The Civil War Letters of Enoch T. Baker
by Andy Waskie
Mid-July of 1986 found me and my comrades of the 110th Pennsylvania Volunteers (reactivated) gathering near Manassas, Va. to relive the events of the 1st Battle of Bull Run fought here 125 years ago. Together with our company First Sergeant and good friend John Niemiec, I planned an early arrival in order to help with the set up of the camp and to allow time for a visit to the battlefield park. Our little group, now a trio with the addition of Cpl. Charlie Evans, struck out for the National military shrine and visitor's center. Upon arrival, we found the visitor's center packed with tourists and enthused reenactors. We spent time browsing among books and publications, viewing the exhibits and attended a Park Service-produced slide show on the history and significance of Bull Run and its vicinity. Before leaving, however, I took the opportunity to query the park service rangers about the service record of our own 110th in the 2nd battle (they were not involved in the first battle since the regiment was not yet raised). I questioned several members of the staff about the positions and actions of our regiment, but no one seemed to be able to answer my inquiries. I was finally directed to a friendly young ranger who possessed some knowledge of the battles. Yes, he had heard of the 110th Pennsylvania, and pointed out its positions on a map and recalled some other incidental information about the 110th from a thick tome he produced from the office. The book contained numerous anecdotes about the units which participated. From this, I uncovered very little new about the regiment, except that the 110th fought next to and supported the 5th New York during the bloody assault at Groveton (the more things change, the more they stay the same).
Suddenly, he remembered that there was a letter from a member of the 110th on file and wondered if I was interested. Needless to say, I nearly jumped out of my shoes for the opportunity to inspect such a personal item from an original member of our own regiment. I waited nervously as the ranger went to search for the precious memento. He soon returned, bearing two letters which he bade me examine. I eagerly scanned the letters and discovered they were from a soldier in Company G of the 110th, addressed to his wife, describing his role and that of the regiment in the great battle.
I shared my good fortune with my comrades who were equally interested. The ranger asked if I would like copies of the letters and I quickly accepted his kind offer. As I left the visitor's center, the copies tightly clenched in my hand, I made up my mind that I would investigate the author and events recorded in his letters. Upon my return home from the Manassas battle reenactment, I took up the letters once more, and with equal amounts of eagerness and curiosity I began to scan the letters. What I learned was nothing short of a fascinating revelation. These were two letters written by a common soldier of the 110th just days after he fought in the 2nd Battle of Bull Run. In the letters the author, Enoch T. Baker, pours forth to his wife his thoughts and impressions of the recent stirring events which he himself had barely survived.
I was struck by the power, yet simplicity, of Baker's words. He reveals himself to be an honest, straightforward patriot who fights out of his convictions, and to do his duty as a soldier. Even though he is outraged and ill-served by his commanders, he remains steadfast in adversity and committed to the cause of Union. The author is tender and loving in his personal messages to his wife and children. The poignancy is heightened by a deep resignation to his fate, which dangles over him menacingly. Having studied the letters many times, I noticed they were copies of the originals, which came from the collection of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, located in Philadelphia. I decided, therefore, to visit this august institution and begin my search.
When I arrived, I requested information about Enoch T. Baker, and about his letters. While they searched the voluminous collection, I busied myself browsing and attempting to find other material on our regiment. Since the muster roll of Company G of the 110th was never filed, there exists no available record of Baker's service in the usual sources. Company G has become the "phantom" company. Knowing this made my search for this soldier all the more exciting and meaningful. Imagine my delight when the librarian returned with over twenty letters from Baker to his wife, chronicling his entire service time. With difficulty, I restrained a whoop of joy!
I immediately sat down to scan and decipher the original letters sent from camp and the front 125 years ago. The letters are in remarkably good condition, especially when one considers they were written on the ground, in tents and from the battlefield, posted from the war torn South 125 years ago. It is obvious the letters were cherished and well cared-for through the years -- a lasting memento and memorial to their author by loved ones, until someone had the forethought to donate them to the society and forever preserve one niche in history. His script is firm, relatively clear but archaic, and the writing requires some study to clarify. Thus, I spent the entire day reading the fascinating saga of Enoch T. Baker and his wartime exploits with the 110th Pennsylvania.
Since the letters of Enoch T. Baker are all written to his wife Anna, much of the material is of a personal nature. He has at least two children (probably more) but mentions only George by name. He mentions other family members only briefly, but does inquire several times after certain friends whom he names. One of his friends, a certain Mr. Thompson, seems to be an influential character who also knows the regimental adjutant personally, and Baker actually receives some unobtainable "goodies" from Thompson at home in Philadelphia through the adjutant who was able to travel back and forth. [See the bottom of this article for an identification to who this person was. - Jonah]
Baker and his comrades from Company G are all from Philadelphia, i.e. the company was recruited there by a Capt. Cotterell whom we will learn about later. His family resides in Philadelphia in what is now called Center City near 8th and Pine Streets. Though he does exhibit some high degree of education and a general commitment to excellence, he seems to have been unemployed at the beginning of the war with no option than enlistment. A central and unending theme running through all his letters is a deep concern about finances and lack of money. His family is almost destitute. His wife must rely on the financial support of the local patriotic committee formed to look after soldier's dependents. His son, George, is forced to live with his grandparents to alleviate the burden on the others. Almost every letter contains a plaintive cry for patience from his wife until the next muster for pay, when he could send some money home. Several times, he makes simple requests of his wife for articles necessary in camp or at the front. These are invariably requests for condiments unobtainable in camp, or toilet articles for creature comfort. He does mention he would like to have a pair of boots, but adds he understands she (Anna) can't afford them, and he can make due with the issue brogans.
Baker exhibits many fine qualities of character which surface in his writings. He is a dedicated family man, concerned for his family's welfare. He is a patriot committed to the cause of Union and Constitution. He is a hard-working, industrious fellow, well able to get along with his comrades, and he is a true and loyal friend, reliable and helpful in good and bad times. He seems to be a most personable, intelligent, humble man, who through perplexing circumstances finds himself fighting foes of Union and tradition, separated from family and friends. It is hardly difficult to infer he would rather be home than in camp and on campaign.
There are 23 separate letters in the Baker collection at the Historical Society: 21 from Baker to his wife Anna, two letters from Baker's friend Sgt. Thomas Bell (Co. G) to Baker's wife, and Baker's promotion certificate to Sergeant. As I had all this material photocopied with the intention of sharing the invaluable information with my comrades, I propose to edit the letters in order to systematize the spelling, grammar and certain archaisms in usage, and present a standardized format. I have, however, retained certain quaint 19th century spellings and expressions to lend a feeling of the period and personalized characteristics of the author.
Letter No. 1
Written October 30 1861, a few days after Enoch arrived at Camp Crossman, Huntington County, Pennsylvania with his company (Capt. Cotterell's, as yet unassigned to any regiment). This was a common practice in the early war years; independent companies were often gathered together until a regiment was formed. Baker speaks about his comrade Moffitt, whom he had to attend during a severe illness. It seems thievery was rampant in camp, as both men lost articles. He goes on to describe the area and the camp, and mentions camp routine and the officers.
My Dear Wife,
I write these few lines to let you know that i arrived in camp on Sunday 12 oclock all safe. i am well and hope this will find you and the children the same. Remember me to my sisters and brothers-in-law, your father and mother sisters and brothers, uncle John and Aunt Mary and their children and all inquiring friends. i would have wrote sooner on Moffitt, the man that came up with me was taken with fits on Monday and i have to attend him. He is better now; please let his wife know 337 Jarvis St.; Also that he has lost everything he brought with him except what he had on his back. He wants stamps and tobacco. They have also stole all my stamps, my little glass, tobacco and one shirt. I can do without all but stamps and only for the Captain, do not know how i should have sent this. Now the tent i am in has a place for such things and i can take care of them.
At present, i am content enough. We are up in the mountains, have good vittels and water and very clever officers. i have to commence drill tomorrow, eight hours every day, and when i write again i will let you know how i like that. it is now time for the mail.
Direct to Co. G E.T. Baker of
Capt. Cotterell Camp Crossman
near Huntington, PA.
A few stamps in letter in haste your E.T.B.
Letter No. 2
Written November 10, 1861 from Camp Crossman. Baker mentions his need for certain "luxury" items and enumerates the articles he has in his kit. Of special interest is his personal pistol and powder, soon to be abandoned. He alludes to a rubber blanket which a friend, or relative, would like to send. Obviously, neither the state nor the federal government had begun to supply them.
Baker mentions his routine military obligation to stand guard every third day in bad weather.
Personal comments dominate the rest of the letter, but we do learn of Baker's inability to find work, hence the necessity to enlist. We also learn of the family's dire financial condition with his pleas for patience from his wife, waiting for the first muster for pay.
Baker refers his wife to the local soldier's committee, pledged to support the families of volunteers, and assures her he will acquire an enlistment certificate for her, presumably to authenticate his service. An interesting yet sad observation upon the family's plight is the future incentive of generous bounties offered to volunteers to spur enlistment. Some late war bounties amounted to over $1000.00, a tidy sum in 1864, even in inflated greenbacks. But Baker was one of the first wave of volunteers in '61, who received only more than their share of action.
Baker cautions his wife against any attempt to visit him in camp, for this is a rough, coarse, vulgar place, unfit for any lady, and besides, he anticipates a visit home soon (that is never to come).
Mention is made of a Colonel Ziegler, who encourages the men to call him "Uncle Jake" and appears to be the camp commander and probably a Philadelphian. Perhaps, Col. Ziegler is one of the early political appointees and seeks future political gain through familiarity with his men.
Baker makes mention of generous rations, but requests pepper be sent since this is not supplied. Adam's Express, the ubiquitous Civil War mail service, is his suggestion for packages. Baker also requests the Philadelphia Ledger (a popular newspaper of the day) be sent.
Baker's manner of writing proves rather quaint and utilitarian: sitting on the ground in his tent with a board over his knees. (I've tried it myself and it isn't easy!)
Sunday, November 10 1861
I take my pen in hand to let you know i am well and hartey. i received your letters, one on Wednesday, and the other on Friday. in the first you say Thompson laughed when he heard they had stole some of my things. it would not have happened if it was not that Moffitt was sick and the Captain told me to stay with him, it was while i was taking him to the doctor that it happened. All i miss is the postage stamps, one shirt and the little looking glass i told you to get me, and some chewing tobacco. I believe i have everything else: soap, towel, pipes, razor, brush, pens, ink, paper, envelopes, knife, fork, spoon they are all right as well as the pistol and powder. i have spent the money for things i had to get: 2 hankerchiefs, blacking brush and blacking gloves and other little things.
You say Fred wants to know if i would like to have an india Rubber Blanket - it would be very acceptable as i have to stand garde every third day and the weather up here is bad, rain or heavy dews nearly every night and if he can send me one i will be very thankful to him.
in your 2nd letter, you say that you and the children are well. i am glad to hear that, and hope you and them may continue so. My love to you and them and all others mentioned in my former letters. The stamps were in both letters as you said. You say you thought i had forgot you, i told you i would not write before Wednesday after i got to camp and i wrote to you on that day. It is not my fault that you did not get the letter sooner. The 2nd letter I got back, the man i gave it to forgot to put it in the post office as he promised me he would.
It's of no use for you to fret or cry about me, for you know if i could have got work i would not have left you or the children. i think of you and them often and wish i could help you and them try to do the best you can for them and yourself. All that i can do for you and them i will. i am not entitled to any pay yet. As soon as i am and can get it, i will not forget you. If the Committy have not been to see you by the time you get this, go to Peter Williamson, Pine St. above 8th St.. You heard what he said to me the day i went to get the certificate signed for you. i think he will get it for you, if not let me know in your next, and when the Captain gets back i will get another for you with Colonel's signiture to it as well as a note for you to them; the other one's wives get it and so shall you.
As much as i would like to see you, i must say this place is not fit for you to come to - nearly 600 men, 3 miles from any town - some of them here 3 months and scarcely seeing any persons but those belonging to the camp are not very particular what they say, if a strange face comes among them. The officer who Thompson is aquainted with says i shall have a pass before we leave here, but will not say any particular time. Col. Ziegler says he intends to let all the Philadelphia Boys go see their friends before he takes them further. That piece in the paper is his brother, Thomas, not our Col.; his name is uncle Jake, so all the men call him.
You know i am very fond of oysters, but it will be too much trouble and expense to send them. We have plenty good food to eat here. You may send me some red peppers, as they do not give us any, and the only thing else i think of would be a pair of boots which i know you can not get at present, so i can make out with the shoes.
if your mother wants to take George with her, let him go, for he will have a good home there and be well taken care of. What was it i promised you before i went away, that i did not do or give you, i do not remember. Let me know. if you send anything up, the only way is by Adam's Express. you will have to pay for it in Philadelphia and take a receipt. Direct it the same as you do the letters. Moffitt has wrote to his wife 3 or 4 days ago. My love to you my Dear Wife. Kiss the children for me and tell them i have not forgot you nor them. give my respects to all yous and my people.
if Fred should give you the blanket, you make as small a bundle as possible of it and anything else you may send and send the receipt for it to me. You might send me the Ledger oust and awhile, the postage is one cent. Send a few plain envelopes.
Excuse this writing as i have to set down on the floor of the tent with a board crossed my knees to write.
From your loving husband to his beloved wife and children
Enoch T. Baker
Letter No. 3
Written November 18, 1861 from Camp Crossman. Baker's thoughts are of his family and the miserable weather in the mountains of Central Pennsylvania. He relates the happy news of gifts from Thompson, his friend, via the Adjutant, likewise an acquaintance of the afore-mentioned Thompson. He is also happy to hear his wife has indeed received some money from the soldier's aid committee.
Reports have been received that the troops may move soon, but will it be to Washington or Harrisburg? No one is sure. Another week will settle the question.
Baker reports about the new Sibley patent or pattern tents the unit has received and relates how the boys have spent so much time practicing how to set up and strike them. With some pride we learn Baker's unit is one of the best and quickest at it. At this point, we discover a seething rivalry breaking out between Philadelphia "city" boys and the "Juniatta" boys, the local hometown crowd. Hostility has turned into an apparent melee in which bloody noses and black eyes were exchanged. Baker, however, was not involved as his company was on guard duty at the time.
It seems there are now four regiments in camp, some including Baker's not full yet. Thus, the 110th Pennsylvania has not been born yet.
Some personal messages and small requests follow. He would like black pepper, a scarf (cf. the weather), a towel, etc. His thoughts turn to a hoped-for Christmas furlough if the unit passes through Philadelphia (it doesn't). Baker begins to wax philosophical about his service and separation from his loved ones, but assures himself he can make it, for at least he has good, plentiful hot food to eat even though the weather remains bitter cold.
