HOLDING THE FRONT LINE -- WEST VIRGINIA -- JUNE-
FLAT TOP, June 1, 1862. Sunday.--We got our new rifled
muskets this morning. They are mostly old muskets, many
of them used, altered from flint-lock to percussion, rifled by
Greenwood at Cincinnati. We tried them on the hill one and a
half miles east of camp, spending three hours shooting. At two
hundred yards about one shot in eight would have hit a man;
at four hundred yards, or a quarter of a mile, about one shot
in ten would have hit; at one-third to one-half mile, say seven
hundred yards, about one shot in eighty would have hit. The
shooting was not remarkably accurate, but the power of the
gun was fully as great as represented. The ball at one-fourth
mile passed through the largest rails; at one-half mile almost
the same. The hissing of the ball indicates its force and velocity.
I think it an excellent arm.
Companies B and G went out to Packs Ferry to aid in build-
ing or guarding a boat, built to cross New River
Flat Top Mountain, June 2, 1862. Monday. -- A clear, hot,
healthy summer day. General McClellan telegraphs that he has
had a "desperate battle"; a part of his army across the Chicka-
hominy, is attacked "by superior numbers"; they "unaccountably
break"; our loss heavy, the enemy's "must be enormous"; enemy
"took advantage of the terrible storm." All this is not very
satisfactory. General McClellan's right wing is caught on the
wrong side of a creek raised by the rains, loses its "guns and
baggage." A great disaster is prevented; this is all, but it will
demonstrate that the days of Bull Run are past.
HOLDING THE FRONT LINE--1862 285
FLAT TOP MOUNTAIN, June 3, 1862.
DEAREST: -- I am made happy by your letter of the 24th and
the picture of Webb. Enclosed I send Webb a letter from Lieu-
I am not surprised that you have been some puzzled to make
out our movements and position from the confused accounts
you see in the papers. Our log-book would run about this way:
Flat Top Mountain, twenty miles south of Raleigh, is the
boundary line between America and Dixie -- between western
Virginia, either loyal or subdued, and western Virginia, rebellious
and unconquered. [Here follows an account of the movements
and activities of the regiment during May, which is a repetition in
brief of previous letters and Diary entries.] Here we are safe
as a bug in a rug -- the enemy more afraid of us than we are
of them--and some of us do fear them quite enough. My
opinion was, we ought to have fought Marshall at Princeton,
but it is not quite certain.
All our regiments have behaved reasonably well except [the]
Thirty-fourth, Piatt's Zouaves, and Paxton's Cavalry. Don't
abuse them, but they were pretty shabby. The zouaves were
scattered seventy miles, reporting us all cut to pieces, etc., etc.
Enough of war.
The misfortune of our situation is, we have not half force
enough for our work. If we go forward the enemy can come
in behind us and destroy valuable stores, cut off our supplies,
and cut through to the Ohio River,--for we are not strong
enough to leave a guard behind us.
We look with the greatest interest to the great armies. Banks'
big scare will do good. It helps us to about fifty thousand new
men. . . .
I nearly forgot to tell you how we were all struck by lightning
on Saturday. We had a severe thunder-storm while at supper.
We were outside of the tent discussing lightning--the rapidity
of sound, etc., etc., Avery and Dr. McCurdy both facing me,
Dr. Joe about a rod off, when there came a flash and shock and
roar. The sentinel near us staggered but did not fall. Dr. Mc-
Curdy and Avery both felt a pricking sensation on the forehead.
286 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
I felt as if a stone had hit me in the head. Captain Drake's
arm was benumbed for a few minutes. My horse was nearly
knocked down. Some horses were knocked down. Five trees
near by were hit, and perhaps one hundred men more or less
shocked, but strange to say "nobody hurt."
All things still look well for a favorable conclusion to the war.
I do not expect to see it ended so speedily as many suppose, but
patience will carry us through.
I thought of you before I got up this morning, saying to my-
self, "Darling Lucy, I love you so much," and so I do.
Flat Top Mountain, June 5, 1862. Thursday. -- Rained most
of the day. Want of exercise these rainy days begets indiges-
tion, indigestion begets headache, blue devils, ill nature, sinister
views, and general disgust. Brightened up a little by news that
General Pope has taken ten thousand men and fifteen thousand
stand of arms from Beauregard's retreating army. It looks as
if Beauregard's army was breaking up. Later. News of the
taking of Memphis and Fort Pillow.
General Cox read me a letter from General Garfield in which
he speaks of the want of sympathy among army officers with
the cause of the war; that they say Seward, Chase, and Sumner
are more to blame than Davis and Toombs! General Sherman
said he was "ashamed to acknowledge that he had a brother
(Senator John Sherman) who was one of these damned Black
These semi-traitors must be watched.--Let us be careful who
become army leaders in the reorganized army at the end of the
Rebellion. The man who thinks that the perpetuity of slavery
is essential to the existence of the Union, is unfit to be trusted.
The deadliest enemy the Union has is slavery--in fact, its only
HOLDING THE FRONT LINE--1862 287
FLAT TOP MOUNTAIN, June 5, 1862.
SIR: -- Colonel Little wishes to procure the release of James
McKenzie, of Mercer County, Virginia, now a prisoner of war at
Columbus. McKenzie was taken by Lieutenant Bottsford,
Company C, Twenty-third Regiment, at the time of the fight
at Clark's house, May I. Colonel Little says he knows McKenzie
was always a Union man, and believes his assertion that he
joined the militia under compulsion, that he intended to desert
to our forces, and at Clark's availed himself of the first oppor-
tunity to do so. I therefore recommend that steps be taken
to procure the release of McKenzie.
R. B. HAYES,
LIEUTENANT-COLONEL 23D REGIMENT O. V. I.,
COLONEL E. P. SCAMMON,
COMMANDING FIRST BRIGADE.
Flat Top Mountain, June 6, 1862. Friday. -- Rained a great
part of the night; a cold, foggy morning; but I feel vigorous and
well. . . . I climbed to the top of the mountain to the
right of the camp through the wet bushes and fog and feel the
better for it. We have scarcely tents enough for the officers.
The men build shelters of bark, rail pens, and the like. I
call this "Woodchuck Camp." Our new chaplain, Russell G.
French, is gaining strength and will probably recover. There
is a loose piece of bone still in his leg, but it does not seem
to distress him a great deal. Five of Company C were either
killed or have died of their wounds received in the recent
fight at Camp Creek.
Flat Top Mountain, June 7, 1862. Friday [Saturday] A. M.
-- Still cloudy with hopes of clearing off. This has been a bad
storm, lasting almost a week. No prospect of moving yet. Read
the "Bride of Lammermoor." --I don't like the conclusion of it
--lame and impotent.
288 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
Flat Top Mountain, June 8, 1862. Sunday. -- A bitterly cold
morning -- too cold to snow! Gradually warmed up. P.M. rode
with Avery four or five miles. Our horses rested and fed up
were in high spirits. We are all heartily tired of staying here.
When shall we go? -- Dear Lucy, I think of her very often these
dull days. It looks as if the war would soon be ended, and
then we shall be together again.
Flat Top Mountain, June 9, 1862. Monday.--Still cold
weather. . . . Heard of the taking of Memphis after a battle
of gunboats lasting an hour and twenty minutes. As reported it
was a brilliant victory.
Flat Top Mountain, June 10, 1862. Tuesday. -- Still cold.
A month ago we were driven out of Giles. Over three weeks
of inaction! No news for two or three days either from Mc-
Clellan or Halleck. Fremont is pushing ahead with energy.
Flat Top Mountain, June 12, 1862. Thursday. --A warm,
bright, seasonable morning. Heard of Fremont's battle near
Port Republic. As yet doubtful as to the result; shall look
anxiously for the next news. . . . The battle before Rich-
mond looks better, the more we see of it.
CAMP ON FLAT TOP, VIRGINIA, June 12, 1862.
DEAREST:-- I began a letter to you yesterday intending to
finish it after the mail came in; I can't find it. No loss. I recol-
lect I told you to [give] Mrs. Sergeant McKinley ten dollars on
account of the sergeant, which please to do. I probably also
said that up on this mountain the weather is colder than Nova
Zembla, and that since the enemy left us we have been in a state
of preparation to go ahead -- which means do-nothingness, so
far as soldiers are concerned. I have now an expedition out
under Major Comly, not important enough for a regimental
commander, so I am here in inglorious idleness.
A day's life runs about thus:-- At 5 A. M., one or the other
of our two Giles County contrabands, Calvin or Samuel, comes
in hesitatingly and in a modest tone suggests, "Gentlemen, it is
'most breakfast time." About ten minutes later, finding no re-
HOLDING THE FRONT LINE--1862 289
sults from his first summons, he repeats, perhaps with some
slight variation. This is kept up until we get up to breakfast,
that is to say, sometimes cold biscuits, cooked at the hospital,
sometimes army bread, tea and coffee, sugar, sometimes milk,
fried pork, sometimes beef, and any "pison" or fraudulent truck
in the way of sauce or pickles or preserves (!) (good peaches
sometimes), which the sutler may chance to have. After break-
fast there is a little to be done; then a visit of half an hour to
brigade headquarters, Colonel Scammon's; then a visit to division
ditto, General Cox's, where we gossip over the news, foreign
and domestic (all outside of our camps being foreign, the residue
domestic), then home again, and novel reading is the chief thing
till dinner. I have read "Ivanhoe," "Bride of Lammermoor,"
and [one] of Dickens' and one of Fielding's the last ten days.
P. M., generally ride with Avery from five to ten miles; and
as my high-spirited horse has no other exercise, and as Carring-
ton (Company C boy) is a good forager and feeds him tip-top,
the way we go it is locomotive-like in speed. After this, more
novel reading until the telegraphic news and mails, both of which
come about the same hour, 5:30 P. M. Then gossip on the news
and reading newspapers until bedtime -- early bedtime, 9 P. M.
We have music, company drills, -- no room for battalion drills in
these mountains, -- and target practice with other little diversions
and excitements, and so "wags the world away."
We get Cincinnati papers in from four to six days. My
Commercial is running again. Keep it going. Write as often
as you can. I think of you often and with so much happiness;
then I run over the boys in my mind--Birt, Webb, Ruddy.
The other little fellow I hardly feel acquainted with yet, but the
other three fill a large place in my heart.
