WINTER RECRUITING--ADVANCE AND RETREAT-CLOYD'S
CAMP WHITE, January 1, 1864.
DEAR UNCLE:--. . . This is New Year's day. Bright
but very cold and windy. My regiment has re-enlisted
and a majority of the men and part of the officers have gone
home. I expect to go to Ohio towards the last of this month.
S. BIRCHARD. R. B. HAYES.
January 5, 1864.--Last day of bounties. Got about three
hundred veterans. The Twenty-third may now be counted as a
veteran regiment. Very absurd in Congress repealing bounties.
CAMP WHITE, January 17, 1864.
DEAR MOTHER:--We are all very well and have enjoyed the
cold snap. We had good sleighing about ten days. The river
was closed, cutting us off completely from the civilized world.
Provisions were pretty plenty, however, and we felt independent
of the weather.
It is not quite certain yet when I can get off. I hope to do so
by the last of this month. Lucy will come with me. We shall
go first to Cleveland where some of our veterans are recruiting;
from there to Fremont, thence to Delaware and Columbus, and
return by the way of Cincinnati. . . .
Affectionately, your son,
MRS. SOPHIA HAYES.
450 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
Monday, [January] 18. P. M.--Raining the first time this
month. New Year's Eve change came about midnight. January
I cold and windy, "very, very indeed"; snow about [the] 3rd.
Two weeks of unusual cold weather. Kanawha frozen; naviga-
tion suspended about a week; a week's good sleighing. Now a
thaw for a few days; snow going off.
Captain Gilmore out after Rebel Colonel Ferguson, Sixteenth
Virginia Cavalry; fourth day out.
CAMP WHITE, January 24, 1864.
DEAR UNCLE: -- The extension of the bounties and postpone-
ment of the draft will postpone my visit home a week or two.
I shall not leave here probably before the second week in
We are all very well. It is very lonesome here now. All the
Twenty-third company officers but four or five are at home, half
of the men, besides a good many of all other organizations
hereabouts. Recruiting seems to be progressing favorably. I
trust we shall have stronger and more efficient armies in the field
this spring than ever before. I think it likely that the Rebels
with their unsparing conscription of young and old will for a
time outnumber us again. But a few weeks' campaigning will
send to the rear the old men and boys in vast numbers.
I am growing anxious to see Birch and his mother talks of
S. BIRCHARD. R. B. HAYES.
January 26, 1864. -- Another large squad of veterans and the
most of the remaining officers left for Ohio yesterday. Re-
cruiting seems to be active in Ohio. I think we shall get our
*A Columbus dispatch of February 14, in the Cincinnati Gazette, had
this paragraph:--"It has been ascertained at the muster-in office, that the
Twenty-third Ohio, Colonel R. B. Hayes, Department of West Virginia,
was the first regiment from this State to enlist as veterans. Several
regiments have claimed that honor."
WINTER RECRUITING--1864 451
Plan of spring campaign from Kanawha Valley. -- Ten or
fifteen thousand men can move from the head of navigation on
the Kanawha River (Loup Creek) via Fayette, Raleigh, Flat
Top, and Princeton to the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad be-
tween New River and Wytheville, a distance of one hundred
and thirty-nine miles, in a week or ten days; spend a week on
the railroad destroying New River Bridge and the track for
twenty-five miles; return to Loup Creek in one week more and
be carried in steamers into the Ohio, and thence East or South
for other operations. One week is time enough to convey such a
force to Loup Creek from the Potomac or the West. The roads
and weather will ordinarily allow such a column to move April
20. Supplies and transportation should be provided at Fayette
during February and March. The utmost secrecy should be
observed so that the first information the Rebels would have
would be the approach of the force. Such a destruction of the
railroad would effectually cut the communications of Longstreet
and Jones in east Tennessee and compel him [the enemy] to
abandon that country. The Rebels could not reconstruct the
railroad during the next campaign. It would perhaps compel the
evacuation of Richmond.
CAMP WHITE, February 7, 1864.
DEAR UNCLE:--The capture of General Scammon and two
of his staff, will postpone my coming a few days, only a few
days, I hope. I must be cautious what I say, but to you I can
write that his capture is the greatest joke of the war. It was
sheer carelessness, bad luck, and accident. It took a good many
chances, all lost, to bring it about. Everybody laughs when
he is alone, and very intimate friends laugh in concert when
together. General Scammon's great point was his caution.
He bored us all terribly with his extreme vigilance. The great-
est military crime in his eyes was a surprise. Here he is caught
in the greenest and most inexcusable way.
We shall come, I think, in a week or so via Cleveland.
S. BIRCHARD. R. B. HAYES.
452 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
COLUMBUS, February 29, 1864.
DEAR MOTHER:--We are having a pleasant visit. The new
Mrs. Platt we like well. Her presence will be a good thing for
the little folks and Laura receives and treats her in a very
sensible and happy way.
I go to Cincinnati tomorrow or day after, and early next week
leave for the Kanawha.
MRS. SOPHIA HAYES.
CAMP WHITE, March 11, 1864.
DEAR UNCLE:--Home again with Lucy and all the boys--
well and happy. Birch did not meet his brothers until he saw
them here last night. Three happier boys I never saw. They
are all very well.--Love to all.
R. B. HAYES.
CAMP WHITE, March 26, 1864.
DEAR MOTHER:--We are now having a cold rain-storm, but
are all well. There is considerable sickness among our new
recruits of the usual sort -- measles, mumps, and a little small-
pox and fever. Nothing very serious so far, and as the weather
gets warmer we hope to get clear of it altogether.
Mrs. Ellen, a nice lady, wife of our quartermaster, is teaching
the two smaller boys regularly and speaks very encouragingly
of her scholars. Lucy schools the larger boy with a young
soldier who is a good deal older than Birch, but not so far ad-
vanced. . . .
I hope you will get through the raw weather of spring with-
out serious illness.--Love to all.
Affectionately, your son,
MRS. SOPHIA HAYES.
WINTER RECRUITING--1864 453
CAMP WHITE, April 3, 1864.
DEAR UNCLE:--. . . I have spent the last week visiting the
five posts between here and Sandy occupied by my men. We are
picking up a good many Rebels in small squads. Things look
like active operations here as everywhere else, but nothing
R. B. HAYES.
CAMP WHITE, April 9, 1864.
DEAR MOTHER:--It is wet and stormy weather, but we are
all safely sheltered and care nothing for wind or rain.
I am very glad you can write so cheerfully as you did in your
last letter. If you could see what I see every day you would
think the people of the North were blessed indeed. I feel con-
fident that we are more than half through with the work of
crushing [the] Rebellion.
I send you this time the writing of my grandfather [about his
ancestors]. It will interest you a great deal. I would be glad
if you would preserve it or send it to Uncle Birchard for him
to keep for me. I wish you would write me a similar account
of your ancestors. Mrs. Wasson's excellent memory of dates
and names may aid you.
Affectionately, your son,
MRS. SOPHIA HAYES.
CAMP WHITE, April 20, 1864.
DEAR UNCLE:--It now seems certain that we are to take an
active part in the summer's campaign. We expect to see some
of the severe fighting. The Rebel troops in our front are as
good as any, and we shall attempt to push them away. My brig-
ade is three large regiments of infantry, containing a good many
new recruits. They have been too much scattered (at ten or
twelve places) to be properly drilled and disciplined. Still we
have some of the best men in service. Of course, if they should
454 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
break or falter in action, I will be a good deal exposed, otherwise,
not so much as heretofore. Still I have no misgivings on my
own account, and even if I had, you know my views of such
things well enough to know that it would not disturb me much.
Lucy and the boys will soon go to Chillicothe to stay in that
vicinity with or near her relatives. Birch would like to go to
Fremont, if his mother could go with him.
R. B. HAYES.
CAMP WHITE, April 24, 1864.
DEAR MOTHER:--We are very busy, and of course happy
getting ready for campaigning. General Averell is here and
large additions are daily arriving to our force. The Thirty-
sixth Ohio is at present added to my command, I hope per-
Lucy and the other ladies are preparing to go to Ohio. The
weather is favorable and everything is cheering and full of
life. . . .
Your affectionate son,
MRS. SOPHIA HAYES.
April 26, 1864. -- All things point to early action. [The]
Thirty-sixth Ohio came up and entered our camp yesterday
morning; now below us. The enlisted men gave General Crook
a seven-hundred-dollar sword on our parade this morning.
Avery, a major, on his way to Annapolis with the Sixtieth.
Glad he is getting his deserts; sorry to lose him. I hope the
Thirty-sixth is to be with us. General Duffie and others dined
with me today. All talked action.
CAMP REYNOLDS, NEAR GAULEY BRIDGE, May 1, 1864.
DEAR MOTHER:--We have been marching now three days.
We have a considerable force and are setting out on a campaign.
