Saturday, October 16, 2010

Grave of James D. W. Baxter - A Florida Hero at rest in Georgia

Walking through the Confederate Section of Rose Hill Cemetery in Macon, Georgia, not long ago, I was surprised to come across the grave of James D. W. Baxter (misspelled "Boxter" on his headstone).

A private from Company I, Fourth Florida Infantry, Baxter had been captured in one of the most heroic actions of Florida troops in the entire War Between the States. The Fourth Florida was among the regiments that crossed Stones River under Breckenridge on January 2, 1862, to attack the massed Union artillery on the hills west of the river in a desperate attempt to end the brutal stalemate of the Battle of Stones River or Murfreesboro, Tennessee. The unit had already taken a key grove of cedars in heavy fighting on the battle's opening day.

The effort failed, but the Fourth Florida was the last Confederate regiment to leave the field, fighting heroically to save a battery of Southern guns. By the time the smoke cleared, the regiment had lost 194 of its 458 members, a loss of nearly 40%.

Of this number, at least 49 soldiers - many of them wounded - were taken as prisoners of war. Among these was Private James D.W. Baxter of Company I. A resident of Jackson County before the war, Baxter had enlisted at Greenwood, Florida, on July 3, 1861. Captured in the fighting on January 2, 1863, he was to the brutal prisoner of war camp of Camp Douglas in Chicago, where he spent the rest of the bitterly cold winter.

Paroled later in 1863, Baxter returned to service but by the summer of 1864 had fallen severely ill. He died in a Confederate hospital at Macon, Georgia, on September 3, 1864, and was buried in Grave #3, Row #2 of the Confederate Section at Rose Hill Cemetery in downtown Macon, a long way from his Jackson County home. James D.W. Baxter, a hero of Florida, was 32 years old.

You can learn more about his beautiful hometown, the antebellum community of Greenwood by clicking here: www.exploresouthernhistory.com/greenwood.

1 comment:

macon church said...

Interesting to see a Florida hero resting in ga