Captain James Barron, USN
15 September 1768 - 21 April 1851
Captain James Barron, U.S. Navy
Born in Hampton, Virginia., 1768. The younger son of James Barron, a merchant captain who was appointed a Captain in, and later the Commodore of, the Virginia State Navy of the Revolution, and brother of Commodore Samuel Barron, who was born in 1763, and served in the US Navy from 1798 to 1810.
Appointed a Lieutenant in the US Navy, 9 March 1798; Captain, 22 May 1799.
Served during the Naval War with France (1798-1801) first on board United States commanded by Captain John Barry, and later in command of Warren in Barry’s Squadron in the West Indies.
Retained in the Navy under the Peace Establishment Act of 3 March 1801. During the early part of the War with Tripoli commanded President, flagship of the Mediterranean Squadron under Commodore Richard Dale (1801-1802), and New York in the Mediterranean Squadron under Commodore Richard V. Morris (1802-1803), returning in command of Chesapeake from the latter cruise in April 1803.
During the early part of 1804 he was engaged in superintending the building of a gunboat at Hampton, Virginia. On 11 April 1804 he was ordered to command Essex, in which he served in the Mediterranean in the squadron of his brother, Commodore Samuel Barron, in the War with Tripoli, until 22 May 1805, when Commodore Barron turned the Squadron over to Commodore John Rodgers on account of failing health. 29 May 1805 he assumed command of President by order of Commodore Rodgers, and returned to United States in July, bringing back Commodore Barron and Captain Bainbridge of Philadelphia, who had been taken prisoner when Philadelphia was captured, and most of the other officers released from captivity in Tripoli.
In April 1806 he was appointed to the command of the Mediterranean Squadron, and directed to hold himself in readiness to go out in Chesapeake and assume command; informed the vessel would probably sail about June 1. On 26 May 1806 his orders for the Mediterranean were suspended, and he was informed that Chesapeake would probably not be placed in commission until the following spring, and he was given the superintendence of the building of gunboats in Mathews Co., Virginia. In January 1807 his orders for the Mediterranean and the Chesapeake were renewed, and in May he was ordered to sail as soon as the ship was ready for sea.
Chesapeake sailed from Hampton Roads 22 June 1807, and soon after was boarded by an officer of the British Squadron lying near the Capes, who desired to search her for deserters from the British fleet, which Barron refused. Shortly after the return of the officer to his ship, the British frigate Leopard opened fire on Chesapeake, killing three and wounding a number of her men. Chesapeake fired only one gun before striking her colors, after which a British officer came on board and carried off four of her crew. For this unwarranted attack the British Government apologized, returned the men taken from Chesapeake, and paid an indemnity. The command of Chesapeake was given to Captain Decatur, and Barron was court-martialed and sentenced to five years’ suspension without pay or emoluments from 8 February 1808, having been found guilty of the 2nd charge: “For neglecting on the probability of an engagement to clear his ship for action.”
Barron was abroad when his term of suspension expired and is so listed in the Navy Registers through 1818; in those for 1819 and 1820 as not on duty; and for 1821-1824 as at Norfolk, Virginia, apparently residing there, as no evidence of duty is found.
On 2 August 1824 he was ordered to the command of the Philadelphia Navy Yard and Station, and on 2 May 1825 to the command of the Gosport, Virginia, Navy Yard. On 5 November 1828 he was appointed to the command of Guerriere, flagship of the Pacific Squadron, but requested to be relieved for personal reasons and continued in command at Gosport, from which he was again ordered to the command of the Philadelphia Navy Yard and Station on 7 March 1831. He was relieved from the command at Philadelphia by his own request, 1 July 1837, and granted three months’ leave.
From 1838 to 1842 he was on waiting orders. On 31 March 1842 he was ordered to the Naval Asylum at Philadelphia as Governor, from which command he was detached 2 December 1842, with 3 months’ leave, after which he was again on waiting orders until his death, which occurred at Norfolk, Virginia, on 21 April 1851.
