G.A.R. Post: John Buford Post #89 Everett, WA
1st WISCONSIN VOLUNTEER CAVALRY
Organized: Summer & Fall, 1861 Camp Fremont, Ripon, WI and Camp Harvey, Kenosha, Wi
Mustered In: 3/8/62 Camp Harvey, Kenosha, WI
Mustered Out: 7/19/65 Edgefield, TN
5th WISCONSIN VOLUNTEER INFANTRY
Organized: June and July, 1861 Camp Randall, Madison, WI
Mustered In: 7/13/61
Mustered Out: 7/11/65 Madison, WI
REGIMENTAL HISTORY: (1st)
Mustered into Federal service in early March, 1862, the 1st, a three-year western theater unit, departed the state almost immediately and proceeded to Benton Barracks, St. Louis, MO to be armed and equipped. In April it moved from there to Cape Girardeau and thence to Bloomfield from where companies were dispersed to various points in both Missouri and Arkansas to perform scout and train guard duty. Normally successful in their endeavors, on one occasion the 1st was forced to surrender to a numerically larger force of the enemy.
At L' Anguille Ferry, AR, a 130 man detachment of the 1st was overwhelmed by a force of 500 Rebels with only about 20 escaping. The bulk of the regiment then moved towards Helena which it reached in early August after experiencing terrible hardships. The following month it was ordered back to Cape Girardeau.
The regiment was next – In early October - ordered to Greenville and thereafter to Patterson where it was stationed during November and December engaged in dispersing guerillas, picking up small units of the enemy and foraging. The calendar year ended in pursuit of Rebels.
From early 1863 until the end of May the 1st was successively stationed at West Plains, Pilot Knob, St. Genevieve and Cape Girardeau. During this period it was engaged with the enemy at Chalk Bluff. While at Whitewater bridge a 40 man force from the regiment was surrounded by 300 Rebels, but cut their way out losing 6 killed, 9 wounded and 10 taken prisoner. Next came the battle of Cape Girardeau.
In June, ’63 the unit moved towards Nashville, TN and was stationed at various points in that state during that summer. As the year neared an end it participated in the battle of Chickamauga, GA then began moving toward Atlanta with Union Gen. W. T. Sherman’s armies.
January, 1864 found the 1st in the battle of Dandridge, GA and also in a severe engagement at Varnell’s station. It was in the advance on Dallas. While engaged as skirmishers the regiment was under fire from enemy batteries entrenched in a spur of the Allatoona Hills. During this action it was forced to fall back from the battle site. Other conflicts during this period included Burnt Hickory, Acworth and Lost Mountain.
The 1st acted as part of McCook’s expedition to the rear of Atlanta then attacked a Confederate force of 2000 near Campbelton before moving on to Cartersville and Cahoun. From the latter place the regiment was sent back to St. Louis, MO to be remounted.
Another January, this one being 1865. That month the 1st reached Nashville, TN and from thence moved to Waterloo, AL. Once there it joined Wilson’s cavalry expedition and was in the front ranks in a desperate assault on a fort overlooking West Point which was captured after a hand-to-hand struggle.
On May 6, 1865 a detachment of the regiment set out to search for fleeing CSA President Jefferson Davis. During this movement, the men of the 1st, believing Davis to be near, came upon a group of armed men in the dark. Firing began and continued until it was learned from a captured soldier that the forces being fired upon were Michigan troops. Although Davis was captured by other Union forces after this “friendly fire” incident, many ever believed that 1st was entitled to at least partial credit for the apprehension. Stationing at Macon, GA preceded final muster.
REGIMENTAL HISTORY: (5th)
The 5th, a three-year eastern theater unit left Wisconsin before the end of July, 1861. In early 1862 it took a conspicuous part in the battle of Williamsburg, VA and, at mid-year, Union Gen. George B. McClellan's Peninsula Campaign. It was held in reserve during the battle of Crampton's Gap, VA but fought at Antietam, MD. The regiment concluded the combat year at Fredericksburg, VA.
In October, 1863 the 5th was on duty in New York City during the draft riots. Afterwards it was one of two regiments to carry the main fort and redoubts at Rappahannock Station, VA. In the spring of 1864 it took part in the battles of the wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor and Petersburg before being sent to assist in the defenses of Washington City from the forces of Confed. Gen. Jubal A. Early.
With original enlistees mustered out of service in mid-1864, the 5th was reduced to a three company battalion. That "5th" was engaged at Snicker's Gap, Charles Town and Cedar Creek in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley.