ADVANCE AND RETREAT--1864 455
We expect our full share of active service. We are under the
immediate command of General [George] Crook. We all feel
great confidence in his skill and good judgment. General
Averill is also with us in command of the cavalry. I have the
First Brigade of Infantry, consisting of [the] Twenty-third and
Thirty-sixth Ohio, Fifth and Thirteenth Virginia Volunteers.
The last named is not yet with us.
Lucy and the boys left on a steamboat at the same time I did.
You will perhaps not hear from me often for a while. -- Good-
Your affectionate son,
MRS. SOPHIA HAYES.
CAMP REYNOLDS, May 1, . 12 M.
DEAREST:--I am in the old log cabin at a desk where our
bed stood. The troops are on the hill overlooking the Falls.
The Fifth has gone to Tompkins Farm. I write you merely to
finish the good-bye so hastily spoken on the steamboat. Your
visit has been the greatest possible happiness to me. I carry
with me the pleasantest recollections of you dear ones all. Good-
May 2.--March at 6 A. M. to Fayetteville. Reached camp
on Raleigh road in a cold driving rain at 1 P. M. Camped on
wet ground in snow. A rough opening of our campaign.
Fifth and Seventh [Virginia Cavalry], six hundred men,
[under] Major Slack, attached to [the] First Brigade. [The]
Thirty-fourth [Ohio], Major Furney, two hundred and seventy
men, ditto. -- Twelve miles.
May 3, Tuesday. -- Marched to Blake's, thirteen miles. Called
with Colonel White on Colonel Sickles. Get an order from divi-
sion headquarters regulating halts. General Crook orders, "No
456 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
rails to be burned." Hard to enforce but am doing my best.
The Thirty-sixth obey promptly. Others grumble. General
Crook is testing our discipline!
May 4, Wednesday. -- Marched 5:30 A. M. from Blake's
to Prince's, fifteen miles; Third Brigade, Colonel Sickles, in ad-
vance. Fine, bright weather. Soldiers call out to General Beck-
ley: "Now bring on your militia!" A laugh rings out.
May 5, Thursday. -- From Prince's to Camp Creek, twenty-
five miles. Road blocked by chopping trees. Cleared by thirty
or forty of our axemen as fast as the column needed to pass.
We led off reaching Flat Top at 11 o'clock A. M.
May 6. Friday.--To Princeton sixteen miles. Very hot
and dusty. Enemy left yesterday evening except a small camp
guard. Camps and baggage of officers all left; apparently de-
ceived by our manoeuvres or [they] trusted too much to the
blockade. General Crook's strategy has succeeded perfectly in
deceiving the Rebels. Main force [under] Colonel McCausland,
said to have gone to meet us towards Lewisburg. Rebels had
begun pretty extensive and well-constructed works. We burn
their camps. Foolish business to entrench this point at this
stage of the game. In green sods on the parapet was the name
"Fort Breckinridge." Our boys changed it to "Fort Crook."
May 7.--A hard day's march. Left Princeton at 4 A. M.,
crossed East River Mountain and passed through Rocky Gap.
To cross roads nine miles, to Gap, eighteen -- a twenty-mile
May 8. Sunday.--Rocky Gap to Poplar Hill (Sharmon's),
twenty-four miles.--Ten from Giles; ten and one-half from
Dublin. Rebels probably ahead of us getting ready.
May 9.--Battle of Cloyd's Mountain, or as Rebs call it
"Cloyd Farm." Lasted one hour and a half. The Twenty-third
and Thirty-sixth, under the immediate direction of General
Crook, charged across a meadow three hundred yards wide,
sprang into a ditch and up a steep wooded hill to Rebel breast-
works, carried them quickly but with a heavy loss. Captain
ADVANCE AND RETREAT--1864 457
Hunter killed. Lieutenant Seaman ditto. Abbott's left arm
shattered. Rice a flesh wound. Eighteen killed outright; about
one hundred wounded--many mortally. This in [the] Twenty-
third. [The] Thirty-sixth less, as the Twenty-third led the
column. Entered Dublin Depot, ten and one-half miles, about
6:30 P. M. A fine victory. Took some prisoners, about three
hundred, [and] five pieces [of] artillery, many stores, etc., etc.
A fine country; plenty of forage. My loss, two hundred and
Tuesday, [May] 10.--Went to New River Bridge. They
shelled the woods filled with our men killing three or four. A
fine artillery duel between our guns on the high ground on the
west side of the river, theirs on the east. The Rebel effort was
to keep our men from firing the bridge. It was soon done. A
fine scene it was, my band playing and all the regiments marched
on to the beautiful hills hurrahing and enjoyed the triumph.
Marched thence to Pepper's Ferry and spent the afternoon and
night fording and ferrying the river. Sixteen miles.
Wednesday, [May] 11. -- To Blacksburg, nine miles, through
a finely cultivated country; constant pursuit of mounted videttes.
We caught Colonel Linkus, formerly of [the] Thirty-sixth [Vir-
ginia], as he was leaving town. Camped about 2 P. M. on a
fine slope in a fierce rain-storm. No comfort.
I protect all the property in my vicinity. I take food and
forage and burn rails, but all pillaging and plundering my
brigade is clear from. I can't say as much for the Pennsylvania
regiments, Third and Fourth, etc. Their conduct is most dis-
graceful. An officer may be excused for an occasional outrage
by some villain in his command, but this infamous and universal
plundering ought to dispose of shoulder-straps. Camped on
Amos' farm--engaged in the Rebellion.
Thursday, 12.--A most disagreeable rainy day. Mud and
roads horrible. Marched from Blacksburg to Salt Pond Moun-
tain. My brigade had charge of the train. I acted as wagon-
master; a long train to keep up. Rode all day in mud and rain
back and forth. Met "Mudwall" Jackson and fifteen hundred
458 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
[men]--a poor force that lit out rapidly from near Newport.
Got to camp--no tents--[at] midnight. Mud; slept on wet
ground without blankets. A horrible day, one of the worst of
all my experience. Fifteen miles.
Friday, 13. -- From Salt Pond Mountain to Peters Mountain.
A cold rainy morning. Afternoon, weather good. Bivouacked
on east side of Peters Mountain very early. Sun and rest
make all happy. Caught a Rebel train and a cannon at the foot
of the hill. [At] 3 P. M. ordered to cross Peters Mountain to
get forage for animals. A good little march--fifteen miles.
Bivouacked at foot of Peters Mountain northeast side.
MONROE COUNTY, IN BIVOUAC, May 13, 1864.
DEAREST: -- We are all right so far. Burned New River
Bridge, etc., etc. A most successful campaign. The victory of
Cloyd's Mountain was complete. The Twenty-third and Thirty-
sixth and part of Thirty-fourth fought under me. All behaved
well. The Twenty-third led the charge over an open meadow to
the enemy's works and carried them with a will. It cost us one
hundred and twenty killed and wounded. . . . This is our
best fight. [The] Twenty-third captured two cannon and other
trophies. General Jenkins and other officers and men captured.
-- Love to all.
Saturday, 14.--A rainy night. No march this A. M. Ser-
geant Ogden here wounded twice -- not dangerously. Given by
Captain Hastings a pair of spurs from Cloyd's Mountain said
to have been worn by General Jenkins.
12 M. Ordered to march. [The] Fifth and Seventh Vir-
ginia dismounted men report to me under Major Slade; Captain
P. M. Marched in a driving rain over execrable roads to near
Salt Sulphur Springs, three or four miles south of Union. The
ADVANCE AND RETREAT--1864 459
question is, Can the train pass over such roads?--six miles.
Out of grub; live off of the country. General Averell and his
cavalry a failure.
May 15. Sunday.--Marched four miles from south of Salt
Sulphur Springs to north of Union -- a beautiful grazing coun-
try. Salt Sulphur a pleasure resort in good condition; Union
a fine village. A bushwhacker killed by [the] Thirty-sixth.
Slept last night on the ground; rained all night; roads still worse.
Slept well. Greenbrier River reported unfordable. Starvation
only to be kept off by energetic and systematic foraging. Gen-
eral Crook anxious; works himself like a Turk.
Four men of Company F, who went out foraging at Blacks-
burg, reported to have been seen dead on the road. They went
out foolishly unarmed. Washed, shirted, and cleaned up.
1. A better pioneer party.
2. A provost guard to look after stragglers, prevent plunder-
3. A better arrangement for sick and wounded.
4. A guard to feed and keep prisoners.
We have now been fifteen days away from all news except of
our own successful movements.
We have here two hundred and fifty Rebel prisoners of [the]
Thirty-sixth, Forty-fifth, Sixtieth Virginia, etc. They are well-
behaved, civil fellows; have had very little to eat for some days.
We are trying to feed them. A good Secesh mother is now
feeding some of them.
