Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
James H. Baker Collection, 1861-1956, bulk 1861-1863

James S. Schoff Civil War Collection

Finding aid created by
Meg Hixon, August 2011

Summary Information
Title: James H. Baker collection
Creator: Skinner, Clarence O.
Inclusive dates: 1861-1956
Bulk dates: 1861-1863
Extent: 29 items
The James H. Baker collection contains items related to his Civil War career in Company C of the First Regiment of United States Sharpshooters. The collection includes photographs, ribbons, newspaper clippings, and a scrapbook, among other items.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

2010. M-4861.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Preferred Citation:

James H. Baker Collection, James S. Schoff Civil War Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


The collection is currently arranged by item type.


James H. Baker was born in 1839 in Ohio, and moved to Lansing, Michigan, a short time thereafter. In 1861, Baker joined the 1st Regiment of United States Sharp Shooters under Hiram Berdan, and on August 31, 1862, was promoted to captain of Company C. The regiment participated in several pivotal battles during the war, including the Second Battle of Bull Run, the Battle of Chancellorsville, and the Battle of Gettysburg. Baker was wounded during the Battle of Fredericksburg in 1863, and received an honorable discharge from the army on November 21 of that year. After the war, Baker became a detective, but left for a position as a timber broker for Lansing Spoke Works. Baker and his wife Ednah had two daughters. Baker died in 1909.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The James H. Baker collection contains items related to his Civil War career in Company C of the First Regiment of United States Sharp Shooters. The collection includes photographs, ribbons, newspaper clippings, and a scrapbook, among other items. A small, leather-bound Notebook lists members of Company C of Hiram Berdan's 1st United States Sharpshooters Regiment, including their dates of resignation or death. The book also contains a short history of the company and an extensive list of engagements at which the company was present. The notebook also includes a short note regarding the history of a "Stars and Bars" banner acquired by James H. Baker, with accompanying song lyrics. A short newspaper clipping entitled "Eli Perkins Gets a Good Story from Gen. Sherman" and a number of pressed leaves are also included among the notebook's contents.

Four Photographs include three Civil War-era portraits and as well as a later, black and white portrait. At least one of the older items is of James H. Baker.

The collection's 15 Ribbons include the following items:

  • Berdan's U. S. Sharp Shooters [Reunion] (1891)
  • Berdan's U. S. Sharp Shooters [Reunion] (1894)
  • The Governor's Guard of Memphis, Tenn. (1894)
  • "I Will March for Sound Money" (1896)
  • Large American flag, Berdan's U. S. Sharp Shooters [Reunion] (1896)
  • 17th Reunion Co. B. 2nd U. S. Sharp Shooters (1897)
  • 7th Annual Reunion Berdan's Sharp Shooters (1897)
  • 1st Michigan Sharp Shooters Association 25th reunion (1908)
  • U. S. Berdan S[harp] S[hooters] (1908, 3 items)
  • Small ribbon with American flag decoration (undated)
  • Large yellow ribbon reading, "Marshal" (undated)
  • Lansing Republicans (undated, 2 items)

Printed Items and Ephemera include the following items:

  • A card certifying Clarence O. Skinner's membership in the Civil War Book Club
  • A photograph of University of Michigan swimmer James Skinner, taken from Michigan: Champions of the West
  • Printed program from the "First Reunion of Co. K Berdan's Sharpshooters," 1889
  • Printed "Address of Comrade Judge Charles J. Buchanan" at a reunion of Berdan's Sharp-Shooters' Association, 1908

Newspapers and Clippings include an item describing the presentation of a ceremonial sword to James H. Baker, a photographic portrait of Baker printed just after his death, and a copy of the New York Herald from August 1, 1863.

Essays and Reminiscences include a rewritten copy of "Grandfather's Best Story of the War," detailing the involvement of a man nicknamed "California Joe" during the early years of the Civil War, and two copies of a typed biography of James H. Baker that focuses on his Civil War service.

A Scrapbook compiled in the 20th century contains a number of items related to James H. Baker's Civil War service. Items within the scrapbook include numerous letters written by Baker to his parents, wife, and sister, documents, and newspaper clippings. Many of the newspaper clippings date from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and detail reunions of Berdan's regiments. The scrapbook also encloses a copy of the Philadelphia Inquirer (September 26, 1861), and includes a photograph of Clarence O. Skinner taken in Ringen, Germany, in 1919.

Subject Terms

    • Chancellorsville, Battle of, Chancellorsville, Va., 1863.
    • United States. Army. Sharpshooters Regiment, 1st (1861-1864)
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
    • Baker, James H., 1839-1909.
    Genre Terms:
    • Clippings (information artifacts)
    • Letters (correspondence)
    • Photographs.
    • Reminiscences.
    • Ribbon (material)
    • Scrapbooks.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Boxes   101-102, Schoff Civil War Collection  
    James H. Baker collection,  1861-1956, bulk  (bulk 1861-1863) [series]
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Alternate Locations

    The collection's ribbon from the Governor's Guard of Memphis, Tenn., 1894, was removed from the following volume: Hughes, Robert M. General Johnston. Army and Navy edition. New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1897.

    The following items, located in the Clements Library's Book Division, were owned by James H. Baker:

    The Clements Library's Book Division holds a selection of printed materials donated to the Library along with the James H. Baker collection. Search the University's online catalog for "Skinner family; Gift; 6/16/2010" to view a complete list of these items.