My Dear Wife,
I write to let you know that i received your letter and was glad to hear that you and the children were well. i am well and harty at present. The weather here is bad. We have had snow and it is very cold particularly at night. The Adjutant brought me some smoking tobacco and pipes and a bottle of whiskey that he said Thompson sent up by him. Capt. Snyder brought some paper and envelopes a few days afterwards. i am very glad to hear that you have got your Committy money and wish i was able to send you some more, but as it is i cannot, for I have not one cent to my name, nor do not know when i will have. There is all kinds of reports here about our having to move soon towards Washington or Harrisburg. The officers say they do not know which place yet. i think it will be settled by another week. We have got the new Sibley pattent tents, and were busy all day Sunday putting them up and taking them down, so as to learn how to do it quick. There is four regiments on the ground. Ours is not full yet, but we had our tents packed up as soon as any of them and was twenty minutes ahead of the Juniatta Boys. At the last trail, some of the boys had a fight over it. Our Company was on garde at the time the fuss was and had no hand in it. Bloody noses and black eyes was all the damage done.
i am glad to hear that you have got a place to yourself, and that you have made out so well, also that George is with his grandfather and mother, for i know they will take good care of him. Tell Fred not to send the blanket till you hear from me again. Don't you send anything but a letter and that as soon as possible after you receive this. The kind of pepper i wanted is ground black and Cyanne for to put on vittels. The government don't give any. My breast pin is safe and the first chance i can get i will send it home or bring it myself. If you can, you may get me a scarf and one towel and keep them till you hear from me again. The greater part of the men have asked for permission to go home about Christmas, but can get no satisfaction. The Col. says if we go to Washington, he will stop in the city of Philadelphia for a day or two.
My love to you and the children. i often think of you and them and wish i could see and be with you again. Not that i am tired, for i think as far as i can see, if a man tries to behave himself, he can get along with the officers as well as if he was at work with a man at any business. I believe that i am at least 10 pounds heavier than i was when i left home. Being in the cold and running round the camp all day and two nights in the week makes a fellow hungry. We have plenty to eat, and after drill, it is allways warm for us - the one that cooks, does no other duty that day.
Give my best respects to all enquiring friends, all of yous and my people.
Tell Thompson that i am much obliged to him for his present, and i intend sending him a letter this week. My hands is so cold that i can scarcely hold the pen. In your next letter, tell me when you have moved and how you like it where you are. Write as soon as you can after you get this. Tell Moffitt's wife to do the same, and in my next i will tell you if there is to be any change in the way you are to direct your letters.
No more at present - it is so cold.
From your loving husband to his dear beloved wife and children.
Enoch T. Baker
Letter No. 4
Written December 13 1861 from Camp Curtin (named after the war governor Andrew Curtin), Harrisburg, Pa. This is a most interesting and informative correspondence, despite its brevity. We learn, for instance, that the regiment has been formed and is complete (i.e. consists of 10 full companies). The regiment is designated the 110th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry and has received the name "Juniata" Regiment, probably because six of the ten companies came from the region drained by the Juniata river, i.e. Juniata, Huntington, Mifflin, Clearfield, Center and Perry counties in central Pennsylvania. The other four companies were recruited in Philadelphia. Baker's Co. G seems to have been composed of men primarily from the Center City - Society Hill area of Philadelphia. Co. G's first Captain was a certain Capt. Cotterell. Cotterell also seems to have been involved, along with several other regimental company officers, in a scheme to sell for cash some of their recruits to other units then forming, in order to fill out the muster rolls with these new recruits. This reprehensible plot was discovered, however, and the officers responsible were arrested and will probably be cashiered, but the men themselves acted decisively and threw the offenders out of the regiment.
The newly-elected Colonel of the 110th is Col. William D. Lewis, Jr., a native Philadelphian and a most honorable man, well respected by his men and officers alike. The regiment is at Camp Curtin, under marching orders, preparing to join their new brigade in West Virginia (cf. my recent article on the history of the 110th and its campaigns).
Baker expresses his desire to visit home, but is obviously unable, because the distance involved and the fact that he only receives one pass per month and this furlough only lasts the day. He cannot even visit relatives who live in the area.
My Dear Wife,
In grate haste, i take my pen in hand to inform you that we have quite a time here - our officers, some of them have been caught trying to sell us to other regiments. The men all refused to go and have thrown them out of this regiment. We are now formed into the 110th regiment, Col. Lewis', and are under marching orders. We leave here next week for Western Virginia to join the other men in our Brigard. I would very much like to see you and the children before i leave, nothing but the money prevents me from coming. The persons you speak about as being in Harrisburg might as well be a 100 miles off as my pass to get out of camp is only 1 day in a month and that may not come while we lay here. The new Col. is here and the Regiment is full. He is a Philadelphian and a fine man. He was out to the other camp with us. The name of the Regiment is the "Juniatta" No. 110th. i don't know weather the Company (G.) officers will be changed or not. i will let you know in my next, as it is now time for the mail to start from here i must stop.
To my Dear Wife
i will write again soon, let me hear from you
Through further research and by obtaining E.T. Baker's military and pension records from the National Archives in Washington, D.C., I have been able to piece together some additional personal information about Baker and his family.
Enoch T. Baker was born sometime in 1828, as he was 33 years old at the time of his enlistment (October 21, 1861). He was married to the former Sarah A. Gilbert on September 8 1850, by the Rev. Abel Thomas of the First Universalist Church of Philadelphia. At that time he was between 19-20 years old, and Sarah was 18 or 19 years old. He had four children: Rebecca, born May 27, 1851; Elizabeth, born November 9, 1852; Enoch T., born May 6, 1855 and George G., born December 18, 1857.
While Enoch served in the Union Army, his wife resided at 1317 Rye Street in the center city area of Philadelphia. This street, however, no longer exists. Later, she would move to No. 8 Reed Street in Philadelphia.
Sarah Baker seems to have lived on until 1901 when she died at the age of 69. (This was the year she stopped collecting her widow's pension). Baker's last surviving child was Enoch T. Baker, Jr., who in March of 1930 resided at 55 Edgewater Avenue in Westville, N.J.
As I state above, Baker seems to have experienced dire financial difficulties which, in part, influenced his decision to enlist. Though Baker proves himself a dedicated patriot, his enlistment may have been induced by generous bonuses offered by local, state and national governments. A constant and overriding concern which flows like a leitmotif through his letters is the question of his pay: when it will come, how much it will amount to, and the poignant and touching assurances to an impoverished family that he will provide for them.
Enoch T. Baker appears to be a typical volunteer of 1861, though his service differs in some respects from the norm. At the age of 33, he is well past the average age of 26 years of the volunteers. He is married with four small children. He leaves his family in less than secure surroundings to fight for the cause of Union. Given his background, he may have avoided service until later drafts or perhaps avoided it altogether. Yet, he decides to risk his life and his family's future by serving at the front. What prompted this difficult decision? Did he agonize over it, or was it decided in a brief, blinding moment of patriotic fervor? This may be idle speculation or a fascinating investigation of the hard choices presented to ordinary citizens -- our ancestors -- during those exciting times!
You will recall that Baker has enlisted in a company of volunteers from Philadelphia, under a Capt. Cotterell. The men find themselves in a camp established in Central Pennsylvania, near Huntingdon, in the valley of the Juniata river. The weather is rough, the training harder, but Baker seems to be thriving. Soon the regiment -- the 110th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry "Juniata" Regiment -- is mustered, and Baker and his comrades find themselves in Company G. They are transferred to Camp Curtin, near Harrisburg, in December of 1861 where they are in marching order, awaiting the word for departure to the front. They will soon be posted to Western Maryland and West Virginia.
Letter No. 5
The regiment is awaiting orders to move out, which they will do on January 2, 1862. They entrain in Harrisburg and depart for Hagerstown, Md. from where they make a forced march to Hancock, Md., then held by "Stonewall" Jackson. The letter seems to be written in great haste, as the regiment may move at any moment. Reference is made to a ticket (a railroad ticket?) which has been wired up to Baker by his influential friend Thompson, referred to in previous letters. Perhaps Thompson sent him the ticket so he might come home on pass, but since he is under marching orders he cannot take advantage of the opportunity. Thus, Baker has sent the ticket back and requests his wife to return it. As a tender parting gift, he has sent his wife a small package. What small treasure can it contain? Once again, we hear mention of and concern for his pay and the accompanying promise to remit some when it is forthcoming. The correspondence closes with a request for precious postage stamps and the usual valediction.
Camp Curtin, December 30, 1861
My dear Wife,
I take my pen up to let you know that i am well and hope you and the children are well. Tell Thompson that i wird the ticket home up to Camp and am obliged to him. Capt. Snyder sends his best respects to him and Susan. Give my best respects to all inquiring friends. Send or take the ticket up. The other little package is yours. Take care of them and as soon as they pay me i will send down money to you. We are promised it soon. No more at present, i will write soon again. You can send me up a few postage stamps.
From your husband
to his dear wife and children
Letter No. 6
This correspondence was sent from Cumberland, Md. two weeks after the regiment had arrived in the area and been lightly engaged with the Confederates at Hancock, Md. on January 5, 1862. After brief skirmishing and long range artillery fire the Rebels withdrew and the Federal troops (including the 110th) followed on the Maryland side of the Potomac to Cumberland, where they concentrated and remained approximately three weeks. Cumberland became the home base of the Division, forming under General Frederick Lander, whom Baker names. The 110th was assigned to the 2nd Brigade under Tyler.
Baker begins the letter with some philosophical grumbling about the true meaning of soldiering. We find that campaigning in the mountains in January is not a pleasurable experience. We also see the men are adjusting to the march and are at the start of the slow process which will transform them into hardened veterans.
News seems to be hard to come by, as Baker indicates more can be learned from the newspaper accounts than from first-person observation. He informs us that he has been wise enough to retain his overcoat and blanket when others have discarded them, but his reward seems to be the need to share his good fortune with his foolish comrades. He is a bit fed up with his old pal Moffitt, however, who seems to have lost his cap which his comrades good-naturedly helped him find across the river and miles down the road. This is the last time they will help him, so Baker insists. Is Moffitt a "Jonah," who is a constant burden to his comrades?
The Rebels appear to be several miles off beyond the Potomac, but close enough to warrant constant vigilance. The men must perform picket duty by marching out 2 to 3 miles past the river and returning to report to camp twice a day. Considering the foul weather and rugged terrain -- not to mention the proximity of the enemy -- this must have been strenuous, even brutal, duty. Baker concludes with a plea for Sarah to write and explain how to direct the mail so it can reach him. He sends kind regards to family and friends and an apology to his father-in-law and the ever-present Thompson, who have obviously requested that he write them and describe any action or battles he has seen or experienced. Since Baker has been involved in no significant fighting and knows less than the newspapers' report, is exhausted from fatigue duty, must write on the cold, wet ground, has few stamps and little opportunity to write even to his own wife, he tactfully asks to be excused for neglecting correspondence. (Can he be blamed?)
Camp Lewis, Cumberland Alleganey Co. Md.
January 19, 1862
My Dear Wife,
I take my pen in hand to let you know that i am still alive and well and hope this will find you and the children the same. i begin to find out what it is to be a soldier. it makes no difference wet or dry hungrey or fed when the order comes you have to drop all and be off. Since i wrote to you before we have had another forced march of 40 miles to this place. At the time the order came we had just drawn our provisions for 2 days but we had to march off and leave them behind. all we had to eat for 3 days was 5 biscuits and such another site i never saw as that along the road. The march was over the bleuridge of the Alleganey mountains 5 in number from 3 to 4 miles up hill. Each one the men threwed away coats shirts drawers blankets and almost every thing they had (to) do without. you may think how comfortable that was with snow on the ground and it raining at the time slush knee deep plenty of sleeping room out in the open fields the first night. On the next day our wagons came up with the tents and stoves which made it better.
You can get more news about how the war is going on from the papers at home better than we can, for you never get to know everything going on outside of your own division. We have not seen any Rebels since we left Hancock, but the report says they had 100 men killed and 11 taken prisoners. That happened before our regiment got there, although we were there 5 hours before the fight ended.
As for myself i hung onto my coat and blanket and find the good of them. One blanket has to cover 3 of us at present. Moffitt still has his hat, it was left 2 days behind on the road, that will soon have to be stopped, if we cross the river and we look for that every hour. Last night at roll call we got orders to be ready for to leave at 30 minutes notice, and this morning we got the same orders. It is raining hard now and i suppose that is all that stops us from going, as our ammunition and rifles would get so wet that we could not use them. The rebels are 6 miles back of the Potomack at this point and, of course, don't trouble us. Our picketts go 2 to 3 miles into Virginia opposite here and report to Camp twice everyday. If you hear of General Lander's Division getting in a fight, we will be there. That is our General's name.
Sarah, i would have wrote sooner to you, but i kept putting it off, thinking that we would have been paid before this, as the Col. said everyday that we would get it the next, and even now he says that we will get it this week. If we do, i will not forget you, For as soon as i can write to you after i get paid off i will write and send you some money, for i know you must want it bad enough but cannot help it. If i could get it any way for you i would send it to you.
You might write to me. Direct your letter the way i tell you and then i will get it:
Enoch T. Baker Co. H
Cumberland, Alleganey Co. Md.
If you put that direction on, they will send it after the regt., in case we leave here before it comes. If you can, send me a few stamps. Remember me to all inquiring friends. Tell your father and Thompson, that it is so unhandy to set on the ground to write, and not having any particulars of a fight to tell them about, that they will please excuse me from writing. No more at present. My love to you my dear wife and children from your husband and their father.
Letter No. 7
Posted from Camp Saw Mill, located one mile from the Paw Paw tunnel station of the Baltimore and Ohio R.R., but across the Potomac in Morgan Co. (West) Virginia, February 20, 1862. The regiment has left Cumberland, Md., after three weeks of training at the brigade and division level, and been posted to guard this vital stretch of the railroad line connecting the Ohio Valley and the West with Washington D.C. and the East.
The elements are severe. They are up in the mountains in winter. Many are sick, including Enoch who seems to be suffering from a chronic cold (bronchitis?). He has received a letter from home and is responding to it.
Baker makes reference to an action, or skirmish, which occurred recently in his sector. He probably received a "Ledger" newspaper clipping about the fight in his letter from home, since it concerned this area. But he explains that this "fight" happened to other troops 5 miles further south on the road to Winchester, Va., and that he has heard it only lasted twenty minutes. Baker explains that the 110th belongs to the 3rd Division of General Lander who has 25 to 40 thousand men. This is erroneous: Baker means that the 110th belongs to the 3rd Brigade (Tyler's) of Lander's 2nd Division serving with Nathaniel Bank's 30,000 man V Corps.
The "Ledger" article must contain some information prejudicial to General Lander, for Baker defends him and lays the blame on other general officers. The result of this afore-mentioned skirmish must have been unsatisfactory to Union forces.
Baker now mentions a box which his family must have sent out to him, but which he has not received yet. The box has been directed to the regiment's base at Cumberland, Md., some 30 miles away. He reports that the Adjutant of the regiment will soon be going up to base and will check to see if it has arrived (and presumably return with it). Baker cannot go alone, as this is enemy territory and dangerous, except in groups. All must perform the necessary picket duty. They are assigned a company at a time, once a time. They must march out 5 miles from camp, guard their assigned sector, and be alert for attack, etc. The duty lasts one full 24-hour day.
Next, follows the ubiquitous and constant reference to the financial status of the family which seems to be no worse. His wife has been unable to find work, but at least continues to receive relief money from the Soldier's Relief Committee. His pay has still not arrived with the prospects dim, as other regiments have been five months without it!
An interesting note of information is the report of his former Capt. Cotterell, who enlisted the company (G). Capt. Cotterell is still under arrest for the late attempt to sell his men for money to other regiments. The Capt. must still be with the 110th, but perhaps his behavior has improved.
