Henry Barnum


Colonel Henry Alanson Barnum, whose military service during the Civil War included being gravely wounded and left for dead on the Malvern Hill battlefield in July 1862 and earning the Medal of Honor at the Battle of Lookout Mountain in November 1863.

Born in Jamesville, Onondaga County, New York in 1833, Barnum passed his bar exam in 1860 and began what looked to be a lucrative career as a lawyer in Syracuse, New York. When the Civil War began, however, he did not hesitate to serve his country, becoming a captain and then major with the 12th New York Infantry Regiment. Fighting in the Peninsula Campaign southeast of Richmond, Barnum was severely wounded at the Battle of Malvern Hill on July 1, 1862. A Confederate bullet hit him in the abdomen, passing through his intestines and shattering his hip. The injury was so severe that Barnum was left for dead on the battlefield; and even after he made it to a hospital his wound became infected and doctors assumed he had no chance. Incredibly, however, Barnum not only recovered but resumed active service, now as colonel of the 149th New York Infantry Regiment.

At the Battle of Lookout Mountain near Chattanooga, Tennessee, on November 23, 1863, Barnum led his regiment into action, “inciting the men to greater action by word and example,” despite not being fully recovered from his earlier wound. Badly wounded again, this time in the forearm, Barnum left the battlefield, only to return after further medical treatment. Once more, he was wounded in action by a shell fragment to his right side, at Peach Tree Creek, Georgia, in July 1864. After the war ended, Barnum went on to a notable career in banking and public life, serving in the New York State Assembly. He received the Medal of Honor in 1889. After his death in 1892, his wounded hip was donated to the National Museum of Health and Medicine as a testament to his amazing recovery.