NPS Antietam web image.

NPS Gettysburg web image.
Sharpshooter Gardner -- combat veteran, wounded at Antietam and Gettysburg, thrice captured, rescued from being hanged by rebel raiders at Manassas -- served as a recruiter based on Rikers eight months in 1863/64. His great great grandson David Moore, who maintains a Barnard C. Gardner web page, assisted NYCHS in this presentation.

The available records of this brave Union volunteer's two-year journey -- from Long Island to Rikers Island --
through the Civil War's bloodiest battles sketch only an outline. But it provides opportunities to fill the gaps
with interesting relevant information and images conveying the momentous history in which he participated.

Part 2 of 2: From Fredericksburg to Rikers via Gettysburg ©

Click the above version of a National Archives image of Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock to access a NPS Gettysburg National Military Park telling of his key role in that important battle.

Grandson of an impressed American seaman imprisoned at Dartmoor in the War of 1812 and son of a Norristown, N. J., attorney, Winfield Scott Hancock graduated West Point in 1844. When the Civil War broke out, he requested transfer to the front from his California post.

Later his even-handed and unvengeful approach as Texas and Louisiana military governor won him friends among Democrats, notably in the South, and enemies among Republicans, notably the radical reconstructionists.

Hancock lost the Democratic presidential nomination in 1876 to New York Governor Samuel J. Tilden who lost the Presidential contest by one electoral vote to Republican Rutherford B. Hayes.

In 1880, the Democrats did nominate Hancock for President but he lost to former General James A. Garfield by only 9,464 votes in the popular tally.

In 1881, Hancock was elected the sixth president of the National Rifle Association that former Union officers founded in 1871 in New York State to promote marksmanship. He continued in the Army until his death Feb. 9, 1886 on Governor's Island while serving there in command of the Military Division of the Atlantic.

Click on the CSA Major John Singleton Mosby image below for his bio on the John Singleton Mosby Museum web site.

Noteworthy here is that he began studying law while jailed as a result of a shooting incident and eventually was admitted to the Virginia bar.

In 1862, Mosby organized and operated an independent command in Union-occupied Northern Virginia under the Confederacy's Partisan Ranger Law.

Mosby Raiders were volunteers (men on leave from regular army units, convalescents, and civilians unwilling to enlist in the Confederate Army) who provided their own gear, hit Union trains, wagons, pickets, outposts, and small camps, and then mostly dispersed to await another call to action.

In early November, while Sgt. Gardner and his fellow 1st Regiment U.S. Sharp Shooters were on the move to Falmouth near Fredericksburg, they learned that General McClellan had been removed from command of the Army of the Potomac and that General Porter had been removed along with him. Gen. Joseph Hooker took over Porter's role.

McClellan's successor was Gen. Ambrose Everett Burnside. But after defeat at Fredericksburg and the disastrous "Mud March" that followed, Burnside was relieved his Army of the Potomac command on Jan. 25, 1863. Hooker took over the entire command. Gen. George Meade was chosen to relieve Hooker in army command only three days before Gettysburg.

Gardner's third capture happened on June 20th, 1863, during Hooker's tenure while Company H of the 1st USSS was camped near Gum Spring, the east side of the Bull Run Mountains. Barnard, most likely foraging for food west of Gum Spring for his company, may very well have been dressed in civilian clothes, a common practice when engaged in such activities. Soldiers out of uniform were called "Bummers."

CSA Major John Singleton Mosby and his men were active in the area, scouting on behalf of Gen. James Ewell Brown ("Jeb") Stuart, disrupting Union supply lines, and protecting the farms from foragers. Barnard was captured and taken to Camp Spindle, a prisoner camp that Mosby maintained at Hopewell Gap. It was situated north of Thoroughfare Gap between hills, with a stream flowing down the middle -- a natural site for a POW camp due to the steep surrounding terrain. The threat of hanging was used in attempts to extract information from prisoners undergoing interrogation. After being questioned, prisoners would be transported to Richmond via a railroad whose junction was near the camp.

The NY 69th, part of the 2nd Corps under Major General Winfield Scott Hancock based at Centreville, was ordered to take possession of Thoroughfare Gap. The 69th came upon this POW camp by surprise as it probed the high ground around the gap. Barnard was about to be hung, or threatened with hanging, when the NY 69th rescued him and the other POWs held there.

