J.R. Baird Collection

Transcribed by: Wanda Ray

Transcription Date: 2.10.2006


At Home

(word) Place March 19th/63


Dearest Mama

Oh could we but hear one word from you this morning! Or were we gifted with so much of (word?) as to know that you were still better and improving.  What a relief it would be to many hearts now anguished and bowed down with sadness and uncertainty.  I reached here last Saturday night (14th) just 8 days on the way from Aunt Viccas.  In the rain in the mud and water and dangers thick.  Left old Tom at Bro Thompson’s broke down and done up.  Came to the Valley – 7th Bridge gone – Paid $15 to be carried to Dr. Fishers in a dugout and swam Jim Polk most of the way 4 miles.  Then by wading high and swimming some around Murdocks and South, got to martins that night.  There I was compelled to leave Jim and in a dugout got to Burns that night 3 ½ miles.  He live snow over Bean Creek on the 16th Sec.  next day a tiller (words?) dirt eating follow one of Beans (word?) brought me home around through Quiver and only charged me $20.  Cheap. But I could do not better and was crazy to see home and “our baby” and boys.  Found all well for which and my preservation I felt thankful and humble rejoice.  The water is just now where we left it last May when we went out up to front gate and still rising slowly from 1 to 1 ½ inches per day and night.  Tom has leveed his whole place above last year water.  We have levied “nary” foot and I know whether I shall.  Col. Jones says we will have less water than 58, others that it will be higher than last year.  If the opinion any or all be correct I am just as well off without as with all the living I can do and we not the force or means to levee against last year and 58’s water will not hurt me.  I seen it will be like last year all under.  I won’t try and save my meat.  Speaking of meat – Those hogs are in the pen get and the beef also.  There has a boat gone the S. Flowers tho Dew Drop.  Will be back in 4 or 5 days I think will try and sell, or get them off on her return.   Jo and Tom.  I don’t know what to do with them.  They have done badly since I left.  Fight, fight all the time.  I’ve made an arrangement for them with (words?) but how to get them there is the question now.  I am afraid to send them in a dugout and I know no other way.  The price of board is very different from what we heard.  It is $16 2/3 instead of $12 per mo. Tho, that as cheap as I would board in these scarce times.  I recon they will have to remain till the water get down.  Aunt Sooky has done little or nothing in the way of gardening and has no young chickens.  Says “I ain’t guine to hatch chickens for overflow to drown.”  The old Jude!  I told her never mind the overflow.  Attend to your chickens and garden.

Bobbi does not grieve about his “mamma” now tho (word?) says every day as tho he would go off and take care for his mamma.  He was the only one at home when I arrived.  He was playing with the little Negroes and didn’t see me till I rode into yard.  He stood somewhere before he would come to me.  He was actually so ragged and dirty that he was ashamed.  After hugging and kissing me, he ran off washed and dried.  “Now Papa I am clean let me kiss you good and for mamma” .  He is a precious boy, but you know that – He gone now over “Sissie Manies” and to (word?).  So I and Tom are alone

Page Two March 19, 1863


or rather I am all alone for I have not seen Tom for hours.  Yes “Mamma” I am very lonely now.  I am setting where you and I have so often sat together and can but think of things that ought not to be thought of  – Separation.  That pale face the grave!  Oh what would I and the children do?  Poor Bobbie and Vic.  Ay All little and big (words?) surely not.  Oh no.  “Mamma” will come back improved and herself again.  The possibility of a different fate renders me so uneasy and restless that I see no peace, day or night for if I forget you for a moment, Will and John one one or both take your place.  And even if I would deceive myself into moment any ease or joy, here is this everlasting flood staring me in the face and threatening to cover up everything.  ‘Tis rising now at the rate 2 inches in 24 hours and covering all the river plantations.  Tom Lee thinks it will be higher than last year.  My only hope is that this water will run out before the ice comes down but some the ice is melting already, if so we a “ruined people.”  Levies nor anything else will do any good if there is no ice to melt.  That tho’ crazy have been open all (word?) if do we shall have no very big river – March 23rd.  I did not get my letter off by the Dew Drop as I expected she did not stop as she went down but swift but will return in a few days.  Moll is here but Bobbie home sick.  He had fever all day yesterday and last night, is still in bed.  Can’t eat, stomach terribly out of order.  I am giving him Quiine to day and I hope he will be all right in a few days.  – Dear Ma.  I know not what we shall do, for I have no hope hearing from you or the Boys and this suspense will worry me just into another spell of (word?) and wasting away.  If Will should get a discharge and you improve as I do hope you may, you and he had better come home as soon as you can get in.  Then we can start about the middle of June for N.C. however of this you be the judge and do as you think best but how to do without saw I don’t know.  (word?) you are of “no account” when at home but some we can’t do without “Mamma” .  You are a necessary evil and one that we would rather have than without.

At this moment I been hearing cannonading on the direction of Yazoo City.  Heard it all day yesterday (20) – fear Greenwood is gone up and Yazoo likely to follow.  We can hear nothing here now, all communications cut off in every direction.  You will no doubtly know more of our situation than we can ourselves.  But this we can very well understand if Yazoo and Vicksburg fall we down here are in the hands of the enemy for there is near no chance of escape anyway.  We are completely hemmed in on all sides both by water and this “universal Yankee”.  If I were as you are or if you were as I am (and where I am) you would and might much property say “O Lord of Grace truth and mercy help us be our shield and Rock of Defense in this our the time and hour of great

Need.”  But as for me I can only look and endure and let the Lord’s will be done.  Oh my dear old wife.  If this is not a dark hour in the history of our fate I am a poor judge of the signs of the times.  But into the hands of Him that seeth not as man seeth but doeth all things right do I commit myself, you, the children all and all we have and are.


In much love I am

Yr. Husband

J.M. Baird



Dr. Baird (J.M.) wrote to his wife in the hills from his plantation on (word?) Bayou, – (word?) Washington, afterward Sunflower Co.