FIGHTING IN THE SHENANDOAH VALLEY, OPEQUON,
FISHER'S HILL, AND CEDAR CREEK
CROOK'S weary army had been summoned to the East be-
cause of Early's activities. As soon as Hunter's forces,
after their failure at Lynchburg, were well in the mountains,
Early had started for the Shenandoah Valley, now left un-
guarded. He moved rapidly down the Valley, meeting practically
no resistance, crossed over into Maryland, and levying contri-
butions as he went, hurried on towards Washington which was
in a fever of apprehension. Lew Wallace, with an inadequate
force, strove bravely but in vain to block his way at Monocacy.
The most he could do was to delay Early and the delay saved
Washington. By the time Early came in sight of the dome of
the Capitol, knowledge of the arrival of troops from Grant's
army deterred him from any serious attempt to take the city.
He turned back the night of July 12 and crossed the Potomac
to Leesburg with all the booty his raiders had gathered in
"Then followed three weeks of perpetual fighting, raiding,
marching, and countermarching in the lower Shenandoah Valley
and western Maryland, with frequent changes of commanders
of departments and corps, with clashings of authority and con-
flicting orders, resulting in dissipating the strength of the Union
forces and giving the alert and clear-headed Early almost con-
stant success. At last (August 5) Grant solved the perplexing
problem by insisting on a consolidation of the Middle, Wash-
ington, Susquehanna, and West Virginia Departments and plac-
ing General Sheridan with an adequate army in command.
Then began the brilliant campaign in the Valley which finally
492 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
crushed the Confederate strength in that quarter."* This chap-
ter records Hayes's share in that campaign.]
CAMP PLEASANT VALLEY, MARYLAND,
August 8 (Monday), 1864.
DEAREST: -- We have had pretty good times the last week or
ten days. Easy marching, plenty to eat, and good camps. We
are, for the present, part of a tolerably large army under Sheri-
dan. This pleases General Crook and suits us all. We are likely
to be engaged in some of the great operations of the autumn.
But service in these large armies is by no means as severe as in
Hayes Douglass is commissary on General Crook's staff. I
have not yet seen him. He is spoken of very favorably.
My staff is Captain Hastings, Lieutenant Wood and Delay
of Thirty-sixth, and Comstock of Thirteenth. I was sorry to
lose McKinley but I couldn't as a friend advise him to do other-
wise. He is taken out of [the] quartermaster's department and
that is good, and into [the] adjutant-general's office, and that is
One of the scamps who deserted the Rebels and then deserted
Hicks' company (you remember) was captured at Cloyd's
Mountain in the Rebel ranks. He escaped and by a remarkable
providence enlisted as a substitute in Ohio and was sent to the
Twenty-third Regiment. He was tried anl shot within twenty-
four hours. His execution was in [the] presence of General
Crook's command. Men of the Twenty-third shot him. They
made no mistake. Eight out of ten balls would either of them
have been instant death. We are getting a considerable number
of substitutes -- many good men, but many who are professional
villains who desert of course.
We seem to be going up the Valley of the Shenandoah again.
We get no letters. None from you since I saw you. But I
know you are loving me and only feel anxious lest you are too
anxious about me.
* "Life of Hayes," Vol. 1, p. 227.
IN THE SHENANDOAH VALLEY 493
One of the best officers in my command wrote an article on
the Winchester fight which will appear in the Gallipolis Journal
which you would be happy to read.
Well, time is passing rapidly. The campaign is half over.
If we can only worry through the Presidential election I shall
feel easier. I hope McClellan will be nominated at Chicago.
I shall then feel that, in any event, the integrity of the Union is
likely to be maintained. A peace nomination at Chicago would
array the whole party against the war.
Love to all. Much for thyself, darling.
MRS. HAYES. R.
SHENANDOAH VALLEY, NEAR STRASBURG,
August 14 (Sunday), 1864.
