This letter was written by Theophilus Bernard (“T. B.”) Baxter (1819-1864), the husband of Harriet Silloway and the father of Mary Jane Baxter (1844-1923) to whom he addressed this letter, datelined from a camp at Bridgeport, AL. Theophilus, a native of NH; and Harriet, a native of VT, lived together as man and wife for six or seven years in Berlin, VT, before they were married by Rev. Sherman Kellogg at Montpelier on 7 November 1841. The Baxter’s lived in Fayston, VT until 1847 when they relocated to Michigan, eventually settling in Grand Rapids.
A teamster in Grand Rapids before the war, Baxter enlisted at the age of 43 in Co. F, 2nd Michigan Cavalry and was given duty as a ferrier and teamster. Unfortunately Baxter did not survive the rigors of military duty to return to his family in Michigan. According to pension records, he died in a hospital at Knoxville, TN on 12 March 1864 [another source says 17 Feb] where he was sent in January. The attending physician gave his cause of death as chronic rheumatism but attributed it to his military service. National Cemetery interment records reveal that he was originally buried in Knoxville but later moved to the Knoxville Nat’l Cemetery.
[Note: This letter is from the personal collection of Patrick Stewart of Scottsboro, AL and is published here by express consent.]
Headquarters Co. F, 2d Reg. Michigan Volunteer Cavalry
Camp at Bridgeport, Alabama
October 20th 1863
Dear Daughter Mary,
You must excuse me for not writing sooner for we have been on the move so much that I could not get time hardly to write to your Mother. I am not with the regiment but with the teams. We have to travel and forage for the teams as we go. I have to forage for my horse that I ride. We have been here a few days—the only stop we have made in about three months.
The regiment is in three battalions. One is about 20 miles from here in Alabama. The other two are in Tennessee and 40 and 60 miles from here. We are under marching orders at nine this morning, I suppose towards Tennessee. It is about three now.
I have not heard from your Mother for about three weeks but suppose that she is about ready to go to Vt. by this time if she has got money. I have not received any in four months. I am afraid she may be short. I think that we should get pay the first of next month. If we do, I have over $70 coming but I hope she will get along. I do not think of anything more to write so please excuse me and write often. Do not wait for me to write. Give my love to all.
Ever your affectionate father, —T. B. Baxter
I will write a few lines to my sister.
Dear sister—I am well and hope these few lines will find you all enjoying the same blessing. As I have written all that I can think of to M., you must excuse this time. I have just written to G. this morning Please write often. Do not wait for me. That picture I should like to see very much but should like to see the original better.
To my sister, Bertha, with much love. —T. B. Baxter