Baird has received letters from Dwight Tousley previously, to read more about him and his brother Duane, click here. He mentions many other fellow soldiers in this letter, links to more information have been placed at their names.

Camp Michigan, Feb. the 12th, 1862

Friend Matthew. I have just Rec’d you letter of the tenth Inst and was very sorry to hear such news from you for I had almost began to look for you here but as that cannot be I will do all I can for you at least for I know how to pity a poor inmate of the Hospital especialy at Annapolis for I got tired of it while I was there but I will dwell on this no longer. I went Immediately to the captain after reading your letter & found that your clothes had been overlooked after being packed up ready to send to you untill yesterday morning when the captain started them to Annapolis I suppose you will receive them before this reaches you the captain was sorry to hear that you were sick again after being detailed in the hospital And so were the boys. Mr Ward  was very well satisfied with his tickets but said he did not look for any thing of the kind until he see you again you had not need of sending those tickets to me for remailing your letters for the quarter more than paid me for all the letters I have sent you excuse my blunders if you please I meant to mention the quarter that I got of Drake but I know you will excuse me when I tell you I wrote this in an awful hurry to get it done before Dress parade so that I can send it on its errand early in the morning W.K. Ferris had gone home before I came from Annapolis, I must tell you about our new guns we have got the Austrian

.54 Caliber Lorenz Pattern Austrian Rifle, Mfg. 1860. Supposedly carried during the Civil War. HCP Collection

Rifles and they will do good shooting from 120 rods to A half mile Duane and Andrew Killpatrick  have gone home on A furlough of 30 days the rest of the boys are all well I believe but Abrams Eddy he is in the Hospital at Alexandria you will find enclosed some stamps to mail letter to me with Well Matthew I guess I have written all the news but forgot to tell you how I am getting as tough as A Bear again and weigh the same as I did last summer Well Matthew I will not tire you by writing any more this time but if there is anything more I can do for you please mention it and I will attend to it immediately this from your ever faithful friend   Dwight Tousley

Write soon and let me know Whether you have received your clothes or not

Abrams Eddy was from Clinton County and enlisted at the same time as Baird. He was discharged in October 1862 in Edward’s Ferry, Maryland. To see an image of his tombstone, click here.

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Who’s Matthew Baird?

Last page of Baird's letter. HCP Collection.

Baird writes home to his mother the day after Christmas. He writes to her regarding their celebration, including what they ate and how the mess hall was decorated. For a peek at mess hall from a nearby hospital, click here.

U.S. General Hospital
Annapolis, Dec. 26th 1861

My Dear Mother, it is sometime since I wrote to you, and seeing Christmas was over and as we have had a good time, I thought I would write you a few lines. I hope Christmas has passed off merrily and happy with you all at home. Though there are many homes that have not had so many bright and joyous faces around the Christmas circle as there was last year. Still I hope those left at home are none the less bright and cheerful. Though our country is distracted by the fearful struggle, and all the evils of civil war, besides being threatened with war with one of the greatest powers on earth still I see no reason why we should not have a merry good time on that day of joy and gladness – Merry Christmas. Indeed yesterday was a day of merriment and a bright spot in the path of the weary-way-worn soldier. In the morning there was no small [illegible] among the cooks and hospital attendants. Several wagon loads of roast turkey, baked ham, oyster pies and pies of all kinds besides a great many other good things came in and when noon came round we had a capital princely dinner thanks to the good and loyal ladies of Annapolis.

The table was long and well filled with all the good things of the land (it seems war has not cannoned the whole yet and well crowded with hungry men, but after they were all done there was enough left for as many more. On each end of the table there was of course a fine Christmas tree, filled with rich yellow oranges with a nice miniature Star-Spangled-banner on the top of each tree. After dinner was over, a few appropriate remarks were made by a gentleman and lady in the course of which they lady urged upon the men the necessity of abstaining from all kinds of liquor the using of all profane language and everything ungentlemanly. She said her only child was a soldier. (of course in the Union army). She had thus given up all to the cause of her country. She very particularly wished us to remember our Christmas dinner to our friends at home, and to tell them we had not only friends at home, but we had friends here. The soldiers she said would find friends everywhere. The citizens of Annapolis welcomed the Union troops as friends, friends of liberty.

