March 2015


Maggie Bowker, HCP Collection

Maggie Bowker, HCP Collection

Near New Castle Ferry
Pamunkey River, Va.
May 3rd, 1864

My dear Maggie,

I snatch a few hasty moments from our busy life to write you a few lines. Since my last letters from Milford Station we have had two hard fights but we whipped the rebels both times. In the last one we lost heavily, but the rebel losses exceeded our largely. Our company lost three wounded; the regiment 9 killed & 26 wounded. The rebels are “gigging back” all the time, & we gradually coming down onto Richmond. We are withing [sic] 15 or 20 miles now. The infantry are nearer. The infantry are fighting to-day.

Maggie, I thank God I am well – my health is good, and trust will remain so through the campaign, and God only know when that will end.

My dear girl, excuse me from writing more at present. I will try & keep you posted as often as possible as to my where abouts. Remember me, dearest, as yours, ever,

Matthew

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Who’s Matthew Baird?

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Stephensburg, Va.
March 25th, ‘64

My dear Father,

I received yours of the 13th last night. I am sorry to hear of Robert’s illness. Jefferson Kelley heard that you did not expect him to live for some time. I hope he will be entirely recovered when this reaches you. Though I was not very well when I last wrote I am enjoying very good health just now. I acknowledged the receipts of the stocking in two letters. I think, but they could not have reached you.

It has been some time since I got a letter from Sammie but he thought he would start for home by the first of the month. I hope he will have the privilege of going home if I cannot. Speaking of clover seed, how much bls [bushels] you expect to sow this spring?

Now I would like to say a word about my Cedar Creek lot. Could you so arrange it as by a year from next fall, to put in ten acres of wheat for me? My term of enlistment will have expired then, but not soon enough for me to come home to do it myself. I want some kind of a start when I get home, and I do not know how else to get it. Robert told me that you had seeded the south lot. That you can mow this season & next summer you can, if it is mostly clover, let it grow till in June and thus turn it under.

I think that will aid greatly in producing a good crop of wheat. If you sow oats on the north lot this spring, I would like to have that sowed to pure clover also, and then next summer have it turned under. If you plant it to corn, then it will have to be summer followed. I will try and furnish you with the money it will cost for clover seed. And will pay you for the labor & wheat required to put in ten acres. What do you think it will be worth one acre to fit the ground for and put in ten acres of wheat? The seed cost included. If you want to use the ground, and can tell me where I could do better, will you do so?

The government owes us two months pay now, and I think we’ll soon get. Then I hope to be able to send you twenty dollars more. I am glad my last draft got through safe. Tell me all you can about the prospect of putting in a wheat crop. It may seem soon to begin to think of it, but if I begin early I shall not fail for want of time.

Remember me to all the friends and with my love to all the family, and my prayers for the recovery of health to Robert.

I remain,
With much affection,
Your son,
Matthew

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.

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Who’s Matthew Baird?

Maggie Bowker, HCP Collection

Maggie Bowker, HCP Collection

Stephensburg, Va.
March 19th, ‘64

My dear Maggie,

I once more attempt to write you though this time under very distressing circumstances. I learned to-day that brother Robert is not expected to live I believe I told you in my last letter that he was very sick. I have not heard directly from him in sometime, but the news came by way of letters to others of the boys. There is not much being done down here now. Everything is very quiet. I expect to hear soon that brother Sammie has got home.

I am quite well myself and trust this may find you in good health. As you may well imagine my feelings under present circumstances, you will readily excuse the brevity of this. It is more than two weeks since I have heard from you. I will write as soon as yours comes.

Yours, ever,
Matthew
Company K 6th Regt.
Mich Cavalry
Washington, D.C.

Robert Baird does not die as a result of the sickness Baird mentions. Robert Baird was born in 1843 in Mt. Giliad, Marion County, Ohio. He was the third eldest of the Baird children after Matthew and Samuel. In the 1860 census, he is 16 and living at home in Cedar Creek, Barry County, Michigan. Robert enlisted in the cavalry on August 5th, 1864 in the same unit as his brother Samuel – Co. H, 2nd Missouri Cavalry, “Merrill Horse”. Records indicate that while in Benton Barracks, Missouri, during the fall of 1864, Robert and many others in his unit, came down with the measles. Robert was brought home and succumbed on December 4, 1864. 205 other soldiers in his unit also died as a result of the measles.

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Who’s Matthew Baird?