Obituary – Brig. Gen. Barnard Bee

10 04 2022



Gen. Barnard E. Bee.

Upon the wings of shining Victory comes the dark shaft of Death. And with the first impulsive leapings of the heart in the glad shout of triumph for our arms and our cause, the breath of Carolinians is stilled in mourning for our gallant dead. In that they lived, they were ours – int that they are dead, it was for use they died. Upon each heart in Carolina they have levied a tribute. The bitter, bitter tears of those who loved them dearest in life, the little hands of pleading children, demand of us, even in the rush of life, and the fierce cry of victory, to pause in silence over their biers, and to mingle our sorrows with the unutterable grief of hearts that cannot be comforted. And to-day South Carolina, like a Spartan mother, mourns her lost sons.

Perhaps there was no man of his age in the Confederate service who had won for himself a fairer fame, both as an accomplished officer and high-toned gentleman, than the late Gen. Barnard E. Bee, of this State. Upon the desperate field of battle, where more than once his gallant blade had won him the applause of the army and of his native state, sword in hand, he perished – an untimely death.

Gen. Bee, descended from an old Carolina family of gentlemen, was about 35 years of age, and leaves a widow and an infant son.

He entered West Point a Cadet in 1841; was made Brevet Second Lieutenant, 3d Infantry, in 1845. Curing the Mexican war he served with marked distinction, winning two brevets before the close of the war – that of First Lieutenant, “for gallant and meritorious conduct in the battle of Cerro Gordo, on the 18th April, 1847,” in which he was wounded, and that of Captain, in the storming of Chepultepec, on the 13th of September, 1847, “for gallant and meritorious conduct.” Since 1848 he acted as Adjutant, and rose to a full First Lieutenancy in March, 1851.

His achievements, since that time, in wars amongst the Indians, were such as to attract towards him the attention of his State, and in his dying hand, on the field in which he fell, he grasped the sword which South Carolina had taken pride in presenting him.

Few men of his age had attracted more attention in his profession, and such was his reputation, that President Davis, at once raising him from the rank of Captain, appointed him a Brigadier-General in the Provisional Army.

It will not be easy to fill his place in the Confederate service; but South Carolina, more especially, mourns his loss, for he was a true representative of her race. Mild, modest, amiable of deportment, open, generous, bold and dashing in achievement, nice of honor and punctilious of fame, winning friends by sterling conduct, as fearless of foes as sensitive of regard, he was all that his State could ask of a Gentleman, a soldier and a patriot. South Carolina will ever bend in honor over the tomb of such a son.

The Charleston (SC) Mercury, 7/23/1861

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The Death of Brig. Gen. Barnard Bee

10 04 2022

Barnard Bee.

The death of this pure chevalier will ever be esteemed one of the brightest yet saddest incidents of the present great war. The very embodiment (as he was) of Carolina chivalry, he deeds of valor on the plains of Manassas astonished even the general in command, accustomed as he was to Southern fervor and acquainted as he had recently become with Carolina enthusiasm. But in the midst of his heroic efforts, the fatal ball was numbered which assigned him a soldier’s grave. It has long been said and sung, that “to die for one’s country” is “sweet” as well as “honorable;” the thought was never more fully verified than in the death scene of this hero. We quote a touching account of General Bee’s last moments from a letter addressed to the Charleston Courier;

“While participating in the thickest of the fight, a ball penetrated the groin and passed upwards in the region of the stomach. He was at once borne from the field to a neighboring hospital, and after a temporary rest there, removed to Manassas, where an apartment was provided for him in the hotel. Among those who called upon the wounded General on the day following, was his old friend, Col. Tupper, of Charleston, who was on the Staff of General Smith, and himself slightly hurt. Bee was lying on a mattress, calm, composed, and evidently not in much pain. Aware of his approaching end, he was engaged in dictating to one of his Staff his last missive to his family, being so absorbed in this task that he appeared not to observe the slightest movement which transpired around him. At intervals he would drop away into a dreamy kind of repose and seem to sleep, by a preconcerted arrangement his Aid would touch him slightly in the centre of his forehead with the point of his pencil, when the General would recover his faculties and proceed. In due time his labor of love was finished, and he turned his attention to the company present. Col. Tupper was among these, and as the hands of the two friends met for the last time, Bee gently drew him down so as to be more distinctly heard, while Col. Tupper bent upon his knee and laid his face upon that of the dying man. The latter then said: “Colonel, our acquaintance has been of a very pleasant nature. It’s hard to part where friends are so dear, but I must soon leave you. God bless and protect you.” With others of his friends he also exchanged brief words of parting.

“Shortly afterwards, the dying General asked to be raised in his bed, which being done, with his hands clasped, eyes burning with an almost supernatural light as if he already looked upon the glories of another world, he repeated a verse, but unfortunately I can only give the last two lines:

My spirit soars to meet its God,
I die in the arms of victory.

“With these upon his lips, the hero was laid back upon his pillow and without a struggle sank into his eternal rest.

“He had emphatically carried his life in his hand and the grace of God in his heart, and when the messenger came, it found him ready and willing to obey the summons. Death to him was no rugged path. He had

No earthly clinging
No lingering gaze
No strife at parting
No sore amaze;
But sweetly, gently,
He passed away
From the world’s dim twilight
To endless day.

Edgefield (SC) Advertiser, 8/21/1861

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