On the 201st Anniversary of the birth of Oregon United State Senator Edward Dickinson Baker, the Civil War military leader and friend of Abraham Lincoln who died at Ball's Bluff, VA will be memorialized in Oregon with "Edward Dickinson Baker Day."


Over 152 years ago this month, Edward Dickinson Baker moved his family up to Salem in 1859, during the year Oregon was first admitted into the Union as a free state. Baker had left a prosperous law practice in San Francisco at the urging of his friends and admirers in Oregon to become a candidate for a vacant seat in the Senate, caused by the expiration of the term of Delazon Smith, and was duly elected by the State Legislature to that position of honor.

Baker's senatorship came with a deepened sense of responsibility to his constituents living in the fledgling 33rd state, and to the preservation of the Union, felt more intensely as war clouds darkened the horizon. When the first shots were fired at Fort Sumter in April of 1861, he immediately offered his services (honed in the Mexican War) to his adopted country. Colonel Baker raised volunteer troops for the Union, and was drilling with his brigade while they were preparing for action in the middle of October of 1861.

In one of his last letters mailed from "Headquarters Baker's Brigade, Camp Advance, Chain Bridge", on September 22,1861, Colonel Baker wrote about his concerns for the creation "of a military force in Oregon...a force sufficient for all purposes..." Baker pointed out that he had turned down two appointments for Major and Brigadier Generalships because he was honored by the Senatorship and "...value(d) the station conferred upon me by the State of Oregon more mightily than any other in the world..."

In a chilling premonition of his own tragic death, Colonel Baker wrote that "...a great battle is hourly anticipated," and pledged that "...you may rest assured that the State of Oregon shall have no cause to be ashamed of my action(s)." One month later, Baker died at the Battle of Ball's Bluff, Virginia, leading his troops into battle. Oregon was suddenly bereft of its Civil War Statesman and Soldier and the silver tongue of the "Grey Eagle of Mt. Hood" was forever silenced. Senator Baker was the only sitting member of the United States Senate to die in battle.

On Friday, February 24, 2012, Oregon is conferring another honor on its fallen soldier and United States Senator, with the launch of "Edward Dickinson Baker Day" on the 201st Anniversary of Baker's birth . On this day set aside to honor the heroism and patriotism of Lincoln's best friend, a two part ceremony will take place in Salem, Oregon at the State Capitol Building and grounds, and the whole state is invited to come over to Salem and honor the life and aciievements of Oregon United States Senator Edward Dickinson Baker in the city he called home during his brief tenure in office.

The first part of the long-awaited day will be heralded in with a special ceremony at the opening of the legislative session. The uniformed Oregon Sons of Union Veterans Reserve, are in charge of the "Presenting of the colors" to honor Oregon's United States Senator and Civil War military leader Edward Dickinson Baker. Senate chambers. 10:00am

The second part of the ceremony will start at 12:30pm at the 14th granite pillar of the Oregon Medal of Honor Memorial located on the west side of the Capitol grounds. Commander Steve Betschart of the Oregon Sons of Union Veterans will play "Taps" on his bugle to commemorate the four Civil War Veterans buried in Oregon who received the Army Medal of Honor for actions taken in battle "beyond the Call of Duty".Then K.C. Piccard and other members of the Oregon Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission will lead guided tours of all of the memorial pillars engraved with the names of Oregon's Medal of Honor recipients. These free tours will honor the valor shown by the veterans of all wars and is especially timely because 2012 is the 150th Anniversary of the creation of the Army Medal of Honor during the second year of the American Civil War.

For more information about this free event, or other Civil War related events taking place in Oregon, please contact the Oregon Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission at (503)303-8426.