During much of the McClellan -to- Burnside -to- Hooker -to- Meade period, in which the top generals were moved in and out of Army of Potomac command like portable stage props, the immediate commanding officers for Sgt. Gardner and his fellow 1st Regiment U.S. Sharp Shooters stayed much the same: Colonel/later Major General Hiram Berdan, Captain/later Lt. Colonel Casper Trepp and Captain/later Major George G. Hastings,

Trepp's role rates special note because the sharpshooter regiments' establishment may be credited as much to him as to Berdan. The latter had the name recognition, the money and the political connections to make happen the idea they both had in common, apparently each on his own -- that of recruiting a volunteer force of mobile marksmen squads. Of the two men, Trepp seems to have put the notion into print first, with a June 1861 article in a New York newspaper. But Berdan too published a similar suggestion, at almost the same time.

Since they were of like mind on initiating the regiments, the two men -- despite being quite different in taste and temperament -- made common cause to bring about the desired result. However, several commentators stress that Trepp's military training, experience, discipline and skills -- of which Berdan had none to begin with -- proved to have been critically important in turning the loose collection of fine shooters into a formable fighting force.

Trepp, who began his military career in Switzerland as a drill master under Giuseppi Garibaldi and saw combat as a British army infantry captain during the Crimean War, was killed at Mine Run in November 1863, while making observations at the front -- shot through the head. He is buried in New York City.

While some critics suggest Berdan was a bit fond of having the spotlight on himself, Trepp seems have earned the reputation of being "soul of the sharpshooter regiments" because he inspired and embodied the disciplined skirmisher focused on the mission, not the headlines.

His communiques could, on one hand, include praise for even lowly privates whose deeds were worthy of note and, on the other hand, could pointedly take issue with command stupidity causing unnecessary waste of lives. For example, his required report to headquarters his on the action of his 1st USSS Regiment at Gettysburg July 2, 1863:

For more about Gettysburg's Peach Orchard near where both Sgt. Gardner and Major Gen. Daniel Sickles were wounded separately July 2 (the latter losing his right leg, the former suffering a clean wound in the right shoulder), click the version above of a National Park Service image of the Peach Orchard and Emmitsburg Road.

For more on 1st USSS forays of the kind in which Gardner participated at Gettysburg, click the version below of a National Park Service image of the woods owned then by farmer Samuel Pitzer.

Into that plot of oaks and maples at the southern tip of Seminary Ridge a little before midday, 1st USSS units were ordered to scout out the position of Longstreet's Corps. A fight ensued and the Sharpshooters were driven back towards Little Roundtop. Sgt. Gardner was wounded in the right shoulder at the Peach Orchard near Emmitsburg Road and General Daniel Sickles suffered a grave wound to his right leg that was later amputated.

After a fire fight, the Union marksmen reported back the woods on Seminary Ridge were teeming with Confederates. The intelligence was important because it enabled Union forces to adjust deployment in ways that helped achieve victory.

Early in the morning of July 2, . . . I received another order for 100 men for a reconnaissance. Following the aide-de-camp, I conducted this second detachment directly to and followed the road in plain view of the enemy. This detachment might have been marched from the original position to a point where the engagement took place perfectly concealed from view of the enemy and without loss of time. As we marched, the enemy must have seen every man from the time we reached the road until we entered the woods on the Fairfield road, giving the enemy time enough to counter-maneuver. . . .

For this violation of rules of secret expeditions we paid dearly, . . having lost 1 commissioned officer killed, 2 officers wounded, and 16 enlisted men killed, wounded, and missing. . . . I have to call especial attention to the good behavior of this officer [ Capt. J. H. Baker, seriously wounded in the battle ] in all the engagements, and I would respectfully recommend him for decoration or honorable mention. The same of Privates Martin V. Nichols and William H. Nichols, Company H, who distinguished themselves on this and on former occasions by bravery and intelligence.

The tone of the Trepp report on the July 2nd activity is clearly critical of the decision to deploy the riflemen in such visibly open fashion. Some military historians also have been critical of Gen. Sickles' decisions in the field that day. Particularly his unilaterally deciding to abandon the position assigned by Meade and moving his entire corps, the Union army's left flank, forward about a mile to high ground that left key troops at the Peach Orchard dangerously threatened from two directions, west and south.

The result was a disaster for the Union troops there. Had he not been dramatically wounded, losing his leg in the process, his public reputation would have been forever crippled. The general populace in the North hailed him as a hero. But professional military men recognized that his unfitness for field command went beyond his loss of a leg.