DEAREST:--You see we are again up the Valley following
Generals Early and Breckinridge who are in our front. I know
nothing as to prospects. I like our present commander, General
Sheridan. Our movement seems to relieve Maryland and Penn-
sylvania. Whether it means more and what, I don't know. We
are having rather pleasant campaigning. The men improve
Put Winchester down as a Christian town. The Union fam-
ilies took our wounded off the field and fed and nursed them
well. Whatever town is burned to square the Chambersburg*
account, it will not be Winchester.
Several in my brigade supposed to be dead turn out to be
doing well. There are probably fifty families of good Union
people (some quite wealthy and first-familyish) in Winchester.
It is a splendid town, nearly as large as Chillicothe.
Much love to all. Good-bye, darling.
Ever lovingly, your
*General McCausland had recently been on a raid in Pennsylvania;
had captured Chambersburg, and the citizens being unable to pay the
exorbitant levy he demanded, had burned it to the ground.
494 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
SHENANDOAH VALLEY, CAMP NEAR STRASBURG, VIRGINIA,
August 14, 1864.
DEAR UNCLE: -- You see we are again up the famous Valley;
General Sheridan commands the army; General Early and
Breckinridge are in our front; they have retired before us thus
far; whether it is the purpose to follow and force a battle, I
don't know; the effect is to relieve our soil from Rebels.
My health is excellent. Our troops are improving under the
easy marches. We shall get well rested doing what the Sixth
and Nineteenth Corps of the Potomac ([who] are with us) re-
gard as severe campaigning.
I have heard nothing from home since I saw Lucy on the
10th [of] July. Direct to me: "First Brigade, Second Division,
Army of West Virginia, via Harpers Ferry."
R. B. HAYES.
Monday, August 15, 1864.--Rebels attacked our picket line
and drove it after a brisk skirmish. [The] Twenty-third and
Thirty-sixth supporting soon check the Rebels. Our loss two
killed, ten wounded. I had some narrow escapes.
CEDAR CREEK, NEAR STRASBURG, August 16, 1864.
DARLING:--We are still here observing the enemy and skir-
mishing with him daily. Yesterday with [the] Twenty-third and
Thirty-sixth had a very brisk skirmish; lost two killed, twelve
wounded. One of [the] color corporals in Twenty-third
(Corporal Hughes) killed. We are gaining in strength and
spirits daily. Numbers supposed to have been killed at Win-
chester turn out to be only wounded. . . . Love to all.
IN THE SHENANDOAH VALLEY 495
CAMP NEAR CHARLESTOWN SIX MILES (OR FOUR) FROM
HARPERS FERRY, August 23, 1864.
DEAREST:--For the first time since I saw you I received let-
ters from you the day before yesterday. I hope I shall not be
so cut off again. It almost pays, however, in the increased grati-
fication the deferred correspondence gives one. You can't
imagine how I enjoy your letters. They are a feast indeed.
I had hardly read your letter when we were called out to
fight Early. We skirmished all day. Both armies had good
positions and both were too prudent to leave them. So, again
yesterday. We are at work like beavers today. The men enjoy
it. A battle may happen at any moment, but I think there will
be none at present. Last evening the Twenty-third, Thirty-sixth,
and Fifth surprised the Rebel skirmish line and took a number
of prisoners, etc., without loss to us. It is called a brilliant
skirmish and we enjoyed it much.
You recollect "Mose" Barrett. He was taken prisoner at
Lynchburg while on a risky job. I always thought he would get
off. Well, he came in at Cumberland with a comrade bringing
in twelve horses from the Rebel lines!
Colonel Tomlinson was slightly wounded in the skirmish last
night, just enough to draw blood and tear his pants below the
knee.--One corporal of the color-guard was killed at Win-
chester -- George Hughes, Company B. He died in five minutes
Winchester is a noble town. Both Union and Secesh ladies
devote their whole time to the care of the wounded of the two
armies. Their town has been taken and retaken two or three
times a day, several times. It has been the scene of five or six
battles and many skirmishes. There are about fifty Union
families, many of them "F. F.'s." But they are true as steel.
Our officers and men all praise them. One queer thing: the
whole people turn out to see each army as it comes and welcome
their acquaintances and friends. The Rebels are happy when
the Secesh soldiers come and vice versa. Three years of this
sort of life have schooled them to singular habits.