I tell you we had a grand good time. Now you must not think that because I am here yet that I am sick for I am not, and am as eager to go to any regiment as can be, but I have the notions of others. Dear Mother a happy New Year to you, Goodbye
Matthew
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Who’s Matthew Baird?

 

 

Dec. 24th

By the lively movements around the hospital toward evening today one would think merry Christmas was approaching in good earnest, even for the weary way – worn soldier. Pies and cakes in abundance, roast turkeys, and baked ham and numerous other good things, and substantial came in by wagon. Something to make glad the heart and satisfy the [illegible]ing hungry stomach of the soldier. Something to remind one of its joys and seasons of merriment. It reminded us too of the loved ones there and the annual gathering, the circle round the old hearth-stone. The meeting of old friends and…

Baird trails off at the end of this diary entry and never picks up the thread. He does not write on Christmas Day, presumably to enjoy the festivities around the hospital ward. His mother receives a letter written on December 26th describing the scene.

Happy Holidays!

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Who’s Matthew Baird?

 

This entry was difficult to transcribe...are we right?

Dec. 23rd

Today has been wet and stormy with a slight sprinkling of snow accompanying the rain. So without troubling myself about out-door affairs I confined myself within the cosy and comfortable quarters of my room and busied myself with writing letters reading the news. The day closed with in [illegible] cold.

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Who’s Matthew Baird?

Dec. 22nd

Sabbath. This forenoon I wrote a letter and [illegible] I went to church for the first time since I came here. The 7th Rhode Island Battery arrived to-day, from Washington, with cannon, horses, ammunition and equipments. The weather has been pretty cold for a day or two.

Unfortunately, the 7th Rhode Island Battery does not appear to exist, so Baird was obviously mistaken. The likely unit, they arrived in Annapolis December 22nd and were attached to Burnside’s Expedition, was Battery F, 1st Regiment Rhode Island Light Artillery.

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Who’s Matthew Baird?


Dec. 2

The past, to my last date, has been a blank to me as far as regards military matters. The 7th Oct. I was taken very sick. The 17th I was conveyed to regiment hospital and the 19th was removed to Georgetown to the Seminary Hospital.

I was detained there four weeks with a heavy fever, and then again, 17th Nov. was removed to this place; U. S. General Hospital, Annapolis, MA. I have been here two weeks today. I forget to say that the 4th Brigade removed from Camp Albany to Fort Lyons  two miles below Alexandria, on the 14th Oct. I have heard nothing definite from the 3rd since I left. They are however in the same camp.

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Civil War Washington  is a wonderful website with a plethora of information on Washington, D.C. during the Civil War. The site contains information about soldiers that were housed in the Seminary Hospital Baird mentions above, and also gives us our first clue to Baird’s ailment – typhoid fever.

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Who’s Matthew Baird?

First page of Baird's letter, HCP Collection.

As Baird’s father’s previous letter implies, Matthew has been sick for some time. The last time he recorded anything in his diary was October 2, 1861. The nature of his illness is not known at this point, but he transferred to many hospitals, as later diary entries will show. Unfortunately, we do not know to whom this missive was written.

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General Hospital
Anapolis, Nov. 19th, 1861

Dear Friend,

I presume by this time you think I have quite forgotten you, but when I tell you that I was taken sick only a few days after I wrote my last letter to you, and have been ever since, you will excuse me for not writing before. I was taken sick and laid in my tent over a week. I then went to the regiment hospital and in four days after was conveyed to a hospital in Georgetown, D.C. where I remained four weeks. I left my bed last Wednesday, and yesterday I was brought to this place where I expect to remain untill I have fully recovered my health and strength. I have no doubt you have long been looking for your paper, and the Daguerotype, I have had no opportunity to obtain either. I shall not send you my picture till I am somewhat recruited, or I am thin now it would be only a scare-crow.

As I have been away from my regiment so long I have not much news to send you. But I presume you have already heard of the Success of the late naval expedition.  Our troops in connection with the fleet have taken possession of Port Royal and Beaufort in South Carolina (very important points) besides a portion of the rail-road between Savannah and Charleston. This is the most important news I have to send you. You must, and I know you will be kind enough to excuse me the shortness of this letter, as I have half a score of letters received while sick that remain unanswered. I only wrote two while sick and both of those I wrote home. I write you these few lines, so you will know I have not forgotten you.

Write soon and believe me as ever your Sincere Friend                                                                        Matthew Baird

Anapolis, Maryland

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Who’s Matthew Baird?