The new Capt. McKnight is "a cross, surly kind of man" whom Baker seems to avoid. Coming from the amiable, good-natured Baker, this analysis must mean the new Captain is a dictatorial, mean-spirited martinet. Baker has been appointed acting Sgt. of Company G, a very important and privileged position, which the humble Baker nearly forgets to mention, and only then as the position may benefit the family through extra pay.
Baker concludes the letter with an almost plaintive hope that he will once again be home with his family and loved ones.
Camp Saw Mill, 1 mile from Paw-Paw Station, Va. February 20, 1862
My dear Wife,
I write to let you know that i received your letter this morning and was glad to hear that you and the children was well. As for myself i am somewhat better than i was when i wrote to you last. there is no chance for to get (rid) of a cold here. We are up on a mountain in mud knee deep raining and blowing nearly all the time. We are under General Lander. And on the Winchester road, the fight in the "ledger" you sent me was 5 miles ahead of us and only lasted 20 minutes. We are in the 3rd Division of his line. he has from 25 to 40 thousand men under him. And it is not his fault we have not had a fight. there is something the matter with the other generals who was to act with him.
i have not got the box you sent me, nor have i heard anything of it. the adjutant was up to Cumberland and says it had not come. he told me that he is going again to Cumberland and have to stay pretty close together as all the people about here is rebels. our pickets go out 5 miles everyday and stay all night. my turn to go comes once a week. the whole Company goes together. i am sorry to hear that you have no work and hope you will be able to get some soon, for there is no certainty about our pay. there is some of the regiments here that have not been paid for 5 months. On the 10th of next month is the regular pay day. Weather we get it or not is another thing. if i get mine i will let you know as soon as i get it. i am glad to hear that you still get the relief money. the reason i wanted to know was because i heard that it was stopped.
Capt. Cotterell has not been tried yet. he has kept pretty straight since his arrest. Our new Capt. is a cross, surley kind of man, although i have kept myself clear of him. So far i am still acting as Sergt. in the Company, but do not know weather i will get the pay for it or not till i get paid.
Give my best respects to all inquiring friends.
My love to you, my dear wife. take good care of yourself and the children. the day may come yet that i will get home once again to stay with you and them,
Answer this soon and direct it as you did the other.
Co. G 110th reg. P.V.
Cumberland, Md. or elsewhere
Once more, my love to you my dearest wife from your husband
to Sarah A. Baker
from Enoch T. Baker
Letter No. 8
Baker reports that he is well, but has been suffering from an injured (frozen?) finger and the chronic cold he mentioned before. He could not answer his wife's last letter immediately since he received it while on the march and had no opportunity to write. The 110th has been sent out to pursue the Rebels under "Stonewall" Jackson, who approached to within 12 miles of the camp with 12,000 men, but as Baker relates, they got wind of the approaching Federal troops and were able to get away. Thus, the campaign and grueling march for Baker and his comrades was all for naught. He has returned to camp and is able to answer Sarah's letter.
A sad note is the fact that the beloved General Lander had died during the march. He had a chronic sore throat which developed into what Baker calls "diphteria." Baker and the men of entire division are saddened because Lander was revered as a kind and brave man, never asking of his men what he, himself, would not do. It seems that at a recent skirmish at Blomery Gap on about the 21st of February Lander had jumped off his horse and personally captured a Confederate colonel. As a sign of respect and admiration the men have marched to the railroad to accompany Lander's body to the car which will bear his body home for burial.
Baker announces that the box sent to him by his family has arrived. Something incredible has happened, however. The black pepper he requested has spilled over all the contents, but no damage has been done. On the contrary, the pepper has served to preserve the chickens packed inside, and though weeks in transit everything tastes fresh. (What a feast Co. G must have enjoyed!) Although Baker is grateful for the box and thoroughly enjoyed the delicacies from home, he asks his wife not to send any more boxes. It is too expensive to receive it from base camp (he had to pay to retrieve it) and, of course, a burden for his family to supply and ship it, not to mention the uncertainty of how long the regiment will remain at the present location or where they will be going.
Baker knows he will soon be moving on, but does not know the exact date nor his destination. They also do not know that their next commander will be Gen. James Shields. But Baker still encourages letters to be sent to him, since they can be dispersed from their Cumberland, Md. base. Letters and news from home provided an indispensable link with loved ones and were an important morale builder. It is quite remarkable how efficiently the mail operated during the Civil War, as witnessed by letters and packages reaching the front lines in a very short time and returning mail operating just as well.
Baker concludes, once again, with love for family and regards to his friends. He promises to answer all his wife's letters as promptly as possible. He has still not been paid, but continues to promise to send money as soon as it is forthcoming.
Black humor enters his letter at the end where he explains that it is very difficult to write when 20 men are jumping all over his tent. His comrades don't seem to care about the rights of others or respect their privacy.
Camp Saw Mill, 1 mile from Paw Paw Morgan Co. (West) Virginia
March 4th 1862
My dear Wife,
I received your letter on Saturday last and was glad to hear that you and the children were well. i am well at present. My finger is got well and i have but a slight cold. at the time i got your letter i was in the line of March and did not get a chance to read it till next morning. i should have answered it four days ago, but have not had a chance, as we started from here on last Saturday to go after the Rebels under General Jackson who was 12 miles from here with 12 thousand men. They got wind somehow that we were after them and left, so we had our march for nothing. We got back on Sunday night.
i suppose you will hear before this that we have lost our General Lander who died while he was on the march with us last Sunday. He had a sore throat called the Diphteria. The men feel sorry as he was a brave man and never asked them to go where he would not lead them. At the fight at Blomery gap 2 weeks ago he jumped off his horse and took the rebel colonel prisoner himself. Yesterday we marched down to the railroad with his body and put it in the car to go to his family.
This is the first chance i have had to write since i got your letter. i got the box you sent me. it came last Friday and everything in it was all right and well peppered. The lid had worked off the box of Blackpepper which was a good thing as it got all over the chickens and kept them as good as if i had got them the next day after they were cooked. Everything in it was very nice and in good order and i was glad to get them. But, my Dear, you had better not think of sending anymore, as it is so much trouble to get it and expensive besides. i had to pay 50 cents to get it from Cumberland here beside what you payed. There is no knowing how long we will be here nor who will be our general. We expect to move soon, but will have no troubles to get letters sent to us by the way of Cumberland. Till you hear different from me give my respects to all inquiring friends. My love to you my Dear wife. Take good care of yourself and the children. Answer this as soon as you can. i always answer your letters as soon as i get them with the exception of this, and i could not write any sooner.
If we get paid off next week i will write and let you know. Excuse this writing for there is about 20 jumping in and around the tent. They don't care whether it is on your back or not; one has as much right there as another.
No more at present.
Once more, my love to you my Dear Wife from your Husband,
Enoch T. Baker
To his Wife Sarah A. Baker
and the children
Letter No. 9
Written in some haste and with careless execution for reasons which become evident from the report Baker files. The reader receives information of great significance nonetheless. The 110thhas moved off, up the Shenandoah Valley, in pursuit of the Confederate army under "Stonewall" Jackson, in conjunction with the rest of its division and as part of Bank's V Corps. They have captured Winchester, Va. without firing a shot! This news obviously cheers Enoch and augurs well for the beginning of the spring '62 campaign. Most interesting, however, is the fact that Baker's Company G has been left behind at Paw-Paw station along with two companies of cavalry, detailed to commissary/quartermaster duty. It seems that Co. G is responsible for all the stores and distribution for the entire Corps of about 34,000 men! And the Captain of Co. G, McKnight, has assigned Enoch T. Baker 3rd Sergeant to be in charge of the store or main distribution center. This charge is certainly an enormous responsibility and a tribute to Baker, and a sign of the respect and high confidence in which he must be held by his officers, although, I hardly feel that Baker really appreciates the sentiments. To him, this is another hard job of long hours and back-breaking labor, a thankless, though vital, assignment far from the regiment and battle lines to which he longs to return. Baker has, in fact, been so busy for the last week -- the division broke camp on the 8th of March -- and working literally night and day to pass supplies to the front that he hasn't had a free moment to write. The only reason he now seems to be at leisure is the result of a breakdown of one of the railroad cars on the line to Martinsburg, Va.on which they are loading, necessitating the inevitable delay. This affords Baker some precious free moments to think of hearth and home.
Baker reports that he is well, so the injured finger and chronic cold must have passed. He does complain to Sarah that he hasn't received a letter for two weeks, but opines that they must be with the Regt's mail sent on to the front. He hopes any letters will either be sent back to him or he can obtain them when his company returns to the front, though the mails are at best uncertain and the situation in flux.
The shaky script, hurried words and soiled appearance of the letter attest to Baker's present state. He must be physically exhausted, working 18-20 hour shifts of strenuous labor for the past 10 days. His mind is also burdened with thoughts of home and a family in need, without the softening words the letters from the gentle hand of his wife could supply. Concern for his comrades at the front, worry about unreceived pay, the weight of responsibility and intense dislike of his company commander must all weigh heavily upon him. But, Baker is steadfast -- a most admirable man of heroic proportions. Hardly a complaint surfaces in his letters. He is constantly positive, even upbeat in his communications despite all travail and anguish. He remains a model of duty.
He concludes with his customary assurance that he will send home some money when pay arrives, though some uncertainty enters the equation for the first time. He continues with repeated thanks for the box he received earlier and reports that Sarah has sent him her photograph which he especially treasures. A final apology for the hurried and soiled appearance of the letter ends the correspondence.
Paw Paw, Morgan Co. Va. March 14, 1862 My Dear Wife,
I write to let you know that i am well at present and hope that this will find you and the children the same. Our Company has been left here with two companies of horsemen to guard the railroad and stores at this place while all the rest of the Division has gone on and are now in Winchester which place they took without firing a gun. i have not got any letter from you since the 1st of March and don't know how soon i will, as the mails are very uncertain at this point. What letters you have sent to me, i suppose, are with the rest of the regiment and i will get them when we get where they are.
Capt. McNight has detailed me at the store and i have been very busy for the last 10 days and nights, for all the provisions for our Division pass through his hands and it takes something to feed 30 thousand men and 4 thousand horses. We commence to serve out at 8 o'clock in the morning and it is 11 or 12 at night when we get done. So you may know what rest we get, this is the first chance i have had to write to you and the way i come to get this is (that) one of the cars broke down on the track we load on. My Dear Wife, i have not been paid off yet, and do not know when i will be but as soon as i get my money i will send you some on to you as i know you must want it.
In my last letter i told you that i got the box you sent me. i was very glad to get it and everything in it was very nice. i have your likeness that you sent me in it, as good as the day you had it taken.
No more at present
Excuse this writing and dirty papers, as i am in too much hurry to get better
From you husband to his Dear Loving Wife
To Sarah A. Baker from Enoch T. Baker
Enoch T. Baker is both a unique individual and a typical early volunteer of the American Civil War. A resident of Philadelphia, he has a family of two sons, two daughters and a beloved wife. At the time of enlistment he was 33 years old and seemed to be experiencing some severe financial difficulties which may have prompted, or at least, contributed to his decision to enlist. He is quite well educated, as evidenced by his polished literary style and the expressiveness of his depth of feelings. Though an ordinary citizen of no pronounced political convictions -- at least none surface in the text -- he seems very dedicated to our American ideals and the cause of Union. He proves himself to be hard-working, sober, and a dependable man of honor; someone to be admired and emulated. He is a man of heroic proportions, but in quite ordinary ways. He seldom complains, never makes excuses, remains cheerful and optimistic in the face of great adversity and hardship, is a concerned husband and father, a reliable friend and a dutiful soldier. In short, Baker was quite unique, but shares characteristics of many others on both sides who fought for higher principles.
Baker enlisted in the "Lewis Guards," a company of volunteers recruited in Philadelphia by the future colonel of the 110th, William D. Lewis. Lewis was trained in Huntingdon, Pa. and was assigned to the 110th Penna. Vol. Infantry: the "Juniata" Regiment (so named because six of the companies hailed from the valley of the Juniata river, located in central Pa.). At the time of these letters, Baker serves as the 3rd Sergeant of Company G. After a rigorous training period, which prepared them well for the coming hard service, the 110th P.V.I. finds itself campaigning in the Allegheny Mountains of western Va., skirmishing with the Rebels and maneuvering to contain "Stonewall" Jackson. The weather is harsh, the rations short and the duties exhausting, but the 110th, along with the other new men of the Army of the Potomac, are performing vital assignments and becoming veteran soldiers.
Letter No. 10
This letter was written in early April of 1862 and sent from Winchester, VA., where the regiment has been assigned to provost guard duty while the rest of Shield's division (2nd Division, V Corps) moves up and down the Shenandoah Valley in pursuit of Jackson. The Provost Guard are the military police and security forces of the Civil War army. They picket and protect vital supply lines and bases along the route of the army. They are the rear guard: maintaining order, securing prisoners and gathering deserters and stragglers. It is not the easiest duty -- they must always remain alert in enemy territory -- but they do have a static base and ample supplies.
Co. G of the 110th has just returned this day to Winchester to rejoin the regiment after almost three weeks of arduous fatigue duty in the rear echelons, where they were assigned to unglamorous, though necessary, commissary chores (insuring proper supply of subsistence, equipment, etc.) to the division. Baker's company has been at Paw-Paw station of the B & O railroad loading the cars with supplies for the advancing division and has missed the battle of Kernstown, VA. fought 23 March 1862. In this action the 110th Pa. were involved in their first major battle of the war (cf. my article on the true story of the 110th at Kernstown in the last journal). Though initially staggered by murderous volleys delivered by the famous "Stonewall" Brigade from behind -- appropriately enough -- a stone wall, the 110th regrouped, rallied and charged the enemy with great gallantry, capturing prisoners, arms and two guns for which they were complimented in official orders. In this action the regiment lost 51 casualties out of the approximately 300 engaged.
Baker writes his wife of his disappointment because he has missed the fighting and can't even inform her adequately until he gathers details from his comrades who were there. He expresses his relief to be back with the command, probably because of the hard, demanding service in the rear, and a genuine desire to stand with his regiment in battle and see combat. Baker states quite clearly that even if his company had done nothing in battle, he still would have liked to have seen it.
It seems that the regiment will not remain long at Winchester since they will be needed in the field, thus Baker desires a letter from his wife from whom he has not received a word in over a month! Knowing the importance the men held for mail from home and loved ones, and how general morale benefitted from an efficient postal system, poor Baker must indeed be in low spirits. Ever the optimist, he attributes this lack of word from home to a postal mix-up or perhaps his dear Sarah has forgotten to write... Nary a word of rebuke or complaint enters his letter, just a heartfelt wish for word from home.
Finally we have the usual assurance of a coming pay day and the customary promise of a portion of the pay to be sent home immediately upon receipt. The letter ends rather abruptly without the normal pleasant valedictions and messages of love. Since the letter concludes in this abrupt manner and at the end of a page, I feel certain the final page of the letter is missing and was lost in the course of time and was never included in the collection.
Winchester, VA. April 5th, 1862
My Dear Wife
I take my pen in hand to write to you once more hoping that you will at least let me know how you and the children are, as i have not heard from you since the first of March. i expected to get letters from you when i got up to the Regiment but there was none for me. i have written four letters to you since i got one, and as all the rest of the men got theirs, you must have directed yours wrong or forgot to write to me. i hope you will please answer this and direct it to Winchester or elsewhere.
i suppose you have heard of the fight that the 110th was in about 3 miles from here, and as our Company has just got here, i do not know much more about it yet than you do, as i have not made many inquiries as yet.
