Maggie Bowker, HCP Collection

Maggie Bowker, HCP Collection

Near New Castle Ferry
Pamunkey River, Va.
May 3rd, 1864

My dear Maggie,

I snatch a few hasty moments from our busy life to write you a few lines. Since my last letters from Milford Station we have had two hard fights but we whipped the rebels both times. In the last one we lost heavily, but the rebel losses exceeded our largely. Our company lost three wounded; the regiment 9 killed & 26 wounded. The rebels are “gigging back” all the time, & we gradually coming down onto Richmond. We are withing [sic] 15 or 20 miles now. The infantry are nearer. The infantry are fighting to-day.

Maggie, I thank God I am well – my health is good, and trust will remain so through the campaign, and God only know when that will end.

My dear girl, excuse me from writing more at present. I will try & keep you posted as often as possible as to my where abouts. Remember me, dearest, as yours, ever,

Matthew

~~~~~
Who’s Matthew Baird?

Stephensburg, Va.
March 25th, ‘64

My dear Father,

I received yours of the 13th last night. I am sorry to hear of Robert’s illness. Jefferson Kelley heard that you did not expect him to live for some time. I hope he will be entirely recovered when this reaches you. Though I was not very well when I last wrote I am enjoying very good health just now. I acknowledged the receipts of the stocking in two letters. I think, but they could not have reached you.

It has been some time since I got a letter from Sammie but he thought he would start for home by the first of the month. I hope he will have the privilege of going home if I cannot. Speaking of clover seed, how much bls [bushels] you expect to sow this spring?

Now I would like to say a word about my Cedar Creek lot. Could you so arrange it as by a year from next fall, to put in ten acres of wheat for me? My term of enlistment will have expired then, but not soon enough for me to come home to do it myself. I want some kind of a start when I get home, and I do not know how else to get it. Robert told me that you had seeded the south lot. That you can mow this season & next summer you can, if it is mostly clover, let it grow till in June and thus turn it under.

I think that will aid greatly in producing a good crop of wheat. If you sow oats on the north lot this spring, I would like to have that sowed to pure clover also, and then next summer have it turned under. If you plant it to corn, then it will have to be summer followed. I will try and furnish you with the money it will cost for clover seed. And will pay you for the labor & wheat required to put in ten acres. What do you think it will be worth one acre to fit the ground for and put in ten acres of wheat? The seed cost included. If you want to use the ground, and can tell me where I could do better, will you do so?

The government owes us two months pay now, and I think we’ll soon get. Then I hope to be able to send you twenty dollars more. I am glad my last draft got through safe. Tell me all you can about the prospect of putting in a wheat crop. It may seem soon to begin to think of it, but if I begin early I shall not fail for want of time.

Remember me to all the friends and with my love to all the family, and my prayers for the recovery of health to Robert.

I remain,
With much affection,
Your son,
Matthew

Thomas Jefferson Kelley (Jeffry Kelly above) enlisted in 1862 in Barry County at the age of 19. He was promoted to Corporal in March 1864, Commissary Sergeant in November 1864, and First Sergeant in 1865 before mustering out. On the 1890 Census of the Union Veterans and Widows of the Civil War he is listed with a disability, “sabre cut-left-side of head.” He died March 4, 1925 and is buried in Cedar Creek Cemetery, in Dowling, Michigan.

~~~~~
Who’s Matthew Baird?

Maggie Bowker, HCP Collection

Maggie Bowker, HCP Collection

Stephensburg, Va.
March 19th, ‘64

My dear Maggie,

I once more attempt to write you though this time under very distressing circumstances. I learned to-day that brother Robert is not expected to live I believe I told you in my last letter that he was very sick. I have not heard directly from him in sometime, but the news came by way of letters to others of the boys. There is not much being done down here now. Everything is very quiet. I expect to hear soon that brother Sammie has got home.

I am quite well myself and trust this may find you in good health. As you may well imagine my feelings under present circumstances, you will readily excuse the brevity of this. It is more than two weeks since I have heard from you. I will write as soon as yours comes.

Yours, ever,
Matthew
Company K 6th Regt.
Mich Cavalry
Washington, D.C.

