Retained documents of Captain Ira McLean Barton, Co. “D” 28th U.S. Infantry, 1868 while posted at Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Loss of a M1866 2nd Allin conversion rifle, and lists of items for his company.
This group of four retained documents came from the papers of 1st Lieutenant (Brevet Colonel, USV) Ira McLean Barton, Co. ‘D,’ 28th U.S. Infantry, posted at Pine Bluffs, Arkansas, dating from May to June of 1868.
- In the first item is an affidavit from two Arkansas citizens who witnessed the accidental loss of a Springfield breechloading rifle and sling by a private in Barton’s Company “D.” , The testimony of John E. Chapin states, “that Private Frederic, Co. “D” 28th U,S. Inft’y while attempting to cross the Sabine River, Arkansas, was compelled to drop his Gun in the river, to prevent himself from being drowned……loss of Gun was not in the slightest degree due to carelessness or neglect…..” Also mentioned in the affidavit is the loss of the rifle sling that was mounted on the rifle. This document being Barton’s hold copy, bears the facsimile signatures of the witness and the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Jefferson Co., Arkansas, Wm. P. Suphuers . Dated at Pine Bluff Ark, May 12th, 1868.
- Ordnance Receipt For transfer of Ordnance Stores, dated 12 May, 1868 to Barton listing 1 Springfield Musket, .58 caliber, 59 Breechloading Rifled Muskets caliber .50 (2nd Allin Conversions), swords, cartridges, accoutrements, various gun parts, etc. and signed by R.W. Barnard, Captain, 28th Infantry.
- Quarterly Return of Ord. and Ord. Stores received by Barton. Dated June 30, 1868, this is the itemized list by category of the very items listed in the previous document. Some of the printed names of items have been scratched out and replaced in manuscript the names of other items such as Bullet Molds scratched for Friction Springs, etc. Rifles by category list Springfield rifled muskets, caliber .58 (Civil War muzzle loaders) and Enfield rifled musket, calibre .577 (also muzzle loading). Under unserviceable in written in “Breechloading Springfield rifled muskets, calibre .50. I have to assume that this being an older form document printed during or shortly after the war, mentions only the primary shoulder arms being used during the war by the regular army. By 1868 nearly all the regiments had received the new 2nd Allin Conversions in .50 caliber, and this place on the document was the only place to add these rifles to the list. The document is signed twice by Lt. Barton. There is a small holing at the junction of the folds in one place only, but the document is sound and can be handled.
- This last document is Abstract of Expenditures, dated “part of 2d Quarter, 1868. and list 500 rounds of centre primed metallic Ball Cartridges, calibre .50.” This is also signed by Barton.
Although just a few documents it records the arms and accoutrements in use by the regular army at this time. It occurs during the period of 3 years when the army reorganized the old regimental system of 3 battalions, and increased the number of regiments from 19 to 40; the 1st battalions remaining that original numbered regiment, and the 2nd and 3rd battalions forming the new regiments.
The 2nd Allin conversions were issued beginning in the late spring-summer of 1867, and would slowing be replaced with the 1868 Springfield breechloading rifles.
The on Springfield Model 1863 listed in company “D”, may have been retained as a forager, or used for training. No ammunition is listed for it in the returns.
Accoutrements and other ordnance stores are Civil War patterns.
Pine Bluff, Arkansas was one of several small garrisons established during the Civil War on the Arkansas River, and the post in Pine Bluff remained while the U.S. Government kept its presence in the South during Reconstruction.
Ira McLean Barton (1839- 1876) originally from Newport, New Hampshire, entered military service during the Civil War as a captain in the 1st NH Infantry, April 0f 1861, a three month regiment. In October of 1861 he was commissioned again captain in the 5th NH regiment, but resigned his commission shortly after as “he could not get along with his commander Col. Edward E. Cross. In August of 1863, Barton, retaining his captaincy joins his new regiment, the 2nd NH Heavy Artillery. I believe it is during this period of Sept. 1863 to Sept. 1864 where he is part of the Maine Coast Guard Co. “B” (invalid corps). By Sept of 1864 he was promoted to Lt. Col., and transferred to the 1st NH HA. At the end of the war Barton was breveted Colonel for faithful and meritorious service during the war.
Shortly after the war, Barton was commissioned a 2nd Lt. in the regular army and assigned to the 19th Infantry in May of 1866, and was transferred to the 28th Infantry (under the army’s new restructuring), in Sept. of 1866. Promoted to 1st Lt., Aug. of 1867, and unassigned in 1869 (The army once again restructuring), and he resigned his commission in October of 1870 at his own request.
After his U.S. Army career, Barton stayed in Little Rock, Arkansas, where he practiced law and became a judge of the Criminal Court of Jefferson County. He served in the state militia for a time and rose to the rank of major general.
According to his death certificate he died in 1876 was termed “Mania a Potu” which is Latin for “madness from drink.
With these original documents I found some material on line that I have included, one is a letter written to him by an unidentified officer returning Barton’s letter, where Barton seems to have a good deal of trouble with, the other denying such. It might be a flaw in Barton’s character shown here in this unidentified letter, and his problem with “drink” that may be part of way he left the 5th NH Volunteers, commanded by a beloved and highly respected Colonel Cross who was killed at Gettysburg, and to this day attempted are made to attain a general’s star for him posthumously.