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?

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?

In this letter, Baird writes home to his future wife, Maggie Bowker about his hopes for the future. The letter is much more poetic than his recent letters with expressive turns of phrase.

Washington D.C.
Thursday, Nov. 5th ‘63

My dear Maggie,

Taking into consideration the prospects and hopes of the future, how slowly the time moves along; yet predictably, it is Swifter than the fleet footed deer. We look away and into the future, panting & thirsting for the undeveloped enjoyments which, we fondly hope, it holds out to us, and we murmur & seem disappointed because those hopes are not realized to us Sooner.

One long year has fled Since we last met, Since we parted. I had flattered myself then, that ere another Autumn had Seared the forrests And browned the fields, we would be made happy in each other’s Society & love. But Providence has otherwise ordered.

The Same passions that then agitated the public mind of our country, still continue to rage. The same urgent voice that echoed over hill & dale, calling men to battle for their homes, is Still heard; And the Same conflict, in which is invalued The Sacred principles of universal liberty, Still continues. That year has passed, the future of that year has been reached; but does it bring the coveted object? No, it does not. But it does Seem to increase that desire – The desire for the return of peace, and the enjoyment of those blessings which flow from peace. You do not know how much my thoughts turn to the closing period of this conflict, & the opening of another period in which, is involved the happiness of us both. Yet that future may, like the future of the past year, bring but a bitter disappointment, But I have reason to believe, & predict different. Another Autumn will usher in, & welcome the Sweet harbingers of peace. Joy, throughout our land, will take the place of crying & mourning. And those who now so boldly grasp the weapons of death, will return to caress the loved objects of home. Every day brings Some new evidence that the Rebellion is Sinking, Slow it may be, but sure. The great question, whether the American people are able to govern themselves, will soon be decided. And it will be decided in the affirmative.

I am glad you had so good a visit at “Cousins,” but I regret you did not make a longer stay at my father’s. I gather from your letter that you Simply Stoped there, I was in hopes you would, for my sake, make a visit. But I will not reproach you for this, only I’m sorry you didn’t. I was marked for my regiment a few days ago, but I do not know when I will go to it. Direct as usual, till you hear from me again. I presume when this reaches you, you will have got all my other letters, & you will have to write a long one to answer them all, at least I shall expect a big one.

Write me all the news, My love to “Cousin Mary,” when you write her,

Yours Affectionately,


P.S. Yours of the 28th came yesterday, M

Who’s Matthew Baird?

Baird has not written home to his father in quite a while. In this letter he discusses home matters primarily and gives his father advice. Unfortunately, the haste of his penmanship makes this letter very difficult to read. Can you help? Thank you!

First page of Baird's letter. HCP Collection.

First page of Baird’s letter. HCP Collection.

Washington D.C.
Monday, Oct. 19th ’63.

My dear Father, Your letter of the 12th reached me Saturday, being only three days on the road. I was glad to hear the money reached you Safe. I wrote you on the Same day, enclosing a draft of 20 dollars, I do not know how much money I have Sent home, not having kept any account, but think it is very near 124 dollars. You did not mention the probable Sum you would have to pay for the colts you wish to buy; nor their age, but I Should prefer that they were quite young.

If you can turn the [illegible] you have into a good span of colts I would do it. And turn them toward the money I have let you have. But don’t go in debt for them, Tell me their age, color, and value $ & C.

With regard to the Wing Willison affair I will not venture any advice, but will simply tell you what I would do. It is far better to “suffer wrong than to do wrong.” And, though in this case you will Suffer. I Should pay it, and then ever after be careful how I made business contracts on Sunday, and with what kind of men I made such contracts. Were not the School District to be the loosers it would be different, and then the thing might invoke you in lawsuits and trouble, and in the end you be a greater looser than to pay it now.

You will suffer now but verily Wing Willison will have his “reward.”

You say you have had a deed of the Bob Kelly lot made out to myself and Sammy, and I will now suggest a thought which perhaps has not touched your mind. It is this. Should anything happen to Sammie or myself, or both of us, so that one or neither of us Should return home, would not those deeds involve your law difficulties from having to go through the Probate Court? I hope I may be wrong, but it is first a thought.

Third page of Baird's letter. HCP Collection.

Third page of Baird’s letter. HCP Collection.

