A biography of Edmund Dillahunty Baxter.
Edmund Dillahunty Baxter was born August 22, 1838 in Columbia, Tennessee. He was the eldest son of Judge Nathaniel and Martha Hamilton Baxter and was named for the Judge's mentor, the noted jurist, Edmund Dillahunty.

Young Baxter completed an academic course at Nashville University and worked in the office of the circuit court clerk. He also served as deputy sheriff under Sheriff Edmundson and made up his mind to follow his father's footsteps in the legal profession. He began a systematic study of law without a teacher and at age 20 passed the state bar exam with a high grade and resigned his other duties to begin the practice of law.

The Civil War broke out about this time. Baxter and his first cousin and close friend Baxter Smith were both newly weds, they discussed matters and decided it was their duty to join the Confederate Army. Baxter Smith went on to become Colonel of the 8th Tennessee Cavalry Regiment. Baxter went on to become a Captain of Artillery.

Baxter became a Lieutenant in the Harding Artillery, also known as Monsorrat's Battery. The unit grew, was divided into two companies. Baxter was promoted to Captain and given command to one company, which became Baxter's Battery first organization. He commanded this battery at the Battle of Shiloh and actions around Corinth, Mississippi. In the summer of 1862, Captain Baxter was assigned to post duty in Knoxville and the battery was turned over to others.

In the fall of 1862, Baxter was commissioned to recruit another company of artillerymen. By this time, most of Middle and West Tennessee was under Union occupation, but the Army of Tennessee had moved back into Middle Tennessee laying groundwork for the upcoming Battle of Murfreesboro.

One area not under Union occupation was the hill country west of Nashville: western Davidson County, west Williamson County, eastern Hickman County and Southern Dickson County. Several men had joined various infantry and cavalry regiments early in the war, but many young men remained. Baxter spent about 6 weeks in the area recruiting. The company was accepted into Confederate service and officers elected December 11, 1862 at Bethesda in Williamson County, then proceeded to camp in Shelbyville.

In January 1863, the company went to Cumberland Gap and remained in East Tennessee until the Battle of Chickamauga in which it was engaged. The Battery was also engaged in the Battle of Missionary Ridge.

Baxter commanded Batteries A & B in the line of entrenchments during the siege of Atlanta. After the fall of Atlanta, the company was sent to Macon, GA where it remained until the end of the war. Captain Baxter surrendered in Milledgeville, GA on May 5, 1865 and took the oath of allegiance to the United States on June 16, 1865 in Nashville.

After the war, Baxter resumed the practice of law, specializing in railroad and interstate commerce law. He became chief lawyer for the Louisville and Nashville Railroad in Tennessee. He argued cases before the United States Supreme Court and assisted in development of Interstate Commerce Laws. He became nationally renowned in his field and soon represented numerous railroads and shipping companies as well as other private practice.

He was often appointed by the governor to fill in for disabled members of the Tennessee State Supreme Court and was given the title Judge Baxter. He also was Professor of law of evidence, pleading, and procedure at Vanderbilt University Law School. He at one time served as dean of the department.

Baxter was twice married, first in 1858 to Eliza T. Perkins with whom he had 3 children. In 1879, he married Mrs. Sarah Elizabeth (Perkins) Baxter, widow of his half-brother Jones F. Baxter. Three children were also born of this union.

Baxter was the featured speaker at the Tennessee State Association of Confederate Veterans held at the Carnton Plantation in Franklin, TN on September 14 & 15, 1892. The theme of his speech was to show that "rebels" had often been among those whose deeds shone most resplendently in history, like the Barons who brought King John to terms at Runnymead, and the patriots of the American revolution who followed Washington to a glorious independence. His speech received frequent outbursts of applause.

Baxter died at his summer home in Ridgetop, TN on June 12, 1910. His death notice made the front page of the Nashville Tennessean and the Nashville Bar Association held a special meeting to plan a fitting memorial for Baxter. Colonel Baxter Smith, with whom he practiced law for many years stated: "His record as a soldier is too well known to need comment here."

Baxter was buried at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Nashville.

The following is from the key note speech at the 1892 reunion of Tennessee Confederate Veterans held at Franklin, TN:

"The history of the English people is a history of rebels struggling to maintain their rights and liberties against the tyranny and oppression of the governing powers. To the American citizen who has carefully read the history of the race from which we sprang, the term rebel conveys no suspicion of dishonor or reproach. It is a term which tyrannical governments have at all times applied to people who have the courage to resist their oppression, and while tyrannical governments may intend to use the term, rebel, as one of reproach, every true lover of liberty who knows his history must regard it as a title of honor; history proves that it is a title of liberty which is older and more honorable than the king's perogative; it is a title which was originally won by the sword, it has been maintained by the sword, and unless it is defended by the sword, liberty will perish from the face of the earth. All the rights, previleges, and immunities now enjoyed by the American people were acquired for them by rebels and will be bequeathed to them by rebels. there can not be found today in all this world a man in whose veins does not flow the blood of a rebel, whether of English descent or not. Allow me to add that any man deserves this honorable title who is ready to fight, regardless of doubts or consequences for the rights of life, liberty, and property. these are the things for which we fought, and we counted not the cost when we bade defiance to the enemy's forces that undertook to despoil us of them."

Captain Edmund D. Baxter
Baxter's Company
Tennessee Light Artillery



Copyright © - SCV Camp 2034
All Rights Reserved
Last Updated
Site Designed and Maintained by WebmasterBob