In this letter, Baird again chides his girlfriend Maggie for not writing to him, but also mentions the recent signing for the Emancipation Proclamation. The proclamation was signed on January 1, 1863 by Lincoln and besides freeing all slaves (despite some limitations), it also allowed for African American men to enlist in service to the country. To read the actual Emancipation Proclamation, click here, it is housed in the National Archives in Washington, D.C.

Washington Jan 7th 1863

Dear Maggie,

I hardly know how to begin this letter. Four long weeks have now elapsed Since we came here and though I wrote you imediately, Still I have heard nothing from you. It seems as though there has been time enough for a reply to reach me, Since then though I may be mistaken. I have waited in painful  Suspense only to be disappointed. Thus far, I have written twice a week, as I promised you. Have none of my letters reached you?

The mail has been dillatory one way or the other. I trust, however, but a few more will pass ere I Shall receive the long expected letter from my Maggie, How much I would love to hear from you! It Seems almost an age Since my eyes have greeted one of your kind letters, and for the past week I have been almost inclined to feel that you nearly forgotten me. But it is’nt So, is it Maggie? Write soon, Maggie, do, and often. Don’t let So many weeks pass again before you write.

I have’nt much news to write now with the exception that we have very cold weather, The ground is frozen very hard. We have been very busy the last few days. Last Saturday we got our horses newly shod, and are now prepared, with the exception of being not yet armed, to take the field. Though on account of the latter failure we shall probably remain in camp for Sometime.

The news, I must confess, is rather more encouraging than Some weeks ago, though it still looks dark. The President’s last proclamation meets my views exactly. The making Soldiers of the colored population, as a part of it, will relieve the country, which has Suffered So much on account of the great demand for recruits for the army.

In my mind there are many “[colored]” who will take up arms for the Sake of liberty. But it is nearly time for “Roll Call” and bed time, and I must close.

I shall write again in a few days and you will not forget me will you? Give my respects to Miss Miller and your parents, and with my devoted love to yourself, I am Still, Maggie,

Your Own,

Matthew

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Who’s Matthew Baird?

Written just prior to the Christmas holiday, this letter is again addressed to Maggie Bowker. In the second paragraph Baird’s description of his view of Washington D.C. and the sounds is fascinating – you really get a sense of what he is experiencing. Here is a link to a map showing Washington D.C. and outlying camps and tents. Baird was again encamped at Meridian Hill.

 

Washington, Dec. 23rd, 62

My dear Maggie,

I received your kind letter of Dec. 13th, only last evening and I now hasten to pen you a few lines in reply. Your letter found me quite well with the exception of a very severe cold with which I have been troubled some time. When we first came here the weather was quite warm, almost hot, and have since had a sudden change, and for the past few days it has been very cold, and I think this is the cause of my cold, and most of the boys are in the Same fix. To-day, however, is beautiful, almost like Spring. Indeed while you are enjoying yourselves Sleighriding and frolicking at the evening parties, we are enjoying all the pleasures of a Michigan April, with the exception of now and then a chilly day.

I wish you could be with me now, just where I am sitting, (for I left the camp So that I might have the privilege of writing one letter in the quiet. ) and have the view I have. There is scarcely a direction that you may look, but your eye meets an encampment. Scarcely a hillside that is not dotted with tents. The whole country here is one grand military encampment. Washington abounds with hospitals. There is nothing to be heard around but the rattling of army waggons, the rolling of drums, and the sounding of bugles; with now and then the heavy booming of cannon in the far distance. If Virginia and the District of Columbia recover from the ravages of this unholy war in twenty years I shall miss my guess. There is nothing but desolation reigning every where. God forbid that as dire a calamity should ever befall our fair little State of Michigan.

Well Maggie, I presume you are anticipating grand times about Christmas and New Year, well you must try and enjoy yourself the very best you can. I regret only that it is not in my power, nor my lot to share those holy days with you. And while yourself and Miss Miller are enjoying yourselves, you must neither of you forget me, nor, indeed, any of the Soldiers.

Now Maggie, when you write again you must take time and write a_ O ever so long a letter. Your letters lately have been so brief, only a few short lines. Now, as to your teaching next summer, that should rest with yourself, you know whether you are competent to teach or not and if you are, I think it is the best thing you can do. You will, with care, if you improve your time, have every chance of informing yourself, and developing your mind. You must however, use your own judgement. I will inclose in this a short note to Miss Miller, according your request, which you will please hand her. And be sure and have her answer it.

Now do try and write once a week, and oftener if you can. Please excuse this ill looking letter, and wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a happy New year.

I will close, remaining yours,
Constantly and ever,

Matthew

~~~~~

Who’s Matthew Baird?

Camp Kellogg
Dec. 9th, 1862

My dear Girl,

I have the unexpected privilege and pleasure of penning you a hasty note before quitting Camp Kellogg. Yesterday our horses and Saddles were all shiped, and today we were induced to get ready. My blankets are all packed, and my haversack is filled with two days rations. Most of the tents are ready for packing and altogether it looks like moving. It reminds me of camp life in old Virginia. It would be an interesting scene to you. But my time and space will allow me to say but little. Long ere you get this novel letter, I shall be far on my way to Dixie and I would’nt write now, only that you may know that amid the bustle and confusion of preperation for departure, I have not forgotten you, and for fear it may be a long while before I will write to you again. Again, dear Maggie good bye. Old Michigan, good bye. Remember me Maggie, it will be long ere I See you again, But you won’t forget me will you? I must close. Things look like moving.

Ever Maggie, I remain,
Your own,
Matthew

 

The 6th Michigan left for Washington, D.C. on the following day attached to the Provisional Cavalry Brigade, Casey’s Division. Upon arriving they were employed in the defense of Washington, D.C.

Baird would not be able to write to Maggie again until December 23rd, 1862.

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Who’s Matthew Baird?

Maggie Bowker, HCP Collection

Baird’s letter to his girlfriend Maggie has a decidedly romantic tone, and perhaps references their future union. This letter also indicates when he received the image posted on this page.

Camp Kellogg
Dec. 7th, 1862

My own Maggie,

I now sit down to answer your letter of Nov. 26th containing your likeness. I received it the next evening after my last letter to you. I thank you very much for your picture, and you may be Sure I was glad to get it before we left for the south. You need make no apology on account of the picture, for it is not only a good one, but is a fac-Similie of “Maggie”. There is only one objection I can find with it, if you will permit me to make it, and that is, it would have looked better if you had worn your hair long. O, Maggie you will let your hair grow out, for my Sake, won’t you? What will more beautifully, or more chastely adorn a woman than a luxuriant head of hair. I do not wish to dictate, for it is your privilege to wear your hair as you please but do promise me you will do this for me. By the way Maggie, you haven’t Sent me the lock of hair I asked you for.

My dear girl, I would gladly comply with your little request if it were in my power to do so, but the fact is our regiment hasn’t been paid off yet, and I have been informed that we will not get our pay till we get to Washington. And I have but little money by one at present not near the amount you desire. If we get our pay soon after we get to Washington, as we are assured we will, I will try and send you the Sum. I will do any thing I can to assist you in getting ready for that little event. Indeed, I believe I have an interest in that event too, hav’nt I? I can assure you I wish it were nearer than the prospect at present will soon admit.

We will probably bid adieu to Camp Kellogg and Michigan this week. Our horses will be shipped Wednesday, and we will follow as soon as we can.

I would send you my picture, as you desire, but we haven’t got all our equipment yet, especially our arms, but I can get it with what I have and Send it.

Maggie, it is very cold, and so much confusion in the tent, that I am compelled to close. I thank you for the kiss and with this, return another. Give my respects to Miss Miller and maybe I will write by’ n by. Be a good girl while I am gone and take good care of yourself. I am well.

I remain Maggie,

Your Own,

Matthew

Michigan’s Governor, Austin Blair toured the camp of the 6th Michigan Cavalry and stated that the troops would not be paid before reaching Washington, as Baird reports above. According to the account of Edwin R. Havens of the 7th Michigan Cavalry, many men refused to march without being paid. To read the entire diary held by Michigan State University Archives and Historical Collections, click here.

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Who’s Matthew Baird?

Maggie Bowker, HCP Collection

Camp Kellogg
Dec. 3rd 1862

Dearest Maggie,

I now sit down to fulfill my promise to write as soon as I get to camp.

The weather was rather tedious and consequently tedious riding and altogether we would have had rather a dull time of it but Fred Burgaman [Bergman]came with us and a jollier fellow you never saw. He kept us all in a roar of laughter all the time. The most trifling thing he would turn into a joke and so nicely too that one couldn’t help laughing. We did’nt get here till yesterday afternoon.

We had a beautiful fall of snow this morning, and altogether it looks quite wintry. There is but little contrast between our white tents and the snowy carpet that surrounds them. O; for the land of “Dixie”. By the way, I expect we shall soon depart for that land of trouble. The first battalion of our regiment will probably Start next Friday, our destination being Washington. The other battalions will follow as Speedily as possible. My company belongs to the Second battalion and will be off next. Governor Blair is expected to be here tomorrow to inspect the 6th preparatory to moving.

Company K had their horses allotted to them and I had drawn a splendid animal, but I expect to lose him today as there seems to have been a mistake in the allotment, I am sorry, for he was a complete picture.

It may be Maggie that I shall not have the privilege of writing again till I get down to “Dixie”. I expected to have heard from you when I got to camp, but I was very much disappointed. Indeed Maggie the Mails Seem to be awful Slow coming this way.

But, my dear girl, I must close and now as I shall soon leave our laued [likely lauded] State and many weary miles, and lone hours will Separate us, you must not forget to write often. You well know the pleasure it gives to get a few words of remembrance from a friend. O; then do not forget me, my dear girl, write often. And I assure you, there is one who, when far away, will remember you and think of you.

Good bye for this time and I will write as soon as I get to our place of destination and before if I can.

Yours ever,
Constant and True,

Matthew

(John) Frederick Bergman, was from Hope Township, Barry County, Michigan.Born Nov. 14, 1832. German, immigrated in 1855 with his family. Enlisted in Company k, 6th cavalry Oct. 18, 1862 at Hope for 3 years at the age of 28. Mustered Nov. 11, 1862. Wounded in action at Newby’s Cross Roads near Amissville, VA on July 24, 1863 and transferred to the Invalid Corps April 10, 1864. Discharged at Louisville, KY, Oct. 18, 1865 when his service contract expired. Very little information can be located after his discharge, but he is found living with his son Henry, a farmer, in the 1900 census, he is widowed. Frederick married Harriett E. [Galloway] Bergman c. 1879, though it is not clear if she was his first wife. She passed on Jan. 25, 1900. Harriett was a housewife and all of her 3 children were still living at the time of her death. She died of paralysis of the heart, which had apparently been afflicting her for over a year. Frederick died Jan. 22, 1922 and is buried in the Cedar Creek Cemetery in Barry County.

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Who’s Matthew Baird?

 

Maggie Bowker, HCP Collection

Camp Kellogg
Sept. 18th, 1862

My own Maggie,

I once more sit down to address you a few lines, as I presume you will be glad to hear from me often. I am well yet and camp life begins to feel like home life again. When I mail this I shall send you my likeness in citizen dress and when I get my uniform I will send you it again in a case, if I don’t come to bring it. One company received their uniforms yesterday, and I presume we shall all get them soon. O, Maggie I forgot to tell you in my last letter that Jefferson and Belle were married. They were married the Thursday before I left home. It was quite unexpected by the most of the neighbors, and of course it took them by surprise. They came over to see me before I came away, but their stay was very brief. They are going to keeping house soon.

I wish you would write as soon as you this, and direct to Grand Rapids, care of Capt. Anderson.

Excuse these few lines. Adieu.

Ever Yours,
Matthew

~~~~~

Who’s Matthew Baird?

Margaret “Maggie” Bowker. HCP Collection.

During his recuperation (February 1862 – August 1862) after leaving the 3rd Michigan Infantry, Baird likely met or was reacquainted with the woman who would later be his wife, Maggie Bowker. September 18, 1862 is the first letter Historic Charlton Park holds addressed to her after Baird returns to the service.

The Bowker’s were some of the earliest settlers in Barry County, Michigan. The family’s first settler was David Bowker, the first landholder in Hope Township in 1840. In 1847, Maggie’s father Silas Bowker moved into Hope Township. George Baird, Matthew’s father, also settled the same year. Bowker’s four children attended the Mott Schoolhouse, which was situated on the same property as the town’s cemetery in 1848. The school also served as the Old Baptist Church for many years where Silas was an Elder and preached many sermons. By 1850, Silas Bowker owned 160 acres of land near what is Bowker Lake today.

The Bowker’s and the Baird’s likely interacted frequently. Besides being neighbors, both George and Silas held many elected township offices through the 1850s, including Supervisor, Treasurer, Overseer of the Poor, School Inspector, and Clerk.

In 1850, Maggie is nine years old living at home with her parents, Silas and Margarette Bowker, and her three brothers and sisters. In 1860 she is still at home in Hope Township with her parents and her brother David. She and Baird correspond frequently through the remainder of the Civil War. It is obvious that they will marry, providing Baird survives the war. The later stages of the war find her envelopes show a return address in the Croton Township area of Newaygo County. It appears that either she and/or her parents have moved out of Hope Township towards the end of the conflict. After Baird is discharged and returns home in 1865, they marry on March 4, 1866 in Allegan County, Michigan. They were married by Maggie’s father, Silas.

Maggie and Matthew reside near Hickory Corners (near Cedar Creek), Michigan in Barry Township after their marriage according to the 1870 census. His parents are both deceased and we find no one left at the old home site. His parents are thought to be in unmarked graves at the Cedar Creek cemetery.

On July 2, 1875, his longtime companion and letter correspondent Maggie passed away. She was only 34 years old at the time. There is no evidence that they ever had any children and her cause of death is listed as “paralysis”. Maggie is buried in Cedar Creek Cemetery, near her parents’ grave sites, with Mathew close by.

Although, Historic Charlton Park is not in possession of a photo of Matthew Baird, we are lucky enough to have one of Maggie. The image here was likely taken during the war.

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Who’s Matthew Baird?