The New York State Military History Museum will be closed until further notice

New York State Military Museum and Veterans Research Center - Unit History Project
     Unit History Project  
  About the Museum
  Contact Us
  Armories & Arsenals
  Unit History Project
   - Revolution
   - Civil
   - Spanish American
   - Mex. Border, 1916
   - WWI
   - WWII
   - Korean
  Veteran's Oral History
  DMNA Homepage
  NY Naval Militia

21st Independent Battery
Light Artillery
Civil War

The following is taken from New York in the War of the Rebellion, 21st ed. Frederick Phisterer. Albany: J. B. Lyon Company, 1912.

Mustered in: December 12, 1862.
Mustered out: September 8, 1865.

This battery was organized at Oswego; recruited principally at Hastings, Oswego and Phoenix, and mustered in the service of the United States for three years at New York city, December 12, 1862. December 20, 1864, a number of men, in excess of the maximum strength allowed, were transferred to the 26th Battery. It left the State, under Capt. James Barnes, December 12, 1862, and served in the defenses of New Orleans, La., from January, 1863; at Port Hudson, La., from July, 1863; in the Reserve Artillery, 19th Corps, from July, 1864; at Morganza, La., from January, 1865; in Artillery Brigade, 13th Corps, from February, 1865; in 2d Brigade, 13th Corps, from May, 1865.

The battery, commanded by Captain Barnes, was honorably discharged and mustered out, September 8, 1865, at Syracuse, having during its service lost by death, of wounds received in action, 2 enlisted men; of disease and other causes, 1 officer, 30 enlisted men; total, 1 officer, 32 enlisted men; aggregate, 33; of whom 1 enlisted man died in the hands of the enemy.

Battles and Casualties Table from Phisterer

Civil War Newspaper Clippings

21st Independent Battery Battle Flag 21st Independent Battery Battle Flag

Muster Roll

Unit Roster

Further Reading
This is meant to be a comprehensive list. If, however, you know of a resource that is not listed below, please send an email to with the name of the resource and where it is located. This can include photographs, letters, articles and other non-book materials. Also, if you have any materials in your possession that you would like to donate, the museum is always looking for items specific to New York's military heritage. Thank you.

Barnes, Francis G. Letters, 1862-1865.
Abstract: A group of 69 letters written by Barnes to his wife, plus 2 manuscript documents, that cover the entire Civil War career of Francis Barnes, a native of Phoenix, Oswego County, New York.
The first letter, 21 November 1862, is from French's Hotel in New York City where Barnes receives the State Bounty of $50. By 12 December, he and the rest of the men who volunteered at the same time have been mustered in as an independent battery. By 15 December he is writing from the ship taking them to Fortress Monroe. Once there, he stays two extra weeks in the hospital attending his brother who has suffered an accident. By February 1863, he and his ship are in quarantine in the port of New Orleans because of an outbreak of smallpox. Once released into the city itself, their first duty was to guard a railroad 40 miles above New Orleans. His battalion is posted at Jefferson College (where Barnes pilfers books); their first battle was a skirmish preparing to assault Port Hudson, which they do in the wake of July's Vicksburg victory, under General Banks. Barnes is granted leave in the summer of 1863, and returns to Louisiana via Cairo IL.
In February 1864 he is mustered out to accept a commission as 2nd Lieutenant in the 8th Regiment Corps d'Afrique (which became the 80th Regiment US Colored Infantry.) In June 1863 he had written his wife that he thought preparing colored troops "a grand idea" and Lincoln should have done it sooner. Even in his previous battalion, he had been in charge of negro laborers and admired their prowess. He declares that his men are as good as whites. In April 1864 the regiment moves up to St. James Parrish, where they remain guarding river traffic until close to the end of the war, with occasional forays to a camp at Bonnet Carre. In April of 1865 they are ordered to Mobile, and hear about Lincoln's assasination while at a desolate camp on the Tombigbee River. In July, the troops not mustered out are ordered to Galveston.
There exist, of course, many collections of Civil War letters. What makes these desirable? First, their completeness, and Barnes' propensity to record his experiences in detail, and at length. Then, his war career, while not exciting militarily, placed him in the South, and with negro troops - and his observations on both are valuable. A considerable bonus is the fact that a John Demos trascribed all the letters in the course of preparing an undergraduate thesis. Included with the gift of the letters is the trascription, and the appendices to the thesis - which include good essays on Barnes' religious beliefs, on his attitude towards negroes, and on his impressions of the South, as well as Demos' footnotes that trace Barnes' biography. Generally, Demos showed that Barnes was typical of an educated, rural-dwelling Northerner - carrying with him his prejudices. Even as he defends the worth of his negro soldiers, he decries their inability to handle money responsibly, to withstand the cold, to act on initiative. By January of 1865 he declares himself sick of living amonst negroes. The South he is both fascinated and repelled by. He treats it, always, as a foreign country, and the Secessionists themselves as little better than agents of the devil. Yet, despite his many vindictive harangues, he muses in his very last letter that he might like to move to the South after the war.
Located at the New York State Library: Accession Number: NYSR93-A64


Items the museum owns are in bold.

New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs: Military History
Last modified: February 8, 2018

Valid HTML 4.01!

Home | Contact Us | Language Access