May 16. Monday. -- Ordered to march at 8 A. M. on road to
Alderson's Ferry. We guard the trains. Before trains [were]
all out, General Averell requests that I detain one regiment;
his pickets fired on or approached on Sweet Springs Road. At
his request remain until 11 A. M. Marched one hour and
fifteen minutes to [within] about four and one-half miles from
Union. There shown a dispatch from General Crook by an aide-
de-camp of General Averell authorizing him to detain me but no
orders given. Told the aide I would halt there until he could
460 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
send orders from General Averell if I was wanted. Waited
one and one-fourth hours; sent a messenger to Captain
Bottsford for orders. Reports from Union indicate no force.
After 3 P. M. marched slowly on after the infernally slow train.
Soon overtook it at Little Flat Top. After crossing met my
orderly (Heckler, Company C, wounded severely) from Captain
Bottsford directing me to remain at place I sent from. I rode
rapidly forward towards ferry to get further orders. Met
Lieutenant Patton and got from him verbal orders and also a
written order to camp near ferry. A bad road over Little
Flat Top and also near the river. The rest of the road good.
Three or four wagons broken; men tired, weak and hungry.
"Living on the country"; showery still, muddy of course.
May 17. Tuesday. -- Rained last night of course. Camp at
Alderson's Ferry on Centreville road; very wet. Ordered to
send a regiment to Union to report to General Averell. Sent
five companies from Colonel Duval's command [and] five com-
panies of Twenty-third, all under Lieutenant-Colonel Comly;
Major Adney also went with [the] Thirty-sixth companies, [and]
Dr. Barrett, surgeon. I don't believe the enmy is in force near
Union. All busy with a small ferry-boat getting over wagons,
etc.; horses and mules swim. General Crook and staff all at
work, clubbing mules into the river. Considerable quantities of
corn, etc., got here. Corn in the ear issued to men. Some parch,
some boil, some pound up. Regular rations all gone long ago.
A prodigious rain-storm about noon; no escape from the flood
of falling and running water. The river we are crossing fell
two feet last night. This will fill it booming full again.
We are now nearly three weeks without news from the out-
side or inside world. Great movements have taken place, we
know, but "with us or with our foes," we can't answer. The
Rebels we see seem to have heard news which they construe in
their own favor, but there is no elation of feeling as we would
expect if they had met with decided success. We are so absorbed
in our own fate that the more important operations of Grant
do not fill us with anxiety.
ADVANCE AND RETREAT--1864 461
Lieutenant Hamlin, Thirty-sixth, goes with twenty-two men,
three seregants, etc., on Centreville Road.
May 18. Wednesday.-- A foggy morning. Teams still slow-
ly crossing. Brigade flag carried by Brigdon hit two or three
times in battle of Cloyd's Mountain. Once struck out of Brig-
May 19. Thursday. -- From three miles north of Greenbrier
River to Meadow Bluff ten miles. Forgot a picket of twenty
men on south side of Greenbrier River; got them up all right.
Reached Meadow Bluff at 12:30 P. M. Found Colonel Enochs
with three companies of Fifth Virginia. Rest at Lewisburg.
The Fifth did its duty well. They divided into two regiments,
built fires, and played tattoo, as if a division were coming, and
deceived the Rebels completely. We camp here as if for time
enough to refit, etc., etc. Lieutenant-Colonel Comly tells me
that ---- is disposed to find fault with me and my doings.
Very well. I shall do my duty to the best of [my] ability and
give myself as little trouble as possible about faultfinders and
MEADOW BLUFF, May 19, 1864.
DEAREST: -- We got safely to this point in our lines, two hours
ago, after twenty-one days of constant marching, frequent fight-
ing, and much hardship, and some starvation. This is the most
completely successful and by all odds the pleasantest campaign
I have ever had. Now it is over I hardly know what I would
change in it except to restore life and limbs to the killed and
My command in battles and on the march behaved to my en-
tire satisfaction. None did, none could have done better. We
had a most conspicuous part in the battle at Cloyd's Mountain
and were so lucky. You will see the lists of killed and wounded.
We brought off two hundred of our wounded in our train and
left about one hundred and fifty. But we have good reason to
think they will fare well. . . .
462 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
We took two cannon which the regiment has got along here
by hard work. The Thirty-sixth and Twenty-third are the only
regiments which went into the thickest of the fight and never
halted or gave back. The Twelfth did well but the "Flatfoots"
backed out. The Ninety-first well, but not much exposed. The
Ninth Virginia did splendidly and lost heavier than any other.
The Potomac Brigade, (Pennsylvania Reserves, etc., etc.,) broke
and fled. I had the dismounted men of the Thirty-fourth. They
did pretty well. Don't repeat my talk. But it is true, the
Twenty-third was the Regiment. The Thirty-sixth I know would
have done as well if they had had the same chance. The
Twenty-third led and the Thirty-sixth supported them. General
Crook is the best general I have ever known.
This campaign in plan and execution has been perfect. We
captured ten pieces of artillery, burned the New River Bridge
and the culverts and small bridges thirty in number for twenty
miles from Dublin to Christiansburg. Captured General Jenkins
and three hundred officers and men; killed and wounded three to
five hundred and routed utterly his army.*
We shall certainly stay here some days, perhaps some weeks,
to refit and get ready for something else. You and the boys are
remembered and mentioned constantly.
One spectacle you would have enjoyed. The Rebels contest-
ed our approach to the bridge for two or three hours. At last
we drove them off and set it on fire. All the troops were
*Dr. J. T. Webb in a letter to his mother from Meadow Bluff, May
24, 1864, says:--
"The more we learn of the Rebels, etc., at Cloyd's Mountain, the greater
was our victory. It is well ascertained now that in addition to their
strong position and works, they had more men in the fight than we had,
and also more killed and wounded. They not only expected to check us
there, but fully counted on capturing our whole force. Their officers
whom we captured complain bitterly of their men not fighting. Our new
recruits, whom we were disposed to smile at, did splendidly. One of them,
whom Captain Hastings on inspection at Camp White told he must cut
off his hair, as men with long hair could not fight, meeting the captain in
the midst of the fight, the fellow at the head of his company, playfully
remarked, shaking his locks at the captain: 'What do you think of long-
hair fighting now?'"
ADVANCE AND RETREAT--1864 463
marched up to see it -- flags and music and cheering. On a
lovely afternoon the beautiful heights of New River were covered
with our regiments watching the burning bridge. It was a most
Our band has been the life of the campaign. The other three
bands all broke down early. Ours has kept up and played their
best on all occasions. They alone played at the burning of the
bridge and today we came into camp to their music.
I have, it is said, Jenkins' spurs, a revolver of the lieutenant-
colonel of [the] Rebel Thirty-sixth, a bundle of Roman candles,
a common sword, a new Rebel blanket, and other things, I would
give the dear boys if they were here.--Love to all.
MEADOW BLUFF, GREENBRIER COUNTY, WEST VIRGINIA,
May 19, 1864.
DEAR UNCLE: -- We are safely within what we now call "our
own lines" after twenty-one days of marching, fighting, starving,
etc., etc. For twelve days we have had nothing to eat except
what the country afforded. Our raid has been in all respects
successful. We destroyed the famous Dublin Bridge and
eighten miles of the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad and many
depots and stores; captured ten pieces of artillery, three hundred
prisoners, General Jenkins and other officers among them, and
killed and wounded about five hundred, besides utterly routing
Jenkins' army in the bloody battle of Cloyd's Mountain. My
brigade had two regiments and part of a third in the battle.
[The] Twenty-third lost one hundred killed and wounded.
We had a severe duty but did just as well as I could
have wished. We charged a Rebel battery entrenched in [on]
a wooded hill across an open level meadow three hundred yards
wide and a deep ditch, wetting me to the waist, and carried it
without a particle of wavering or even check, losing, however,
many officers and men killed and wounded. It being the vital
point General Crook charged with us in person. One brigade
464 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
from the Army of the Potomac (Pennsylvania Reserves) broke
and fled from the field. Altogether, this is our finest experience
in the war, and General Crook is the best general we have ever
served under, not excepting Rosecrans.
Many of the men are barefooted, and we shall probably re-
main here some time to refit. We hauled in wagons to this
point, over two hundred of our wounded, crossing two large
rivers by fording and ferrying and three ranges of high moun-
tains. The news from the outside world is meagre and from
Rebel sources. We almost believe that Grant must have been
successful from the little we gather.
R. B. HAYES.
May 20. Friday. -- Settled weather at last; cold nights. One
of the most interesting and affecting things is the train of con-
trabands, old and young, male and female -- one hundred to
two hundred -- toiling uncomplainingly along after and with the
army. They with our prisoners and the trains left for Gauley
May 21. Saturday.--Rations of coffee, sugar, hard bread,
etc., filled our camp with joy last night. It now looks as if
Grant had failed to crush Lee merely on account of rain and
mud. We seem to have had the best of the fighting and to have
taken the most prisoners. I suspect we have gained the most
guns and lost the most killed and wounded. General Crook
thinks Grant will force the fighting until some definite result is
Sunday, [May] 22. -- President of court martial to try the
Rebel quartermaster (Jenkins), of [the] Fifteenth Virginia,
for pillaging. Sat at Sharpe's; Lieutenant-Colonel Bukey,
Major Carey, Major Cadot, Captain Henry, Sweet, etc., etc.