Document in the Navy Department Library:
LS dated 4 June 1834, Philadelphia Navy Yard. To Congressman Levi Lincoln. Thanking Lincoln for his efforts to improve naval officer pay and provide for support of widows and orphans of officers.
See also Kennedy, Edmund P.
Born at Hampton, Virginia, 1768. The younger son of James Barron, a merchant Captain who was appointed a Captain in and later the Commodore of the Virginia State Navy of the Revolution and brother of Commodore Samuel Barron, who was born in 1763, and served in the US Navy from 1798 to 1810. Commission sent him July 3.
March 9 Appointed a Lieutenant in the US Navy; informed of appointment March 12.
March 26 Accepted appointment; served in the Naval War with France on the US frigate United States commanded by Captain John Barry, which cruised on the Atlantic Coast, July to September 1798, and later in the West Indies as flagship of a squadron commanded by Barry. The ship sailed for home late in April 1799, arriving Philadelphia 9 May.
May 22 Promoted to Captain; commission dated same day.
June 29 Informed that it was intended that he should act for the present as second in command on board the United States, Captain Barry. The ship sailed for France 1 December, carrying envoys appointed to treat with the French Republic, returning to Philadelphia 3 April 1800, after which she underwent extensive repairs.
April 14 Captain Truxtun granted permission to call him as a member of a Court of Inquiry on the loss of the masts, etc. of the USS Congress.
September 15 Ordered to assumed command of the USS Warren at Norfolk.
September 23 Informed that the Warren had arrived at Boston, and ordered to proceed there immediately and assume command. Served in the West Indies, latter part of Naval War with France.
May 13 Informed that the President would like to retain him under the Peace Establishment Act of 3 March 1801; offered command of the USS President, flagship of Squadron of Commodore Richard Dale, destined for the Mediterranean. Accepted appointment and served on the President in the Mediterranean early part of War with Tripoli.
November 13 Appointed to command the USS Boston in the Mediterranean but did not do so. Apparently returned with Dale in the President, which sailed for home in March 1802, arriving at Norfolk 14 April.
1802 August 13 Addressed as present and ordered to assume command of the USS New York, then laid up in ordinary in the Eastern Branch, Potomac River, and equips her for service in the Mediterranean. Served in the Squadron of Commodore Morris. 6 April 1803 the Commodore shifted his pennant to the New York, and Barron took command of the USS Chesapeake and sailed for home the next day.
August 1 Addressed at Hampton, Virginia., and directed to superintend the building of a gig.
December 21 Appointed to superintend the building of a gunboat the Gosport Navy Yard or at Portsmouth or Norfolk, Virginia., whichever should prove the most convenient place. Informed on 6 January 1804 that he might build it at Hampton. The model of the Messina gunboats sent him 17 January. 17 February directed to complete the gunboat as early as possible as it was to be used as a model.
April 11 Ordered to command the USS Essex. Served in the squadron of his brother, Commodore Samuel Barron, in the Mediterranean letter part of War with Tripoli. Commodore Barron turned over the squadron to Commodore John Rodgers.
May 29 Assumed command of the USS President by order of Commodore Rodgers, to whom Commodore Barron had turned over the squadron on 22 May on account of failing health. Sailed for home 13 July, carrying Commodore Barron, Captain Bainbridge of the late USS Philadelphia and most of the other officers released from captivity in Tripoli. The ship was fired on by Spanish gunboats in the Straits of Gibraltar, to which she replied only by hoisting the Spanish flag under her own. Arrived at Washington in September.
September 17 Addressed commanding the President in the Eastern Branch. Letter of 10 September reporting his return acknowledged. Directed to pay off and discharge the crew and grant the officers 2 weeks leave, and deliver the ship to Captain Tingey, commanding the Washington Navy Yard.
September 18 Ordered after delivering the President to Captain Tingey to repair to Portsmouth, Virginia, and report the best place for the building of a 74 gun ship.
March 27 Addressed at Hampton, Virginia. His opinion on gunboat construction requested.
