GABRIEL ALFRED BARNES
Charles Gabriel Alfred Barnes was born in 1835, the son of Christopher Hewetson
Barnes (1802-1875), a surgeon and Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons, and his
wife Elizabeth. Charles was born in Colchester, Essex and baptized on the 28th of
August 1835 at St. Mary the Virgin at the Walls, Colchester.
Charles was granted a commission as an Ensign in the West Essex Militia on
the 6th of January, 1855, signed by the Lord Lieutenant of the County of Essex.
He was promoted Lieutenant in that Regiment on the 12th of June, 1855.
Lieutenant Barnes transferred from the West Essex Militia to an Ensigncy
in the 31st Foot on the 8th of January, 1856. At the time, service in the Militia
was a popular “backdoor” way for a young gentleman to obtain a commission in the
Army without the high cost of purchasing one. Ensign Barnes subsequently
transferred from the 31st Foot to the 2nd Dragoon Guards
(the Queen’s Bays) as a Cornet on the 14th of August, 1857.
The Indian Mutiny having begun in May of 1857, the 2nd Dragoon Guards
were ordered to India due to the desperate need for additional cavalry to suppress
the rebellion. While a majority of the officers and men of the 2nd Dragoon Guards
served in the final reduction of the city of Lucknow and participated in the cavalry
charge at Lucknow for which the regiment is famous, a small portion of the regiment
saw action elsewhere in India and received the medal without clasp. The medals to
many of these men, when their actual service is analyzed, are no less worthy of
respect than those of their colleagues who served in the more glamorous and well-
known action at Lucknow.
Charles’ War Services entry in Hart’s Army List states that “Lieutenant Barnes served in the Oude campaign of 1858-59,
including the affair of Dawah, and Trans-Gorga affairs at Bungaon and Newabghur.” His entry on the Indian Mutiny medal roll
is more specific in detailing the services which entitled him to the medal, to wit: “At Dawah near Newabgunge on the 12th
October 1858 under Brigadier Purnell.; 7 November 1858 at Dewah near Newabgunge under fire of the Enemy’s Picquet when
on Patrol in charge of Lieutenant Palmer Hodson’s Horse”. Charles received the Indian Mutiny medal without clasp named to him
as a Cornet in the 2nd Dragoon Guards. It was the only campaign medal he was to receive.
Charles was promoted to Lieutenant in the 2nd Dragoon Guards without purchase on the 29th of March, 1859. This was to be
the high-water mark of Charles’ military career.
Charles Gabriel Alfred Barnes was given permission to retire from the Service by the sale of his commission on the 4th of
January, 1861. As the purchase price of a commission in the British Army, particularly one in a cavalry regiment, was
substantially in excess of the official rate, Charles no doubt realized a significant sum of money from the sale of his commission.
As the 2nd Dragoon Guards were still stationed in India in January of 1861, Charles returned to London as a civilian. The 1861
census enumeration for England shows Charles in April of 1861 as living in London. He was unmarried and listed his occupation
as “Late 2nd Dragoon Guards retired”.
|The picture shown is a group |
of officers of the regiment
taken in India. Barnes would
have returned to England
before the picture was
taken, but the picture gives a
good illustration of the
uniform of the day.
On the 31st of May, 1861, a small article appeared in the Times stating the Mr. Charles Gabriel Alfred Barnes of
Bellevue-house, Notting Hill, an officer in the 2nd Dragoon Guards, was charged with violently assaulting Mr. Henry E. Rice,
solicitor, of Howard-villa, Thistle-grove, Brompton, at Cremorne-gardens. Mr. Rice, the complainant, agreed to an adjournment
for the purpose of producing a witness and Charles was placed on bond with the case being continued until the next session.
A further article appeared in the Times on the 28th of June, 1861, stating:
“Westminster- Mr. Charles Gabriel Alfred Barnes appeared for final examination, charged with committing, at Cremorne
Gardens, a very violent assault upon Mr. Henry Eldridge Rice, of Howard Villa, Thistle Grove, Brompton, solicitor.
At a former examination it was stated that on the night of the 29th ult. the accused intentionally knocked complainant’s pipe
out of his mouth and then struck him. The accused produced his cousin and brother in defense. The case was then adjourned.
The defendant should have appeared again on the 13th, but it was stated that he was suffering from severe inflammation of
The clerk was about to read over the charges depositions, when Mr. Barnes said he was most anxious to say a few words
before any further proceeding took place. He was about to plead “Guilty” to the charge. He had had since his last
appearance before the magistrate a severe fit of illness, during which he had time to reflect upon his past misconduct, and
form good resolutions for the future. He not only now pleaded “Guilty,” but regretted having attempted to defend his past
misconduct by having been led foolishly to hope that he might be able to fight the case out successfully. On Monday last he
had written a letter making a most ample apology to Mr. Rice, but it had, as he had learnt, been unfortunately delayed in
delivery until that morning; but he begged now to reiterate, most publicly, his apology. The following is a copy of a letter
he then handed to the Court:-
Bellville-house, Notting Hill, June 24.
“Sir,- I feel bound to offer you my expressions of the deepest regret at having assaulted you at Cremorne Gardens, and,
though this letter may appear rather late, I cannot refrain from thus addressing you. The only excuse I can fairly and
honourably offer you is, that from the excitement of a “Darby-day” increased by drinking more than usual, together with the
bustle and pushing of the crowd at the bar of the gardens, I unfortunately gave way to feelings and impulses which, in calmer
moments, I never should have done. Having thus expressed my regret, I beg to offer you any reasonable compensation for
the unwarranted attack.
I remain, Sir, your obedient servant.
Henry Rice, Esq. Charles G. A. Barnes”
He was anxious to express in court his sincere regret, and trusted that under the circumstances he might be summarily and
leniently dealt with.
The solicitor for the prosecution said that the above letter had only been received that morning. As he was instructed, the
magistrate had made up his mind to send the case to the sessions, and there, with his permission, they would take it.
Mr. Ingham assessed, and the accused was committed for trial, bail being taken for his appearance.”
A final article appeared in the Times on the 5th of July, 1861:
Whether this incident
was evidence of Charles’
true character will never
be known. Charles
Gabriel Alfred Barnes,
late Lieutenant 2nd
Dragoon Guards, died in
London on May 5, 1868.
He was 32 years old.