Lewis M. Baird was a resident of Campbell County, Tennessee during the Civil War. He was a Union sympathizer and had four sons serving in the Union Army. According to family stories, Lewis was taken prisoner by the Confederate Army in October of 1862 for refusing to take the oath of allegiance to the Confederacy. He was sent to Salisbury Prison in Rowan, North Carolina, an old cotton factory that was converted into a prison during the war.
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 appearance must soon be numbered with those who have been taken from the evils of this world. There is no particular diseases apparent, but old age and confinement has done its work. Having become acquainted with him soon after 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.
I 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 will 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 hm above where parting and sorry are no more.
Very truly yours,
Lewis died on May 11, 1864 and is buried with an estimated 5,000 other Union soldiers on the grounds of Salisbury prison. This plaque is at the prison: