July 2013

Near Hagerstown
Monday, July 13th, 1863

My dear Father,

It is now a very long time Since I heard from home, and as you may Suppose, I begin to feel anxious to hear. The 4th of July was the last time we got any mail and I was Sure I Should hear from home then, but I was disappointed. My health Still remains good, though of late I have Seen a great deal of Service. You have doubtless heard before this of the String? Events that have taken place lately this Side of the Potomac, but there Still remains much to be done. Our regiment has participated in four or five different battles & Skirmishes already. Yesterday the division to which we belong had a brush with the enemy, driving them out of Hagerstown & capturing some 800 prisoners.

We expect another big battle Soon at Williamsport. The rebels are Strongly fortified there, and our force is large, I look for bloody work, but am hopeful that we Shall Succeed in defeating the enemy. The boys are all well, and in good Spirits.

How I wish you would write oftener. It Seems to me that Some one of you might write once a week, at least, it is So long Since you have written that it Seems as though you had forgotten me, but I hope you have’nt I haven’t [Illegible name] likeness yes, I Shall look for it till it comes.

Henry Ward & Jeffry Kelly are with us yet, & Johnathan Smith also, & Fred, Milo, Jimmie Hunt in fact all the boys from our neighborhood. They are good Soldiers, Johnathan was slightly wounded a few days ago at Boonsboro, the ball first breaking the Skin a little above his knee. Sylva Young’s husband, Manson Buck, was wounded at Hanover, a ball passing through one of his arms.

At Gettysburg George Brownell & Dana Wilson were wounded by the explosion of a shell that Struck in the ranks, there were three horses killed by the same shell. You will find all the names I have mentioned, on my record.

Thus far I have escaped with an unbroken Skin, you must excuse this writing, for I can do no better here. Do write soon, I Sent you 18 dollars the last of May, did you get it?

Give my love to all, and believe me, as ever your Affect’ Son


Baird mentions many fellow soldiers in this letter, all were members of Co. K of the 6th Michigan Cavalry. The brief histories below were taken from several sources, but primarily, Record of Service of Michigan Volunteers in the Civil War 1861-1865 and www.familysearch.org.

Henry Ward enlisted 1862 in Barry County at the age of 19. He was promoted to Corporal in 1864 and Sergeant in 1865 prior to mustering out at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He died May 7, 1923 and is buried in Greenwood cemetery, Petoskey, Michigan. Click here to view his obituary.

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.

Jonathan Smith enlisted in Hope Township, Barry County in 1862 at the age of 26. He was killed at Newby’s Cross Roads, Virginia on July 24, 1863. The battle was fought near Amissville, Virginia on the slopes of Battle Mountain, which was near Newby’s Cross Roads. Baird will mention Smith again after his death in a future letter. Click here to learn more about the battle.

Frederick Bergman (Fred above) enlisted in 1862 at the age of 28. He was wounded in action at Newby’s Cross Roads on July 24th, and would never fully recover based on his service records. He was transferred to the Invalid Corps in 1864 and was discharged from the 9th Co., 2nd Battalion, Veteran Reserve Corps in 1865. The Invalid Corps consisted of injured men that were still capable of performing light duties, such as patrol and guard duty, and draft enforcement. Read more about the Invalid Corps here.   Fred was from Germany and he married Harriet Galloway and made his living farming after the war. They had 3 children. Harriet died in 1900 and Fred lived with his son Henry prior to his death in 1925. He is buried in the Cedar Creek Cemetery in Dowling, Michigan.

Milo West is likely the soldier Baird is referring to in the letter. He was from the same town as Baird and enlisted in 1862 at the age of 19. He was held as a prisoner of war, although there is no record of him having been at Andersonville. He died of disease in 1864 and is buried in the Annapolis National Cemetery in Maryland.

Jimmie (James) Hunt was also from Hope in Barry County. He enlisted in 1862 at the age of 31. He is listed as missing in action later in 1863 near Brandy Station, Virginia. He survived and was discharged in 1865. The 1890 census of surviving Civil War soldiers  lists that he was wounded in the shoulder by a bullet.

Manson Buck enlisted in 1862 at Yankee Springs at the age of 23. He married Sylvia (Sylva above) Young in 1862, shortly after he enlisted. He was listed as missing in action in Hanover, Pennsylvania in 1863, taken prisoner in 1864, and died of disease while imprisoned.  He is buried in Danville, Virginia. His wife does not appear to have remarried.

George Brownell lived in Prairieville in Barry County, Michigan and enlisted in 1862 at the age of 22. He died of the wounds received at Gettysburg that Baird mentions in the letter.

Dana Wilson was from Hastings and enlisted in 1862 at the age of 30. He married Sarah Mudge in January of 1861. He was made Corporal in 1865 and is listed “on detached service” in March 1865 and there is no further record of him. His wife remarried in 1867 and submitted claims for payment cards in the early 1900’s.

Who’s Matthew Baird?

The 6th Michigan Cavalry was very active during June and July of 1863, even serving at Gettysburg as Baird alludes to below. He also mentions the battle at Boonsboro on July 8, but does not go into details. Follow the links to learn more.


Boonesborough, M.d.
Friday, July 10th, ‘63

My dear Girl,

You will perhaps think me rather negligent in not writing before; but to tell you the truth, I’ve had no time to write, & no chance to mail letters if I had written.

Since I last wrote, we have passed through a great variety of scenes, many of which have been fraught with danger & fatigue. Our regiment has been in four different battles & skirmishes since the 29th June & I have been present at every one, But as I have time to write only a little I will not Stop to give you the details now, but as soon as we are again settled in camp, I will try & give you a full account of our operations.

We have been fleecing the rebel army “right Smartly” and preparations are being made to give it another. Such a disposition has been made of our forces that almost every one is confident of success. I truly hope we may –

Well, Maggie, our regiment spent the 4th marching & fighting. The afterpart of the day was dreadful Stormy, but it made no difference as Fighting & Marching are our business now. The day before yesterday we had quite a fight at this place, we drove the rebs. But you must excuse me from writing more at present, & when the hurry is over I will write you a long letter.

I am enjoying remarkably good health for the fatigue through which I’ve passed.

Good bye for the present & if Spared you Shall hear from me Soon again.

Your letter of June 20th was received at Gettysburg July 4th, also one from May at the same time. I will send you a Confederate Postage Stamp, which was found in a train we [illegible], & given to me.

Love to all,
Remaining the Same
Constant & true,



Who’s Matthew Baird?

Baird mentions many locations in this letter to his sweetheart Maggie Bowker. Please click here to open a map detailing the route he likely took.

Fairfax C. H. Va.
Wednesday, June 24th, ‘63

My own dear Maggie,

You will doubtless be surprised to find that I am at Fairfax to-day after receiving My letter of the 20th. But I don’t expect to be here at this time (2 p.m.) to-morrow. We didn’t leave here Saturday as we expected, but finally got started about 2 p.m. Sunday. We went out on a reconnoitering expedition, towards the Rappahannock. We rode out as far as five miles [illegible] and Gainesville (Where I got your letter of the 14th this morning) and Stoped for the night. I was on picket all night. About ten next morning we were again on the move, and reached Warrenton about noon. This is one of the most beautiful towns I’ve seen in VA.

Between Centreville & Gainesville we passed over a portion of the Bull Run battle ground. I will spare your feelings, however, & and not describe what I saw there. At Warrenton we halted untill near night, when our brigade, leaving the ballance of the column (there were three brigades in the column, all cavalry & artillery) passed out on the route towards the Rappahannock, and marched untill about midnight, when we again halted at a place called Beales’ Station on the R.R. five miles from Falmouth, the 5th Mich. Cav’l continued the march to the Rappahannock, a portion of the regiment crossing the river, the remainder of the brigade passed at the Station untill late the next day (yesterday) when we again moved off returning to Gainesville by another route, leaving Warrenton to the right. We bivouacked at Gainesville last night, and this morning at early light were again on the move, arriving here about 12 hr.

We are not allowed to pitch our tents, however, as we expect to march again ere night, (rations are now being issued for the journey.) It is said we are going to Harpers Ferry; but I don’t pretend to know, for it is impossible for a soldier to tell anything about what he is going to do until after it is accomplished. There was another fight (at Smoker’s Gap in the Bull Run Mountains, I have been informed) on Sunday, our forces again coming off victors, we heard the cannon plainly from here in the morning, & untill we got nearly out to Gainesville, where it ceased. I expected we would have a fight on our last trip, Surly, but we didn’t See a reb.

Well Maggie, I received your kind, fond letter of the 14th this morning, and though I was Somewhat low Spirited, when I was call up from my Starlit bed, owing to my fatigue, but your dear letter revived me greatly, and be assured, dear girl, the Sentiments it expressed are fully appreciated.

Oh; what raptures it brings to the soldier’s heart. Surrounded by so many dangers as he is, to know & feel, that there is one behind him, whose heart beats for him with the warmest of love’s impulses. Oh; Maggie, I know you love me, and believe me your affection is received gratefully, & returned with the warmest devotion. Your kiss I received thankfully, only wishing it were real, a dozen in return.

Now this letter is very lengthy, & I’ll write as often as I can. My love to all, write as often as you can,

Goodbye for this time,
Truly & affectionately yours,


Upside down at the top: I have left your father’s letter unanswered for want of time [illegible].


Who’s Matthew Baird?