Below is the first letter, in Historic Charlton Park’s possession, that Baird wrote home to his parents George and Mary.

Camp Blair 
Washington D.C.
June 30, 1861

First and last page of letter home. HCP Collection.

Dear Parents,

                        I presume before this time you have heard a great many remarks concerning our regiment and the war, but they are mostly rumors without the facts.  There is but little done as far as I can hear, in active operations except now and then a slight skirmish.  And some are of the impression that there will be little or no fighting at all.

            The last week a skirmish took place at Mathias Point [Matthias’ Point, Va] on the Potomac between a small reconnoitering party and a large body of rebels in which Capt. Ward of the Pawnee was killed and a number of his men severely wounded, one mortally.

            Last Friday I paid a visit to the Capital.  I visited the Capitol, Patent Office, and Smithsonian Institution.  It would be impossible for me to describe in this small sheet all that I there saw.  However in the first place I ascended to the top of the Capitol where I had a splendid view of the whole city.  I then descended to the interior of the building and trod those places which three months ago I little expected to ever see.  I went to both houses of Congress, but visitors are permitted to go only in the galleries at present on account of the repairing being done.

            I then went to the Patent Office.  My time was so short that I could not pay particular attention to all, but I got a glimpse of the moot and especially of those things so closely connected with the history of our country.  The equipment of [George] Washington, his clothes, army shot, a fragment of his tent, and many other things too numerous to mention. 

            The Smithsonian is a place well worthy the attention of any one.  Here is a Museum in which is collected a vast number of the curiosities of Nature.  The different species varietals and specimens of animals, birds, reptiles, insects, plants and minerals brought from different parts of the globe form a study highly instructive and interesting.  There is also a large picture gallery.  of the most of the paintings seem to be portraits of distinguished Indians.  In the center of this gallery is a splendid statue of the dying Gladiator.  But when I come home I will tell you more as my space here is too limited.  A few days before I left the Rapids I sent my satchel to Hastings to Beiley’s Store in the care of Uncle Tommy or Mrs. Dickerson, but I have not thought to speak of it before.  And now I would say a few words with regard to my trunk.  I have a few papers there which if you have not yet taken out I would request that you would not disturb until I come home.  I have not as yet received any news from home and I begin to feel anxious to hear.  Wm Fox is regaining his health fast, and is so as to be out.  Our boys are much better than when I last wrote.  I have sent three papers which I presume will reach you before this.  My health is good, and time passes swiftly away.  I do wish some of my old comrades would write to me.  Remember me to all my friends. 

Your affectionate Son,

Matthew Baird


Who’s Matthew Baird?