We got here from Paw-Paw this morning, and i am glad of it to get up with the Regt. again, and i was sorry enough that we was not here two weeks sooner so as to see the fight, even if we did nothing.
i don't think we will stay here long and wish you would write to me at once. We have the promise of our pay, that is: part of it, the first of next week, and as soon as i get it i will send you on some money. Perhaps it will be on the way by the time you get this.
Letter No. 11
The auspicious day has arrived! The Regt. has been paid and Baker finds himself in the office of the Adams Express in Winchester in the act of sending 25 dollars home to his destitute wife and family.
The amount is no inconsiderable sum for the period and is equal to two months pay for a private in the army ($13.00 per month). Baker is writing Sarah to inform her to report to the Adams Express office in Philadelphia as soon as she receives his brief note, and to present this letter or a possible receipt included (which has not been preserved) to Adams for the money which has been directed by wire in Sarah's name.
This process seems to be the usual way the Federal soldiers of the Civil War were able to direct money home to the family. Though service pay was irregular at best, as proven by the experience of Enoch T. Baker of the 110th, and the chance to wire money home though the private firm of Adams Express was limited to the availability of an Adams office in secure areas of the front, the operation seems to have functioned remarkably well. This is evidenced by the frequent, even constant, references to Adams' services in a great majority of the letters, diaries, journals and unit histories of Union soldiers of the period. Adams Express provided a profitable and essential morale-building service for the Federal fighting man and the home front, maintaining an efficient conduit for funds passing between the two fronts.
Baker concludes the brief note with a promise to write a more detailed letter upon his return to camp, dependent upon the opportunity to secure a postage stamp -- a most vital commodity! (In later stages of the war, soldiers will be allowed to send letters home without a stamp with only the marking "a soldier's letter" on the envelope).
An interesting note about the stationary must be made here. Most of Baker's letters have been written on letterhead featuring patriotic symbols and sentiments such as the stars and stripes emblazoned with "The Union Forever!" But this writing paper is unique since it features the impressive martial visage of William D. Lewis, Jr., Colonel of the 110th Pennsylvania! Perhaps Col. Lewis has ordered a supply from home in Philadelphia with which to reward his brave and steadfast boys for their gallantry at Kernstown. As a prominent lawyer from "the City of Brotherly Love," perhaps Lewis is aiding a future political ambition. His picture will, after all, appear on both fronts and please potential voters, both the soldiers in the field and their family and friends at home. This appears to be a shrewd and popular maneuver.
April 11, 1862 Winchester, VA.
My Dear Wife
I am well and hope these few lines will find you the same, as i am in the Express office now to send home some money to you. i shall but send you word about it and i will write to (you) when i go to camp if i can get a stamp.
Go on Monday or as soon after as you can to Adams Express and ask for twenty-five Dools (Dollars) which is directed to you. My love to you my Dear Wife. No more at present.
Enoch T. Baker
Write to me the minute you get the money
E. T. Baker
Letter No. 12
Almost a month has passed since Baker's last dated letter home (April 11 1862). It is May 9th and Baker and the regiment find themselves encamped 7 miles south of New Market, VA. in the Shenandoah Valley along the famous Valley Turnpike (now U.S. route 11) near the village of Mauzy just north of Harrisonburg. They have rejoined their brigade (Tyler's) and division (Shield's) here and are under marching orders, soon to depart the Valley through Luray Gap to march to Fredericksburg. There they are slated to become the extreme right wing of the Army of the Potomac under McClellan in his vaunted "Peninsular" campaign against Richmond.
Baker describes the weather as hot in the day and cold at night, rather typical of the Valley at this time of the year. Tyler's Brigade (including the 110th) has been marching up and down the Valley in pursuit of the elusive Jackson and his "foot cavalry," but it seems Jackson has escaped by burning the bridges and running in the face of strong Federal pressure.
As the troops are under marching orders for a long route, Baker surmises that Richmond is their goal since it lies but 170 miles to the east. The prospect of a grueling, arduous march over the mountains, across rivers, through valleys and forests -- all enemy territory -- seems not to ruffle our subject in the least. He states that the distance would be nothing were it not for the choking dust thrown up by the huge marching columns on the hard clay roads of Virginia. The heavy knapsacks whose straps cut into the shoulders and whose loads seemingly increase in direct proportion to the heat of the days are and added hardship. But, the heroic Baker will admit no grumbling over affairs out of his control. He will stoically bear up, as it is just "the soldier's fate." One thing which does rankle him and his comrades, however, is the recent tactics of the Rebels. Time and time again in the campaign when the Rebels are sighted, instead of turning and standing up for a fight they run like rabbits! The Federals must then pursue, running after the Rebels 10 or 12 miles or more, all to no avail. This was, of course, the strategy of Jackson: to draw the Federal Army from secure bases, prevent their use to support McClellan, to tire and exhaust the Yankees and to goad them into a blunder which he could take advantage of. In this he succeeded admirably. He also succeeded in bringing a curse to the lips of the ordinarily affable Enoch Baker, who is apparently tired and frustrated.
Baker again proves himself a loyal soldier who supports his General Shields and his tactics. Though they have failed to corner Jackson or bring him to battle, Baker feels the other generals are to blame since Shields' men have been in the advance and must wait for the other commands to act in concert.
The letter concludes with the expected reference to pay and other personal information, of passing interest. Two months pay were due to Baker since the first of the month, but who knows when the paymaster will arrive? Even if he is paid, there is no way to send any money home since there is no Adams Express so far from base deep in enemy territory, and Baker will not send any money through the mail because he believes the post to be unreliable. It seems he has not been receiving any letters which his wife presumably has been sending, and he is writing a letter a week which his wife does not appear to be receiving. Since the Baker letter collection does not contain these letters either, perhaps he is right about the mail.
The ending contains a hope that they will indeed soon be paid and in such a location where an Adams Express office may be located. As usual, he requests some precious postage stamps.
In Camp 7 miles below New Market, Va. May 9th, 1862
My Dear Wife,
I write to let you know that i am well and hearty and hope this will find you and the children the same. The weather here is very hot in the day and cold at night.
Our Brigade has been all over the Valley for miles round trying to find the rebels under Jackson, but he has burnt the bridges and run. We are now under orders for a long march, and as Richmond is only one hundred and seventy miles from here, i think that is where we are going. The distance would be nothing if it was not for the dust and the heavy knapsacks these hot days, but that is a soldier's fate and no grumbling unless it is when we get near enough to see the rebels and they run. For sometimes our men have to run ten or twelve miles after them, and if they do not get many of them, then you will hear some swearing.
If Gen. Shields had his way, we would have been miles away before now, but he has to wait for the other generals.
Write to me soon and direct your letter to New Market, Va.
The first of the month there was two months pay due me, but we do not hear nothing from any paymaster yet. And if i had it i do not know how i would send it home from here, as there is no Express and you could not trust the Post Office with it, as i know i do not get the letters you send me and perhaps you do not get them i send to you, for i have written one to you every week since i have been from home.
Perhaps, by the time they get ready to pay us i will be somewhere that i can send some home. i hope so anyhow. Send me two or three post stamps. No more at present. Excuse this writing.
My love to you, my Dear Wife
To - Sarah A. Baker
from - Enoch T. Baker
Letter No. 13
Dated the 25th of June 1862 and sent from Manassas, VA., this brief letter conceals much vital information and alludes to some heavy fighting the regiment has seen and the exhausting odyssey it has made through Virginia.
Baker's last letter was dated May 9th from New Market in the Shenandoah Valley, thus almost two months of constant campaigning have ensued. I take pause here to inform about the actions of the 110th during this period.
May 12 - The regiment left New Market for Fredericksburg to join McDowell's Corps and march to the aid of McClellan on the Peninsula. The 110th proceeded through the Luray Gap in the Blue Ridge Mountains were they were mustered for two month's pay.
May 18 - The battle (engagement) of Gaines' Cross Roads in the Blue Ridge. Ashby's/Jackson's cavalry engage the rear guard -- the 110th of Shields' Division -- in a delaying action, forcing the troops to deploy. The regiment suffers severely, losing 5 killed and many others wounded, captured and missing.
May 22 - Shields' Division marches into Fredericksburg from the Valley. It is here that the famous incident of the fence rails in Carroll's Brigade, (with the 8th Ohio) takes place. The 110th is also involved in this incident.
May 24 - Jackson attacks Banks' remaining troops entrenched at Strasburg, routs them and sends them fleeing down the Valley all the way across the Potomac to Harpers Ferry.
May 25 - After Banks' fiasco at Strasburg leaves the Valley lying naked to Jackson's depredations, Shields' division is ordered back to the Shenandoah which they left less than a week ago.
May 30 - Shields' division (with the 110th) reach Front Royal at the head of the Valley.
May 31 - Carroll's brigade skirmishes with the Rebels. Jackson begins a retreat up the Valley. Shields' follows on a parallel track, with the Massanutten Mountain between the two armies.
June 1 - McDowell arrives to take command.
June 9 - The 110th, with Carroll's and Kimball's brigades, engage Jackson's Valley army only one day after he has defeated another Federal army under Fremont at Cross Keys. These armies clash at Port Republic, and after initial success the Federal troops are defeated, and pushed back down Pleasant Valley (Luray) while Jackson's troops board trains for transportation to Richmond and will arrive in time to help defeat McClellan's troops at Gaines Mill.
June 10 - Shields' troops retreat slowly down the Luray Valley toward Front Royal, whereupon the retreat continues all the way to the defenses of Washington.
June 20 - The 110th retires to the Alexandria/Manassas lines. Here they man the defenses of Washington, rest and refit.
The day Baker writes, June 25th, marks a period of approximately one month out of the whole history of service of the regiment up to that time when the troops are inactive and on garrison duty. It will not be until July 26th, and with the transfer of the command to Pope, that their campaigning will resume. This rest and respite is, however, well-earned and desperately needed.
The actions, exploits and odyssey of the 110th Pennsylvania with Lander's/Shields' division in the Shenandoah Valley campaign of Spring 1862 paints a thrilling picture of adventure, hardship and courage of the volunteer soldier. Shields' men in 45 days had marched over 1,200 miles, fought two pitched battles and numerous smaller engagements and skirmishes, losing almost 50% of manpower in total casualties. 40% of the command were without shoes, 2% were without trousers and for many more clothing was equally deficient. And now, without any supplies, officers and men were well-nigh worn out (report of Gen. Nathan Kimball, Brigade Commander in Shields' Division).
Baker informs his wife that he has been paid for two months service on the 17th of June. At that time it seems he gave $25.00 and a letter to the Adjutant, because on that day the Adjutant returned the money and letter undelivered, together with an obvious curt and unapologetic reply. Baker also tells her that he was paid back on April 12th at Luray when the regiment left the Valley the first time for Fredericksburg, but was unable to send any money as there was no Adams Express office available. There is, however, an Adams Express in Manassas and he promises to send a sum home forthwith.
He then requests her not to send any more mail to him until he can write again and inform her of their whereabouts. Things seem to be quite unsettled at the moment and he is unsure of their orders and destination, etc... He also lets slip an implied rebuke for the post office, since he has not been receiving all his mail from home.
Mention is now made of a letter which he has received from home, dated the 28th of May, the first letter he has had in seven weeks! In the letter, he has learned of the death of a friend., Charley Smith (was he a soldier?), which he deeply regrets. He continues on to mention a bit of news to pass on to another friend, one Dick Smith. He reports on the disappearance of Frank Hogert, another member of his company, Company G, who was reported missing at the Battle of Port Republic back on June 9th, and has not been heard of since. Is he dead, lying in an unmarked grave, a prisoner of the Rebels, unaccounted for in some out-of-the-way field hospital, or has he deserted? These are some interesting questions raised which may never be answered. The only certainty is that "no one knows whether..."
With these ominous words, the letter comes to an unusual and abrupt end. Because all of the other letters have some customary fixed valedictory conclusion, and because the sentence comes at the end of a page of the letter, it seems clear that the rest of the letter is lost. It was not part of the collection, and we will probably never know of its contents, but it is interesting to speculate about: further reports of battle casualties, a detailed discussion of his role in the campaign, perhaps a listing of acts of heroism? Who can say?
June 25th, 1862 Manassas, Va.
My Dear Wife,
I write to let you know that i am well and hope these few lines will find you and the children the same. We were payed off 2 months pay on the 17th of the month and i gave the Adjutant of our Regt. 25 Dools (Dollars) to take on to you, also a letter, and this morning is the first time i have seen him since and he gave me the money and the letter back and said he had not time to attend to it. When i was paid off at Luray (Va.), there was no way to send money home! There is an Express Office here and i'll send it to you as soon as i can.
You had better not write to me untill you hear from me again, as it is uncertain what will be done with the Regt. or where we will go, and as we do not get our letters one half the time, i would rather you would wait till you hear from me.
This morning i received a letter from you dated the 28th of May. It is the first for 7 weeks. In it you speak of Charley Smith's death. i feel sorry to hear of it. Did you tell Dick Smith what i told about Frank Hogert? He has not been heard of since the fight. No one knows whether...
Letter No. 14
This next letter of Baker's is dated July 27 1862 and is posted from Warrenton, VA. The army is on the march again and the 110th is in the vanguard. This letter is one of the most informative and opinionated in Baker's entire series. He lists past battle actions, criticizes (uncharacteristically) Government and army policies, informs about the present condition of the regiment and opines on the use of negro troops.
As stated above, the regiment has been on garrison duty in the defenses of Washington near Alexandria since the Shenandoah Valley campaign, having arrived on or about June 20th. They have had a month to recuperate, rest and recruit. They have done picket duty as far as Manassas, worked on the fortifications and drilled. They have been silent observers of the battles taking place around Richmond on the Peninsula. But, all that changed with the arrival of a "savior" from the West, John Pope. Pope's ascension to the command of a new army, the Army of Virginia, dates to July 26th, 1862. He is charged with a vital task: gather troops from the vicinity of Washington, form them into a cohesive unit and march south to crush the Confederate army in a great vice between himself and McClellan, now secured in his base on the James after his repulse and retreat after the Seven Day's Battles. Baker's regiment and brigade (Carroll's) make up a part of Pope's new army and have been thrown forward to feel the enemy as shock troops.
Baker reports to his wife while on the march again. They are passing Warrenton, an old familiar haunt from the past campaign on the Warrenton turnpike, their direct avenue of invasion into Virginia. It seems the Rebels are at Culpeper, only 24 miles away down the "pike," and he feels certain they are in for another fight, but he implies that they haven't had sufficient men to give battle as their ranks are depleted. Baker indicates there are less than 200 men in the regiment left (out of an original 1,000).
The optimism which previously suffused his letters appears to have waned with the heavy campaigning, battle losses, poor food and incompetent leadership. It is being replaced with a growing frustration for army policy which seems so illogical and senseless. He questions why the 110th is being "used up" as shock troops or cannon fodder when there are fresh units in the Washington defenses who have been in the service as long as the regiment and have yet to have seen any action. Because of an apparent disdain by the army for the hard service the regiment has endured, the men have reached a new low in morale. Their spirits are at a low ebb. Baker proceeds to mention some of the hard fighting the 110th has seen to illustrate his point: Hancock, MD., Winchester (Kernstown), Luray, Port Republic and several severe skirmishes. The skirmish at Gain's Crossroads in the Blue Ridge Mountains, for instance, was as hard on the regiment as a pitched battle since they lost at least five killed and numerous others wounded, missing and captured. In this action, the regiment was only sent one company of cavalry to assist in the repulse of the Rebels!