In October, '64 the 5th was returned to regimental strength with new troops joining the existing three companies at Winchester VA on October, 26. The rejuvenated 5th then moved to before Petersburg, VA where it participated in the three day engagement of Hatcher's Run, the relief of Ft. Stedman and the final assault upon The Cockade City in February, 1865. During the ensuing pursuit of Confed. Gen. R.E. Lee’s forces the regiment won warm praise for its work at Sailor's Creek where it advanced through a waist deep swamp in the face of galling fire and compelled the Rebels to surrender. General Lee subsequently surrendered his battered forces on April 9, 1865 at Appomattox Court House, VA. Final muster took place on July 11, 1865
Residence: Inf. Not Avail. Age: 20.0 yrs.
Enlisted/Enrolled: 8/30/61 Rank: Pvt.
Mustered In: 8/30/61
Discharged: 3/4/63 St. Louis, MO
Highest Rank: Cprl.
Residence: Inf. Not Avail. Age: 23.0 yrs.
Enlisted/Enrolled: 8/24/64 Rank: Cprl.
Mustered In: 9/12/64 to date of enrollment 8/24/64 Madison, WI
Mustered Out: 6/20/65 Halls Hill, VA
Highest Rank: 2nd Lieut.
William J. Baker as born in Stevenson County, Illinois. Reportedly, the community was either Bloomington or Oak Grove, neither of which can be found on a modern-day map. His date of birth was August 20, 1841.
As far as is known, William was the youngest of at least six children born to Aaron (b. OH) and Anna (no b.d. no nee) Baker. The 1850 U.S. Census for Union, Rock County, Wisconsin noted his older siblings as follows: Almon (b. ca. 1830), Martha (b. ca. 1836) Electra (b. ca. 1838), Leander (b. ca. 1840) and John A. (b. ca. 1849). Exactly when and why the family - likely farmers - made the jump from Illinois to Wisconsin is not known. Also noted in 1850 was that Anna was by then married to one Jon Maxwell (b. 1819 NY). The fate of Aaron is not known, but likely he had died.
Another unknown is where William was living at the time of the 1860 Census as returns from Wisconsin do not list him. Still, he was likely in that state as it was there on 8/30/61 the young farmer enlisted in Captain Eggleston's company of the 1st Wisconsin volunteer cavalry. This unit would shortly thereafter become company "B" of the 1st. Vital statistics at the time of his enlistment were: 20 years of age, 5'10" in height, light complexion, blue eyes and brown hair. His enlistment period was for three years. Enlisting in the same unit on the same date was his older brother John. (d. 11/19/19 Everett, WA. Buried Evergreen Cemetery, Everett, WA)
Military muster rolls list Private Baker present for duty until June 30, 1862 when he was noted as being absent from his company on detached service at Cape Girardeau, Missouri. That "detached service" listing continued through October, 31st.
Interestingly, on November 1, 1862 the following reportedly occurred as related later in pension documents: Around 11/1/62 at White River, Missouri while in the line of duty (trooper) Baker was riding his horse at full speed in pursuit of the enemy when his (carbine) rifle caught in the branch of a tree and threw him to the ground. Thereafter while on the Pocahontas "Arkansas" expedition he had an attack of typhoid fever which settled in his back causing paralysis of his hips and legs. Around this time, while in the hospital, Private Baker became Corporal Baker.
Promotion in rank did not help William's medical situation. On November 9, 1862 he was being treated in a hospital located in Patterson, Missouri. A month later, however, his condition had apparently not improved, so he was transferred to a hospital in Pilot Knob, Arcadia, MO and, a couple days more than one month later, to a hospital at St. Louis, MO. As best as can be determined, four days following this St. Louis admission he was removed to another hospital in the area known as the New House of Refuge. Listed conditions at the time were typhoid fever, rheumatism as well as acute spinal irritation. Three months later, on March 4, 1863 these conditions attended by heart palpitations, great emaciation and general debility prompted his release from the military via a medical discharge. While William's cavalry days were over, his days in the military were not.
Seventeen months later, in Stephens Point, Portage Co., WI William re-enlisted in the army for a period of one year. This time, however, he was not in the cavalry but the infantry. For enlisting he received what appears to have been a $100 bonus or "bounty."
Re-entering the military at his old rank of corporal, William did not remain there long. On 10/1/64 he was promoted to sergeant. Even that rank did not stand for long as on 2/14/65 he was again promoted, this time from duty sergeant to first sergeant. Even this rank proved to be only temporary as, on 3/21/65 while in the field at Park Station, VA, because of the promotion of another officer, First Sergeant Baker was mustered out of the service as an enlisted man and re-mustered in the same day as a commissioned 2nd Lieutenant. He would remain at that rank until final muster on 6/20/65. All-in-all, William's second entry into the military world had proven very successful.
