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].

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Who’s Matthew Baird?

Washington, Feb. 28th, ‘63

My Dear Father,

I received your kind letter of the 23rd and I’m glad to hear you got my money. It is considerable risk to send money by mail now, but Still, it is about as Safe as any way. A portion of our regiment was mustered in for pay to-day, but as a large portion of it is away, it may be Several days before we get it. The rebel General Stuart, a few nights ago, made another raid across the Rappahannock, and Several thousand troop, among them Six companies of the 6th Cavalry, were sent in pursuit, and So we Shall not get our pay untill they return. We Shall expect them in camp every day now.

I Shall not be able to Send you quite as much this payment as I told you in my last letter, as it has become necessary for me to buy a watch (don’t laugh) and I am to pay half this pay day and the other half the next pay day. I am to pay sixteen dollars for it and I have been told by those capable of judging, that is worth twenty, So you see I am doing well enough. I will Send you twelve dollars this time and as much more as I can. I am glad you have concluded not to break up house keeping, for Mary, as it is now, I fear, would not do very well among strangers, and Lucy  would be entirely neglected, and to have the little ones thrown upon the mercy of Strangers would be too bad. And I know of no one in the neighborhood, in whose care I would like to trust the farm.

Under present circumstances you could not let it [farm] out to any one to a good advantage, for help is so scarce that every back will have all they can do to work their own farms. And besides this you have a great deal of loose property of various kinds that you could not possibly sell and, which of course you would have to Sacrifice, I think the very best thing you can do is to Stick to the farm, And though it may be lonely for a while, Still we must consider that there are other homes that are lonely, and that God doeth nothing wrong, let us put our whole trust in him. This promise is that his grace Shall be Sufficient for us. I got a letter from Sammy to-day. He is well, and is doing well, he says he has laid up one hundred and ten dollars, up to the first of last December. His letter was dated Feb.21st and he said he was going to try to send you some money the next Friday, it will probably reach you before this. I will send you some as soon as I can, in the meantime, believe me,

Your Affectionate Son,

Matthew.

 

Mary and Lucy Baird were 15 and 8 respectively at the time of their mother’s death. Another sibling, Thomas, was 13 years old, but would have been useful around the farm.  The care of his daughter’s may account for George Baird’s swift remarriage in October 1863 to Antinet Baker.

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Who’s Matthew Baird?