Laurence Simmons Baker Bio-Sketch


Name: Laurence Simmons Baker
Rank: Brigadier General
Education: U. S. Military Academy
Birth Date: May 15, 1830
Birth Place: Gates County, NC
Death Date: April 10, 1907
Death Place: Suffolk, Virginia

Laurence Simmons Baker was born on May 15, 1830 in Gates County, NC on the Cole’s Hill Plantation to Dr. John B. and Mary Wynn Baker. He received his schooling at the Norfolk Academy before being appointed to the U. S. Military Academy in West Point, NY. Baker graduated dead last at number 42 in the class of 1851. He became a brevet second lieutenant upon his graduation. In 1855, Baker met and wed Elizabeth Henderson. Baker served from 1851 until 1861. Laurence Baker, while not in favor of secession, remained loyal to his home state of North Carolina and resigned his captain’s commission in May, 1861.

Laurence Baker was given a commission as a Lieutenant Colonel in the 1st N. C. Cavalry.  He became the commander of this unit along with promotion to colonel on March 1, 1862. Colonel Baker and the 1st N. C. Cavalry would see action in the Peninsula Campaign, Seven Days, Second Bull Run, and Sharpsburg.

In the Gettysburg Campaign, Baker led his regiment in action at the Battle of Brandy Station where he was wounded. Colonel Baker remained with his troops and eventually led Wade Hampton’s Brigade after he was seriously wounded in action on the East Cavalry Battlefield.  After the defeat at Gettysburg, Baker and his men helped serve in rear guard action to protect the retreat back to Virginia. Baker was promoted to brigadier general on July 23, 1863. A week later, Brigadier General Baker was seriously wounded in action while resisting a Federal crossing of the Rappahannock River.  Laurence was out of action for nearly a year to recover.

Upon his return to service, he served in the District of North Carolina overseeing the protection of railroads and vital infrastructure. General Baker joined Johnston’s Army at Bentonville and eventually disbanded his men, choosing not to surrender. Baker eventually received his parole in May of 1865.  He returned to New Bern, NC and then went to Suffolk, Virginia as a farmer. He sold Insurance until 1877, and then joined the Seaboard and Roanoke Railroad as a station agent and served in that job for the next twenty-nine years. Laurence Simmons Baker died in Suffolk, VA on April 10, 1907 and is buried in that city’s Cedar Hill Cemetery.