Brief Descriptions From the Index of the Presidential Papers 1789-1897 Letter B: bar-big





A title at one time given to a faction of the Democratic party in New York. The election of President Polk in 1844 resulted in a division in the Democratic party in New York. The faction supporting Van Buren and opposing the extension of slavery in the Territories was called Barnburners, while the faction which supported the views of the Administration was called Hunkers. Most of the Barnburners joined the Free Soil party in 1848, but returned to the Democratic party in 1852.

Baton Rouge (La.), Battle of. (1862)

Early in May, 1862, after the fall of New Orleans, Admiral Farragut passed up the river and raised the American flag over the public buildings in Baton Rouge, the capital of Louisiana. Gen. Thomas Williams was placed in command of the place with a small garrison. August 5, 1862, he was attacked by Gen. Breckenridge, who was to have been assisted by the ironclad gunboat Arkansas. The Arkansas exploded her boilers and failed to reach the scene of action. The Confederates were repulsed. The Union loss was 200, including Gen. Williams, who was killed.

Batture Cases

Before the cession of Louisiana to the United States a man named Gravier had purchased a plantation on the Mississippi River near New Orleans. Part of it afterwards became the village of St. Mary. An alluvial deposit or river beach formed in front of the village and was used as a landing place for the citizens of St. Mary. Under the law it was a part of the Gravier estate, which was purchased by Edward Livingston, of New York, who began improving it for his own use. The people protested on the ground of an old French law giving alluvions to the government. President Jefferson dispossessed Livingston of the Batture, and the latter immediately began suit against Jefferson and the United States marshal. The Supreme Court refused to entertain the suit against the President, but decided to restore the Batture to Livingston.

Bayard vs. Singleton

This is one of the earliest instances of a court passing upon the constitutionality of an act of the legislature. Suit was brought before the court of appeals of North Carolina in 1787 for the recovery of certain property that had been confiscated and sold to the defendant under an act of the legislature passed during the Revolution which authorized the confiscation of the property of aliens. Counsel for defendant moved the dismissal of the case in accordance with an act of the legislature passed in 1785, which "required the courts, in all cases where the defendant makes affidavit that he holds the disputed property under a sale from a commissioner of forfeited estates, to dismiss the case on motion." Judge Ashe refused to dismiss the case, declaring the act of the legislature "unconstitutional and void." Judgment was, however, found for the defendant on the ground that aloiens can not hold land, and if they purchase it the land is forfeited to the sovereign.

Beaver Dam (Canada), Battle of (1813)

After the retreat of the American army from the Niagara River they rendezvoused near the western end of lake Ontario. Gen. Dearborn sent Lieut. Col. Charles G. Boerstler with 540 men, but claiming to be the advance guard of 1,500 troops and 700 Indians, demanded of him to surrender. Boerstler surrendered 542 men, one 12-pounder and one 6-pounder cannon, and a stand of colors.

Belmont (Mo.), Battle of. (1861)

Nov. 1, 1861, Gen. Grant, who had been in command of posts in eastern Missouri and southern Illinois under Fremont, had a force of 20,000 men at Cairo. A Confederate force under Gen. Polk held Columbus, Ky., on the east bank of the Mississippi River. This position commanded the navigation of the river and was eventually made very strong, being defended by more than 120 heavy guns. On the Missouri bank opposite Columbus the Confederates had established a camp at Belmont, under Gen. Pillow, Grant learned that reenforcements were to be sent by way of this camp in November to join Price. He thereupon left Cairo and, sending a force to occupy Paducah, Ky., conveyed 3,000 men down the river in transports, accompanied by gunboats, to attack Belmont. The battle was fought Nov. 7, 1861. Few of the men had been under fire before. Grant's men took the camp, but were compelled to abandon it and return to their transports. The Federal loss was 485 killed, wounded, and missing. The Confederate loss was 642, including prisoners.