April 2 Informed he would probably soon be called to take command of the Mediterranean Squadron; to make his arrangements accordingly. 15 April addressed as commanding the Mediterranean Squadron.
April 22 Addressed as present. Directed to hold himself in readiness to go to the Mediterranean in the USS Chesapeake and take command of the Mediterranean Squadron. Informed the ship would probably sail from Washington about June 1, and would call for him at Hampton unless his services were required at Washington.
May 26 Orders for the Mediterranean suspended. Informed the Chesapeake not to sail at present; would probably not be in commission until the following spring.
May 29 Given the superintendency of the building of gunboats to be built in Mathews Co., Virginia.
January 17 Directed to make arrangements for the gunboats he had been superintending and repair to Washington prepared for actual service; to have command of the Chesapeake in the Mediterranean,
May 15 Ordered to proceed direct to the Mediterranean as soon as the Chesapeake was prepared for sea. Other instructions sent him through May. The Chesapeake sailed from Hampton Roads 22 June, and soon after was boarded by an officer of the British Squadron lying near the Capes, who desired to search her for deserters from the British fleet, which was refused by Captain Barron. Shortly after the return of the officer to his ship the British frigate Leopard opened fire on the Chesapeake, killing three and wounding a number of her men. The Chesapeake fired only one gun before striking her colors, after which the British officer returned on board and carried off four of her crew. For this unwarranted attack the British Government apologized, returned the men taken from the Chesapeake and paid an indemnity.
June 26 Addressed at Hampton, Virginia. Informed that Captain Decatur was to take command of the Chesapeake; ordered to deliver to him all letters received from the Department since he had had command of her, and to remain at Hampton until further orders.
June 27 Informed that a Court of Inquiry had been ordered relative to the Chesapeake and the Leopard.
September 12 Informed that the Court of Inquiry had been called; his attendance was required at Norfolk, 5 October.
May 7 Sent copy of sentence of the Court. Guilty of the second charge:” For neglecting on the probability of an engagement to clear his ship for action”, and suspended for 5 years from 8 February 1808, without pay or emoluments. Barron was abroad when his term of suspension expired, and is so stated in the Navy Registers through 1818, in the Registers for 1819 and 1820 as not on duty, and in those for 1821-1824 as at Norfolk, Virginia., apparently residing there, as no record has been found of duty performed there.
July 24 Addressed at Norfolk and ordered to proceed immediately to Washington and report his arrival; the secretary wished to see him on or before 31 July.
August 2 Addressed as present. Ordered to proceed to Philadelphia and assume command of the Navy Yard and Station at that place. Commanded at Philadelphia.
May 2 Addressed at Philadelphia. Ordered to proceed to Gosport, Virginia., and assume command of the Navy Yard there.
September 12 Granted leave until 1 October. Addressed as Commodore.
June 7 Granted 6 weeks’ leave; at expiration to report to the Department. Addressed at Gosport.
July 24 In compliance with request of 18 July permitted to visit the north for the remainder of the summer.
November 5 Appointed to command the USS Guerriere destined as flagship of the Pacific Squadron. Unable to accept on account of personal reasons.
November 12 The circumstances inducing him to ask to be relieved from the order of 5 November regretted; relieved. Continued on duty at Gosport.
March 7 Ordered as soon as he could make the necessary arrangements to proceed to Philadelphia and take command of the Navy Yard and Station at that place.
June 22 Relieved from the command of the Philadelphia Navy Yard and Station from 1 July, agreeable to his request, and granted 3 months’ leave; at expiration to report to the Department.
Waiting for orders.
March 31 Ordered to the Naval Asylum, Philadelphia, as Governor.
December 2 Detached from the Naval Asylum, Philadelphia, 30 November and granted 3 months’ leave.
Waiting for orders.
April 21 Died at Norfolk, Virginia.
Adapted from: "Barron, James, U.S. Navy," produced by Office of Naval Records and Library, not dated, located in James Barron ZB file, Navy Department Library.