Author: Warren F. Spencer


Samuel Barron (1809–1888)

Samuel Barron was a United States and Confederate States naval officer. The son and nephew of United States Navy captains, he was appointed a midshipman at two years old, reported for active duty at six, and sailed aboard the flagship of the Mediterranean fleet before he was eleven. During the Mexican War (1846–1848), Barron commanded the USS Perry on the Pacific coast, and during the 1850s, he served in Washington, D.C., where his courtly manners earned him the nickname, “the Navy diplomat.” Like Robert E. Lee, he opposed secession but joined the Confederacy anyway, and during the American Civil War (1861–1865), he served first on the North Carolina coast and was captured there in 1861 and exchanged in July 1862. In March 1863, he assumed command of the James River Squadron, but spent most of his time in Richmond. At the end of the year, he transferred to Europe, but by this time Britain and France had settled on neutrality and his efforts to build a Confederate fleet there were stymied. Barron did not return to Virginia in time to play much role in the end of the war and eventually retired to a farm in Essex County, where he died in 1888.