Brig. General Henry Baxter (USA)

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Henry J. Baxter

Birthdate: (52)
Birthplace: Sidney, New York, USA
Death: December 30, 1873 (52)
Jonesville, Michigan, USA
Immediate Family:

Son of Judge Levi Baxter, Jr. and Lois Baxter
Husband of Ellen Elvira Baxter
Father of Martha A Jennifer Inglis; Harry Baxter; Carrie Baxter and Lois B. Henderson
Brother of Benjamin L. Baxter, poetaster; Witter J. Baxter Sr.; Nancy Ann Baxter; Frances Baxter; Narcissa Baxter and 5 others
Half brother of John F. Baxter; Antoinette Brockway; Elizabeth M. Baxter; Clara E. Case; Charles E. K. Baxter and 1 other

Occupation: miller, merchant, and soldier
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Brig. General Henry Baxter (USA)

Brigadier General Henry Baxter commanded the USA's 1st Corps, 2nd Division, 2nd Brigade, under Major Generals George Gordon Meade, John Reynolds, and Abner Doubleday at the great Battle of Gettysburg, 1863. Baxter’s 1200 men killed and captured 903 men on July 1 at Gettysburg, one of the decisive components of a major victory for the Union, one so important that many historians have said the Battle of Gettysburg was the war's turning point. Shortly after the battle's end, President Abraham Lincoln visited Gettysburg to give his famous Address dedicating the battlefield's cemetery.

"As a young man, Baxter had joined the gold rush to California and spent three years panning in the fields before giving up and returning home." (Source: Ezra J. Warner, Generals in Blue, Baton Rouge; Louisiana State University Press, 1964, P. 25.) Otherwise historians refer to Baxter's profession in Hillsdale County, Michigan as having been that of a miller.

The Detroit Tribune wrote of General Henry Baxter at his death, “Early in the Rebellion (Civil War) he joined the regiment organized in Hillsdale, County, Michigan, and was commissioned a captain. He was a gallant soldier and was severely wounded three times, earning promotion to a brigadier-generalship and serving until the close of hostilities. At Fredericksburg he especially distinguished himself for his bravery and was one of the first to cross the Rappahannock on that disastrous day.

"Shortly after the close of the war he was appointed U.S. minister to Honduras and held this position until it was legislated out of existence.”

General Henry Baxter married Ellen Elvira George, May 2, 1858, at Jonesville, MI. They had three children: Jennie, who married Dr. David Inglis; Carrie, and Lois.

General Henry Baxter, died December 30, 1877, Jonesville, MI, of pneumonia.

General Baxter resembles his brother-in-law, George Kellogg (perhaps largely because of their similar full beards). — Michael Reid Delahunt, 2010.

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An account of Brig. General Henry Baxter's activities emphasizing his activities in the battle of Gettysburg:

Brigadier-General Henry Baxter was a miller from Michigan and forty-two years old at Gettysburg. His grandfathers had fought in the Revolutionary War, although he lacked any formal military education. Prewar militia experience saw him begin his service as a captain in the 7th Michigan. Baxter certainly had an iron constitution, as he was one of an exceedingly small number of men to survive not one, but two abdominal wounds and a third through the body. His first came as a captain leading his company in the Seven Days Battles; the second as a lieutenant-colonel at Antietam; the third at Fredericksburg in December 1862, by which time he was commanding the 7th Michigan, still a lieutenant-colonel. The authorities were impressed with his "follow me" style of leadership and rewarded him with brigade command in time for Chancellorsville, although his men saw little action.

At Gettysburg it was again his hands-on, personal leadership at the tactical level in a crisis that was instrumental in defeating first O'Neal's and then Iverson's Brigades in quick succession. After O'Neal's departure Baxter skillfully transferred four regiments facing north to face the new threat developing in the west. It was his initiative that conceived the laying of an immediate ambush by concealing his men behind a convenient stone wall. As Iverson's Brigade staggered under the volley of hundreds of muskets at close range it was the the brigade commander who led the charge that sent the Rebels reeling and produced a rich haul of prisoners. It was a magnificent defense of an exposed position. For the next two days Baxter was not seriously engaged, spending most of the time in reserve with his much depleted command in the rear of Cemetery Hill. Afterwards one of his colonels was to write, "I wish to say one word outside of my regiment in regard to Generals Baxter and Robinson. They were on every part of the field, encouraging and stimulating the men by their presence and bravery."

Source: Mark Adkin. (2008). The Gettysburg Companion. Stackpole Books, page 365.

