Researcher: Cory Gates
William Baldwin, part of the 35th Massachusetts regiment had an interesting path through the war to his unfortunate death at the nightmarish prison camp named Andersonville. Baldwin’s journey through this war begins on August 1, 1862 in the town of Worcester. There, a regiment formed, with mostly men from eastern Massachusetts, began their march to Washington D.C. There the 35th was attached to the Army of the Potomac under the shaky leadership of General McClellan. However just four months after command passed to Joseph Hooker. During those four months however the first formal fighting chance for William H. Baldwin had arrived. This would not be the last fighting that he would receive during this war.
The list of major battles that may be added to Baldwin’s resume are South Mountain, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Vicksburg, and finally the battle that would prove too much would be North Anna River. South Mountain was an important battle for the fact that it was a Union victory. The South had dug themselves in upon South Mountain and was determined to hold three different pathways that would maintain possession of the mountain. However after a three-hour hold out the casualties mounted too high and Confederates retreated to Harper’s Ferry. There was no time for celebration for Baldwin for just two days later McClellan led the Potomac to victory at Antietam, a devastating blow to the South under Robert E. Lee. Surviving the single bloodiest day in American history, to that point in time, Baldwin remained in the 35th and saw no action until the
devastating loss of Fredericksburg. At Fredericksburg Baldwin was under the command of Ambrose E. Burnside, and assaulted Robert E. Lee who entrenched his force upon the heights overlooking the town. Wave after wave of Union advances were decimated and the Union, along with Baldwin, limped away from a horrible defeat. Here Baldwin was given a break of the fighting and was in charge of work around camp. Fighting resumed with the siege of Vicksburg under the command of U.S Grant. Here Baldwin was ordered to dig trenches to provide cover for the artillery. After the fall of Vicksburg Baldwin and the 35th traveled up North where they ended up in Kentucky and Cincinnati, Ohio until they were called back into service once again under Grant this time however Grant would be facing Robert E. Lee. At the battle of the Wilderness the Baldwin’s regiment was used as reinforcements and saw no actual combat. However on May 24th Grant divided his force into three to attack a similar Lee’s formation. The battle raged and in the end the battle yielded no victor. However when the dust settled Baldwin was missing. He was picked up by a passing Confederate group and taken to Andersonville Prison where he stayed until his death 5 months later. Possible deaths include disease, hunger and dehydration. The path of William H. Baldwin of the Worcester area ends at Andersonville prison on Oct 23, 1864.
William H. Baldwin volunteered to protect and preserve the Union and ended up sacrificing his life towards the cause. Little is known about this man’s past prior to the war, save his father Henry Baldwin. However now William H. Baldwin is buried at a National Cemetery located near Andersonville. William never received a promotion and remained a Private throughout his entire period of service in Company A of the 35th Massachusetts regiment. William H Baldwin was one of the many who left home to preserve the Union.