April 5: Joseph K. Barnes (1883)

At a turbulent time in the nation’s history, Joseph K. Barnes served honorably as the 12th Surgeon General of the U.S. Army. His father, Judge Joseph Barnes had served for many years in the Philadelphia district court. The name Joseph had been used in his family for several generations. The middle initial “K” didn’t stand for anything, but was just something he inserted to distinguish himself from his father. His son and grandson bore the name Joseph, although both had middle names. Both of them followed in his army footsteps. In May 1862 after Barnes was ordered to report to Washington, he formed the acquaintance of Secretary of War Edwin Stanton. This might have been the connection that brought Barnes to Epiphany, although the first official record of his presence doesn’t come until his son’s confirmation in 1868. Three years later, Barnes was baptized and later confirmed before joining Epiphany’s vestry.

After his death, Epiphany’s vestry memorialized Dr. Barnes with this: “For the past eleven years he has been a vestryman of this Parish, zealous at all times in promoting the welfare and the religious and charitable work of the church which he loved, and efficiently aiding by judicious counsel and cooperation all its undertakings. He was eminent, skillful, and successful in his profession as surgeon and physician, and distinguished for great administrative ability as the head of the medical department. He inaugurated the Medical History of the War; he founded the medical museum; and he brought the medical department to the highest state of efficiency. During the troublesome times of the late war, he earned the unbounded confidence of the secretary of war, Mr. Stanton, and held it unshaken to the last. His career was one of honor to himself and of great service to this country.”

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