Laurence Simmons Baker

(Gates County)

Featured Character – 1861-1862

General Laurence Simmons Baker

Laurence S. Baker

Courtesy of the Museum of the Confederacy, Eleanor S. Brockenbrough Library

Laurence Simmons Baker was born on May 10, 1830 in Gates County, North Carolina. After obtaining an appointment with West Point and graduating in 1851, he was made 2nd Lieutenant of the U.S. Mountain Rifles, patrolling the western frontier for nine years and rising to captain. Although opposed to secession, on May 10, 1861, after North Carolina left the Union, Baker resigned his post in the regular army and became a lieutenant colonel of the Confederate army six days later. His assembled cavalry was mustered in as the 1st North Carolina cavalry regiment in October of that year. After being promoted to colonel in March 1862, Baker’s regiment was involved in both the Peninsula Campaign and the Seven Days campaign. Baker commanded his troops at Second Manassas, Sharpsburg, Fredericksburg, and Gettysburg, where he rose to command the brigade of Wade Hampton after the general was wounded. On July 23, 1863, after covering the Confederate retreat from Pennsylvania, Baker was promoted to brigadier general. Just over a week later, resisting a Federal crossing of the Rappahannock River, Baker was wounded in the right arm. After recovering, Baker was sent to Georgia to defend Savannah before returning to North Carolina, where he was responsible for defending the railroad as administrator of the Second North Carolina Military District. He surrendered in Raleigh in May of 1865. After the war, Baker began farming in New Bern, North Carolina. In 1878, he moved to Norfolk and later became a Seaboard Air Line Station agent in Suffolk, where he worked for twenty-nine years. He died on April 10, 1907 in Suffolk, Virginia.