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|Size||.5 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 140 items)|
|Abstract||George Washington Baker of Washington County, N.Y., served with Company K, 123rd New York Volunteers in the Civil War. The collection includes letters of Lt. George Washington Baker, who served with the Army of the Potomac. He was involved in campaigns in Maryland, Virginia, Georgia, and North Carolina, which he described in letters to his family in Upper Granville, N.Y. Included in these letters is much description of the Battle of Chancellorsville and the capture of Atlanta. He discussed at length army food, picket duty, and his opinions on current political issues, including the replacement of generals, the Emancipation Proclamation, and the presidential race. His sisters Lizzie and Ellen taught school in the South before the war, and the collection includes a few of their pre-war letters, among them Lizzie's description of a murder in Alabama, as well as other family letters written before and after the war.|
|Creator||Baker, George Washington.|
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Lt. George Washington Baker served with Company K, 123rd New York Volunteers in the Civil War. He fought in Virginia and in the Atlanta Campaign and Sherman's March to the Sea.
He had a number of sisters, including Lizzie, who is also referred to as Lib; Ellen; and Frances, also called Frank. He wrote frequently to them and to his mother. His sisters taught school in the South before the war, and his brother Allan ran a school in the South and remained there for the duration of the war. After the war, Baker became the sheriff of Washington County, N.Y. Then he became a dealer of hardware, stoves, tin, and sheet-iron.Back to Top
Letters of Lt. George Washington Baker, who served with the Army of the Potomac. He was involved in campaigns in Maryland, Virginia, Georgia, and North Carolina, which he described in letters to his family in Upper Granville, N.Y. Included in these letters is much description of the Battle of Chancellorsville and the capture of Atlanta. He discussed at length army food, picket duty, and his opinions on current political issues, including the replacement of generals, the Emancipation Proclamation, and the presidential race. His sisters Lizzie and Ellen taught school in the South before the war, and the collection includes a few of their pre-war letters, among them Lizzie's description of a murder in Alabama, as well as other family letters written before and after the war.Back to Top
This collection consists mainly of Civil War era letters from Lt. George Washington Baker to his family in Upper Granville, N.Y. There are a few letters from before the war, including some from Baker's sisters who taught school in Alabama and Mississippi. His brother Allan ran a school in the South and stayed there for the duration of the war. One of Lizzie's letters contains an interesting account of a murder that occurred in her area. Also included are several letters from a suitor to Lizzie. Some letters mention the growing tensions between North and South.
In 1862, Baker wrote about joining the army and his travels after signing up. He wrote from Fairfax, Va.; Sandy Hook, Md.; Loudon Heights, Va.; and Fairfax, Va. He wrote about Burnside's replacement of McClellan as commander of the Army of the Potomac. A December letter describes a typical day's activities. On 13 November, he discussed the problem of drunkenness in the Army. On 23 October, he referred to the Emancipation Proclamation. On 10 September, he described his impressions of Baltimore ("a stinking hole"), Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. In a letter dated 28 October, he discussed the sergeants with whom he worked. Another letter, dated 2 November, details the primitive living conditions of southerners. He also frequently mentioned difficulties with pay, described the food the Army was eating, and requested that his sisters send him specific food and clothing items.
In 1863, Baker wrote from Stafford Court House, Leesburg, Va.; Frederick, Md.; Pleasant Valley, Md.; and Riker's Island, N.Y. The letter of 24 May contains "a history of doing picket," Baker's explanation to his family of the duties and procedure of picket duty. The letters of 8, 11, 13, and 16 May describe the Battle of Chancellorsville, attributing the defeat to cowardice. They also tell of the death of a friend and defend another from a charge of cowardice. In the letter of 21 June, Baker discussed the execution of deserters by firing squad and the subsequent parade of the regiment past their bodies. His letter of 11 September described new conscripts to the army. He discussed on 1 February drinking problems in the regiment. Some of these letters include Baker's complaints that a drinking buddy of his captain was to be promoted to first lieutenant over Baker; he threatened to resign if this happened. Baker apparently wrote to his state senator about the matter as there is a reply from state Senator Ralph Richards discussing the matter.
In 1864, Baker wrote from Riker's Island, N.Y.; Hart's Island, N.Y.; Chattanooga, Tenn.; and Atlanta, Ga. The letter of 3 September contains a detailed description of the invasion of Atlanta. On 19 October, Baker described a foraging expedition into the country and a woman's reaction when the men took her cow. The letter of 21 October discusses the presidential election and tells the total number of votes for each candidate from the regiment. He mentioned that the regiment was about to start for Savannah and that he would have no opportunity to post letters from there.
In 1865, Baker wrote from Sister's Ferry, S.C.; Goldsboro, N.C.; Raleigh, N.C.; and Fairfax, Va. Most of these letters concern his sister Lizzie's death. Arriving in North Carolina, he described the atmosphere in Raleigh after word of Johnson's surrender to Sherman. He discussed his post-war plans and his hopes for a quick demobilization of the troops. On 18 April, he discussed Johnson's surrender, the death of Lincoln, and his hatred of Copperheads (Southern sympathizers in the North).
Post-war letters include one in 1877 from Baker written on stationery identifying him as the sheriff of Washington Country, N.Y. Later stationery shows him to be a dealer of hardware, stoves, tin, and sheet-iron. Letters to and from the sisters show that Frances moved out to Kansas City and then to Ohio to teach. Letters from Baker's mother indicate that she lived into her 80s.
Undated papers include what appears to be a geography lesson one of the sisters created for her class and a poem one of the girls wrote as a child. Also included are a few letters to Frances from her mother and one from Frances to Ellen discussing fashion of the day.
Processed by: Jennifer Rawlings, April 1998
Encoded by: Linda Sellars, October 1998
Updated by: Laura Hart, March 2021Back to Top