The War and military service behind him William reportedly settled in Stockton, Portage County, Wisconsin. It was there the 1870 U.S. Census found him and his family. Yes, he had a family as - on May 2, 1867 in Plover, Portage County, WI he had wed Ella Irene Morrill (b. 1847/1848 IL). William and Ella's first child, Sybel/Sybil Irene was born on March 2 (or 28), 1868 in Wisconsin. Their second, Maybel/Mable Hanna followed on October, 2 (or 7) 1869. Again, the birth was in Wisconsin. Their third child, son Aaron George came into the world - also in Wisconsin - on November 1, 1871. Another son, Allen Frank was born 3/5/78 in Minnesota, while the couples' final child Greg/Guy William was born 12/22/80 in Minnesota. Of note is the fact that Allen Frank apparently did not live long as he did not appear in the 1880 census.
Turning to the U.S. Census, in 1880 the Bakers were farming in St. Mary, Waseca County, Minnesota. However, apparently their post office address was not St. Marys, but Waseca, Waseca County. As early as August 10, 1872 the family had quitted Wisconsin for Minnesota as on that date they were residing in Eagle Lake, Blue Earth County of that state. At some point between that year and 1879 they had again moved within-state to settle in or near the community of Stockton. They then moved from that locale back to St. Mary perhaps stopping for a time in Jamesville in March, 1879.
Aside from 1880 being a census year and the year during which their final child was born, April saw Will apply for a U.S. Government disability pension based on his claim that he had been in good health when he had enlisted in the army in 1861, but was now partially disabled. On September 20th of the following year a surgeon's report confirmed this by stating the following: (He) claims he was disabled and discharged from the service by paralysis of (the) hips and legs. In my opinion he is three quarters incapacitated from performing manual labor. (The) disability is permanent..... (Additionally) there is tenderness in both kidneys through the hips in the sacral region. He (also) has chronic inflammation in the lower part of the colon resulting in piles..... (He further) complains of inflammation in (his) legs and more in (his) thighs.
In 1885 William and family were in Jamesville, Waseca County. While there, two affidavits were given by persons who had known him both prior to and during the War. The first, given on February 22nd reads as follows: “I was familiar with (William) prior to his enlistment in 1861 (and) saw him frequently after he returned from the service. He was in feeble condition in the fall of 1863. I worked with him at that time. He was complaining of his back and did not do heavy listing. I went into the service in November, 1863.....He went back in shortly thereafter. We came home about the same time in 1865 and were together a great deal of the time until he went away in 1879. At times he seemed all right. At other times he was unable to work. (I) never knew him to do much heavy work. (I) do not think he was able to perform manual labor.” The second affidavit given by former captain, George O. Clinton, which obviously refers to the "unhorsing" incident noted earlier reads this way: Although I do not recall much about the claimant's injury I do remember returning from a scouting expedition and finding William J. Baker injured riding in a six mule government wagon while the surgeon's ambulance was loaded with plunder. I made it very warm for him, too.......he was a worthy man and one of the best soldiers I had in my company.”
1893. The Bakers made another interstate move, this time from Minnesota to Illinois. It was in the latter state's community of Nashua, Ogle county, that the census of 1900 found the family which, at the time, included William (farmer. married 33 years) and Ella ( 5 children. 3 living.) Also in the fold was son Aaron - having returned from the Spanish American War and his wife Alice.
In 1905 William and Ella moved to Everett, Snohomish County, Washington. Why this jump to the Pacific Northwest was made is not documented. Perhaps, however, it was because William's older brother, John was already residing in the area and enticed his farmer sibling to come explore the fertile farmlands of the region. Still, it is not known if William did turn to farming in the Puget Sound area as the next available census only notes that he had his "own income."
The census of 1920 is more specific about William's income source. It noted him as being employed as a Snohomish County Superior Court bailiff. Also in the house hold, besides wife Ella, was daughter Mabel (Emerson).
Nine years later. June, 1929 found William and Ella residing in Los Angeles, California, with son Aaron and his wife Alice. By this time his monthly pension stipend based on his Civil War soldiering was a princely $72 per month. That same month, on 6/17, William died at the Sawtelle, California Pacific Branch of the National Home for disabled volunteer soldiers. Cause of passing: Chronic myocarditis and general arteriole-sclerosis. The old soldier was 87.10 years of age. His earthly remains were then transported back to Washington State for burial in Everett's Evergreen Cemetery.
After William's death Ella remained in California, most likely with Aaron and Alice. She died there, in or near the community of Lucerne on 5/19/33. At the time of her passing she was receiving $40 per month of her late husbands' government pension. She was laid to rest beside William at Everett's Evergreen Cemetery.
Buried at Evergreen Cemetery
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