October 2013

Baird has not written home to his father in quite a while. In this letter he discusses home matters primarily and gives his father advice. Unfortunately, the haste of his penmanship makes this letter very difficult to read. Can you help? Thank you!

First page of Baird's letter. HCP Collection.

First page of Baird’s letter. HCP Collection.

Washington D.C.
Monday, Oct. 19th ’63.

My dear Father, Your letter of the 12th reached me Saturday, being only three days on the road. I was glad to hear the money reached you Safe. I wrote you on the Same day, enclosing a draft of 20 dollars, I do not know how much money I have Sent home, not having kept any account, but think it is very near 124 dollars. You did not mention the probable Sum you would have to pay for the colts you wish to buy; nor their age, but I Should prefer that they were quite young.

If you can turn the [illegible] you have into a good span of colts I would do it. And turn them toward the money I have let you have. But don’t go in debt for them, Tell me their age, color, and value $ & C.

With regard to the Wing Willison affair I will not venture any advice, but will simply tell you what I would do. It is far better to “suffer wrong than to do wrong.” And, though in this case you will Suffer. I Should pay it, and then ever after be careful how I made business contracts on Sunday, and with what kind of men I made such contracts. Were not the School District to be the loosers it would be different, and then the thing might invoke you in lawsuits and trouble, and in the end you be a greater looser than to pay it now.

You will suffer now but verily Wing Willison will have his “reward.”

You say you have had a deed of the Bob Kelly lot made out to myself and Sammy, and I will now suggest a thought which perhaps has not touched your mind. It is this. Should anything happen to Sammie or myself, or both of us, so that one or neither of us Should return home, would not those deeds involve your law difficulties from having to go through the Probate Court? I hope I may be wrong, but it is first a thought.

Third page of Baird's letter. HCP Collection.

Third page of Baird’s letter. HCP Collection.

I would dearly love to be at home to have a Share of the cider, but drink my Share & call it mine. How near will you Square up all [illegible] of this fall? I was in hopes you would be pretty much clear. If I do not go

out to the front before I get my next pay, I will then Send home my watch and try and get my picture for Lucie. I wish you would get a family picture & Send it to me, of all that are at home. I have Sent Several newspapers home lately. I have off and on Since I came here, do you get them? If you do not I will Send no more. I mailed a Harpers’ yesterday to Mary & a Chronicle to Robert this morning. I do not feel so well to-day as usual, but I expect to be able to my regiment Shortly. Meade is again on the Potomac. Skirmishing every day, battle expected hour, Spirits of the Army good. I have faith & confidence in Meade.

Write Soon & frequent,


The Willison family was one of the first families to arrive in Barry Township, Barry County, Michigan.

Samuel and his brother James, Wing’s father, brought their families from Cayuga Co., N.Y. in 1837. One of the first schools was in the Willison district of the township, church services were also held in this school prior to the Baptist Church of Barry having its own home. Wing was a farmer in Barry Township, but was also active in Hope Township where he bought out C.P. Larabee’s pioneer store c. 1855. He does not appear to have married and lived with his brother Martin in his later years. He died in September of 1914 and you can see his death certificate here.


Who’s Matthew Baird?

Washington, D.C.
Tuesday, Oct. 13th ‘63

Respected Friend,

You doubtless think me very negligent in my delaying to answer your letter.

The facts, however, are just these. Your letter reached me at a time when our regiment was doing picket duty out on the front, when constant & excessive duty was required of every man. Four days would Sometimes pass before we would be relieved and often only twenty –four hours would intervene before we would be placed on duty again. Thus, you See, we had but little time to give though, And the few letters written were always in haste & consequently very brief. Then in June came our Falmouth raid of four days & immediately following the Summer Campaign. The excitement and heat of which, excluded almost the possibility of writing. Your letter I kept until the battle of Falling Waters where I lost my horse & my post-folio was in my Saddle pocket. Your letter was lost also. And now at this late date I have pretty much forgotten the contents, in general but think they touched mostly on the opposition with which the defenders of the Republic have not, during the present and past wars, I remember your letter refreshed my mind very much in several points of history, & presented to it ideas of which I had not thought. Weak as was the nation at its birth, formidable as was the foe against which it struggled, cruel as was the internal opposition, in the long contest the Republic became Strong enough to conquer the one & crush the other.

And in the present contest, formidable as is the enemy in the front, and powerful as is the opposition in the rear. I do not know as we have any right to think, to hope, or to believe that we Shall Succeed, that our government will come out more than conquerers.

Every day brings us new evidence of the relaxation of the muscle & Sinew of the rebellion, the failing of its resources, the discouragement of its most hopeful friends. The opposition grows weaker, the ranks of the Union friends grow Stronger, and deeper.

And to-day, we hope, we trust, we believe, will achieved for the country a a greater victory than has been won in either East or West, in the terible Campaigns of the past Summer & that victory will be won at the ballot box. And as the enemies in the field have often been Scattered like chaff before our Armies, May Such a blow, to-day, be dealt, that will Shame and confuse and Scatter the opposition on which the enemies of our country look with So Much difidence, confidence and expectation, And So trusting that the God of battles & Rule of Nations will give to our government the victory, and to the country a Speedy and lasting peace, and with my respects to yourself and family & hoping to hear from you occasionly, I will close,   

Respectfully Yours,
M. Baird

Rev. Silas Bowker

Who’s Matthew Baird?