Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Battle of Ball's Bluff--Part 2

Edward D. Baker

The Lincoln family was not prepared to hear that Edward D. Baker had been killed at the Battle of Ball's Bluff. He had long been a welcome visitor to the Lincoln home, both in Springfield and in the White House. He was eloquent, full of energy, and extremelly ambitious. In addition to being a lawyer, he had fought in three wars. He had been a member of the United States Congress and the U. S. Senate. The Lincolns named their second son after him.

Lincoln tried to stay busy the day following Baker's death. He held a Cabinet meeting and discussed the disastrous battle, as well as the recent actions of General John C. Fremont, who Lincoln had concluded must be removed from command. After the meeting, Lincoln retired to the living quarters, where he and Mary refused to see any visitors. That evening, Lincoln went to the homes of Secretary of State William H. Seward and General George B. McClellan. The next day would be difficult.

On this date in 1861, the president and Mrs. Lincoln attended Col. Baker's funeral.

Lincoln wanted the funeral to be held in the White House, but repairs made it impossible. Instead, serices were held at the home of Baker's friend, Col. J. W. Webb. Colleagues in the Senate offered eulogies and, according to a reporter, Lincoln "wept like a child."

From Washington, the funeral procession traveled to Philadelphia, where Baker's body lay in state at Independence Hall. Two days later, his body lay in state at City Hall in New York. Some two months after his death, Baker was finally laid to rest in San Francisco, where he had been living before the war. An estimated 15,000 people attended his funeral.

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