"In early life he discovered a strong desire for acquiring knowledge, and attended the grammar school in Woburn under the instruction of Master John Fowle, a noted teacher of that time, the school being a moveable one being kept at successive periods first in the centre of the town and secondly at the precinct, or the part of Woburn now incorporated in the town of Burlington. At a more advanced period of life, with the intention of obtaining a thorough acquaintance with natural and experimental philosophy, he would walk from North Woburn to Cambridge, in company with his schoolmate, Benjamin Thompson, Count Rumford, and attend the lectures of Professor John Winthrop at Harvard College, for which liberty had been given, and upon their return home on foot they were in the habit of illustrating the principles they had heard enunciated in the lecture room by making rude instruments for themselves to pursue their experiments.
He was present in the battle of Lexington. As early as 1768, he had enlisted in a company of horse-guards, and was not wholly destitute of military experience when summoned a little before the break of day to the field at Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775. In his own statement he says: “We mustered as fast as possible. The Town turned out extra-ordinary, and proceeded toward Lexington.” Holding the rank of a major in the militia, he says, “I rode along a little before the main body, and when I was nigh Jacob Reed’s (at present Durenville) I heard a great firing; proceeded on, soon heard that the Regulars had fired upon Lexington people and killed a large number of them. We proceeded on as fast as possible and came to Lexington and saw about eight or ten dead and numbers wounded.” He then, with the rest from Woburn, proceeded to Concord by way of Lincoln meeting house, ascended a hill there, and rested and refreshed themselves a little. Then follows a particular account of the action and of his own experience. He had “several good shots,” and proceeded on till coming between the meeting-house and Buckman’s tavern at Lexington, with a prisoner before him, the cannon of the British began to play, the balls flying near him, and for safety he retreated back behind the meeting-house, when a ball came through near his head, and he further retreated to a meadow north of the house and lay there and heard the balls in the air and saw them strike the ground. Woburn sent to the field on that day one hundred and eighty men.
(Note: I have found this description of his role at Lexington from
web page. I don't know the source of this material.)
At the beginning of the war he enlisted in the regiment of foot commanded by Colonel Samuel Gerrish. Here he was rapidly advanced to be lieutenant-colonel, and upon Colonel Gerrish’s retirement in August, 1775, he was placed at the head of the regiment, and was soon commissioned its colonel. His regiment was first numbered the thirty-eighth and was afterwards numbered the twenty-sixth. Its original eight companies were increased to ten. Till the end of 1775, Colonel Baldwin and his men remained near Boston; but in April, 1776, he was ordered with his command to New York city. On April 19 of that year he was at New York; on June 13, 1776, at the Grand Battery there; on June 22, the same; and on December 26, 1776, his regiment, commanded by himself, “went on the expedition to Trentown” (Trenton). In this regiment was one company from Woburn commanded by John Wood. On the memorable night of December 25, 1776, in the face of a violent and extremely cold storm of snow and hail, General Washington and his army crossed the Delaware to the New Jersey side, and took by surprise the next morning at Trenton about one thousand Hessian troops commanded by Colonel Rahl, and Colonel Baldwin and his men took part in this daring and successful enterprise.
Colonel Baldwin’s experience in the campaigns in New York and New
Jersey is told in his letters to his family at home, and many of these
letters have been sacredly preserved by his descendants. During 1775-76,
he was stationed with about two hundred or more of his men at Chelsea,
while other companies of his regiment were stationed about Boston at Brookline
and Medford. The “History of Chelsea” about to be published (Note, this
was written 1908) by the Massachusetts Historical Society, contains a great
mass of material relating to the stay of a portion of the regiment at Chelsea,
where their duties were those mostly of guards.
Colonel Baldwin resigned from the army in 1777 on account of ill health. His subsequent life was spent in his native place, and was marked by an enterprising spirit and the active habits of his youth. He had a talent and capacity for business. He was in, in his public career, appointed on many committees on important town business; the records of the town and many autographic town papers are ample evidence of this. He was appointed high sheriff of Middlesex county in 1780, and was the first to hold office after the adoption of the state constitution. In 1778, 1779, and 1789, and the four following years, he represented Woburn in the general court. In 1794, he was a candidate for election to congress, and had all the votes cast in Woburn but one. In 1796, on three trials for the choice of the same officer, he had all the votes for the first two in Woburn, and on the third seventy-four votes out of the seventy-six cast in Woburn. At other elections he was a prominent candidate among those held up in Woburn for the offices of state senator, lieutenant-governor and presidential elector.
From his acquaintance with mathematics and the arts and sciences
of his time, he was chosen a member of the American Academy of Arts and
Sciences, and to the publications of that body he contributed two papers,
entitled , “An account of a Curious Appearance of the Electrical Fluid,”
(Memoirs Am. Acad. Vol. I 1785, pp. 257-259); and “Observations on Electricity
and an Improved Mode of Constructing Lightning Rods,” (Memoirs, Vol. 2,
Pt 2, 1804, pp. 96-104). The first paper was written in 1783, and the “curious
appearance” described was produced by raising an electrical kite at the
time of a thunder shower. The experiments, however, were tried in July,
1771. At that time the author mentions that there stood some lofty trees
near his house, and also a shop near by it. His parents, family, and neighbors
witnessed the “electrical effect: he succeeded in producing. The date of
preparing the second article was January 25, 1797. Colonel Baldwin wrote
a sketch of Count Rumford which was printed in a local publication in 1805.