The regiment is expecting some reinforcement (and in fact there was forming at that very time at Camp Curtin a company of troops which would become Company H of the 110th under Capt. Hopkins, but which will not arrive at the front until after Antietam), but Baker fears that if the 110th engages in battle and charges the enemy they would be unable to protect their colors, i.e. the regimental flags and standards which were of such vital importance to troops in the Civil War. The supreme ignominy for a regiment in the Civil War was to lose their battle flags to the enemy. Baker knows that the men would do their duty, but because they are so few there would be the unthinkable chance that they might lose their colors. He feels certain of a prevailing policy in the army which forces disbandment of any regiment losing its colors and the transfer of any remaining men to other regiments to fulfill their terms of service. For men who have trained, marched and lived together so closely for so long, who have faced death and shared the last drops of water from a canteen, and who have lost comrades who died drenching the colors with their last lifesblood, any thought of losing their symbol, their soul and their identity must have been especially abhorrent. Even the thought of the possibility for such a catastrophe must have made many hearts heavy and added extra strain, stress and torment to already taxed spirits.
Baker's wife has requested in a previous (now nonexistent) letter some of his hair to send home as a poignant remembrance and souvenir. He is unable to comply with the request, however, because he has had his hair shorn down to the nubs -- sort of a Civil War "high and tight" crew cut. He has taken this drastic step in order to avoid the concomitant problems of lice, dirt, oil and extra care which go along with long hair. We learn that lice are not as great a problem in the 110th as in some other regiments, perhaps because of more conscientious and cleaner men, shorter hair, or cleaner living. Maybe the 110th has just been lucky!
A great controversy has broken out in the army and in the general public about what to do with the negroes now pouring into the Union lines. Several attempts have been made to recruit them into military units to relive white units from drudgery details and free them for front line action. But once soldiers are armed, can their use in battle be far behind? This is an entirely new aspect of the war and is fraught with difficulties. It is not my purpose here to expound on so complex an issue. I only seek to reproduce Enoch T. Baker's ideas on the subject.
Recruiting blacks ("niggers," as Baker calls them - this seems to be a universal term in the Civil War period, as it appears in general use in all anecdotal accounts of the participants and was perhaps not perceived as being pejorative) into army service may cause a rebellion in the ranks of the Union army. Baker and most of his comrades in blue volunteered to put down rebellion in the South and save the Union. He is a patriot, but has no love for the abolitionists nor the slaves and their plight. Although he is against the concept of slavery he is not fighting to emancipate the slaves, but only to defend the constitution. His bitterness for the abolitionist fire-breathers is hardly restrained. He detests the slavocrocy which precipitated the war and is fighting to defeat them, but he is adamant that, though Rebels, The Confederates are first whites and former brothers who merit not the ignominy of former slaves trying to put them down.
Baker's answer to this dilemma is to simply hang a few of the politicians who perpetrated such an idea, and who play politics with the war effort instead of trying to defeat the Rebels. Given the proper leaders and necessary wherewithal, the present army could put down the rebellion without the need to recruit blacks into the service. (Editor's Note: Baker's comment about God, "niggers" and white men is also to be found on page 32 of "Tenting Tonight" by James I. Robertson Jr., one of the Time-Life books on the Civil War. He is also quoted by name on page 24, but his letters do not show up under his name in that book's bibliography. Apparently at least some of his letters have been published elsewhere...)
He concludes this most passionate letter with a wish that his lines find the family well and with a report that he had tried to secure a pass while in Alexandria to visit home on furlough, but was unable to obtain one. The only means available to him to visit home would be to get "French" leave, i.e. to desert. But he can never desert; his conscience and sense of duty would never allow it. He is doomed to follow his fate in the service without any chance to get home and see his family just one more time. He hopes for a letter soon, directed to him on the march and sends his best respects to all friends who inquire after him. He also apologizes for the poor writing since his pen is so bad and written from the battlefront.
Warrenton, Va. July 27th, 1862
My Dear Wife,
I wish to let you know that we are on the march once more. i suppose what there is of us left will have another fight before long, as the rebels are at Culpepper which is 24 miles from where we are now.
Our Brigade is in the advance waiting for the others to come up, and as soon as they do, i suppose we will go at them again. The men generally in our Regt. are not in as good spirits as they was a few weeks ago. They think the government is using them a little rough. And, as we have not got 2 hundred (200) fighting in the Regt. to be pushed ahead when there is plenty of men at Washington, Alexandria and other places that have been out as long as we have and not been in a fight as yet, while our Regt. was in the fights at Hancock, Winchester, Luray and Port Republic besides several skirmishes with the rebels; the one at Gains Crossroads was as hard on our Regt. as a general battle, for there was five of our men killed at that place and others wounded. 1 Company of Cavalry sent our Regt. was all that was in the fight on our side.
We have not got any new men as yet, and if we get into another fight it will be the last of the 110th, for if any Regt. was to charge on us, our men would fight as hard as they could, but there would not be enough of them to save their colors, and as soon as you lose them, they disband the Regt. and put the men in any other that they see fit.
In your last letter you asked me to send you home some of my hair, but i have it cut so close to my head now that i would have to have it shaved off. A man out here has to take care of himself or the lice would carry him off. We are pretty clear of them, but some of the other Regt.'s have more of them than they have men.
There is a great controversy out here about the nigger-question at present. If they go to sending them out here to fight, they will get enough of it, for it will raise a rebellion in the army that all the Abolitionists this side of hell could not stop. The Southern people are rebels to the Government, but they are white, and God never intended a nigger to put white people down. If they would hang a few of the speculating and beading (?) politicians who are trying to make presidents instead of good generals, the war would soon be over without the help of niggers.
My dear Wife, i am well at present and hope these few lines will find you and the children the same. i tried my best to get home from Alexandria, but could not without deserting and that i will not do at present.
Give my best respects to all inquiring friends. Write soon! Direct to: Warrenton, Va. or Elsewhere. Excuse this writing as my pen is bad. No more at present.
To my dear Wife Sarah A. Baker
from E.T. Baker
The 110th has been up and down the Valley of Virginia, marched to Fredericksburg, been returned to the Valley, engaged Jackson's "Foot-cavalry," been repulsed and finally retreated to the Washington defenses where they remained about one month. With McClellan's setback at the Peninsula and the commencement of Pope's campaign, the 110th has been included in the new Army of Virginia as part of Rickett's Division of McDowell's Corps. The regiment has advanced from the defenses of Washington down the Warrenton Turnpike where it met the enemy at Cedar Mountain in the vicinity of Culpeper, where, in the first letter of part IV, it now rests.
Letter No. 15
The regiment has advanced as part of Pope's Army of Virginia to attack the Confederates, now under Gen. Robert E. Lee, supposed to be entrenched around Richmond. Lee has, however, advanced Jackson to attack Pope's army while guarding against an advance from McClellan's Army of the Potomac, now resting below the James river.
Jackson has met the advance of Pope's army under Banks at Cedar Mt. (sometimes called Slaughter Mt.), south of Culpeper. After initial success Banks was driven back, with both sides suffering an almost equal and severe loss.
Rickett's Division of McDowell's Corps (of which the 110th formed a part as the fourth brigade under Carroll), was present at the battle but remained in reserve supporting batteries of artillery, though sustaining heavy cannon fire. Baker will tell later of an advance to capture a Rebel battery.
The battle has been fought and the regiment has spent the subsequent days skirmishing, picketing and marching: hard and exhausting work indeed. Baker opens his letter explaining his inability to write or post a letter in the previous weeks due to constant service in the field.
Baker reports that a large detail (100 men, 1/3rd of the regiment) of the 110th has been assigned to guard the bridge over the Hazel River (actually a creek), and he indicates some dissatisfaction or at least patient resignation to his selection to the detail. It seems he is always being picked for arduous duty. Is this an indication of his valuable service?
Since the bridge is deep inside Rebel territory and the populace hostile, with the prospect of Jackson or Stuart popping up at any moment, the men have had to be especially alert, thus necessitating long hours of vigilance and little sleep. The detail has, however, been relieved and the men must now hurry forward to join the regiment, 12 miles ahead.
A note of uncharacteristic discontent enters Baker's narrative, as he expresses his strong opinions of the commanders. He holds the common soldier's hatred and disdain for McDowell, thought to be a coward and worse, a traitor since he remained unengaged before the enemy at Cedar Mt. Although Gen. Shields was relieved from duty over a month ago, Baker believes he will take command and lead the Corps/Division onward to Gordonsville, the original goal of the campaign. Is this perhaps a camp rumor or a report that Baker has received? In any case, it will prove erroneous.
A further report, which Baker mentions and which will prove highly accurate in the next few weeks is the Confederate plan to advance into Maryland and even Pennsylvania. Baker guesses the ultimate goal of Lee's present campaign is to carry the war into the North, resulting in the Maryland campaign of September 1862 which was blunted at the battle of Antietam (17 September 1862). Perhaps Baker should be placed in command since he anticipates the entire Confederate plan and its outcome!
It seems Baker has been ill in the immediate past, but now feels better, though weakened. The troops have eaten well while at duty at Hazel River. They have feasted on abundant supplies, and expropriated food from the Rebel farms and fields. Baker gleefully reports that the men have helped themselves at will to the bounty of Rebeldom, and have even sent bounteous supplies ahead to the regiment. It appears to be a fact, that the soldiers of the Civil War lived better off the land while on campaign than they did while in static camp supplied from the commissary. Baker closes by expressing a hope to come through the campaign safely, if he can avoid balls (minie balls) and bayonet. He intends to finish his term of service. He excuses his writing, since he has no ink, and won't carry it, as it is unhandy and inconvenient. He uses instead what appears to be either lead pencil or charcoal. The script is clear, but heavy and faded in places. His customary valediction closes the letter.
August 16, 1862
My dear Wife,
I take this the first chance of writing to you since we left Warrenton on the 5th of the month, as we have been ever since where there was no post office or anything else or way to send or to get a letter.
There was one hundred (100) of the 110th picked out to guard the bridge over Hazel river and keep the enemy from burning it until we could find out how the fight would go on at Culpepper, and as a matter of course i was one of them picked upon to go back and help, and a happy time we have had of it! i do not believe one of us has slept 10 hours for the last 10 days, for it is in such a strong Secesh neighborhood, about half-way between Warrenton and this place, and the citizens kept such a running back and front that it would not do to be caught napping. Last night at 12 o'clock the 27th Indianna Regt. came to relieve us and we are now going to join the Regt. again. It is 12 miles ahead yet, but we will catch them tomorrow, and then we push right on to Gordonsville after the Rebels with Jimmy Shields at our head instead of that damned traitor and coward McDowell, who let Sigel's troops come 14 miles to help in the fight here before he got his men in line to march and then he was too late to help, but the Genl. Pope has taken him in hand for it and if the devil does his share, I think it will be a benefit to the country. There is a great many new troops coming out here and they are not one day too soon, for Jackson is doing his best to get behind us so as to get into Maryland and Pennsylvania to make his "grey" good, but if he does he will never be able to get them back, for we would soon have men enough to reach from one end of the Potomac to the other. He had better stay in front, if he knows when he is well off.
i am getting better than i was when i wrote you the last letter, in fact, i may say that i am right well, but weak. We have been living first-rate at Hazel river, plenty poultry, corn, tomatoes, beans and all kinds of vegetables just for the trouble of going out to the garden and helping yourself. If they give any gripe about it, we don't leave much behind for them there either to find such a strong Secesh stand. We did every field in hope to find more and sent about sixty bushels to the Regt.. The fields could not yield earlier in time.
i hope to hear about you and to find you and the children well. You will remember me to all inquiring friends. Tell friends about this and if I can keep clear of the balls and bayonet, i will be able to put my time through yet.
Excuse this writing, i have no ink and if i had, it is unhandy to carry. My love to you, my dear wife.
To - Sarah A. Baker
From - Enoch T. Baker
Letter No. 16
Momentous events, hard campaigning and heavy battle service have preceded this letter. Since the 110th was stationed at Culpeper, Pope's Virginia campaign has unfolded culminating in the disastrous defeat at the 2nd Battle of Bull Run. The routed Union army, chased behind the fortifications ringing Washington, demoralized, beset by internal squabbling over command by the commanders even in the face of the enemy must rest, regroup and be reorganized.
The 110th were marched by the right flank from Culpeper and raced to the Thoroughfare Gap in the Bull Run Mountains to block the approach of Longstreet's Corps attempting to link up with Jackson, now dug in the rear of the Federal Army. Rickett's Division (of which the 110th forms a part) was brushed aside, sustaining heavy casualties. They then marched by a long circuitous route behind the main Federal battle lines and arrived on the left flank of Pope's army at Groveton, where they witnessed the slaughter of the Zouaves of the 5th New York and fought along side with the Pennsylvania Reserves who had recently arrived from the Peninsula.
Routed and pushed across a rain-swollen Bull Run after sustaining many casualties in the heavy fighting, the 110th has fallen back to the protection of Alexandria, forts and gunboats. Enoch T. Baker now takes his first opportunity to write home in over two weeks.
Baker opens by reporting he is indeed alive and unhurt, since his family would have known about his heavy service from the battle reports in the newspapers which supplied almost overnight news being linked to the front by telegraph. He tells of the campaigns of the 110th on the front line, beginning with Cedar Mt. (9 August 1862) which he calls Slaughter Mt. (after Dr. Slaughter who farmed it). Baker's brigade, viz. Carroll's 4th Brigade, 2nd Division, III Corps of Pope's Army of Virginia, charged a Rebel battery with its band playing "Dixie" which was as popular with Union soldiers as Confederate. Though they advanced up to within 30 yds. of the guns, they were pulled back. Baker ascribes this to Gen. McDowell whom he and many of his soldiers believe to be a traitor.
Rappahannock Station was the regiment's next action where they drove off the Confederate cavalry and burned the bridge over the river as well as excess supplies. Then followed the action at Thoroughfare Gap (28 August 1862), already mentioned. Though Baker implies a Union victory, the end result was a defeat, as Longstreet poured his men in on the flanks of Rickett's division and forced them back. 2nd Bull Run followed and Baker relates an interesting tale of battle action of the night of Aug. 29th. The night shielded the Rebel advance until they were within 10 yards of the Union line. Though hailed, they claimed to be "friends of the Union." A lieutenant of the 110th went out to see their colors, only then was it discovered that they were the enemy. The Rebels fired a point-blank volley, felling many men, but somehow Baker survived. It was at this point that the colorbearer of the regiment was captured, but valiantly tore the flag from the staff, hid it under his coat and then escaped, only to return later to the regiment's camp, no doubt to a joyous reception.
After nearly drowning while crossing Bull Run, the regiment was engaged at the Battle of Chantilly (1 September 1862), which Baker calls Fairfax. Here the Rebels under Jackson were repulsed, but the Federals could not pursue and exploit the victory as the Rebels posted strong reserves. Only after this 20 day campaign of marching, with five major engagements and severe loss did the regiment retire within the defenses of Washington. Baker states the 110th has sustained 80 casualties, killed, wounded and missing (missing indicates those taken prisoner). Since the regiment only counted approximately 200 men fit for duty, 80 casualties represented a 40% casualty rate -- heavy, but for this past campaign and future ones only average.