Keep up good heart. It is all coming out right. There will
be checks and disappointments, no doubt, but the work goes
forwards. We are much better off than I thought a year ago
we should be. -- A year ago! Then we were swearing the men
in at Camp Chase. Well, we think better of each other than we
did then, and are very jolly and friendly.
"I love you s'much." Love to all.
290 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
Since writing this we have heard of Fremont's battle the other
side of the Alleghanies in the Valley of Virginia. It will prob-
ably set us a-going again southward.-- H.
Camp Jones, Flat Top, June 15, 1862. Sunday.--Had our
first dress parade in five or six weeks last night. No room or
opportunity for it this side of Princeton, May 5. . . .
Wrote to General Hill requesting the commissions of Russell
G. French and Martin V. Ritter. Red-tape is a great nuisance
unless everybody acts with promptness and accuracy in all de-
partments. This we know will not be done. Red-tape must
therefore be cut or important rights and interests [suffer].
CAMP ON FLAT TOP MOUNTAIN, June 15, 1862.
DEAR MOTHER: -- It is a beautiful Sunday morning. We are
on the summit of a range of mountains, perhaps one-third to half
a mile high, giving us extensive views of mountains and valleys
for thirty or forty miles south, east, and west of us. The nights
are cool, often cold, and the brisk breezes make even the hottest
part of the day agreeable. We are exceedingly healthy and with
just enough to do to keep blood circulating, and occasionally a
I hear from home very often, letters usually reaching me about
seven days after they are written. I am rather glad that Lucy
will remain in Cincinnati this summer. By next summer the
war will, perhaps, be ended and we can all spend it in Fremont
together. The boys seem to be doing well in the city and can
afford to wait.
I hope Uncle's health is again as good as usual. It will not
surprise me if he goes up to seventy as you have [done]. It
does n't seem such a great age as it once did. You are no older,
or but little older, as I think of you, than you were many years
ago. -- My love to Laura and all.
Affectionately, your son,
R. B. HAYES,
MRS. SOPHIA HAYES.
HOLDING THE FRONT LINE--1862 291
Camp Jones, Flat Top, June 16, 1862. Monday.--A cold
morning and a cloudy, clearing off into a bright, cool day.
Last night walked with Captain Warren down to General
Cox's headquarters. Talked book; the general is a reader of the
best books, quite up in light literature; never saw the Shakespeare
novels; must try to get him "Shakespeare and his Friends."
The extracts from Richmond papers and Jeff Davis' address
to the soldiers indicates that the Rebels are making prodigious
efforts to secure the victory in the approaching struggle. I trust
our Government will see that every man is there who can pos-
sibly be spared from other quarters. I fear part of Beauregard's
army will get there. Can't we get part of Halleck's army there?
Camp Jones, Flat Top Mountain, June 19, 1862. Thursday.
--Cold, dull, and P. M., rainy. Drilled A. M. Rode with Ad-
jutant Avery and practiced pistol firing in the P. M.
Lieutenant-Colonel Paxton of the cavalry called to see me
about Lieutenant Fordyce. Would he do for captain? Is he
not too fond of liquor? My reply was favorable. He says he
has three vacancies in the regiment. Captain Waller seduced
Colonel Burgess' daughter; had to resign in consequence. I
recommended both Avery and Bottsford for captains of cavalry;
both would make good captains. Only one will probably be
commissioned. While I dislike to lose either, I feel they are
entitled to promotion and are not likely to get it here.
Ditto, Ditto, June 20, 1862. Friday.--Cold and wet. We
wear overcoats, sit by fires in front of tents, and sleep under
blankets! Had a very satisfactory drill. Am reading "St.
Ronan's Well." Rode down the mountain towards New River
On returning found R. S. Gardner giving a blow-out on receiv-
ing news of his appointment as captain and quartermaster.
Lieutenant-Colonel Paxton, Bottsford, and Lieutenant Christie,
of General Cox's staff, all a little "how-come-ye-so." . . .
Camp Jones, Flat Top, June 21, 1862.--. . . Rather agree-
able social evenings with the officers at my quarters, the band en-
livening us with its good music.
292 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
Dr. McCurdy having been appointed inspector of hospitals for
this division, we had a Dr. Hudson, of Medina, a new state
surgeon, assigned to us as assistant surgeon in Dr. McCurdy's
place. Dr. Hudson turns out to be a thin-skinned, nervous,
whimsical, whining Yankee. He has just heard of the death of
a favorite daughter. His grief loses all respectability, coupled
as it is with his weaknesses and follies. We agreed today with
Dr. Holmes (the medical head man) to swap our Dr. Hudson
"unsight, unseen" for any spare doctor he could turn out. We
find we caught a Dr. Barrett, lately of Wooster, a young man
of good repute. We take him, pleased well with the bargain.
CAMP JONES, FLAT TOP MOUNTAIN, June 21, 1862.
DEAR UNCLE: -- We have been here and hereabouts almost a
month. Our line of defense extends twenty to thirty miles from
New River southwesterly along a mountain range. We have
mountain weather. If the wind happens to lull when the sun
shines we get a taste of summer heat. At all other times it is
very cold. We have fires, wear overcoats, and sleep under winter
blankets every night. Our men from the lake shore say it is
very much like April and May weather in the neighborhood of
home. The men are very healthy; not over a dozen or so un-
fit for duty out of eight hundred. We have frequent recon-
naisances and scouting expeditions against the enemy, not amount-
ing to any great matter. We have not seen or heard of a
guerrilla in these mountains since we passed here about the first
of May. We get and meet parties of the enemy occasionally,
but they are regular soldiers. We suppose the savage treatment
administered when we went across a month ago finished bush-
whacking in this vicinity. We do not expect any important
movement until the event at Richmond is known. Then, what-
ever the result, we expect to be busy enough.
Soon after we came on to this mountain, I caught a bad cold-
the worst I have had in some years. Since I have been in camp
I had not had a severe cold before. It held on two weeks, but
is now nearly gone without doing any mischief.
HOLDING THE FRONT LINE--1862 293
Both sides appear to be fighting well in all parts of Virginia
now. It seems to be reduced pretty nearly to a question of
numbers -- I mean, of course, numbers of drilled soldiers. I do
not reckon the enemy's recent conscripts nor our own new regi-
ments as amounting to much yet. It seems therefore as if, with
the superior numbers which we ought to have at the critical
points, we would crush them out during the next six weeks in
Virginia. Virginia gone, with what the Rebels have already lost,
and the Rebellion is a plain failure. But I think we shall need
all our soldiers a long time after that. I hope we shall not be
needed another winter, but I greatly suspect we shall.
R. B. HAYES.
"Same as before," June 22, 1862. Sunday.--A warm, beau-
tiful, Sunday morning; all things bright and cheerful. Inklings
and hints of matters before Richmond are more encouraging.
But these delays of McClellan are very wearisome.
Ditto, Ditto, June 25, 1862. Wednesday. -- Dined with Gen-
eral Cox. He has a plan of operations for the Government forces
which I like: To hold the railroad from Memphis through
Huntsville, Chattanooga, Knoxville [and] southwest Virginia to
Richmond; not attempt movements south of this except by water
until after the hot and sickly season. This line is distant from
the enemy's base of supplies; can therefore by activity be defend-
ed, and gives us a good base.
Camp Jones, Flat Top Mountain, June 27, 1862. Friday.--
Took the men to Glade Creek to wash. Water getting scarce in
this quarter. The men danced to the fiddle, marched to music,
and had a good time generally. Rode, walked, and read "Seven
Sons of Mammon."
Read the account of the disaster on White River, Arkansas, to
the gunboat, Mound City. The enemy sent a forty-two-pound
ball through her boiler and a horrible slaughter followed, scald-
ing and drowning one hundred and fifty men!
294 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
General Pope appointed to "the Army of Virginia"--being
the combined forces of Fremont, Shields, Banks, and McDowell,
now in the Valley of Virginia. Sorry to see Fremont passed over
but glad the concentration under one man has taken place. Gen-
eral Pope is impulsive and hasty, but energetic, and, what is of
most importance, patriotic and sound -- perfectly sound. I look
for good results. -- Rained in the evening.
Camp Jones, June 28, 1862--. . . Spent the evening with
General Cox. He gave me some curious items about the last
campaign from the diary of an officer of the Rebel army.
We hear General Pope is to command the Army of Virginia
and that Fremont has, on his own request, been relieved from the
command of [the] First Army Corps.--Sorry Fremont is so
cuffed about, but am glad one mind is to control the movements
in the Valley.
We have rumors of "tremendous fighting" before Richmond;
that we have achieved a success, etc., etc. What suspense until
the truth is known!
FLAT TOP MOUNTAIN, June 30, 1862.
DEAREST:--I write by Captain Gardner, who having been
promoted to captain in [the] quartermaster's department, now
leaves our regiment. I send a package of your letters, some
Secesh letters, etc., etc. I do not wish to lose the letters and
official documents, and send them to you for safety.
"We are well and doing well at this present time and hope
these few lines will find you enjoying the same blessing." Why,
that is a good letter. No wonder the uninitiated ride that
formula so hard. It says a great deal. . . .
As ever, affectionately, your
Camp Jones, July 1, 1862. Tuesday.--Cloudy and rainy.
Our water on this mountain top is giving out. Avery and I rode
six miles towards New River in the rain but could find no good
HOLDING THE FRONT LINE--1862 295
camping ground where water could be had. This rain will per-
haps give us enough here again.
Nothing definite from Richmond. There was some fighting
and an important change of position on Friday. There are
rumors of disaster and also of the burning of Richmond, but
telegraphic communication is reported cut off between Washing-
ton and McClellan. This is the crisis of the Nation's destiny.
If we are beaten at Richmond, foreign intervention in the form
perhaps of mediation is likely speedily to follow. If successful,
we are on the sure road to an early subjugation of the Rebels.
The suspense is awful. It can't last long.--Night; raining
Camp Jones, July 2, 1862. Tuesday [Wednesday]. -- Rained
all night; weather cold. Water must again be abundant. Grad-
ually cleared off about 3 or 4 P. M.
Dispatches state that McClellan has swung his right wing
around and pushed his left towards James River, touching the
river at Turkey Island, fifteen miles from Richmond. Is this
a voluntary change of plan, or is it a movement forced by an
attack? These questions find no satisfactory response in the
dispatches. Some things look as if we had sustained a reverse.