News from Grant confirms my impression that the storm,
mud, and rain prevented a decisive victory.
ADVANCE AND RETREAT--1864 465
[May] 23. Monday. -- Court martial continues. Prosecution
closed yesterday. Defense opens this A. M. Adjourned until
tomorrow, 9 A. M., after hearing all the testimony the accused
had [to] present. Two captains and several men captured near
here by guerrillas.
[May] 24. Tuesday.--Finished Jenkins' trial. No definite
news lately. Charlie Hay, Sergeant Heiliger, and Sergeant
Clark returned. Hay and Clark get from Casey's Board cap-
taincies of first class. Heiliger gets second lieutenant of second
class. A queer result. The three are probably nearly equal in
merit. Major McIlrath reported near with detachments for all
regiments. Captain Hood sick.
[May] 25. Wednesday.--Major McIlrath with seven hun-
dred of various regiments came in at 10 A. M.; Lieutenant
Hicks, Dr. McClure, and forty men of [the] Twenty-third; about
three hundred of [the] Thirty-sixth. Wrote to mother and
MEADOW BLUFF, May 25, 1864.
DEAREST:--We are preparing for another move. It will re-
quire a week's time, I conjecture, to get shoes, etc., etc. It
looks as if the route would be through Lewisburg, White Sul-
phur, Covington, Jackson River, etc., to Staunton. The major
came up this morning with a few recruits and numbers of the
sick, now recovered. They bring a bright new flag which I can
see floating in front of [the] Twenty-third headquarters. I
suspect it to be your gift. Three hundred more of the Thirty-
sixth also came up. The Fifth and Thirteenth are coming, so
I shall have my own proper brigade all together soon. . . .
Brigdon carried the brigade flag. It was knocked out of his
hands by a ball striking the staff only a few inches from where
he held it. It was torn twice also by balls.
I see the papers call this "Averell's raid." Very funny! The
cavalry part of it was a total failure. General Averell only got
to the railroad at points where we had first got in. He was
466 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
driven back at Saltville and Wytheville. Captain Gilmore is
pleased. He says the Second Virginia was the best of any of
them!. . .
I am now on most intimate and cordial terms with General
Crook. He is a most capital commander. His one fault is a
too reckless exposure of himself in action and on the march--
not a bad fault in some circumstances.
I shall probably send my valise back to Gallipolis from here to
Mr. James Taylor. It will contain a leather case with Roman
candles for the boys, a sabre will go with it for one of them, a
wooden-soled shoe, such as we destroyed great numbers of at
Dublin, and very little else. If it is lost, no matter.
May 26. -- Just received your welcome letters of the 6th and
14th. Very glad you are so fortunate. Write to Uncle and
Mother when you feel like it.
We shall start soon -- perhaps in the morning. We take only
one wagon to a regiment. The Fifth is now coming into camp.
The general is pleased with Colonel Tomlinson's conduct and
Colonel Tomlinson will remain. The Thirteenth will be here
tonight. All my brigade together. The rest of the Thirty-sixth
is here, six hundred and fifty in all. We feel well about the
future. General Crook is more hopeful than ever before.
You need not believe the big stories of great victories or de-
feats at Richmond. But I think we shall gradually overcome
[May] 26. Thursday.--. . . Trains arriving; looks like
moving on Staunton soon. News from Grant rather favorable.
MEADOW BLUFF, May 26, 1864.
DEAR UNCLE:--I get two letters from you today. We all
believe in General Crook. I am on the best of terms with him.
He is the best general I have ever been with, no exceptions.
ADVANCE AND RETREAT--1864 467
We have all sorts of rumors from Grant, but it is all clear that
we shall finish them soon, if our people and leaders do their
duty. They are at the end of their means, and failure now is
failure for good.
My brigade is all here, or near here, now. We are getting
ready to move towards Staunton soon; tomorrow, I think. I
have the two best regiments to be found and two others which
promise well. Good-bye.
R. B. HAYES.
[May] 27. Friday. -- Read Colonel Gilbert's pamphlet on
Governor Brough's rule as to promotion. I do not quarrel with
it as a general rule, but Colonel Gilbert and the Forty-fourth
should have had their officers as desired. To make such a rule
inflexible is very foolish.
Saturday, [May] 28.--Colonel Brown and [the] Thirteenth
came up last night; seemed glad to be with the brigade all at
one camp. I was certainly glad.
Sunday, [May] 29.--Heard preaching of Mr. Harper,
Thirteenth, on the hill in front of [the] Thirty-sixth; so-so.
Fine day. At night news that Grant had crossed the Pamunkey,
fifteen miles from Richmond. Sherman at Dallas, Georgia.
MEADOW BLUFF, May 29, 1864.
DEAR UNCLE:--Contrary to my expectation when I wrote
you a few days ago, we are still here. We are detained, I sup-
pose, by different causes, but I suspect we shall move soon to-
wards Staunton. We may drift into the army of Grant before a
month. My proper brigade is now here and all of it camped
in sight of where I now sit, viz., Twenty-third and Thirty-sixth
Ohio, Fifth and Thirteenth Virginia. I have seen them all in
line today. They form a fine body of troops. We are soon to
468 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
lose the enlisted men of the Twenty-third who did not become
veterans. I think a good many officers will leave at the same
time. It is probable that the veterans of the Twelfth will go
into the Twenty-third. If so it will make the regiment better
and stronger than ever before.
We are not informed how Grant succeeds in getting into
Richmond. You know I have always thought he must get the
Western Army there before he can whip Lee. It looks a little
now as if he might do it without Western help. We shall see,
R. B. HAYES.
I hear from Lucy that she is settled in a good boarding-house
MEADOW BLUFF, Sunday, May 29, 1864.
DEAREST: -- Still here getting ready -- probably delayed some
by the change in Department commanders, but chiefly by rains
and delays in obtaining supplies. All the brigade now here,
camped in sight of where I now sit. We hardly know where we
are to come out, but there is a general feeling that unless Grant
succeeds soon, we shall turn up in his army.
You notice the compliment to Major Avery, "bravest of the
brave." A good many officers of [the] Twenty-third are talking
of going out at the end of the original term, ten days hence.
Major McIlrath bid us good-bye this morning. Major Carey is
likely to take his place with the veterans of the Twelfth. . . .
My staff now is Lieutenant Hastings, adjutant-general, [Lieu-
tenant William] McKinley, quartermaster, Lieutenant Delay,
Thirty-sixth, commissary, and Lieutenant Wood, Thirty-sixth,
aide -- all nice gentlemen. I enclose Colonel Tomlinson's photo-
graph which he handed me today.
Well, this is a happy time with us. -- You must not feel too
anxious about me. I shall be among friends.
A flag of truce goes in the morning after our wounded left at
ADVANCE AND RETREAT--1864 469
Cloyd's Mountain. There were four doctors and plenty of
nurses left with them. . . . Love to all the boys.
Monday, [May] 30. -- No move today; hot and sultry. Saw
[the] Fifth drill; [the] Thirteenth, ditto. News that Grant's
prospects are fair.
Tuesday, May 31, 1864. -- We move today. Colonel Sickles
and the reserve, except veteran volunteers, go home today.
They passed with slow sad music this morning. A bad time to
go to the rear. Marched to Bunger's Mill, ten and one-half
miles from Meadow Bluff and five miles from Lewisburg.
Camped on left of Second Brigade in a pleasant glen.
Wednesday, June 1. -- Marched thirteen miles to [within] one
mile of White Sulphur Springs. A hot day; easy march.
Waded Greenbrier. A good camp on Howard's Creek, head-
quarters on a knoll, left-hand side going east. Mr. Caldwell at
White Sulphur very civil. Sold me two teams. A fine, beauti-
ful place. Rumors of Rebels at Callaghan, Jackson River, etc.,
etc.; a patrol or picket at White Sulphur.
Thursday, June 2.--March at 5 A. M. White Sulphur to
Callaghan, about fourteen miles; a cloudy, good marching day.
Nothing of interest today. Bill Jackson left Callaghan three
Friday, [June] 3. -- From Callaghan to near Hot Springs in
Bath County, nineteen miles. Yesterday crossed Allegheny
Mountain; good road. Waters this side flow to the James River.
A good day's march; forded Jackson River at Mr. Porter's.
A young lady says Richmond papers of 27th contain news
favorable to them.
Saturday, [June] 4. -- From the vicinity of Hot Springs to the
east side of Warm Springs Mountain, beyond the alum-works,
470 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
sixteen miles. My brigade in advance drove a small squad of
Rebels from Warm Springs--said to be McNeil's and Mar-
shall's Cavalry. No resistance offered but a few trees cut to
blockade the road. Rumors of a fight at Harrisonburg; as
usual reports are two-faced. Papers of the 27th to 31st in-
clusive [from] Richmond.
