A Genealogy of the Barnum, Barnam and Barnham Family

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A One-Name Study for the BARNUM/BARNHAM Surname



Notes for Joseph Hall BARNUM


Joseph Hall Barnum served in the Civil War as a captain, with Company "H", 16th Regiment, Connecticut Volunteer Infantry. Barnum, Joseph Hall (1838-1902). Barnum, Joseph H.; Captain, Company "H"; Residence, Hartford, Connecticut; Enlisted August 11, 1862; Mustered August 24, 1862; Resigned February 13, 1863, then re-mustered 5-May-63; Mustered out June 24, 1865.

The index of the Civil War Manuscript Project of the Connecticut Historical Society contains the following entries for Joseph Hall Barnum:
1. Hartford; First Connecticut Infantry, Infantry Company "A", Private; Sixteenth Connecticut Infantry, Companies B and H, Captain; 1864 January 1-March 19; 1 Volume Diary. Barnum, a married printer, originally served in Infantry Company "A", First Connecticut Infantry. He enlisted in the 16th Connecticut on 11 August 1861 and was mustered in as First Lieutenant, Company "B" . He was promoted to Captain of Company "H" on 20 September 1862 but resigned on 13 February 1863. He was re-mustered, Captain, Company "H", 12 May 1863 and served until his muster-out on 24 June 1865. According to references found in the diaries and letters of other members of the 16th Connecticut, Barnum was a rather unpopular officer. The final date of this diary coincides with the date he was found guilty by Court Martial of neglect of duty to the prejudice of good order and military discipline. His arrest seems to have been due to his actions or inactions on 21 January 1864. See next entry for further information. Barnum’s diary is enlightening as to the personality of its owner. He keeps careful count of letters sent to and received from his wife. There are many cryptic references to activities which may be sexual in nature. Baseball was documented as a popular pastime in February 1864. Location: MS
2. Hartford; First Connecticut Infantry, Infantry Company "A", Private; Sixteenth Connecticut Volunteers, Companies B and H, Captain; 1858-1875; 4 Boxes. A very large collection of correspondence and official papers, mainly retained copies, as First Lieutenant, Company "B" and as Captain, Company "H", 16th Connecticut Infantry, as well as personal correspondence, receipted bills and account books. Barnum’s obituary appears in the Mary Morris Scrapbooks, MS, Library of The Connecticut Historical Society. Also see previous entry.
Location: MS 74130.

Included within item 2 were the two transcribed letters that follow, written to Barnum by friends. They provide an interesting glance at daily ocurrences during the Civil War era.