(1.) It is said the move was "necessitated by an attack in great
force on Thursday." (2.) All communication with Washington
was cut off for two or three days. (3.) We have had repeated
reports that the enemy had turned our right wing. (4.) The
singular denial of rumors that our army had sustained a defeat,
viz., that "no information received indicated a serious disaster."
(5.) The general mystery about the movement.
It may have been according to a change of plan. I like the
new position. If we are there uninjured, with the aid of gun-
boats and transports on James River, we ought soon to cripple
the enemy at Richmond.
Camp Jones, July 3, 1862. Wednesday [Thursday].--A fine
bright day. General Cox is trying to get our army transferred
to General Pope's command in eastern Virginia.
The dispatches received this beautiful afternoon fill me with
sorrow. We have an obscure account of the late battle or battles
296 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
at Richmond. There is an effort to conceal the extent of the
disaster, but the impression left is that McClellan's grand army
has been defeated before Richmond!! If so, and the enemy is
active and energetic, they will drive him out of the Peninsula,
gather fresh energy everywhere, and push us to the wall in all
directions. Foreign nations will intervene and the Southern Con-
federacy be established.
Now for courage and clear-headed sagacity. Nothing else will
save us. Let slavery be destroyed and this sore disaster may
yet do good.
Flat Top, July 4, 1862. Friday.-- A fine day. No demon-
strations in camp except a National salute and a little drunken-
ness. Quietness of the Sabbath reigned.
The Commercial of the first puts a different face on the news
of McClellan's recent movements near Richmond. The change
of position seems to have been well planned--a wise change--
and it is not certain that any disaster befell us during its execu-
tion. There was fierce fighting and heavy loss, but it is quite
possible that the enemy suffered more than we did.
My orderly, Gray, good old veteran Irish soldier, "drunk and
disorderly" yesterday. All right; he shall be released today.
July 5, 1862. Saturday.--A fine, warm day. I rode with
Avery and an escort of twelve dragoons under Captain Harrison
(a Union doctor of Monroe County), to look for a new camping
ground, ten or twelve miles from here, at or near Jumping
Branch, on the pike leading from Raleigh to Packs Ferry. The
village last winter was the rendezvous of the enemy who were
threatening Raleigh and was burnt, except two or three houses,
by Major Comly to get rid of the nest. We dined with an in-
telligent Union farmer, a Mr. Upton, whose house was spared.
A good spring for the men's use and a tolerable stream for the
animals and washing. But no camping ground which we would
take in exchange for Flat Top as long as water can be got here.
While at Mr. Upton's, we heard from an artilleryman that
after we left camp news was received at headquarters that Mc-
Clellan had entered Richmond yesterday! Prior advices led us
strongly to hope, almost to believe, it was true. We all said
HOLDING THE FRONT LINE--1862 297
we believed it. How suddenly McClellan loomed up into a
great general--a future (not distant future) President! We
thought of a speedy end of the war and a return home; of the
loved ones' happiness at home! I could toast McClellan, "slow
but sure," "better late than never," and the like.
On reaching camp our hopes were cruelly dashed. The only
dispatches received, meagre, ambiguous, and obscure, indicate dis-
aster rather than victory! That after six days' hard fighting
McClellan has lost fifteen to twenty thousand [men] and is
twenty or thirty miles further distant from Richmond than when
the battle began! No disaster is told other than this; but if it is
true that he has been beaten back to a point thirty-five or forty
miles from Richmond, we are where I feared we were on the
third. But these dispatches are so deceptive as to complicated
and extensive movements that I must hear further before I give
up to such gloomy anticipations. But I am anxious!
Camp Jones, Flat Top Mountain, July, 6, 1862. Sunday. --
It seems on reflection that McClellan has been forced
back in seven days -- six of them days of fighting -- about fifteen
to twenty-five miles; that he has probably not lost very heavily in
artillery or stores; that the weight of the attacks on him have
[has] been too heavy and have [has] forced him back. Well,
then, our columns must be rapidly made heavier. We shall see!
. . . Nothing new from Richmond today. What is the con-
dition there? Is our army merely pushed back by superior num-
bers or has it been defeated?
FLAT TOP MOUNTAIN, July 6, 1862.
DEAREST:--Sunday afternoon about 4 P. M.--hotter than
ever. I have just finished reading your letter written last Sunday
at Chillicothe. I am very glad you are so happily homed at Uncle
Scott's. It is far better up on that beautiful hill with such kind
friends, young and old, than in a hot and dirty city. You cannot
think oftener of me than I do of you and the dear ones around
you; no, nor more lovingly.
I knew you would be troubled when Fremont was relieved
from duty, and perhaps still more when you hear of McClellan's
298 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
repulse before Richmond. These things appear to postpone the
termination of the war; but are such disasters as must be looked
for in such a contest. We must make up our minds that we have
a heavy work, and that reverses must frequently occur.
We have no right to complain of our lot. We have a beautiful
and healthy camp, with the enemy in front, strong enough to keep
us busy holding our position, without much danger of losing it.
It is the common opinion that if the reverse before Richmond
has been serious, we shall be sent to eastern Virginia, and I may
add that it is the universal wish that we may see some of the
movements that are going on there.
Drs. Joe and Jim are both very well and with little to do. Our
loss by sickness during the last three months is only three.
Dr. Joe and I sent early in June to your address nine hundred
and fifty dollars. Did you get it? It is important we should
know if it has failed to reach you. As letters miscarry some-
times, be sure to speak of it in two or three letters.
I got from Mr. Stephenson a Harper and Atlantic for July
today. All reading matter is in the greatest demand. . . .
It is not of much consequence to Boggs whether he returns
or not; yet he ought to be allowed to do it. If a soldier is well
enough to be a nurse he can be useful with his regiment. If he
can neither nurse nor march, he can get his pay or a discharge
easier here than elsewhere. But we will do our best for the man.
Think of it, the Fourth was a lovely day but we sat around a
fire in the evening and slept under blanket and coverlid. . . .
Good-bye, darling. Don't get downhearted about the war and
our separation. It will all come right, and then how happy we
shall be -- happier than if we had not known this year's ex-
Affectionately ever, your
Camp Jones, Flat Top, July 7, 1862. Monday. -- The warm-
est day of the season. The men are building great bowers over
their company streets, giving them roomy and airy shelters. At
HOLDING THE FRONT LINE--1862 299
evening they dance under them, and in the daytime they drill in
the bayonet exercise and manual of arms. All wish to remain
in this camp until some movement is begun which will show us
the enemy, or the way out of this country. We shall try to get
water by digging wells.
The news of today looks favorable. McClellan seems to have
suffered no defeat. He has changed front; been forced (per-
haps) to the rear, sustained heavy losses; but his army is in
good condition, and has probably inflicted as much injury on the
enemy as it has suffered. This is so much better than I antici-
pated that I feel relieved and satisfied. The taking of Richmond
is postponed, but I think it will happen in time to forestall foreign
There is little or no large game here. We see a great many
striped squirrels (chipmunks), doves, quails, a few pigeons and
pheasants, and a great many rattlesnakes. I sent Birch the rattles
of a seventeen-year-old yesterday. They count three years for
the button and a year for each rattle.
There is a pretentious headboard in the graveyard between
here and headquarters with the inscription "Anna Eliza Bram-
Camp Jones, July 8, 1862. Tuesday.-- A fine breezy day on
this mountain top. Bathed three miles from here in Glade Creek.
I find this sitting still or advancing age (good joke!) is getting
me into old gentlemen's habits. My breath is shorter than it
used to be; I get tired easier and the like.
Very little additional from Richmond, but that little is en-
couraging. Our forces have not, I think, been discouraged or in
any degree lost confidence, by reason of anything that has oc-
curred before Richmond. Our losses are not greater than the
enemy's -- probably not so great. The Rebel reports here are that
our loss is thirty-eight thousand killed and wounded and two
thousand prisoners; that they left fourteen thousand dead on the
field! This is all wild guessing; but it indicates dreadful and
probably nearly equal losses on both sides.
July 10, 1862. Thursday.--. . . I wrote this morning a
cheerful letter to Mother. I think often these days of the sad loss
300 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
six years ago; my dear, dear sister,--so--. But it is perhaps
for the best. How she would suffer during this struggle!
I have just read the Commercial's story of the six days' battles.
What dreadful fighting, suffering, weariness, and exhaustion
were there! The letters in the paper of the 5th are agonizing
in the extreme. The telegraphic news diminishes our loss in the
battles before Richmond, and gives, I think, exaggerated reports
of the enemy's loss. They are said to have lost from thirty to
FLAT TOP MOUNTAIN, July 10, 1862.
DEAR MOTHER:--I think you would enjoy being here. We
have a fine cool breeze during the day; an extensive mountain
scene, always beautiful but changing daily, almost hourly. The
men are healthy, contented, and have the prettiest and largest
bowers over the whole camp I ever saw. They will never look
so well or behave so well in any settled country. Here the
drunkards get no liquor, or so little that they regain the healthy
complexion of temperate men. Every button and buckle is
burnished bright, and clothes brushed or washed clean. I often
think that if mothers could see their boys as they often look in
this mountain wilderness, they would feel prouder of them than
ever before. We have dancing in two of the larger bowers from
soon after sundown until a few minutes after nine o'clock. By
half-past nine all is silence and darkness. At sunrise the men
are up, drilling until breakfast. Occasionally the boys who play
the female partners in the dances exercise their ingenuity in
dressing to look as girlish as possible. In the absence of lady
duds they use leaves, and the leaf-clad beauties often look very
pretty and always odd enough.
We send parties into the enemy's lines which sometimes have
strange adventures. A party last Sunday, about forty miles
from here, found a young Scotchman and two sisters, one
eighteen and the other fourteen, their parents dead, who have
been unable to escape from Rebeldom. They have property in
Scotland and would give anything to get to "the States." One
officer took one girl on his horse behind him and another, an-
HOLDING THE FRONT LINE 1862 301
other, and so escaped. They were fired on by bushwhackers, the
elder lady thrown off, but not much hurt. They were the hap-
piest girls you ever saw when they reached our camp. They are
now safe on the way to Cincinnati, where they have a brother.
We are expecting one of these days to be sent to eastern
Virginia, if all we hear is true.
I have just received an invitation to Rogers' wedding. If you
see him or his bride tell them I regret I shall not be able to be
at Columbus on the first of this month. . . . Love to all.
