1st WISCONSIN VOLUNTEER CAVALRY
Organized: Summer/Fall 1861 Camp Fremont, Ripon, WI & Camp Harvey Kenosha, WI
Mustered In: 3/8/62 Camp Harvey Kenosha, WI
Mustered Out: 7/19/65 Edgefield, TN
The 1st a three year "western theatre" regiment left Wisconsin on 3/17/62 destined for Benton Barracks in Missouri where it was equipped and mounted. Five weeks later it moved to Cape Giradeau and thence to Bloomfield. From there companies were dispersed to various points in both Missouri and Arkansas to perform scout and railroad guard duties. From that time until May, 1864 when it moved into Georgia as part of Union Gen. W.T. Sherman's Atlanta campaign, elements of the 1st were engaged with the enemy throughout the two states.
During the advance upon Atlanta detachments of the regiment were engaged at the Allatoona Hills, Burnt Hickory, Acworth, Big Shanty and Campbelltown. The 1st next moved to Marietta and from there to Cartersville which it reached on 8/1/64. The regiment remained there until 10/7 when it moved north to St. Louis, MO to be remounted. In December, '64 the 1st left St. Louis for Tennessee where it assisted in driving 2000 Rebels from Hopkinsville. Next, at Elizabethtown, KY 20 of the unit attacked a force of 400 capturing several prisoners.
January, 1865 found the 1st in Alabama. Joining Gen. James H. Wilson's cavalry expedition, it was in the front ranks of a desperate assault upon a fort overlooking West Point, MO. The position was captured following a hand-to-hand struggle. On 5/6/65 a detachment of the 1st set out to search for fleeing Confederate President Jefferson Davis. During this operation an advance guard of the regiment came upon armed men who ordered them to halt, and then opened fire. Firing became general until a captured prisoner informed them the supposed enemy were Michigan troops!! Though Davis was not apprehended until after the "friendly fire" incident, many of the 1st would never believe the regiment was not entitled to at least "equal credit" for the capture. Stationing at Macon, GA preceded final muster. Regimental losses: 6 officers killed or mortally wounded.; 7 officers died of disease, accidents, etc. 67 enlisted men killed or mortally wounded.; 321 enlisted men died of disease, accidents, etc. Total: 401.
Residence: Wausau, WI Age: 22.5 yrs.
Enlisted/Enrolled: 8/30/61 Ripon, WI Rank: Pvt.
Mustered Out/Discharged: 3/7-8/65 Nashville, TN
Highest Rank: 1st Lieut.
John A. Baker was born 3/25/39 in Stevenson County, Illinois near the community of Freeport. His parents were Aaron (b. OH) and Anna (nee Allen b.ca. 1801 PA) Baker. He had at least two siblings: Older sister Martha (b. ca.1836 OH), and younger brother William J. (b. ca. 1841, IL). By the time John was eleven years of age his mother was no longer with Aaron, but remarried to Mr. Jonathan Maxfield, a farmer residing in Rock Co., WI. The fate of Mr. Baker is not known, but likely he had died. Also in the home, in addition to John, his sister and brother were three children of Mr. Maxfield: Almon (b. ca. 1830 NH), Electes (b. ca. 1838 NH) and Leander (b. ca. 1840 NH). While it is apparent that John was raised a farm boy, he received an advanced education as, when the 5'10 1/2 or 7/8", blue eyed young man enlisted in the U.S. Cavalry in 1861 he listed his occupation as "student" and nine years later, after graduating from Lawrence University in WI and the Albany Law School in New York, he was an attorney.
Besides apparently being free of illness or wounding, John's term of military service was exceptionally successful. On 10/20/62 he was promoted from private to corporal and on 5/1/63 from corporal to sergeant. His advancement continued when, on 2/1/64 he was elevated to the rank of sergeant major, the highest rank
Possible to attain within the ranks of the enlisted. As sergeant and perhaps sergeant major his area of assignment appears to have been the quartermaster department. With the sergeant major promotion he transferred from a field position in Co. "B" to regimental headquarters staff. Sergeant Major Baker's promotions continued. On 4/18/64 he was commissioned as a first lieutenant. At that time he left headquarters staff and joined company "I". On 1/25/65 he was offered, but declined a captaincy in company "D." Why the higher rank was passed up is not known. Perhaps he did not wish to leave company "I" or perhaps acceptance of the position would have entailed remaining in the service beyond the end of The Rebellion which was then in sight. Thus Lieutenant Baker remained with company "I" until mustered out of the military. Army life behind him, John returned to Wisconsin, most likely to Plover, Portage Co. WI.
During 1867/'68 John removed to Waupun, Fon Du Lac County where he remained for the next eight years. During period he described his occupation as "lawyer" and, on 2/13/71 married Harmony Adelie "Addie" Bly (b. Waupun, Dodge Co, WI 3/19/52). The union appears to have produced only one child that survived into adulthood: Walter G. (b.11/29/71). Sometime between 1875/'76 the Bakers left Wisconsin for Nebraska. Why the move was made is not known. In Nebraska the family resided in Saline County for two or three years before resettling in Exeter, Fillmore County for another for another four. During these years the 1880 census listed John’s occupation as "bookkeeper." While in Exeter a son, Arthur Scott was born 6/21/1877. During this period John's occupation was listed as "bookkeeper." The Bakers next moved to Saunders County for two additional years and, finally, to Blyville, Knox Co., NE for seven. On January 1 in either 1884 or 1885, while at Blyville, Arthur died. Also in Blyville John requested a U.S. government pension. Basis for the disability stipend was suffering from rheumatism, pharyngitis/laryngitis, a rectal fissure and bleeding hemorrhoids tracing back to his years of Civil War soldiering. The request was granted; at the time of his death the former cavalry trooper was receiving a $40 monthly stipend. In 1892 John, Addie and Walter moved from Nebraska to Everett, Washington. Again, why the move was made is not documented. Perhaps his younger brother, William, who was living in Everett by 1920 had moved there earlier and encouraged John and family to join him. In Everett the 1900 census noted John to be in the real estate business. "Captain" John A. Baker died in his Everett home on 11/19/19. Cause of death was listed as Senility and heart disease. He was 84.7 years of age. Burial was in Everett's Evergreen Cemetery. The 1920 and 1930 censuses show Addie living in Everett with son Walter and his family. She died 11/23/1934 and is buried beside John.
Buried at Evergreen Cemetery Everett
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