Baxter, Jedediah Hyde
Age: 0, credited to Strafford, VT
Unit(s): 12th MA INF, USV
Service: 12th MA INF, SURG, Brigade SURG, USV, Asst Medical Purveyor, Chief Medical Purveyor, and SURG-General [College: NU 56, UVM 59/60]
See Legend for expansion of abbreviationsVITALS
Birth: 03/11/1837, Strafford, VT
Burial: Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA
Gravestone researcher/photographer: Courtesy of Arlingtion National Cemetery
Findagrave Memorial #: 13826183
Cenotaph: Strafford Cemetery, Strafford, VT
Gravestone researcher/photographer: Bob Hackett
Findagrave Memorial #: 0
(There may be a Findagrave Memorial, but we have not recorded it)
Alias?: None noted
College?: NU 56, UVM 59, UVM 60 (Med)
Veterans Home?: Not Found
(If there are state digraphs above, this soldier spent some time in a state or national soldiers' home in that state after the war)
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Arlington National Cemetery, VA
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Cenotaph in Strafford Cemetery, Strafford, VT
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Jedediah Hyde Baxter, UVM Class of 1859, was a son of Portus Baxter of Derby Line, for some years a member of congress from Vermont, and Ellen (Harris) Baxter. and was born at Strafford, Vt., 11 May 1837. The next year after graduation he received the degree of M. D. from the Medical department of the University. He also obtained the degree of LL. B. from Columbian University in 1876.
He entered the Union army 26 June 1861 as surgeon of Col. Fletcher Webster's regiment, the 12th Massachusetts infantry. He was made surgeon of United States volunteers 4 April 1862. He was for a time on the staff of Gen. Banks and afterward on that of McClellan, and was an admirable staff officer. For eighteen months he was in charge of the Campbell hospital in Washington, where he had the care of not less than 15,000 sick and wounded men. His efficient services there earned him the position of chief medical officer in the provost marshal general's bureau. Medical Statistics of the Provost Marshal General's Bureau is a valuable compilation made by Dr. Baxter. He was made brevet colonel 30 March 1865 for faithful service during the war; lieutenant colonel and assistant medical purveyor in the regular army 20 July 1867 ; chief medical purveyor 12 March 1872, and 23 June 1874 his rank was raised to that of colonel.
In 1876 he was married to Florence Tryon of Boston, Mass., but left no children. Dr. Baxter was President Garfield's family physician, but at the time of the assassination happened not to be in Washington. He was promoted to be surgeon-general 16 August 1890 with the rank of brigadier-general. His administration of his high office justified the wisdom of his appointment, but his career was speedily terminated by death, which resulted 4 December 1890 from a stroke of paralysis received three days before.
Dr. Baxter was self-reliant and ambitious, and at the same time possessed the genial qualities which secure the attachment and loyalty of friends. He was faithful to the important trusts which were committed to his charge and deserving of the national distinction which he gained. The secretary of war in the general order announcing his death said: "Although but for a short time chief of the medical department of the army, General Baxter showed such administrative capacity as gave promise of great usefulness to the service in which his professional attainments and efficiency were conspicuous."
Source: Obituary Record, University of Vermont, No. 1. 1895. Committee of the Associate Alumni, Burlington, 1895, p. 121.
Surg. 12th Mass. Infantry, (Col. Fletcher Webster), June 26, 1861; on duty from date of appointment with Regt., Army of the Potomac; honorably mustered out April 17, 1862; appointed Surgeon of Brigade April 4, 1862, and assigned to duty with the Army of the Potomac; transferred to Corps of Volunteer Surgeons, July 2, 1862; on duty in the Dept. of Washington, September, 1862 to January 1864, at the following named hospitals: Judiciary Square and Campbell; in Provost Marshal General's office, January, 1864, to July, 1867. Brevet Colonel March 13, 1865, for faithful and meritorious service during the war. Commissioned as Surgeon, U. S. Vols., vacated July 30, 1867. Bvt. Lieutenant-Colonel March 30, 1865, for meritorious and faithful service in the recruitment of the armies of the U. S.
