BAYLOR, GEORGE WYTHE (1832-1916). George Wythe Baylor, Confederate military officer and Texas Ranger, the son of John Walker Baylor, was born in Fort Gibson, Cherokee Nation, on August 2, 1832. His father died in January 1834. On June 5, 1860, Baylor, then living in Weatherford with John R. Baylor and others, ran down a party of Indian raiders on Paint Creek in Parker County and killed and scalped nine of them. Baylor is reputed to have raised the first Confederate flag in Austin. He was commissioned a first lieutenant in Company H of the Second Cavalry, John Robert Baylor's Arizona Brigade, and served as regimental adjutant before resigning to become senior aide-de-camp to Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston in August or September 1861. After Johnston's death at the battle of Shiloh, Tennessee, on April 6, 1862, Baylor returned to Texas and was elected lieutenant colonel and commander of the Second Battalion of Henry H. Sibley's army. When the battalion merged with the Second Cavalry regiment of the Arizona Brigade, Baylor was elected its colonel. He also commanded a regiment of cavalry during the Red River campaign of 1864 and was commended for gallantry at the battles of Mansfield and Pleasant Hill.
On April 6, 1865, at the headquarters of Gen. John B. Magruder in the Fannin Hotel in Galveston, Baylor quarreled with and killed fellow staff officer John Austin Wharton. Their fight was said to have been about "military matters," specifically the reorganization of the Trans-Mississippi Department of the Confederate States. Wharton reportedly slapped Baylor's face and called him a liar, whereupon Baylor drew his revolver and shot the unarmed Wharton. Baylor later said that the incident had a been a "lifelong sorrow" to him.
After the Civil War, when Lt. John B. Tays, commander of Company C, Frontier Battalion of Texas Rangers in El Paso, resigned to enter the customs service, Baylor was commissioned a first lieutenant and appointed to take his place. At this time, according to Walter Prescott Webb, Baylor "was in his prime, forty-seven years of age, six feet two inches, a fine type of the frontier gentleman. He had a fair education, a flair for writing for newspapers and an inclination to fill his reports with historical allusions." Baylor left San Antonio on August 2, 1879, with his wife, two young daughters, and a sister-in-law, riding in an ambulance and with two wagons full of provisions and household goods, the latter including a piano and a game cock and four hens. The caravan, guarded by Sgt. James B. Gillett and five other rangers, was forty-two days on the road to Ysleta, where Baylor established his headquarters. From there he opened his campaign against raiding Apaches, whom he often pursued beyond the Rio Grande, in cooperation with Mexican officials. Soon after arriving on the border Baylor "generously extended" to the Mexican government "the privilege of coming over on our side and killing all the Reservation Indians" they could find. Through the rest of 1879 and most of 1880 Baylor's rangers were occupied in the pursuit of the Mescalero Apache chief Victorio and his band, an endeavor that proved largely ineffective. In September 1880 Baylor was transferred and promoted to captain of Company A. In 1882 he was promoted to major and given command of several ranger companies. During this period he was active in the fence-cutting conflict in Nolan County.
After resigning from ranger service in 1885 Baylor was elected to the Texas House of Representatives from El Paso and served as clerk of the district and circuit courts for a number of years. He died at San Antonio on March 17, 1916, and was buried in the Confederate Cemetery there. Baylor, according to Wilburn Hill King, the nineteenth-century historian of the rangers, was "noted for excellence of personal character and conduct, and soldierly courage and zeal," but Webb, more reserved in his judgment, wrote that "though a courageous individual fighter," Baylor "lacked reserve, was a poor disciplinarian, and an indifferent judge of men."
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Anne J. Bailey, Between the Enemy and Texas: Parsons's Texas Cavalry in the Civil War (Fort Worth: Texas Christian University Press, 1989). Walter Prescott Webb, The Texas Rangers (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1935; rpt., Austin: University of Texas Press, 1982). Dudley Goodall Wooten, ed., A Comprehensive History of Texas (2 vols., Dallas: Scarff, 1898; rpt., Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1986). Marcus J. Wright, comp., and Harold B. Simpson, ed., Texas in the War, 1861-1865 (Hillsboro, Texas: Hill Junior College Press, 1965).
Thomas W. Cutrer
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Last Updated: February 15, 1999