Sept. 4th, 1862
My dear Wife,
I take pleasure in letting you know that i am still alive and unhurt. For the last 20 days and nights we have not been out of the hearing of cannon firing and during that time we have been with our regiment 5 different days and nights to the front of the field; the first was Slaughter Mountain where our Brigade went into the field with the band playing `Dixie' and after going up within 30 yds. of the rebels cannon were ordered back by the Arch-traitor McDowel for fear we would take it.
The second tense time was at Rappahannock Station where we drove the Cavelry off and burnt the bridge and stores. The Third was at the Thouroufare Gap where 10 thousand of our men drove 60 thousand back who were coming to reinforce Jackson, but we were too soon for them and there first. It is a place like a Street through two mountains and whichever party would have got there first could easily keep the other off.
The 4th day was on Saturday last of Bull Run where in the front and center we stood our ground until one hour before dark when we were ordered back not knowing what for and in a few minutes the whole line was in confusion commencing on the left. We were told 'n told not to fire as the men coming was our own men, but instead of that, it was the rebels who had out-flanked us and was cutting our own men down by hundreds. We rallied again at the hospital and after dark, so as to make a stand. The rebels came up within 10 yds. before we seen or heard them it was so dark, and such a noise. We hailed them to know who comes. They answered, "friends to the Union"!, and said they belonged to Sturgis' Division. One of our Lieutenants went up to them and asked to see their Colors. That was the first we knew of they're being the enemy. They fired and we returned it, but how ever one of us escaped is more than i can tell. Our men fell all 'round me before, 'long side, and behind me. Still i got off without being hurt. i came very nigh being drowned crossing Bull run by being crowded off the ford so as to let the cannon cross. The last fight we were in was on Monday at Fairfax. There we whipped the rebels bad, but as they had a strong force behind, we could not follow them. Our regiment has lost about 80 men killed and wounded and prisoners.
No more at present. As soon as we get a little settled, i will write to you. My love to you.
E. T. Baker
I AM WELL
Letter No. 17
The 110th has crossed the Potomac, and is resting within the city. It will soon be posted to the fortifications near Arlington, opposite Georgetown on the Virginia side.
In this letter, Baker continues to recount his experiences of the 2nd Battle of Bull Run and campaign. He speaks of a hard time. He recounts his near drowning in Bull Run and describes the slaughter of the 5th New York (Duryea's Zouaves) to whose right the 110th Brigade was posted in the line. He tells how the Zouaves lay so thick upon the bloody ground that Baker and the other men of the 110th were required to move the bodies in order to secure room to walk.
Baker describes some further grisly sites he has observed during the campaign. At Fairfax Station (27 August 1862) the regiment was assigned to load the wounded onto the railroad cars for transportation back to Washington. This they did until the Rebels appeared, forcing them to burn the government stores, and since they had no time to bury the limbs amputated at the field hospital there, they were forced to burn those as well.
Turning back to a description of the 110th's experience in the great battle, Baker tells of his place in the line where his company --Company G -- was posted next to the colors, and it was here that most of the men fell. This is consistent with most engagements of the Civil War, as the colors of a regiment tended to draw a concentrated fire of the enemy. The colors made an inviting target. 20 men of the regiment were killed within a 50 yard area of where Baker was posted, sometimes standing and at others lying down to avoid the enemy volleys and cannon fire. At this point, Baker injects a bit of humor into his sanguinary, though fascinating tale. Perhaps to lighten an otherwise heavy account of death and destruction, to relieve tension and subtly reassure his family, he converts the deadly artillery fire into a amusing pun. He jokes that the Rebels must have thought that the boys in blue were "gals," i.e. girls unable to bear up or take it, because as balls and shells fly by they seemed to be saying "sis-s-s-s" (possibly "sister"). Baker now reports on the strength of Carroll's brigade (now under Thoburn since the wounding of Carroll) after the recent campaign, keeping in mind a full regiment consists of 1040 officers and men. The 1st West Virginia has 140 men, the 84th Pennsylvania 119 men, and the 110th has 122 men fit for duty. The Brigade totals a mere 379 men where 3,000 are expected. Since both the 84th and the 110th never boasted a full complement of 10 companies, both coming into service with only nine, both are now expecting the addition of an extra company which are organizing at Camp Curtin in Harrisburg. The additions are, however doubtful at the present time as Baker has heard reports that the Rebels are in Pennsylvania. (This is Lee's Maryland Campaign of September 1862). Here Baker expresses some invective toward the Rebels, hoping they will indeed invade his home state, so that the Union army can get at their flank, and the men will take no prisoners, as the Rebels have raised the "black flag," signaling that they intend to grant no quarter and will kill all prisoners; now the Union men will indeed hold them to their boast!
Baker concludes by promising to send money home when and if they are paid soon, as promised. He will wire the money by Adams Express. Here he returns to a theme which pervaded his earlier correspondence, but has faded with the excitement and concerns of the late campaign. Now that Baker is secure in static camp behind the defenses of Washington, his thoughts return to his family obligations. His customary valediction concludes the letter.
110th Pa. (Thoburn) September 9th, 1862
In Camp near Georgetown D.C.
My dear Wife
I take my pen in hand to let you know that i am well and hope that these few lines will find you and the children the same. i wrote to you as soon as i could after i got to Alexandria to let you know how i made out and i tell you it was hard enough. i came near being drowned in Bull's Run on Saturday of the fight at that place. The Division we were in that day, General Ricket's lost more men than any other. The 5th New York who were on the left of our Brigade lost 320 men within the space of 200 square yds.. On one part of the ground they lay so thick that we had to move them before we could get room to walk.
And you talk about seeing awful sights, there was some of them there and at Fairfax Station where we had to load the wounded in the cars. We staid at the Station on Thursday till the rebels were in sight and then set fire to everything we could that belongs to the government such as grub. They came so close on us that we had not time to bury the limbs that had been cut off the wounded in the depot but had to set it on fire and burn them.
Our regiment has suffered pretty severely again. We have lost about 80 in killed, wounded and missing, our Co. has had two killed and 5 missing who we cannot tell anything about whether they are killed or prisoners. i came off lucky, for right by our colors when most of our men fell was the place that our little Company was stationed. There was at least 20 killed within 50 yds. of where i lay and stand together as occasion required it, for when their shells came across they did not pay much respect to anyone. They must have taken us for gals, they kept saying `sis' to us every few minutes and every now and then making our Brigade still smaller. i will give some account of how many there is in it now. In a full regiment there is 1040 officers and men. There is now in the 1st Virginia (West) regt. 140 men fit for duty, in the 110th 122 men fit for duty, in the 84th 119 men fit for duty; strength of Carroll's Brigade 379 men and that is our full strength at present. There is men coming to our regt. and the 84th, unless the Govenor stops them, as i hear the rebels are in Pennsylvania. If they are, i suppose they will destroy everything before them. i hope they only go far enough for us to get in behind them, for the men swear that if they get at them in their own State they will not take any prisoners, and as they have raised the black flag before, we will keep them to it.
My dear Wife we have the promise of getting our money next week and if we do, i will not forget you. If we are here or anywhere that i can send you some by Express.
Answer this soon as you can direct to E. T. Baker Co. G 110th regt. P.V. Carroll's Brigade, Georgetown D.C. or elsewhere
my love to you to Sarah A. Baker from E. T. Baker
Letter No. 18
The 110th, as part of Carroll's Brigade, has been posted in the fortifications of Washington. They are stationed in the entrenchments between Fort Cass and Tellinghast behind the former mansion of Robert E. Lee: "Arlington House," opposite the capital city. The regimental camp is located in a woods approximately 100 yards in the rear of the Custis-Lee mansion, and presently located in Arlington National Cemetery, with the forts now part of Fort Myers. Here the regiment will remain until October 17, 1862 when they leave to join the Army of the Potomac encamped near Harpers Ferry. As part of the force guarding Washington, they took no part in the Battle of Antietam (17 September 1862), nor in the Maryland Campaign.
Baker opens by gently rebuking his wife for not answering his numerous letters. He ascribes this dearth to erroneous addressing, and supplies the correct format. He asks for postage stamps, since they are hard to obtain in camp.
Weak from a severe case of diarrhea, Baker is having trouble getting about but is otherwise well. He relates that the regiment has taken no part in the latest battle (Antietam), but is instead part of the force protecting the capital. He then describes their post in the entrenchments. He reports that they have not yet received their pay, but opines that it is being deliberately held back, since most of the men would return home for an unauthorized visit if they were paid. The regiment has been in the service for a year now, and most of the men have seen neither loved ones, nor home during that time. Furloughs are impossible to get now with the Confederate invasion of the area, and in fact a force of Rebels of unknown size was in the immediate area, but driven off by cavalry.
Baker closes with expression of love for his family and reassurance that with the exception of a case of dysentery he is well, and once again requests postage stamps.
Arlington Heights, Va. (Opposite Washington) Sept. 21, 1862
My dear Wife,
This is the fourth letter that i wrote you since we got back from the Rapadan river and i have not as yet received any answer. The one i sent you from Georgetown i put in the post office myself and you must certainly have got it. All of the others in the company get their letters and you must direct it wrong or i would not get it. The proper way to direct a letter is:
E. T. Baker
Co. G 110th regt. P.V.
Washington D.C. or Elsewhere
This letter takes the last stamp that i have and although we are laying opposite Washington, it would be easier for you to get this than it is for us and in camp you can not get one.
I have the diarrhia very bad for the last week back and it has made me so weak that i am hardly able to be about, otherwise i am well enough. i hope these lines will find you and the children well.
We had the promise of our money last week, but it did not come and there is no telling how when we will get it. When we do, if I am where i can send you some by Express, i will send it to you.
We have not had anything to do with the fight of this last few days. They have stopped us here as part of the force for the protection of Washington. We have charge of a breastworks running between 2 forts. It is a quater of a mile long and opposite to the Leesburg road. Our whole Brigade is here on the works and it would not make half a regiment.
I want you to answer this as soon as possible, as there is talk of our having to move again. Most of our men have been enlisted now 1 year and if they get paid here, most of them will go home whether they get a furlough or not, and for that reason i am afraid that we will not get our pay here. You might as well try to fly as to get a furlough here, and in fact no reasonable person would expect one at present. While the enemy are threatening the Capitol. Their pickets were within 8 miles of here on last Thursday night, but our Cavalry drove them back, but when there was a chance to let some of our men go home, they would not let them go, and there is a great many of them now if they get off, will never come back.
My love to you my dear Wife and children. Give my best respects to all inquiring friends. Tell them that I am pretty hearty and with the exception of the disentery i am well. No more at present. Write soon and don't forget to put a stamp in the letter.
to - my dear Wife Sarah A. Baker
My love to you E.T. Baker
Letter No. 19
Baker has finally received a letter from home and learned of the good health of all. He would have replied sooner, but was waiting to see if he could report progress on his pay which is still undetermined. It seems the army wants to ascertain the amount of clothing and equipment lost by each man in the previous campaign and deduct its value from his pay. Much has apparently been lost, since Baker states that some men will come out with slim pay if the army persists in making up lost accounts. How can the men be responsible for equipment stacked before battle upon the orders of their officers, after which they were driven back and unable to retrieve their packs? This dilemma will be solved in a few days, so he believes.
An interesting side light in the letter is Baker's discussion of a possible visit from his wife. He must have learned in her letter she planned to travel to Washington to visit him. Baker advises against such a visit at this time since they can move at any moment and civilians cannot get passes to cross the Potomac, and he might have duties to perform.
The name of Moffit crops up again. This is Baker's "Jonah" (a Civil War term for a "Klutz") friend John H. Moffatt, who enlisted with Baker in Co. C but was discharged earlier for disability. Moffatt is now home in Philadelphia and corresponding with Baker and in contact with Baker's wife, once again making a nuisance of himself.
Baker now responds to a reference in his wife's letter to a letter written to him by a friend, one Charley Miller, but which he never received. He sends a response via this letter to his wife. We learn that Baker and Jim Wilson -- another soldier of Co. G, probably along with the aforementioned Charley Miller -- were members of a Philadelphia fire company which he abbreviates "H.H." Company. The second H probably stands for Hose. I will research the name and hope to supply information on this fire company in the next article. What passes now is a friendly report of his service couched in hidden terms to be understood by the firemen. He reports he has not been afraid in battle (he calls this fear the "cramp"), and suggests it must be bad if even old no #6 won't cure it, and then inquires in the same vein about a certain Tom Peto whom he implies did suffer from the "cramp" even after imbibing in old #6, obviously a type of liquor. Has Peto been discharged for cowardice?
Baker now related his search for his brother-in-law, Fred Stafford (his wife's brother?) who is purportedly a member of the 114th Pennsylvania Volunteers (Collis' Zouaves). The Zouaves are posted nearby, but Baker is unable to leave camp, as he is a sergeant of Co. G and must remain on duty. Other members of the 114th have promised to tell Fred to visit Baker. Because the 110th is one of the few veteran regiments in the fortifications, they are being held in camp without passes in order to serve as skirmishers in case of a Rebel attack. The many new units coming in can't be trusted to provide such a vital service until they have been under fire.
Baker reports he is recovering from his bout with diarrhea and feels better. It is ironic that he ate best and felt best while on campaign where he could live off the land than now in a static camp, well supplied by the government.
In response to an inquiry by his family whether he would like to be sent anything from home, he indicated he would like many things but it is too inconvenient to obtain any boxes at the front. Perhaps he is only discouraging his wife from sending anything because he knows she can not afford to send anything and the procedure is expensive. Baker once again reveals his quiet and noble nature. He suffers all and asks no reward.
Camp Case (Opposite Washington, D.C.)
September 28, 1862
My dear Wife,
I received your letter on Wednesday last and was glad to hear that you and children are well. i would have answered it sooner, but i thought i would have been able to have told you something about our pay. It is not settled yet. They are trying to make us pay for all of the clothing that we lost by going into the different battles, and if they do that some of us will come out slim enough. It will be settled though in a day or two. and as soon as we are paid, i will let you know.
This is the first letter that i got from you for six weeks and if Moffitt or anyone else says that i told them i got a letter from you they lie. When i was first at Alexandria you said that if you had known that i could not have got home you would have come down. I told Moffitt to tell you not to come, for there is no telling what minute we have to move day or night, and if you were here in Washington now you could not get over the Potomac to see me for they will not give passes to any but soldiers at present. If i knew you were there i could get a pass if i was not on any particular duty to come see you.
i never got Charley Miller's letter, or i should have tried to answer it. Tell him that there is 2 of us H.H. Company fellows here: Jim Wilson, the cooper and myself. Neither of us got the cramp in the stomach on the field of battle as yet, and then ask him if Tom Peto has got it right well. The cramp is very bad when no.# 6 won't cure it.
i have inquired around to see if i could find out where the Zouaves are that Fred belongs to, but can not find out for certain. i saw a couple of them and they said they would tell Fred to come up and see me. i have to stay close to camp all the time. The longest every any of our Brigade is getting out for [is] 3 hours at a time. i suppose that the reason of that is because we are the only old troops that are very close to the 2 forts here, and if the rebels should come they want us as skirmishers as they are afraid to trust the new ones until they have seen a battle or that kind of work, as it is no fun. i am getting better than i was when i last wrote to you and with the exception of the diarrhes i am right well. i am glad you and the children are well and hope you may continue so. You want to know if you could send me anything from home. There is many little things i would like to have, but it is more trouble to get than they are worth, even when they are sent by Express it has got to be a humbug with boxes.