I would dearly love to be at home to have a Share of the cider, but drink my Share & call it mine. How near will you Square up all [illegible] of this fall? I was in hopes you would be pretty much clear. If I do not go

out to the front before I get my next pay, I will then Send home my watch and try and get my picture for Lucie. I wish you would get a family picture & Send it to me, of all that are at home. I have Sent Several newspapers home lately. I have off and on Since I came here, do you get them? If you do not I will Send no more. I mailed a Harpers’ yesterday to Mary & a Chronicle to Robert this morning. I do not feel so well to-day as usual, but I expect to be able to my regiment Shortly. Meade is again on the Potomac. Skirmishing every day, battle expected hour, Spirits of the Army good. I have faith & confidence in Meade.

Write Soon & frequent,


The Willison family was one of the first families to arrive in Barry Township, Barry County, Michigan.

Samuel and his brother James, Wing’s father, brought their families from Cayuga Co., N.Y. in 1837. One of the first schools was in the Willison district of the township, church services were also held in this school prior to the Baptist Church of Barry having its own home. Wing was a farmer in Barry Township, but was also active in Hope Township where he bought out C.P. Larabee’s pioneer store c. 1855. He does not appear to have married and lived with his brother Martin in his later years. He died in September of 1914 and you can see his death certificate here.


Who’s Matthew Baird?

Matthew Baird and his daughter Carrie Ethel, c. 1900. Courtesy of the Connell Family.

Matthew Baird and his daughter Carrie Ethel, c. 1900. Courtesy of the Connell Family.

Exciting news! Early in September, the Park’s curator received a call from a distant Baird family member that had stumbled across this blog. Our hopes of finding a photo of Matthew Baird were finally fulfilled! The image to the right is of Matthew Baird and his daughter Carrie Ethel Baird, likely taken around 1900. Thank you so much to the Connell Family for allowing us to share it with you!

Washington D.C.
Sunday, Sept 27th ‘63

My dear Maggie,

Although it is very difficult for me to write, Still I must try and pen you a few lines. I am So weak it is hard to work for me to write. I Sit up but little of the time and I get, oh So tired lying abed all day. But this will not last long, I hope to get Stronger Soon. A poor fellow from the State of New York, whose cot was next to mine, died this morning at 11 ½ o’clock. His soldiering is finished, and he has gone to render his account. Oh how necessary it is that we Should be prepared, “for in an hour that we think not, the Son of man cometh.” Fred Bergman is going home on furlough. He Starts next Tuesday, Oh how I wish I could go with him.

Well, Maggie, I have not heard directly from my regiment since I left, but by other means I learn that in crossing the Rappahannock a few days ago, it was tiribly cut up. It was placed, as usual, in the advance. It is four weeks to-day Since I had a letter from you but I presume there are letters for me at my company.

I sent for them, when I first came here, but they don’t come along yet. Maggie, I wish I could write more, at least more that would interest you, but my stock of news is exhausted, and I am compelled to be brief.

I don’t hear from home. Oh! how I would love to hear from home again. But I must close. Remember me as usual to all the friends.

And believe me, dearest,
Your own,


Who’s Matthew Baird?

Washington City
Friday, July 31st, ‘63

My dear Father,

You will be surprised, no doubt, to find that I am in this city.

But the incessant & rapid marches which our division has performed Since the 25th June, had used nearly all of our horses up, they being either killed or worn out, rendering  it necessary for us to recruit. So last Sunday we were ordered to return all our unserviceable horses & report to this place for fresh ones, but many of our horses gave out entirely on the way, my own among the number.  Of course we lost all our equipments & after we arrived the authorities failed to provide us with the necessary equipments & so quite a number of us had to remain behind. John Irwin is with me here.

My dear father, you have, no doubt, frequently heard from us through the papers, and of the valuable services the Cavalry regiments have rendered this campaign.

Since we left Fairfax the 25th June, the 6th Mich Cav’l has been engaged in eleven different battles & Skirmishes & I have been with it every time. Just a week ago today, we had a hard brush with a large force of the enemy, at Battle Mountain, near the Blue Ridge. In that fight Company K lost two men killed & two wounded.

One of those killed is, I have to lament, my much esteemed friend Jonathan Smith. He was Shot dead as we were advancing. I have written to his mother. The other killed was Ira Kelsey.

The wounded were Jimmie Hunt in the right shoulder slightly, & Fred Bergman in the right leg just above the ankle, fracturing the bone to some extent. I saw Fred to-day. He was very cheerful & Said if he got able to do Service he was willing to go back & try it over again. He is doing well now, He is in Mount Pleasant Hospital Ward No. 2 Washington.  The patients are all well cared for. You may tell Johnathan’s Mother that She can draw a pension of eight dollars per month from the date of his death, if she makes application for such pension before the expiration of one year.