Affectionately, your son,
R. B. HAYES.
MRS. SOPHIA HAYES,
Flat Top Mountain, July 11, 1862. Thursday [Friday].--
Wrote to Platt about promotion to colonelcy in one of the new
regiments. I would dislike to leave the Twenty-third under any
circumstances and would not be willing to do it to be taken
from active service. But I certainly wish the command of a
regiment before the war closes.
Today, to my surprise, Rev. A. Wilson made his appearance.
He could not get his pay on the pay sheets furnished because
there was no certificate of his resignation having been accepted.
He was directed to return to the regiment by General Fremont's
adjutant-general. So he came. One of the men, seeing him,
said to me with a knowing look: "Have you any chickens in
your coop, Colonel?" A pretty reputation for a chaplain truly!
--A fine rain last night and this forenoon.
July 12, 1862. Saturday. -- Received orders today to move
to Green Meadows tomorrow. It is said to be a fine camping
place, and although our present camp is the prettiest I have ever
seen, we are glad for the sake of change to leave it.
Camp Green Meadwos, July 13, 1862. Sunday.--Struck
tents this morning on Flat Top at 5 A. M. and marched to this
place, reaching here at 11:30 A. M., fourteen miles; a jolly
march down the mountain under a hot sun. Many sore feet.
302 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
Band played its lively airs; the men cheered, and all enjoyed
the change. We are east of Camp Jones and about three miles
from the mouth of Bluestone River and New River, within six
miles of camp at Packs Ferry on New River. The camp being
one thousand to fifteen hundred feet lower than Flat Top is
warmer. We shall learn how to bear summer weather here.
Our waggons arrived about 6:30 P. M. We relieved here two
companies of the Thirtieth under Captain Gross. I command
here six companies Twenty-third, Captain Gilmore's Cavalry, a
squad of Second Virginia, a squad of McMullen's Battery, and
a squad on picket of Captain Harrison's Cavalry.
Ditto, July 14, 1862. Monday. -- I rode today with Captain
Gilmore and Avery to the mouth of Bluestone and a ford on
New River. The pickets are so placed that an enterprising
enemy would by crossing New River and passing by mountain
paths to their rear, cut them off completely.
CAMP GREEN MEADOWS, July 14, 1862.
DEAREST: -- I am so pleased with your affectionate letter, that
I sit down merely to "jaw back," as the man said of the re-
sponses in the Episcopal service.
I love you just as much as you love me. There now! Yes,
dearest, this separation so painful does, I think, make us both
dearer and better. I certainly prize you more than ever before,
and am more solicitous about your happiness. . . .
We came here yesterday. It is a fine camp, but warm and
summery compared with Flat Top. There is no noticeable scenery
in view from camp, but we are near New River at the mouth
of Bluestone River where the scenery is truly grand. I rode
down there this morning to enjoy it. We marched fifteen miles
yesterday--the happiest gang of men you ever saw. We are
nearer the enemy, and have more of the excitement incident to
such a position than at Flat Top. I am in command here, having
six companies of the Twenty-third, Captain Gilmore's Cavalry
(the men who behaved so well when we fought our way out
of Giles), and a section of McMullen's Artillery, besides two
squads of First and Second Virginia Cavalry. Everyone seems
HOLDING THE FRONT LINE--1862 303
to be happy that we are out by ourselves. Besides, Major Comly
with the other four companies Twenty-third is only five miles
Drs. Joe and Jim are still at Flat Top. Dr. Joe will join us
in a day or two. Colonel Scammon is not expected here to stay.
I sent off Captain Drake and two companies with a squad of
cavalry just now to effect a diversion in favor of Colonel Crook
who is threatened by a force said to be superior to his own. The
captain is instructed to dash over and "lie like a bulletin" as to
the immense force of which he is the advance and then to run
back "double-quick." Risky but exciting.
Richmond is not so bad as it was. Our men, certainly, and
our general, perhaps, did admirably there. . . . Don't
worry about the country. "It's no good." We can't help it if
things go wrong. We do our part and I am confident all will
come right. We can't get rid of the crime of centuries without
suffering. So, good-bye, darling.
Lovingly, as ever, R.
Green Meadows, July 15, 1862. Tuesday. -- Captain Drake
with Companies H and I returned this morning. The mounted
men crossed the ford just above Bluestone on New River. The
water was too deep and current too strong for footmen. They
(the horsemen) called at Landcraft's, Young's, etc., etc. They
learned that the only enemy now in Monroe is probably the
Forty-fifth [Virginia], some cavalry, and artillery; and they
have withdrawn from the river towards Centreville or some other
distant part of the county. All others gone to or towards the
Narrows or railroad.
At 9 o'clock I took four companies, A, C, E, and K, and
the band and went to Packs Ferry. There the men went in
swimming. Crossed 262 of them in the flying bridge--an affair
like this [a crude pen sketch is given]--which swings from
side to side of the river by force of the current alone. The bow
(whichever way the boat goes) is pulled by means of a windlass
up the stream at a small angle. The men enjoyed the spree.
304 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
We returned at 6:30 P. M. The scenery is of the finest; the
river is a beautiful clear river. Strange, no fish except catfish,
but they are of superior quality and often of great size.
The enemy shows signs of activity in Tennessee again. Our
men will have a hard time during the next two or three months
trying to hold their conquests. We will have our day when
cold weather and high water return, not before. About Rich-
mond there is much mystery, but supposed to be favorable.
Camp Green Meadows, July 16, 1862. Wednesday. -- A
warm, beautiful day. The men busy building shades (bowers
or arbors) over their streets and tents, cleaning out the springs,
and arranging troughs for watering horses, washing, and bath-
ing. The water is excellent and abundant.
I read "Waverley," finishing it. The affection of Flora Mc-
Ivor for her brother and its return is touching; they were
orphans. And oh, this is the anniversary of the death of my
dear sister Fanny -- six years ago! I have thought of her today
as I read Scott's fine description, but till now it did not occur
to me that this was the sad day. Time has softened the pain.
How she would have suffered during this agonizing war! Per-
haps it was best--but what a loss!
CAMP GREEN MEADOWS, MERCER COUNTY, VIRGINIA,
July 17, 1862.
DEAR UNCLE:--. . . I am not satisfied that so good
men as two-thirds of this army should be kept idle. New troops
could hold the strong defensive positions which are the keys of
the Kanawha Valley, while General Cox's eight or ten good
regiments could be sent where work is to be done.
Barring this idea of duty, no position could be pleasanter than
the present. I have the Twenty-third Regiment, half a battery,
and a company of cavalry under my command stationed on
the edge of Dixie--part of us here, fourteen miles, and part
at Packs Ferry, nineteen miles from Flat Top, and Colonel
Scammon's and General Cox's headquarters. This is pleasant.
Then, we have a lovely camp, copious cold-water springs, and
HOLDING THE FRONT LINE--1862 305
the lower camp is on the banks of New River, a finer river than
the Connecticut at Northampton, with plenty of canoes, flat-boats,
and good fishing and swimming. The other side of the river
is enemy's country. We cross foraging parties daily to their
side. They do not cross to ours, but are constantly threatening
it. We moved here last Sunday, the 13th. On the map you
will see our positions in the northeast corner of Mercer County
on New River, near the mouth of and north of Bluestone River.
Our camps five miles apart--Major Comly commands at the
river, I making my headquarters here on the hill. We have
pickets and patrols connecting us. I took the six companies to
the river, with music, etc., etc., to fish and swim Tuesday.
It is now a year since we entered Virginia. What a difference
it makes Our camp is now a pleasanter place with its bowers
and contrivances for comfort than even Spiegel Grove. And
it takes no ordering or scolding to get things done. A year ago
if a little such work was called for, you would hear grumblers
say: "I didn't come to dig and chop, I could do that at home.
I came to fight," etc., etc. Now springs are opened, bathing
places built, bowers, etc., etc., got up as naturally as corn grows.
No sickness either--about eight hundred and fifteen to eight
hundred and twenty men--none seriously sick and only eight
or ten excused from duty. All this is very jolly.
We have been lucky with our little raids in getting horses,
cattle, and prisoners. Nothing important enough to blow about,
although a more literary regiment would fill the newspapers out
of less material. We have lost but one man killed and one taken
prisoner during this month. There has been some splendid run-
ning by small parties occasionally. Nothing but the enemy's
fear of being ambushed saved four of our officers last Saturday.
So far as our adversaries over the river goes, they treat our men
taken prisoners very well. The Forty-fifth, Twenty-second,
Thirty-sixth, and Fifty-first Virginia are the enemy's regiments
opposed to us. They know us and we know them perfectly well.
Prisoners say their scouts hear our roll-calls and that all of them
enjoy our music.
There are many discouraging things in the present aspect of
affairs, and until frost in October, I expect to hear of disasters
306 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
in the Southwest. It is impossible to maintain our conquests in
that quarter while the low stage of water and the sickness compel
us to act on the defensive, but if there is no powerful intervention
by foreign powers, we shall be in a condition next December to
push them to the Gulf and the Atlantic before winter closes.
Any earlier termination, I do not look for.
Two years is an important part of a man's life in these fast
days, but I shall be content if I am mustered out of service at
the end of two years from enlistment. -- Regards to all.
R. B. HAYES.
Camp Green Meadows, July 18, 1862. Friday. -- Rained last
night and drizzled all this morning. . . . I feel dourish
today; inaction is taking the soul out of us.
I am really jolly over the Rebel Morgan's raid into the blue-
grass region of Kentucky. If it turns out a mere raid, as I
suppose it will, the thing will do great good. The twitter into
which it throws Cincinnati and Ohio will aid us in getting vol-
unteers. The burning and destroying the property of the old-
fashioned, conservative Kentuckians will wake them up, will
stiffen their sinews, give them backbone, and make grittier Union
men of them. If they should burn Garrett Davis' house, he will
be sounder on confiscation and the like. In short, if it does not
amount to an uprising, it will be a godsend to the Union cause.
It has done good in Cincinnati already. It has committed num-
bers who were sliding into Secesh to the true side. Good for
Morgan, as I understand the facts at this writing!
