Colonel James Barnett, Chief of Artillery

Col. James Barnett

James Barnett was born in Otsego New York on June 21, 1821.  In 1826, James’ parents moved to a village of about seven hundred people, Cleveland, Ohio.  James Barnett would spend the rest of his life residing in Cleveland.   

In 1840, James Barnett became a member of an independent battery of light artillery known as the “Cleveland Light Artillery”.  In 1859, he advanced to the rank of Colonel in this unit. When the American Civil War broke out, the Cleveland Light Artillery was ordered by Gov. Dennison to report Columbus to be the mustered into service as the 1st Ohio Light Artillery, Battery H.  After spending a month in Marietta, Battery H was ordered into Western Virginia where it participated in the battles of Philippi and Laurel Hill.  

Following the securing of Western Virginia, Gov. Dennison, ordered Barnett to return to Ohio and raise a twelve battery regiment of artillery.  This task completed Barnett reported to Gen. Buell and was placed in command of the Reserve Artillery Corp of the Army of the Ohio.  Following the battle of Perryville, in 1862, Barnett was made Chief of Artillery on the general staff of Major General McCook. 

On November 24th, 1862, Colonel James Barnett was ordered to report to Gen. William S. Rosecrans to take over as the Chief of Artillery for the Army of the Cumberland.  James Barnett would remain in this capacity until after the close of operations around Chattanooga.  He was then ordered to Nashville, TN where he reorganized the artillery of the western army.   This task completed, Barnett petitioned to be mustered out of the army.  He was granted his request on October 20th, 1864.  However, before he could leave Nashville, it was attacked by the Confederate Army and Barnett rendered valuable assistance (though in a civilian capacity) to Gen. Thomas.   Because of his “eminent abilities and valuable services, James Barnett was given a brevet promotions to Brig. General on March 13, 1865.

 Following his service in the Civil War, James Barnett returned to Cincinnati, where he resumed his profession as a banker.  Besides being active in his community, James Barnett was also very active in the Grand Army of the Republic and the Society of the Army of the Cumberland, on both a local and a national level.

After a long and active life serving his fellow citizens and his country, James Barnett died on June 13, 1911 at the age of 89 and is buried in Lakeview Cemetery, Cleveland, Ohio.


Richard N. Helwig as Colonel Barnett

Richard N. Helwig

Being a second generation reenactor, Rick Helwig, has literally, been involved in living history for his entire life.  During his youth he spent much of his time at Auglaize Village, a restored village in Defiance County.  Here he was apprenticed to several craftsmen and learned the skills of a blacksmith, barn builder, and woodwright.   This experience instilled in him a deep love for living history.  As an adult he travelled on the Pioneer Heritage Circuit where he portrayed a Frontier Indian Trade Goods Craftsman. 

In 1998, Rick reentered the world of Civil War Reenacting when he joined the Fifth Ohio Independent Battery of Light Artillery as the unit Artificer.   In order to learn more about what an Artificer would know, Rick and his father built a replica of a 12 lb. Mountain Howitzer which they named Exodus.   

As part of the State of Ohio’s Bicentennial Celebration, Rick and his father, Dick Helwig co-chaired a group of reenactors that put on a Civil War Reenactment in Sunbury, Ohio.  A second reenactment was held in 2008, as part of the Bicentennial Celebration of the founding of Delaware County.  Following its success, a group of reenactors created the Gen. Rosecrans Department of the Ohio Headquarters and elected Rick as the Executive Officer of the organization. 

Today, Rick remains a member of the Fifth Ohio Light Artillery, where he currently holds the rank of Sergeant with the duties of Artificer and Gunner, and the Gen. Rosecrans Department of the Ohio Headquarters Unit where he portrays Gen. Rosecrans’ Chief of Artillery, Col. James Barnett.

Professionally, Rick has had a varied career.  Currently he is employed by the Delaware County Board of Elections and maintains licenses as an Auctioneer, Real Estate, and Insurance Agent.  He is also the Director of the Center for Ghost Town Research in Ohio and an active Mason.
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