29 September 2008 by Published in: Confederate Cavalry 18 comments

Time for another in my infrequent series of forgotten cavalrymen. Today, we have a guest biographer, Sheridan “Butch” Barringer, who is a cousin of our featured horseman, Brig. Gen. Rufus Barringer, the final commander of the North Carolina Cavalry Brigade. Butch was named for his father who, ironically, was named for Phil Sheridan, who captured General Barringer at Namozine Church during the retreat to Appomattox in April 1865.

Here’s Butch’s profile of his famous ancestor:

Barringer

Rufus Barringer, a third generation American of Southern aristocracy, was born on December 2, 1821, in Cabarrus County, North Carolina. His father was Paul Barringer, an influential citizen of the county and officer in the militia during the War of 1812. His mother was Elizabeth Brandon, daughter of Matthew Brandon, a veteran of the Revolutionary War. Rufus was the tenth of eleven children, many of whom went on to achieve prominence.

Rufus was graduated from the University of North Carolina (UNC) in 1842, where he was active in the Dialectic Society (Debating Club), and was one of the leaders opposing the establishment of fraternities, which he considered too secretive and because he detested the severe hazing. After graduation, he returned to Concord and read law with his brother, Moreau. In June 1843, he obtained his license to practice law.

Rufus served in the North Carolina House of Delegates in 1848-49 and in the State Senate in 1850. Barringer supported progressive measures during his terms in the North Carolina Legislature, including establishment of a railroad system to serve the western part of the state,”free suffrage,” and judicial reforms.

Just prior to and during his legislative days, he purportedly had an affair with Roxanna Coleman, a mulatto slave of a neighbor in Concord. He fathered two illegitimate sons, Thomas Clay Coleman and Warren Clay Coleman. Warren Coleman is best known for establishing a black owned and operated textile mill in Concord. He became one of the wealthiest black men in the South before he died in 1904.

Also, during this period, Rufus was involved in a bitter political dispute with a prominent political figure of the time, Greene W. Caldwell. During the escalating clash with Caldwell, a duel was narrowly averted, but Caldwell attacked Barringer in the streets of Charlotte. The younger and stronger Barringer grappled with Caldwell and forced his attacker’s arm down so that three shots went through Barringer’s coat while one bullet hit him in the fleshy part of the calf of a leg. Both men were arrested and were fined, ending the dangerous affair.

After one term as a senator, Rufus tired of the legislative morass and returned to Concord, where he became heavily involved in taking care of Moreau’s practice after Moreau was elected to the U. S. House of Representatives, where, Moreau shared a desk with and became friends with another Congressman, Abraham Lincoln. This relationship proved fateful to Rufus Barringer.

In 1854 Rufus, a faithful Presbyterian, became engaged to Eugenia Morrison, fifth child of Robert Hall Morrison and Mary Graham Morrison of Lincoln County. Mr. Morrison was a prominent Presbyterian minister and the founder of Davison College. Rufus and Eugenia were married in May of 1854 and had two children, Anna Barringer and Paul Brandon Barringer. In 1874 Anna Barringer, 17, died of typhoid fever. Paul became a doctor, chairman of the faculty at the University of Virginia, and sixth President of Virginia Tech. Two other Morrison sisters married soon-to-be Confederate generals. Isabella Morrison married Daniel Harvey Hill, and Anna Morrison married Thomas J. Jackson. Thus, Rufus, Jackson, and Hill were brothers-in-law. In 1858, Eugenia died of typhoid fever. Three years later, Rufus married Rosalie A. Chunn, who died of tuberculosis in 1864, after having one child, Rufus Chunn Barringer. In 1870, he married Margaret Taylor Long, and they had one son, Osmond Long Barringer.

Barringer was a Unionist at heart and opposed secession until the failed Peace Conference of February 1861 (Moreau was a North Carolina representative to the conference). Rufus then encouraged secession and preparing the state for the war that he saw as inevitable. He raised a company of cavalry in Concord, and was elected its captain. Barringer’s Company “F” became part of the 1st North Carolina Cavalry Regiment (Ninth State Troops), commanded by Colonel Robert Ransom.

Barringer, Hill, and Jackson had cordial relations before and during the war, but Barringer and Hill became estranged over Reconstruction politics after the war. In July 1862, Jackson summoned Barringer to his headquarters to discuss Jackson’s proposed controversial “Black Flag” policy as a response to Federal commander John Pope’s threats toward Virginia civilians. Jackson never received approval for his “no quarter” war plan, and Pope’s offensive soon made the subject moot.

At the battle of Brandy Station on June 9, 1863, Captain Barringer, acting as major that day, was seriously wounded while placing some of his troopers in position as sharpshooters to protect the Confederate artillery of Robert F. Beckham. Barringer was shot off his horse, being hit through the right cheek by a Federal sharpshooter. The bullet exited his mouth, causing serious injury that kept him out of service for five months. He was promoted to major on August 26, 1863, and returned to service at the time of the Bristoe Campaign in mid-October. Here, he rallied his troopers at Auburn and led a mounted charge at Buckland. He was promoted to Lt. Colonel on October 17.

