At Gettysburg in the late afternoon of Thursday, July 2, 1863, the 10th Virginia Infantry found itself in an unenviable position: it was the extreme left flank regiment of the Army of Northern Virginia. The Confederates had been in position looking across Rock Creek to the heights of Culp's Hill for some time now, wondering why they had not yet gone in, all the while hearing the sounds of the Federals improving their position. Lt. Randolph McKim, on the staff of Brig. Gen. George H. “Maryland” Steuart's brigade, observed: “Greatly did officers and men marvel as morning, noon, and afternoon passed in inaction – on our part, not the enemy's, for, as we well knew, he was playing axe and pick and shovel in fortifying a position which was already sufficiently formidable."
|Somewhere in Company K of the 10th Virginia was Pvt. Benjamin Franklin Barham. His division had arrived on the first day's field near dusk the evening of July 1, too late to join in any action. Late that night they had moved along the Gettysburg and York railroad to the northeast of town, where they drew up east of Rock Creek and waited. Here they represented the far left of the Confederate line.|
The battlefield events here on the Confederate left are well-documented and only a summary need be presented here. The main purpose is to take a macro look at one regiment's – the 10th Virginia's – activities to illustrate what one particular soldier, Benjamin Franklin Barham, might have experienced on the lower slopes of the south crest of Culp's Hill.
The 10th Virginia, commanded by Col. Edward Tiffin Harrison Warren, consisted of some 150 men and belonged to Brig. Gen. George H. Steuart's brigade. The other regiments in the brigade were the 1st Maryland Battalion, 1st and 3rd North Carolina, and the 23rd and 37th Virginia. Steuart's brigade was one of four brigades in the division of Maj. Gen. Edward “Clubby” Johnson, the others being Nicholl's brigade (under Col. J.M. Williams), the Stonewall Brigade under Brig. Gen. James A. “Stonewall Jim” Walker, and Brig. Gen. John M. Jones' brigade. Along with Johnson, the divisions of Maj. Gen. Jubal A. Early and Robert E. Rodes comprised Lt. Gen. Richard Ewell's Second Corps.
The afternoon of July 2, Ewell was ordered to provide a demonstration simultaneous with Lt. Gen. James Longstreet's First Corps attack on the right, to be converted into a real attack if the situation warranted. Around 4:00 p.m., Ewell ordered his artillery to open from Benner's Hill, followed around 6:00 p.m. by a general advance of the infantry. Johnson's division went in first, on the left, followed by two brigades of Early's division to their right, confronting Cemetery Hill. Ewell's third division, Rodes', did not advance to the attack. In Johnson's division, the brigades of Steuart, Nicholls (Williams), and Jones went in (left to right), with Walker's Stonewall Brigade guarding the army's left.
As Steuart's brigade, the leftmost, splashed across Rock Creek, its right wing (1st Maryland Battalion and 3rd North Carolina) was slightly in advance, contacting the enemy first and becoming separated from the left regiments by the terrain.The left wing (left to right, 10th, 23rd, and 37th Virginia, with the 1st North Carolina in reserve) encountered somewhat less resistance and in fact found itself beyond the Federal right flank (represented by Col. David Ireland's 137th New York). These four regiments of Steuart's brigades – with the 10th Virginia on the extreme left – forced the Federals from portions of their works and occupied the works left vacant by the departure of elements of the Twelfth Corps sent to bolster the Federal left in the Little Round Top sector.
The key landmark for the 10th on Steuart's left was a stone wall, slightly south of the lower crest of Culp's Hill, which ran at a right angle up from Rock Creek to the main line of Federal works. The wall formed a guide for the men of the 10th Virginia on the left of Steuart's brigade. As darkness fell, Confederate and Federal troops blundered around. Confusion reigned in the sector of the field as evidenced by Colonel Warren's almost incoherent report, written about a week after the fight:
“To ascertain the true state of things + thinking the enemy was all south of the stone wall referred to I changed my front forward to the wall + then moved to the left flank along the wall + until I supposed I had partially gained their rear when I opened fire + drove that part of his line back, but finding the enemy in my own rear I was compelled to change front to rear + perpendicular to the wall in which position I received + and repulsed a bayonet charge made by one of the enemy's regiments which suddenly emerged from the woods to my left + front, thinking he was in force in that direction I changed my position to the south side of the stone wall facing west, but in a little while his fire having ceased and apparently having retired from our immediate front I ordered the brigade back to the works + reformed the line.”