Had a good drill. The exercise and excitement drove away
the blues. After drill a fine concert of the glee club of Company
A. As they sang "That Good Old Word, Good-bye," I thought
of the pleasant circle that used to sing it on Gulf Prairie,
Brazoria County, Texas. And now so broken! And my class-
mate and friend, Guy M. Bryan--where is he? In the Rebel
army! As honorable and true as ever, but a Rebel! What
strange and sad things this war produces! But he is true and
patriotic wherever he is. Success to him personally!
HOLDING THE FRONT LINE--1862 307
July 19. Saturday. -- Some rain. Ride with Quartermaster
Reichenbach to the scene of [the] Jumping Branch fight. Read
with a good deal of levity the accounts of John Morgan's raid
into the blue-grass region of Kentucky. It strikes me that the
panic and excitement caused in Cincinnati and Indiana will
stimulate recruiting; that Secesh sentiment just beginning to
grow insolent in Ohio will be crushed out, and indirectly that
it will do much good. All this is on the assumption that Morgan
is routed, captured, or destroyed before he gathers head and
becomes a power.
Camp Green Meadows, Mercer County, Virginia, July 20, 1862.
Sunday.--Morgan's gang, or Rebels encouraged by him, have got
into Warrick County, Indiana. This is the first successful (if it
turns out successful) invasion of free soil. I regret it on that
account. I wished to be able to say that no inch of free soil
had been polluted by the footstep of an invader. However, this
is rather an incursion of robbers than of soldiers. I suppose
no soldiers have yet set foot on our soil.
I wish we were near or amidst the active movements. We
ought to be sent somewhere.
July 21. Monday. -- We are target firing now. The Enfields
are a little better sighted than the muskets; the muskets have
most power and the longest range. Company C does rather the
best shooting, Companies E and A coming next.
A zouave at the Flat Top camp found tied to a tree with five
bullet holes through him! Naked too! An enemy's cavalry
patrol seen two miles outside of our pickets. Secesh, ten or
twelve in number.
July 23. Wednesday.--Marched four companies to Blue-
stone; bathed. A good evening drill.
Last evening I fell into a train of reflection on the separation
of the regiment, so long continued, so unmilitary, and so cause-
less, with the small prospect of getting relief by promotion or
otherwise in the Twenty-third, and as a result pretty much de-
termined to write this morning telling brother William [Platt]
that I would like a promotion to a colonelcy in one of the new
regiments. Well, this morning, on the arrival of the mail, I get
308 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
a dispatch from W. H. Clements that I am appointed colonel
of the Seventy-ninth, a regiment to be made up in Hamilton,
Warren, and Clinton Counties. Now, shall I accept? It is hard
to leave the Twenty-third. I shall never like another regiment so
well. Another regiment is not likely to think as much of me. I
am puzzled. If I knew I could get a chance for promotion in the
Twenty-third in any reasonable time, I would decline the
Seventy-ninth. But, then, Colonel Scammon is so queer and
crotchety that he is always doing something to push aside his
chance for a brigadiership. Well, I will postpone the evil day
of decision as long as possible.
CAMP GREEN MEADOWS, July 23, 1862.
DEAREST:--I today received a dispatch from Captain Clem-
ents that I have been appointed colonel of the Seventy-ninth
Regiment to be made up in Warren and Clinton Counties. I shall
make no definite decision as to acceptance until I get official
notice of it. I suppose it is correct. I shall much hate to leave
the Twenty-third. I can't possibly like another regiment as well,
and am not likely to be as acceptable myself to another regiment.
If there was a certainty of promotion to the command of the
Twenty-third, I would certainly wait for it. But between you
and I [me], Colonel Scammon is not likely to deserve promotion,
and will perhaps fail to get it. If he gets it he will probably
keep command of the Twenty-third--that is, have it in his
brigade. Besides, I begin to fear another winter in these moun-
tains. I could stand it after two or three months' vacation with
you in Ohio, but to go straight on another year in this sort of
service is a dark prospect. Altogether, much as I love the
Twenty-third, I shall probably leave it. I shall put off the evil
day as long as I can, hoping something will turn up to give me
this regiment, but when the decision is required, I shall probably
decide in favor of the new regiment and a visit to you and the
boys. I know nothing of the Seventy-ninth except that a son of
the railroad superintendent, W. H. Clements, is to be major. I
knew him as a captain in the Twelfth, a well-spoken-of youngster.
It will be a sad day all around when I leave here.
HOLDING THE FRONT LINE--1862 309
Last night various doings at headquarters of brigade disgusted
me so much, that before I went to sleep I pretty much resolved
to get up this morning and write in the most urgent manner
soliciting promotion in a new regiment to get out of the scrape.
But when this morning brings me the news that I have got
what I had determined to ask, I almost regret it. "Such is war!"
Write me all you learn, if anything, about the new regiments
-- what sort of people go into them, -- are they likely ever to
fill up? Etc., etc.
24th, A. M.-- A year ago tonight you and I walked about
Camp Chase looking at the men cooking their rations to be ready
to leave the next morning. A short and a long year. Upon the
whole, not an unhappy one. Barring the separation from you,
it has been a healthy fine spree to me.
Since writing to you yesterday I learn from Dr. Joe, who is
now here, that there really seems to be a fair prospect of
Colonel Scammon's promotion. This will probably induce me
to hold off as long as I can about the Seventy-ninth business.
You can simply say you don't know if you are asked before hear-
ing further as to what I shall do. -- Love to all the boys.
Camp Green Meadows, July 24, 1862. Thursday.--I got a
lame, halting permission from Colonel Scammon to go on an
errand of mercy over New River into Monroe [County] after
the family of Mr. Caldwell, a Union man, who has been kept
away from home and persecuted for his loyalty. The colonel
says I may go if and if; and warning me of the hazards, etc., etc.,
shirking all responsibility. It is ridiculous in war to talk this
way. If a thing ought to be done according to the lights we
have, let us go and do it, leaving events to take care of them-
selves. This half-and-half policy; this do-less waiting for cer-
tainties before action, is contemptible. I rode to the ferry and
arranged for the trip with Major Comly.
Six companies go over the ferry tonight and go on towards
310 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
Indian Creek. Two stop at the Farms Road, to protect our rear
from that approach; four companies and the cavalry will go to
Indian Creek take post at the cross-roads, and the waggons and
cavalry will push on to Mr. Caldwell's and get his family before
daylight and start back. The whole party will retire to the ferry
if possible before night of the 26th.
July 25, 1862. -- Friday. -- Preparations for the trip. We go
from this camp immediately after dinner.
July 26, 1862. -- Had a good trip. Got out from under the
noses of heavy forces of the enemy the wife and four children
of Mr. Archibald Caldwell. He will settle in Indiana. We left
camp with Companies A, I, C, and E at half past twelve and
marched to within a mile of the ferry; halted in a valley out
of sight of the river and of the river hills until 7:30. We were
joined by Captain Gilmore, Lieutenant Abraham, and Lieutenant
Fordyce with their excellent company of cavalry about 7 P. M.
We marched to the ferry just at dark and were there joined by
Companies B and F and by Lieutenant Croome with a squad of
Captain McMullen's artillery company and one howitzer. We
crossed New River on the flying bridge built by Captain Lane
of the Eleventh. We had three loaded wagons and an ambulance.
Four trips, fifteen minutes each, crossed us. At the Farms Road,
five miles from the ferry, Company B, Captain Sperry, and
Company I, Captain Warren, were detailed to take position to
hold that road and prevent any enemy's force from coming into
Soon after passing the ferry, it was found that the road had
in places been washed away, in others, filled by slides, and in
others, cut into deep gullies. The waggons and ambulances were
turned back; the column pushed on. Near Indian Creek, at
Mrs. Fowler's, about 1:30 P. M. [A. M.], Captain Gilmore and
myself with Captain Drake being in advance, we stopped and
these officers and myself went in. Mrs. Fowler refused to get
a light, saying she had none; refused to tell whether there was
a man about the house; said she didn't know Mr. Caldwell and
was very uncommunicative generally. She persisted in asking
us who we were, what we wanted, and the like. Just as she had
HOLDING THE FRONT LINE--1862 311
said there was no candle or light in the house, I struck a light
with a match when we saw the candle she had blown out on
going to bed not two yards off! It was lit and a man was dis-
covered peeping through a door I We got from her the fact that
no soldiers were at Indian Creek and very few at Red Sulphur or
I ordered the cavalry to push rapidly on to Mr. Caldwell's
house, and bring off his wife and children on horseback. I rode
back to the infantry and artillery and directed them to bivouac
-- to sleep on the ground. Lieutenant Hastings was officer of
the guard. I told him he need station no pickets or guard! A
year ago we camped our first night in Virginia. It was near
Clarksburg in the midst of a Union region. No enemy anywhere
near, and we had one hundred and sixteen men on guard! My
reason for not worrying anybody with guard duty was that our
position was concealed; and as we had just taken it after a
night march no one could know that we were there. The camp
was inaccessible, by reason of [the] river on one side and im-
passable mountains on the other, except by the road up and
down the river. [Companies] B and I were on this road at the
first road leading into it, eight miles off, and the cavalry were
passing up in the other direction. So I made up my mind that
as I was not sleepy I would keep awake and would be guard
enough. I lay down on an India-rubber blanket--my sheep-
skin for a pillow--with only an overcoat on, Dr. Joe sleeping
by my side; and in this position where I could hear every sound,
remained comfortable but watchful until morning. The stars
disappeared towards morning, covered by fleecy clouds.
In the morning we built fires, got warm coffee, and felt well;
we were opposite Crump's Bottom. We hailed a man on the
bank at Crump's and made him bring over a canoe, but learned
little from him. About 5:30 the cavalry returned hav-
ing Mrs. Caldwell and the children on their horses. We im-
mediately set out on our return. The first eight miles in the cool
of the morning was done in two and one-fourth hours; after
that leisurely to the ferry. Six men of Company A waded New
River near the mouth of Bluestone. A long, tedious wade they
had of it. Stopped at the ferry two hours; men all had a good
312 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
swim. Got back to camp here safe and sound. Cavalry marched
almost fifty miles in about twelve hours; artillery with mountain
howitzer twenty-five miles in nine hours' marching time and
thirteen hours altogether; infantry thirty-six in fourteen hours'
marching time and twenty hours altogether. A pretty jolly
expedition! Horses fell down, men fell down; Caldwell got
faint-hearted and wanted to give it up. Lieutenant Abraham
was cowed and I sent him with the infantry to bivouac. As they
returned, the cavalry took all of Mrs. Fowler's new blackberry
wine and honey! All sorts of incidents;--funny good time.