I have heard heavy skirmishing ever since I began to write.
496 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
Now I hear our artillery pounding, but I anticipate no battle
here as I think our position too good for Early to risk an assault
and I suppose it is not our policy to attack them.
Interrupted to direct Captain Gillis about entrenching on our
left. Meantime skirmish firing and cannonading have almost
I believe you know that I shall feel no apprehension of the
war being abandoned if McClellan is elected President. I there-
fore feel desirous to see him nominated at Chicago. Then, no
odds how the people vote, the country is safe. If McClellan is
elected the Democracy will speedily become a war party. A
great good that will be. I suspect some of our patriots having
fat offices and contracts might then on losing them become
enamored of peace! I feel more hopeful about things than
when I saw you. This Presidential election is the rub. That
once over, without outbreak or other calamity, and I think we
save the country.
By the by, I think I'll now write this to Uncle Scott. So
good-bye. Love to chicks. Ever so much for their grand-
mother and more for you, darling.
CAMP BETWEEN HARPERS FERRY AND CHARLESTOWN,
VIRGINIA, August 23, 1864.
DEAR MOTHER:--We have a pretty large Rebel army just in
front of us. We drove it before us several days until it was
reinforced when it slowly drove us back to this point. Here we
are in a pretty good position and there seems to be a purpose to
fight a general battle here if the enemy choose to attack. Of
course, there are frequent skirmishes and affairs in which parts
of the army only are engaged which are small battles. So far
our success in such affairs has been quite as good as the enemy's.
I am inclined to think that there will be no general engagement
here. It looks as if we were so well prepared that the Rebels
would move in some other direction.
IN THE SHENANDOAH VALLEY 497
I am now longer without a letter from you than ever before.
I know you write but we have had no mails.--My health is
good. I heard from Lucy and Uncle Sunday. The weather
is now delightful. We have had good rains. -- Love to all.
Affectionately, your son,
MRS. SOPHIA HAYES.
CAMP OF SHERIDAN'S ARMY, August 24, 1864.
FRIEND SMITH:--Your favor of the 7th came to hand on
Monday. It was the first I had heard of the doings of the
Second District Convention. My thanks for your attention and
assistance in the premises. I cared very little about being a
candidate, but having consented to the use of my name I pre-
ferred to succeed. Your suggestion about getting a furlough to
take the stump was certainly made without reflection.
An officer fit for duty who at this crisis would abandon his
post to electioneer for a seat in Congress ought to be scalped.
You may feel perfectly sure I shall do no such thing.
We are, and for two weeks have been, in the immediate pres-
ence of a large Rebel army. We have skirmishing and small
affairs constantly. I am not posted in the policy deemed wise
at headquarters, and I can't guess as to the prospects of a general
engagement. The condition and spirit of this army are good
and improving. I suspect the enemy is sliding around us
towards the Potomac. If they cross we shall pretty certainly
have a meeting.
R. B. HAYES.*
WM. H. SMITH, ESQ.,
* This letter was lithographed and widely used as an effective campaign
document during the Presidential canvass of 1876.
498 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
CAMP SHERIDAN'S ARMY NEAR HALLTOWN, VIRGINIA,
August 27, 1864.
DEAR UNCLE:--I am getting letters at last; heard nothing
from anybody for six weeks until last Sunday.
We are entrenching a fine camp here as if a strong Rebel at-
tack was expected. We have the enemy directly in front -- sup-
posed to be in force. We have fighting daily. My brigade and
the other brigade of Crook's old division are in the front and do
the most of it. We had quite a little battle last night -- our loss
seventy--Rebel about [the] same in killed and wounded and
we captured a small South Carolina Rebel regiment entire (one
hundred and four [men]). This is the third time we have
dashed back on them and picked up their skirmish line. The
Rebs did intend to go into Maryland and Pennsylvania. Perhaps
we have stopped them. We don't know yet.
Sheridan's cavalry is splendid. It is the most like the right
thing that I have seen during the war.
Discipline and drill have been woefully neglected in our army.
