Capt Daniel D. Baker


Capt Daniel D. Baker

Orange, Franklin County, Massachusetts, USA
Death 31 Aug 1853 (aged 48)
Pensacola, Escambia County, Florida, USA
Burial Pensacola, Escambia County, Florida, USA
Plot 21, 0, 926
Memorial ID 313925 · View Source
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Captain Daniel D. Baker USMC ("USN" being a common 19th century misnomer for U.S. Marine Corps officers) was born in Orange, Massachusetts, in June 1805.

He was a son of Sherebiah Baker (1747-1823) and the former Mrs Hannah (Fowler-) Holbrook (1771-1852).

Sherebiah Baker, Daniel D. Baker's father, was a farmer and former Minuteman who had fought at Lexington and Concord, later participating as an insurrectionist in "Shay's Rebellion" of 1787.

Both of Daniel Baker's parents appear to have been previously widowed prior to their marriage in 1804. Daniel Baker's older half brothers and sisters were numerous in New England and upper New York state. His mother resided in Orange, Massachusetts, until her death in 1852.

Through his mother's family connections to the Holbrooks Daniel D. Baker was distantly related to the prominent 19th century Naturalist John Edwards Holbrook (1794-1871), a medical doctor and scientist who was one of the founding fathers of the prestigious Medical College of South Carolina.

Holbrook is remembered in the annals of American science for his association with Louis Agassiz.

Holbrook, in turn, was a brother-in-law of Cdr Edward Cotesworth Rutledge USN (1798-1860) of South Carolina.

Daniel Baker was educated in Massachusetts, and went to South Carolina in the 1820s where there was a demand for New England trained school teachers. He then studied medicine.

In the early 19th century scientific research and new technologies were rivalling warfare as a mission for the Navy and the Marine Corps. In a sense they still do.

Lacking today's network of schools, academies, and training programs, the Navy Department was actively recruiting personnel of all ranks and ratings, familiar with Latin, mathematics (especially geometry), and "the natural sciences" (medicine), who could double as teachers, engineers, "naturalists", interpreter-translators, and (on occasion) as diplomats.

Even today, at least one 19th century USMC Commandant, Colonel John Harris (1790-1864), is perhaps better remembered in the annals of American agriculture and alimentation than he is for his 50 year career as a Marine in several wars and campaigns.

The legend persists that John Harris introduced the "Lima Bean" to American gastronomy...!

Between 1825 and 1840 a handful of young men with (civilian) medical or pharmaceutical training were among those commissioned to serve as U.S. Marine Corps Lieutenants.

In 1825 Daniel D. Baker married the Scottish-born Miss Julia Jane McLaren, who was two years his junior.

Julia's older brother, Adam Neill McLaren (1805-1874) was also completing his medical studies in South Carolina at that time.

By 1832 the Bakers were living in Abbeville, SC. That was the year of South Carolina's Nullification Crisis. It was also a time of institutional crisis which shook the Medical College of South Carolina and the State's medical community.

Apparently through family connections and political ties which influenced such Federal appointments at the time, Daniel D. Baker was able to accept a commission as a 2ndLt of the United States Marine Corps.

Directly appointed from the State of South Carolina, his commission was dated October 20, 1832.

Throughout his 20 year career as a Marine Corps officer, Daniel D. Baker was carried on the Federal rolls and registers as a "citizen of South Carolina."

During 1832-33 Lieutenant Baker and other Marine Corps Lieutenants in his promotion bracket were assigned to HQMC at the Washington (DC) Navy Yard for officer indoctrination.

In 1833 his brother-in-law, Adam Neill McLaren, accepted an appointment from South Carolina as an Assistant Surgeon in the US Army.

Between 1833 and 1835 Baker was assigned to the Marine Barracks at Philadelphia. His medical training was quickly put to task there by the great epidemics which swept America's northeastern port cities in the 1830s.

In 1835 the Bakers were transferred to the Marine Barracks at Portsmouth, NH, - a move which briefly allowed the Marine Lieutenant to renew old family ties in Massachusetts.

In 1836 Baker was ordered back to South Carolina as a USMC company officer with the regiment assembled under the command of Colonel-Commandant Archibald Henderson (1783-1859) for War Department service in the Creek-Seminole campaigns.

Baker served in Georgia and Alabama, seeing some minor action prior to being evacuated as "sick" with malarial symptoms.

Back in Portsmouth, NH, Baker spent most of 1837-38 convalescing, and tending to his children's education.

Early in 1838 Baker was promoted to 1stLt USMC. His new commission was dated December 30, 1837.

During 1838-40 he served at sea in command of the Marine Corps detachment aboard the frigate USS Columbia.

The Columbia stopped at Rio de Janeiro, rounded the Cape of Good Hope, and anchored off Muscat and Oman (the Arabian Emirates). The Columbia also visted Bombay on its way to rendez-vous with Commodore Read's American squadron in the East Indies.

Between December 1838 and January 1839 Lieutenant Baker commanded the squadron's (naval) division of Marines in the landing party sent ashore from the USS Columbia and the sloop of war USS John Adams to take part in the second American assault on the Maylay pirate stronghold at Quallah Battoo on the Island of Sumatra.

For that service Baker was personally commended to the Secretary of the Navy by Commodore Read.

The squadron then proceeded to Maçao, Canton (Guandong), Hawaii, and Tierra del Fuego (Cape Horn) on its return voyage, finally arriving in US waters in June 1840, after an absence of over two years.

Briefly assigned to the Marine Barracks in Charlestown, Massachusetts, Lieutenant Baker rejoined his family for most of 1840-1846 at the Marine Barracks in Portsmouth, NH.