U. S. Army Service
Appointed Assistant Medical Purveyor, U. S. A., July 20, 1867; at Washington, DC, compiling medical statistics of the Provost Marshal General's office from July, 1867 to October, 1873; Bvt. Colonel July 25, 1867, for faithful and meritorious service during the war; appointed Lieutenant-Colonel and Chief Medical Purveyor, U. S. A., March 12, 1872; on duty as Chief Medical Purveyor, U. S. A., and compiling medical statistics of the Provost Marshal General's office from October, 1873, to April, 1874, and in charge of the property division of the Surgeon General's office, April, 1874, to August 16, 1990; promoted Colonel and Chief Medical Purveyor, U. S. A., June 23, 1874; Acting Surgeon-General, August 6 to December, 1886; appointed Surgeon-General, with rank of Brigadier General, August 16, 1890. Died December 4, 1890.
After some nine months' duty with the 12th Mass., Regt., Dr. Baxter was made Brigade Surgeon, U. S. Volunteers, and in the Peninsular campaign performed most efficient service. When the troops were in front of Yorktown, at the battles of Hanover Court House and Fair Oaks, and the rest of the seven days fighting, he was constantly in the field establishing field hospitals, and seeing that the ambulances and provisions were on hand ready for regimental surgeons. During most of this time he, with his comrades, was under fire. By his tireless energy, cheerful manner and rare executive ability in the Peninsular Campaign he did much to alleviate the sufferings of the wounded soldiers. Surgeon Baxter was in charge of the Campbell General Hospital at Washington, which was one of the largest hospitals in the United States, from the time it was opened until January 1864, when, at the request of General Fry, Provost marshal General, he was detailed on the latter's staff, and assigned to duty as chief medical officer of his bureau. In this capacity Surgeon Baxter collected the records of the physical examinations of more than one million men who presented themselves for admission into the army, and compiled therefrom an extensive work on vital statistics. As chief medical purveyor of the U. S. Army and surgeon-general, he showed that the same rare executive ability which had developed itself in the field, and had his life been spared there would no doubt have been many important changes and improvements made in the medical department of the U. S. Army.
From a contemporary press report: March 11, 1837 - December 4, 1890). Jedediah Hyde Baxter, Surgeon General of the United States Army, August 16, 1890 - December 4, 1890, was born at Strafford, Orange County, Vermont, the son of Portus and Ellen Janette (Harris) Baxter. His early education was obtained in academies at South Woodstock and St. Johnsbury in his native state after which he attended the University of Vermont at Burlington where he received the degree of B. S. in 1859 and that of M. D. in 1860. After graduation be went to New York City where he saw some service as resident physician at Bellevue and Blackwell's Island hospitals. With the outbreak of the Civil War he volunteered for service and was commissioned as surgeon of the 12th Massachusetts Volunteers on June 26, 1861. In this capacity he served with the Army of the Potomac from July 27, 1861, to April 4, 1862, when he was appointed major and surgeon of volunteers and assigned to the duty of brigade surgeon. Later that year he was ordered to Washington and placed in charge of Campbell General Hospital and still later in that year he was assigned to duty in the newly organized Provost Marshal General's Bureau as chief medical officer, a position which he filled for the remainder of the war and until the completion of the records of that office. It appears that during a portion of this period he had some duties as a medical purveyor. On March 13, 1865, he received the brevet of colonel of volunteers for "faithful and meritorious service during the war."Incident to the reorganization of the army following the war Baxter was appointed by President Johnson an assistant medical purveyor with the rank of lieutenant colonel, to fill a original vacancy, dating from July 20, 1867. His acceptance vacated his volunteer commission and brought to the regular corps a remarkable personage who strongly influenced the affairs of the medical department for the next quarter of a century. He was given the brevet of colonel in the regular establishment on the same date as that of his appointment to the corps. There is no evidence that Baxter served outside of Washington after 1862. He was appointed chief medical purveyor with no change in grade on March 12, 1872, and was promoted to colonel and chief medical purveyor on June 23, 1874. Appointed to this position during the administration of Surgeon General Barnes, he continued through the terms of General Crane, General Murray, and General Moore. He early developed an understandable ambition to head the medical department, and with each successive vacancy he not only was a candidate but was always strongly supported for the place. It was urged against him that he had entered the corps as a lieutenant colonel instead of as a