On this day in 1861, J. E. B. Stuart resigned from the United States Army, and whoever accepted it—Winfield Scott, maybe—most likely clenched his teeth and muttered, “All the best.” No so with Samuel Barron, a Hampton native who was a U.S. Navy midshipman at two years old (that’s not a typo), who reported for active duty at six, and who sailed aboard the flagship of the Mediterranean fleet before he was eleven. Salt water sluiced through this guy’s veins, and at the start of the Civil War the Navy needed as many like him as it could get. So when Barron decided to offer himself to the Confederacy, instead, Gideon Welles, Lincoln’s secretary of the navy, snorted with rage. Rather than accept Barron’s resignation, he straight-up fired him.
Poor manners, perhaps, but Barron now lives on in a Tumblr! (Let’s see your Tumblr, Mr. Secretary.) The Civil World was created by Friend of the Encyclopedia Henry A. Wiencek, a graduate student at the University of Texas–Austin. Wiencek is interested in the global implications of the war, and because Barron and others like him spent a good chunk of time in London and Paris, shuffling papers and dealing with politics—well, he gives Wiencek the opportunity to explore “the ways in which they challenged, contradicted or transcended the boundaries of their national identity.”
IMAGES: Samuel Barron (Sargeant Memorial Collection, Norfolk Public Library); CSS Stonewall at Ferrol, Spain, March 1865. Barron served on the ship as a lieutenant. (U.S. Naval Historical Center)