J.R. Baird Collection

Transcribed by: Emily Weaver

Transcription date: 2.8.2006


Sunday, June 17th 1861

Home for the present

My Dear lost boy!

I wrote you immediately on the reception (at Vicksburg) of your very unexpected letter from Columbus to Jackson town; since which we have received other letters saying that you are stationed at Union City “awaiting & expecting” a fight at Cairo.  Of course you have not or had not read mine from Vicksburg to say you did wrong in going off, you did.  I cannot wish I know more of the motives, which activated you, but this I will say & do say that you had sufficient scope for all your energies & patriotism here at home in the protection of your dear mother who dotes on you; of sisters & little brothers & that dear  poor little infirm helpless mortal who loves her “beloved Johnny” like her own soul whose heart was nigh to bursting when your letter was read.  I say nothing of your poor old father – in consideration of his soul, perhaps he is “ a thing apart”, not worth protection.  But so.  But surely you should look to those I have named.  Perhaps you think you are doing so by the course you are pursuing.  It may be so, remotely, and ultimately.  But here is the [word?] parent – Right here on our little Bayou cut off from every body & [word?] at this very moment, are 120 negros to 5 white men, counting Jo one, for Key is gone.  Cousin Tom Lee is in Texas – gone to see his father, Tom, G., myself


(page 2 of same letter)

Jo, Dozen & Thompson constitute the home guard & yes there is Dave Lee.  6 of us in all & in my state of health, what could I do?  Jo?  But don’t think I am fault-finding.  I am only presuming that you acted hastily.  But it’s done now & can’t be remedied.  You are now in the service.  All I can now say is, act well your part.  Be a man.  Be a soldier and a gentleman. Recollect you represent “revolutionary” reputation on both side.  The Bairds now Ruperts never show their backs to the enemy.  You are satisfied of the justice of our cause.  Then defend it & trust in Him who ruleth the armies of Heaven; numbereth the hairs of your head.  Then if fall you must, we shall miss you much – we shall weep when sad memory brings the light of other days among us.  Silent forever will be the fields & the barn.  The joyous laugh & “yell” we will hear no more.  But it will not be gruff without some allay of comfort.  We will not grieve as those that have no hope.  We will say that he has gone to seek a soldier’s reward and sing the old Irish Caranak which your dear mother has sung you so oft “He is gone on the Mountain. His last to the forrest be”  To Duncan comes no morrow.  You recall it?

John, I am sad & lonely – sick weak & worn in body & mind and thinking about these things make me chill again.  The bare possibility much up the probability, that one this reaches its destination ‘tho to whom it is addressed may fill a soldiers grave overcomes & makes me childish & forget the great struggle in which we are engaged.  But again I look around me & see hundreds of worthless drunks, idlers – only 30 miles at Camp Humphries are 80 or 10 of such – Why not they instead of my darling boy.  Oh tis too sudden!!  Too big a sacrifice!! I am alone – only Tom  & Bobbie with me.  Mama & Will are gone to Columbus to see sister Kittie & attend to the business left undone by

Page Two June17, 1861


you.  Vick & Jo are with sister Mary – she will be here in the morning & will keep house for me most of the time your Ma is gone, which will be some 3 weeks.  Tis awful hot & dry though the crop looks pretty well – hastening the cotton.  Corn is now beginning to suffer. All well – not a case so far.  Now dear Boy, write often, every chance & keep us posted as to your health, your [word?], and the progress of the war & whenever your duty is done & you can get an honorable discharge, come home.  Your Mama takes your absence up to heart, seemingly though any of us save Jo.  “What of it?” What of [word?] about all he says.  Did I tell you Cousin Billy Baird, Beale & Jim Smith, Fulton Weaver, Cousin Victor Baird, Zeb Vance & all are in the army in Virginia at Richmond I think.  So you see you are not the only representative as you supposed.  Goodbye, my boy.

Your Pa,

J.M. Baird



On the outside of the four-page, folded letter, it is addressed as this: “John R. Baird, of the ‘Tombusbee Rangers,’ Union City, Tennessee or Kentucky”