Brig. Gen. Laurence Simmons Baker (CSA)

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Brig. Gen. Laurence Simmons Baker (CSA)'s Geni Profile

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Laurence Simmons Baker

Birthdate: (76)
Birthplace: Cole's Hill Plantation, Gates County, North Carolina, United States
Death: April 10, 1907 (76)
Suffolk, Virginia, United States
Place of Burial: Suffolk, Virginia, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Dr. John Burgess Baker and Mary Wynne Baker (Gregory)
Husband of Elizabeth E Baker (Henderson)

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Brig. Gen. Laurence Simmons Baker (CSA)

Laurence Simmons Baker (May 15, 1830 – April 10, 1907) was an officer in the United States Army on the frontier, then later a brigadier general in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War. His first name was spelled Lawrence in the records of the Confederate War Department[1] and the mistaken spelling has persisted.

Early life and career Baker was born on the Cole's Hill Plantation in Gates County, North Carolina, the last of the four children of Dr. John Burges and Mary G. W. Baker. His great-grandfather and namesake Lawrence Baker had been a general during the American Revolution. After receiving his initial schooling at the Norfolk Academy, he graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1851, placing 42nd and last in his class. After graduation, he was breveted a second lieutenant and served for nine years in the U.S. Mounted Rifles, assigned to duty on the western frontier and rising to the rank of captain.[2]

In 1855, Baker married Elizabeth E. Henderson (1836–1918).

Civil War In May 1861, he resigned his commission when North Carolina seceded from the Union. Although personally opposed to the concept of secession, Baker was loyal to his state. He became the lieutenant colonel of the 1st North Carolina Cavalry, and was then promoted to colonel on March 1, 1862, leading the cavalry regiment in the 1862 Peninsula Campaign. He saw action at the Seven Days Battle, Second Battle of Bull Run (Second Manassas), and Battle of Antietam (Sharpsburg) later in 1862.[3]

During the Gettysburg Campaign, Baker was wounded at the Battle of Brandy Station. However, he capably led his men in a number of small cavalry actions, culminated in the fighting at East Cavalry Field at the Battle of Gettysburg. Baker assumed command of Brig. Gen. Wade Hampton's brigade when that officer was severely wounded by a saber slash. He was promoted to brigadier general on July 23, 1863, in recognition for his valiant service covering the retreat of the Army of Northern Virginia. Eight days later, he was severely wounded in the right arm while resisting a Federal crossing of the Rappahannock River, and was incapacitated for nearly a year.[3]

After recovering enough for administrative duty, Baker was named commander of the Second Military District in his home state of North Carolina, overseeing the defense of vital railroads and supply lines. He briefly led a brigade into Georgia to help defend Savannah, but withdrew before the city surrendered. He also commanded the North Carolina Junior Reserves from 1864 until 1865, a predominantly recruiting and desk position. Despite his still painfully shattered arm, Baker returned to the field during the Carolinas Campaign, including the Battle of Bentonville. He and most of his men did not surrender at the end of the war, preferring to try to cut his way through Union lines to join Joseph E. Johnston's army. Instead, he disbanded his brigade and the remaining men dispersed. Baker received his formal parole in Raleigh, North Carolina, in May 1865.[3]

Postbellum activities After the war, Baker lived at New Bern, North Carolina, for a while before moving to Norfolk, Virginia, as a farmer. After returning to North Carolina, he was engaged in insurance until 1877. The next year, he joined the Seaboard Air Line Railroad as a station agent, serving for 29 years. His duties included managing the Western Union telegraph and the Southern Express Co., a shipping company.

He was a member of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Suffolk, Virginia, and was active in the local camp of the United Confederate Veterans. He died in Suffolk in 1907 and was buried in the city's Cedar Hill Cemetery.

Due to a clerical error in the War Department, in some official military documents, his first name is frequently misspelled as "Lawrence".

Gen. Laurence Simmons Baker (CSA) graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1851 after which he was assigned to duty in the West as a Second Lieutenant with the mounted infantry (calvalry). He advanced to Captain by the time he resigned his U.S. Army commission in 1861.

While he was personally opposed to secession, Laurence was loyal to his state. He received a commission as a Confederate Lieutenant Colonel to date from March 16, 1861. He became known for his strict discipline while in charge of the 1st North Carolina Cavalry. In the spring of 1862, Laurence was elevated to Colonel and his regiment was sent to Virginia.

Baker’s command served in the Peninsular Campaign and the Seven Days Campaign. In the latter, which pushed the Federals away from Richmond, Baker’s unit drove back Federal cavalry on the Charles City Road, June 29, 1862. The 1st North Carolina Cavalry was assigned to the brigade of Brig. Gen. Wade Hampton. The regiment was honored for bravery at Second Manassas (Bull Run) and Sharpsburg (Antietam).

When Hampton was wounded at Gettysburg, July 3, 1863, Baker assumed command of the regiment and led it back to Virginia with action at Hagerstown, Maryland, and Falling Waters, Maryland. For that, Baker was promoted to Brigadier General to rank from July 23, 1863. Days later, July 31, 1863, Baker’s brigade opposed a Federal advance across the Rappahannock River toward Brandy Station. Baker was severely wounded in the right arm during the action. He was personally commended by Gen. Robert E. Lee for his role in the combat.

Recovering, Baker was assigned to departmental command in North Carolina in June of 1864. He briefly led a brigade of reserves in South Carolina. At the end of the war, Baker was back with his original command in North Carolina, which now was with Gen. Joseph Johnston’s Army of Tennessee. Detached at the time of Gen. Johnston's surrender after the final battle of the Civil War at Bentonville, North Carolina, Baker’s unit disbanded. He received a parole in Raleigh, North Carolina, in May of 1865.

After the war, Baker became a farmer and later settled in Suffolk, Virginia, where he was a railroad station agent. He died in Suffolk April 10, 1907, and was buried in Cedar Hill Cemetery there.

See link for more on the memorial at his gravesite:

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Brig. Gen. Laurence Simmons Baker (CSA)'s Timeline

May 15, 1830
Gates County, North Carolina, United States
April 10, 1907
Age 76
Suffolk, Virginia, United States
Suffolk, Virginia, United States