First page of Baird's letter, HCP collection.

First page of Baird’s letter, HCP collection.

The date on this letter clearly reads July 21st, 1863, but the battle Baird describes seems to be the Battle of Upperville that took place on June 21, 1863. Could Baird have been mistaken? What do you think?

To help your pondering, here are some links to descriptions of battle at Upperville: and

Near Upperville, Va.

Tuesday, July 21st, ‘63

My own Maggie,

It affords me much pleasure to hear from you So often. ISolated as we are from the genial influences of home Society, Seperated from those we love, we pass many lonely hours; but thanks to a kind Providence, now and then the “white winged messenger” comes to cheer our desponding hearts, & bring us Sweet tokens of [illegible, on crease] & love. Now & then one comes to bless my eyes & cheer my heart.

Yours, mailed the 10th, reached me this morning. I was more than glad to hear from you So Soon again, It found me quite well, with the exception of very weak eyes, caused by constant exposure to bright air and riding in the dust.

Our regiment, with a larger portion of the army, is now lying near Ashby’s Gap (Blue Ridge Mts.). We came to this place the night before last. The rebels then ocupied the Gap. Yesterday the 5th & 6th Mich, Cav’l, Made an advance on their position, as we advanced the rebels fell back until we had possession of the Gap. The 5th then fell back, the 6th following the enemy up about two miles, which brought us to the Shenandoah river. The rebels had crossed Sinking their boats after them, (the river being too deep to ford). Across the river the enemy had thrown up breast works & made a Stand. We dismounted about 1/6th of a mile from the river & advanced to fight on foot, Co’s K & B being, being on the extreme left came into action fast. In taking our position we had to advance through an open wheat field, with out any covering, as Soon as we entered the field we were greeted with a perfect Shower of bullets, but we had already deployed in Skirmishing order, So that none of their Shots took effect. For a few moments we took cover under the Shocks when we were ordered to a large brick house 60 rods to the front, with a cheer we advanced on double quick, another Shower of bullets greeting us, but without injury to us. As soon as we were under cover we commenced firing, & in ten minutes not a rebel could be induced to Show his head. A Scattering fire was kept up about two & a half hours, & as we couldn’t ford the river to charge their situation, & they being too well covered for our Carbines we fell back. As we were falling back, the cowardly dogs played upon us gayly with their long range guns, but they didn’t hit us, though we retired Slowly. Our casualties in this Skirmish was three wounded in Co’s C & F. They were on the right. We now hold the Gap, we may soon have a fight, but I can’t Say.  Yesterday makes eight times I have been exposed to the enemies fire, But a kind Providence has spared, though many times the bullets cut close. There is now a large body of infantry here, among them the old Third, & last night I had the pleasure of Shaking hands with many of my old comrades. But, alas, many of them have fallen.

 Remember me to your parents, give my love to “Cousin” Saving a dust Share to yourself, As ever, Your own,


Upside down: I am glad to learn that my picture reached you, I was fearful that it would not as I was compelled to trust an entire Stranger to the mailing of it. John Kahler got your letter this morning & he will write at the earliest convenience. The boys are all well.


Jacob (John above) 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?