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William Henry Barnes
Personal Information
Born: 1840 or 1845
Place of Birth: {{{place of birth}}}
Died: December 24 1866 (aged 25–26) or 1866 (aged 20–21)
Place of Death: {{{place of death}}}
Birth Name: {{{birth name}}}
Other Information
Allegiance: United States of America
Participation(s): {{{participations}}}
Branch: United States Army
Union Army
Service Years: {{{service years}}}
Rank: Sergeant
Service number : {{{servicenumber}}}
Unit: 38th U.S. Colored Infantry Regiment
Battles: American Civil War
*Battle of Chaffin's Farm
Awards: Medal of Honor
Relations: {{{relations}}}
Other work: {{{otherwork}}}

William Henry Barnes (c. 1840 or 1845-December 24, 1866) was a Union Army soldier during the American Civil War and a recipient of America's highest military decoration—the Medal of Honor.


Barnes worked as a farmer before enlisting in the Army from Norfolk, Virginia, on February 11, 1864. He joined as a private into Company C of the 38th United States Colored Infantry Regiment. His enlistment papers record his age as 23, implying a birth year of 1840 or 1841, but other sources give his birth as 1845.[1]

At the Battle of Chaffin's Farm, on September 29, 1864, Barnes' regiment was among a division of black troops assigned to attack the center of the Confederate defenses at New Market Heights.[1] The defenses consisted of two lines of abatis and one line of palisades manned by Brigadier General John Gregg's Texas Brigade. The attack was met with intense Confederate fire; over fifty percent of the black troops were killed, captured, or wounded.[2] Barnes was awarded the Medal of Honor for being "[a]mong the first to enter the enemy's works; although wounded."[3] His medal was issued six months after the battle, on April 6, 1865,[3] and he was promoted to Sergeant another three months later, on July 1, 1865.[2]

Barnes remained in the Army after the war, traveling to Texas with his regiment. He died of tuberculosis at an Army hospital in Indianola on December 24, 1866. A marker in his memory was placed in San Antonio National Cemetery, San Antonio, Texas.[2]

Medal of Honor citation[]

Rank and organization: Private, Company C, 38th U.S. Colored Troops. Place and date: At Chapins Farm, Va., September 29, 1864. Entered service at:------. Birth: St. Marys County, Md. Date of issue April 6, 1865.[3]


Among the first to enter the enemy's works; although wounded.[3]

See also[]

  • List of American Civil War Medal of Honor recipients: A–F


  1. 1.0 1.1 Hanna, p. 15
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Hanna, p. 16
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 "Civil War Medal of Honor Recipients (A-L)". Medal of Honor citations. United States Army Center of Military History. August 6, 2009. Retrieved July 1, 2010. 


  • Hanna, Charles W. (2002). African American recipients of the Medal of Honor: a biographical dictionary, Civil War through Vietnam War. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. pp. 15–16. ISBN 0-7864-1355-7. 

External links[]