Here is the first letter Matthew wrote to his girlfriend Maggie after the first of the year in 1864. He primarily discusses matters from home and wintertime activities. He also mentions a matter of family strife, although it is unclear if “Lizzie” is actually a family member or a close friend. Please feel free to share any thoughts you may have.

Stephensburg, Va.
Saturday, Jan. 9th, ’64.

My dear Maggie,

I was just now favored with a letter from you of the 27th Dec. 1863, and will now devote a few moments in writing a reply. I thank you very much for the happy New Year, though it did not dawn so happily for me. I have for a week past been quite unwell, but am now getting better.

I am glad to hear that your health continues so good. What is more pleasant or agreeable to one than to enjoy good health. It is truly one of heaven’s best gifts. I hope your health may continue good while you remain in your present Situation.

I too, am Sorry there is Such a difference existing between Lizzie & My father. Perhaps they are both wrong. I have always loved Lizzie very Much notwithstanding her faults, And one of her greatest faults is that she abuses the right of Speech too much, this is the Most. But I have always overlooked this for her Sake. Could I only See her I think I could convince her that it was a great fault in her. I trust it may be so that I can See her Some day. I think a great deal of her yet, and respect & dearly love my uncle. Lizzie wrote me that Uncle balked of going to Washington in the Spring.

I know how you feel with regard to David. How thoughts of absent ones will weigh upon our minds! It is now nearly two months Since I heard from Sammie, And I begin to feel anxious about him.

It has been Some time too Since I heard from home, I have written three letters home since the 23rd of last month, but nothing yet. They are very negligent, or my letters do not reach them very often.

Well, Maggie, My Merry Christmas was not spent very glibly either. We were building our Winter quarters & I had to work pretty hard, & New Year ditto. I have first received a letter from Portland, Me. from a cousin of mine there.  She writes that they have very fine sleighing there and offered me a gay sleigh ride if I would come there.

I suppose, of course, that you have good sleighing up in our little Lake State now. Oh dear, how I would love to enjoy one just now. But, what’s the use of talking or wishing, we have just snow enough to cover the ground, but the Blue Ridge looks as though the snow had fallen quite heavily there.

There is no news at present. Everything is quiet and we are trying to enjoy ourselves in a soldierly way.

I do not feel much like writing to-day, So you will please excuse these imperfect lines,

And, believe me,
Truly & Affectionately,


Compliments to the friends

Who’s Matthew Baird?