General Crook's army is about one-third of the force of Sheri-
dan. Half of his (Crook's) force is capital infantry--the old
Kanawha Division and two or three other regiments. The rest
is poor enough--as poor as anything here. This is what hurt
us at Winchester. The Nineteenth Corps, another third of
Sheridan's army, are Yankee troops just returned from
Louisiana. We have not seen them fight yet, but they look ex-
ceedingly well. We are pretty certain to have heavy fighting
We are having capital times in this army -- commanders that
suit us (we are rid of Hunter), plenty to eat and wear, and
beautiful and healthy camps, with short marches. The best
times we have had since our first raid under Crook.
My old regiment keeps up notwithstanding the losses. We
have filled up so as to have in the field almost six hundred men
-- more than any other old regiment.
I see Buckland is nominated [for Congress.] I suppose that
will please him much. My college friend, from Michigan, Trow-
bridge, is a candidate also.
IN THE SHENANDOAH VALLEY 499
I hope McClellan will be nominated at Chicago. I shall then
feel that in any event the war is to be prosecuted until the
Union is restored.
R. B. HAYES.
Monday, August 29, 1864. --In camp, five miles to south of
Charlestown, lazily listening to heavy firing on our right. Mc-
Clellan probably nominated. I suspect he will be elected. Not
so bad a thing if he is. Reading "Harry Lorrequer."
CAMP SHERIDAN'S ARMY BETWEEN CHARLESTOWN AND
WINCHESTER, August 30, 1864.
DEAREST: -- A lucky day. A big mail--letters (all of July)
from you, Uncle, Mother, soldiers, their wives, fathers, etc., etc.,
and newspapers (all July) without end. So I must write short
We are slowly (I think) pushing the enemy back up the Val-
ley. We have some fighting, but no general engagement. Sheri-
dan's splendid cavalry does most of the work. Heretofore, we
(the infantry, especially [the] First and Second Brigades) have
had to do our own work and that of the cavalry also. Now, if
anything, the cavalry does more than its share. It is as if we
had six or eight thousand such men as Captain Gilmore's; only
better drilled. A great comfort this. Indeed, this is our best
The men are fast getting their Kanawha health and spirits
back, now that we are rid of Hunter, hard marching night and
day, and nothing to eat.
The paymaster, Major Wallace (he inquires after Mrs. Hayes
of course), has found us at last. The color-company of [the]
Twenty-third is Twelfth men--a fine company of veterans.
The color-sergeant is Charles W. Bendel of Maysville, Kentucky,
of the Twelfth. He loves the flag as if he thought it his sweet-
heart--kisses it, fondles it, and bears it proudly in battle,
500 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
I hope things turn out so I can be with you about the time
you would like me to be at home. Perhaps they will. Love to all.
Affectionately ever, your
CAMP BEYOND CHARLESTOWN, August 30, 1864.
DEAR UNCLE:--We got a big mail today; letters from you,
Lucy, Mother, and everybody, all written in July. We have had
no general engagement, but a world of small affairs the last
week. I think the enemy are giving it up. We are slowly pushing
them back up the Valley. General Sheridan's splendid cavalry
do a great share of the work; we look on and rest. This has
been a good month for us. We are a happy army.
I see it is likely McClellan will be nominated. If they don't
load him down with too much treasonable peace doctrine, I shall
not be surprised at his election. I can see some strong currents
which can easily be turned in his favor, provided always that
his loyalty is left above suspicion. I have no doubt of his per-
sonal convictions and feelings. They are sound enough, but his
surroundings are the trouble. We have a paymaster at last.
R. B. HAYES.
[Dr. J. T. Webb, in a letter to his mother from "Camp
Charlestown, August 30, 1864," writes: "This is the place the
chivalry hung old John Brown some four years since. It has
been a beautiful place, many elegant residences, fine stores,
printing press, and public halls. Now how changed! Not a
store in the place, in fact nothing but the women and children
and a few old men live here; a few of the fine residences look
as though they were kept up, but everything around is sad and
gloomy, and then to add to all, the Sixth Corps (some fifteen
or twenty thousand troops) as they passed through the place, had
all their bands, some twenty, play 'John Brown.'
