Portion of Aug. 19th entry, from HCP collection.

Baird’s second diary begins on August 19, 1861 with his thoughts on life and love of country. There is a second entry dated August 19th, which discusses life in camp. Due to this repetition, we are posting the first entry early. The second specifically addresses camp life and the military and more of a standard entry, using the first diary for comparison. Hunter’s Place was on the Alexandria, VA side of the Potomac River.

Diary of Camp Life Or a few Practical Thoughts and Observations on what I saw and heard in the Army

Headquarters Hunters

Place, Camp Hunter
August 19, 1861

There is perhaps no sentiment so dubly or so strongly implanted in the bosom of man as the love of country.

This Sentiment is a natural one. It grows up with a man from his infancy. Hence its depth – its strength. But it begins at home.

Throw a peble into the stream and the eddies that form around the place where it strikes become larger and wider till they vibrate to the utmost limit of its shares.

Thus with man, his love of country begins at the hearth-stone on which falls the whitened ashes, & dying embers of the evening fire. It begins where he first feels the merest joys of childhoods hours.

It begins where he first participates in the innocent pleasures of his schoolboy days. He first learns to love the flower beds and garden walks, which his earliest recollection tells him were planted and formed by his mother’s hand.

Next, the surrounding fields, the hills, the tiny vales, the murmuring brooks and the “deep tangled wildwood” attract his attention, and around which cling the affections of his youthful heart. Soon however his ideas expand. In his loved schoolroom he studies Geography. Then in his imagination he views wide extended plains, lofty mountains, broad, deep rivers and populated cities. He sees cultivated fields, busy workshops, and numerous mercantile establishments.

Next his quick perceptive faculties take in the Government with all its different branches, its administrators, its advisors, its supporters, and its dependants. He sees mighty armies, large fleets and an extensive commerce.

And here he begins to comprehend the greatness and glory of the nation. Then the light breaks in upon his mind and he exclaims, my country, my native land. For this he is willing to sacrifice all that is great in life. The easy arts of home, the society of friends, the acquisition of property or the property which he may have, and even life itself. For his country the true patriot will endure without complaint every privation, and hardship, hunger and thirst, toil and fatigue, and even sickness and death. When Peace with all its blessings smiles upon his country and his home, when with her balmy breath she cools and soothes the flames of contention, and spreads the fragrance of to every fireside, then he thinks only of his home and the loved ones there.

But when the fires of war are lit up. When the terrible foe is marshaling in battle array and the bugle sounds; to arms, dutifully he the haunts of peaceful life, rallies to his countries flag and goes forth nobly to battle for his nation’s honor, as his countries rights.

Thus it is at the present time. Every emotion in the patriots bosom has been mastered. He has been called forth to meet a foe, terrible and evil. Not a foreign foe. Not a foe that is contending merely for a question of honor, or to seek redress for a broken treaty or a simple question of territory. It is a questions in which is involved the liberties of thirty millions of people. A question which [illegible] at stake one of the best governments God ever permitted to rule on earth. A question which if lost on our side, will result in the establishment of one of the most tyrannical despotisms that ever disgraced God’s footstool. But we trust this will not be the case. In God is our refuge and our strength. He is our Rock, our Light tower, and the refuge of our nation. And the many mustering thousands of freemen who respond so nobly to their countries call in this greatest hour of danger, with a humble, yet confiding trust in the Rules of Nations, tell us that we shall succeed in quelling this haughty, ambitious and virulent foe, and thus unite still stronger the bonds of our hitherto prosperous nation, and place upon a firmer basis the foundations of our glorious Republic.

Then let us put forth every effort in our power. Let every freeman awake to his duty. And “Let this be our motto in God is our trust. And the Star Spangled banner in triumph shall wave. Over the land of the free, and the home of the brave”.


Who’s Matthew Baird?