July 28, 1862. Monday.--Received letters from Mother,
June 3 and July 17, and from Platt, July 22. Platt says Gov-
ernor Tod will not appoint men now in the field because he needs
the officers at home to aid in recruiting the regiments. This is
foolish. If volunteering has to be hired(?) and forced, we had
better resort to drafting. That is the true course! Draft!
Rode with Major Comly to Flat Top. No news there of much
note. Colonel Scammon was nominated for a brigadiership by
the President but there are seventy others of whom eighteen
were confirmed, making it is said the two hundred allowed by
law. So the thing seems to be up. Whether the Governor will
confirm the nomination of the Hamilton County committee does
not yet appear.
Camp Green Meadows, July 29, 1862. Tuesday. -- Returned
from [to] Camp Green Meadows today. General Cox thinks
Colonel Scammon will be ordered to act as brigadier by the
President; that a vacancy in the colonelcy of the Twenty-third
will thus occur; that I had better hold on for the present before
accepting the Eighty-third [Seventy-ninth]. As I have no notice
that the Governor has made the appointment, I shall have nothing
to act on for some days, if at all. But drafting is the thing!
CAMP GREEN MEADOWS, July 29, 1862.
DEAR MOTHER:--I received a letter from you dated the 17th
July -- one from William dated 22d July, and another from you
dated June 3, yesterday. I begin to have hopes that your birthday
HOLDING THE FRONT LINE--1862 313
letter may yet turn up. Letters are rarely lost, even in this
region. The Rebels captured one of our mails early in May,
and may have got your letter.
I am glad you are enjoying so much. It is not at all unlikely
that I may have an opportunity to visit you in August or Septem-
ber for a day or two. I shall do so if it is possible without
We are not as busy here as we would like to be, but we are
delightfully camped, and among a friendly people. The greater
part of them are preparing to move to Ohio and Indiana, fearing
that we may go off and let the Rebels in to destroy them. We
receive many letters at this camp from Rebels who are in Camp
Chase as prisoners. Their wives and relatives call almost daily
to inquire about them and for letters.
Last Sunday I dined at a Union citizen's near here. There
were eleven women there whose husbands or brothers were at
Camp Chase. I took over a lot of letters for them. Some were
made happy, others not so. There had been sickness and death
at the prison, and the letters brought tears as well as smiles.
Good-bye. --Affectionately, your son,
MRS. SOPHIA HAYES.
July 30, 1862. Wednesday. --I set the men to drilling in the
new target practice. Rode with Bottsford over to see Mrs.
Lilley, an old lady whose husband, James Lilley, lately died at
Camp Chase in prison. Her son James is still there. As the only
male member of the family old enough to do work, I am inclined
to ask for his release. Her daughter Emily, a well-appearing
young woman, is accused of giving the information which led
to bushwhacking Captain Gilmore's cavalry. I hope it is not so.
I received today letters from Stephenson and Herron and an
order from Columbus "authorizing" me to assist in raising a
regiment, the Seventy-ninth. I don't know what to think of all
this. Am I required to go home and assist?
July 31, 1862. Thursday. -- Rained almost all day, clearing
up the after part of the day. Received Commercial of 28th. It
314 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
looks as if they were getting ready to draft. The Commercial
finds fault with the rule which practically excludes from the new
regiments officers already in the field: no one to be appointed
unless he can be present to aid in recruiting, and no officer to
have leave of absence unless he is actually commissioned over a
regiment already filled up!! Well, I am indifferent. The present
position is too agreeable, to make [me] regret not getting an-
other.-- I saw the new moon square in front.
HEADQUARTERS 23D REGT. O. V.,
CAMP GREEN MEADOWS, MERCER COUNTY, VIRGINIA,
July 31, 1862.
SIR:--I am this day in receipt of Special Orders No. 716,
dated Adjutant-General's Office, Columbus, Ohio, July 21, 1862,
directed to me at Cincinnati, authorizing me to assist in raising
one of the new regiments now forming in Ohio. I shall apply
for leave of absence by today's mail for the purpose of entering
upon the service indicated in the order.
It is proper to add that, although fully sensible of the im-
portance of rapid recruiting, I would not ask leave of absence
from duty in the field for that purpose, if there was any im-
mediate prospect of active operations here.
R. B. HAYES,
LIEUTENANT-COLONEL TWENTY-THIRD REGT., O. V.
BRIGADIER-GENERAL C. W. HILL,
August 1, 1862. Friday.--A good little drill. Mr. Land-
craft, one of the three slaveholders of Monroe County who were
true to the Union, and a Mrs. Roberts were arrested and brought
into my camp in obedience to orders from headquarters. Mrs.
Roberts is a ladylike woman; her husband, a Secesh, is a prisoner
at Raleigh. Mrs. Roberts and her uncle, Mr. Landcraft, came
HOLDING THE FRONT LINE--1862 315
over New River and passed into our lines, the pickets admitting
them, without proper passes. If this is the whole offense, the
arrest is on most insufficient and frivolous grounds. In the case
of Mrs. Roberts, who has a nursing child at home, it is as cruel
as it is unnecessary. I shall do my best to get them out of the
trouble. These needless persecutions of old men and of women,
I am ashamed of.
August 2, 1862. Saturday.--. . . From General Cox I
hear that I can't send captains on recruiting service. This dis-
appoints Captains Drake and Sperry. I have named Lieutenants
Avery and Hastings. I also learn that I can't go home to recruit
the Seventy-ninth Regiment whose colonel I am to be if and if.
Well I don't care much. I should never find such a regiment as
August 3, 1862. Sunday.--. . . Was glad to be able
to release Mr. Landcraft and Mrs. Roberts. This arrest was a
[August] 4, 1862. Monday. -- Company I, Greenwood mus-
kets, fired at target one hundred yards. Best string, thirty-seven
inches (4 shots); the muskets not so accurate for short ranges
as the Enfields; not so well sighted. Possibly the men are some-
what afraid of them is one reason. I keep the men busy to
prevent rusting. This target practice seems to interest them very
August 5, 1862. Tuesday.--Target practice continues. I
did a thing that worried me this A. M. I saw two soldiers sitting
on post. It was contrary to orders. I directed that they should
carry knapsacks one hour. I do not often punish. They turned
out to be two good quiet soldiers. But the order was given before
I knew who they were. One of them felt badly, wanted to be
excused; but the order was out and I had it executed. I trust
it will cure the evil. . . .
Camp Green Meadows, August 6, 1862. Wednesday. -- This
has been a day of excitement and action. Before I was out of
bed a courier came saying our pickets on New River above Blue-
stone were probably cut off; that firing had been heard near there,
316 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
and none had come in to the picket station. I ordered Companies
C and E to go down and look them up, supposing some small
party of the enemy had attempted to cut them off. Before the
companies could get away another courier came reporting that
the enemy in force, three thousand to four thousand, had passed
down New River on the other side. Of course this was to at-
tack the ferry. I sent word to the ferry and to Flat Top, directed
the men to put one day's rations in haversacks, forty rounds of
ammunition in boxes, and fill canteens. Then word came that
the forces were smaller than supposed and no cannon. I dis-
patched Flat Top, Colonel Scammon to that effect, and that re-
inforcements were not needed.
Soon after a courier from [the] ferry [reported] that the
enemy in large force were firing cannon rifled at them. I sent
this to Flat Top. Then called up Companies E, C, and K to go
to reinforce the ferry. I sent the band to give them music and
told the men: "Fighting battles is like courting the girls: those
who make most pretension and are boldest usually win. So, go
ahead, give good hearty yells as you approach the ferry, let the
band play; but don't expose yourselves, keep together and keep
under cover. It is a bushwhacking fight across the river. Don't
expose yourself to show bravery; we know you are all brave,"
etc., etc. The men went off in high spirits.
A courier came from Bluestone saying the enemy were at the
ford with a cannon in some force. I sent Company I down there
to watch them and hinder them if they attempted to cross. Under
what he deemed obligatory written orders, Major Comly de-
stroyed the large ferry-boat. Soon after, the enemy ceased firing
and made a rapid retreat. They ran their horses past the ford at
Bluestone. Whether they left because they heard our band and
reinforcements coming or because they saw the major had done
their work, is problematical.
My couriers reached Flat Top in from one hour ten to one
hour thirty minutes: viz., at 7:10, 8:30, and 9 A. M. The colonel
with [the] Thirtieth and artillery, cavalry (Thirty-fifth), starting
at 12 M! Rather slow business. The artillery and Thirtieth
halted at Jumping Branch, reaching there two and one-half miles
back at 4 P. M. Slow aid. It beats Giles!
HOLDING THE FRONT LINE--1862 317
A singular and almost fatal accident occurred about 5:30 P. M.
In the midst of a severe thunder-storm the guard-tent was struck
by lightning. Eight men were knocked flat, cartridge boxes ex-
ploded, muskets were shattered, etc., etc. The eight were all
badly hurt, but dashing cold water on them they revived. They
were playing "seven-up." They thought it was shell. One said
as he came to "Where are they? Where are they?" Another
spoke up repeating the question, "Where is Colonel Hayes?
Where is the colonel?"
GREEN MEADOWS, August 6 , 1862.
DEAREST:--Adjutant Avery, Lieutenant Hastings, and some
good men go home on recruiting service.
I have nothing to say this hot day. I have still some hope that
things will so work together as to allow me to see you during the
next month or two. At present no leaves of absence are granted
to officers appointed in new regiments. I do not know how this
will affect the appointees for the Seventy-ninth. If they choose
to turn us out, all right. I am indifferent. Indeed, leaving the
Twenty-third is an unpleasant thing to contemplate. When I
look at the neat, hardy, healthy, contented young fellows who
make up nine-tenths of the regiment, and contrast their appear-
ance with a mob of raw recruits -- dirty, sickly, lawless, and com-
plaining, I can't help feeling that I should be a great fool to ac-
cept the new position.
But there are other considerations which influence me in the
other direction, and so I quietly dodge the question for the pres-
ent. To see "all the boys" and your own dear self, that is a great
matter, and I think, if things go on as I anticipate, that circum-
stances will decide me for the Seventy-ninth, always provided
these stringent orders as to absence don't cut me out of the
Dr. Joe has been for three or four days quite sick. He is now
up and about again. He complains that he gets no letters.