During the 1864 spring campaign, North Carolina Brigade commander James B. Gordon was mortally wounded on May 12 at Brook Church, five miles north of Richmond during Sheridan’s attack on Richmond to draw out and fight JEB Stuart. After the death of Gordon and the wounding of Colonel William H. Cheek on May 11, Lt. Colonel Barringer took over temporary command of the 1st North Carolina Cavalry Regiment. Three senior colonels stood ahead of Barringer to be promoted to brigadier general to command the North Carolina Brigade, but Barringer, favored by Gordon and recognized as a sound organizer and disciplinarian, was promoted over the colonels, bypassing the rank of colonel to command the brigade as a brigadier general.

General Barringer performed well during the 1864 campaigns, leading Rooney Lee’s Division due to Lee’s illness during the victorious battle of 2nd Reams’s Station on August 25, 1864. He led his brigade in other fights, including Davis’s Farm, the Wilson-Kautz Raid, and Wade Hampton’s “Beef-Steak” Raid.

At the opening of the 1865 campaign, General Barringer was conspicuous in the Battle of Dinwiddie Court House (Chamberlain’s Bed), Five Forks, and Namozine Church, where a band of Maj. Henry Young’s scouts, disguised as Confederates, captured him on April 3, 1865. He was taken to Phil Sheridan’s headquarters, where he breakfasted with the Union general. He was then sent to Petersburg and to City Point, and was at City Point on April 5, when President Lincoln visited. Barringer was the first Confederate general officer captured and brought to City Point, and Lincoln, hearing the name Barringer of North Carolina, asked that Barringer be brought to see him. Lincoln thought that the prisoner might be his old friend Moreau Barringer. The two men had a congenial conversation for a period of time. Lincoln gave Barringer a note of introduction to Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, since Barringer was being sent to the Old Capitol Prison in Washington. Barringer then met with Stanton for short periods over several days. Stanton had to clear out the prison because many prisoners were being received and gave Barringer the choice of prisons to be sent to. The hapless Barringer chose Fort Delaware—the worst choice he could have made.

Barringer arrived at Fort Delaware and stayed there until July 25, 1865, even though he made numerous attempts to obtain a release. After his release, he went to Washington in an unsuccessful attempt to obtain his pardon, and then went home to Concord, North Carolina. Moving to Charlotte during the post war period, he became a “Radical” Republican and strongly supported Reconstruction and was condemned by the Democratic press as a “traitor to his state.” D. H. Hill termed Barringer, and other Republicans, especially James Longstreet, as “lepers in their own community.” Hill, an elder of the First Presbyterian Church of Charlotte, refused to serve Barringer the sacraments at communion, declaring that “Republicans were not fit to sit at the Lord’s Table.” Barringer, angered at such treatment, transferred his membership to the Second Presbyterian Church and became an elder. A fearless politician, Barringer boldly stood his ground and supported black suffrage and other progressive measures to better the lives of the common people.

In 1880, Rufus Barringer was the Republican candidate for Lt. Governor, and was defeated along with Republican gubernatorial candidate Ralph Buxton, even though they nearly carried Barringer’s Democratic district. During the 1888 national election, Barringer switched parties, supporting Democrat Grover Cleveland for president. Suddenly, he was a hero to the Democratic Press, and remained so for the rest of his life. He died of stomach cancer on February 3, 1895 and was buried in Elmwood Cemetery in Charlotte.

Thanks to Butch for the excellent contribution. Here’s to Rufus Barringer, forgotten Tar Heel cavalryman.

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Comments

  1. Tue 30th Sep 2008 at 9:05 am

    Dear Sir ,
    Superb posting ! Barringer is an unknown who should be known !
    cordially ,
    David Corbett

  2. Annie
    Thu 30th Oct 2008 at 10:47 am

    Sir,
    I am a historical interpreter at Fort Delaware. I working to fill in the various information gaps we have about the prisoners. We have very little information on Barrigner, save to know that he was actually here. If you have any old diaries, letters, enlistment forms, et.al that you would be willing to make copies of, we would be very grateful. Is it possible for you to contact me through this site? Thank you!

  3. B. Jones
    Mon 12th Jan 2009 at 6:41 pm

    I think my great great grandfather served under him. Philemon Morris Ritch. Does mounted division mean most everyone had horses? Family lore has it that after the war was over my gggrandfather had his horse stolen from him in Va. and had to walk back to Charlotte. I have a photo of him.

  4. mike miller
    Tue 22nd Sep 2009 at 10:23 am

    thanks too!! these are the Barringers that OWN the famous Meteor Crater out in Arizona. I was told in a telephone conversation in 1991 with the above Rufus’s grandson, John Paul Barringer (d.1996), that a Colonel Barringer was dispatched to Arizona to help quell the Indian resistence, saw the famous crater, and appropriated as his own. I am researching the Indian’s claim on the crater for personal interest. Daniel Moreau Barringer is credited with filing a mining claim on the crater and gaining ownership that way. So I am trying to sort things all out… Also, Barringer High School, in Newark, New Jersey is listed as the second oldest (or third…) public high school in the nation, named after William A. Barringer, who may be in the same family. Oh well, more into craters, than Barringers, but it is interesting to look things up, especially since the famous crater is still owned by this family.

