As portrayed in Winslow Homer's Prisoners from the Front, General Barlow is wearing an officer's four button sackcoat and the sword belt. His sword appears to be a common cavalry saber rather than a general officer's sword. Cavalry sabers held up well in the field and were not uncommonly worn by other than cavalry. General George Henry Thomas (1816-1870) was also said to have carried a cavalry saber. Homer spent time at the front and was a keen observer of details. His paintings are generally very accurate. General Barlow was of special interest to him as he was a classmate of his brother. In 1864 staff officer Theodore Lyman wrote:
"As we stood there under a big tree, a strange figure approached. He looked like a highly independent mounted newsboy. He was attired in a flannel checked shirt, a threadbare pair of trousers, and an old blue kepi. From his waist hung a big cavalry sabre. His features wore a familiar sarcastic smile. It was General Barlow, commanding the 1st division of the 2nd Corps, a division that for fine fighting cannot be exceded in the army."
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