Thursday, March 23, 2017

Butler County's John Augustus Baldwin served as Confederate assistant surgeon

Gerald Addicott, left, congratulated by Mitchell Anthony.
Earlier this month, the members of the Col. Pinckney D. Bowles Camp 1840 of the Sons of Confederate Veterans in Evergreen recognized camp member Gerald Addicott for his recent induction into the Military Order of the Stars and Bars, a heritage organization for descendants of Confederate officers.

Addicott was accepted for membership in this prestigious organization in recognition of the service of his ancestor, Dr. John Augustus Baldwin, who was Assistant Surgeon in Co. F of the 2nd Alabama Cavalry. Baldwin was a remarkable man and many of his descendants still live in our area today.

Baldwin was born in Lumpkin, Stewart County, Ga. on Aug. 19, 1836, and he went on to graduate from Atlanta Medical College (now Emory University) in 1859. A year later, according to the 1860 census, he was living with the family of silversmith T.P. Godwin in Butler County. Sources say that for some time, Baldwin worked as a doctor in the Garland community.

The Civil War broke out a short time later, and Baldwin enlisted at the Butler County Courthouse in Greenville as a private in Co. F of the 2nd Alabama Cavalry Regiment. Not long after that, Baldwin was named the regiment’s Acting Assistant Surgeon, and he served in that position throughout the entire war. Typically, assistant surgeons worked in dangerously-situated field hospitals within close range of battlefields to render immediate aid to casualties until they could be stabilized and moved further to the rear, where the regimental surgeon was assigned to a larger hospital out of artillery range. Assistant surgeon work in field hospitals was considered extremely hazardous because they were exposed to enemy cannons and rifle fire.

The 2nd Alabama Cavalry Regiment was organized on May 1, 1862 in Montgomery, Alabama. Companies in the regiment included units raised in Montgomery, Butler, Monroe and Dallas counties. From Montgomery, the regiment was sent to West Florida, where it served for about 10 months, fighting in several skirmishes.

They were later sent into action in north Mississippi and lost eight men in a skirmish at Mud Creek. From there, they were sent to the Tennessee Valley and fought in numerous skirmishes. The regiment suffered 70 men killed and wounded at the Battle of Okolona, Miss. on Feb. 22, 1864.

Later, on July 22, 1864, the regiment lost a number of men at Atlanta. As Union General William T. Sherman swept through Georgia during his famous “March to the Sea,” the regiment got in behind Sherman’s army and harassed his troops from the rear. As the war drew to a close, the 2nd Alabama Cavalry eventually made its way to Greensboro, N.C., where they helped escort Confederate President Jefferson Davis into Georgia, where he was eventually taken prisoner. The regiment’s war service came to an end in May 1865 when they surrendered in Forsyth, Ga.

While it’s hard to say where Baldwin was on any given day, he served with the regiment for much of the war. Also, in addition to his service with the regiment, some sources say that Baldwin also served as a contract surgeon for the Confederate Army of the West and saw service in Louisiana, Texas, Arizona and New Mexico. Needless to say, he saw many places in the war that the typical, regular private did not get to see and experience.

Baldwin was 28 years old when General Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox, and Baldwin returned to Butler County after the war to practice medicine. On Aug. 4, 1867, Baldwin married 20-year-old Margaret Narcisses McPherson. Together, they had 10 children in the space of 16 years.

Unfortunately, Baldwin died an untimely death, passing away at the age of 49 on Oct.13, 1885. According to family lore, Baldwin made a house call late one cold night to deliver a baby only to come home and develop a fatal case of pneumonia. He died a short time later and was buried in the South Butler Cemetery in McKenzie.

Interestingly, Gerald Addicott’s brother, Jeff, is currently writing a book about the history of the 2nd Alabama Cavalry, so those of you wanting to learning more about the regiment’s history would do well to pick up a copy once it’s released. 

No comments:

Post a Comment