I am now in what is termed a Dismounted Camp near Alexandria, Va. There is a large number of Cavalry waiting here for horses, I could not tell now when we Shall leave. We may Soon, we may not in Sometime. We came here yesterday before I could finish this.

My health is tolerable good, Johnny is well, as were all of the boys when I left.

Love to all

Dismounted Camp
Near Alexandria, VA.
Aug. 1st, 1863

As mentioned in a previous letter, Jonathan Smith was killed near Amissville, Virginia on the slopes of Battle Mountain near Newby’s Cross Roads.

John Irwin enlisted in Johnstown Township in Barry County, Michigan in 1862. He was made Corporal in 1865 and mustered out shortly after. He married Priscilla Sams in 1866 and settled in Kansas where he was a farmer. They had 4 children together. He died in 1943 at the age of 100 and is buried in Centralia Cemetery in Nemaha County, Kansas.

John Smith is listed in a previous entry. Ira Kelsey enlisted in Co. K in 1862 at the age of 36 and was killed in action at Newby’s Cross Roads, Virginia on July 24, 1863.

James Hunt (Jimmie above) and Frederick Bergman were discussed in a previous entry, and their wounds were not fatal.


Who’s Matthew Baird?

Head Quarters 6th Mich Cav’l
Picket Camp, Fairfax Co., VA
Sunday, May 24th, ’63.

My Own Maggie,

Your fond letter of the 14th reached me yesterday. You can only imagine, by the feelings of your own heart, the pleasure & assurance it gave me. The pleasure of hearing from her I love, and the assurance that her love to me, remains constant and devoted. Your letter finds me well and enjoying the best of Spirits. It still finds me loyal to my country, firm to my government, & Strong in the defense of liberty and the universal rights of humanity.

By the date of this you will See that we are Still doing picket duty. Col. Gray having received orders to remain here thirty days longer. About the tenth of June we will be relieved, after that I cannot tell where we shall go.

We are now having some of the most delightful weather I ever saw, and you would be surprised to see how fast vegitation has come on with a few weeks. It is extremely warm today, however, but nothing more than we can expect in the Southern clime. Well, Maggie, the young man of whom I spoke (David Baird) is a resident, I think, of Yankey Springs, Barry County. He is all right now. He is a real fine fellow, but Married? Having given his name to his girl a few days after he enlisted.

I got a letter from Sammie a few days ago. He Sent me his likeness and I tell you he looks So well and rugged. He is much larger than when he left home, & as he has not been sick any, of course he has grown. They say that he is now Six feet high. Mr. Holman, the man who owns the old place you used to have in Barry, belongs to the Same company. He has been home on a furlough, & says that Sammie is well and hearty.

Alvira Seber’s husband had got his discharge and has returned home. They say that he is as fat as a pig. I got a letter from Leissa a few days ago. She and my Uncle are keeping house, now, when you go to Barry you must go to see her. I have never had but one letter from David Since I left home He owes me a letter now I think he is very negligent to forget an old friend. Perhaps his business is so extensive he can’t find time. Doubtless this is it; his family, you know, is [_ _] large, you must remind him of an old friend & acquaintance, who is now down on the Potomac, when you go to Barry will you?

Now Maggie, you must not worry So much on my account, for there is no danger of my being  wounded here, and as long as we are in this business I think I Shall enjoy good health. We may possibly go to the front by & bye, but not right away. There has been a great deal of talk about our regiment going back to Washington, as promised Guards of the city, but I hope not. We will have better health here, & then I like active service much better. You must excuse this poor writing, my pen is good for nothing. Remember me to all friends and be assured you have my constant and tenderest affection,


David Baird, born in Ireland, married Anna Miller on October 22, 1862. He enlisted in Co. K of the 6th Michigan Cavalry on Sept. 24, 1862 and deserted on July 1, 1863. He obviously returned home, and had nine children with his wife, although only 5 were living at his death in 1911. He was not related to Matthew Baird and his family.

Alvira Seber was born 1841 in New York. She is living in Barry County in the 1850 census with her mother Edith, and two brothers Moses and Lyman, we found no record of her father. She married John C. Coleman between 1860 and 1864. John served in the 10th Michigan Cavalry, Co. F during the Civil War. Alvira and John they had 4 children together, but 1 died at a young age. Alvira died at the age of 39 and John died 5 years later in 1886 of stomach cancer. They are both buried in the East Hickory Corners Cemetery in Barry County.


Who’s Matthew Baird?