John G. Barnard

29 07 2009

John Barnard graduated from West Point in 1833 at the ripe old age of eighteen.  He was simultaneously an engineering instructor and superintendent of the academy in 1855-1856.  As McDowell’s chief engineer in the First Bull Run campaign, on July 18th he demurred when “requested” by his chief to accompany him on a reconnaissance of the ground over which the proposed turning movement (the Federal left) was to be conducted.  Later, his inspection of the terrain and roads north of the Warrenton Turnpike, the area chosen by McDowell after he decided to act against the enemy’s left, produced less than accurate information.  If you ask me, he “screwed the pooch”, as Chuck Yeager might say, and poorly served McDowell.  After the battle he wrote a very long letter in response to the reporting of William Howard “Bull Run” Russell, titled The CSA and the Battle of Bull Run.  He was also responsible for the design of the defenses of Washington – one look at a map of the forts ringing the city makes it hard not to conclude that Edwin Stanton was either hopelessly paranoid or simply a coward.  Auntie Em!!!!  (I’m very down on Stanton just now, if you can’t tell).

This article was originally posted on 8/5/2007, as part of the John Gross Barnard biographical sketch.



2 responses

7 08 2009
Tony Sipp

Harry Smeltzer

RE: Your beer can rating system, etc.

I have been reading your critiques/reviews/ratings since they started in America’s Civil War this year. When the May 2009 issue came and I saw your beer can system, Scotch (I drink very little beer anymore) and probably some other corporal fluids shot out of my nose. Fortunately, I could salvage the magazine…though I did waste that Scotch…I have you to thank for that. Since then, I have been able to keep my gag reflex and other parts of my autonomic nervous system under control. But not my laughter and appreciation of your style.

But here’s why I’m writing.

I graduated from Catawba College in 1960. Three of my friends were James Frost Smeltzer ’61, Eleanor Elizabeth Spencer ’60, and Anne Nagle Lausch ’60. Eleanor and Anne married the Smeltzer brothers.

Do you know any of them?

You look and write enough like Jim to be his son. You have his sense of humor and his worldview—like Scaramouch. “He was born with the gift of laughter and the sense that the world was mad.”

Chaw (Ciao is overworked and effete, don’t you think?)

Tony Sipp

PS Smelly was my best friend and one of my roommates at Catawba.


7 08 2009
Harry Smeltzer


Thanks for reading the blog and the magazine. I can’t take credit for the rating system, it was my editor’s idea. And just for the record, they aren’t necessarily beer cans, though I think they surely look like they are.

No, as far as I know I am not related to your friend, at least not closely. Glad to see he was submitted to the same nickname as just about every other Smeltzer in the free world.

If you want, you can express your appreciation of my column to the magazine so they don’t can it. Get it? “Can” it?

Yes, Ciao is effete. Later, Dude is more manly, though certainly overused.


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