In this letter, Baird tells of the Rio Hill Skirmish and the thwarted Kilpatrick-Dahlgren Raid that took place at the end of February 1864 that he alluded to in his previous letter. General Kilpatrick’s goal was to free 15,000 prisoners of war being held in Richmond, while General Custer was to provide a distraction by attacking from the other direction. The plan was not successful and the descriptions provided by the above links do not directly correlate with Baird’s reporting.

Stephensburg, Va.

Sunday, Mar. 5th ‘64

My dear Girl,

I again sit down, after the lapse of another week, to pen you a few lines, though I have anxiously awaited and watched each Mail for a word from you. But I have been Sadly disappointed. It is now two weeks Since you last came to me. I have been fearful that you were sick; but I trust not. My health still remains good, and may this find you enjoying that blessing in every sense of the word.

We are having delightful weather, we may say much enjoying Springtime. The little birds awake us every morning with their songs. I have never seen so beautiful weather. I believe I told you in my last letter that Gen. Custer had just gone out on a raid. He returned last Tuesday night, after two & a half days weary marching having penetrated into the rebel lines as far as Charlottesville. He destroyed four large government mills, with their grain and flour, burned a large binder, drove the rebels out of two encampments, captured and destroyed [illegible number] Cavalry Saddles, took 400 horses & 50 prisoners, and returned with a loss of, perhaps, a half dozen men.

H Kirkpatrick started also at the same time, going round on the rebel right. The Washington Chronicle of yesterday states that his expedition penetrated to the outer works of Richmond, after distroying an immense amount of railroad bridges, mills & other valuable property, but finding the oposition there too strong, he withdrew and fell back into the lines of Gen. Butler’s department. His loss is stated at less than 150 men, he having several skirmishes on the way. The object of the expedition was the liberation of Union prisoners at Richmond but the strength of his force was not eaqual to the task.

It will probably be some time before the division returns, 20 men from Com. “K” went out. Henry Ward was one of them. Friend Kahler is detailed at the Brigade Train. He was over here to see me this morning. He is well & wishes he be remembered.

Well, Maggie, I have given you about all the news, so I will close for this time hoping to hear from you soon when I will write more.

In the meantime,
Maggie, Believe me,
ever your own,


Hd. Qrs. 2nd Brig.
3rd Division C.C.
Washington, D.C.

Jacob  Kahler was from Prairieville in Barry County, Michigan and enlisted in Co. K of the 6th Michigan Cavalry in 1862 at the age of 20. According to his obituary, he drove General Custer’s headquarters wagon and was discharged in 1865. He married Mary Ward in 1867 and moved to the Charlevoix/Petoskey, Michigan area in 1883. They had 3 children and Jacob was a farmer prior to his death. He is buried in Greenwood Cemetery in Emmet County, Michigan. You can read his obituary here and see his death certificate. John can sometimes be a nickname for Jacob.


Who’s Matthew Baird?

Stephensburg, Va.
Wednesday, 24th Feb. ‘64

My dear Father,

I received your note with Cousin George’s letter a few days ago. I was glad to hear from him though his communication was unexpected. He Seems to be doing very well, And his hopes of rising in the world are very Sanguine. I heartily wish him entire Success. Our pay master Major Nicols came out and paid us two months pay last week and I will enclose in this an allotment for twenty dollars and also the bill you Sent me. I did not have a chance to use it, So I will return it for Lucy. I understand we are to get paid again in a few weeks.

We had another grand review [photo similar to what Baird describes] yesterday, near these Hd Qtrs. The troops reviewed were those of the 2nd Army Corps (Infantry) and Gen. Kilpatrick’s Division of Cavalry, and some artillery.

The President I understand, was here to witness the review.

There is an important movement of some kind on foot, and the troops that were out yesterday will, I think, participate in it. I have no doubt that we are destined for the Peninsulas. The Capture of Richmond & the release of our troops held there as prisoners, oppose to be the defect in men. Senator Howard from Michigan was here last week, & in a Short address to the officers and men of our regiment, intimated as much. But then I do not pretend to know this to be the case but from what I have heard and observed, this seems to be the design.

I am not very well at present though on duty. We had some pretty hard riding yesterday & being So many hours in the Saddle wearied me considerable.

I was over to the regiment a day or two ago & the boys are all well. Quite a number of recruits came for our regiment last week, filling up the “vacant ranks” considerably. It is only a Short time Since I wrote, so I will conclude this soon. I am now coppying my Diary and will send it to Robert, and if you find it interesting you may all read it, It will give you Some idea of how checkered is a soldier’s life. The weather is delightful, and the roads in Splendid condition.

Remember me to [illegible] and Cousin, and with love to all,

I remain,


This article provides more information on Senator Howard’s part in the above and why he was in D.C.


Who’s Matthew Baird?

Baird has received letters from Dwight Tousley previously, to read more about him and his brother Duane, click here. He mentions many other fellow soldiers in this letter, links to more information have been placed at their names.

Camp Michigan, Feb. the 12th, 1862

Friend Matthew. I have just Rec’d you letter of the tenth Inst and was very sorry to hear such news from you for I had almost began to look for you here but as that cannot be I will do all I can for you at least for I know how to pity a poor inmate of the Hospital especialy at Annapolis for I got tired of it while I was there but I will dwell on this no longer. I went Immediately to the captain after reading your letter & found that your clothes had been overlooked after being packed up ready to send to you untill yesterday morning when the captain started them to Annapolis I suppose you will receive them before this reaches you the captain was sorry to hear that you were sick again after being detailed in the hospital And so were the boys. Mr Ward  was very well satisfied with his tickets but said he did not look for any thing of the kind until he see you again you had not need of sending those tickets to me for remailing your letters for the quarter more than paid me for all the letters I have sent you excuse my blunders if you please I meant to mention the quarter that I got of Drake but I know you will excuse me when I tell you I wrote this in an awful hurry to get it done before Dress parade so that I can send it on its errand early in the morning W.K. Ferris had gone home before I came from Annapolis, I must tell you about our new guns we have got the Austrian

.54 Caliber Lorenz Pattern Austrian Rifle, Mfg. 1860. Supposedly carried during the Civil War. HCP Collection

Rifles and they will do good shooting from 120 rods to A half mile Duane and Andrew Killpatrick  have gone home on A furlough of 30 days the rest of the boys are all well I believe but Abrams Eddy he is in the Hospital at Alexandria you will find enclosed some stamps to mail letter to me with Well Matthew I guess I have written all the news but forgot to tell you how I am getting as tough as A Bear again and weigh the same as I did last summer Well Matthew I will not tire you by writing any more this time but if there is anything more I can do for you please mention it and I will attend to it immediately this from your ever faithful friend   Dwight Tousley

Write soon and let me know Whether you have received your clothes or not

Abrams Eddy was from Clinton County and enlisted at the same time as Baird. He was discharged in October 1862 in Edward’s Ferry, Maryland. To see an image of his tombstone, click here.


Who’s Matthew Baird?

Last pages of Kilpatrick's letter. HCP Collection.

To see a photo of this letter’s author and an image of his grave, click here.

Camp Mich Feb the 12

Friend Matthew Baird

It is with pleasure that I take up my pen to adress you  A few lines to let you know how I get along  I am well and enjoying good health and wish that you were the same  I am very sory to here that you are still in so bad A situation in helth. Andrew Kilpatrick like yours self has ben sick all fall and winter he went home on A furlow for 30 days on the 30 of last month. I advised him not to come till he gets better. dear friend I would advise you to get A furlow or A discharge and as soone as you are able to stand the ride home to do so  I know that you do not want A discharge, for you used to tell us what your mind was in that respect. do not be offended at this advise which I have given you, you have done your duty faithfully as A soldier of the union and being deprived of good health you should at once get discharged that is as soone as practicable  there is now use of your throwing away your valuable life, but I feel that I am advising one that would like to be with us but let us remember that all is for the best  let us pute our trust in God and all will  be well with us. dear Brother it is still my determination to prove faithful to the greatest and best causes that we have to do while on earth. I hope you still Trust in that arm that is able to save you and dear Friend if we never mete here again on Earth let us while live here on Earth live so as to mete in Heaven. as it is about time for dres parade I will have to close Pray for Me and I will do the same by you and may God bless you and keepe you from all harm is the Prayer of A Friend              James Kilpatrick

To Matthew Baird

Ps dear sir you will excuse my bad scollaship Yours truly           Js Kilpatrick

James Kilpatrick was from Barry County and enlisted in Co. E of the 3rd Michigan at the same time as Baird. He was discharged for disability at Upton’s Hill, Virginia on September 30th, 1862. He  passed away in 1899 and was buried in Bliss Township, Emmet County, MI. To learn more about James and his younger brother Andrew, mentioned in the letter, click here.


Who’s Matthew Baird?