1865.

After the war, Barton entered the regular army for a time but then relocated to Little Rock, Arkansas, where he practiced law and became a Judge of the Criminal Court of Jefferson county. He continued to serve in a military capacity with the State militia and rose to the rank of Major General in Gov. Baxter’s forces. According to Ira’s death certificate, his cause of death in January 1876 was “Mania a Potu” which is Latin for “madness from drink.”


Headquarters 1st Brigade
Fort Reno, D. C.
January 13, 1865

Lieut. Col. Ira McL. Barton
Lt. Col,

I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your second letter of this day but I do not acknowledge the existence on my part of the jealousy you mention if which exists it is confined to yourself and your letter seems to be a witness of the fact. In regards to my placing anything in the way of your being “an obedient and good inferior officer,” or in other words, “letting you,” I have to say that the faithful performance of your duty as commander of the regiment or in any other capacity has not been interfered with in the least by myself.

Your allusion to your friends being enemies is an affair which you can understand I am entirely unable to do so if you know of such cases, I would prefer that you would not inform me as I have a much better opinion of the officers constituting my regiment than that and do not wish to blame any unjustly or [  ] heard.

You say, “I want to take hold and [    ] required efficient.” That assistance and cooperation I expect from every officer. My own labors have been in that direction and all the aid you can give me will find its due appreciation. No dislike has been manifested to any such assistance. If there is anything that I do not like, as you allude in your letter, it is not [   ] or good influence. Those things you will always find me encouraging. You speak of very disagreeable actions of mine accidentally coming to your notice. If you chose to call my signing my Regimental rank to a requisition  for cartridges for this brigade—a rank for which I hold a commission and which every officer is obliged to sign when requesting ordnance or ordnance stores—if this is disagreeable, then I can assure you such accidents are liable to occur at any time as the command I may be filling if out of the regiment will not [   ] in such cases.

In regard to keeping your own courses, I have the  honor to state that at certain times—especially in the presence of my clerks and other interested men, it might be as well for, as you say, our [   ] are in common—to make our regiment as well-disciplined one as you have added justly and I hope we shall look to our example in this respct.

That you have frankly spoken, I accept your statement that you have freely spoken. None could think of doubting that saw the letters I had the honor to receive from your office.

Our correspondence has already been too long as there was no reason why words should not have done what I am afraid letters have failed to do. It was your province to commence the correspondence. It is my privilege to close it. At any time you have any grievance to state, you can do so to me in person and all wrongs shall be righted. What is to meddle an affair to be mentioned to me is too small to be mentioned to any of the men or officers of my regiment.

I have the honor, Sir, to be very respectfully your obedient servant.

Col. Commanding Brigade

P. S. Since writing the within, I have received notice that the requisition has been approved and the stores issued to commander of the brigade for the use of the same as I had anticipated. Yours as ever.



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