Captain Norman G. Bartholomew

THE subject of this sketch imbibed from birth the true spirit of the age in which he lived, for, though youth inspired the highest enjoyment of legitimate pleasures, manhood brought the grave responsibility of willingness to defend principle and good order, even at the cost of life. He was born at Auburn, Cayuga county, N. Y., March twentieth, 1836. His parents were Caleb Bartholomew and Loraine Wheeler Gaston, both of whose ancestors were of English extraction. His paternal grandsire, Jesse Bartholomew, was a soldier in our American army, in the two English wars of 1776 and 1812; and also his maternal grandsire, James Gaston, in the latter only. 

The early life of this lamented officer, though attended with few incidents of marked significance, was still fraught with characteristics which, developed, constituted him a devoted, fearless soldier, a strict disciplinarian as an officer, and a charitable superior. At the residence of his father, at Etna, Tompkins county, N. Y., he enjoyed a liberal English education, adopting the occupation of a moulder and machinist. September twenty-sixth, 1860, he married Miss Mary L. Houtz, of the above place, which union gave him no children. 

Generous, but just, in the scale of humanity, the impending war found him with no tie too precious to be laid upon the altar of his bleeding country. Highly energetic and intensely muscular, of little more than medium height, and excellent proportions, without an excess of flesh, his erect, manly form, dark eye, dark brown hair, and light complexion, with an easy carriage and ever-buoyant air, placed him early among the most active and gallant officers of our patriotic army. 

Enlisting November eighth, 1861, as a private in the Seventysixth Regiment, at Cortland, N. Y., he passed speedily through every grade of promotion, for meritorious conduct, to the flattering position which he honored, and in which he fell. He fought, unharmed, the several battles at Rappahannock Station, Gainesville, Second Bull Run, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg successively. The distinguishing events in the military life of Captain Bartholomew occurred at the battle near Gainesville, at Fredericksburg, and Gettysburg. 

At the hard-fought, but unsuccessful, contest, near Gainesville, in August, 1862, when the enemy massed their columns upon the worn-out Corps of McDowell, Colonel Wainwright bearing the colors upon his own horse, as a means of keeping his Regiment together, and rallying his men, observing the coolness, but determination, with which Captain B., then invested with a slight command, but acting without a commission, executed his orders, personally commended his firmness, warmly assuring him, that his example should not pass unrewarded. In accordance therewith, a commission as Second Lieutenant was granted him, bearing even date with that eventful day. 

When, in December, 1862, Burnside precipitated his powerful array upon Fredericksburg, Lieutenant B. was detached from immediate field duty, and placed in command of a posse of convalescents sent forward from the different camps around Washington, who arrived too late to be armed for the conflict, and was assigned to hospital service with them. In supplying the vacancies occasioned by this unfortunate fight, Colonel Wainwright, impressed with the activity and efficiency of Lieutenant B. in that service, deemed it unjust not to promote him equally with those other worthy officers and privates who were engaged in duties more dangerous, but not more difficult or important. He, therefore, caused his rank to be raised to that of First Lieutenant from that date.

Again, just at the climax of the war, the three days' fight at Gettysburg, July, 1863, which hurled back the invading rebel army and saved the trembling nation, Lieutenant B. won those laurels which secured the immediate personal commendation of the commanding officer of his Regiment, and purchased for him a Captain's commission. In a moment of imminent danger, when their fearfully decimated numbers caused them to waver slightly from position, Lieutenant B., then in command of his company, seized the national colors, sprang upon the earthwork defenses and rallied his hard-pressed men. His commanding officer forthwith obtained a Captain's commission for him, as a reward for his bravery and success. 

His fatal change of fortune, however, was reserved to the battle of the Wilderness, May fifth, 1864, when, having received a severe shot through the right arm at a moment of so serious reverse to our troops, that but slight attention could be given to his dangerous condition, he died from excessive loss of blood; passing from the carnage of war to an immortal rest, "with armor on," just as one imbued with true manliness could wish to die, battling for the triumph of his cause. 

Brigade-Surgeon G. W. Metcalfe, after giving a detailed account of his death, says:-

"The Captain was universally beloved and respected by his fellow officers, and his death is painfully felt by them all. No truer patriot or braver man ever lived, than N. G. Bartholomew. He was particularly distinguished in time of battle, for cool judgment, and, at the proper moment, brilliant, dashing courage."

Temporarily buried by his comrades near the scene of his death, his remains were removed in the autumn of 1865, to the place of their final interment, October twenty-second, with military honors, in the cemetery of his native place, overlooked alike by the home of his youth, and that of his well-beloved wife.

- From the regimental history by A.P. Smith, 1867.

Medical and Surgical History Part II, Volume II Chapter IX.--Wounds And Injuries Of The Upper Extremities. Section IV.--Injuries Of The Shaft Of The Humerus. reports his wound in a table entitled "Unsuccessful Cases of Primary Amputation in the Middle Third of the Shaft off the Humerus.", and reports as follows: "Bartholomew, N. G., Capt., E. 76th New York. May 5, 5, '64. Right. Died May 5, 1864."


Bartholomew is buried in the Etna, New York cemetery


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- Last Updated April 13, 2009