In this letter, Matthew Baird writes an account of the 6th Michigan’s activities during the Battle of the Wilderness and the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House, and several others. This series of battles resulted in heavy casualties, but instead of pulling back to regroup after such losses, Grant decided to continue the advance that would eventually lead them to Richmond.

Raid on Richmond
Malvern Hil
Mar James River, Va.
May 16th, 1864

My dear Maggie,

I write this upon historic ground. The battle field of Malvern Hill is one of the bloodiest on record & is now the site of the present encampment of the Michigan Cavalry Brigade. When I last wrote you we were pleasantly situated near Culpeper a few miles north of the Rapidan. I did not think then that our army would move so soon, nor did any one. And though we were looking for a movement, yet we were taken by surprise. We received the order to march the evening of the 3d. & by 6 a.m. the 4th our regiment was in line.

We marched to the Rapidan the 4th & crossed at Elyis [Ely’s] Ford the 5th Camping for the night on the Chancellorville battle field. Early the morning of the 6th the division pushed out to the front, at that part of the country called the Wilderness. Here we found the enemy, fought them pushing them back. The 8th Mi marched to Spotsylvania C.H. [Court House] Where we found the 5th corps engaged with the rebels. We then marched back to our train & halted for the night. The 9th, the rebels cavalry Corps moved out no one – that is, private troops – knowing our destination. By noon we had gained the rear of the rebel army & marched rapidly on to the Va. Central R.R. where we arrived first in time to liberate 300 of our troops that had been taken prisoners the day before in battle, captured three trains of cars, three locomotives, and a large amount of commissary stores. All of which we distrowed [sic] loosing [sic] two men killed.

The 10th we moved towards Richmond camping for the night on the south bank of the Pamunkey River. The morning of the 11th, as the column began to move out we were attacked by a small force of rebels in our rear. This was soon dispensed with & we marched on without interruption until we arrived at Mountain Road Station on the Fredericksburg & Richmond R.R. within 7 miles of Richmond. This & about 8 miles of railroad we burnt, at the same time engaging and fighting the enemy, again whipping them capturing 4 pieces of artillery & over 100 prisoners. We camped on our battle field for the night. The morning of the 12th, we moved out passing within two or three miles of Richmond City. At Meadow Bridge on the Chickahominy River we found the rebels fortified and ready to dispute our passage. They detained us half a day. We fighting them all the time, we routed them at last and the column moved on without further annoyance until we arrived at Gaines Mills where we halted for the night. The night of the 13th we camped near Bolton Bridge on the Chickahominy and the 14th we moved up to and halted on Malvern Hill. Here we are now, and I am thankful that I can say, although we have had hard marching, scanty fare, & no inconsiderable fighting I am well. And I know you will rejoice too, Maggie. In the fight at Meadow Bridge I were placed in great danger by a couple of shells thrown from the rebel battery. But thank God I still survive. Only one man in Co. K has been hurt since we crossed the Rapidan, & that was our Leiut. [sic] C.P. Pendill, one of the bravest & best officers in the regiment. He was badly maimed in our first fight on the 6th. I do not know what our destination will be nor how long we will remain here. We are in sight of the James River & our gun boats, a heavy cannonade was heard up the river this morning, & I have no doubt we will move soon. In the meantime, dear Maggie, you will remember me in your prayers, I know you will not see to pray for me.

I will write at earliest opportunity & you may direct your letters as usual Company K are our on picket, this gives me leisure to write now.

Remember me to all the friends at home, & should you go to Barry before you hear from me again, give my love to my folks, & be sure to make them a visit. Though I have written a long letter, yet it does not contain half what I’ve seen during the last two weeks. But, you will excuse me this time, & I trust I shall be able to tell you the whole story at some future day.

Be assured dear Maggie you have my constant love, & with a loyal & true kiss,

I remain ever,
Yours, affectionately
Company K, 6 Regt
Mich. Cavalry
Washington D.C.

Lieutenant Cortez P. Pendill was from Prairieville, MI and was commissioned as second lieutenant in March 1863. He was wounded during the Battle of the Wilderness on May 6, 1864. He was commissioned as Captain in July of 1864, but was discharged for disability in September of the same year. He passed away in Hickory Corners, MI on April 11, 1891.

Who’s Matthew Baird?

Camp Stoneman
Friday, Nov. 13th ’63.

My dear Maggie,

I left the hospital last Saturday and am now at the dismounted camp near Washington, but Shall probably Start for my regiment to-morrow. I would have written before, but I have been waiting to hear from you. But I as I leave so soon I will wait no longer. I haven’t heard from home Since your wrote from Hickory Corners.

You will now want to direct your letters to my company at first. Well, Maggie, now do you enjoy yourself? And how do you find things up in Newaygo [Michigan]? Do you have Sleighing up there yet? The weather is delightful here. We have had but very little rain, and the roads are as dry & hard as a brick. Fine time for the army to move, Meade gained another victory last Saturday. The advance of the army is now at Culpeper.

I presume my regiment is at that place. There was report of another fight at Fredericksburg yesterday. I have not new of news to write this time, So you will excuse the brevity of this; won’t you? I am not so well as I would wish, but let this create no uneasiness in your mind.

Write me as soon as this reaches you, give me all the news you can, and believe me, dearest,

Ever Your Own,

Company K,
6th Mich. Cav’l
Washington, D.C.


Who’s Matthew Baird?