lieutenant as had his competitors and that though he held high rank in the corps he had much less service than many who were his juniors oil the lineal list. It was further urged that he had entered the service without the professional examination which bad been required of others. Considerable heat and bitterness were aroused in each of the contests and they were each time settled by the advancement of the senior ranking officer of the corps. With his comparative youth Baxter could wait his turn for the place. As chief medical purveyor his work was of high advantage to the service. Medical supplies were of better quality and more abundant in quantity. He increased markedly the professional literature furnished to medical officers and was sympathetic to requests for instruments and appliances from those proposing to make special research. In addition to the work of his office he carried on all active medical practice. His professional clientele included several presidents and their families, and he had a large following among senators, congressmen, and other government officials. His alleged methods in obtaining a clientele that would assist in furthering his military ambitions were the subject of considerable criticism from civilian physicians who accused him of unethical practices. He was the medical attendant at the White House during the early part of the administration of President Garfield and considerable comment was aroused by his failure to be included among the surgical attendants following the fatal wounding of the President. Whatever the cause of this neglect or to whom it may be charged the incident provoked a high degree of resentment among Baxter's friends. Even the additional activity of a busy practice did not fill Baxter's time as he would have it filled, so he took up the study of law and after a full course at the Law School of the Columbian University he was graduated with the degree of LL. B. With the retirement of Surgeon General Moore in 1890, circumstances were highly propitious for Baxter. A fellow Vermonter, the Hon. Redfield Proctor, was secretary of war and Benjamin Harrison, the President, was a long-time patient and friend. There was no real contest for the place and Baxter was appointed Surgeon General on August 16, 1890. He had shown excellent administrative ability in the conduct of the supply department and while waiting for the high place to which he at last achieved he had been laying plans for far-reaching and comprehensive improvements in the department. There can be no doubt that he would have made every effort to bring his plans to realization but hardly more than four months after his appointment he suffered a paralytic stroke on December 2, 1890, at his home in Washington and died two days later at the age of fifty-three years. His funeral from All Souls Church was attended by all official Washington with a long list of the highest officers of the army and navy as honorary pallbearers. He was buried in Arlington Cemetery. Thus terminated the career of one of the most colorful personalities that the medical service has produced. Physically he was of medium height and strongly built. He was a good friend and a good hater, a man of strong personal attraction and equally strong prejudices. It is said that when he was made Surgeon General there was a general shake-up in the stations of the corps with a view to the reward of friends and the discipline of the unfavored. Particularly notable is his work with the Provost Marshal General's Bureau. Entering upon this duty when in his twenties, he won early recognition by his high intelligence and industry. He acquired the most detailed knowledge of the work of the bureau, including a personal acquaintance with practically every officer on duty with it. He prepared the two-volume Medical Statistics of the Provost Marshal General's Bureau, published by the Government in 1875. This work, which presents the results of the examination of over a million men, contains also a discussion of anthropometry, recruiting regulations of other governments, and reports from medical officers of the bureau, including not only their special work but also the topography and diseases of their districts. As a representative of this office he attended the Boston meeting of the American Medical Association in 1865. Beside the local medical societies he was a member of the Public Health Association, the Boston Gynecological Society, and the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences. He contributed some papers to the transactions of these societies and to medical periodicals. He was married on March 9, 1876, at Boston, Mass., to Florence Tryon, daughter of William Tryon of that city, who survived him. They had no children.
Baxter died 5 December 1890, in Washington, DC.
Source: University of Vermont Class of 1859, member of Delta Psi Fraternity
Photograph and date of death from William C. Wile, New England Medical Monthly. Medicine and Surgery. Volume 10, from October 1890 to October 1891, The Danbury Medical Printing Company, Danbury, VT: 1891, pp. 203, 642; additional biography on 30-32.
Source: Revised Roster, pp. 677-678.