Awarded Medal of Honor
George William Baird is one of the first five local notables inducted into the Milford Hall of Fame. George William Baird was born December 30, 1839 in Milford, Connecticut.
His ancestry in America dates back to 1639, and includes in his father’s family line Captain John Beard, a soldier in the defense of Connecticut against the Indians. His family on his father’s side is descended from Thomas Hooker, the founder of the Connecticut Colony. His father, Jonah Newton Baird was a farmer who died while George was very young. It was his mother, Minerva Gunn Baird, who George owed all the success in his life to because she made him into the man that any soldier would want to follow.
Born in 1839, George formed habits of hard work when he was young because a strong constitution enabled him to begin work on the farm when he was only nine years old. Unoccupied time was unknown, and in the accomplishment of work he had undertaken he gained great satisfaction. Although most of his time was spent on typical farm work, reading and study were never neglected. For formal education, he attended Hopkins grammar school and graduated in 1859, entering Yale University at once which made him one of a tiny elite. In 1862, during the Civil War he enlisted as a private, but despite his absence due to military service, he received his diploma in 1863 with his class. Even though he devoted his life to a career in the military, he always found pleasure and recreation in the reading of history and poetry.
His military career began when he enlisted in the 1st Battery of Connecticut light Artillery in 1861. As a result of a competitive examination, he was promoted from the rank of private immediately to that of colonel in the volunteer army. After the appointment to colonel, he participated in several battles in South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. The 1st Battery made an expedition to James Island and participated in operations against Charleston S.C. from May 31st to June 28th 1862. The major part of the expedition was the battle of Secessionville on June 16th 1862. Later he was made Colonel of the 32nd Regiment of the U.S. colored troops. The 32nd Regiment was ordered to Hilton Head S.C. in April 1864, and stood duty there until June. When the Civil War ended he decided to make a career out of the military. He completed his engineering course at Sheffield Scientific school 1866, and in May of that year he was appointed second lieutenant in the regular army and in 1871 he became the adjutant-general of his field command.