| 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
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
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
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
Tennessee Light Artillery