"I met an old man the other day in the street, and said to him,
IN THE SHENANDOAH VALLEY 501
'This is the place you hung old John Brown. 'Yes,' he replied.
'How long since?' said I. 'Four years since and,' added he,
'never had no peace since.'"]
Wednesday, August 31, 1864. -- McClellan nominated. A
happy month in the main. The prospect is much less gloomy
than at the beginning of the month. Grant will probably be able
to keep his position before Richmond.
CAMP OF SHERIDAN'S ARMY, September 1, 1864.
DEAREST: -- Enclosed find state receipt for seven hundred dol-
lars payable at county treasury of Ross County. You can sign
the receipt on the back and send it to the treasurer of Ross
County by any friend. I suppose it will get around in about
four weeks from this time.
The Rebs are reported all gone. With Sheridan's fine cav-
alry and General Crook's shrewdness they had no business so
far from home. We were picking them up in detail. Their loss
in the last two weeks was sixteen hundred -- mostly prisoners;
our loss not over four hundred.
Your two letters in which you speak of Ike Cook [a cousin
of Mrs. Hayes] just reached me. I do not see how he can be
commissioned as Mr. Hough proposes, but if he can get him
commissioned and mustered in any regiment and get him leave
to come here, I will get him a good place as aide (aide-de-camp)
to myself or somebody else. Of course the regiments in the
field need all their promotions. If he is drafted, Mr. Hough can
arrange it probably so he can join the Twenty-third or Thirty-
sixth. I will then make him an orderly which will give him a
horse and very easy duty--nothing harder usually than the
care of his horse. If he wishes to volunteer, or go as a sub-
stitute, he can get big bounties, and as long as I retain my pres-
ent position he shall be mounted.
All well. Soldiers so jolly. Birch and Webb would like it
here. The men are camped in a wooded ravine, officers' quarters
on the edge of the wood looking out upon fine open fields and
502 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
mountains. About a dozen men of Company B, Twenty-third,
with their hats swinging ran yelling up to the open ground cry-
ing, "See the prisoners! Mosby a prisoner." Of course those
next to them ran, the thing took and the whole camp clear to
army headquarters a mile off or more, perhaps ten thousand
men, followed their example. Officers of course ran, major-
generals and all. Then the "sell" was discovered, and such
laughing and shouting I never heard before.--A squirrel is
started; up the trees go the soldiers and fun alive until he is
caught. A mule or a dog gets into camp, and such a time! I
am constantly saying, "How the boys would like this."
Well, good-bye dearest. We feel that this Valley campaign
has been a lucky one, though not very eventful. We shall, I
think, go up the Valley again to Winchester and beyond. -- Love
Ever affectionately, your
McKinley is a captain now on General Crook's staff.
September 2, A. M.--Your letter of 22nd came last night.
You are doing me such a favor in writing often. I now get
letters. In [the] September Harper is an article "First Time
Under Fire" which is very like my case. -- Truthful.
CAMP NEAR BERRYVILLE, September 4, .
DEAREST: -- We had one of the fiercest fights yesterday I was
ever in. It was between the South Carolina and Mississippi
Divisions under General Kershaw and six regiments of the
Kanawha Division. My brigade had the severest fighting, but
in loss we none of us suffered as might have been expected. We
were under cover except when we charged and then darkness
helped. We whipped them, taking about one hundred prisoners
and killing and wounding a large number. Captain Gillis was
killed, shot near the heart, Captain Austin dangerously wounded
through the right shoulder, George Brigdon, my color-
IN THE SHENANDOAH VALLEY 503
bearer, bearing the brigade flag, mortally wounded. Only ten
others of [the] Twenty-third hurt. Sixty in the brigade killed
or wounded. Captain Gillis was a noble, brave man, a good
companion, cheerful and generous -- a great loss to us. The
Rebel army is again just before us.
