James Baker Brown, ca. 1862.41. Brady's National Photographic Portrait Galleries (New York). James Baker Brown, ca. 1862. From a carte de visite (source unrecorded).

James Baker Brown was born in Concord in 1835 to farmer James P. and Susan Baker Brown. Never physically strong, Brown was an earnest, responsible, religious young man who kept a "moral account-book" toward the end of improving his character. At the age of twenty-one, he traveled south to teach, later returning to Concord. At the outset of the Civil War, he worked in Boston for Jordan, Marsh & Company.

Held back by his parents' distress over the enlistment of another of their sons, Brown did not immediately enroll. Nevertheless, expecting to enlist, he joined a Boston club that drilled nightly. In October of 1861, he met Captain (later Colonel) George Lincoln Prescott (see #40), who was then raising Company B of the 1st Battery Infantry (later the 32nd Massachusetts Volunteer Regiment), which Brown joined. He was under Prescott's command throughout his military service.

The rigors of life at the front, the conditions under which his company camped, and the long and grueling march undertaken in August and September of 1862 severely weakened Brown. He ended up in Washington, at the Columbian College Hospital, where his father and Dr. Josiah Bartlett (a physician in Concord for fifty-seven years) came to do what they could for him. Back in Concord, he combated exhaustion and respiratory trouble. Unable to recover sufficiently to return to duty, he was discharged in 1863. Nonetheless determined to contribute to the war effort, he joined the Sanitary Commission (July, 1863).

After the war, Brown worked in a Washington law office collecting back pay owed to soldiers. He married in 1868 and soon returned to Massachusetts. But like Philip Dolan (see #42), he was never able to shake the illness that laid him low during his service. He died of tuberculosis in 1870.

In this photograph, it is apparent that—although tall and handsome—James Baker Brown lacked the vigor and the forceful character projected by George Lincoln Prescott (see #40) and Philip Dolan (see #42) in their Civil War portraits.

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