Robert Baird does not die as a result of the sickness Baird mentions. Robert Baird was born in 1843 in Mt. Giliad, Marion County, Ohio. He was the third eldest of the Baird children after Matthew and Samuel. In the 1860 census, he is 16 and living at home in Cedar Creek, Barry County, Michigan. Robert enlisted in the cavalry on August 5th, 1864 in the same unit as his brother Samuel – Co. H, 2nd Missouri Cavalry, “Merrill Horse”. Records indicate that while in Benton Barracks, Missouri, during the fall of 1864, Robert and many others in his unit, came down with the measles. Robert was brought home and succumbed on December 4, 1864. 205 other soldiers in his unit also died as a result of the measles.

~~~~~
Who’s Matthew Baird?

In this letter, Baird discusses the Kilpatrick-Dahgren Raid (February 28-March 3, 1864) and its failure to achieve the goals for which it was intended. Click here to learn more about Dahlgren’s death and the story Baird reports near the end of this letter.

Stephensburg, Va.
Monday, March 14th, ‘64

My dear Maggie, I find myself this morning at the beginning of another week and, though I have not received your usual manuscript during the past week, I will try & pen you a few lines. I sat down for that purpose last evening, thinking to spend a while in your company, but there was so much confusion in the tent that I was compelled to defer it. I do not know but I shall fail to interest you this morning for I am not real well. It is nothing more, however, that the result of a cold.

The weather for the last two weeks has been exceedingly changeable. Three days ago we had a tremendous storm. Yesterday it was beautifully warm, and this morning it is just the opposite. Cold & blustery. Some of my old neighbors have enlisted and are now here in the 7th Mich.Cavalry, Robert Kelley, Geo. Robinson, John Chandler, Charles Bergman, & Robinson Norwood, Geo. Robinson was left in Washington however sick. Were you acquainted with Robinson Norwood? He lived at Eben Penocks a great deal of the time. I got a letter from Lizzie yesterday. She tells me that brother Robert is very sick with lung fever. I fear it will go hard with him, for he had a desperate siege of it some years ago.

Kilpatrick’s division has not returned from its raid yet, though it is expected every day. The general lost several of his most valuable officers among them Cap. Dahlgren killed & Lieut. Col. Litchfield prisoner. The rebel authorities, according to their own statements treated Col. Dahlgren barbarously, inhumanly, and they threaten also to hang all the prisoners they took. Some two hundred fell into their hands. I think they will defer hanging. The expedition proved an entire failure as to the object intended to have been accomplished and that too there the treachery of their guide, a colored man employed for the purpose.

I understand the 5th Mich. Lost every fifth man. The 6th have lost only slightly. I sent you by this morning’s mail the Sunday Chronicle, (Washington) of yesterday. I will now close as I wish to write to Eliza. Write soon I wish I could get your letters every week.

The letters from home are far between, at least so they seem to me.

Truly & Sincerely,

Your own,
Matthew
Hd. Qrs. 2nd Brigade
3rd Division
Cavalry Corps.
Washington, D.C.
Maggie, Croton, Michigan

~~~~~
Who’s Matthew Baird?

After an extremely busy season here at Historic Charlton Park, we finally have time for a long overdue post. This letter was especially difficult to transcribe, but gives an interesting perspective on the bounty system, which you can read more about here. Baird’s letters to his father George are quite different than those addressed to his lady love, Maggie.

 

Envelope marked "Paid 3", HCP Collection.

Envelope marked “Paid 3″, HCP Collection.

Stephensburg, Va.
Tues, March 8th, ‘64

My dear Father, 

Yours of the 29th Feb. came yesterday. I thank you for those stamps, tho I have plenty just now. 

With regard to those letters marked “Soldier’s letters” that I have sent home, I cannot avoid their being stamped “Due three cents”, It must be done at Washington if not there then at the other end of the route, as at Bristol’s.  

I have received a great many letters, the postage of which was not prepaid. Of course they were marked “Due Three Cents”, but as they have to pass the line of all regular P.O.s I did not have to pay the “due”, So what I loose on the one hand I gain on the other or rather the gain comes to those who write.

 You spoke of a town bounty of 100 dollars being due Sammie. Is it pay for his Veteran enlistment or his original enlistment? And if it is for either, how will he lose it? Certainly the town will not refuse paying it. Do you ever hear anything about my bounty? Charlie Robinson, as you will remember, was the only man that was honorable enough to pay. There’s eighteen dollars coming to me yet. I did’nt enlist for the sake of the bounty, for goodness knows, the amount was too small to be anything of an inducement. But still when men promise their word, and that in public, for a large or small amount. I should not think it would require the full extent of of that test to induce them to keep it. I understand that some of the boys did get the most of their bounty, but Uncle Tommy Robinson charged something like 25 percent for collecting fee. I think this is [illegible] against. It is an insult to any soldier. I think I have done my bounty’s ($20) worth of fighting, & feel as though there might to be some way in which I could get it. I expect if God spares my life, that I shall do another bounty’s worth of fighting this Summer, but I don’t expect to get anything above what Uncle Sam pays me. You may show this to Uncle Tommy Robinson, or to any one whom it may concern, or not, just as you choose, “sawmill” Clarke, Mr. Doud, Mr. Howard, Mr. Gessler, Mr. Geo. Robinson & Mr. Warren Woodruff, are the men from whom the money is yet due. Dr. Jackson can tell you the amount due from each.

I will write a few lines to Lucie & and [illegible].

I sent you a check for eighteen dollars a short time ago.