Letter 1
U. S. S. Miami
Harrisons Landing Va
6th August 1864
Friend Barnum
As I have leisure time at present I know of no better way to employ it than in redeeming my promise to write you.
The afternoon of the day I left Roanoke was rather rough on the Sound and a gay old crowd of sea sick passengers were on board the Berry - Our lady (?) passenger was amongst the number of course, and as a friend to suffering humanity I had to give her the benefit of my experience as a Sailor to enable her to recover from the horrible feeling one experiences on their first voyage - The boat which connects at the canal lay over night at Coinjock and and [sic] as there were only eighty persons on board (the Fawn is about the size of an ordinary tug boat) you can imagine what kind of a night we passed -
As there were no staterooms on the boat we had to lay around loose - Taylor can give you a description of the boat - The fair one occupied the ladies cabin alone, or would if I had not had the cheek to go in on my own responsibility after the rest of the passengers had quieted down - She was agreeable but I had just returned from good pasture and could'nt see it - Finally after waiting at the lock on the canal for the tide we arrived at Norfolk just as the last boat had shoved from the wharf for Fort Monroe. The next afternoon I went down and found the Miami had came in the same morning - she had got disabled outside on account of one boiler giving out & had to be towed in by a passing steamer, besides scaring some of the crowd nearly to death by catching fire slightly from the disabled boiler -
We lay at the Fort two days - met Montgomery, of the Onondaga, (Iron Clad) formerly of Hartford, and went ashore and got a pretty heavy load on. So much so that I wanted to get into a row with two English Naval officers attached to an English war vessel then laying in the Roads.
The next day, Friday, we were ordered to Craney Island to coal - As soon as the anchor was let go, Rogers, Davis and myself boarded an oyster boat & went up to Norfolk on a bender and remained until the next afternoon - One out of the crowd was arrested for getting into a row with the beauties on church street and if the other two did not they richly deserved it. Consequently when we did return to the ship the captain would not let us go ashore again - Last Tuesday we started for the James river and came along very well until we got to Wilcox's landing when the Rebels opened on us with a battery of Whitworth's from the high bluffs - After a fight of an hour and a half in which they shot our wheel ropes away we drove them away - We had one man killed and two wounded - Were hit twice - one shell came through the water way, (about 15 inches of oak timber) exploded on deck - broke all glass in the Engine room hatch, throwing the fragments together with a number of pieces of the shell down in the Engine room. I was unhurt although the bits of glass fell at my feet and had I been a little nearer our desk I would have been cut to pieces - The next day went up to the Iron Clad fleet and reported and were sent down to guard the river between City Point and Harrisons Landing.
This is the pleasantest place on the river and if we are to remain here I shall be comparatively well satisfied -
City Point is in plain sight and looks somewhat like the harbor of a northern city - All kinds of vessels from a first class ocean steamer to an Erie Canal boat are laying at anchor & moving up and down the river - The bank (South Side[)] is lined with encampments as far as the eye can reach & the firing in front of Petersburg can be heard quite plainly - Write soon and direct to U. S. S. Miami James River Va
All hands send their respects
Pious regards to all the "Coons" on Roanoke
Aff your friend Heiser

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Letter 2
Hd. Qurs. 21 Conn. Vols. February 16, 1865.
Friend Barnum,
Your humorous letter came last evening, and it was so characteristic, and withal so funny, that I took the liberty of reading it to my chum, the Chaplain. He wants me to ask you, if you remember the 'wild cat' in the steamer Francis?