It was a pleasant battle to get through, all except the loss of
Gillis and Brigdon and Austin. I suppose I was never in so
much danger before, but I enjoyed the excitement more than
ever before. My men behaved so well. One regiment of an-
other division nearly lost all by running away. The Rebels were
sure of victory and run [ran] at us with the wildest yells, but our
men turned the tide in an instant. This was the crack division of
Longstreet. They say they never ran before.
Darling, I think of you always. My apprehension and feel-
ing is a thousand times more for you than for myself. I think
we shall have no great battle. We are again entrenched here.
Our generals are cautious and wary. -- Love to all. The dear
boys, God bless them.
Affectionately ever, your
CAMP OF SHERIDAN'S ARMY NEAR BERRYVILLE, VIRGINIA,
September 6, P. M., 1864.
DEAR UNCLE: -- Saturday evening (September 3) my brig-
ade and two regiments of the other brigade of the Kanawha
Division fought a very fierce battle with a division of South
Carolina and Mississippi troops under Kershaw. We whipped
them handsomely after the longest fight I was ever in. Took
seventy-five officers and men prisoners and inflicted much severer
loss than we suffered. Prisoners say it is the first time their
division was ever flogged in fair fight.
My color-bearer was killed and some of the best officers
killed or wounded. We have fought nine times since we entered
this valley and have been under fire, when men of my command
were killed and wounded, probably thirty or forty times since
the campaign opened. I doubt if a brigade in Sherman's army
504 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
has fought more. None has marched half as much. I started
with twenty-four hundred men. I now have less than twelve
hundred, and almost none of the loss is stragglers.
I hope they will now get Sherman's army to Richmond. It
will be taken if they do it promptly, otherwise I fear not for
McClellan would get a handsome soldiers' vote if on a decent
platform; as it is, he will get more than any other Democrat
I am glad that you feel as you do about my safety. It is the
best philosophy not to borrow trouble of the future. We are
still confronted by the enemy. I can't help thinking that the
fall of Atlanta will carry them back to Richmond. What a
glorious career Sherman's army has had! That is the best army
in the world. Lee's army is next. There is just as much differ-
ence between armies, divisions, brigades, etc., as between in-
dividuals. Crook, I think, has the best and the worst division in
this army. Of the one you can always count upon it, that it
will do all that can be expected, and of the other that it will
behave badly. Sincerely,
R. B. HAYES.
September 8.--Nothing new except that the Rebels have
drawn back perhaps ten miles from our front, possibly gone
back to Richmond.
CAMP AT SUMMIT POINT, VIRGINIA, September 9, 1864.
DEAREST:--I received today your good letter of the 30th. I
think I have got the most, perhaps, all of your back letters.
Speaking of politics: It is quite common for youngsters,
adopting their parents' notions, to get very bitter talk into
their innocent little mouths. I was quite willing Webb should
hurrah for Vallandigham last summer with the addition, "and
a rope to hang him." But I feel quite different about McClellan.
He is on a mean platform and is in bad company, but I do not
doubt his personal loyalty and he has been a soldier, and what
IN THE SHENANDOAH VALLEY 505
is more a soldier's friend. No man ever treated the private
soldier better. No commander was ever more loved by his men.
I therefore want my boys taught to think and talk well of Gen-
eral McClellan. I think he will make the best President of any
Democrat. If on a sound platform, I could support him. Do
not be alarmed. I do not think he will be elected. The im-
proved condition of our military affairs injures his chances very
materially. He will not get so large [an] army vote as his
friends seem to expect. With reasonably good luck in the war,
Lincoln will go in.
Have you any picture of Captain Gillis and Brigdon ? Captain
Austin had his arm amputated at the shoulder and died the night
after. There was no saving him. Lieutenant Hubbard, sup-
posed killed at Winchester, escaped from the Rebels and is now
with us, well and strong. About half of the Fifth Virginia
Volunteers leave us today. Colonel Enochs, Captain Poor, and
I do not know where the enemy is today. They were still in
our front the day before yesterday.
As ever your
MRS. HAYES. R.