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Bibliography for Baxter's activities at the Battle of Gettysburg:

Cameron, James L. “How Far on Oak Ridge? An Examination of the Planned Deployment of the Eleventh Corps, July 1 1863.” The Gettysburg Magazine. 27 (2003): 29-38.

Cooksey, Paul Clark, “They Died As If On Dress Parade: The Annihilation of Iverson’s Brigade at Gettysburg and The Battle of Oak Ridge.” The Gettysburg Magazine. 20 (1998): 89-112.

Griffin, Massy. “Rodes on Oak Hill: A Study of Rodes’ Division on the First Day of Gettysburg.” The Gettysburg Magazine. 4 (1991):.

Lash, Gary G. “Brigadier General Henry Baxter’s Brigade at Gettysburg, July 1.” The Gettysburg Magazine. 10 (1994):.

Patterson, Gerard A. “The Death of Iverson’s Brigade.” The Gettysburg Magazine. 5 (July/1991): 12-18. It was Brig.-Gen. Alfred Iverson (CSA) who led "Iverson's Brigade," a unit of 1384 men, comprised of the 5th, 12th, 20th, and 23d North Carolina regiments, that Brig.-Gen. Henry Baxter's men killed and captured 903 men on July 1 at the Battle of Gettysburg. This article argues that Iverson was incompetent and cowardly in his poor leadership of his troops that day. One could also argue that Baxter was intelligent and courageous in his leadership of the Union troops opposing Iverson's. Iverson was a seasoned army officer, a veteran of the Mexican War, of actions against the Border Ruffians in Kansas and Nebraska, the expedition against the Mormons in Utah, and campaigns against the Comanches and Kiowas. Patterson wrote,

"At the outset of the war, Iverson organized several volunteer companies into the Twentieth North Carolina Regiment and led that unit through the Seven Days, during which he was severely wounded. He later distinguished himself during the Antietam Campaign. Iverson's service in the Confederacy had been so extraordinary that, when questioned later about his promotion to brigadier, which came in November 1862, President Davis was quick to defend his action by pointing out that Daniel Harvey Hill, a very tough man to please, had recommended Iverson by referring to him as 'in my opinion, the best qualified by education, courage and character of any colonel in the service for the appointment of brigadier general.' It was Lt. Gen. Thomas J. 'Stonewall' Jackson who, when presented with a group of five colonels being considered for advancement, advised that 'Iverson be the first promoted' and Lee, himself, who forwarded the endorsement, marked it for 'favorable consideration.' "

"Baxter had marched his men from Emmitsburg that morning, arriving on Seminary Ridge just after John F. Reynolds, the corps commander, had been killed and the Confederate Third Corps assault blunted. When he reported to Maj. Gen. Abner Doubleday, the acting corps commander, Baxter was ordered to help extend the Union right across the Chambersburg road and beyond the unfinished railroad cut, where heavy fighting had already taken place. Taking advantage of the woods behind the wall bordering the Forney farm, he was able to move his men into position along Oak Ridge without the Rebs seeing how the Union line had been prolonged, and it was he who had confronted O'Neal with his right regiments and then quickly turned them around to face Iverson's flank. Pvt. John D. Vautier of the Eighty-eighth Pennsylvania said later that the brigade had gotten into place 'none too soon, for the field in front was swarming with Confederates, who came sweeping on in magnificent order, with perfect alignment, guns at right shoulder and colors to the front.' Vautier said they 'waited quietly for the enemy to come within range, word being passed along to aim low, and at the command a sheet of flame and smoke burst from the wall with the simultaneous crash of the rifles, flaring full in the faces of the advancing troops, the ground being quickly covered with their killed and wounded as the balls hissed and cut through the exposed line.' 'We delivered such a deadly volley at very short range that death's mission was with unerring certainty,' was the grimly poetic way Lt. Col. A. J. Sellars of the Ninetieth Pennsylvania put it. The shock was incredible. All that Iverson's Carolinians could do was flatten themselves in the dip about eighty yards from the wall and try to form a firing line, though still fully exposed to the enfilade fire on their left. 'Unable to advance, unwilling to retreat, the brigade lay down in this hollow ... and fought the best it could,' Captain Turner said. Every commissioned officer of the Twenty-third North Carolina except one was shortly killed or wounded." "When he saw the symbols of surrender being displayed the plucky Baxter sensed his opportunity and sent three regiments-the 88th Pennsylvania, 83d New York, and 97th New York-sallying forth over the wall. In a moment, they were upon the stunned and demoralized remnants of the 5th, 20th, and 23d North Carolina, using rifle-muskets as clubs or brandishing their bayonets to herd the Rebels back to their lines. Col. Charles Wheelock, and his Ninety-seventh New York succeeded in charging over the ground without having any killed and but few wounded, and 'brought out as prisoners 213 officers and men of the 20th North Carolina with their colors,' or 'as many prisoners as we had men in our regiment. The flags of the Twenty-third North Carolina, and that of an Alabama regiment, carried by someone from O'Neal's Brigade who had joined in Iverson's advance, fell to the surge of the Eighty-eighth Pennsylvania which had attacked with empty rifle-muskets because all their ammunition had been used up in the slaughter. In all, approximately 350 of Iverson's men were rounded up in the rush."