Several of Sickles' non-military decisions also were highly questionable. Consider his refusal to toast Queen Victoria at a July 4th dinner in London while serving there as the secretary to the U.S. diplomatic legation to Great Britain. A Tammany Hall political climber, he had resigned as Corporation Counsel in 1855 to take the diplomatic secretaryship. Whatever the impact on U.S. - British relations from his snub to the monarch, it played well with NYC voters. They elected him first to the State Senate in 1856 and then to the U.S. Congress in 1857.

That first Congressional stint by Sickles is most remembered for his fatally shooting Philip Barton Key, the son of the author of our national anthem, in Lafayette Park across from the White House in 1859. Young Keys, a business associate, was killed over his relationship with the Representative's wife. Sickles had married her, against the wishes of both families, in 1852 when she was 17 and he was about twice her age. His murder trial acquittal marked the first successful use of the "temporary insanity" legal defense in U.S. history.

Click the above image of Daniel E. Sickles for more about his fascinating if erratic career -- NYC Corporation Counsel and later Sheriff, NYS senator and assemblyman, U.S. Congressman and Ambassador, Union major general. The image is linked to its source: Michael Robert Patterson's unofficial but very excellent Arlington National Cemetery Website.

After the war, Sickles became military governor of the Carolinas but his performance -- including refusal to comply with a federal court order -- displeased President Andrew Johnson who had him replaced. Sickles' removal was just one of a lengthy series of moves by Johnson that prompted radical reconstructionists to seek to remove the President from office.

Johnson's successor, President Grant, appointed Sickles as ambassador to Spain. There he married a Spanish woman but also reputedly had more than diplomatic interest in deposed Queen Isabella II. He returned to New York to become Sheriff of New York County in 1890 and then was elected again to Congress (1893-1895) where he sponsored the bill creating the Gettysburg National Park (H.R. 8096, on Dec. 6, 1894). Sickles chaired the New York Monuments Commission from 1886 to 1912, when he was removed in an embezzlement scandal.

Trepp's report did not mention by name all the 1st USSR wounded on July 2. If it had, Gardner's name would have been listed. On that date, Barnard -- whom Trepp had promoted to Second Sergeant the preceding April (months even earlier Gardner had served briefly as an Acting Sgt. Major for the entire regiment, an honor even as a temporary rank) -- took a mini-ball through the right shoulder in action at or near the Gettysburg's Peach Orchard.

CW scenes related
to story of Sergeant
Barnard C. Gardner.

To see a scene, click red title.

Col. Hiram Berdan at Weehawken, NJ, rifle range. From Harper's Weekly.

Weehawken, N. J., train depot, circa 1861. Gardner's USSS company left from depot for Washington September, 1861.

Illustration of USSS Camp of Instruction. Note Capitol in background.

Map detail showing Berdan Camp of Instruction site. From CW era map of Washington.

Stoneman's Switch camp near Falmouth, Va. Hilltop where 1st & 2nd USSS spent the winter/spring of 1862/3.

Typical scene at USSS camp near Falmouth. Log walls, make-shift box fiddle, barrel slates for flooring, fireplace of mud, sticks and stone.

Blackford's Ford on Potomac River. Near where Barnard was wounded during Battle of Antietam. Rebels were on the opposite riverside.

Although a relatively "clean wound," it hospitalized him for the rest of July and early August. On Aug. 10, Berdan picked 2nd Sgt. Gardner, Quartermaster George A. Marden and a few others to return with him to New York for recruiting purposes. As a recruiter for USSS, Gardner was based first in Brooklyn (at that time not part of NYC) and later on Rikers (at that time part of Queens County which also was not part of NYC).

Rikers Island remained home base to which he was posted, and from which he conducted his recruiting activities, from September 1863 to May 1864 -- eight months, the longest duty continuously from the same base camp since Barnard had joined up in August of 1861. While Rikers was base camp for him, his recruiting outreach might take him anywhere in the New York/Long Island area accessible by the transport available in that era.

Additionally, given his combat experience, his marksman skills, and his Sergeant status, Gardner might well have taken an interest in the training taking place on Rikers with newly mustered-in volunteer units and drafted conscripts. Perhaps he kept a talent scout eye out for potential sharpshooters to encourage to seek transfer to the USSS regiments. Perhaps he might make himself available to teach shooting techniques, the arrangement being sort of quid pro quo -- his skilled instruction in exchange for access to the men.