Sunday, [June] 5.--From three miles west of Millboro to
one mile beyond Goshen; about thirteen to fourteen miles.
Rained last night. Our march today impeded by a small body of
Rebel cavalry. Rumors of Jackson, McCausland, and General
Morgan, all hurrying to Staunton to oppose Hunter or our com-
mand. Perhaps both in detail. Bad strategy to propose to
unite two forces in the enemy's lines. Struck the Virginia Cen-
tral one hundred and seventy-five [miles] from Richmond near
Goshen. Our route through narrow valleys or canons where a
small force can easily hold a large one.
Now (3 P. M.) we are waiting as rear brigade, on a pretty
stream, for the leading brigade, Colonel White's, to drive a party
of Rebels through a narrow gap on railroad from Millboro to
Goshen. They turn the position and we go on. We lose two
or three slightly wounded and capture four or five Rebels and
wound three others badly. Goshen a pretty place in the moun-
tains. We cross no high mountain today.
Monday, June 6.--From one mile east of Goshen to two
miles west of Craig [Craigsville] on Central Railroad, six miles
--10 A. M. to 1 P. M. Still halted, destroying Central Rail-
road. A big squad of men turn it over, rails and ties, and
tumble it down the embankment; burn culverts and ties as far
as possible. The railroad can be destroyed by troops marching
parallel to it very fast. Easier to destroy than to build up, as
our Rebel friends are learning to their cost. Camped in a big
thunder-shower, all wet as drowned rats. Slept well.
June 7. Tuesday. -- From two miles west of Craig [Craigs-
ville] to within six or eight of Staunton. A fine day. At Pond
Gap crossed Central Railroad and over a mountain--a detour
which let us into [the] Valley of Virginia, avoiding the Rebel
ADVANCE AND RETREAT 471
position in Buffalo Gap. A lovely valley; we dine now (12 M.)
on a beautiful farm in this lovely valley--all happy to get here
so easily. Reports say Hunter is in Staunton; got there last
night. The general (Crook) found a four-leafed clover yester-
day. I saw the new moon over my right shoulder. Funny how
a man of sense can think for an instant even of such follies.
We crossed the mountain to Summerdean, a little pretty hamlet.
Skirmished into Middlebrook, a beautiful country. Supplies
are abundant. Hunter flogged the Rebels badly and took
Staunton yesterday. Eighteen miles today.
June 8. Wednesday.--Marched ten miles in a northeast di-
rection to Staunton, a fine town of five thousand inhabitants or
so. General Hunter here. He had a good victory.
STAUNTON, VIRGINIA, June 8, 1864.
DEAR UNCLE:--We have had another very fortunate cam-
paign. Everything lucky--except Hunter got the victory in-
stead of Crook. But that is all right, of course. The march,
destruction of railroads and stores, so far, have made this a
most useful expedition. We know nothing of Grant for many
days, but we think he must be doing well.
We shall be at work immediately again. Now out of West
Virginia for good, I suppose.
I had a letter from you the day we crossed the Allegheny
Mountains. Nothing from Mother for more than a month.
Our march for five days has been in counties where Yankee
soldiers were never seen before, Bath, Rockbridge, and Augusta.
We have visited many watering-places, White Sulphur, Hot, and
Warm Springs, etc., etc. An active campaign leaves little chance
for writing or hearing. I think you had better direct hereafter
to Crook's Division, Hunter's Army, via Martinsburg, Virginia.
[R. B. HAYES.]
STAUNTON, June 8, 1864.
DEAREST:--We reached the beautiful Valley of Virginia
yesterday over North Mountain and entered this town this morn-
472 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
ing. General Hunter took the place after a very successful
fight on the 6th. We seem to be clear of West Virginia for good.
We shall probably move on soon.
Our march here over the mountains was very exciting. We
visited all the favorite resorts of the chivalry on our route,
White Sulphur, Blue Sulphur, Warm, and Hot Springs, etc., etc.
Lovely places, some of them. I hope to visit some of them with
you after the war is over.
We know nothing of Grant but conjecture that he must be
doing well. We are now in Crook's division, Hunter's Army,
I suppose. General Crook is the man of all others. I wish you
could have seen the camps the night we got our last mail from
home. It brought me two letters from you, one of [the] 26th.
I told General Crook, Webb sent his love. "Yes," said he,
"Webb is a fine boy; he will make a soldier."
We have enjoyed this campaign very much. I have no time
to write particulars. It is said that the prisoners will be sent
to Beverly tomorrow and that the men and officers of [the]
Twenty-third whose time expires will go as guard. I shall per-
haps send my sorrel horse by Carrington and if he can't sell him
for two hundred dollars to take him to Uncle Moses to do just
what he pleases with him. If he can't keep him he may give
him away or shoot him. He is a fine horse and behaved ad-
mirably at Cloyd's Mountain, but he is too fussy and noisy.
I feel the greatest sympathy for you during these long periods
of entire ignorance of my whereabouts. I trust it will soon be
so that I can hear from you and send news to you often.
[R. B. HAYES.]
STAUNTON, VIRGINIA, June 9, 1864.
DEAREST: -- I wrote you yesterday a letter which if it reaches
you at all, will be some days in advance of this. I send this by
the men whose term of service has expired and who go to
"America" in charge of prisoners captured a few days ago by
General Hunter at the battle of Piedmont or "New Hope."
All operations in this quarter have been very successful. We
ADVANCE AND RETREAT 473
reached here yesterday morning after an exciting and delightful
march of nine days from Meadow Bluff.
The men not enlisting (one hundred and sixty) with nine offi-
cers left our camp this morning to start tomorrow in charge of
Colonel Moore. The band played "Home, Sweet Home." The
officers who leave are Captains Canby, Rice, Stevens, Sperry,
and Hood; First Lieutenants Stephens, Chamberlain, Smith,
Jackson, and Hicks. We have left seven full companies and
twelve good officers. The old flags go to Columbus to the gov-
ernor by the color-bearer. We shall quite certainly get more
men from the Twelfth in a couple of weeks than we now lose.
I send Carrington with the little sorrel to sell or leave with
Uncle Moses if he fails to sell him, and Uncle Moses can do
what he pleases with him.
I send a pistol captured at Blacksburg from Lieutenant-
Colonel Linkus, Thirty-sixth Virginia, Rebel. Also pencil mem-
orandum of no account. Preserve the handbill showing Lee's
appeal to the people of this (Augusta) county.
I have just visited the very extensive hospitals here. They
are filled with patients, two-thirds Secesh, one-third our men.
Nothing could be finer. In a fine building (Deaf and Dumb
Asylum), in a beautiful grove--gas and hydrants--shade, air,
etc. The Secesh were friendly and polite; not the slightest
bitterness or unkindness between the two sorts. If I am to be
left in hospital this is the spot.
Direct to "Second Infantry Division (or General Crook's
Division), Department West Virginia, via Martinsburg."
Love to all.-- Affectionately ever,
[Lexington], Sunday, June 12. -- General Hunter burns the
Virginia Military Institute. This does not suit many of us.
General Crook, I know, disapproves. It is surely bad. No
move today. [Marched] thirteen miles yesterday.
474 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
LEXINGTON, ROCKBRIDGE COUNTY, June 12 (Sunday), 1864.
DEAREST: -- I just hear that a mail goes tomorrow. We cap-
tured this town after an artillery and sharpshooter fight of three
hours, yesterday P. M. My brigade had the advance for two
days and all the casualties, or nearly all, fell to me. [A] first
lieutenant of [the] Fifth Virginia killed and one private; three
privates of [the] Thirty-sixth killed and ten to fifteen wounded.
[The] Twenty-third had no loss. Very noisy affair, but not
This is a fine town. Stonewall Jackson's grave and the Mili-
tary Institute are here. Many fine people. Secesh are not at
all bitter and many are Union.
I am more pleased than ever with General Crook and my
brigade, etc., but some things done here are not right. General
Hunter will be as odious as Butler or Pope to the Rebels and
not gain our good opinion either. You will hear of it in Rebel
papers, I suspect.
Weather fine and all our movements are successful. The
Rebels have been much crippled already by our doings. We are
probably moving towards Lynchburg. If so you will have heard
of our fortunes from other sources before this reaches you.
I got a pretty little cadet musket here which I will try to send
the boys. Dear boys, love to them and the tenderest affection
for you. -- Good-bye.
[R. B. HAYES.]
[Camp Piatt, West Virginia,] Thursday, June 30, 1864.--
This [has been] the hardest month of the war; hot and dusty
long marches; hungry, sleepy night marches; many skirmishes;
two battles. Men worn out and broken down.