Bemis Heights (N.Y.), Battles of

Also called battles of Saratoga and Stillwater, In the autumn of 1777 the condition of Burgoyne's army in the Upper Hudson Valley began to grow serious. Provisions were running short and the likelihood of effecting a junction with Howe at New York was remote. Gen. Gates had been sent by Congress to succeed Schuyler in command. The American army was daily increasing. Sept. 19 the two armies met at Bemis Heights, between Saratoga lake and the Hudson River. An engagement took place between about 3,000 British and 2,500 Americans. Of the British about 500 were killed, wounded, or captured, the Americans lost 319. This fight, sometimes called the battle of Freeman's Farm, was not decisive, as the British held their ground. The Americans showed, however, that Burgoyne could not break through their lines. The two armies remained almost within cannon shot of each other for some 3 weeks. Oct. 7 Burgoyne, despairing of reenforcements, made a second attack, but was forced to retire to the heights near Saratoga. The numerical strength of the Americans was now greater than that of the British. Burgoyne was completely surrounded by Gates's army, which refused to engage him, but held him until famine forced his capitulation Oct. 17, 1777. The number of troops surrendered was 5,791, of whom 2,412 were Riedesel's Hessians. The battle of Saratoga is often treated by historians as the decisive conflict of the Revolution. Arnold, who subsequently turned traitor, was the hero of these engagements.

Bennington (VT.) Battle (1777)

An important conflict of the Revolutionary War. Aug. 11, 1777. Burgoyne sent Lieut. Col. Baum with about 800 British and some Indians from Fort Edward to forage for cattle and supplies in Vermont. On the road to Bennignton, they were opposed by Col. John Stark, Aug. 16, with a force of some 2,000 men, mostly militia from New Hampshire and Vermont. The engagement began about 3 o'clock in the afternoon. At the outset the Indians deserted, and the remainder of Baum's brigade was soon overcome. Col. Breyman with 500 men, who had been sent to reenforce Baum, was also defeated. The British loss was about 200 killed, and the number of prisoners taken by the Americans is variously estimated at from 550 to 900. Four pieces of artillery, 1,000 stand of arms, and many swords were also captured. The American loss was about 40 killed and as many wounded.

Bentonville (N.C.), Battle of. (1865)

After the engagement at Averysboro Sherman's army continued its march toward Goldsboro. When near Bentonville, Mar. 18, 1865, Slocum's advance encountered the Confederates in force. Johnston had hastily collected Stewart's and Cheatham's corps, Hardee's force, and Hampton's cavalry, aggregating something like 24,000 men. The attack of the Confederates was directed mainly against the corps of Jeff C. Davis. A strong line of battle confronted Johnston, with Mill Creek and a single bridge in his rear. Mar. 20 a general attack was made by Sherman's skirmish line. During the night Johnston retreated, as it was not his purpose to bring on with his small force a general battle with the larger army of Sherman. The battle was not a distinct victory for either side.

Big Bethel (Va.), Battle of (1861)

One of the preliminary skirmishes of the Civil War. In June, 1861, Maj. Gen. B.F, Butler, of Massachusetts, was placed in command of the Federal forces in eastern Virginia. He established headquarters at Fortress Monroe and was soon in command of 10,000 men. June 9 Butler sent Brig. Gen. E.W. Pierce with a detachment of 3,500 men (composed of New York, Massachusetts, and Vermont infantry and a battery of artillery) to dislodge the Confederates at Big and Little Bethel under Gen. J.B. Magruder's command. Magruder's force (1,400) had made frequent raids upon the Federal lines. The attack, which was intended as a surprise, was made by the Union forces on the morning of June 10 and was repulsed. The Union loss was 76. Among the killed was Maj. Theodore Winthrop. The Confederate loss was 1 killed and 4 wounded. Big Bethel was the first real battle of the war.

Big Black (Miss., Battle of. (1863)

May 17, 1863, the day after the battle of Champion Hills, Grant's army pushed on toward Vicksburg. McClernand's corps, in advance, soon came upon Pemberton's army, strongly intrenched on both sides of the Big Black River. The Confederate batteries posted on the high bluffs were carried after a sharp engagement, the Federal assault being led by Lawler's brigade. The Confederates retreated. Seventeen pieces of artillery and about 1,200 prisoners were here taken. A portion of Pemberton's outposts crossed the river on temporary bridges, which they destroyed behind them, and joined the main body of the army in the retreat into the fortifications at Vicksburg. The Federal loss was 279.


Website: The History
Article Name: Brief Descriptions From the Index of the Presidential Papers 1789-1897 Letter B: bar-big
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


BIBLIOGRAPHY: From my collection of books: A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents 1789-1897 by James D. Richardson, A Representative from the State of Tennessee published by the authority of Congress 1899.
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