January 2012

Last page of Holmes' letter. HCP Collection

Jan 29th 1862

Bro Matthew

After a very long time I sit down to write you a letter. I am at your father’s now. They are well, I have just been reading your letters written home.

Nothing gives me more pleasure here than to hear that you are true to God

Now for the reason why I have not written I have been quite sick for several weeks past. My circuit is in a very low state & my time has been mostly occupied in trying to elevate that. I am not holding a meeting north west of Hickory Corners about three miles. Some interest manifested Hope in God many will be saved. The church all over is so Excited about the war that many if not entirely backslidden are so far from God that no signs of life are exhibited. Bro Matthew it makes one mourn to see the church so dead when it ought to be the widest awake. I am doing the best I can to preach the truth to the people. The Devil kicks at me occasionally, but I try to keep near enough to God so that he cannot hurt me. O what need for praying, for our Country, for our Soldiers, for the advancement of piety for the coming of the kingdom of God. Nothing better qualifies a man in whatever station of life, for usefulness than religion. O what peace, courage, glory Thank God for salvation. Good in peace, good in war, good in sickness & in health. Swearing suits some people but not me. Card playing some, but not me. Drinking some, but not me. If I am not bearing the banner of our Country at the head of an army I trust I am bearing the banner of Jesus over hill & through the valley. Upon its broad silken stream – may be read in emblazoned letters “Jesus died to save you
Come to Jesus, Just now”

O how cheering to the way worn itinerant while reflecting that a few more storms will end the battle, a few more rounds will end the strife, victory gained, Heaven won.

You thought I had forgotten you not so. I seldom think of the war but what I think of Bro Matthew his friends past scenes.

But I must write you some news

1 Emery Jackson & Jacob Mott have come home, discharged, reason, sickness, came to day

2 Brother Fulkerson is dead, was buried one week ago last Saturday sick 72 days, typhus fever often awakened the people in the night by his shouting. Gone to the “upper Homestead” thank God I’m on the track

‘Tis then will sing & offerings bring
When we meet to part no more’

3 Jefferson Stanton is not married your father heard them bell [illegible], but they were fooled.

4 I do not know that is will be news but I will venture it. This clap is very low, about to smash I fear, very little union, very little love of course  Bunnep versus Clarke, Democrat versus Republicans, Secessionists versus “true blues”

All the classes on the circuit save this, are doing papably well. I intend mounting my artillery & by the help of God “blow up” the Devils batteries on some points yet, pray for me that the lord will direct the charge to the right spot. Very few revivals I hear of by this winter One minister (Wesleyan) preached every night for five weeks & not a soul converted.

Now Matthew I want you to write to me frequently, perhaps I shall not answer every one in their turn, for I shall be away from home, but I will write to you as often as I can. I should like to hear how the hospital looks, how many in it – preachers, prayer meetings, rations, everything. I am ignorant of every think almost. You need fear, but what you are instructing a child.

Your mother says she will answer your last letter as soon as she possibly can.

“O watch & fight & pray
The battle ne’er give o’er
O Renew it boldly every day
And help divine  [?]”

Yours Joel H Holmes

My address is
Bedford Calhoun Co Mich

Tracking down Joel H. Holmes has been problematic. He likely lived in Barry County at some point, given his familiarity with many of Baird’s acquaintance and visiting with Baird’s parents. Joel could perhaps be a relation of Levi Holmes, who lived in Woodland, Michigan. Levi had eight children, Joel is not listed among them, and was a religious man who served as preacher in his own church. From a History of Allegan and Barry Counties, Michigan, 1880.

Emory Jackson and Jacob Mott, mentioned above, enlisted in Company H, Merrill Horse along with Baird’s brother Samuel in August 1861. Jackson died of disease in February 1862 while at home in Michigan. Mott was discharged on a surgeon’s certificate in February 1862, there is no mention of him returning to the military.


Who’s Matthew Baird?

First page of George Baird's letter. HCP Collection.

Hope Jan 28/62

Dear Son

We Recd yours of the 13 we found by your letter that you are not so well as we thought you was I am very sorry that you are not geting Along, but allways be willing to say the Lords will be done not mine, your being sick may be All for the best we are all well at present we are doing the best we can the wether is very bad it snowed very hard yesterday and to day it is raining very hard, the snow is About one foot deep.

I would like to have you write A letter to Robert and Ask him if he still retains his Religion he does not Attend to his Class meeting atall, him and Charles and Henry Ward are About Alike neither of them has Any thing to say when they are asked, I want you to talk to him, but don’t let him know that I said Any think About it my letter Robert is A Good Boy but he has got of the track, write as soon as you can your Mother say she will Answer your letter as soon as she can this is from your Father   Geo. W. Baird


Who’s Matthew Baird?

Camp Michigan Jan 10/62

Mr. Baird sir I received A letter to day from you and read it with pleasure it found me as well as could be expected. I have been able to do duty ever since I came to camp and feel first rate at present. The rest of the boys are all well but Duane and ralph hanly [Henly]  Duane is not any better than He was when I came to camp he cannot use his right much yet and I do not think he will get any better this winter I was waiting for A letter from you so that I would would know whether you was coming out here or not so I could send you letters to you. I got one for you last week and it had almost slipped my mind until last night when I happened to find it in my portfolio our mail comes once A week now I guess for we have had no mail for three day or more until to day besides four more to send you which you will please acknowledge the receipt of in your next it is very wet and muddy here now the mud is shoe deep in the streets of the camp. We were called out Christmas morning at four oclock and marched out to Pohick Church where it is was reported the rebels were building A battery but when we got there we could not find a single secesh in A mile of there and finally marched back to camp at night. I do not know as I have any more news to write at present, please excuse all mistakes and poor writing. this from your friend Dwight Tousley.

P.S. If you want your description list please let me know in your next



Ralph Hanly enlisted at the same time, and was in the same company, as Baird and was 19 years of age in May 1861. He ended his career in 1865 after serving in Co. E of the Fifth Michigan Infantry. To learn more about him, follow the link at his name above.


Who’s Matthew Baird?