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?

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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

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Who’s Matthew Baird?

John C. Dillin’s home, also enlisted in 6th Michigan Cavalry, Co. K, now located at Historic Charlton Park

Matthew Baird re-enlisted as a Corporal in Co. K of the 6th Michigan Cavalry on August 30, 1862 for 3 years. Baird’s enlistment records show he makes his living as a farmer. The unit was organized in Grand Rapids, Michigan and was settled at Camp Kellogg. Camp Kellogg was located in an area now bounded by Union, Lyon, Michigan and Prospect streets in downtown Grand Rapids. Co. K was comprised almost entirely of soldiers from Barry County, Michigan. He even served in the same unit as John C. Dillin, whose home is now at Historic Charlton Park.

Co. K was mustered into service on October 13, 1862, but did not leave Grand Rapids for the East until December 10, 1862. When the men left Grand Rapids, they had horses and equipment, but did not receive their weapons until arriving in D.C. Each company was also assigned the same color horse – A: bays, C: greys, L: sorrels, etc. The 6th Michigan Cavalry, comprised of 1,229 men, made its way to Washington D.C. and was encamped at Meridian Hill until the spring.

Unlike his previous enlistment, Baird spends much less time in the hospital. He spends a couple of months in the hospital in late 1863, but otherwise is always present on all muster rolls, and was even promoted to Sergeant in March 1864. He was apparently thriving in the cavalry until he was captured at the Battle of Trevilian Station on June 11, 1864. He would go on to spend 6 months in Andersonville Prison before being exchanged in Savannah or Charleston in November or December of 1864. He was ill throughout much of the rest of his service and worked as a farrier until his discharge in November of 1865.

After returning to Michigan, he wasted no time in marrying his constant correspondent during the war, Maggie Bowker. They were married March 4, 1866 in Allegan County, Michigan. More of Maggie’s story will be revealed as the letters commence.

Sources

Record of Service of Michigan Volunteers in the Civil War, 1861-1865, vol. 36. Published by Ihling Bros & Everard, Kalamazoo, MI. 1905.

History of Allegan and Barry Counties, Michigan, with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Their Prominent Men and Pioneers. Published by D.W. Ensign & Co., Philadelphia, PA. 1880.

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Who’s Matthew Baird?