William Farquhar Barry was born in New York City on August 18, 1818.
Barry enrolled in the U.S.M.A. and following his graduation in 1838, he served in a number of campaigns, including the Spanish American War, and was promoted to Captain in the 2nd Regiment of Artillery in 1852.
Beginning in 1856 Barry was detailed, along with Henry J. Hunt and William H. French, to rewrite the artillery manual of the United States Army.
At the beginning of the Civil War, Barry was promoted to Major in the 5th Regiment of Artillery and was Chief of Artillery under Gen. Irvin McDowell at 1st Bull Run.
Under McClellan, he was promoted first to Colonel, and later to Brigadier General of Volunteers (August 20, 1861).
Following the Pennisula Campaign, he was succeeded as Chief of Artillery for the Army of the Potomac by Henry J. Hunt.
Barry spent the next two years detailed on various duties in and around Washington, D.C., before being appointed as Sherman's Chief of Artillery in March of 1864.
In that roll, he participated in all of Sherman's campaigns through the end of the war.
By the end of the war Barry had been breveted to Major General in the Regular Army, and after the war he served as Colonel of the 2nd Regiment of Artillery.
He died at Fort McHenry on July 18, 1879.