January 2013


Washington, Jan. 18, ‘63

Dear Father,

I now Sit down to write you a few lines as I promised in my last letter, and to enclose to you fifteen dollars in United States currency. I received $28.93 the payment and wanted to send you more but I wanted to get a few necessary articles, and for this reason retain the balance we were paid up to the 31st Oct. only, but as we expect, in a few days to be paid up to the 1st Jan. I think I shall then be able to Send you $22 more. You remember when I left home, that Robert let me have two dollars, and you will pay to him two dollars of this I send you now, and oblige me. I think he has waited long enough for it and tell him I am very much obliged for the loan of it.

I am not very well to-day, and of course you will excuse me from writing so brief a letter, I must however, before I close, acknowledge the receipt of those beautiful verses my mother sent me, and for which I thank her very much. I have rewritten them [in] all my letters.

I will try and answer Mary’s and Lizzie’s letter in a few days. Give my love to all and remember me as

Your,
Affectionate Son,

Matthew

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.

Mary Baird, five years younger than her brother Robert, was born in 1848 in Mt. Giliad, Marion County, Ohio. She is 12 years old in the 1860 census and living with her parents in Cedar Creek. Her parents passed away in 1866, so she becomes difficult to track. She married Alphonse Larkin c. 1870, he was a farm laborer from the Hastings, Michigan area. They had one daughter, Lucy, who was 10 in the 1880 census and another Maggie, 12 years later. By the time the 1900 census rolls around, Mary and Alphonse are living with their 5 year old granddaughter Gladys. Mary passed away in 1904 from complications of diabetes. Alphonse (64) and his father Nathan (92) are living with Maggie (Larkin) Trumper in the 1910 census.

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Who’s Matthew Baird?

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In this letter, Baird again chides his girlfriend Maggie for not writing to him, but also mentions the recent signing for the Emancipation Proclamation. The proclamation was signed on January 1, 1863 by Lincoln and besides freeing all slaves (despite some limitations), it also allowed for African American men to enlist in service to the country. To read the actual Emancipation Proclamation, click here, it is housed in the National Archives in Washington, D.C.

Washington Jan 7th 1863

Dear Maggie,

I hardly know how to begin this letter. Four long weeks have now elapsed Since we came here and though I wrote you imediately, Still I have heard nothing from you. It seems as though there has been time enough for a reply to reach me, Since then though I may be mistaken. I have waited in painful  Suspense only to be disappointed. Thus far, I have written twice a week, as I promised you. Have none of my letters reached you?

The mail has been dillatory one way or the other. I trust, however, but a few more will pass ere I Shall receive the long expected letter from my Maggie, How much I would love to hear from you! It Seems almost an age Since my eyes have greeted one of your kind letters, and for the past week I have been almost inclined to feel that you nearly forgotten me. But it is’nt So, is it Maggie? Write soon, Maggie, do, and often. Don’t let So many weeks pass again before you write.

I have’nt much news to write now with the exception that we have very cold weather, The ground is frozen very hard. We have been very busy the last few days. Last Saturday we got our horses newly shod, and are now prepared, with the exception of being not yet armed, to take the field. Though on account of the latter failure we shall probably remain in camp for Sometime.

The news, I must confess, is rather more encouraging than Some weeks ago, though it still looks dark. The President’s last proclamation meets my views exactly. The making Soldiers of the colored population, as a part of it, will relieve the country, which has Suffered So much on account of the great demand for recruits for the army.

In my mind there are many “[colored]” who will take up arms for the Sake of liberty. But it is nearly time for “Roll Call” and bed time, and I must close.

I shall write again in a few days and you will not forget me will you? Give my respects to Miss Miller and your parents, and with my devoted love to yourself, I am Still, Maggie,

Your Own,

Matthew

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Who’s Matthew Baird?

Maggie Bowker, HCP Collection

Maggie Bowker, HCP Collection

Washington, D.C.
Jan. 3rd, 1863

Dear Maggie,

It is now nearly 4 weeks Since we came to Washington, And though I wrote you imediately after our arrival, and though I have watched each successive mail with an anxiety know only to your-Self yet I have as often been [illegible] to disappointment.

I was almost sure that to-day I should certainly hear from you, but alas; the same luck attended me.

Nor have I heard from home either. I guess you have all forgotten me. Well, I’m hardly worth thinking about, and of course it is no wonder then that I get no letters. I presume, however, you will all take pity on me by and by and Send me a few lines. How cheering a few lines would be to hear from home, and those we love. These long evening while gathered around the campfires, how it would make the poor Soldiers heart pound, to get some such little token of remembered love, Some Such gentle proof of unbroken affection. Ah; you little know how much the Soldier thinks of home and those he has left behind, those whom he has gone to defend. You may think too that we are given to complaining but do you not remember, when we left, how you drew from us the promises to “write often”, and assured us that our letters should be met with a hearty and speedy response, but the answers thus far have been few and far between.

But I will not chide you too much.

I presume you would like to hear news but indeed you will get it much more correctly from the news papers and speedier than I can give it here. In fact we don’t hear anything correctly, nothing but rumors come our way. So you must excuse the scarcity of news in this.

Hoping and trusting that I shall hear from you directly, I will close this hastily written note. I am well, only tired, for we have been drilling pretty hard to-day.

With a sweet good night, I remain dear, yours as ever,

Matthew

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Who’s Matthew Baird?