At length the lines settled into an uneasy quiet and remained so from about 11:00 p.m. until early dawn of July 3. The 10th Virginia unwittingly found itself a mere 400-500 yards from the Baltimore Pike and the heart of the Federal rear. On Gen. Robert E. Lee's order, Ewell had directed another attack at daylight. But the Federals, knowing what they had lost even if the Confederates were unaware what they had gained, opened up first, to try to regain their positions that had been taken the night before. Ewell had reinforced the attack with three more brigades, borrowed from Early's and Rodes' divisions. According to Johnson's report, the Confederates made three determined assaults. Initially, the 10th started out in line where they had laid on their arms the night before. Sometime around mid-morning, the 10th was shifted out of the line and deployed as skirmishers to protect the brigade's left flank beyond Spangler's Spring. Despite their reinforcements, the Confederate effort against Culp's Hill was more than flesh and blood could accomplish. Johnson wrote: “The enemy were too securely entrenched and in too great numbers to be dislodged by the force at my command.”
The severe fighting died out by mid-day, and the Confederates withdrew to Rock Creek, where they remained until dark. Later in the evening of July 3, Ewell pulled his corps back through Gettysburg, to the first day's field where they rested quietly on the 4th of July. On July 5th the Confederates began the trek back to Virginia.
The battle had been costly to the 10th Virginia. According to Warren, his losses were 4 killed; 24 wounded; and 31 captured/missing; total 59, for a loss rate of 39 percent of 150 engaged. The mood in the 10th must have been somber. One of Ben's comrades, Lt. G. B. Samuels, summed it up well in a letter home written shortly after the battle: “You have probably heard all of the particulars of the terrible battles around Gettysburg – the battle was a drawn fight, though in reality it has had all the bad results of a defeat.”
Private Barham's personal role in the battle is lost in the mists of history – Ben is not specifically mentioned in any official report, nor are there any known diaries or letters that mention his actions. Where he specifically fought, how many shots he fired, what near-misses he experienced, whether he quenched his thirst or comingled with Federal soldiers at Spangler's Spring, are now unknown, but he could be any of thousands of soldiers from either side.
Ben survived Gettysburg and indeed survived the war, apparently unwounded, although he was captured with most of his regiment on May 12, 1864, at the eastern front of the Mule Shoe at Spotsylvania. Ben spent the last year of the war as a prisoner, initially at Point Lookout, Maryland, before being transferred to the prison camp at Elmira, New York. He was released under Oath of Allegiance in June, 1865.
Although no details are known of Benjamin Franklin Barham's Gettysburg experience, more is known about his life. He was born March 15, 1844, in or near the town of Luray, in Page County, Virginia, the fourth of seven children of Francis Barham, and Mary M. Lamberson (Lammerson) Barham. He was of “fair complexion, light hair, blue eyes, 5' 10”.”
Shortly after he returned home from the war, Ben headed west to Licking County, Ohio,. The accompanying photograph, in which Ben is wearing uniform trousers, was taken shortly after the war in Newport, Licking County, Ohio. It was in Ohio that Ben met and in 1870 married his first of two wives, Mary Catherine Ruffner. Remaining in the area for about eight years (five of his eight children were born in Ohio), the couple returned to Virginia in 1878, shortly after the death of Ben's father in 1877. Ben and Mary's next two children were born in Virginia, Francis (1878) and Asa (1880), the former evidently named after Ben's recently deceased father. Ben and Mary moved to Hamburg, near Luray, Virginia, possibly because Ben's father had lived there. Ben worked as a plasterer, as had his father before him, and also worked as a roofer and general repairman for the rest of his life.
|Family lore has it that Ben was somewhat of a wanderer. Supposedly in 1883 Ben and several friends planned to travel to Texas to try their luck. While there is no further record actually placing him in Texas, the fact remains that there is virtually no record of Ben in Page County between 1883 and 1892. In fact, Mary executed a deed for a property in 1887 without Ben being there. Ben's probable absence is further reinforced by the fact that the couple had had seven children in their first eleven years of marriage (1870-1880), then no more offspring. Ben returned to Page County in early 1892, but that fall, a double tragedy struck: their son Hubert died of typhoid fever in October, then two weeks later the forty-nine-year-old Mary also died of Typhoid Fever. Mary and Hubert are interred in Green Hill Cemetery on Main Street in Luray.||Webmaster's Note: The following item appeared in the Page News & Courier, Feb.1,1883, P.3 C.1
"We understand that another party of young men of this community, consisting of Mssrs. John Butler, B. F. Barham, John Walter, A. J. Melton and Frank P. Smith will leave for Texas next week, some of them having already purchased their tickets. We regret to see so much good muscle withdrawing its strength from our workshops and farms and seeking employment abroad, but hope they will do well and prosper. Texas is a big state boys."
