Abbreviated Stories

Rufus Barringer almost murdered:

An abbreviated story about how Rufus Barringer was almost murdered long before the Civil war: Rufus Barringer served in the NC House of Delegates in 1848-1850, Then, he served in the State Senate. After one term in the Senate, he bored of serving in the legislature and returned to Concord to practice law again. He was involved in an election campaign in 1849, supporting a democratic candidate running against veteran politician Green W. Caldwell. He authored a couple of slanderous letters against Caldwell which appeared in the local newspapers. Insulted, Caldwell challenged Barringer to a duel. Through negotiations, the duel was narrowly averted. Then, Barringer published the whole exchange of letters (making Caldwell look bad) between he and Caldwell. Caldwell was incensed and one night in Charlotte, he mingled in with a crowd in front of a pizzara. It was dark, men were drinking and smoking cigars when Caldwell approached Barringer in the dark with a small pistol drawn. The two men struggled, shots were fired, three passing though Barringer's long coat and one hitting him in the calf. Wrestling, they stumbled to the ground, were separated, and arrested and hauled off to jail. Barringer was charged with fighting and was fined. Caldwell was fined and jailed for a term of only 20 days. Pressure from the local community of Caldwell's Senate district soon saw Caldwell released from jail after only two days! That's how close Barringer came to being killed in 1850.

Source: Fighting for General Lee: Confederate General Rufus Barringer and the North Carolina Cavalry Brigade. Footnotes enumerated in the book.

Jefferson Davis spends the night at Victor Barringer's home in Concord, N. C.:

There is a Barringer connection to the story of Jefferson Davis's fleeing Richmond on April 2, 1865. It doesn't include General Barringer, but does include his younger brother, Victor. Davis fled Richmond for Danville, heading south, hoping to get to Texas. When he left Danville, he went next to Greensboro, and then to Concord, North Carolina, before proceeding to Charlotte. He, along with members of his staff and Cabinet spent the night of April 18 at Victor Barringer's home in Charlotte.

Source: Fighting for General Lee: Confederate General Rufus Barringer and the North Carolina Cavalry Brigade. Footnotes enumerated in the book.

There is a story of the Lincoln assassination and General Rufus Barringer's possible involvement. Not to get excited, but the story is in error. General Barringer was captured on April 3, 1865 at Namozine Church in Amelia County, Virginia. He was sent to City Point to await transportation to the Old Capitol Prison in Washington. There is a reference in the book, Natural Bent, to General Barringer being at the Old Capitol Prison in Washington when President Lincoln was assassinated. Also, there was supposedly an unruly mob at the prison after the assassination, endangering General Barringer. This is an error in that General Barringer was already at Fort Delaware prison camp by the time of the assassination. Colonel William H. Cheek, of the 1st North Carolina Cavalry, was at the Old Capitol Prison at the time of the assassination. I believe that the author of the Natural Bent, Paul Brandon Barringer, at an advanced age simply got Barringer and Cheek confused. The Natural Bent and other sources claim that Barringer, because of the card Lincoln had given him, was questioned in earnest about a possible involvement in the assassination. This is also an error in that Barringer was never questioned by authorities in this matter. There is no record in any of the Lincoln assassination files of any questioning of General Barringer. There is no record in General Barringer's prison diary of any questioning of him. Sometimes, stories take on a life of their own!

Source: Fighting for General Lee: Confederate General Rufus Barringer and the North Carolina Cavalry Brigade. Footnotes enumerated in the book.

Here's a snippet from the biography, telling of Rufus Barringer's serious wounding at the great Battle of Brandy Station on June 9, 1863:


Captain Rufus Barringer served as acting major of the 1st North Carolina Cavalry during the morning attacks, due to the illness of Major John H. Whitaker.  Wade Hampton deployed 100 dismounted men from his brigade as skirmishers and sharpshooters, including men from the Cobb and Jeff Davis Legions and Companies G & K of the 1st North Carolina, to dislodge the Union sharpshooters and skirmishers, including infantry, from the woods in front of him. The Confederate horse artil­lery was still in danger of cap­ture. Sharpshooters from Col. John L. Black's 1st South Carolina Cavalry Regiment were sent in with the others to aid in attempting to disperse the bluecoats. The dismounted Confederates made a desperate charge to save the artillery, driving the enemy back sever­al hundred yards. Dismounted troopers from Col. Thomas Devin's and Colonel "Grimes" Davis's (now commanded by Maj. William S. McClure) brigades charged the Southern sharpshooters, but were driven back by the remain­ing mounted Confederate cavalry. About 100 more men from the 1st North Carolina Regiment's Companies B, C, D, E, F, and I were then dismounted and sent forward as sharpshooters, when the mounted Confeder­ates were forced back by Federal sharpshooters and retired farther from the woods. It was at this time, while dismounting a squadron of men into position 200 yards south­east of St. James Church, near Mary Emily Gee's house in an effort to protect Beckham's horse artillery, that Rufus Barringer was shot from his horse and seri­ously wounded. A sharpshooter's bullet passed through his upper right jaw and exited through his mouth, resulting in a severe wound to his mouth.  Chief Bugler Henry Litaker and Corporal Walter Monroe Bell, of Company F, both of whom had ridden forward with Captain Barringer, and were within a few feet of him when he was shot, carried their wounded captain from the field.

