Absalom Baird, grandson of a surgeon in the Revolutionary Army, and great-grandson of a lieutenant in the French and Indian Wars, was born at Washington, Pennsylvania, on August 20, 1824. He was graduated from Washington College and in 1849 from West Point, ranking ninth in a class of forty-three. Commissioned in the artillery, he campaigned against the Seminoles in Florida, instructed for six years at the Academy, and did a tour of duty on the Texas frontier. Baird transferred from line to staff at the outbreak of the Civil War and was present at First Manassas as adjutant of Tyler's division. In the spring of 1862 he took part in the Peninsular campaign as inspector general and chief of staff of the IV (Keyes's) Corps. Appointed brigadier general of volunteers on April 28, Baird's subsequent Civil War career was in the Western theater. As a division commander under William S. Rosecrans, and later under George H. Thomas and W. T. Sherman, he played a prominent part in all the operations of the forces which swept Braxton Bragg out of Tennessee, held the famous Horseshoe Ridge at Chick-amauga, maneuvered Joseph E. Johnston from Dalton to Atlanta, and moved through Georgia to Savannah and up the Atlantic coast until the final capitulation by General Johnston in North Carolina. However, Baird was never advanced beyond divisional command, nor were the several recommendations for his promotion to major general of volunteers acted upon. At the end of the war he was brevetted major general in both the volunteers and the Regular Army, mustered out of volunteer service in 1866, and reverted to his regular rank of major and assistant inspector general. He served at various times as inspector general of many military departments and, in 1885, was appointed inspector general of the army, first with the rank of colonel and, in the same year, with that of brigadier. Retired in 1888, he died near Relay, Maryland, on June 14, 1905, and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
Reference: Generals in Blue. Lives of the Union Commanders by Ezra J. Warner. Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge.