Thomas J. Baird Orderly Book
Scope and Contents
A manuscript orderly book of 1st Lt. Thomas J. Baird of the U. S. Army, kept during 1818-22 while commanding detachments of artillery at stations in New York, South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, and Virginia. The book is a single bound volume (33 cm.) of 85 leaves, with 134 pages of manuscript entries in various hands. The entries begin on 16 November 1818, with Baird assuming command of the detachment. Entries follow on a regular basis for the next four years, to 17 October 1822, when Baird was at Bellona Arsenal. The content of the manuscript changes noticeably with Baird's first arrival at Amelia Island (October 1819). Prior to that time, Baird's entries consist mostly of copies of orders relevant to his command, from general orders to garrison orders issued by Baird himself. There is also a full descriptive roll of the 70 privates and musicians who had enlisted in Baird's detachment in 1818-19, as well as a register of desertions (41, in about a year) and a clothing account. These various rolls contain entries up to August 1819. After Baird's initial appointment as commissary, his entries consist almost exclusively of copies of his official correspondence. Much of this, of course, is dedicated to matters of subsistence and supply. But given the frequent diversity of Baird's duties, the letters necessarily touch on many additional aspects of command, as well as the distinctive cultural and climatic conditions faced by soldiers posted to the Southern coast. Of particular note are the letters from Amelia Island (1819 and 1820-21). Not only was the island remote and difficult to supply; it was the object of an ongoing territorial dispute with Spain, resolved only in 1821 when the U.S. took formal possession of the Florida territory.
Bound in to the front of the volume is a printed title page for The Papers of Captain Thomas J. Baird, Third Regiment of Artillery, U. S. Army. Consisting of Letters Received and Copies of Letters Written by Him, Together with Other Documents, 1813 to 1828. Being the Period of his Military Life. The text continues: "Arranged by Henry C. Baird. In Six Volumes . . . Philadelphia: 1848." "Vol IV 1825-1826 has been crossed out, and the words "Supplemental volume" added in manuscript. It does not appear that Baird's papers were ever published. This was likely a title page prepared for a multi-volume collection of Baird's manuscript letters by his son, Henry C. Baird, a Philadelphia publisher.
- Creation: 1818-1822
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Biographical / Historical
Thomas J. Baird was born on 30 April 1795 in Dublin, Ireland. He and his father immigrated to the United States following the elder Baird's release from an Irish prison in 1804. In 1813 Baird entered the United States Military Academy at West Point, graduating a year later ranked 23rd in his class. Upon graduation he was commissioned 3rd lieutenant in the light artillery, and served in the War of 1812. He was promoted 2nd lieutenant in August 1816 and 1st lieutenant in June 1818. After a period of duty at Fort Gibson in New York harbor, Baird was assigned to garrisons at Fort Johnson and at Castle Pinckney, in Charleston harbor, as commanding officer of a detachment of Payne's (3rd) Company (1st Battalion, Corps of Artillery, Southern Division). He remained at Charleston from December 1818 to August 1819. He was then sent to Fernandina on Amelia Island, off the north Florida coast, where he filled the first of a sequence of staff positions—in this case, acting assistant commissary of subsistence (October to December 1819). At Fort Wayne, Savannah (January to July 1820) he was appointed assistant commissary of subsistence, before returning to Fernandina in July 1820; in October of that year he was appointed battalion quartermaster. After about a year at Fernandina Baird was posted to Bellona Arsenal near Richmond (October 1821 to October 1822), where he once again served as assistant commissary. At each of these posts Baird occasionally found himself in overall command. Baird remained in the army for several years more, rising to the grade of captain before resigning his commission at Frankford Arsenal in Bridesburg, Pennsylvania (1 May 1828). He married Elizabeth Catherine Carey in November 1822, had at least one child—Henry Carey Baird—and died in Pottsville, Pennsylvania on 5 April 1842.
Language of Materials
A manuscript orderly book of 1st Lt. Thomas J. Baird of the United States Army, kept during 1818-1822 while commanding detachments of artillery at stations in New York, South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, and Virginia.
- United States. Army. -- Supply and stores -- History (Organization)
- United States. Army. Quartermaster Corps -- History (Organization)
- United States. Army. Corps of Artillery, Battalion, 1st (Organization)
- Thomas J. Baird Orderly Book
- Jacob Baska
- June 2009
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