Baird mentions many locations in this letter to his sweetheart Maggie Bowker. Please click here to open a map detailing the route he likely took.

Fairfax C. H. Va.
Wednesday, June 24th, ‘63

My own dear Maggie,

You will doubtless be surprised to find that I am at Fairfax to-day after receiving My letter of the 20th. But I don’t expect to be here at this time (2 p.m.) to-morrow. We didn’t leave here Saturday as we expected, but finally got started about 2 p.m. Sunday. We went out on a reconnoitering expedition, towards the Rappahannock. We rode out as far as five miles [illegible] and Gainesville (Where I got your letter of the 14th this morning) and Stoped for the night. I was on picket all night. About ten next morning we were again on the move, and reached Warrenton about noon. This is one of the most beautiful towns I’ve seen in VA.

Between Centreville & Gainesville we passed over a portion of the Bull Run battle ground. I will spare your feelings, however, & and not describe what I saw there. At Warrenton we halted untill near night, when our brigade, leaving the ballance of the column (there were three brigades in the column, all cavalry & artillery) passed out on the route towards the Rappahannock, and marched untill about midnight, when we again halted at a place called Beales’ Station on the R.R. five miles from Falmouth, the 5th Mich. Cav’l continued the march to the Rappahannock, a portion of the regiment crossing the river, the remainder of the brigade passed at the Station untill late the next day (yesterday) when we again moved off returning to Gainesville by another route, leaving Warrenton to the right. We bivouacked at Gainesville last night, and this morning at early light were again on the move, arriving here about 12 hr.

We are not allowed to pitch our tents, however, as we expect to march again ere night, (rations are now being issued for the journey.) It is said we are going to Harpers Ferry; but I don’t pretend to know, for it is impossible for a soldier to tell anything about what he is going to do until after it is accomplished. There was another fight (at Smoker’s Gap in the Bull Run Mountains, I have been informed) on Sunday, our forces again coming off victors, we heard the cannon plainly from here in the morning, & untill we got nearly out to Gainesville, where it ceased. I expected we would have a fight on our last trip, Surly, but we didn’t See a reb.

Well Maggie, I received your kind, fond letter of the 14th this morning, and though I was Somewhat low Spirited, when I was call up from my Starlit bed, owing to my fatigue, but your dear letter revived me greatly, and be assured, dear girl, the Sentiments it expressed are fully appreciated.

Oh; what raptures it brings to the soldier’s heart. Surrounded by so many dangers as he is, to know & feel, that there is one behind him, whose heart beats for him with the warmest of love’s impulses. Oh; Maggie, I know you love me, and believe me your affection is received gratefully, & returned with the warmest devotion. Your kiss I received thankfully, only wishing it were real, a dozen in return.

Now this letter is very lengthy, & I’ll write as often as I can. My love to all, write as often as you can,

Goodbye for this time,
Truly & affectionately yours,

Matthew

Upside down at the top: I have left your father’s letter unanswered for want of time [illegible].

~~~~~

Who’s Matthew Baird?

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