I see by your letters that the boys go out nights yet, and will continue to do so as long as there are soft bosoms on which to repose their weary heads, in spite of the terror of the 'guard house' and 'bread & water,' or the angry countenances of their envious Superiors. Men have always run any risk to obtain the favors of the women, and they always will, and you may as well 'kick against the pricks' as to try to prevent it. Even Mark Anthony lost Rome and the world for the charms of Cleopatra, and many a lesser warrior has been lured to his ruin by the syrens of Norfolk and other places. However I think that they will be as little likely to offend, on a bread and water diet, as on anything that I know.
All hail to the 'Hotel de Roanoke'! Just give my regards to 'Cass,' when you next go to dinner, and tell him that I would like some of his roast duck, one dinner for instance like that he gave us Thanksgiving Day. We are on shorter allowance than usual at present, our fresh beef having for some reason failed us, and we are thrown on the Sutler, who by the way is a more decent man than our old friend, Doane.
By the papers I see there is some chance of an Exchange of Prisoners, and the remainder of the 16th Regiment will be coming back into 'God's country,' very few of them however to find their way to the regiment again. Poor fellows! I know something how to pity them, and would rejoice to see their names among the released prisoners. Burke has written me since he came back, and in his last spoke as if he was getting tired of doing conscript duty, and would like something in the field. Say to Capt Dickenson for me that I sincerely congratulate him on his escape. Ask him if he remembers Lieut. Col. Moffatt, of 96th New York, Provost Marshall at Plymouth, who messed with Burke and me at Macon? He commanded a brigade in the last year's campaign, after he got released, and lost a leg above the knee. He has just returned, is at his regiment and I am going over to see him in a few days.
We are lying here very quietly, and find no sign of any change in our front, though the Herald says that the enemy are removing their guns from their works, which we 'cannot see.' However, Brady, the Herald correspondent, gets a bit drunk now and then, so some allowance must be made. One of our officers saw him last night trying to jump his horse over the hitching rail in front of Corps Headquarters, and according to some vile slanderers a pint of whiskey will buy a puff in the Herald.
Last Sunday we had a big time here, when after the Review of our Division in the morning, Major Generals Ord and Gibbon received the officers of the Division at Gen. Devin's Headquarters, and, after making them a brief speech principally about the Paymasters, treated everyone who chose to a drink of whiskey, and many of them took so many drinks, that before night the whole crowd from Major Generals down was in very good humor with the world and everyone in it. This affair goes by the name of the 'Great Drunk,' and if you will keep it to yourself I will tell you that they seemed drunker the higher the rank. Your humble servant and the chaplain came home early, and did not put a drop of the 'Commissary' into our throats. Since then Gen. Ord has sent us word, that the Paymasters would come around before the close of this month, and pay us up to the 31st December, and that the Armies of the James & Potomac are to be paid first. It will very much relieve many officers, none more than me.
By all means, use that Catsup and Jelly, and think of me when you are discussing them, as well as occasionally when you come over those ducks, game, eggs, &c. that 'Cass' spreads before an ungrateful set of boarders. I am sorry that you are in danger of having Col. Burnham over you on the island, for he is not a man I very much admire for a superior officer, and I am clear of him now, and can say as much as this at any rate. I shall never forget his coming to Burke, and begging a chance to sleep in our corner at Macon, and then getting the whole corner lousy, and then going away, and telling how we got him lousy. Many ways there are for a man to show the material of which he is made.
Remember me to all the boys, and answer this in another of your letters, which quite revive me, though I am too dull to make this letter anyway interesting. Mud is all around us everywhere, and no movement is possible now, but with Sherman on the move, and large numbers of Thomas' army coming down here, it will not be many weeks before we shall commence the greatest campaign of the war. I see our old friend, Dr. Pease, occasionally, who says that he never regretted that he got out of the regiment, when he did.
Take care of yourself, and answer this soon, and remember me as Ever Your quondam friend
Nickerson.