Sgt. Gardner would have been on Rikers when the 20th and 26th U.S. Colored Troops regiments mustered in and trained there in February 1864. What, if any, contact he might have had with them is not known. The same is so regarding the many other Union units who came and went during Gardner's posting there. These included troops from:

  • The 76th and 98 New York Volunteer Infantry regiments.
  • The 13th and 16th New York Heavy Artillery regiments.
  • The 8th, 13th and 18th New York Cavalry regiments.

Above: monument honoring 1st USSS NY Companies (A, B, D & H), situated on Berdan Avenue, Pitzer's Woods, Gettysburg. Its story involves a bit of bitter irony.

The planning formally began June 27, 1888 with a meeting in Albany of some survivors from those companies. That was followed up with further meetings at the Gettysburg battlefield July 1st, 2nd and 3rd, 1888. But the organization thus formed had to delay action pending a sitdown with NYS Commissioners on Gettysburg Monuments that controlled state money for such projects.

The commission required the proposed design be submitted to it for review and approval before any state funds would be made available. Eventually a proposed design gained approval and the monument was built in time for its dedication to be held on the 1889 anniversary of the bloody July 2 action.

An ironic twist is that the commission to which the July 2nd USSS survivors had to submit their plans was headed by Daniel E. Sickles, the very general whose redeployment decisions that day, contrary to orders, some suggest as being perhaps responsible for such heavy causalities among the sharpshooters.

Sgt. Gardner and his USSS comrades were hardly the only Union combat veterans posted to Rikers during that period for duties involving recruitment and/or conscription services. For example, Brooklyn's 14th Regiment NYS Militia Captain John W. Redding, who had been wounded August 29, 1862 in Battle of 2nd Bull Run, Manassas, (compound fracture of left arm caused by a shell fragment), was posted to Rikers for conscription service from July 21, 1863 through April 1864.

Another example: Fifty-first New York Infantry Captain Fred McReady of Brooklyn, who also had seen action at 2nd Bull Run among other fierce battles, served as a recruiting officer on Rikers from September 1863 to January 1864.

Third example: Samuel B. Pierce -- variously private, corporal and sergeant during his service 1862-1865 -- rendered recruiting duty in NYC and on Rikers from July 1863 to mid-May 1864 for the 6th NY Heavy Artillery.

What was the Union Army unit of soldier buried on Rikers?

Still being researched is the military unit ID listed in the census entry for Pvt. Harry Johnson that reported him as having died and been buried on Rikers in April 1864: "29th Col. Vol."

That abbreviation has been used elsewhere in various CW soldier records for the 29th Colored Volunteers out of Connecticut. That interpretation of "29th Col. Vol." raises questions how a Coxsackie man came to be in a Connecticut unit and on Rikers. Information to resolve the questions would be appreciated.
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During Gardner's stay on Rikers at least two Union soldier died on the island and were buried there, according 1865 census records of their home communities now on-line:

* - 29th Col. Vol. Pvt. Harry Johnson, 45, from Coxsackie, N. Y, in April 1864, from a "sickness not acquired in the service."

* - 89th NY Pvt. William Howard, 18, from Union, Broome County, N. Y., in March 1864 from a "sickness acquired in service."

Gardner's Rikers posting ended in early May 1864 after he had been diagnosed as having contracted tuberculosis. Barnard was sent to Augur General Hospital in Alexandria. He remained ill even after the company mustered out on Sept. 15, 1864.

After the war, he continued to suffer with kidney and bladder infections, rheumatism, and tape worms. In a letter to his future bride, written in February of 1865, Barnard mentioned his weight as 120 pounds. He was not yet 25 years old. The war had taken its toll. Gone forever were the days his once-fleet feet could win foot races in regimental tournaments or help him flee rebel captors.

Barnard returned to Long Island to join his family after his company mustered-out.

A Feb. 12, 1865 letter written by Barnard from Deer Park, L. I., to Hattie Lewis in Albany reveals something about Gardner's character that helps explain what his military superiors saw in him to keep promoting him in NCO ranks -- his sense of responsibility and his real regard for his comrades in arms:

I have been sitting up with a sick man here. The poor fellow only lived two days after I arrived. He was buried yesterday and I assisted the family all I could in arranging for the funeral at the Presbyterian Church.

I left nothing undone that could be done for them. I came home last night with a light heart thinking I had done my duty towards my fellow man. I always make it my duty to tend the sick and dead and help the mourners all I can. His family wanted to pay me for my trouble but I told them no, I wanted nothing for all I had done was free will and they were welcome to what I deemed as my duty to do for any and all.

