Francis R. Baker and his brother W. Farnandis enlisted in Company C of the 78th O.V.I. at Zanesville, Ohio, on November 19, 1861. Their brother, James A. Baker, enlisted in the same unit some weeks later.
In December of 1862 Company C was detached from the 78th Ohio Infantry Regiment to organize a Pioneer Corps and Pontoon Train. Gen. G.F. Wiles, then a Captain, wrote that this was the first Pioneer Corps organized in the 17th Army Corps:
“In that capacity the company served with distinction, making roads and constructing bridges, and destroying bridges and fortifications…
Better working men were not in the army. The company continued in the Pioneer Corps until after the siege of Vicksburg, and also on the Meridian Expedition. During the siege of Vicksburg the company was very efficient, and no like number of men conduced more to the downfall of that stronghold than did Company ‘C.’ The men were from Zanesville and vicinity, and were a very robust set of men, and very patriotic…
In addition to their pioneering qualities, they were a splendid fighting company.”
Gen. G.F. Wiles (1865)
Quoted in Stevenson’s History of the 78th O.V.V.I. (1865)
Note: Page numbers in brackets refer to pages in the typed copy of the document housed in the collections of the Illinois State Historical Library.