Barney, Joshua (1759–1818), a United States naval hero of the American Revolution and the War of 1812. He went to sea at age 11 and was commissioned a lieutenant in the navy at 16. During the Revolution, he seized many British vessels. Captured three times, he was exchanged twice and escaped once. He retired from the U.S. Navy in 1784. Barney was asked to return to naval service in 1794 but refused because of a dispute over rank. He served in the French navy, 1796–1802, fighting against the British. During the War of 1812, Barney first commanded privateers and then returned to the U.S. Navy as a commodore in charge of a gunboat flotilla. In 1814, at the battle of Bladensburg, Maryland, he led a heroic but futile defense of Washington, D.C., against the British.