A large collection of Barnum's papers and documents is held by the Connecticut Historical Society.

From Illustrated Popular Biography of Connecticut - 1891, Compiled and Published by J. A. Spalding, Hartford Conn., Press of the Case, Lockwood and Brainard Company, 1891: Joseph Hall Barnum, Hartford, Editor and Proprietor. Captain Barnum was born in East Hartford, May 27, 1838, and received a common school and academic education. His father was Eli Barnum, who was a hatter by trade, and a cousin of the late P. T. Barnum, the family originating in Danbury. On his mother’s side Captain Barnum is a descendant of Colonel Peter Harwood of Massachusetts, who served with credit in the Revolutionary army. At the age of fifteen years the subject of this sketch removed to Hartford and entered the employ of the Sawyer Silver Spoon Works. At sixteen he went to The Hartford Times, where he acquired an insight into the printer’s trade. From the composing rooms of The Times he entered the employ of The Morning Post, under James M. Scofield, and was in that office when the war commenced. Meanwhile he had served in the Volunteer Fire Department of the city, advancing from old No. 5 on Church Street to the assistant foremanship of the Aetna Hose Company. Captain Barnum was among the first in this city to respond to the call for troops, and enlisted April 20, 1861, in the Light Guard Infantry, Company "A", First Connecticut. During the previous February he had enlisted in the Light Guard as one of the city military companies, and proceeded with it to the field, when the first call for volunteers was issued. He was in the first battle of Bull Run with his regiment. At the conclusion of the three months’ service he returned home and again found employment on The Morning Post. In July 1862, his ardor made it impossible for him to remain longer at the case, and he became a worker in enlisting the Bee Hive Company of the Sixteenth Regiment, the old firm of Starr, Burkett & Company being especially interested in the organization. Captain Barnum was mustered as first lieutenant of the company, August 24, the command being assigned to the left of the regiment, the second place of honor in the organization. First Lieutenant Barnum was placed in charge of regimental supplies at Arlington, when the Sixteenth started for the memorable Maryland campaign of 1862, which culminated in the battle of Antietam. After that engagement Lieutenant Barnum was promoted to the captaincy of Company "H", his commission dating September 20, 1862. He was selected for this position by Colonel Frank Beach, who was one of the most impartial judges of military attainments. Captain Barnum was at Fredericksburg, serving at the head of his company. Owing to the illness of his wife he was compelled to resign, February 23, 1862, and return to Hartford. The vacancy in the company was not filled, however, and in May Captain Barnum was called to an interview with Governor Buckingham, and earnestly requested to accept the return of his old commission. Governor Buckingham supported his own wishes in the matter by referring to the personal desire of Colonel Beach that Captain Barnum should be induced to return. He was again mustered, May 22, 1863, and joined the command at Suffolk, Va., in time to participate in the Peninsula campaign of that year. During one of the protracted marches of that campaign, Captain Barnum was prostrated by the heat, and compelled for the first time in his life to fall out of line. The effects of that day’s service have been felt from that time until now. When the Sixteenth was ordered from Virginia into North Carolina, January, 1864, Captain Barnum, as officer-of-the-day at the time of the regiment’s departure, was called upon at a critical juncture to perform an important service. The incident referred to was in connection with the destruction of the regimental camp at Getty’s station near Portsmouth, Va. The attack at Plymouth, N.C., which resulted in the capture of nine companies of the Sixteenth was commenced April 27, 1864. Three days prior to that event, Captain Barnum was selected with Company "H" to relieve the Union forces on Roanoke Island. Sunday morning, April 17, he started on that mission. Ten hours later the bombardment of the outpost by the rebels had commenced. During the summer of 1864, Captain Barnum remained at Roanoke, where the nucleus of the regiment was preserved, and the field and staff reports and muster rolls of the absent companies kept intact. An important expedition was made under Colonel D. W. Wardrop, the destruction of mills and property in the neighborhood of Plymouth being the objective point. Captain Barnum commanded the Sixteenth, and is deserving of the greatest credit for the work which he accomplished in its behalf. In March, I865, he was ordered with his command to Newberne, N.C., and relieved the troops in that city, which were then performing provost duty. He commanded the escort that accompanied General Grant from Newberne to Raleigh, the object of General Grant’s visit being a conference with General Sherman. Captain Barnum remained in command of the Sixteenth until April 19, 1865, when he was relieved by the late Captain Thomas F. Burke of this city, the senior line officer. June 24, 1865, the subject of this sketch was mustered out of service, and returned home at the head of his company. His military career was one of strict devotion to duty. He was one of the best disciplinarians in the regiment, and instinctively a soldier from head to foot. After returning home he started The Soldiers’ Record in company with Lieutenant Wm. E. Simonds, who has since represented the First district in congress. Afterwards he assumed the management of The Gas Light, a bright theatrical paper of the time, and The Travelers Journal. In 1874 The Gas Light was dropped, and in April of that year The Journal was established as a Sunday paper, the Captain becoming one of the pioneers in Sunday journalism in Connecticut. The Sunday Journal has been his life work in the field of business. From the outset it has been a successful enterprise. Its owner and manager is an able newspaper man, and the success which it has attained is due to his intelligence and administration. Captain Barnum was unanimously elected commander of the Buckingham Rifles after the war, and served in the National Guard for a while. His military instincts, however, found full opportunity for development in Washington Commandery No. 1, K. T., of which he has long been a member. He held the position of Captain-General in the Commandery for three terms, and was in military command of the organization during the Chicago pilgrimage. Captain Barnum is a 32 degree Mason, and is also a member of Pyramid Temple, Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, Bridgeport. He is a Past Chancellor of Crescent Lodge, Knights of Pythias. Captain Barnum was one of the vice-presidents of the great assemblage that was held here, in recognition of General Grant’s death. He has never sought political office of any kind, having devoted himself to his newspaper enterprises. Captain Barnum has been married twice. His present wife, Mary A. Root, was the daughter of Lyman Root of Westfield, Mass. On her mother’s side Mrs. Barnum is connected with the poet, William Cullen Bryant, and with General Nathaniel Lyon. The surviving son by the first marriage, Charles H. Barnum, is connected with The Sunday Journal, occupying a responsible position in the management. Captain Barnum has been a resident of Hartford since 1853. He is an independent in politics, and his paper has been guided essentially on that principle.
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