During February-December 1846 the Lieutenant was again at sea in command of the Marine detachment aboard the frigate USS Cumberland, flagship of the US Navy's "Home Squadron" in the Gulf of Mexico. Baker was among the first American officers to see action in coastal and amphibious operations against Mexican defenses and fortifications that year.

From December 1846 until early 1847 Baker found himself in a "waiting orders" status at the Charlestown Marine Barracks.

He then proceeded to NY under orders as a company officer in the first of two US Marine Corps battalions raised for War Department service with Major General Scott's Army in Mexico.

Baker served with the battalion in Mexico during 1847-48, participating in a number of battles and skirmishes.

He was one of the five USMC officer casualties at the Battle of Chapultepec (where the battalion's commanding officer was killed in action), but Baker's wound was not severe enough to prevent him from leading his company into "the Halls of Montezuma" on the following day.

In the early fall of 1847, Daniel D. Baker was promoted to the rank of Captain USMC. His commission was dated September 28, 1847 and filled a vacancy caused by the death of a senior officer.

In March, 1848, sometime prior to the battalion's return, the Navy Department issued brevet promotions to a number of Marine Corps officers in recognition of battlefield wounds, gallantry, and merit.

In most cases the officers singled out received a brevet promotion to the next higher grade.

Captain Baker, however, was somewhat unfairly brevetted a Captain (in March 1848) to rank from September 13, 1847.

The parsimonious Secretary of the Navy reasoned that Baker, though a combat veteran with over 15 years service and several campaigns, skirmishes, and battles to his credit, had held the rank of 1stLt when wounded at Chapultepec.

In the summer of 1848 the Marine battalions reembarked at Vera Cruz and were released by the War Department to report to HQMC and the Navy Department.

During 1848-1851 Captain Baker commanded the US Marine detachment aboard the USS Constitution ("Old Ironsides") in the Mediterranean.

He had the priviledge of serving alongside his son, the South Carolina-born Midshipman Francis H. Baker (USNA Class of 1853). Years later, as a US Navy Captain, the young Midshipman would command the USS Constitution.

A younger son, Adam Neill Baker, was then in school in Portsmouth (NH), preparing himself to qualify for admission to the US Military Academy at West Point.

During 1851-53 Captain Baker commanded the US Marine Barracks at the Warrington Navy Yard in Pensacola, Florida.

It was there that Marines and Sailors, together with the local populace, faced one of the 19th century's worst Yellow Fever pandemics.

US Marine Corps Captain Daniel D. Baker selflessly performed his duties until overcome by illness himself. He died at Pensacola on August 31, 1853.

One of Captain Daniel D. Baker's younger sons, the above-mentioned Adam Neill Baker, having until then failed to obtain the sought-after appointment to West Point, was appointed from the state of Florida to be commissioned as a 2ndLt USMC ranking from August 31, 1853-the date of his father's death.

Adam Neill Baker (born in Philadelphia in 1835) resigned from the Marines in Norfolk, Va, in 1861 to remain with his widowed mother and siblings in Virginia. During the Civil War he served in Pensacola as a Confederate Marine Corps officer prior to becoming disillusioned with that "cause" and deserting in order to rally to "the old flag."

Through the efforts of his uncle, Major-Surgeon Adam Neill McLaren (US Army), young A.N. Baker, though a "Rebel" P.O.W., was allowed to take the Oath of Allegiance to the United States.

Returning to Orange, Massachusetts on parole, the young man enlisted in the 15th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment as a private soldier.

Adam Neill Baker was killed in action at Antietam in 1862.

Captain Daniel D. Baker's oldest child, daughter Agnes, married Passed Midshipman Joseph Armistead Seawell (USNA Class of 1848) of Norfolk, Va, who left the Navy in 1855 but later served in the Civil war; first as a soldier in Virginia's (Confederate) 26th Infantry Regiment (1861-62), and later (1862-?) in the Confederate Navy.

A native of Gloucester County, Virginia, Joseph Armistead Seawell had sought an appointment to West Point prior to joining the U.S. Navy. He was 36 years old when he joined the Confederate Army early in 1861 and was still living in Norfolk, Virginia (as a widower) in 1880. Awarded a Mexican War pension in 1887, Joseph Armistead Seawell passed away in Gloucester County, Virginia, on 7 March 1889 at the age of 65.

Son-in-Law Joseph Armistead Seawell's (paternal) uncle, Colonel Washington Seawell US Army (USMA Class of 1825), remained loyal to the Union, while young Seawell's maternal uncle, former US President John Tyler (1790-1862) sided with the rebellion.

Captain Baker's oldest son, Francis H. Baker, though born in Abbeville, SC, in April 1832, remained loyal to the Union. Prior to the Civil War, F.H. Baker married the daughter of another prominent Norfolk Virginia family.

He served loyally throughout the Civil War as a Union Naval officer.

Eventually reaching the rank of Captain, USN, Francis H. Baker briefly commanded the USS Constitution in 1879 before illness ended his career.

Capt F.H. Baker USN died at the Naval Hospital in Norfolk, Virginia, in March 1880.

Two younger sons, Thomas W. Baker (born in New Hampshire about 1837) and Daniel D. Baker Jr (born in New Hampshire in 1842) do not seem to have survived the American Civil War.

One or both may have been Pennsylvania volunteers-while a probably unrelated "Daniel D. Baker" served as a Confederate in the 24th Georgia Infantry at Antietam.

Mrs. Julia Jane (McLaren) Baker, still a widow, was living in Norfolk in 1880.

Family Members

Half Siblings
Gravesite Details Although tombstone reads "USN", Captain Baker was a US Marine Corps officer


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