Samuel Barron (1809–1888)

Samuel Barron
Born (1809-11-28)November 28, 1809
Hampton, Virginia
Died February 26, 1888(1888-02-26) (aged 78)
Hampton, Virginia
Allegiance United States United States of America
 Confederate States of America
Service/branch  United States Navy
 Virginia Navy
 Confederate States Navy
Years of service 1820-1861 (USN)
1861-1865 (CSN)
Rank Captain (USN)
Captain (CSN)
Unit USS Wabash
Battles/wars American Civil War

Samuel Barron (November 28, 1809 February 26, 1888) was a United States, and later Confederate naval officer, acting as a representative in Europe for the Confederacy during the American Civil War.

Early life and career

Born to a prominent military family in Hampton, Virginia, Barron was entered into the US Navy at age two on January 1, 1812 (presumably because his father, Commodore Samuel Barron (1765-1810), had commanded the nearby naval base). In 1820, Barron began serving as a midshipmen. He rose through the ranks and was commissioned a lieutenant on March 3, 1827. He was promoted to commander on July 15, 1847 during the Mexican-American War.

Commanding the USS John Adams from 1849 to 1853, Barron was made a captain in September 1855. He then was captain of the steam frigate USS Wabash, whose crew included George Dewey, from 1858 until 1859. he was appointed chief of the Bureau of Detail in 1860, and thus held considerable influence within the US Navy, Following Lincoln's inauguration the following year, he was suspected of attempting to gain control over the Department of the Navy.

Civil War

In April 1861, after Virginia announced its secession from the Union, Barron resigned from the navy and, although his resignation was denied by the United States (later being listed by Navy Secretary Gideon Welles on April 22 as dismissed), he accepted a commission as Captain in the Virginia Navy and, as chief of the Office of Naval Detail and Equipment, later assisting in organizing a coastal defense of the Virginia and North Carolina coastlines.

After Virginia's fleet was integrated with the Confederate Navy, Barron was issued a commission as commander and appointed chief of the Office of Orders and Details on June 10. Barron would remain in that post until July 20, when Confederate Secretary of the Navy Stephen R. Mallory agreed to Barron's request to be assigned as commander of coastal defences of Virginia and North Carolina, an important port for Pamlico Sound based Confederate privateers. Arriving at his headquarters on Fort Hatteras on August 28, Barron commanded the defense of both the forts Hatteras and Clark against Union Flag Officer Silas H. Stringham during the Battle of Hatteras Inlet on August 28–29, Barron was captured following the surrender of the two fortresses. Held at Fort Columbus on Governors Island in New York harbor, then at Ft. Warren, Boston harbor, Barron was eventually released in a prisoner exchange the next year.

In January 1861 while imprisoned at Ft. Warren, Boston, Lt. William T. Glassell stated: Generals Buckner and Tilghman were then rooming with me, and together with Commodore Barron...

In November 1862, Barron was briefly reassigned command of naval forces in Virginia before he was sent to Great Britain to take command of the two ironclad rams, CSS North Carolina and CSS Mississippi (also known as the 'Laird Rams'), that were being built under the direction of Commander James D. Bulloch for the Confederacy. After the ships were seized by British authorities the following year, Barron traveled to France, remaining in Paris as "Flag Officer" commanding Confederate States Naval Forces in Europe acting as a contact for Confederate naval officers as well as blockade runners and privateers until February 25, 1865 when he resigned his commission returning to the United States shortly before the Confederacy's surrender a month later. Retiring to his home in Essex County, Virginia, Barron took up farm life until his death on February 26, 1888.


Military offices
Preceded by
Sidney Smith Lee
Commander of the James River Squadron
November 3, 1862-March 1863
Succeeded by
French Forrest
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