George W. Barr papers  1855-1865 (bulk 1861-1865)
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Biography

Barr, George W., b. 1832

Rank : Surgeon

Regiment : 64th New York Infantry Regiment (1861-1865)

Service :1861 November 13-1863 February 4

George W. Barr was born in 1832, probably in Gowanda, N.Y., where, until 1865, he owned property adjacent to his father's farm. Barr studied medicine at the Buffalo Medical College and was engaged in private practice in Gowanda in 1861, when, at the relatively youthful age of 29, he was appointed surgeon to the 64th New York Infantry Regiment. Prior to his Civil War service, Barr had sought a medical post with the Russian Army in the Crimea in 1855, but had been refused.

After receiving his commission, Barr had to scramble to organize his medical unit, fighting not only the usual government red tape, but also the corruption and lack of concern for troops exhibited by the regiment's colonel, Thomas J. Parker. Exasperated, Barr considered resigning but instead brought charges against Parker and his brother, Frederick, a quartermaster, which proved instrumental in relieving the embezzling colonel of his command. Barr performed with distinction through the Peninsular Campaign, at Antietam, and Fredericksburg, and served stints as acting brigade and divisional surgeon. Despite these accomplishments, he tried at least twice to resign his post, apparently due to illness, but each time was rejected. He became increasingly disenchanted with the army and the destructiveness of the war following his experiences on the Peninsula and at Antietam, and then, after appearing before the Army examining board, was suddenly dismissed from the service in February, 1863.

During the summer of 1863, Barr went to New York City to gain additional medical training. He then returned to Gowanda until 1865, when he, and later his wife and children, moved to Titusville, Pa., hoping for a more lucrative practice. Barr and his wife Lavinia (Vinnie) Ayer had a daughter, Iris, and a younger son born early in 1862.