He was also the author of a report on the survey of the Boston and Narragansett
Bay Canal, 1806. Of the Academy he was elected a Fellow in 1782, and was
a member of the council 1785 to 1796, and from 1798 to 1807. Further, see
Cutter, “Local History of Woburn, p. 203. He received from Harvard College
the degree of Master of Arts in 1785.
He was not one, however, who for the sake of popularity would sacrifice his principles of duty to the public, though, as the above votes show, he was deservedly a favorite with his townsmen and fellow citizens generally. Thus he protested with others against the action of the town in 1787 in the time of the Shays Rebellion, when the majority of the citizens of Woburn voted not to give any encouragement to the men called out to go on the present expedition, nor to aid or assist it. But against this proceeding of the town Colonel Baldwin and thirty-six others at once entered their protest, and two days after, the town itself reconsidered the votes it had passed on this subject.
[Editors note: The Shays rebellion had to do folks rebelling against
the authorities in Massachusetts (initially by shutting down the courts
by preventing people from entering courthouses) because they didn't feel
there was enough representation being given to the "little guy" in the
proposed Massachusetts constitution. Starting as just protests, it had
all the potential to be a real problem, but Shay was defeated in his attempt
to take a storehouse of guns and ammunition. This defeat pretty well stopped
the rebellion in its tracks. Some arrests were made and life eventually
returned to normal. But, things were pretty tense there for awhile. Apparently,
from the sound of the article above, the town was in favor of the rebellion,
and voted against the call for troops to snuff it out. Loammi, who fought
in the Revolution, apparently saw the danger that such a rebellion posed
for our young republic and called for the town to change its mind in a
He took a prominent part in the construction of the Middlesex Canal,
completed in 1803, one of the earliest enterprises of the sort in the United
The Discoverer and Propagator of the Baldwin Apple
To him, the discovery and the introduction to public notice and the
earliest cultivation of the Baldwin apple, about 1784, had been justly
ascribed. He was one day surveying land at a place called Butters’ Row,
in Wilmington, near the bounds of town, Woburn and Burlington, when he
observed one or more birds of the woodpecker variety flying repeatedly
to a certain tree on land of a Mr. James Butters, and prompted by curiosity
to ascertain the cause of their attraction, he at length went to it, and
found on the ground under it apples of an excellent flavor and well worth
cultivating; and returning to the tree the next spring he took from scions
to graft into stocks of his own. Other persons induced by his advice or
example grafted trees of theirs from the same stock; and subsequently when
Colonel Baldwin attended court or went into other parts of the county as
high sheriff, he carried scions of this apple an distributed them among
his acquaintance, so that this species of fruit soon became extensively
known and cultivated. The original tree remained, it is said, till 1815,
when it was blown down in the famous “September Gale.” The apple thus became
known as the “Baldwin apple.”
His name is also associated with that of the celebrated Count Rumford
(Editor’s note: Rumford was born in Woburn). In childhood they were opposite
neighbors, playmates and schoolmates. They attended lectures at Harvard
College together. Baldwin befriended him when arrested by one of the local
military companies as a person inimical to the cause of the colonies, and
he was tried and acquitted by a court of which Baldwin appears to be one
of the members. To the last, though separate by the ocean and the political
preferences, they were enthusiastic friends and corespondents – the one
was an American officer, and the other an officer in the opposing British
Count Rumford counted among his many accomplishments the theory that heat was a form of energy and not matter, as was thought at the time (approximately 1800).. This idea was the genesis for future evolution in physics.
When I tried to do a lookup in a revolutionary war veteran database at ancestry.com for Loammi Baldwin, I found over 1,200 hits for his name. The reason is that most of the fellows who were in his units during the war mentioned his name (that was very common in Revolutionary War parlance, to say "I was in Col. Loammi Baldwin's battalion"). As a result, I still haven't found his darn record in that data base (like looking for a needle in the haystack). But, it does show the extent of his involvement in the war.
Loammi Baldwin was a great grandson of Henry Baldwin of Woburn, our original immigrant. His line was Henry > Henry, Jr. > James > Col. Loammi. He was a grandnephew of my ancestor, Benjamin Baldwin, son of Henry of Woburn.
My ancestor Elijah Baldwin also served in the Revolutionary War.
It looks like he was in some of the same battles as Loammi, but he was
serving in Connecticut units. Elijah was a second cousin, once removed,
from Col. Loammi.
The Canal History Page Hit Control-F on your browser and do a search on both "Loammi" and "Middlesex". You will find references to Loammi and his son, Loammi II, as well as general references concerning the Middlesex Canal.
A Description of the Middlesex Canal and its operations.
The Middlesex Canal Page at winchestermass.org.
Boyhood friend who was a Loyalist sympathizer while Loammi was a
Revolutionary: Benjamin Thompson, Count Rumford, noted scientist and world
traveler. They apparently corresponded until Loammi died
The Baldwin Apple - Discovered and Propagated by Loammi Baldwin
The Revolution - The Lexington Alarm and Concord. Read an hour by hour account of the two days comprising this affair that started the American Revolution. Click on the link to April 18th and 19th. I can't draw a direct link because it is a frame.
This Town of Woburn site mentions its two most famous residents were Charles Goodyear and Loammi Baldwin.
His sons, James and Loammi II, became famous engineers also. See
the biography of Loammi Baldwin II.
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The copyright on the Biography of Loammi Baldwin has expired into the public domain. Otherwise, Copyright 1997 Norris Taylor