Source: Fighting for General Lee: Confederate General Rufus Barringer and the North Carolina Cavalry Brigade. Footnotes enumerated in the book.


Here's General Barringer's reaction to receiving the news that President Lincoln was assassinated:

General Barringer was at Fort Delaware prison camp when President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. Here is his record of the events on the day the prisoners at Fort Delaware heard the news.  On April 15, the prisoners awoke to find the flags at the fort at half staff. Rumors began circulating as to the cause of the display. Barringer started for the barracks and was told by a fellow prisoner that Lincoln had been assassinated. There was great excitement in the barracks, and some of the captives seemed buoyed by the news. But, according to Barringer, most of the men were "sad and solemn," and many became alarmed at the prospect of reprisals. Barringer, along with his brother-in-law, Captain Robert Hall Morrison, Jr., were hustled back to the officers' quarters. Barringer recalled that this day was "an awful day."

Source: Fighting for General Lee: Confederate General Rufus Barringer and the North Carolina Cavalry Brigade. Footnotes enumerated in the book.


The day of General Rufus Barringer's capture:


The scene is April 3, 1865--the day of General Rufus Barringer's capture by Phil Sheridan's cavalry.  The day began as the Confederate cavalry, under General Fitzhugh Lee, arrived at Namozine Church in Amelia County, Virginia:

"Immediately after reaching Namozine Church, Gener­als Fitzhugh Lee, Rooney Lee, and Rufus Barringer met where Green Road and Cousins Road intersected. Hold­ing a war council in the saddle, they all realized the moment was critical. Barringer, whose reddish-gray beard covered the scar from the wound received at Brandy Sta­tion, was mounted on a magnificent gray horse as the final Confederate defense council was held. At 5 feet, 6 inches tall, he stood in stark con­trast to the 6-foot, 3-inch, large-framed Rooney Lee.

            General Fitzhugh Lee, commanding all the cavalry, said to his cousin Rooney, "General Lee, you must leave your best brigade here and hold this position to the last. The safety of our army depends upon it, and I will move on in [the] rear of the retreat with the rest of the cavalry." The three generals and the gath­ered staff knew that this order meant the de­struction of the chosen brigade by the overwhelming Federal forces. Rooney Lee instantly turned to his Tar Heel brigade commander and said: "General Barringer, you have heard the orders; you must do that duty here." Barringer interpreted the order "hold this position to the last" as hold to the "last minute," not to the "last man." Facing overwhelming forces, he intended to hold on as long as possible, but not to sacrifice his troopers to annihilation."

Source: Sheridan R. Barringer, Fighting for General Lee: Confederate General Rufus Barringer and the North Carolina Cavalry Brigade. Footnotes enumerated in the book.


Abbreviated story of the opening of railroad service to the western counties of North Carolina and Rufus Barringer's part in it - he helped get the bill though the NC legislature: "The western The counties north of Charlotte and west of Raleigh were enthralled over their having gained train service, and towns began holding celebrations upon the arrival of the first train. On January 4, 1854, Rufus Barringer served as grand marshal of a large celebration of the opening of the Concord-to-Salisbury stretch of track. He led a procession from the courthouse to the depot. Brass bands played, while the first locomotive arrived at 11:00 a.m. The Raleigh Register reported: "In all, 24 hogs, 16 sheep, and assorted other animals were served with 1400 pounds of bread and a ball was held at Murphy's Hall. The huge turnout, at up to 15,000 people, exceeded the barbecue and the sleeping accommodations available." Barringer would remain interested in railroad improvements throughout his life, both as a lawyer for the North Carolina Railroad System, and in serving on various state and county railroad committees." Reference: Fighting for General Lee: Confederate General Rufu Barringer and the North Carolina Cavalry Brigade - Footnotes enumerated in the book.



Abbreviated story of how Captain Barringer loses his prize silk umbrella:


            Sometime after the battle of First Manassas, Capt. Rufus Barringer experienced an interesting incident involving Colonel Robert Ransom, which resulted in the loss of Barringer's prized silk umbrella. Colonel Ransom, a West Point gradu­ate, was a stickler for discipline. While breaking camp on one occasion, Captain Barringer's body servant neglected to pack his handsome silk umbrella with the baggage. After the servant, a 14-year-old Barringer family slave named Alfred "Barringer," who would serve with Barringer for two years, and baggage train had been sent ahead, Barringer discovered the overlooked um­brella and, unwilling to leave it behind, strapped it to his saddle.

            As the regiment passed out of camp, Colonel Ransom and his staff sat on their horses reviewing the marching column. When Captain Barringer rode by at the head of his company, Colonel Ransom called out in loud and preemptory tones, "Captain Barringer, what in hell is that you have on your saddle?" "A silk umbrella," replied Barringer. "A silk umbrella!" shouted the Colonel, "A silk umbrella! Throw it away, Sir! Who ever heard of going to war with a silk umbrella? Throw it away, Sir," adding a string of profane expletives. So it was that Rufus Barringer lost the use of his silk umbrella.

Source: Fighting for General Lee: Confederate General Rufus Barringer and the North Carolina Cavalry Brigade. Footnotes enumerated in the book.