Tuesday, June 14, [we] marched [from Lexington] to
Buchanan. A hot, dusty march, twenty-four miles. Bathed in
James River. The next day [we pushed on] to "Fancy Farm,"
Bedford County, near Liberty, sixteen miles. Fine views of
Peaks of Otter. [Thence], Thursday, (16th), to Liberty and
beyond on railroad towards Lynchburg. Worked on the rail-
ADVANCE AND RETREAT 475
road, tearing up and burning, etc. [We heard] various rumors,
Friday (17th), Colonel White's brigade cleaned out Rebels
handsomely to [within] three miles of Lynchburg. The next
day [the] Rebels [inside the] works [were] re-inforced. [There
was] skirmishing and fighting but no general attack. [At] 8:30
P. M., we back out via Liberty Road, [Hunter's attempt to cap-
ture Lynchburg having proved a failure].
Sunday (19th), en route to Liberty, sleepy, tired; hot, and
dusty. All goes well however so far. Twenty-six miles. Mon-
day (20th), still on, night and day! Sleepy and tired. Enemy
following attacked our cavalry at Liberty yesterday evening
with some loss to us. Today at Buford Gap we got ready for
battle, but Rebels not ready.
Tuesday (21st), on to four miles beyond Salem. Rebels at-
tack often, but their feeble skirmishes do no hurt to Crook.
They however get nine guns of Hunter! Wednesday (22d),
fifteen miles to Newcastle. We (First Brigade) guarded the
wagon train; poor business. Thursday (23d), [from] New-
castle to Sweet Springs--a beautiful watering-place -- twenty-
two miles, over two high ranges of the Alleghenies. [Thence,
by] night march, seventeen miles to White Sulphur, [arriving]
at 2:30 P. M., Friday (24th). Night marches bad unless there
is good moonlight.
From White Sulphur, Saturday (25th), [we marched] to
Meadow Bluff, twenty-four miles, [reaching there] long after
midnight, starved and sleepy. The hardest [march] of the war.
The next day [starting] at sunrise, many without sleeping a
wink, we march to Tyrees, twenty miles, [at the] foot of Mount
Sewell. Monday (27th), at 4 A. M., [we] march and meet a
train of provisions at or near Mountain Cove. A jolly feeding
time. Camp at old Camp Ewing. The next day, march to Loup
Creek, fourten miles; and yesterday to Piatt, twenty-two miles.
CAMP PIATT, June 30, 1864.
DEAREST: -- We reached here ten miles above Charleston last
night. Dr. Joe will tell you all the news. It has been a severe
476 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
but very pleasant campaign. We did not do as much as we
think might have been done, but we did enough to make our
work of great importance.
We are now talking of rumors that we are to go East via [the]
Ohio River and [the] Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. It is gener-
ally believed to be true, although as yet we have no other evidence
of it than camp rumor.
I thought of you often while I was gone--of your anxiety
about me and the suffering that all rumors of disaster to us
would cause you. But I hoped you would keep up good cour-
age and live it through. Oh, darling, I love you so tenderly. You
must always think of me pleasantly. You have been the source
of such happiness to me that I can't bear to think that anything
that may befall me will throw a permanent gloom over your life.
The Twenty-third was lucky on this campaign, losing less
than any other regiment, etc. The Fifth lost most, [the] Thirty-
sixth next. All together, killed, wounded, and missing, my brig-
ade does not lose over one hundred, if so much [many].
I am very fortunate in my brigade. It is now to me like my
own regiment, and is really a very good one, perhaps the best
to be found, or one of the best, in the army. General Crook is
the favorite of the army. We hope to be organized into an in-
dependent command with Colonel Powell's Cavalry Brigade and
two batteries. Then we can raid to some purpose.
If we are not sent East, we shall stay here three or four weeks
recruiting, etc. -- My love to the boys. Dr. Joe will have plenty
of stories to tell them. The doctor was a most important person
in this raid. He did more for the wounded than anybody else.
Colonel Turley had his thigh broken at Lynchburg and was
hauled over two hundred miles over all these mountains. His
admirable pluck and cheerfulness has saved him. Nothing can
exceed the manliness he has exhibited.--Love to friends all.
ADVANCE AND RETREAT 477
CAMP PIATT, TEN MILES ABOVE CHARLESTON,
WEST VIRGINIA, June 30, 1864.
DEAR UNCLE:--Back home again in the Kanawha Valley.
Our raid has done a great deal; all that we at first intended, but
failed in one or two things which would have been done with
a more active and enterprising commander than General Hunter.
General Crook would have taken Lynchburg without doubt.
Our loss is small. [The] Twenty-third had nobody killed. My
brigade loses less than one hundred. Our greatest suffering was
want of food and sleep. I often went asleep on my horse. We
had to go night and day for about a week to get out. We are
all impressed with the idea that the Confederacy has now got
all its strength of all sorts in the field, and that nothing more
can be added to it. Their defeat now closes the contest speedily.
We passed through ten counties where Yankees never came be-
fore; there was nothing to check us even until forces were drawn
from Richmond to drive us back.
There are rumors that we are to go East soon, but nothing
definitely is known. We hope we are to constitute an independent
command under General Crook. We have marched, in two
months past, about eight hundred miles; have had fighting or
skirmishing on over forty days of the time.
My health, and my horse's (almost of equal moment) are
Send letters to the old direction, via Charleston, for the
R. B. HAYES.
CAMP [PIATT], TEN MILES ABOVE CHARLESTON,
WEST VIRGINIA, June 30, 1864.
DEAR MOTHER:-- We got safely back to this point yesterday
after being almost two months within the Rebel lines. . . .
We have had a severe and hazardous campaign and have, I
think, done a great deal of good. While we have suffered a
good deal from want of food and sleep, we have lost very few
478 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
men and are generally in the best of health. . . . General
Crook has won the love and confidence of all. General Hunter
is not so fortunate. General Averell has not been successful
either. We had our first night's quiet rest all night for many
Dr. Joe went to Ohio with our wounded yesterday and will
see Lucy. He has been a great treasure to our wounded.
We have hauled two hundred [wounded men] over both the
Blue Ridge and the Alleghenies and many smaller mountains,
besides crossing James River and other streams. Our impres-
sion is that the Rebels are at the end of their means and our
success now will speedily close the Rebellion.
R. B. HAYES.
MRS. SOPHIA HAYES.
CHARLESTON, CAMP ELK, July 2, 1864.
DEAREST: -- Back again to this point last night. Camped op-
posite the lower end of Camp White on the broad level bottom
in the angle between Elk and Kanawha. My headquarters on
one of the pretty wooded hills near Judge Summers'.
Got your letter of 16th. All others gone around to Mar-
tinsburg. Will get them soon. Very much pleased to read about
the boys and their good behaviour.
Dr. Joe went to Gallipolis with our wounded, expecting to
visit you, but the rumors of an immediate movement brought
him back. We now have a camp rumor that Crook is to com-
mand this Department. If so we shall stay here two or three
weeks; otherwise, only a few days, probably.
You wrote one thoughtless sentence, complaining of Lincoln
for failing to protect our unfortunate prisoners by retaliation.
All a mistake, darling. All such things should be avoided as
much as possible. We have done too much rather than too
little. General Hunter turned Mrs. Governor Letcher and
daughters out of their home at Lexington and on ten minutes'
notice burned the beautiful place in retaliation for some bush-
whackers' burning out Governor Pierpont [of West Virginia.]
ADVANCE AND RETREAT 479
And I am glad to say that General Crook's division officers and
men were all disgusted with it.
I have just learned as a fact that General Crook has an in-
dependent command or separate district in the Department of
West Virginia, which practically answers our purposes. We
are styled the "Army of the Kanawha," headquarters in the
I have just got your letter of June I. They will all get here
sooner or later. The flag is a beautiful one. I see it floating
now near the piers of the Elk River Bridge.
Three companies of the Twelfth under Major Carey are
ordered to join the Twenty-third today -- Lieutenants Otis, Hiltz
and ---- command them, making the Twenty-third the strong-
est veteran regiment. Colonel White and the rest bid us good-
bye today. What an excellent man he is. I never knew a better.
You use the phrase "brutal Rebels." Don't be cheated in that
way. There are enough "brutal Rebels" no doubt, but we have
brutal officers and men too. I have had men brutally treated
by our own officers on this raid. And there are plenty of
humane Rebels. I have seen a good deal of it on this trip.
War is a cruel business and there is brutality in it on all sides,
but it is very idle to get up anxiety on account of any supposed
peculiar cruelty on the part of Rebels. Keepers of prisons in
Cincinnati, as well as in Danville, are hard-hearted and cruel.
CHARLESTON, WEST VIRGINIA, July 2, 1864.
DEAR MOTHER: -- We got back here yesterday. I find a letter
from you [of] June 11. No doubt others are on the way from
Martinsburg -- the point to which all our letters were forwarded
for some weeks.
