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Image of Joshua Barney.

Image of Joshua Barney.

BARNEY, Joshua, naval officer, b. in Baltimore, Md., 6 July 1759; d. in Pittsburg, Pa., 1 Dec. 1818. He left his father's farm while yet a child to go to sea, and navigated a vessel when but sixteen years old. He was made master's mate of the Hornet, one of the first cruisers fitted out by the continental congress, and took part in Com. Hopkins's descent upon New Providence and capture of British stores, in February, 1776. He was made a lieutenant for gallantry in the action between the schooner Wasp and the British brig Tender in Delaware bay, and was assigned to the sloop Sachem, which captured a British privateer. While prize-master on board a captured vessel he was taken prisoner, but was soon exchanged. In the spring of 1777 he took part on board the Andrew Doria in the defense of the "Delaware." He was lieutenant of the frigate Virginia, which, before she got to sea, ran aground in Chesapeake bay and was captured by the enemy on 30 March, 1778. After having been again exchanged in August , 1778, he joined a privateer which brought into Philadelphia a valuable prize in 1779. He was again captured and exchanged in 1779, and afterward served on board the sloop-of-war Saratoga, and, in the capture of the ship Charming Molly with two brigs, he led the boarding-party. The day after, when he was in charge of one of the prizes, the three vessels were re-taken by the Intrepid of 74 guns.

He was confined in Portsmouth prison until May, 1781, when he made his escape. He was re-taken, but again escaped, and reached Philadelphia in March, 1782. He was placed in command of the Hyder Ally, of 16 guns, fitted out by the state of Pennsylvania, for the purpose of clearing the Delaware of British privateers. On 8 April, 1782, he captured a British sloop of war, the General Monk, of 18 guns, off Cape May, after a severe engagement. For this exploit Capt. Barney was voted a sword by the Pennsylvania legislature. He was made commander of the captured ship. He sailed for France in the General Monk, in November, 1782, with despatches for Dr. Franklin, and returned with the information that preliminaries of peace had been signed, and bringing a large sum lent by the French government. After the war he engaged in commerce and travelled in the west. In 1793 he was captured by an English brig and imprisoned as a pirate. He declined the command of one of the frigates built to resist the depredations of the Algerine corsairs. In 1794 he accompanied Monroe to France, was the bearer of the American flag to the national convention, and entered the service of the French government, which gave him a captain's commission and made him commander of a squadron. In 1800 he resigned and returned to America. In the first year of the war of 1812-15 he engaged in privateering. On 24 April, 1814, he was commissioned a captain in the navy and appointed to the command of the flotilla for the defense of Chesapeake bay. He was ordered to the defence of Washington in July, and severely wounded and taken prisoner in the battle of Bladensburg. For his gallant conduct in the defence of the capital he received a sword from the city of Washington and a vote of thanks from the Georgia legislature. The ball in his thigh was never extracted, and the distress from the wound obliged him to return from a mission to Europe in October, 1815. He resided on his farm at Elkridge until 1818, when, after a visit to the west, he purchased a large tract in Kentucky, and was on the way thither when he was taken ill at Pittsburg and died. See "Memoirs of Commodore Barney" by Mary Barney (Boston, 1832).--His son, John, member of congress from Baltimore from 1825 to 1829, d. in Washington, D.C., 26 Jan., 1856, aged seventy-two years. He left unfinished a record of "Personal Recollections of Men and Things" in America and Europe.

Source: Appletons' Cyclopaedia of American Biography. vol.1. New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1887. [see "Barney, Joshua," pp.171-172.]


Image of Joshua Barney.

Image of Joshua Barney.

BARNEY, Joshua, naval officer, was born in Baltimore, Md., July 6, 1759. He attended school until he was ten years of age, and when thirteen left his father's farm to go to sea, becoming apprentice on a small brig in the Liverpool trade. The captain dying on the last voyage; three years later, young Barney assumed command, and brought the vessel back safely to Baltimore. On the outbreak of the revolution he was appointed master's mate on the sloop Hornet, one of the first cruisers fitted out by the Continental congress, and joined Com. Hopkins's squadron at Philadelphia. He took part in the capture of New Providence and the Bahamas. On his return he was transferred to the Wasp, and won a lieutenancy for gallant conduct in the action between that schooner and the British brig Tender, in Delaware bay. Later he served on the sloop Sachem and frigate Virginia; was captured by the enemy at the mouth of the Chesapeake, March 30, 1778; confined for five months in a prison-ship; exchanged and again captured, to be released by exchange in 1779.


As an officer of the Saratoga, he led the boarders in the capture of the ship Charming Molly and two brigs. The next day the three vessels were recovered by the Intrepid. Barney was taken to England and confined for nearly a year in Mill prison, Plymouth; escaped in May, 1781; was retaken, and again made his escape, this time in the guise of a British officer. He reached Philadelphia in March, 1782, and took command of the Hyder Ali of sixteen guns, equipped for the purpose of clearing the Delaware of British privateers. On Apr. 8, 1782, he captured the General Monk, of eighteen guns, off Cape May, after a hard fight. For this exploit he was voted a sword by the Pennsylvania legislature. In November, 1782, Capt. Barney sailed for France in the General Monk, with despatches to Dr. Franklin relating to the peace negotiations. After the war he engaged in business for a while in Baltimore. In 1795 he entered the French navy, was commissioned "Capitaine de Vaissenu de Premier," corresponding to commodore in U.S. service, in 1796, and was stationed at the West Indies in command of a squadron, to protect French commerce from British cruisers. He resigned in 1800, and returned to Baltimore. On Apr. 12, 1814, he was commissioned captain in the U.S. navy, and appointed to the command of the flotilla for the defense of Chesapeake bay. He took a conspicuous part in the defence of Washington in July and received a severe wound, from which he never fully recovered. For his intrepid conduct he received a sword from the city of Washington and the thanks of the Georgia legislature. He resided on his farm at Eldridge 1815-18. Subsequently he bought a large estate in Kentucky, and was on his way thither, when he was suddenly taken ill at Pittsburg, where he died, Dec. 1, 1818. See "Memoirs of Commodore Barney," by Mary Barney (Boston, 1832). His son, John (1784-1856), was member of congress from Maryland from 1825 to 1829. He left unfinished "Personal recollections of Men and Things."


Source: National Cyclopaedia of American Biography. vol.4. New York: James T. White & Co., 1893. [see "Barney, Joshua," p.167].


07 March 2006