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Alfred Madison Barbour
Member of the Virginia House of Delegates
from the Monongalia County district
In office
December 7, 1857 – March 1861
Serving with A. G. Davis
Preceded by William Lantz
Succeeded by Andrew Brown
Personal details
Alfred Madison Barbour

(1829-04-17)April 17, 1829
Culpeper County, Virginia
Died April 4, 1866(1866-04-04) (aged 36)
Montgomery, Alabama
Resting place Fairview Cemetery, Culpeper, Virginia
Citizenship United States of America
Confederate States of America
Nationality American
Political party Democratic Party
Spouse Kate Daniels
Relations brother of John S. Barbour, Jr.
first cousin once removed of James Barbour and Philip P. Barbour
Parents John S. Barbour
Ella A. Byrne
Alma mater University of Virginia
Harvard University
Occupation lawyer, politician, soldier
Military service
Allegiance  Confederate States
Branch/service Virginia Militia
 Confederate States Army
Rank Confederate States of America Major.png Major(CSA)

Alfred Madison Barbour (April 17, 1829 – April 4, 1866) was a Virginia lawyer, one-term delegate in the Virginia House of Delegates and also in the Virginia Secession Convention of 1861. He may be best known for his role as Superintendent of the Harpers Ferry Armory in Harpers Ferry, Virginia (now West Virginia) during John Brown's raid. Although Barbour voted against secession, he became a major in the Confederate States Army and served as a quartermaster during the American Civil War.

Early life

Barbour was born on April 17, 1829, on a plantation in Culpeper County, Virginia. He was the son of John S. Barbour, Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Virginia's 15th congressional district, and his wife Ella A. Byrne, and had several siblings.

Barbour attended the University of Virginia and Harvard Law School.

Government service

Returning to Virginia, Barbour moved to the state's northwest corner. Monongalia County voters once elected him as one of their two representatives in the Virginia House of Delegates, where he served in 1857-58.

In January 1859, he was appointed as Superintendent at the federal armory in Harpers Ferry, Virginia (now West Virginia). He served there until the American Civil War began in 1861. In October 1859, abolitionist John Brown raided the arsenal. Brown's raiders captured the entire armory and town, which Brown knew to be minimally guarded by civilians, although ultimately he failed and was captured because he remained in town too long. Recent research questions whether Brown really attempted to steal the weapons to support a slave rebellion, considering that explanation Virginia slaveholder propaganda. Barbour wrote that he was visiting the federal armory at Springfield, Massachusetts. "Had I been here, I could have done no good. Old Brown would have taken Gen. Scott if he had been here. A military man could have done nothing more than a civilian, unless there had been a corps of soldiers under him. . . . It is ridiculous to talk about it, as if the presence of a military man [at Harper's Ferry] would have awed Old Brown."

Despite the fiasco, voters from Jefferson County elected Barbour and fellow former delegate Logan Osburn to represent them in the Virginia Secession Convention of 1861. While Osburn resolutely voted against secession on both April 4 and April 17, Barbour switched his vote, voting on April 17 to secede, as did his brother James Barbour, who was a delegate representing their native Culpeper County.

American Civil War

During the American Civil War, Barbour served in the Confederate States Army as a quartermaster, on the staff of Joseph E. Johnston as well as Leonidas Polk. By December 1861, he had been promoted to quartermaster of all the Confederate armies, but complaints soon arose that he failed to settle accounts, gambled extensively and managed loosely. Major Barbour served in Meridian, Mississippi and by 1864 was demoted to assistant quartermaster in Montgomery, Alabama, where he remained after the war ended, although paroled in Greensboro. Jubal Anderson Early disliked Barbour, who termed him "not energetic or efficient."


Alfred Madison Barbour died on April 4, 1866, in Montgomery, Alabama. His remains were returned to Culpeper, Culpeper County, Virginia and interred at Fairview Cemetery.

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