I am glad you are back at Columbus again and in tolerable
health. We have had altogether the severest time I have yet
known in the war. We have marched almost continually for
two months, fighting often, with insufficient food and sleep,
480 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
crossed the three ranges of the Alleghenies four times, the
ranges of the Blue Ridge twice, marched several times all day
and all night without sleeping, and yet my health was never
better. I think I have not even lost flesh.
We all believe in our general. He is a considerate, humane
man; a thorough soldier and disciplinarian. He is hereafter to
have the sole command of us. I mean, of course, General Crook.
General Hunter was chief in command, and is not much esteemed
by us. . . . I think Colonel Comly will get home a few days.
His health has not been very good during the latter part of our
I hope you will not be overanxious about me. What is for
the best will happen. In the meantime I am probably doing as
much good and enjoying as much happiness here as I could
anywhere. -- Love to all. I knew you would like Mrs. Platt.
P. S. -- I expect to remain here a fortnight or more.
MRS. SOPHIA HAYES.
CHARLESTON, WEST VIRGINIA, July 2, 1864.
DEAR UNCLE: -- We are told this morning that General Crook
is to have the command of the "Army of the Kanawha," inde-
pendent of all control below Grant. If so, good. I don't doubt
it. This will secure us the much needed rest we have hoped for
and keep us here two or three weeks. My health is excellent,
but many men are badly used up.
I do not feel sure yet of the result of Grant's and Sherman's
campaigns. One thing I have become satisfied of. The Rebels
are now using their last man and last bread. There is absolutely
nothing left in reserve. Whip what is now in the field, and the
game is ended.
R. B. HAYES.
ADVANCE AND RETREAT 481
CAMP CROOK, CHARLESTON, July 5, 1864.
DEAREST:--Your last from Elmwood, June 16, reached me
last night. Very glad to get so good and cheerful talk.
It is not yet quite certain whether I shall be able to come and
see you for a day or two or not. I think it is hardly best for
you to attempt coming here now, but if I can't come to you,
we will see about it.
Sunday morning the veterans of the Twelfth under Major
Carey were united to the Twenty-third and that evening your flag
was formally presented to the regiment at dress parade. The
hearty cheers given for Mrs. H-- (that's you) showed that you
were held in grateful remembrance. I do not know whether
you will get any letters from Colonel Comly or not. You cer-
tainly will if he does not think it will be a bore to you.
You have no doubt seen the proceedings of the non-veterans
on giving the old flag to the governor at Columbus. I send a
slip containing them to be kept with our archives. Secretary
[of State, William Henry] Smith's allusion to me was awkward
and nonsensical; but as it was well meant I, of course, must sub-
mit to be made ridiculous with good grace.
The fracture of Abbott's arm turned out like mine, a simple
fracture without splintering and he saves his arm in good con-
dition. He is doing well.
Our prisoners wounded at Cloyd's Mountain were well treated
by the citizens of Dublin and Newbern, etc., and by the Rebel
soldiers of that region. Morgan and his men, however, behaved
badly towards them -- very badly -- but as they were with them
only a few hours, they were soon in better hands again. At
Lynchburg the people behaved well also.
Don't let Uncle Scott be pestered with the little sorrel. He
may give him away if he can't dispose of him otherwise.
We are gradually getting over our sore feet and weak stom-
achs and shall be in good condition shortly. Captain Hood is
here again in command of his company. Major McIlrath, Cap-
tain Warren, Lieutenants Deshong and Nessle and perhaps one
or two others leave us here. The Twenty-third is now a large
482 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
and splendid regiment again, better than ever, I suppose.--Love
to all. Affectionately, ever,
Thursday, July 7, 1864. -- Ordered to Parkersburg and East
tomorrow. I go on steamboat with Third and Fourth Reserves,
Captain Moulton, to Gallipolis.
PARKERSBURG, WEST VIRGINIA, July 12, 1864.
DEAR MOTHER: -- We are here on our way East. I managed
to slip ahead of my command and spend Sunday with Lucy and
the boys at Chillicothe. I should have been very glad to get to
Columbus and would have done so if it had been possible. But
we are being hurried forward as fast as possible to aid in putting
an end to the trouble in Maryland. I know very little about it
but hope it will turn out much less serious than is now repre-
I found my family well homed and in good health. It was an
unexpected but very happy meeting.
My love to all the family. Letters directed to me in Crook's
Division, via Cumberland, will probably find me. I think all
your letters have finally reached me.
My health, after all our severe campaigning, is excellent.
Your affectionate son,
MRS. SOPHIA HAYES.
MARTINSBURG, July 17 (Sunday), 1864.
DEAREST:--A week ago, about this time, we were enjoying
our pleasant ride like young lovers on the Kingston Pike. Now
we are widely separated.
I am semi-sick--that is the boil I told you I was threatened
with on my hip is actively at work. The worst is over with it.
I am lying on my blankets in the barroom of a German drinking
ADVANCE AND RETREAT 483
saloon that was gutted by the Rebels. The man is a refugee but
his excellent frau is here ready to do anything in the world for
a bluecoat. She wants me to go [to] a chamber and a clean bed,
but I like the more public room better.
Half my brigade went this morning to General Crook, thirty
miles east. We go in a day or two. The combinations to catch
the Rebels seem to me good, but I expect them to escape. Raid-
ing parties always do escape. Morgan was foolhardy and
Streight lacked enterprise. They are the only exceptions.
You will probably see some correspondence about your flag
gift in the papers. Don't blush, it's all right. --"S'much." Love
Ever, darling, your
MARTINSBURG, VIRGINIA, July 17 (Sunday), 1864.
DEAR MOTHER:--I am much obliged for your letter by Col-
onel Comly. Glad you still are in good health. We are pretty
busy now trying to prevent the escape of the Rebel raiders who
have plundered Maryland. . . . The weather is very warm
but we have good breezes and excellent water in this region
so that campaigning is not unpleasant.
I notice Mitchell's name is often mentioned in connection with
Sherman's army. He has a fine position. I trust he will come
safely out of it. -- Love to all.
Affectionately, your son,
MRS. SOPHIA HAYES.
[The Diary for the last few months of 1864 is for the most
part hardly more than a line a day, entered in a pocket memoran-
dum book, "The Southern Almanac for 1864," which Hayes's
orderly, William Crump, had got hold of at Middlebrook, Vir-
ginia, early in June. Many of the entries were originally made
with a pencil and subsequently inked over. Usually the entries
give only a bald statement of the movement of the day. In some
484 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
cases entries are omitted here entirely; in other cases several
are combined in a single paragraph.]
Sunday afternoon, July 17, [the] Fifth [Virginia] and
Twenty-third [Ohio] [marched from Martinsburg] to near
Charlestown. Slept in a farmyard. Twelve miles. The next
day, march toward Harpers Ferry and [the] Shenandoah at
Keys Ferry. Whole brigade together. Fine river and valley.
Skirmish all P. M. Heavy cannonading at Snickers Ford.
Twenty-three miles. Spent Tuesday (19th) skirmishing with
Bradley Johnson's Cavalry between camp on Bull Skin and
Kabletown. Rodes' Division try to take us in and fail after a
brisk fight. Six miles. Wednesday (20th), back to Keys
Ferry and Harpers Ferry [and] thence to Charlestown; ordered
to join General Crook. Ten miles.
HARPERS FERRY, July 20, 1864.
DEAREST:--I am here with my brigade, merely to get am-
munition and grub. Have been fighting and marching three
days; lost only three killed and twelve wounded. Shall remain
all day. All well. My boil does me no harm, but it is an awful
hole. Doctor well. Can't give you much news. I am on a scout
after Crook who is lost to the bureau! It is very funny. He
has caught some Rebels and many wagons, I know, and I think
he has got a good victory, but I don't yet know.
In our hunt we have had hard marching and plenty of fighting
of a poor sort. Rebel cavalry is very active and efficient, but
it don't fight. Our losses are ridiculously small for so much
noise. . . .
Thursday (21st), marched to near Snickers Ford. Camped
near Colonel Ware's. Fifteen miles. The next day, marched
to Winchester. A fine town before the war. Eleven and one-
half miles. Saturday (23d), enemy reported in force approach-
ADVANCE AND RETREAT 485
ing Winchester. Skirmished all day. Small force of Rebel
cavalry fool ours. Seven miles. Sunday (24th), defeated badly
at Winchester near Kernstown by Early with a superior force.
My brigade suffered severely. Rebels came in on my left. Poor
cavalry allowed the general to be surprised. Seven miles. All
[that] night marching, twenty-two miles, to Martinsburg. My
brigade covered the retreat. Retreated from Martinsburg;
turned on Rebels and drove them out. Monday night to Poto-
mac at Williamsport, [Maryland], twelve miles, a severe, sleepy
job. Camped on Antietam near battle-ground.
CAMP NEAR SHARPSBURG, MARYLAND,
Tuesday evening, July 26, 1864.