Give my respects to all inquiring friends and tell them i still keep right hearty. No more at present. My love to you my dear wife and children.
To - Sarah A. Baker
From - Enoch T. Baker
Letter No. 20
Baker opens with an acknowledgment that he has received his wife's last letter and is elated to have found some change (coins) inside, for he has had no money for two weeks and has been unable to buy himself some tobacco. We learn that he is recovered from his recent illness and is now able to partake of the army rations: fat, pork and beans -- lucky Baker! Again we learn that the men live better off the land while on campaign than when supplied by the army commissary. At the front, the men can take from enemy territory what they will. Once again, Baker reports that they have not yet received their pay, although the payrolls went back to the war department with the complete clothing accounts on them, thus the way has been cleared for payment, and the men have only to await their turn for pay.
Baker's wife has asked in her last letter whether he can come home for a visit. The answer is an unequivocal no. Baker cites an example of one soldier who was who was allowed a brief furlough only long enough to attend his father's funeral. Only the wounded or discharged are now allowed home. Baker refers his wife to the General Order on the subject of furloughs, recently promulgated by Gen. Banks which has appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Though Baker yearns to visit home and family, he knows he can not at present and is needed at the front.
Again he dissuades his wife from attempting a visit to his camp. The trip wold be costly, i.e. ten dollars -- over half a month's salary just to get to camp. She would have no place to stay while in Washington, and Baker would only be able to obtain a brief pass to visit her in the city. Even though it seems that he does not want to see his wife, he is actually concerned for her welfare, helping her to avoid an unpleasant disappointment and excessive expense.
Baker reports that the colonel of the 110th, William D. Lewis Jr. of Philadelphia, the man who helped raise his company and a respected lawyer, has left camp to visit Governor Curtin of Pennsylvania to solicit additional troops for the regiment, since in its present depleted condition it cannot continue to render fair and effective service. If Col. Lewis fails in his attempt, he threatens to resign his commission as a protest, or at least as a bargaining chip in his negotiations. The regiment will indeed receive an additional company (Co. H from Blair County), and some scattered recruits, and Col. Lewis will remain until after the battle of Fredericksburg. He'll resign on 20 December 1862 because of physical disability, and be succeeded by Col. James Crowther.
Baker expresses the remote hope that should new men arrive for the regiment, perhaps some of the old, original veterans may be granted a furlough. But if the men are paid now, many will take "French" leave to visit home without approval, or so believes Baker.
On 17 October 1862 the 110th broke camp at Arlington, boarded cars for Harpers Ferry, there to join the Army of the Potomac resting after Antietam, preparing to press Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia now posted in the Shenandoah Valley. The 110th will encamp at Knoxville, MD just east of Harpers Ferry. On 7 November McClellan will be relieved of command and replaced by Ambrose Burnside, who will begin an initial vigorous campaign whose ultimate goal was the capture of Richmond, VA, the Rebel capital. During the advance into Virginia, the new company (Co. H) will join the regiment.
Arlington Heights, Va. (Opposite Washington)
Oct. 4th, 1862
My dear Wife,
I received your letter on Wednesday and was glad to hear that you and the children were well. i have got right well again and (am) able to eat fat, pork and beans which we get enough of at present. We don't live as well here as when we are marching from one place to another, for then we help ourselves to everything we come across that is good to eat.
i was glad to get that change you sent me, for i have not had any money for 2 weeks before and my tobacco was out. i expected we would have been paid off before this, but now since the payrolls went back with our clothing account on them, we don't hear anymore about the pay. But as soon as we get it, i will let you know.
You want to know if there is any chance for me to get home - there is no chance at present! One of our men got a telegram of his father's death and they would let him go long enough for to go to his funeral. They will not let anyone go but the wounded or discharged. If you get Friday's Philadelphia Inquirer, you will see Genl. Bank's order about it. i should very much like to see you and the children, but i cannot get home just now. As soon as there is a chance, i will come. it would be foolish for you to think about coming here, for although we are opposite Washington, we are over 5 miles off. There is but 1 house which the Genl. has for Headquarters. Now where would you stop? if i knew you were in Washington all the time that i could get to come and see you would be 3 hours to go and get back to camp. So you can see how much pleasure you would have after paying ten Dollars. that is the fare to go and come from here.
Col. Lewis is home and is going to see the governor for to get more men or else he will not stay with the Regt. if he gets them, i think there will be a chance for us to get home that have been out so long. if they pay us off here, there will be a great many of the boys that will run away for awhile. That is the reason that they are keeping the pay back, i think until they are ready to send us away.
My love to you dear Wife. Give my best respects to all inquiring friends. Tell them i am well and hearty and send my best respects to them. No more at present. Excuse this writing as my pen is bad.
From - Enoch T. Baker to his Wife Sarah A. Baker
My love to you
I have often entertained the question of why Baker enlisted in the first place. Many possible answers seem evident: he was a patriot, dedicated to the ideals of American democracy and the cause of permanent Union, or he was outraged by the excesses of the Southern radicals. He may have opposed slavery. Perhaps he found many of his friends joining, and didn't wish to be left behind. Maybe he sought adventure and a new lifestyle. Some of these proposals may indeed be true and others not, but they are some of the reasons the men listed in later years as motivations for volunteering.
Baker may or may not have admitted to any of the above, but there is strong evidence he had considerable financial difficulties and may have enlisted for monetary reasons: a regular wage, food and clothing from the Army, alleviating a burden from the family. Patriotic organizations would care for and succor the dependents of soldiers. It may have seemed so simple to him -- join the army and his problems would be solved. How wrong this would prove to be!
The Winter of 1862 finds Baker and the 110th at the banks of the Rappahannock within view of the fine old town of Fredericksburg, Va. Best of all, they have beaten the Rebels to the place, and if they could get across the river they could complete the race to invest the town, thereby providing a direct-line access to Richmond. The problem, however, was to get across the swift, broad and deep waters of the Rappahannock. The army was present, but the pontoon bridges were not. The men were compelled to sit tight and wait while the bridges were brought up. A frustrating time indeed, for the men could look across the river and see an open, unguarded city, and soon caught sight of the advancing Confederates who came unopposed and began to entrench at the defensible positions just beyond the town. With growing frustration, the army, from its vantage point on the heights of Falmouth, can look over the across the unfordable river and view the preparations Lee and his army were making to receive the Federals.
The pontoons finally arrived and were preceded by an intense artillery barrage. They were laid on the 11th, but not without major attendant difficulties. The Rebel sharpshooters posted in the buildings closest to the river were picking off the engineers, threatening to thwart any attempt to complete the bridge. It required three regiments to row across in the pontoon boats, clean out the nests of sharpshooters and secure the bridgehead.
The 12th of December was occupied with moving the several Corps across the Rappahannock, entering Fredericksburg and/or making preparations for the assault on the Confederate lines below and beyond the city. The 110th formed a part of Carroll's Brigade of Whipple's 3rd Division of Stoneman's III Corps, then attached to Hooker's Center Grand Division. Whipple's division was detached early on the 13th from the III Corps and ordered to support a position at the base of the upper three pontoon bridges, directly opposite Fredericksburg. The division and brigade to which the 110th belonged would now serve throughout the great battle independently of its old Corps, which moved south to support Franklin's assault.
After much confusion and contradictory orders, Carroll's brigade was ordered to cross the river on the middle bridge and be ready to support any of the troops then storming the heights beyond town. At approximately 1:30 PM came the order to assist Sturgis' division of the IX Corps (Willcox's). Carroll ordered his men to advance, and they fell in with troops of Griffin's division of the V Corps, who also seemed to be marching to the support of Sturgis. Carroll was instructed to place his brigade on the left of the line and draw the attention of the enemy away from the right wing of the division. While marching to the left, the brigade came to a railroad cut where a halt was called to allow Griffin's men to pass the column ahead on the left. While waiting in the cut, orders were received from Gen. Willcox for Carroll's men to move straight forward to the crest of the hill in front of the cut, and to hold that position.
Since the morning when they had crossed the bridge and entered the town, the men had been under a most annoying and galling fire from the enemy, and all movements were executed under fire. The brigade dribbled constant casualties, but the veteran troops of Carroll's brigade remained calm and steady during the entire action.
At around 4:30 PM Carroll received orders from Willcox to advance out of the cut, storm forward, and to take and hold the crest of a hill in front of this cut to support the broken IX Corps line. The men sprang forward, quickly formed a line of battle and with flags flying and a great cheer, advanced gallantly into a storm of shot and shell and thunderous musketry from the Rebels posted behind the infamous stonewall.
As part of the assault, the 110th bore a noble and courageous part, sweeping forward and tenaciously holding their assigned position. Lt. Col. James Crowther, then commanding the regiment, bravely suggested to Col. Carroll that his regiment be allowed to advance about 60 yards forward and take a small rise in their front, from which the Confederates were easily sweeping the Federal line. With unsurpassed gallantry, the 110th advanced into the firestorm and secured the position, but being overlapped on both flanks with casualties mounting, and unsupported and under counterattack, the regiment was compelled to fall back to its first line.
While falling back in this noble but futile charge, with his face to the enemy, his devotion undiminished and his courage unquestioned, fell Sgt. Enoch T. Baker. He was struck by a Rebel minie-ball which entered his stomach just above his navel. He must have staggered backwards, clutching the wound, but remained conscious. His friend and comrade -- Sgt. Thomas Bell of the same company -- came to his aid, grasped him and began to help him back to the Federal lines.
At that moment, the Rebels rushed out in a countercharge, firing as they came. Sgt. Bell instinctively crouched down and lost contact with Baker. The inexorable tide which carried men back from the battle line forced Bell onward. He could only helplessly look back at his fallen friend as he was carried backward. Bell did, however, see four men take hold of Baker and bring him off the field and back to the Union lines. Later, he reported Baker's last words. They were a request to be taken off the field and a hurried appeal to write the family before Bell was swept away. Sgt. Bell mentions he then fell back into the line with the retreating regiment and continued to do his duty. Bell was able to learn afterwards that Baker was borne away by, presumably these same four men, back into Fredericksburg to the temporary field hospitals, where he was turned over to the medical staff.
As with most Civil War era gunshot wounds of the stomach, Baker's wound proved quickly fatal. With shock and trauma, the rough handling and lack of blood transfusions, he possibly bled to death. Enoch T. Baker died, probably on the cold, hard ground of a far-away place. He never had gotten his chance to see his wife and children, after he had left his home in Philadelphia that early October of 1861, so long ago.
The husband and father, friend and comrade, soldier and patriot, had made the supreme sacrifice. Even though he fell in a tragic defeat for the Union -- a debacle of incompetent command -- he did not die in vain. His example strengthened and inspired his comrades to greater resolve, and his spirit and memory live on today to encourage us to be ever vigilant and mindful of the liberty purchased so dearly by our forebears. His love of country, dedication to family and friends and quiet resolve to see every job through, are qualities which can be admired and beg imitation. It is men like Enoch T. Baker who created a legacy of greatness in this country, and who made of it what it is today. We owe him and all those who toiled, sacrificed and faithfully served an eternal debt of gratitude.
In a final, ironic twist of fate, Enoch T. Baker was not accorded an honorable soldier's burial by his comrades. Because he was carried off the field and brought to a hospital of another unit, and turned over to a medical staff unknown to them, his comrades could not discover what became of his remains. He may have been buried by the hospital staff, or more likely his body was left to be buried by the enemy due to a hurried retreat across the river. His body was lost and never retrieved. He was probably placed in an unmarked grave or consigned to a mass grave by a Confederate burial party, and his remains may have been discovered after the war and reburied in the National Cemetery on Marye's Heights. Perhaps, he still rests in some forgotten concealed place in the old town of Fredericksburg, unknown and unmourned. The final twist in a sad saga, the saga of a Union volunteer, so typical and tragic.
Letter No. 22
Written 12 November 1862 while the 110th was encamped at Waterloo, Va., on the banks of the Rappahannock south of Warrenton. A brief lull in the hectic pursuit of Lee and his army by the Army of the Potomac has set in, and this has provided Baker with some small amount of free time from his pressing duties as a sergeant of Co. G. The regiment had crossed the Potomac in late October and has slowly been pressing south, skirmishing constantly and gradually pressing back the Rebels. They have been campaigning in the mountains and foothills of the Blue Ridge and the weather is turning colder. Snow has already fallen, and prospects look bleak for winter engagements.
Baker last received a letter from home on 23 October, and he discusses now with his wife a commitment she communicated to him, that he has been angry or curt with her in his last letter. He explains, it is not so, but is due to his frustration with army routine and constant interruptions.
He reports that he has not received four months pay as of yet, but he will indeed send some home as soon as he receives it. As always, he will send home as much as he can spare. He could never send it all, for there are times when he requires money to supply himself with necessities from the sutlers or the local populace. In fact, there are times when the men would starve if they had no money to buy food, since army supplies do not always keep up with the columns on the march.
This campaign has been exceedingly harsh on the men. Fatiguing marches over rough, hard ground, bitterly cold mountain air, sleeping in snow with only their little shelter tents for cover, the men are enduring the worst kinds of hardships and are literally starving. They have had to resort to stealing from the local farmers to sustain themselves. To keep warm, the men have been building great fires at night around which they lie, but often someone will come too close and several have had their greatcoats catch fire!
It seems the one thing the men have plenty of is clothing, and they can get as much as they want or need, but only want what they can comfortably carry, otherwise they would overburden themselves. The clothing supply/quartermaster wagons must be accompanying the army. Baker reports there has been much skirmishing with the Rebels, who have been pushed back many miles. He opines that a great battle is imminent, since both sides are at full strength and the Rebels cannot be pushed back much farther before they start to resist. Once again, Baker proves himself prescient, or at least a keen observer of events who makes a logical statement based on sound knowledge of the facts. There will indeed be a great battle, at Fredericksburg within a month of his letter. It will be Baker's last battle.
Since the army has left Maryland and begun the advance, McClellan was removed from command of the Army of the Potomac and replaced with Ambrose Burnside. Baker now comments on the change of command, and in his normal pragmatic way, expresses some guarded optimism for his future. He is no great, starry-eyed McClellan worshipper as many are, but recognizes McClellan's shortcomings and believes Burnside can improve the prosecution of the war. There seems to be great confidence in Burnside and his record (so far). Baker believes that Burnside will press the Rebels and not allow them to rest, as McClellan always did. The Rebels always took better advantage of these rest periods and came back ever stronger. Baker implies that he hopes to see the new commander invigorate the campaign, press the enemy, give battle and not rest until victory is achieved so he can go home again.
The 114th P.V.I. (Collis' Zouaves), who belong to the same Corps as the 110th and are composed of Philadelphians, have passed by and Baker has enquired after Fred Stafford, whom I believe is his brother-in-law, perhaps the brother or married to the sister of Baker's wife Sarah. But he has been unable to locate him, and no one seemed to know him. Each company of a regiment formed its own little world: the men of a company, living together, came to know each other intimately, but did not know about the other companies. It is possible that they did not know all the members of their own regiment.
Baker concludes his final letter with his customary valedictions, expressions of love and affection for all and enquired after the health and well-being of friends and family. He again expresses the hope that he will soon be able to return home. This will be impossible, as he will never see his beloved family again.
