Gettysburg Heartthrobs: the 10 Most Attractive Officers

By Cameron Sauers ’21

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. They do not reflect the position of the Civil War Institute, nor of all CWI Fellows or Civil War enthusiasts. While the author received many names that deserved to be on this list, he regrettably had to choose only ten. That being said, please sit back, relax, and prepare to fall in love with the officers of Gettysburg this Valentine’s Day.

  1. Winfield Scott Hancock
    • Wearing a crisp white shirt into battle? The goatee? “Hancock the Superb” is a true icon!
  2. Francis Barlow
    • This boyish-faced Harvard graduate was known to wear a checkered, flannel lumberjack shirt under an unbuttoned uniform coat.
  3. Henry Kyd Douglas
    • The author of “I rode with Stonewall” needs no complimenting from us (he did it enough in his book).
  4. George Custer
    • Known for his flashy uniform and flamboyance, Custer’s style plus flowing blonde hair makes him worthy of a coveted spot on our list.
  5. Alexander “Sandie” Swift Pendleton
    • With boyish good looks at 22 while at Gettysburg, we can’t help but swoon over Sandie Pendleton.
  6. Lafayette Guild
    • Guild was noted for his study of yellow fever, which is good because we’re burning up for the Medical Director of the Army of the Northern Virginia!
  7. Walter Taylor
    • From a young, attractive cadet at VMI to Lee’s personal aide-de-camp, Taylor gracefully managed the burden of serving on Lee’s small staff and matured with poise during the war.
  8. Gouverneur Kemble Warren
    • While his statue continues to keep lookout on Little Round Top, we should be keeping a lookout for him!
  9. Richard Garnett
    • Garnett was kicked in the leg by his horse, leaving him unable to walk during the Gettysburg Campaign. It was only fitting for a man who makes us weak in the knees.
  10. Strong Vincent
    • The mutton chops and “Strong” name makes Vincent the perfect choice to round out our list (the Harvard education doesn’t hurt either).


(All images courtesy Wikimedia Commons.)

A Soldier and his Nurse: The Star-Crossed Tragedy of Frank and Arabella Barlow

By Jeff Lauck ’18

This is not a love story ready-made for Hollywood. Rather, it is one more suited for a Shakespearean tragedy. Two newlyweds, on the day after their marriage, were separated by the call for troops in Mr. Lincoln’s War. As was true of so many Civil War couples, only one would survive the war. While you may be thinking to yourself that you’ve heard this story before (and perhaps many of you have), the tale of these two star-crossed lovers does not fit the typical narrative behind the vacant chair.

Francis Barlow and Arabella Griffith met in New York City shortly before the war. Francis, or Frank as his friends called him, graduated valedictorian of his class at Harvard before moving to New York to work as a lawyer and contributor for the New York Tribune. Arabella, nearly a decade older than Frank, moved to the city from rural New Jersey in 1846 to serve as a governess. She was not your average Victorian lady. Intelligent and bold, she soon affiliated herself with the high-class social circles of artists, politicians, and writers among New York elites. She even became good friends with George Templeton Strong, who described her as being “certainly the most brilliant, cultivated, easy, graceful, effective talker of womanhood.”

Caption: General Francis Channing Barlow (left) with General Winfield Scott Hancock (seated) and his fellow II Corps division commanders. The photograph shows Barlow during the Overland Campaign in 1864, just after he returned to the service after recovering from his wounds at Gettysburg and just a few months before his wife died that summer. Photograph from the Library of Congress.

Continue reading “A Soldier and his Nurse: The Star-Crossed Tragedy of Frank and Arabella Barlow”

A “friendship . . . born amidst the thunders of Gettysburg”: The Barlow-Gordon Incident

By Brianna Kirk ’15

Blocher’s Knoll, now known as Barlow’s Knoll. Photo credit to the author.
Blocher’s Knoll, now known as Barlow’s Knoll. Photo credit to the author.

July 1, 1863. It is the first day of what will come to be known as the Battle of Gettysburg. Union forces, upon firing the first shot in the early morning hours of that Wednesday, were pushed back from their position near Herr’s Ridge and McPherson’s woods towards Cemetery Hill. Following orders given by Schurz, twenty-nine year old Brigadier General Francis Channing Barlow moved his division to the right of Schimmelfennig’s division and placed them on top of an elevated piece of land known as Blocher’s Knoll. The Eleventh Corps had yet to begin their retreat through Gettysburg, but they would soon after Barlow’s men extended the already thin line further north.

Attacking the knoll was Major General Jubal Anderson Early’s division, who arrived on the Eleventh Corps’ right flank in time to force their retreat into town. Seeing George Doles being pushed back, Brigadier General John Brown Gordon received orders to attack Barlow with his Georgians. The fighting became fiercer as Gordon descended upon the knoll, driving the Union troops back past the Almshouse and into the town. Barlow remained on the knoll as his men retreated, rallying them to form another line to attack, allowing enough time for a bullet from Gordon’s men to strike him. Dismounting his horse and desperately attempting to get out of the line of fire, Barlow worked his way to the rear, with two of his men offering their help. One eventually succumbed to a wound and fell, the other ran for safety. Barlow, now alone, was hit again, knocking him to the ground. Bleeding out, he remained there as the Confederates rushed the position on the knoll and pushed his division further and further into the town. Gordon approached Barlow, noticing the severity of his wounds and offered him water, recognizing the life draining from his face. Knowing he did not have much time left to live, Barlow asked Gordon to tell his wife he died in the front lines doing his duty to his country, and to destroy the letters he had on his person. Gordon found Mrs. Barlow near the end of July 1 and relayed the message to her under a flag of truce. His duty to Barlow over, and assuming he died on the field of battle, Gordon forgot about the man. Continue reading “A “friendship . . . born amidst the thunders of Gettysburg”: The Barlow-Gordon Incident”