Private Andrew Baker, Company H
(Image courtesy of Edgar Baker, Sr., and the Sulphur Springs Old Regular Baptist Church, Hurley, Virginia)
Andrew "Andy" Baker was born in Perry County, Kentucky, in January of 1830. He had a twin brother named Calvin or "Dock." "Dock" Baker disappears after the 1850 Pike County, Kentucky, Federal Census. Stella Mae Baker Rose of Elkton, Maryland, believes that Calvin may have been one of President Lincoln's body guards, but I have discovered proof that this man could not be a relation. Andy married Harriet Smith, the daughter of Samuel M. Smith and Mary Jane ["Polly"] Justice in 1850, in what was then Tazewell County, Virginia. Sometime during 1850, Andy moved from Pike County, Kentucky, to Tazewell County, Virginia, as did his father, Eligha. Andy can be found in the censuses for both Pike and Tazewell Counties in 1850. In Tazewell County, he lived with Sam and Polly Smith.
When the war came to these parts, Andy and his younger brother James (who married another Smith girl, Julina) joined the Second Virginia State Line, Company E, a Confederate partisan unit, under Captain William R. Lee. Andy was with that unit from August[?] to early December 1862. It is even possible that Andy was on the winning side of the battle at Wireman's Shoals in early December of 1862, and afterwards joined the 39th on the 27th of December.
Sometime during late 1862, Andy's aged and crippled father, Eligha, was murdered by Confederate deserters. The motive for his killing is not clear, but another version of the legend states that Eligha's livestock were taken and his home was ransacked. He may have been a little too vocal in his approval of the Union. Apparently, he was hanged from a dogwood tree located along Peter Creek in Pike County. Had his hands not been tied behind his back, he might have survived. Another old man, a Justus from the Knox Creek area, was also killed in the same manner around the same time.
For more information on Eligha Baker and his descendants: go to Gwen Boyer Bjorkman's Eligah Baker Genealogy Page.
Andy and James switched sides and joined the Union. Their youngest brother, Freeling, came with them when they went to join up with the 39th Kentucky, Company H. Two brothers, William Preston Baker and Thomas Vester Baker, had preceded Andy by a month in joining the 39th. With the Bakers came some of their neighbors from Knox Creek, Buchanan County, Virginia: the Esteps, Dotsons, Blankenships, Stacys, and Smiths. Though some were strongly pro-Confederate, they joined the Union with the Bakers presumably to exact revenge upon the lawless scoundrels whom had murdered old Eligha and Mr. Justus.
Family legend states that the Bakers, their relatives, and neighbors were successful in tracking down the guilty men. "Hise" Freeling is alleged to be the brother who identified the malcontents. The legend also claims that the bodies of those deserters lie scattered around the northern Buchanan County region in shallow graves long since forgotten.
After spending a short time in the hospital at Ashland in early 1863, Andy deserted the 39th in April and joined the 10th Kentucky Cavalry, C.S.A., in May of 1863. Most of the men in this company came from the Knox Creek area of Buchanan County. One of the sergeants of this company was Andy's brother-in-law, Hiram Justice, and its captain was Hiram's uncle Hiram. Uncle Hiram was also an uncle to Andy's wife Harriet. Many of the men in this company were related by blood or by marriage.
Andy deserted from the 10th before December of 1863. His desertion from this company probably coincides with an order received by the regiment to relocate outside of their home region. Five companies of the 10th Kentucky just dissolved all at once in reaction to this order. Andy returned to the 39th around this time. Also, the Sulphur Springs Old Regular Baptist Church was built sometime during the middle of 1863, and it is believed that Andy had a significant hand in that endeavor. He was a member, and later a deacon, after the war.
Late in 1863, Andy returned to the 39th. The next time Andy deserted the Union Army, he took his Enfield rifle and cartridge box with him.
The Enfield Rifle
Andy deserted the 39th for the second time shortly after the Battle of Louisa.
When he finally returned, he was incarcerated and court martialled for being absent without leave. He endured a short stretch in a military prison in Lexington, Kentucky, but was mustered-out with the regiment on September 15th, 1865, in Louisville, Kentucky.
Andy was absent from the regiment during its most famous and important battles, Cynthiana and Saltville to name two. But, it is certain he was at home for a portion of those periods when he was not with either the 39th or the 10th; at least two of his children were conceived during the war. It is not clear why Andy took so much time off from the army. Perhaps he felt he could better protect his family from the lawless bands which preyed upon the weak and unarmed if he was at home.
After the war, it is not clear (to me) with what Andy occupied himself. He probably farmed and logged, and maybe even mined a little coal. County records reveal that Andy and his second wife, Millie Daugherty, were frequently involved in land transactions which centered around the Guesses Fork and Laurel Fork areas near Hurley. He both "homesteaded" certain tracts and he bought others outright. He died in 1913, aged 83 years, and is buried north of Hurley, Virginia, in a place known as "Bakertown," behind Edgar Baker, Sr.'s house. He did receive a Union Army pension for his service in the Civil War. Andy has a V.A. stone which indicates that he was a veteran of the Union Army. There is little mention of his service to the Confederacy after the war. I don't know if Andy was a Republican or a Democrat. But, it is a rather humorous thing to note that many of Andy's children by his first wife, Harriet Smith, became Republicans, while his children by his second wife, Millie Daughtery, were mostly Democrats.
Information provided by Joan Connick of Washington: From Andy's pension records several new things have been learned. Andy was apparently afflicted with "typhoid fever" in April of 1863. More than anything, his right eye was affected and continued to trouble him greatly in the years after the war. His brother Bill Baker stated that Andy wasn't the kind to complain about his illnesses, but he could tell the eye was pretty bad off. Andy testified in an affidavit attached to his pension request that he was also wounded at Turman's Ferry on January 9th, 1864. He stated that he was shot in the right side. He also states that he was carried to a nearby house to recuperate and that the ball was never removed from his body.
Written by Andrew's Great-great-great grandson, Robert Matthew Baker, December 15th, 1998. Sources: National Archives Microfilm from the Johnson County Public Library, Stella Mae Baker Rose, Edgar Baker, Sr., Jason M. Baker, Matthew Baker, Myrel Justus, Gwen Boyer Bjorkman, John B. Wells III.
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