William Baker Wheeler
Commanding Officer 22nd Infantry
October 11, 1905 - February 17, 1906
William B. Wheeler was born in
New York on August 12, 1847. He was appointed to the US Military
from Iowa on July 1, 1867. At the Academy his best subjects were Artillery Tactics and French, and his worst subjects
were Spanish and Cavalry Tactics. He graduated 31 out of a class of 43, on June 12, 1871, and was commissioned
a 2nd Lieutenant in the 18th Infantry.
Wheeler served in garrison at
Columbia, South Carolina, from October 1-12, 1871, and then at
Yorkville, South Carolina,
to January, 1872, when he returned to duty at Columbia. He took a leave of absence from June 2 to August 30, 1874.
On January 5, 1877, he was detailed as an Aide-de-camp to Colonel Thomas H. Ruger, commanding officer of the
18th Infantry, who, as a Brevet Major-General , was detailed as commander of the Department of the South.
Wheeler took a leave of absence
from June 17 to August 5, 1877. He was relieved of his
and was on garrison duty at Atlanta, Georgia, from July 1, 1878 to April 12, 1879, and on frontier duty at the
Coal Banks, Montana, from May 7 to September, 1879. He was then at Cow Island, Montana, until November 20, 1879,
when he changed duty station to Fort Assinniboine, Montana.
He was on detached service from
October 10, 1881, to January 11, 1882, and was promoted to 1st
Lieutenant on February 6, 1882.
From May to September 30, 1883, he was stationed at Fort Maginnis, Montana. Then he was at Fort Assinniboine until
May 30, 1885, and at Fort Hays, Kansas, until September, 1889. He was on duty at Fort Clark, Texas, from September 1889,
to March, 1890. During most of the above years, Wheeler was assigned to Company B, for certain, at least, from 1879 through 1890.
In March 1890, he was placed in
command of Camp San Filippe, Del Rio, Texas. On February 20,
1891, Wheeler was
promoted to Captain, and also given command of Company I. From May to September 1891, he was stationed at Fort Clark,
Texas, and then went to Fort Ringgold, Texas. From the fall and winter of 1891 to well into 1893, he participated in operations
against Revolutionists during the "Garza outbreak". This was one of a number of "revolutions" which broke out in Mexico,
against the rule of General Jose de la Cruz Porfirio Díaz Mori. Revolutionists crossed the border into the United States,
and the U.S. government allowed Mexican forces to pursue them, in concert with U.S Army units giving assistance
to the Mexican authorities. In 1892 Wheeler was given command of Company E.
From May 1894 to April 1898,
Wheeler was on duty at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. He was with the
Regiment in camp
at New Orleans, Louisiana, in preparation for deployment to Cuba, from April 20 to May 21, 1898. In the event, the
18th Infantry was sent to the Philippine Islands instead. He went to Camp Merritt, San Francisco, California, on May 29, 1898,
and left for the Philippines on June 14. He arrived in the Philippines on July 17, 1898, as part of the Second Philippine Expedition,
under Brigadier-General Greene.
Wheeler participated in
operations in front of Manila, from July 21 to August 13, 1898,
and in the battles of
Malate and Manila, and the capture of Manila, on August 13, 1898. He commanded Company E as part of the
1st Separate Brigade, and in the expedition to Iloilo, Island of Panay, and participated in the capture of Iliolo,
on February 11, 1899. He took part in the capture of Jaro, on February 12, 1899, and in affairs with insurgents
near Jaro, on March 1 and March 16, 1899.
On September 8, 1899, he was promoted to Major of Infantry, 18th Infantry.
From September 27, 1899, to
March 11, 1901, Wheeler was on recruiting service in New York
City. He was on
sick leave from March 11, 1901 to June 15, 1902. He returned to the 18th Infantry, and commanded a battalion
at Fort Logan, Colorado, until February, 1903.
On February 4, 1903 Wheeler was
promoted to Lieutenant Colonel of the 10th Infantry.
He was transferred to the 2nd Infantry on May 18, 1903, and remained with that Regiment
until October 6, 1904, when he went on sick leave to January 28, 1905, and then took another
sick leave to January 22, 1906.
It was while on this extended
sick leave, on October 11, 1905, he was promoted to Colonel of
the 22nd Infantry.
His case was before the retiring board, and on February 17, 1906, he was retired with a disability in the line of duty.
William B. Wheeler died November 28, 1908, at Gainesville, Florida, at the age of 61.
William B. Wheeler's decorations
This portrait of Colonel Wheeler hung
on the wall at 1st Battalion 22nd Infantry Headquarters
at Fort Hood, Texas, 1999-2009. Photo courtesy of Major Anne LeGare, wife of LTC Marc LeGare,
Commanding Officer 1-22 IN 1999-2001.
WILLIAM BAKER WHEELER. No. 2400. CLASS OF 1871.
Died November 28th, 1908, at Gainesville, Florida, aged 61.
COLONEL WILLIAM BAKER WHEELER
was born in Chaumont, New York, August 12th, 1847.
His father, William Wheeler, moved to Marshalltown, Iowa, in 1854, and the subject of this sketch was educated
in the schools of that town.
Cadet at the United States
Military Academy, from July 1st, 1867, to June 12th, 1871, when,
he was graduated and promoted
in the Army to Second Lieutenant Eighteenth Infantry. Served at Yorkville and Columbia, South Carolina until January 1877.
Engaged in the delicate and trying duties incident to the suppression of the Klu Klux Klan movement and was so successful
as to win the approval of that sterling soldier and upright man, Major General Ruger, who appointed him Aide-de-Camp.
He also won the heart of Mrs. Annie Cornwall Smith, whom he married at Jacksonville, Florida, February 19th, 1878.
In garrison at Atlanta, Georgia, July 1st, 1878, to April, 1879; on frontier duty at the Coal Banks and Cow Island, Montana,
May to November, 1879; Fort Assiniboine,Montana, to May, 1883.
Promoted First Lieutenant
Eighteenth Infantry February 6th, 1882. Fort Maginnis, Montana,
to September, 1883;
Fort Assiniboine, Montana; to May, 1885; Fort Hays, Kansas, to September, 1889; Fort Clark, Texas, to March, 1890.
Promoted Captain Eighteenth
Infantry February 20th, 1891, while in command of Camp San
Felippe, Del Rio, Texas.
Engaged in the suppression of the Garza Revolution against Mexico. Served on the Rio Grande frontier until 1894; at
Fort Sam Houston, Texas, until the outbreak of the Spanish-American War. Left San Francisco, in command of Co. "E"
Eighteenth Irifantry, with the Second Philippine expedition under Brigadier General Greene, June 14th, 1898; participated
in the operations in front of Manila, from July 21st to August 13th, 1898, and in the battle of Malate and capture of Manila;
commanded his company in the First Separate Independent Brigade in the expedition to Panay; participated in the capture
of Iloilo, Jaro bridge and the City of Jaro; engaged in numerous engagements with Insurgents around Jaro, serving part
of the time as Major, until broken in health he was sent home on sick leave, November, 1899, a complete physical wreck.
The American soldier has
successfully accomplished many hard tasks but he has never faced
more trying, disagreeable,
wearing duty than that of chasing, fighting, pacifying and conciliating the Malayans, and he has done this with credit
to his manhood and honor to his humanity and forbearance.
Promoted Major and assigned to
the Eighteenth Infantry September 8th, 1899. In 1900 and 1901,
from disease, he was on recruiting service in New York City.
Promoted Lieutenant Colonel of
Infantry, assigned to the Tenth Infantry, February 4th, 1903;
transferred to the Second Infantry;
promoted Colonel of Infantry, October 11th, 1905, assigned to the Twenty-second Infantry. For a short time
he was in command of Fort Logan, Colorado, but he never recovered his health and was retired February 17th,
1906, from the effects of his Philippine sickness which was the ultimate cause of his death.
His loving wife soon joined him,
dying January 4th, 1909. Two children survive him: Mrs. Sallie
and William Darrow Wheeler, and a stepson, Harry Cornwall (Smith) Wheeler.
"Billy" Wheeler was a
most loveable, genial classmate, the soul of honor, full of fun,
a true friend, a manly man,
yet as kindly hearted as a woman. Plebes looked upon him as a protector; enlisted men as a just guardian;
officers as a sterling comrade and stout soldier, beloved by all who knew him.
He was a great sufferer during
the last years of his life, but never complained, accepted his
affliction like a Spartan
and was gentle, patient and brave to the end.
C. A. W. ¹
William Baker Wheeler died on
November 28, 1908
and is buried in Arlington Cemetery Plot: Sec: 2, Site: 1131
The grave monument for William Baker Wheeler
Photo by Loretta Castaldi from the Find A Grave website
¹ Fortieth Annual Reunion of the Association
& Graduates of the United States Military Academy, at West
Point, New York,
June 10, 1909, Seemann and Peters, Saginaw, Michigan 1905
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