Joseph K. Barnes

Birth: 1817, Jul. 21
Death: 1833, Apr. 5
Occupation: doctor

Associated Counties

  • Baltimore City

Additional Information

  • Dates: 1817-1883
    Notes: Joseph K. Barnes, surgeon-general of the United States Army, was born in Philadelphia July 21, 1817, and educated at Round Hill School, Northampton, Massachusetts, and at Harvard University, but was forced to leave college before graduation on account of his health. He studied medicine under Dr. Thomas Harris and later attended lectures at the University of Pennsylvania, whence he obtained his M.D. in 1838 and in 1840 entered the army as assistant surgeon rendering notable service during the Medican War and was presnt at the battles of Cerro Gordo, Contreras, Churubusco and Molino del Rey. After the war he was on duty at various military posts of the West and South. At the outbreak of the Civil War he was made medical director of Hunter’s army. Later he served in the same capacity in the Western Department and with Halleck’s army. In 1862 he was called to Washington, where he gained the friendship of secretary Staunton. When Surgeon-general Hammond was deposed it devolved upon Barnes to perform the duties of surgeon-general and in 1864 he was appointed successor to Gen. Hammond with the rank of brigadier general. As surgeon he worked zealously to advance the medical department of the army, and under his administration the Army Medical Museum and the Surgeon-General’s Office Library were established. Under him, too, the “Medical and Surgical History of the War” was compiled. It was his sad lot to attend Lincoln and Garfield, the two martyr presidents, in their last hours. Gen. Barnes retired June 30, 1882, and died in Washington, April 5 of the following year.

    Albert Allemann

    Surgeon-Generals of the Army, S.E. Pilcher, Carlisle, Pa., 1905
    *Barnes was a man who had no middle name and inserted the letter K. as a substitute, being known as the man who put K in Barnes.

    Source: Kelly, Howard A. and Burrage, Walter J., American Medical Biographies Baltimore: Norman, Remington Company: 63

  • Dates: 1850
    Notes: Stationed at Fort McHenry, Baltimore
    Source: Records of the War Department, Office of the Adjutant General. Medical History, Post of Fort McHenry. National Archives, Washington DC, p. 17
  • Dates: 1863
    Notes: For additional information on Joseph K. Barnes as Surgeon General, see Chapter 3, “The Barnes Regime and the Army Surgeons.”
    Source: Adams, George Worthington, Doctors in Blue: The Medical History of the Union Army in the Civil War Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University: 42-58
  • Dates: 1863
    Notes: “General Order No. 351, issued on Oct. 29, 1863, presumably as a compromise, was in reality a victory for the surgeons. Superficially it seemed to give Miss [Dorthea] Dix what she wanted: if a nurse was discharged the hospital commander had to offer specific reasons; no female nurses were to be carried on the muster roll except those of Miss Dix, ‘unless specially appointed by the Surgeon General.’ The ‘joker’ in this last provision was readily apparent to the superintendant of female nurses, and in the words of her latest biographer it ‘broke her heart.’ Joseph K. Barnes, Acting Surgeon General, showed his attitude when he assured a young girl who had failed of regular appointment that henceforth he would enroll any womany requested by a hospital head ‘irrespective of age, size or looks.'”
    Source: Adams, George Worthington, Doctors in Blue: The Medical History of the Union Army in the Civil War Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University: 180
  • Dates: 1864
    Notes: “Some criticism was levelled in 1864 at the transportation of the wounded northward. Hospital steamers were frequently commandeered by the Quartermaster’s Corps for nonmedical uses and returned in bad condition. The Surgeon General finally persuaded the Secretary of War to issue an ironclad order forbidding such withdrawals, even by General Grant himself. Surgeon General Barnes consented to Grant’s use of the well equipped hospital steamers only when he realized that his refusal would delay Grant’s crossing of the James River a fortnight. Barnes then used ordinary transports to remove the Wilderness-Cold Harbor wounded to general hospitals.”
    Source: Adams, George Worthington, Doctors in Blue: The Medical History of the Union Army in the Civil War Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University: 105
  • Dates: 1864
    Notes: “Joseph K. Barnes, the Surgeon General whose formal appointment was made in August, 1864, had then been in charge for almost a year. His reputation is based on the establishment of the Army Medical Museum and the Army Medical Library (both conceptions of the previous administration) and the publication during the post-war years of the first volumes of the Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion, the original impetus for which had come from General Hammond.”
    Source: Adams, George Worthington, Doctors in Blue: The Medical History of the Union Army in the Civil War Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University: 42

Bibliography

  • United States. Surgeon-General’s Office, The medical and surgical history of the war of the rebellion. (1861-1865). Prepared, in accordance with the acts of Congress, under the direction of Surgeon General Joseph K. Barnes, United States army. Washington: Government Printing Office.