November 12th, 1862
My Dear Wife,
I take this the first chance that i have had of writing to you since we crossed the Potomac, as we have been running about on the mountains ever since and have had no place to send letters from or get them. i got your letter this morning which you wrote on the 23rd of last month and in which you think i spoke very short. i do not remember of doing so. You can fancy to yourself how pleasant it is to set down to write and every minute someone coming to bother you asking first one question and then another and before you're half way done they follow back up right away. i did not get a chance to finish my last letter before that was the case and did not get a chance to tell you how to direct your letter, so i could get it, but it came all right. i thought i told you that i got the money you sent me and was glad of it. i have been mustered for 4 months pay, but have not got it yet and do not know when we will, but as soon as i do and can get to where i can send you some of it, i will, for i have never been paid off yet, but you got all that i could spare you.
It would be impossible to send you all, for if a man did not keep a little with him there is times when he would nearly starve. This last two weeks, has been very hard on us and we have stold nearly all we eat from the farmers: beef, pork, mutton, chickens or whatever [we] could lay our hands on. No coffee or sugar and besides that one, nothing but our little shelter tents at night. They are thin muslin with the ground for a bed.
There has been snow on the ground 3 ins. deep on the mountains and we had to make fires and set around them to keep from freezing. At nights there has been more than one coat burnt.
We have plenty of clothing and can get all we want, but it is too heavy to carry in a knapsack so that we only take it as we want it.
My dear wife i have been right well and hope you and the children have been the same and may continue well.
There has been a good deal of skirmish fighting and the rebels have been drove back many miles. it will not be very long before you will hear of another big fight, for they are nearly as far as they can go without one, and everything looks as if it would be the greatest battle yet as both partys are very strong.
There is some feeling about McClellan being taken away from the army, by those who were under him, but i do not think it amounts to much, as everyone i hear speak, have great confidence in Burnside. He has never been whipped yet, and from what i have seen of him for the last three weeks, i think he is a man, that if [he] gets the best of the rebels, he will keep them a-going and not let them rest as long as McClellan did, for they always got the best of resting.
Collis' Zouaves passed through here last night and i inquired for Fred Stafford. There was no one that knew him, nor i did not see anything of him. i should like to have seen him.
Give my best respects to Aunt Mary Park and to all inquiring friends. Tell them i am well and hearty and wish them well.
My love to you my dear wife and also the children. i hope to get home to see you once more, but there is no telling how things will go. If there is the least chance to come, I will. i want you to write to me oftener, whether you get a letter or not, as sometimes we don't get a chance to write for two or three weeks at a time the way we are.
Direct your letter to:
Co. G 110th Reg. P.V.
Washington D.C. or elsewhere.
Don't forget a stamp, for you don't get them here.
My dear Wife, you must excuse this writing, for it is done in a hurry, and i believe there is but one bottle of ink in the Regt.. The man who has it, allows us all to direct our letters with it, but not to write them.
i am sorry it is not in my power to send you money home at present. if we are ordered up to Warrenton, i think we would get paid and there is an Express office there, so as you could get it right away. we are only 9 miles from there, but do not know when we will go there.
No more at present.
To my dear wife Sarah A. Baker
From her husband Enoch T. Baker,
My love to you Sarah
Letter No. 22
Our story, however, is not completely finished. Included in the collection of Baker's letters were two more written by Baker's friend Thomas Bell, a sergeant of Co. G who writes to the Baker family to explain the circumstances of his death, to comfort them in their mourning and help with any necessary details.
Much has happened in the regiment since the battle. The original colonel, William D. Lewis Jr., has resigned and several weak or incompetent officers have also resigned, necessitating a reorganization of the regimental staff and company officers. The original ten companies have been consolidated into six due to heavy losses. Co. D was united with Co. B since both contained men from Huntingdon county; Co. F was joined with E, both from Philadelphia; Co. K was consolidated with A, the men of both being from Blair, Center and Clearfield counties, and finally Baker's and Bell's old honored Co. G was joined to Co. I, both containing men from Philadelphia. Thus, the regiment has been pared down to a battalion of six companies: A, B, C, E, H, I. They now number hardly 150 officers and men, but retain their old identity, organization, battle flags and glorious memories.
After the battle, the 110th was marched back over the bridges across the Rappahannock and encamped near Falmouth, opposite Fredericksburg. While Burnside developed a new plan, the unit would remain here resting, but performing all the necessary fatigue duties.
Sgt. Thomas Bell, newly transferred to Co. I, must now take time to write a letter he hoped he would never have to write. He must report about the last moments of his friend's life. He is writing in response to a letter from either a family member or friend of Baker. It is simply addressed "Dear Sir," but I have a strong suspicion it may be for the man "Thompson," a Baker family friend whom Enoch often mentioned in his early letters as a person of influence and good will.
This unknown individual has written Bell and inquired about Baker's body, and whether it can be located. Bell is sad to report that it was impossible to find his body, as he was left in the care of those who did not know him just before the city was hurriedly abandoned, and it is extremely likely he was consigned to an unmarked grave.
Bell proceeds to describe the circumstances of Baker's mortal wounding and death. He then details the information regarding the disposition of his personal effects which were retained. This seems to be in response to an indirect request from Baker's wife. Without an accounting of his clothing and equipment, it seems to she can't receive his pay and bounty. Bell was able to recover his knapsack, and turn over the contents to the Captain of Co. G so that the items may be deducted from his clothing account, and his wife receive a larger sum. Sgt. Bell hopes he might be able to get a furlough to enable him to come home to Philadelphia and report personally on these events. He closes with some comments and inquiries of a personal nature, but from men of the regiment. He mentions the name "Pener," who is also an old comrade of Co. G who will eventually become an officer in the regiment. This Pener sends his best wishes as well, and also some messages for his friends. It seems he has not been able to write, but asks that the box he requested from a certain Guyant be sent on now to their camp.
He closes with a description of Baker's wound and details the address any correspondence should be sent to. He then sends his best intentions on to all the "boys." I suspect this man "Thompson" is an official of the Fire/Hose Company that Baker, Bell, Pener and many other of the boys of the company belonged to, and Bell is sending his best regards to the old boys of the company back home in Philadelphia.
Camp near Falmouth, Va.
Jan. 4. 1863
I received your letter today. You ask me in your letter if E.T. Baker's body could be got. i am sorry to tell you it can not be done. When he fell, i helped to carry him about a square of the field, then the Rebels made a charge into us and i had to leave go of him and get with the Regiment, then 4 men took hold of him and carried him into Fredericksburg where he died in about ten minutes after, the man that carried him did know the doctor, so no one can tell where he is burried. You spoke to me about that descriptive list and clothing; she must have that to get his pay and bounty. The things he had in his knapsack, i turned over to the captain and he deducted them from his clothing account; he did not say anything to me about his wife and children after he was wounded - he had no time. All that was said between me and him: "Baker, is there anything i can do for you, if i get out of this?" says he to me to try [to] get me off the field. i told him i would do all i could for him and then he told me to write to you.
i wish i could get a furlough to come on a few days and then i could tell you the full particulars. Pener is well and sends his best respects to John Guyant and all the rest of his enquiring friends. So i will come to a close, as this leaves me well in hoping this may find you the same.
Sergt. Thomas Bell
110th Regt. P.V. Co. I
Washington D.C. or elsewhere
Please tell John Guyant that Pener can't write or he would have wrote long before this to him. If he sends that box, tell him to send it to camp near Falmouth, Virginia, 110th Regt. P.V. Co. I Whipple's Division
Carroll's Brigade in care of General Carroll for Sergt. Thomas Bell. I forgot to [say] in what part of the body Baker was wounded - he was [shot] in the stomach on the right side, about one inch above the navel. If you send that box, send the receipt on in a letter. Give my best respects to all of the boys.
Letter No. 23
This is the second letter of Bell in the Baker collection and the last letter of the series. It was written in a camp somewhere near Falmouth, Va. sometime during the "Mud March" campaign of 20-24 January 1863, when Burnside made an abortive attempt to outflank Lee and capture Richmond. But the weather and other factors worked against the plan and it was doomed to failure from the beginning. Shortly thereafter, Burnside was relieved of command of the Army of the Potomac and replaced with Gen. Joseph Hooker, whose first campaign also resulted in a disaster for the Union arms, viz. the defeat at Chancellorsville.
The 110th forms part of this operation which is now stuck in the mud. Somehow Bell has found time to answer a letter he has received from Sarah Baker. It seems she has written Bell something sweet and thoughtful which has cheered him greatly.
Sarah has not received her husband's money yet, and appears to have asked Bell to obtain another certificate of death from the regimental surgeon. He abhors the fact that, despite his death for his country, the government does not seem to be concerned for the soldier's family. He explains that he must have a long and better discussion with the surgeon of the regiment. He implies that this surgeon is deficient and has not adequately performed his duties. Perhaps he is in some way partially responsible for Baker's demise and subsequent loss of his remains. Bell intimates that he may kill the surgeon during the next battle (the first fragging?), if he does not stay clear of Bell. Bell now reports on the state of the present campaign and condition of the men. They are skirmishing with the enemy and Bell is still determined and steadfast in his duty. He continues by expressing his heartfelt thanks to Sarah for her kind wishes and thoughts. It seems she has volunteered to come out and nurse Bell if he should ever be wounded or take sick. He was touched by her kind and sincere offer, even in the midst of her crushing grief. Bell would gladly accept her kind offer and directs her attention to the newspaper where the casualty lists are printed.
Bell and the 110th will not return to Fredericksburg again until May of 1864 and even then they will bypass the city in their race to capture Richmond and defeat the Confederate army. Sgt. Bell
would never return to Fredericksburg, for on 2 July 1863 he was killed in action at the Battle of Gettysburg. On a recent visit to Gettysburg I searched in the National Cemetery for his grave and
didn't find it. This could mean he was never identified and reposes there in an unmarked grave, or that his remains were recovered later by family or friends and re-interred at home in
Philadelphia. Perhaps Sarah Baker herself came out to Gettysburg to fulfill her promise to Thomas Bell. We may never know. This may, however, lead to more research on the men of the 110th
Pennsylvania in the great Civil War.
Camp in the mud (near Falmouth, Va.)
I received your kind letter. it gave me pleasure to think that the women at home are thinking of us at home while we are fighting the battles.
You say you have not received your money yet. i think it is not right to keep it from you so long, for after all if your husband was man enough to sacrifice his life for this country but it is of great importance that they care for a soldier after he is dead. i had a very long talk with the surgeon of the Regiment about Enoch the other day, and we had some very hot words. i tried to get another certificate from him. i told him to his face that he had better keep clear of me in the field. The troops are a fighting and have been at it for two days. Our turn may come before you receive this letter. i am very well satisfied to go and fight every day, for i would like to see this cruel war over. if i am to fall in it, it is better for me to fall than for a husband that has a family to depend on him, or a mother's only son, for i have nobody belonging to me.
I am very thankful to you for your kindness toward me. it encourages us poor soldiers out here in the field to know that they are thinking of us at home. You say if i get wounded, you will come on and take care of me. if i should have the misfortune to get wounded, you will see my name in the paper.
Collis' Zouaves that Enoch's brother-in-law is in, are laying here alongside of us, but i have not seen him. since we have been on this march.
Give my best respects to your brother George and all that take an interest. So i must close in hoping this may find you in as good health as it leaves me at present, so good bye
Srgt. Thomas Bell
i forgot myself to let you know that we are twelve miles below Fredericksburg, but i hope we will go up to it after we cross, and if we do, i will let you know in my next about Enoch's body.
So good bye
Your writing is excused
Srgt. Thomas Bell
Washington D.C. Co. I 110th Peg. P.V. or elsewhere
To Be Forwarded
An e-mail I (Jonah Begone) received on 10/27/03:
I thoroughly enjoyed reading the article written by Andy Waskie about my gg-grandfather Enoch T. Baker. Through his article I was able to live the last few years of Enoch’s life. Up until tonight, he had only been a name with a notation, killed at the Battle of Fredericksburg. Thank you so very much for bringing him to life
Researching my family, I can tell you that the Thompson, referred to in Enoch’s letters, was his brother-in-law, William Thompson, who married his sister Susan. I believe that the Fred Stafford was actually another brother-in-law, Fred Shaffer, who married his sister Elizabeth. Enoch was the oldest child of Jacob Baker and Elizabeth Taber. He had four sisters and a brother Jacob.
Another e-mail, giving some more information about the Baker Family:
A couple of bits of information that you might find interesting....
Enoch's brother-in-law was Frederick Schaffer of the 114th Philadelphia Vol. Frederick was married to Enoch's sister Elizabeth.
We have a few pictures (see below). There are none of Enoch or Sarah.
A little background (from the little we have!):
Enoch's parents were Jacob Baker and Elizabeth Taber (also spelled Taper or Tabor). His siblings were Margaret, Susanna (she is "Susan" in the letters and the wife of William Thompson, the "Thompson" noted in you letters), Elizabeth, Emma and Jacob.
Enoch's mother died in 1838. His father seems to have died sometime between 1842-1849. The family, we believe was in good standings in the community prior to this, but the death of the parents so early put a strain on the children. Enoch's little brother Jacob was no more than 10 or 11 when his father died. Elizabeth was young too. Susan seemed to take them under her wing. Her husband, Willian Thompsom was an older man. I have to check my records to see when he died, but I think he died before 1870. Enoch's grandparents were Michael and Susanna Baker. We also have Benjamin and Margaret Taber, but we think these are his great grandparents and we are missing one generation. We have been told the Bakers were a Quaker family, but have not been able to make a clear Quaker connection. Some of the research I've done on possible Baker relatives seem to point to this line as being very much anti-slavery. The same thing with the Tabers. The church they belonged to was involved in the anti-slavery movement. I would imagine the Bakers followed along with their older relatives way of thinking.
I am so sorry to hear that they never found his body. I am currently involved with a group trying to get Mount Moriah cemetery in Philadelphia to clean up their act. That's where Frederick Schaffer is buried. We had a Civil War group go out over Memorial Day to put a flag on his grave and they couldn't even find it! At least the cemetery has since mowed down the growth. The stone is gone though.
Thanks again for all this. We didn't know it existed! As a matter of fact, Enoch's great, great, great grandson was at the PHS on Wednesday and didn't know these letters were there! We are all beside ourselves with excitement.
Also from Lydia Kearney:
Click here for a photograph of Enoch Baker Jr. (and his daughter) taken probably in the 1920s.
Click here for a photograph of Elizabeth Schaffer, who was the niece of Enoch and the daughter of Fred Schaffer and Enoch's sister Elizabeth Baker.
Click here for a picture of Frederick Schaeffer in his GAR uniform, taken at a reunion in about 1890 or so.
Click here for transcripts of a series of letters I have from Germany to Frederick after he was mustered out. Apparently his wife and children were staying with his father during the war. Frederick came into an inheritance and the family in Germany sent the money to Fred's father Philipp. Philipp seems to have been lying about the money and swore it was never sent. Eventually a receipt was produced proving Philipp to be a liar. It's not a "Civil War" letter per se, but it adds a little more into what this family as a whole was going through. They were not well off and the women were being treated as burdens, even by other family members, while these poor men were off risking their lives. Sorry for the quality of the translation. The letters are written in old German. I have a hard enough time making out old script! I certainly couldn't read German. A couple of kind souls in Germany took me up on my request for a translation. Some parts of the original letter have fallen apart and that accounts for the ???? in the transcript. Frederick was with the 114th PA Vol.