Later. -- Dr. Joe is content. He has got two letters--one
from you and one from Mother. I have yours of the 26th. Yes,
we feel a good deal alike about leaving the Twenty-third. Well,
318 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
I have no official notice as to what I am to do. But I have
official notice that no leave of absence is granted for the purpose
of recruiting new regiments. So the question as to whether I go
or stay is likely to decide itself. So let it do. . . . Love
to all the boys.
August 7 .
DEAREST: -- I wrote this last night -- today has been a day of
excitement. All has not been quiet on New River. This morning
at daylight I was aroused by a courier saying our most distant
picket had been fired on and as no one had come in, they were
believed to be all cut off. I got out two companies to see to it.
In twenty minutes another came in saying that the enemy three
thousand to four thousand strong, with artillery, were coming to
attack our four companies at Packs Ferry, under Major Comly.
I sent word to the major and three companies, [and] word to
Flat Top for help. Well, they made the attack both at the ferry
and the ford--but it was across a broad river. Cannon shots
barely missed many times. Shell lit in close proximity and failed
to explode, and our sharpshooters getting bold and skilful, the
enemy retreated, running the gauntlet of our sharpshooters on
the river bank for three miles. Not a man of ours killed or
wounded. Reinforcements reached us under Colonel Scammon
at 4 P. M., just four hours after the last Rebel had disappeared
six miles above here. Our courier carried the news to Flat Top
in one hour and ten minutes. The "aid" did it in six hours!
We had a terrific thunder-storm about six P. M. The lightning
struck our guard-tent. Five men were laid out apparently dead.
Dr. Joe and all of us were there in an instant. The men are all
restored and I think will all get well. They all appeared dead,
and but for instant aid would have died. . . .
August 7. -- Thursday. -- Colonel Scammon who came down
with the battery and the Thirtieth Regiment, returned to Flat
HOLDING THE FRONT LINE--1862 319
Top this A. M. The colonel is too nervous and fussy to be a
good commander. He cut around like a hen with one chicken
after getting news of our being attacked three hours or four be-
fore he started his troops. They reached the place where they
camped, twelve miles from Flat Top, about 5 P. M. They would
have got to the ferry, if at all, after dark. The enemy could have
fought a battle and escaped before aid would have come.
Lieutenants Avery and Hastings, Sergeant Abbott, Corporal
Bennett, and two privates left today on recruiting service.
Camp Green Meadows, Friday, August 8, 1862.--Captains
Drake and Skiles of [the] Twenty-third and Captain Gilmore of
the cavalry returned today. They brought fourteen head [of]
good cattle got from Secesh. Captain Drake is very much irritat-
ed because he and Captain Sperry were not detailed on my rec-
ommendation to go on recruiting service, the reason given being
that captains in the opinion of [the] general commanding, Gen-
eral Cox, ought not to be sent. Since that, a number of captains
have been sent from this division. This looks badly. Captain
Drake tenders his resignation "immediate and unconditional." I
requested the captain not to be too fast. He is impulsive and
hasty, but gallant and brave to a fault, honorable and trustworthy.
I prefer to send him on any dangerous service to any man I ever
knew. I hope he will remain in the regiment if I do.
I ordered camp changed today to get rid of old leaves, soured
ground, dirty tents, and the like. Have succeeded in getting more
room for tents and more room for drill.
CAMP GREEN MEADOWS, MERCER COUNTY, VIRGINIA,
August 8, 1862.
DEAR UNCLE:--. . . . I have not yet decided as to the
Seventy-ninth Regiment. I would much prefer the colonelcy of
this [regiment, the Twenty-third], of course. At the same time
there are some things which influence me strongly in favor of the
change. I shall not be surprised if the anxiety to have the colonel
present to aid in recruiting will be such that I shall feel it my
duty to decline. You know I can't get leave of absence until my
320 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
commission is issued, and the commission does not issue until
the regiment is full. By this rule, officers in the field are ex-
cluded. I shall leave the matter to take care of itself for the
We have had a good excitement the last day or two. A large
force, about two thousand, with heavy artillery and cavalry, have
been attacking the positions occupied by the Twenty-third. They
cannonaded Major Comly at the ferry four and one-half miles
from here, and a post I have at the ford three and one-half miles
from here, on Wednesday. Tents were torn and many narrow
escapes made, but strangely enough nobody on our side was hurt.
With our long-range muskets, the enemy soon found they were
likely to get the worst of it.
The same evening our guard-tent was struck by lightning.
Eight men were knocked senseless, cartridge boxes, belted to
the men, were exploded, and other frightful things, but all are
The drafting pleases me. It looks as if [the] Government was
in earnest. All things promise well. I look for the enemy to
worry us for the next two months, but after that our new forces
will put us in condition to begin the crushing process. I think
another winter will finish them. Of course there will be guerrilla
and miscellaneous warfare, but the power of the Rebels will, I
believe, go under if [the] Government puts forth the power
which now seems likely to be gathered.
I am as anxious as you possibly can be to set up in Spiegel
Grove, and to begin things. It is a pity you are in poor health,
but all these things we need not grieve over. Don't you feel glad
that I was in the first regiment originally raised for the three-
years service in Ohio, instead of waiting till this time, when a
man volunteers to escape a draft? A man would feel mean
about it all his days.
I wish you were well enough to come out here. You would
enjoy it to the top of town. Many funny things occur in these
alarms from the enemy. Three shells burst in our assistant
surgeon's tent. He was out but one of them killed a couple of
live rattlesnakes he had as pets! One fellow, an old pursy fifer,
a great coward, came puffing up to my tent from the river and
HOLDING THE FRONT LINE--1862 321
began to talk extravagantly of the number and ferocity of the
enemy. Said I to him, "And, do they shoot their cannon pretty
rapidly?" "Oh, yes," said he, "very rapidly indeed--they had
fired twice before I left the camp"!
It is very hot these days but our men are still healthy. We
have over eight hundred men, and only about ten in hospital
here. . . . .
R. B. HAYES.
P. S. -- Wasn't you pleased with the Morgan raid into Ken-
tucky? I was in hopes they would send a shell or two into
Cincinnati. It was a grand thing for us.
August 9. Saturday.-- Am planning an expedition to go to
Salt Well and destroy it; also to catch old Crump if he is at
home. Jacobs, Company G, a scout, went up yesterday to
Crump's Bottom. Reports favorably. All safe now. Curious,
quiet fellow, Jacobs. He takes no grub, wears moccasins; passes
himself for a guerrilla of the Rebels, eats blackberries when he
can't get food; slips stealthily through the woods, and finds out
all that is going.
Old Andy Stairwalt, a fat, queer-looking old fifer with a
thin voice, and afflicted with a palpitation of the heart (!)--a
great old coward, otherwise a worthy man -- was one of the first
men who reached here from the ferry after the attack of Wednes-
day. He was impressed that the enemy were in great force. I
asked him if they fired their cannon rapidly. "Oh, yes," said he,
"very rapidly; they fired twice before I left the camp"!
Sad news. The dispatch tells us that "General Bob McCook
was murdered by guerrillas while riding in front of his brigade
in Tennessee." He always said he did not expect to survive the
war. He was a brave man, honest, rough, "an uncut diamond."
A good friend of mine; we have slept together through several
stormy nights. I messed with him in his quarters on Mount
Sewell. Would that he could have died in battle! Gallant spirit,
hail and farewell!
322 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
I send out today Company E, thirty-nine men, K, twenty-seven
men, H, about thirty men, and a squad of men from A, I, and C
of twenty-seven men, and about twenty-five cavalry to stop the
salt well in Mercer, twenty miles above here. Total force about
one hundred and fifty men. They go up to Crump's Bottom,
catch him if they can, take his canoe and the ferry-boat and
destroy the Mercer salt well. This is the programme.
A charming affectionate letter from my dear wife. She speaks
of her feelings on the night before the regiment left for the seat
of war, a year ago the 24th of July.* Dear Lucy, God grant you
as much happiness as you deserve and your cup will indeed be
full! She speaks of the blue-eyed beautiful youngest. He is al-
most eight months old. A letter from mother Hayes, more cheer-
ful than usual, religious and affectionate. She is past seventy,
and fears she will not live to see the end of the war. I trust she
will, and to welcome me home again as of old she used to from
Sunday, August 10, 1862, 9:30 A. M.--Captain Drake and
Gilmore's Cavalry have returned. The infantry are bathing in
Bluestone. The expedition was completely successful, and was
of more importance than I supposed it would be. They reached
the salt well about 2:30 A. M.; found the works in full blast--
a good engine pumping, two pans thirty feet long boiling, etc., etc.
The salt is good; considerable salt was on hand. All the works
were destroyed by fire. A canoe found at Crump's was taken to
I spent an anxious night. Jackson, Major Comly's scout, re-
ported that the salt well was guarded. This came to me after I
*Mrs. Hayes had written from Chillicothe, August 2: "The 24th of
July a year ago was a happy, and yet, oh, sad night, and yet the thought
that I was with you to the last moment of that sad parting sends such a
thrill of joy through my heart. I think of it so often. 'Twas bitter to
know that when morning dawned, instead of joy and happiness, 'twould
bring such heavy sorrow, such bitter tears. We stood and gazed after
the cars holding all that was dearest to us, but I was a soldier's wife,
I must not cry yet. While standing there, an old woman spoke to Mother,
asking who was gone; then she turned to me, 'You had better take a
good cry, my dear, 'twill lighten your heart.' How freshly everything
comes before me now!"
HOLDING THE FRONT LINE--1862 323
was in bed and too late to send the word to the expedition. I an-
ticipated trouble there and felt anxious enough. I slept little, was
up often. But luckily all went well. Not a man was in sight.
This morning, as they were returning, the cavalry were bush-
whacked, horses wounded, clothes cut, but no man hurt.
Received a "secret" order to be ready to move on one-half
hour's notice. Rode post to the ferry; set the men to preparing
for one of General Pope's minute and practical inspections.
CAMP GREEN MEADOWS, August 10, 1862.
DEAREST LUTE: -- All your names are sweet. "Lu" is good; 1
always think of the girls at Platt's saying "Aunt Lu." "Lute"
and "Luty" is Joe; and "Lucy darling," that's me. All pretty
Your letter of the 2nd came last night. A great comfort it
was. Several things last night were weighing on me, and I
needed a dear word from you. I had got a reluctant permission
to send a party to attempt to destroy the salts-works at the Mercer
salt well twenty-five miles from here, over a rough mountain
country full of enemies, and uncertain who might be at the well.