Your affectionate son,
Matthew

~~~~~
Who’s Matthew Baird?

In this letter, Baird tells of the Rio Hill Skirmish and the thwarted Kilpatrick-Dahlgren Raid that took place at the end of February 1864 that he alluded to in his previous letter. General Kilpatrick’s goal was to free 15,000 prisoners of war being held in Richmond, while General Custer was to provide a distraction by attacking from the other direction. The plan was not successful and the descriptions provided by the above links do not directly correlate with Baird’s reporting.


Stephensburg, Va.

Sunday, Mar. 5th ‘64

My dear Girl,

I again sit down, after the lapse of another week, to pen you a few lines, though I have anxiously awaited and watched each Mail for a word from you. But I have been Sadly disappointed. It is now two weeks Since you last came to me. I have been fearful that you were sick; but I trust not. My health still remains good, and may this find you enjoying that blessing in every sense of the word.

We are having delightful weather, we may say much enjoying Springtime. The little birds awake us every morning with their songs. I have never seen so beautiful weather. I believe I told you in my last letter that Gen. Custer had just gone out on a raid. He returned last Tuesday night, after two & a half days weary marching having penetrated into the rebel lines as far as Charlottesville. He destroyed four large government mills, with their grain and flour, burned a large binder, drove the rebels out of two encampments, captured and destroyed [illegible number] Cavalry Saddles, took 400 horses & 50 prisoners, and returned with a loss of, perhaps, a half dozen men.

H Kirkpatrick started also at the same time, going round on the rebel right. The Washington Chronicle of yesterday states that his expedition penetrated to the outer works of Richmond, after distroying an immense amount of railroad bridges, mills & other valuable property, but finding the oposition there too strong, he withdrew and fell back into the lines of Gen. Butler’s department. His loss is stated at less than 150 men, he having several skirmishes on the way. The object of the expedition was the liberation of Union prisoners at Richmond but the strength of his force was not eaqual to the task.

It will probably be some time before the division returns, 20 men from Com. “K” went out. Henry Ward was one of them. Friend Kahler is detailed at the Brigade Train. He was over here to see me this morning. He is well & wishes he be remembered.

Well, Maggie, I have given you about all the news, so I will close for this time hoping to hear from you soon when I will write more.

In the meantime,
Maggie, Believe me,
ever your own,

Matthew

Hd. Qrs. 2nd Brig.
3rd Division C.C.
Washington, D.C.

Jacob  Kahler was from Prairieville in Barry County, Michigan and enlisted in Co. K of the 6th Michigan Cavalry in 1862 at the age of 20. According to his obituary, he drove General Custer’s headquarters wagon and was discharged in 1865. He married Mary Ward in 1867 and moved to the Charlevoix/Petoskey, Michigan area in 1883. They had 3 children and Jacob was a farmer prior to his death. He is buried in Greenwood Cemetery in Emmet County, Michigan. You can read his obituary here and see his death certificate. John can sometimes be a nickname for Jacob.

~~~~~

Who’s Matthew Baird?

Stephensburg, Va.
Wednesday, 24th Feb. ‘64

My dear Father,

I received your note with Cousin George’s letter a few days ago. I was glad to hear from him though his communication was unexpected. He Seems to be doing very well, And his hopes of rising in the world are very Sanguine. I heartily wish him entire Success. Our pay master Major Nicols came out and paid us two months pay last week and I will enclose in this an allotment for twenty dollars and also the bill you Sent me. I did not have a chance to use it, So I will return it for Lucy. I understand we are to get paid again in a few weeks.

We had another grand review [photo similar to what Baird describes] yesterday, near these Hd Qtrs. The troops reviewed were those of the 2nd Army Corps (Infantry) and Gen. Kilpatrick’s Division of Cavalry, and some artillery.

The President I understand, was here to witness the review.

There is an important movement of some kind on foot, and the troops that were out yesterday will, I think, participate in it. I have no doubt that we are destined for the Peninsulas. The Capture of Richmond & the release of our troops held there as prisoners, oppose to be the defect in men. Senator Howard from Michigan was here last week, & in a Short address to the officers and men of our regiment, intimated as much. But then I do not pretend to know this to be the case but from what I have heard and observed, this seems to be the design.

I am not very well at present though on duty. We had some pretty hard riding yesterday & being So many hours in the Saddle wearied me considerable.

I was over to the regiment a day or two ago & the boys are all well. Quite a number of recruits came for our regiment last week, filling up the “vacant ranks” considerably. It is only a Short time Since I wrote, so I will conclude this soon. I am now coppying my Diary and will send it to Robert, and if you find it interesting you may all read it, It will give you Some idea of how checkered is a soldier’s life. The weather is delightful, and the roads in Splendid condition.

Remember me to [illegible] and Cousin, and with love to all,

I remain,

Matthew

This article provides more information on Senator Howard’s part in the above and why he was in D.C.

~~~~~

Who’s Matthew Baird?

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,317 other followers