May 2014

In this letter, Baird tells of the Rio Hill Skirmish and the thwarted Kilpatrick-Dahlgren Raid that took place at the end of February 1864 that he alluded to in his previous letter. General Kilpatrick’s goal was to free 15,000 prisoners of war being held in Richmond, while General Custer was to provide a distraction by attacking from the other direction. The plan was not successful and the descriptions provided by the above links do not directly correlate with Baird’s reporting.

Stephensburg, Va.

Sunday, Mar. 5th ‘64

My dear Girl,

I again sit down, after the lapse of another week, to pen you a few lines, though I have anxiously awaited and watched each Mail for a word from you. But I have been Sadly disappointed. It is now two weeks Since you last came to me. I have been fearful that you were sick; but I trust not. My health still remains good, and may this find you enjoying that blessing in every sense of the word.

We are having delightful weather, we may say much enjoying Springtime. The little birds awake us every morning with their songs. I have never seen so beautiful weather. I believe I told you in my last letter that Gen. Custer had just gone out on a raid. He returned last Tuesday night, after two & a half days weary marching having penetrated into the rebel lines as far as Charlottesville. He destroyed four large government mills, with their grain and flour, burned a large binder, drove the rebels out of two encampments, captured and destroyed [illegible number] Cavalry Saddles, took 400 horses & 50 prisoners, and returned with a loss of, perhaps, a half dozen men.

H Kirkpatrick started also at the same time, going round on the rebel right. The Washington Chronicle of yesterday states that his expedition penetrated to the outer works of Richmond, after distroying an immense amount of railroad bridges, mills & other valuable property, but finding the oposition there too strong, he withdrew and fell back into the lines of Gen. Butler’s department. His loss is stated at less than 150 men, he having several skirmishes on the way. The object of the expedition was the liberation of Union prisoners at Richmond but the strength of his force was not eaqual to the task.

It will probably be some time before the division returns, 20 men from Com. “K” went out. Henry Ward was one of them. Friend Kahler is detailed at the Brigade Train. He was over here to see me this morning. He is well & wishes he be remembered.

Well, Maggie, I have given you about all the news, so I will close for this time hoping to hear from you soon when I will write more.

In the meantime,
Maggie, Believe me,
ever your own,


Hd. Qrs. 2nd Brig.
3rd Division C.C.
Washington, D.C.

Jacob  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?

Stephensburg, Va.
Wednesday, 24th Feb. ‘64

My dear Father,

I received your note with Cousin George’s letter a few days ago. I was glad to hear from him though his communication was unexpected. He Seems to be doing very well, And his hopes of rising in the world are very Sanguine. I heartily wish him entire Success. Our pay master Major Nicols came out and paid us two months pay last week and I will enclose in this an allotment for twenty dollars and also the bill you Sent me. I did not have a chance to use it, So I will return it for Lucy. I understand we are to get paid again in a few weeks.

We had another grand review [photo similar to what Baird describes] yesterday, near these Hd Qtrs. The troops reviewed were those of the 2nd Army Corps (Infantry) and Gen. Kilpatrick’s Division of Cavalry, and some artillery.

The President I understand, was here to witness the review.

There is an important movement of some kind on foot, and the troops that were out yesterday will, I think, participate in it. I have no doubt that we are destined for the Peninsulas. The Capture of Richmond & the release of our troops held there as prisoners, oppose to be the defect in men. Senator Howard from Michigan was here last week, & in a Short address to the officers and men of our regiment, intimated as much. But then I do not pretend to know this to be the case but from what I have heard and observed, this seems to be the design.

I am not very well at present though on duty. We had some pretty hard riding yesterday & being So many hours in the Saddle wearied me considerable.

I was over to the regiment a day or two ago & the boys are all well. Quite a number of recruits came for our regiment last week, filling up the “vacant ranks” considerably. It is only a Short time Since I wrote, so I will conclude this soon. I am now coppying my Diary and will send it to Robert, and if you find it interesting you may all read it, It will give you Some idea of how checkered is a soldier’s life. The weather is delightful, and the roads in Splendid condition.

Remember me to [illegible] and Cousin, and with love to all,

I remain,


This article provides more information on Senator Howard’s part in the above and why he was in D.C.


Who’s Matthew Baird?