I started the party at 6 P. M. to make a night march of it to get
there and do the work and get fairly off before daylight. Cap-
tains Drake and Zimmerman were in command with twenty of
Gilmore's gallant cavalry and one hundred and thirty of our
best men. I had got all the facts I could before they left, but
after they were gone three hours, a scout I had given up came
in with information that the works were strongly guarded. I
slept none during that night. Then too, the sad news that Mc-
Cook was murdered was in the evening dispatches, casting a deep
shadow over all. It needed your letter to carry me through the
I was out at early dawn, walking the camp, fearing to hear the
gallop of a horse. Time went on slowly enough, but it was a case
where no news was good news. If they had run into trouble
the word would have returned as fast as horseflesh could bring
it. By breakfast time I began to feel pretty safe; at eight I
324 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
visited the hospital and talked cheerfully to the sick, feeling
pretty cheerful really. About half past nine Captain Drake rode
in. The fifty miles had been travelled, and the Secesh salt well
for all this saltless region was burned out root and branch.
Three horses were badly wounded; many [men] had their
clothes cut, but not a man was hurt. They reached the well at
2 A. M., found it in full blast, steam on, etc., etc., received one
feeble volley of rifle balls and the thing was done. So much
good your letter did.
Yes, I get all your letters about one week after you mail them.
I got a letter from Mother of same date at same time. This
happens almost always.
As to the Seventy-ninth, I agree with you. The greatest in-
ducements are to visit you and to get out of these mountains
before another winter. I may, and probably will, find worse
places, but I am getting tired of this. Another thing, a sense
of duty. I do not know that it clearly inclines either way. In
such case we usually manage to persuade ourselves that it points
the way we wish. But it strikes me that the Twenty-third is as
near right as I can make it. It can't get much more out of me,
while possibly my experience might be more useful in a new
regiment than anywhere else. Do you see where I am coming
As I am writing a messenger from headquarters comes with
a significant order headed "secret." I am ordered to place all
things in readiness to move on thirty minutes' notice -- to have
baggage, etc., etc., in such condition that it can be done on that
notice any time after tomorrow at 3 P. M. This means what?
I suspect a move to the east by way of Lewisburg and White
Sulphur Springs. It may be a move to eastern Virginia. It may
be towards Giles and the railroad again.
Well, I have galloped to the ferry five miles and back. I am
likely to be settled some way soon, but at any rate, in the Seventy-
ninth or Twenty-third, I have got the best wife of any of them.
This war has added to my confidence in you, my love for you,
and my happiness that I have so dear a wife. The character you
have shown in bearing what was so severe a trial, the unselfish
HOLDING THE FRONT LINE -- 1862 325
and noble feeling you constantly exhibit, has endeared you to
me more than ever before.
Joining the army when I did is now to be thought fortunate.
Think of my waiting till forced by the fear of a draft to
Good-bye, darling. Love and kisses to the dear boys, the little
blue-eyed favorite, and all.
Affectionately ever, your
I enclose a literary specimen.*
Monday, August 11, 1862.--Received a note from Major
[Comly] that the enemy was moving from Red Sulphur either
towards us or Colonel Crook. Kept the men preparing for the
"secret" inspection or movement. Got a letter from the major,
rather obscurely intimating that I did wrong in sending him aid
at the time of the attack on him, and showing that he is offended
about it, or hurt about it, at any rate. He says I lent official
color to the rumor that he had abandoned the place by doing it,
etc., etc. I replied that he was in error in thinking I had said I
sent reinforcements to him instead of sending to Bluestone be-
cause of a rumor that went to Raleigh that he had abandoned
the ferry without firing a gun. I had not heard the rumor then;
but I did fear he was losing, AS I heard from couriers that he
was destroying boats, and that the column a mile or more out
was still marching this way.
Tuesday, August 12, 1862. -- I sent this morning to J. C. Dun-
levy, Lebanon, the following dispatch: "I am glad to hear that
the Seventy-ninth is likely to be promptly filled without drafting.
If so I shall join it as soon as leave can be obtained." So I am
*The "specimen" was a scrap of paper reading: "Mr. Kernel hase
I Want a Pass to go to see Wilson Lilly he has Sent for me he is Just
at the Point of death
326 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
A fine rain this P. M.-- A most gorgeous picture was pre-
sented by the sky and clouds and the beautiful hills surrounding,
as I sat looking at our dress parade.
CAMP GREEN MEADOWS, August 12, 1862.
DEAR UNCLE: -- I write merely to say that I have concluded
to accept [the] colonelcy of the Seventy-ninth if it is filled with-
out drafting. I love this regiment, but must leave it. I was
pretty evenly balanced on the question. I have decided it rightly.
It will take me to Cincinnati, I conjecture, in about three or four
weeks. I shall no doubt be kept closely at work, but will manage
some way to see you, if but for a night. Possibly you can come
I am sad over McCook's death. From the first he always
told me -- I suppose he said the same thing to many -- that he
would certainly not survive the war. He expected confidently
to be killed. I suppose all men have notions one way or the
other of that sort.
Quite a batch of the new colonels are persons with whom I
am on agreeable terms. Anderson, Haynes, Lee Stem, Moore,
Longworth, Tafel, and a bunch of others. But they will be a
funny lot for a while. I suspect I shall enjoy the thing. I can
now appreciate the difference between an old seasoned regiment
and the same people raw. Nothing is nicer than a good old
regiment. The machine runs itself--all the colonel has to do
is to look on and see it go. But at first it's always in a snarl, and
a thousand unreasonable men make such a big snarl. I have no
doubt I shall see times when I would like to see around me the
quiet, neat, hardy youngsters who are with me now.
Well, good-bye. I feel like shedding tears when I think of
leaving these men, but I at once get into a quiet laugh when I
think of what I am going to -- a thousand-headed monster!
R. B. HAYES.
P.S. -- I forgot to say anything about the war. My command
is scattered from fourteen to twenty miles from any succor, and
HOLDING THE FRONT LINE--1862 327
if attacked it's doubtful if any would reach in time. We must
fight or go under, perhaps both. Well, on the 6th, the enemy
three times our whole and six times our detachment at the ferry,
with rifle, cannon, etc., etc., attacked. We had a busy day but
by stratagem and good luck we got off with slight damage. They
thought we were the strongest and after firing two hours re-
treated. Next day but one, we destroyed their salt works twenty-
five miles from here. Last night I was up all night riding and
manoeuvring to keep them off; but it makes a man feel well to
have something to do.
CAMP GREEN MEADOWS, August 12, 1862.
DEAR MOTHER:-- I received your good letter of the 2d the day
before yesterday. On same day received one from Lucy of same
We have had some fighting and a good deal of excitement and
night riding and duty of various sorts during the last week. We
have been exceedingly lucky, losing, so far as I know, but one
man. We had two accidents--one man drowned and eight
struck with lightning. All were senseless and most of them
seemed dead for a short time, but all are living and probably all
will recover entirely. It was the same day that we were attacked,
after the enemy had retreated. The men all supposed that a
shell of the enemy had burst. The enemy were in great force
and had artillery superior to ours, but the security of our position
was soon apparent, and after less than an hour's firing they re-
tired, having lost a few killed and wounded.
I have agreed to accept [the] colonelcy of [the] Seventy-ninth
regiment if it is filled without drafting. I suppose this will take
me to Cincinnati and home in three or four weeks. I shall no
doubt be in duty bound to devote all my time to the new regi-
ment, but I shall of course manage to see you if it is but for a
day or night.
The weather is seasonable -- that is hot as Tophet. We have
a few more sick than usual but nothing serious.
328 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
I am pleased with the war prospects. We may meet with
disasters to give things a gloomy look before the new troops are
ready for the field, but it certainly seems as if we could, with
the new army, put a speedy end to the Rebellion. I trust you will
live to see the country again at peace. But war isn't the worst
thing that can happen to a country. It stirs up a great deal of
good. I see more kindness, more unselfish generosity around me
than would probably be found among these young men if they
were plodding along in ordinary selfish pursuits. . . .
Affectionately, your son,
MRS. SOPHIA HAYES.
ON STEAMER MONITOR, KANAWHA RIVER,
August 18, . Evening.
DEAR WIFE: -- I am four hard days' marching, and a few
hours' travel on a swift steamer nearer to you than I was when
I last wrote you, and yet I am not on my way home. You will
see in the newspapers, I suppose, that General Cox's Division
(the greater part of it) is going to eastern Virginia. We left
our camps Friday, the 15th, making long and rapid marches
from the mountains to the head of navigation on this river. We
now go down to the Ohio, then up to Parkersburg, and thence
by railroad eastwardly to the scene of operations. My new
regiment fills slowly, I think, and it may be longer than I an-
ticipated before I shall be called for at Cincinnati, if at all.
There is talk of an order that will prevent my going to the new
regiment, but I think it is not correctly understood, and the
chance, it seems to me, is that I shall go home notwithstanding
this change of plan.
Our men are delighted with the change. They cheer and
laugh, the band plays, and it is a real frolic. During the hot
dusty marching, the idea that we were leaving the mountains of
west Virginia kept them in good heart.
You will hereafter direct letters to me "General Cox's Division,
Army of Virginia."
HOLDING THE FRONT LINE--1862 329
August 19. Evening. Same steamer on the Ohio River. --
DEAREST: -- We have had a particularly jolly day. The river
is very low, and at many of the bars and shoals we are compelled
to disembark and march the troops around. In this way we have
marched through some villages, and fine farming neighborhoods
in Meigs County. The men, women, and children turned out with
apples, peaches, pies, melons, pickles (Joe took to them), etc., etc.,
etc., in the greatest profusion. The drums and fifes and band all
piped their best. The men behaved like gentlemen and marched
beautifully. Wasn't I proud of them? How happy they were!
They would say, "This is God's country." So near you and
marching away from you! That was the only sad point in it for
me. Only one man drunk so far; his captain put him under
arrest. He insisted on an appeal to me, and on my saying, "It's
all right," he was sober enough to submit, saying, "Well, if the
colonel says it's right, it must be right," so he made no trouble.
I shall write daily until we get to Parkersburg--that is on
the line of railroad to Chillicothe, I believe. No more tonight.
[R. B. HAYES.]
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