  5. mike miller
    Tue 22nd Sep 2009 at 10:28 am

    oh yeah, forgot to add…the Indians in Arizona were so upset at this, as yet, not accurately identified Colonel Barringer, that they sneaked in and STOLE his daughter (the sister of the John Paul Barringer with whom I spoke on the phone and who told me this story). Colonel Barringer’s wife (unidentified also) got a party of soldiers together and raided the Indian camp – and recovered her daughter! – killing seven Indians in the process. J.P. Barringer told me that the Indians erected a monument to the mother’s bravery. Vaguely I seem to think that this monument is on the other rim of the Crater than is located the present Barringer Visitor Center. But I can’t find anything about it online….I’d have to go there sometime I suppose….

  6. Ed Thorne
    Sun 04th Oct 2009 at 12:21 pm

    Question for B. Jones about Philemon Morris Ritch. I am connected with the Ritch Family. Philemon’s mother was Elizabeth Morris and his father was Elijah. They appear in the 1850 Federal Census under the name “Rich”. I have some questions and would like to contact you. Would you please send me an email: edward_thorne@yahoo.com. Thank you.

  7. Roger Russell
    Thu 08th Oct 2009 at 7:40 pm

    My g-grandfather, Whitson Russell, was with Rufus at Nanzomine Church and managed to escape,and was captured the next day at Aberdeen Church, Virginia.
    I had two great grandfathers at Five Forks with Gen. Barringer, Whitson Russell with the Calvary and Jesse J. Whitley with the Infantry.
    I have visited Gen. Barringer’s grave at Elmwood Cemetery.
    This article gives a great background for Him.

  8. Sat 20th Aug 2011 at 12:09 pm

    Rufus Clay Barringer is my 1st cousin 5x removed on my grandmother Shoe side. I am very PROUD of my ancestor!!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. Valerie Jean Sweet
    Mon 09th Apr 2012 at 4:28 pm

    My granfather was Olin Rufus Barringer, d. 1980. from Oklahoma. I believe General Barringer was his grandfather. I have a photo album of many of the Barringers my grandmother left me. Would like someone to get in touch with me regarding the heritag we may share.

  10. Lewis T. Barringer, Jr.
    Mon 16th Jul 2012 at 11:33 am

    I am very glad that I stumbled across your very interesting posting on Rufus Barringer.
    I am descended from the John Paul Barringer, who immigrated to Pennsylvania in 1743, and Elizabeth Eisman. Where as Rufus was descended from Barringer’s second wife, Elizabeth Blackwelder. As a consequence of this more distant link, I know very little of Rufus or his siblings.
    Since your 2008 posting, have you written more on the North Carolina Barringers? Could you refer me to other sources?

  11. Larry David Welch
    Tue 09th Oct 2012 at 10:28 pm

    I also am the 5th Great Grandson of John Paul Barringer. And cousin to Gen. Rufus C. Barringer, I four years ago started a Chapter of The Sons of Confederate Veterans, named The Cabarrus Rangers, Gen. Rufus C, Barringer camp 2318. We have been very sucessful in our cause and that is to honor him and his men from Cabarrus Co. N.C. And cousin Butch has done a great job in trying to honor our ancestor.Please feel free to contact me I am in NORTH CAROLINA, and would love to sign you to our ORGANIZATION. Yours For The Cause…

  12. Wed 30th Jan 2013 at 4:26 pm

    Valerie Jean Sweet. lease contact me at butchbar@verizon.net. I have some photos of the Barringer line that we might be able to match up. Thanks.
    Butch Barringer

  13. Tim Young
    Tue 18th Mar 2014 at 10:14 pm

    I am a decedent of Roxanna Coleman (slave and mother of Warren C Coleman). Do anyone have any information on Roxanna, i.e. where she was born, mother’s name or genealogy. Thank you.

  14. Tim Young
    Tue 18th Mar 2014 at 10:15 pm

    tyoung9043@charter.net

  15. Butch Barringer
    Fri 11th Jul 2014 at 5:33 pm

    Tim Young, please get in touch with me at butchbar@verizon.net. I may have some info for you.

  16. Norman J. McCullough
    Mon 05th Jan 2015 at 12:17 am

    Please be informed that Mr. Coleman’s church, Price Memorial AME Zion is thinking about a tour of the Coleman estate, including his textile mill. It may take place on April 4, 2015, the month and day of his funeral.
    Anyone interested, please contact me at normanmccullough1@aol.com. Thanks.

  17. Mike Banks
    Sun 29th Mar 2015 at 10:17 pm

    My GGgrandfather William Henry Banks served in the 5th NC Cavalry regiment under General Rufus Barringer. William was captured April 2,1865 near Petersburge,Va.

  18. TONIA BARRINGER
    Sat 04th Mar 2017 at 8:31 pm

    My husband is Paul Brandon Barringer II. His great great grandfather was General Rufus Barringer. We have his original portrait in our house, as well as that of Eugenia Morrison Barringer, his wife who died young. This post is a bit old, but I have some family tree info that I could dig up if there is still interest. Tonia Barringer

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