COL William Smith Hanger Baylor
Commander - 1862
Born April 7, 1831, Died August 30, 1862 (KIA)
William Smith Hanger Baylor was born in Augusta County, deep in the
Valley of Virginia, on April 7, 1831, the only son of Jacob and Eveline
Hanger. His father was an ex-judge who owned a prospering farm near
Staunton. Even in his early youth Baylor displayed an unusually pleasing
personality. He received his local schooling at the Staunton Academy
and, in 1850, graduated from Washington College in Lexington. He showed
outstanding skill in debate. Baylor earned his law degree from the
University of Virginia in 1853 and returned home to hang out his
shingle. In 1857 he was elected commonwealth's attorney for Staunton and
held the post through successive elections until his death. When a
local militia company was organized in the late 1850’s, Baylor also was
elected captain of the West Augusta Guards, and quickly elevated it to
one of the finest militia companies in the state. This unit was one of
the first called out to repel John Brown’s raid in October, 1859. But
Baylor was not there to lead it. He had gone to New York on his
honeymoon, where he was stricken with typhoid fever. However, he was
present with the unit at the execution of John Brown.
several volunteer companies from Augusta County were organized at the
outset of the War in the spring of 1861, Baylor was chosen their
colonel. In April the units were ordered to Harpers Ferry and mustered
into Confederate service as the 5th Infantry Regiment, Virginia
Volunteers; in the reorganization Baylor was appointed major. Thomas J.
Jackson wrote at least one letter to Richmond in which he upheld Baylor
as his most dependable and deserving subordinate during the critical
weeks of organization at Harpers Ferry.
Baylor served with
distinction in a skirmish at Falling Waters and again, three weeks
later, in a sprawling battle on the plains of Manassas. With the
reorganization of the Stonewall Brigade in mid-April, 1862, Baylor was
named to the command of his old Fifth Regiment. From that moment on, in a
unit distinguished for its valor, he set an example. The young colonel
from Staunton fought with distinction in Jackson's Valley Campaign, once
having his horse shot from under him while leading a charge at
Winchester, so he led the final assault on foot. During the Seven Days
he was cited several times for conspicuous bravery. After the battle of
Cedar Run in August 1862, Baylor was given command of the Stonewall
Brigade. But because his undaunted courage and complete disregard of
personal safety made him an easy target in battle, Baylor’s first
campaign at the head of the Stonewall Brigade was his last. Barely ten
days after assuming command – even before his promotion to brigadier
could be confirmed – he was killed in the closing moments of Second
Manassas, carrying the flag of the 33rd Virginia. Baylor's body was
tenderly borne from the battlefield and returned to Augusta County where
he was buried in the Hebron Presbyterian churchyard.
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
|Thomas as a Lieutenant in 1939|
Thomas enlisted in the local National Guard unit, H Company 116th Infantry, in 1932. He rose in rank to SGT by 1937 and then attended officer training and was commissioned as a 2LT on 10 Feb 1937. Thomas was again promoted, to 1LT, on 2 Mar 1939. He was with the unit when it was federalized on 1 Feb 1941 and the unit was still at Fort Meade, Maryland when he was promoted to CPT on 25 Aug 1941 when he was made 1st Battalion's S-1/Adjutant.
It was just a month later that Thomas married Fannie Mildred Graham of Martinsville. The couple likely didn't have much time together as the 116th was sent to Camp Blanding for further training before departing for England aboard the Queen Mary in September 1942. His first son would be born 12 Nov 1942. While in England, the 116th trained for the amphibious assault that would be a major element of the invasion of occupied northern France. The now MAJ Dallas came ashore in the 1st wave as Battalion Executive Officer at Omaha Beach, surviving the landing and helping to lead his battalion inland. For these efforts he would receive the Silver Star. On 29 Jun 1944 MAJ Dallas assumed command of 1st Battalion 116th Infantry. Thomas was wounded on 5 Aug 1944 and evacuated to hospital. He was not returned to the unit, coming by way of the replacement depot, on 7 Sep 1944. Only 7 days later he would lead the battalion in an action for which he is much remembered, the capture of Fort Montbarey.
|MAJ Dallas at Montbarey|
Dallas would receive a promotion to LTC on 12 Oct 1944. LTC Dallas sprained his leg on 27 Nov 1944 but remained on duty. On 3 Dec 1944 he was sent to hospital for "an old wound" but it is unclear what that wound was. LTC Dallas returned to his duties as Battalion Commander on 22 Dec 1944. He left for temporary duty in Britain on 24 Jan 1945 and returned to the unit on 1 Feb 1945. LTC Dallas left for another 3-days temporary duty in Britain on 25 Mar 1945 and was back with the unit on the 30th.
After demobilization, LTC Dallas helped to reactivate the National Guard. He returned to active duty in June 1951. He would take his family with him for a tour of duty in Japan in 1955. By 1962 COL Dallas was senior Army advisor to the Alaska National Guard. On 25 Apr 1962 the helicopter in which he was riding crashed and he and 7 other passengers and crew were killed.
COL Dallas was buried with his wife in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.
Great-grandfather Joshua Thomas Spencer served in E Company 1st Virginia Infantry (CSA). Great-grandfather William Hagood served as a PVT in G Company 21st Virginia Cavalry and K Company 6th Virginia Infantry (CSA).
Note: this memorial was published on the 50th anniversary of COL Dallas passing due to the limitations imposed by Blogger.