Baird, Lewis – Old Letter Recalls
Firm Union Loyalty In Civil War – Nearly a century ago these
United States were disunited and torn apart by one of the bloodiest
and conflicts in history, the American Civil War, or, as some would
call it, the War Between the States. Campbell County played a vital
role in that conflict, sending many soldiers to the colors, most
of them to the Northern forces. Many of these never returned to
their farm homes in East Tennessee.
as well as soldiers were victims of the war, one of these civilians
being a venerable Campbell Countain who was over 60 years old when
the war started in 1861. He was Lewis M. Baird who lived on upper
Elk Fork and who died in a southern prison because he would not take
an oath of allegiance to the Southern Confederacy but remained
firm in his loyalty to the union.
Mr. Baird was born in North Carolina, August 22, 1795. His father
died when he was a small boy and soon after he came to Kentucky
and located near Jellico. As a young man he moved to a homestead
on upper Elk Fork and there he was arrested by Confederate soldiers
in October of 1862. His devotion to the Northern cause was well-know
since four of his 11 sons had become soldiers in the Federal army.
After his arrest,
Mr. Baird was taken to a southern prison at Salisbury, North Carolina.
He was urged to take the oath of allegiance to the South, being
told he would be released and allowed to return home, but he refused.
It is said that Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy,
called on him and tried to persuade him to take the oath but Mr.
Baird remained firm in his refusal.
Letter from Prison
(click to see copy)
Nearly 93 years ago – on April 29, 1864 – a
fellow prisoner of Mr. Baird wrote a letter for the older man and
sent it to S. C. Baird, one of the sons. The letter is as follows:
To the Sons of Lewis M. Baird:
“I, as a comrade
of your father in prison, deem it my duty to write to you at this
time to let you know his present condition. He is in the hospital
and to all human appearances must soon be numbered with those who
have been taken from the evils of this world. There is no particular
disease apparent but old age, and confinement has done its work.
Having become acquainted with him ever since his arrest, and been
with him ever since, he now seems like a father to me. I can truly
sympathize with you. We have slept together and I have been able
to obtain many little necessaries for him. He has stood it very
well until lately. I have often heard him say that he would love
to know how you all were, and let you know how he was, but he never
got to hear from any of you at home.
have often talked to the old man upon the subject of religion.
He always expressed himself as being prepared, which is a great
consolation. I assure you that all that is possible for me to do
shall be done for your father. Pray that God in His great mercies
may spare him yet to return home. He wishes for me to say if he
does not live to see you in this world, that you will strive to
so live as to meet him above where parting and sorrow is no more.
“Very Truly Yours,
Mr. Baird, a member of the First Baptist Church at Elk Fork,
died some time later.
Some years later – in 1898 – S. C. Baird went to
Salisbury in search of his father’s grave but failed to identify
Children And Grandchildren
Lewis Baird was the father of William Baird (father of Jess H.
Baird), Mary Perkins, Rachel Baird Stanfill, Samuel Baird, David
Baird, Jesse Baird, Z. D. Baird, Joseph Baird, Andy Baird, Louis
Baird, Flem Baird, and Pryor Baird. He was the grandfather of Z.
D. Baird, Dr. C. R. Baird, M. E. Baird, M. L. Baird, J. B. Baird,
Frank Baird, Mrs. D. G. Nobles, and Mrs. G. F. Lay.
Civil War actually ended not far from Salisbury. In May of 1865
the Confederate force of General Joseph A. Johnston, the last Southern
army of any size east of the Mississippi, surrendered to Gen William
T. Sherman. The surrender was at Durham, North Carolina, about
60 miles northeast of Salisbury.
For more information please see the old
letter image contributed by Lewis Baird's ggg-granddaughter