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  • General Orders Signed by General Lorenzo Thomas

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    General Orders Signed by General Lorenzo Thomas - Inventory Number: DOC 191

    Pair of General Orders pertaining to Lafayette C. Baker.  Union Spy whom hunted the Lincoln Conspirators.  Appointed and rescinding of appointment to: "Special Agent" "To take possession of all abandoned rebel property around Washington March 30, 1862.  " Dated March 30th 1862 and May 20, 1862.  Both orders signed by "L Thomas" Adjutant General.   

    Lorenzo Thomas (October 26, 1804 – March 2, 1875) was a career United States Army officer who was Adjutant General of the Army at the beginning of the American Civil War. After the war, he was appointed temporary Secretary of War by U.S. President Andrew Johnson, precipitating Johnson's impeachment.

    Thomas was born in New Castle, Delaware. He graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1823, and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the 4th U.S. Infantry. He fought in the Seminole War in Florida and, during the Mexican–American War, he was the chief of staff to General William O. Butler. He received a brevet promotion to lieutenant colonel for Monterrey, which was made permanent in 1852. From 1853 to 1861, he served as chief of staff to the commanding general of the U.S. Army, Winfield Scott.

    Just before the start of the Civil War, Thomas was promoted to colonel and adjutant general of the U.S. Army on March 7, 1861. On August 10, 1861, U.S. President Abraham Lincoln appointed Thomas a brigadier general in the regular army, to rank from August 3, 1861, the date Lincoln sent the nomination to the U.S. Senate for confirmation. The Senate confirmed the appointment on August 5, 1861. Camp Thomas, a Regular Army training base in Columbus, Ohio, was named in his honor in July 1861. He held the position of adjutant general until he retired in 1869, except for a special assignment to recruit African-American troops in the Military Division of the Mississippi from 1863 to 1865.

    Thomas did not get along well with Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton and this assignment outside of Washington, D.C., was considered a form of banishment. Many historians have claimed Thomas was banished in disgrace after conspiring to defame Union General William T. Sherman as insane. Thomas was replaced by Major Gen. Edward D. Townsend as Adjutant General, who would serve until 1880.

    From March 17 to July 23, 1862, he served as the chairman of the War Board, the organization that assisted U.S. President Abraham Lincoln and Secretary Stanton in the management of the War Department and the command of the Union armies during the period in which there was no general-in-chief.

    On April 6, 1863, General Thomas was sent by the War Department to Helena, Arkansas to recruit freedmen into the U.S. Army. He created the first black troop in Arkansas, fighting for Union side as part of Bureau of Colored Troops, which was created by the War Department on May 22, 1863.

    On March 8, 1866, U.S. President Andrew Johnson nominated Thomas to the grade of brevet major general in the regular army, and the U.S. Senate confirmed the appointment on July 14, 1866.

    On February 21, 1868, President Johnson attempted to replace Stanton by appointing Thomas as Secretary of War ad interim. Thomas, still stinging from his bad treatment by Stanton, boasted of his ability and determination to oust him from office by force, if necessary. Some historians believe that it was this attitude in his testimony at Johnson's impeachment trial in the Senate that was partially responsible for Johnson's acquittal. Thomas retired from the Army on February 22, 1869, ten days before Johnson left office. He died in Washington, D.C., and is buried in Oak Hill Cemetery, Georgetown.

    Lafayette Curry Baker (October 13, 1826 – July 3, 1868) was a United States investigator and spy, serving the Union Army, during the American Civil War and under Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson.

    Baker was born in Stafford, New York on October 13, 1826. He became a mechanic, moved to Michigan in 1839, returned to New York in 1848, moved to California in 1853, and was a San Francisco vigilante in 1856. He moved to the District of Columbia in 1861

    Baker's exploits are mainly known through his book A History of the Secret Service which he published in 1867 after his fall from grace. During the early months of the Civil War, he spied for General Winfield Scott on Confederate forces in Virginia. Despite numerous scrapes, he returned to Washington, D.C., with information that Scott evidently thought valuable enough to raise him to the rank of captain. As Provost Marshal of Washington, D.C. from September 12, 1862 to November 7, 1863, Baker ran the National Detective Bureau also sometimes known as the "National Detective Police Department." He was appointed colonel of D.C. Cavalry, May 5, 1863. According to Glenn Hastedt "Although his accomplishments were many, Baker operated with little regard for warrants or the constitutional rights of those he pursued. He is also reported to have employed brutal interrogation techniques in order to obtain information."

    Baker owed his appointment largely to Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, but suspected the secretary of corruption and was eventually demoted for tapping his telegraph lines and packed off to New York.

    Baker was recalled to Washington after the assassination of President Lincoln in 1865. Within two days of his arrival in Washington, Baker's agents in Maryland had made four arrests and had the names of two more conspirators, including the actual presidential assassin John Wilkes Booth. Before the month was out, Booth along with David Herold were found holed up in a barn and Booth was himself shot and killed by Sgt. Boston Corbett. Baker received a generous share of the $100,000 reward offered to the person who apprehended the president's killer. President Andrew Johnson nominated Baker for appointment to the grade of brigadier general of volunteers, April 26, 1865, but the United StatesSenate never confirmed the appointment. Baker was mustered out of the volunteers on January 15, 1866.

    The following year, Baker was fired from his position as government spymaster. President Johnson accused him of spying on him, a charge Baker admitted in his book which he published in response. He also announced that he had had Booth's diary in his possession which was being suppressed by the Department of War and Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton. When the diary was eventually produced, Baker claimed that eighteen vital pages were missing. It was suggested by Otto Eisenschiml in his book, "Why Was Lincoln Murdered?," that these would implicate Stanton in the assassination. However, this notion has been proven as speculation by author Edward Steers Jr. and based on non-reputable sources.

    On July 3, 1868, Baker retired to home complaining of soreness from a gun wound during a hunting trip. He had been out drinking with Wally Pollack, his brother-in-law, and came home feeling sick, passing away later that night, reportedly from meningitis.

    A widely criticized 1977 book, The Lincoln Conspiracy by conspiracy theorists David W. Balsiger and Charles E. Sellier, alleges that Baker was poisoned by high-placed conspirators, including Stanton, who supported John Wilkes Booth's plan to kidnap Abraham Lincoln in 1864 and early 1865. The conspirators supposedly planned to have Lincoln impeached in his absence. The authors speculate that the conspirators were concerned that Baker could link them to the planned kidnapping, which might lead to accusations that they were conspirators in Lincoln's assassination. The authors believe the conspirators did not support Booth after March 1865. Academic historians have treated the book with hostility and derision, having many objections based on errors and misuse of sources in the book.


    Inventory Number: DOC 191