Saturday, October 22, 2011

October 22, 1861 (Tuesday): Death of a United States Senator

Ball's Bluff From Google Earth (Click On Image to Enlarge)


Numbers 31.
Washington, October 22, 1861.

    The major-general commanding, with sincere sorrow, announces to the Army of the Potomac the death of Colonel Edward d. Baker, who fell gloriously in battle on the evening of Monday, the 21st of October, 1861, near Leesburg, Va.
    The gallant dead had many titles to honor. At the time of this death he was a member of the United States Senate for Oregon, and it is no injustice to any survivor to say that one of the most eloquent voices in that illustrious body has been silenced by his fall. as a patriot, zealous for the honor and interests of his adopted country, he has been distinguished in two wars, and has now sealed with his blood his devotion to the national flag. Cut off in the fullness of his powers as a statesman, and in the course of a brilliant career as a soldier, while the country mourns his loss, his brothers in arms will envy while lament his fate. He died as a soldier would wish to die, amid the shock of battle, by voice and example animating his men to brave deeds.
    The remains of the deceased will be interred in this city with the honors due to his rank, and the funeral arrangements will be ordered by Brigadier General Silas Casey.
    As an appropriate mark of respect to the memory of the deceased, the usual badge of military mourning will be worn for the period of thirty days by the officers of the brigade lately under his command.
By command of Major-General McClellan:

Assistant Adjutant-General.

Series I. Vol. 5, Part 1, Page 291

Baker was a sitting United States Senator.  Although he served in the Mexican War, he had no military talent to speak of.  His body was brought back to Washington and funeral services were held on the 24th.  The President and Cabinet attended as did most of the diplomatic corp.  Mrs. Lincoln was there as well, as caused something of a controversy by appearing in lavender.  She supposedly told a friend she could not be expected to don black every time a soldier was killed.  Lincoln himself took the loss hard, as Baker was a close personal friend.  In fact, Baker supposedly carried a letter from Lincoln in his hat band at Ball's Bluff, a letter promoting him to Major General once he had won a victory.  Another funeral ceremony was held in New York with a procession down Broadway on November 10, when his body was put on board a steamer bound for San Francisco where he was buried in the San Francisco National Cemetary near the Presidio.

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