DEAREST:--We reached here today after two nights and one
day of pretty severe marching, not so severe as the Lynchburg
march, and one day of very severe fighting at Winchester. We
were defeated by a superior force at Winchester. My brigade
suffered most in killed and wounded and not so much in prison-
ers as some others. The Twenty-third lost about twenty-five
killed and one hundred wounded; [the] Thirty-sixth, eleven
killed, ninety-nine wounded; [the] Thirteenth, fifteen killed,
sixty wounded (behaved splendidly -- its first battle) ; [the] Sixth,
four killed, twenty-seven wounded. In [the] Twenty-third, six
new officers wounded and two killed--Captain McMillen late
of [the] Twelfth and Lieutenant Gray, a sergeant of Company
G. Morgan again wounded, not dangerously. Comly very
slightly. Lieutenant Hubbard, late commissary sergeant, fell
into [the] hands of Rebels. The rest all with us. Lieutenant
Kelly slightly three times. Lieutenant Clark (late sergeant) not
badly. All doing well. Lieutenant-Colonel Hall (Thirteenth)
twice badly but not dangerously--a brave man, very. My
horse wounded. This is all a new experience, a decided defeat
in battle. My brigade was in the hottest place and then was in
condition to cover the retreat as rear-guard which we did suc-
cessfully and well for one day and night.
Of course the reason, the place for blame to fall, is always
486 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
asked in such cases. I think the army is not disposed to
blame the result on anybody. The enemy was so superior that
a defeat was a matter of course if we fought. The real difficulty
was, our cavalry was so inefficient in its efforts to discover the
strength of the enemy that General Crook and all the rest of us
were deceived until it was too late.*
We are queer beings. The camp is now alive with laughter
and good feeling; more so than usual. The recoil after so
much toil and anxiety. The most of our wounded were brought
off and all are doing well. -- Colonel Mulligan, commanding [the]
brigade next to mine was killed. Colonel Shaw of [the] Thirty-
As we were driven off the field my pocket emptied out map,
almanack, and [a] little photographic album. We charged back
ten or twenty yards and got them!
There were some splendid things done by those around me.
McKinley and Hastings were very gallant. Dr. Joe conspicu-
ously so. Much that was disgraceful was done, but, on the
whole, it was not so painful a thing to go through as I have
thought it would be.
This was Sunday, about 2 P. M., that we all went up. We
shall stay here some time if the Rebels don't invade Maryland
again and so give us business.
I thought of you often, especially as I feared the first reports
by frightened teamsters and cavalry might carry tidings affect-
ing me. It was said my brigade was crushed and I killed at
Martinsburg. By the by, the enemy followed us to that place
* Dr. J. T. Webb, in a letter of July 28 to his mother, writes:--"All
this misfortune was occasioned by the infernal cavalry. They were sent
out to guard our flanks and failed to do so. Had they done their duty,
Crook would never have thought of fighting. There were about twenty
thousand Rebels, while we had some six or eight thousand, all told. Our
calvary is a miserable farce. They are utterly useless, in fact they were
in our way. Had we not depended on them, we never would have been
caught. They (cavalry) cut loose from their artillery and we, with our
infantry, hauled off their guns, at the same time driving, or rather
keeping, back the Rebels."
ADVANCE AND RETREAT 487
where we turned on them and flogged their advance-guard
So much, dearest, as ever.
[August 27, Hayes's command marched fourteen miles down
the river road toward Harpers Ferry and camped below Sandy
Hook. The next day the Potomac was crossed and a camp was
established in the woods near Halltown, Virginia, a good loca-
tion except that it was "too far from water." Here the weary
soldiers rested two days. Then, Saturday night, July 30, they
marched back in the darkness, through dust, heat, and confusion,
fourteen miles into Maryland; and Sunday ten miles farther on
through Middletown to a wooded camp. Hayes writes: "Men
all gone up, played out, etc. Must have time to build up or we
can do nothing. Only fifty to one hundred men in a regiment
came into camp in a body."]
CAMP NEAR HALLTOWN, VIRGINIA, FOUR MILES SOUTH OF
HARPERS FERRY, July 29, 1864.
DEAREST:--A fine day in a pleasant shady camp, resting.
That sentence contains a world of comfort to our weary, worn-
out men. All are clothed and shod again, and general good
We are joined by a large force under General Wright, who
commands the whole army. It looks as if we would move up
the Valley of Virginia again. If so the papers will inform you
of our movements and doings.
I sent you a dispatch and letter after our return from the
reverse at Winchester, but am not certain that either was for-
I can only repeat what I have written so often, my love and
esteem for my darling and my wish that she may be as happy
488 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
as she has always made me.--Love to the boys and all the
dear ones. Affectionately ever,
CAMP FIVE MILES SOUTH OF HARPERS FERRY, VIRGINIA,
July 30, 1864.
DEAR UNCLE:--I received your letter of the 13th last night.
I hardly know what to think about your bank. It seems likely
enough that greenbacks may get lower as compared with gold,
and perhaps all property employed in banking may depreciate
correspondingly. But I am not thinking much of these things
now and have no opinions on them which I think of any value.
As to that candidacy for Congress, I care nothing at all about
it, neither for the nomination nor for the election.* It was
merely easier to let the thing take its own course than to get
up a letter declining to run and then to explain it to everybody
who might choose to bore me about it.
We are gathering an army here apparently to drive the Rebels
out of the Valley. I hope we shall be long enough about it to
give the men rest and to heal their sore feet. We have had now
three months of hard campaigning -- marched one thousand to
one thousand two hundred miles, besides [travelling] seven hun-
dred [miles] by railroad and steamboat. Much night marching,
four or five pitched battles, and skirmishing every other day.
My health is good--perfect; bothered with boils from con-
stant riding in hot weather, but of no importance.
I wish you to send my letters to Mother. It will be a com-
fort to her to hear oftener than I have time to write. . . .
Colonel Mulligan was shot down very near me. We were
side by side conversing a few moments before. My orderly was
wounded, also my horse. Lieutenant Kelly had the narrowest
*Hayes had received numerous letters from friends in Cincinnati,
William Henry Smith, R. H. Stephenson, E. T. Carson, and others, urging
him to be a candidate. He was too busy in the field to bother about
politics. But he was nominated August 6, and elected in November,
without having taken any part in the canvass.
ADVANCE AND RETREAT 489
possible escapes -- several -- balls grazing his head, ear, and
body--Mrs. Zimmerman's brother, you know.
R. B. HAYES.
Sunday, 31st. -- I write this at Middletown, at the table of my
old home when wounded -- Jacob Rudy's. They are so cordial
and kind. Dr. Webb and I are at the breakfast table. All in-
quire after Lucy and all. Send this to Lucy. Such is war--
now here, tomorrow in Pennsylvania or Virginia. -- Good-
bye. -- R.
CAMP NEAR WOLFSVILLE, MARYLAND, August 2, 1864.
MY DARLING: -- We are having a jolly good time about sixteen
miles north of Middletown, resting the men, living on the fat
of the land, among these loyal, friendly people. We are sup-
posed to be watching a Rebel invasion. Our cavalry is after the
Rebel cavalry and I hope will do something. Averell is a poor
stick. Duffie is willing and brave and will do what he can.
Powell is the real man and will do what a small force can do.
I suspect there is nothing for us to do here--that is, that no
[Rebel] infantry are here.
I saw Colonel Brown. -- Hayes Douglass was, I am told, to be
in our division. I am sorry he is not. I have not seen him.
The Rudys I saw Sunday. They were so kind and cordial.
They all inquired after you. The girls have grown pretty--
quite pretty. Mr. Rudy said if I was wounded he would come
a hundred miles to get me. Queer old neighborhood this. They
sell goods at the country store at old prices and give silver in
change! Dr. Joe bought good shoes for two dollars and twenty-
five cents a pair.
We are in the Middletown Valley, by the side of a fine moun-
tain stream. We get milk, eggs, and good bread. All hope to
stay here always -- but I suppose we shall soon dance. We have
campaigned so long that our discipline and strength are greatly
490 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
I read the correct list of killed, wounded, etc., of [the]
Twenty-third this A. M. It contains scarcely any names you
would know. With two-thirds of the regiment composed of new
recruits and Twelfth men this would of course be so.--The
band astonished our rural friends with their music last night.
They never saw Federal soldiers here before. They have twice
been robbed by Rebel raiders and so are ready to admire all they
see and hear. -- Love to all.
MRS. HAYES. R.
Friday, August 5, 1864.--Wednesday, marched eighteen to
twenty miles across the Catoctin (Blue) Ridge, [and on] through
Frederick to the left bank of the Monocacy, one and one-half
miles below [Frederick] Junction [where we camped]. Yester-
day [there arrived] ninety recruits for [the] Twenty-third, a
deserter from Charleston among them. Providential !--[I] rode
into Frederick with General Crook, and dined with Dr. Steele,
of Dayton. Today [was the] trial [drumhead court-martial] of
deserter Whitlow. He was shot at sundown before all the
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