Dec. 2

The past, to my last date, has been a blank to me as far as regards military matters. The 7th Oct. I was taken very sick. The 17th I was conveyed to regiment hospital and the 19th was removed to Georgetown to the Seminary Hospital.

I was detained there four weeks with a heavy fever, and then again, 17th Nov. was removed to this place; U. S. General Hospital, Annapolis, MA. I have been here two weeks today. I forget to say that the 4th Brigade removed from Camp Albany to Fort Lyons  two miles below Alexandria, on the 14th Oct. I have heard nothing definite from the 3rd since I left. They are however in the same camp.

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Civil War Washington  is a wonderful website with a plethora of information on Washington, D.C. during the Civil War. The site contains information about soldiers that were housed in the Seminary Hospital Baird mentions above, and also gives us our first clue to Baird’s ailment – typhoid fever.

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Who’s Matthew Baird?

First page of Baird's letter, HCP Collection.

As Baird’s father’s previous letter implies, Matthew has been sick for some time. The last time he recorded anything in his diary was October 2, 1861. The nature of his illness is not known at this point, but he transferred to many hospitals, as later diary entries will show. Unfortunately, we do not know to whom this missive was written.

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General Hospital
Anapolis, Nov. 19th, 1861

Dear Friend,

I presume by this time you think I have quite forgotten you, but when I tell you that I was taken sick only a few days after I wrote my last letter to you, and have been ever since, you will excuse me for not writing before. I was taken sick and laid in my tent over a week. I then went to the regiment hospital and in four days after was conveyed to a hospital in Georgetown, D.C. where I remained four weeks. I left my bed last Wednesday, and yesterday I was brought to this place where I expect to remain untill I have fully recovered my health and strength. I have no doubt you have long been looking for your paper, and the Daguerotype, I have had no opportunity to obtain either. I shall not send you my picture till I am somewhat recruited, or I am thin now it would be only a scare-crow.

As I have been away from my regiment so long I have not much news to send you. But I presume you have already heard of the Success of the late naval expedition.  Our troops in connection with the fleet have taken possession of Port Royal and Beaufort in South Carolina (very important points) besides a portion of the rail-road between Savannah and Charleston. This is the most important news I have to send you. You must, and I know you will be kind enough to excuse me the shortness of this letter, as I have half a score of letters received while sick that remain unanswered. I only wrote two while sick and both of those I wrote home. I write you these few lines, so you will know I have not forgotten you.

Write soon and believe me as ever your Sincere Friend                                                                        Matthew Baird

Anapolis, Maryland

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Who’s Matthew Baird?

Aug. 26th

Portion of Aug. 26th entry, HCP Collection.

Today I paid a visit to the 4th Mich. Regt.  to see one or two old acquaintances. This is a healthy robust looking regiment. It is stationed at half a mile west of Fort Corcoran and forms a part of Sherman’s brigade. The 4th is at present engaged in building another fort in a commanding situation to the right of their camp. The work has progressed finely since they began. The boys seem to be in good spirits, jovial and full of life. On my return I passed Fort Corcoran, which presents quite a formidable appearance. It is situated on the opposite side of the river from Georgetown and has a command of the town and river, and the road leading down the canal, beside a large range of country to the west. Passing through one or two other camps,and down the canal road I soon arrived in camp.

Going out on picket.

I had not been long in camp before the alarm was given and the 3rd was called out to relieve the picket guard in the advances. This is a pretty particular duty and in this war has thus far proved to be a very dangerous one.

There seems to be so much antipathy existing between the Union and the rebel troops that a sight of each other is temptation enough to draw fire. Quite a number have been killed on both sides in such cases. Company E [Baird’s company] are posted along the road at short intervals in squads of six. While several other companies are thrown out still further in the advance.

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Who’s Matthew Baird?