In another passage of the letter, he wrote:
From the Family
Album of Sergeant
Barnard C. Gardner.

To see a scene, click red title.

Kind of Victorian homes that Gardner and father built on L. I. with materials from "Dix Hills Lumber Company."

Typical antebellum meat market to which part-time hunter Barnard sold the LI waterfowl he bagged to earn extra money for family.

Barnard, wife Hattie & grown children: Neilie, Lizzie, Julia, and Matie.

Barnard and Hattie. Taken at their Addison, NY, home after 1890.

Retired Sgt. Gardner with his Addison youth drill team. Very active in his community, Barnard formed a youth drill team that showed their skills at patriotic events such as held on Memorial Day.

Barnard with fellow Grand Army of the Republic comrade.

Gardner with comrades when young. Photo -- showing Barnard seated right and his cousin Charles Bort, a dispatch rider, standing -- was taken in spring of 1863 near the Stoneman's Switch camp, Va.

Gardner with comrades when old. Photo -- showing Barnard standing right with two GAR reunion comrades -- was taken in Philadelphia in 1890. The man in the center wears a Pennsylvania Bucktail hat. Gardner, though active with the West Angle GAR Post #372 in Addison, NY, was an honorary member of the Bucktails.

Overhead view of Gardner tombstone.

Close-up view of Gardner tombstone. Note variation in spelling of his rank.

The country air here and hard work has helped me amazingly. I received a letter today from an old comrade of mine who I thought was dead. He was a sergeant in the same company with me. His name is Horace Smith and lives in Willsboro, Essex County, New York. He was wounded and taken prisoner and I heard afterwards that he was dead. I mourned his loss but the brave fellow has lived to get home again. He got home on the 9th of October and me on the 10th. I assure you I was pleased to hear from him and I expect him down to see me within two weeks. I shall be delighted to meet him again as I can't hardly wait for the time to come. I always love to meet a brave man and serious soldier.

On March 26, 1866 Barnard married Hattie in Albany. They lived in Schenectady and Amsterdam, NY, where Barnard worked in the furniture business. His great great grandson David Moore has Barnard's desk that he made during this time period.

Eventually Barnard and Hattie settled in Addison, NY, where he continued in the construction business with his father and brothers. His parents settled in nearby Tuscarora as early as 1870.

Barnard and Hattie raised 5 children and were members of the Adams Center Baptist Church. Barnard joined the local West Angle GAR post (#372) and the Addison Lodge of the Odd Fellows. He formed a drill team for boys and worked with the youth of Addison every year for Memorial Day celebrations.

Barnard was also an honorary member of the Pennsylvania Bucktails and attended their reunions. The Bucktails and Sharpshooters fought side-by-side in many engagements.

Barnard became post commander of GAR Post #372 in May 1902 (age 60 years) and continued his work to help orphans and widows of the war. Barnard attended GAR reunions in Albany and Philadelphia (1890).

Gardner died June 7, 1910 following a fall from a construction project in Addison. He was 68. Burial took place in Addison Rural Cemetery.

This presentation mentions the careers of three Union generals, two of whom commanded forces that included Gardner's unit and one of whom commanded forces that included Gardner's rescuers. These three generals also engaged New Yorkers' attention for many years after the Civil War:
  • Fitz John Porter, Police Commissioner when NYC first bought and developed Rikers as an inmate farm colony;
  • Winfield Scott Hancock, the Democrats' narrowly unsuccessful Presidential candidate who later commanded Atlantic region military from Governor's Island;
  • Daniel E. Sickles, NYC Sheriff whose later NYS Monuments Commission chairmanship ended under a cloud.

But the focus of this presentation is not on them; it's on a frontline combat sergeant. The story of Barnard C. Gardner's sojourn from Long Island to Rikers Island through some of the fiercest fighting of the war is a saga of survival -- surviving shot and shell coming from in front of him, surviving the swagger and stupidity of some (not all or even most) brass over him.

To Part 1 of 2: From Long Island to Antietam

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© NYCHS reserves and retains all rights to the text other than quoted excerpts. Non-commercial educational use permitted provided NYCHS and/or its web site -- -- is credited as the source. NYCHS acknowledges and appreciates the assistance of David Moore in providing information and guidance for this presentation about his great great grandfather. Visit his Barnard C. Gardner web page for additional details.