Tagg, Larry. The Generals of Gettysburg, 1998. Tagg devotes a page and a half to Baxter in this book.

Taylor, Michael W. “Ramseur’s Brigade in the Gettysburg Campaign: A Newly Discovered Account by Capt. James I. Harris, Co. I, 30th Regt. N.C.T.” The Gettysburg Magazine. 17 (1997): 26-40.

Source: Kevin Anastas. "Suggested Reading List For GETTYSBURG - THE FIRST DAY," [is this a class or a lecture? published online as a .doc on Saturday 17 May 2003. "Tour Sponsor:" Kevin Anastas (703) 266-1265,

This .doc was downloaded June 2011 from

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Most historians refer to Baxter's profession in Hillsdale County, Michigan, as having been that of a miller.

A miller is a person who operates a mill, a machine to grind cereal crops to make flour. Milling is among the oldest of human occupations, and mills are among the oldest factories in human history. Factories making other items are sometimes known as mills. Workers in cotton and steel mills are also called millers. [It seems most likely Baxter milled grains, but it would be useful to obtain evidence of the sort of miller Baxter was. Perhaps his mill can be identified.] As a major watershed with more than 100 lakes, and as many ponds, the rivers that begin within Hillsdale County's borders include the St. Joseph flowing into Lake Michigan, the St. Joseph of the Maumee, the Kalamazoo, the Grand and the Raisin. Spring fed, the rivers flow north, south, east and west from the county's highlands.

The county seat of Hillsdale county is also named Hillsdale. Besides being a hub of several railroad lines, many successful businesses have operated here. A gristmill, founded by Cook and Ferris, was sold in 1869 to F.W. Stock. Stock's Mill became the largest flourmill east of the Mississippi River and remained so throughout the twentieth century. It has been owned and operated at various times by the Donut Corporation of America and Keary Ingredients. The mill has been an important employer and economic asset to the entire county for more than a century and a half.

Was this the mill where Baxter worked?

Source: Partly drawn from "A Brief History of Hillsdale County of the Pioneer Period: 1825-1843," edited by Dan Bisher, 1999, downloaded June 2011 from

Bisher cited his sources for this article as having been:

  • A 1950s Hillsdale Chamber of Commerce pamphlet prepared by the late Merritt Green.
  • History of Hillsdale County, Michigan; Everts & Abbot, Philadelphia, 1879.
  • 150 Years In The Hills And Dales: A Bicentennial History of Hillsdale County, Michigan, Vol. 1, published by The Hillsdale County Historical Society and the Hillsdale County Bicentennial Commission, 1976.
  • The Bean Creek Valley: Incident of its Early Settlement by James J. Hogaboam; Hudson, Michigan; JAS. M. Scarritt, publisher, 1876.
  • History of Michigan by Charles Moore; vol. 1, The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, 1915.
  • The Life of Sile Doty: 1800-1876, A Forgotten Autobiography; reprinted edition by Alved of Detroit, Inc., 1948.
  • Michigan Pioneer and Historical Collections, Vol. 14, 1889; Vol. 1, 1874-76.
  • The First People of Michigan by W.B. Hinsdale; George Wahr, publisher, Ann Arbor, 1930.
  • Greater Coldwater Centennial Souvenir Historical Program, 1961. 3,092/3-24-99

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Biographical information regarding several members of the Baxter family, along with portraits of Levi Baxter and Witter J. Baxter.

Source: Downloaded June 2011 from History of Hillsdale County, Michigan, with illustrations and biographical ..., by Crisfield Johnson, Everts & Abbott, Philadelphia, pp 128, 130, 132, 136, 138, 139, 142, 146, 147, 148, 309, at

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Brig. General Henry Baxter (USA)'s Timeline

September 8, 1821
Sidney, New York, USA
April 3, 1855
Age 33
Michigan, United States
Age 34
Michigan, United States
Age 37
Age 44
December 30, 1873
Age 52
Jonesville, Michigan, USA