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About Jedediah Hyde Baxter
Jedediah Hyde Baxter was a Union physician in Civil War, who joined Army in 1861 and rose to Brigadier General and Surgeon General of the Army and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
Jedediah Hyde Baxter (March 11, 1837 – December 4, 1890) was a United States Army Brigadier General who served as Surgeon General of the United States Army.
Jedediah H. Baxter, the son of Portus Baxter and Ellen Janette Harris, was born in Strafford, Vermont on March 11, 1837. He attended Perkins Academy in South Woodstock and St. Johnsbury Academy, and studied at Norwich University for two years. He graduated from the University of Vermont in 1859, and received his medical degree from UVM in 1860. Baxter subsequently completed his internship and residency at Bellevue and Blackwell's Island Hospitals in New York City.
In June, 1861 Baxter enlisted for the American Civil War, joining the 12th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry as regimental surgeon. He served until April, 1862, when he was appointed as a brigade surgeon in the Army of the Potomac. He took part in the Peninsula Campaign, including the Battles of Yorktown, Hanover Court House, and Seven Pines.
Baxter later served as head of Campbell General Hospital in Washington, D.C. He ended the war as Chief Medical Officer of the Provost Marshal's Bureau with the rank of Major. In 1865 he received brevet promotions to Lieutenant Colonel and Colonel of Volunteers, and in 1867 he received a brevet as a Colonel in the regular Army.
Post Civil War
After the war the Army's health care professionals were organized as the Medical Department, and Baxter was appointed Assistant Medical Purveyor with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the regular Army. In 1871 he received a Master of Arts degree from UVM.
In March, 1872 Baxter was appointed Chief Medical Purveyor, and in 1874 he was promoted to Colonel. In 1875 Baxter graduated from Columbian University (now George Washington University Law School) with a Bachelor of Laws degree.
Baxter's duties included serving as personal physician to the President of the United States. He attended James A. Garfield's family, but was out of town when Charles J. Guiteau shot Garfield in July 1881. As a result, Baxter did not examine Garfield following the shooting or treat him during his subsequent illness. By the time he rushed back to Washington, Doctor Willard Bliss had taken charge and would not let Baxter see the wounded President. According to contemporary accounts, Bliss stated that Baxter was attempting to see Garfield out of a desire for personal glory and fame, a charge which had the effect of causing Baxter to minimize his involvement so that Bliss would not seem to be correct. In fact Bliss had only recently been readmitted to the District of Columbia Medical Society, which had expelled him in 1870 over his advocacy for African American doctors to be admitted, and his willingness to consult with homeopaths at a time when most medical professionals were allopaths, and disdained homeopathy. Bliss likely maintained his lead role as a way to restore his own reputation.
Army Surgeon General
In August 1890, Baxter was named the Army's Surgeon General and promoted to Brigadier General, appointed by President Benjamin Harrison, who was a longtime patient. Baxter's appointment had been championed by Secretary of War Redfield Proctor, a fellow Vermonter and Civil War veteran.
Death and burial
Baxter became ill with uremia soon after assuming his new duties. He suffered a stroke as a result and died in Washington, D.C. on December 4, 1890. Baxter was buried at Arlington National Cemetery, Section 2, Grave 1000.
In 1876 Baxter married Florence Tryon (November 11, 1845 – February 12, 1914) of Boston, Massachusetts. They had no children.
Baxter was a member of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States.
He was the author of 1875's Statistics, Medical and Anthropological, of the Provost-Marshal-General's Bureau. This invaluable reference work contains records and analysis of physical examinations and other medical data for more than one million men who served the Union in the Civil War.
The Army hospital in Spokane, Washington was named for Baxter.
Dr. Jedediah Baxter's Timeline
May 11, 1837
December 4, 1890
Washington, District of Columbia, District of Columbia, United States
Surgeon General of the United States
Arlington, Arlington, Virginia, United States