Ben remained in Hamburg, Virginia, after Mary's death. Their daughter, Luella, had married and was living in Sperryville, Virginia, in 1893. Ben visited Luella often and through her met one of Luella's friends, Carrie Lee Woodard. In June 1895 the fifty-one-year-old Ben and the eighteen-year-old Carrie were married in Washington, D.C., and settled back in Hamburg. Supposedly, Carrie's family was so opposed to the union, owing to the age difference, that Carrie's mother never spoke to Ben again.
|As in his first marriage, Ben and Carrie also had eight children. Five survived to adulthood. Ben's two youngest sons from his first marriage lived with them until they were old enough to depart. In fact, Ben and Carrie's last children – twins who unfortunately died within a day of birth-were born in 1912 when Ben was sixty-eight-years of age.Despite being a family man, Ben's wanderlust continued. He was often gone “looking for work” and over the next several years Ben and Carrie resided in at least six separate homes: Hamburg; “Little” Washington (Rappahannock County); Sperryville; Washington, D.C.; Culpeper; and again in Washington, D.C., where their final residence was in the Benning section of Southeast Washington at 102 Ridge Road. On November 18, 1919, the seventy-five-year-old veteran of the Army of Northern Virginia died in Washington, D.C. He was soon laid to rest in, of all places, Arlington National Cemetery.|
How did a former Rebel come to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery? Keep in mind that this cemetery was originally established as retribution against the Confederate States of America in general and Robert E. Lee in particular. The property was confiscated by the U.S. Government for nonpayment of “delinquent taxes” from the Lee family and used beginning as early as May 1864 as a burial place for Union dead, and achieved national cemetery status in June 1864. Over the decades following the war, however, the enmity between the North and the South slowly faded. Then, perhaps due to the nationalism that occurred during the Spanish-American War in 1898, in which numerous former Confederates served in the U.S. Armed forces, the old enemies largely “officially” reconciled. In June 1900 Congress authorized a section of Arlington National Cemetery be reserved for Confederate dead, and by December 31, 1901, all individual Confederate soldiers scattered throughout Arlington (plus those from the national cemetery at Alexandria, and the Soldier's Home in Washington) had been reinterred in the new Confederate section. Of the total of 482 graves, there are 46 officers, 351 enlisted, 15 southern civilians, 12 unknowns, and 58 wives. Gravestones in the section have distinctive pointed tops, obstensibly to “keep Yankees from sitting on them.”
The United Daughters of the Confederacy petitioned the government for permission to erect a major monument in the Confederate section of Arlington National Cemetery to honor the Confederate dead. The monument, designed by Confederate veteran Moses Ezekial, was dedicated on June 4, 1914, with President Woodrow Wilson delivering the keynote address. The thirty-two-foot monument is a work of art, capped by a larger-than-life figure of a woman representing the South. In her left hand is a laurel wreath extending southward. The sides are covered with friezes of Confederate States coats of arms, various life-sized figures, and six vignettes showing the effects of the war on the people of the South. Various inscriptions decorate the base of the monument.Benjamin Franklin Barham is buried in the Confederate Circle, Section 16, Grave 195-A, of Arlington National Cemetery. Again, family lore suggests that the choice of burial locations – Arlington – may have had more to do with limited finances rather than any other concerns or affiliations. Ben's second wife, Carrie Lee Woodard Barham, survived well into her nineties, dying on September 13, 1974. She is buried at Cedar Hill Cemetery in Suitland, Maryland, for whatever reason not choosing to be interred with her husband at Arlington.
Ben does not rest far from several of his comrades. Also buried in the Confederate Section of Arlington National Cemetery are five other privates of the 10th Virginia: George W. Amiss, Company C; James Hoffman, Company I; Albert L. McAllister, Company I; John N. Meeks, Company F; Thurston Wolfe, Company I. All, like Ben, were post-war burials.
In the end, Union and Confederate differences matter little; Ben rests in peace in a unified nation in Arlington National Cemetery, in the shadow of the Confederate Memorial. The base of the monument contains several inscriptions, perhaps the most poignant being and inscription written by Dr. Randolph Harrison McKim, who as a young First Lieutenant McKim, was an aide-de-camp on General Steuart's staff at Culps Hill:
Not for fame or reward
Not for place or for rank
Not lured by ambition
Or goaded by necessity
But in simple
Obedience to duty
As they understood it
These men suffered all
Dared all – and died
Daniel Woodard, Carrie Lee Woodard Barham's father, my great grandfather,
is also buried in the Confederate Circle, Section 16, Grave 116-A.
He served in Company B, 7th. Virginia Infantry, "The Washington Greys".
(His headstone mistakenly identifies him as "Daniel Woodward", a common error)