[Dr. J. T. Webb writing to his nephews, the Hayes boys,
from Camp Summit Point, Virginia, September 11, 1864, says:--
"Since we left Charleston in April last, the Twenty-third Regi-
ment has had three captains killed and three wounded, two
lieutenants killed and three wounded, and about four hundred
and fifty privates killed and wounded. We have marched on foot
twelve hundred miles, travelled on steamboats and cars five hun-
dred; fought six or eight battles, (worsted in but one -- at Win-
chester), [and] skirmished with the enemy in front or rear
sixty days. Since we came into Sheridan's Army we have had
comparatively easy times, as far as marching is concerned. In
the way of skirmishing our division has had more than its share.
Every few days an order came for us to go out and see where
and what the enemy was doing. On one of these expeditions
we killed and captured quite a number of the enemy without
506 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
losing a man. This was fun for me. It was quite a battle, and
our friends, back in camp, from the amount of firing, supposed
we were having a hard time, and sent out thirty ambulances to
carry in our wounded. Imagine their surprise when we returned
them all empty. In our other skirmishes we lost more or less
each time, but invariably worsted the enemy."]
HEADQUARTERS FIRST BRIGADE, SECOND DIVISION, ARMY
OF WEST VIRGINIA, SUMMIT POINT, VIRGINIA,
September 12, 1864.
DEAR UNCLE:--We have had no severe fighting since the
third. The frequent rains have filled the Potomac so it is no
longer fordable. I look for no attempt now on the part of the
Rebels to get over the river and think there will be very little
fighting unless we attack. We are gaining strength daily. Our
policy seems to be not to attack unless the chances are greatly in
our favor. Military affairs wear a much better look. Our
armies are rapidly filling up. I shall not be surprised if Grant
should soon find himself able to make important moves.
I like McClellan's letter. It is an important thing. It is the
best evidence to Europe and the South that the people intend to
prosecute the war until the Union is re-established. Still, if
things continue as favorable as they now are, I think Lincoln
will be elected.
I see that Mr. Long is not renominated. I supposed he would
be and that my election over him was quite a sure thing. Against
Mr. Lord the result will depend on the general drift matters
take. I am not. a-going to take it to heart if I am beaten. "It's
of no consequence at all," as Mr. Toots would say. Mr. Lord's
wife and family are particular and intimate friends of my wife
and family. His wife is a sister of Stephenson's wife. Divers
friends of his and mine will be in a worry how to vote, I suspect.
I am glad you are out of debt -- a good place to be out of in
the times a-coming. . . .
R. B. HAYES.
IN THE SHENANDOAH VALLEY 507
CAMP NEAR SUMMIT POINT, VIRGINIA, September 13, 1864.
DEAREST: -- We have had heavy fall rains and are now having
windy, cold fall weather. We are, however, very comfortably
camped, clad, and fed.
No fighting of importance since the third. The enemy was
still in our front yesterday morning. A division is now out feel-
ing of their lines--the cannonading indicates that they have
not all gone.
McClellan, I see, has written a pretty good war letter. I sus-
pect it will make him trouble among the genuine copperheads.
Mr. Lord declines running in the Second District and Mr. Butler
is put in his place! I think both of them are good war men and
that they do not differ much from me. A funny mix it is.
We have had two votes in this camp. The Thirteenth Virginia,
Colonel Brown, gave three hundred and seventy-five for Lincoln,
fifteen for McClellan. The Ninth Virginia two hundred and
seventy for Lincoln, none (!) for McClellan. The platform and
Pendleton destroys his chances in the army.
I dreamed about you and the boys last night. I hope you are
as well as I thought you looked. . . . Love to all
CAMP NEAR SUMMIT POINT, VIRGINIA, September 17, 1864.
DEAREST:--Did Carrington leave a revolver (pistol) with
you when he left [the] little sorrel? I have forgotten about it.
General McClellan has written a pretty good Union and war
letter, which I see is bringing the Democratic party over to our
side on the war question. If he should be elected,--an event
not now seeming probable, -- I have no doubt that the war will
go right on. The chief difference between us is on slavery, and
I have no doubt that when the burden and responsibility of the
war is on the Democracy, they will rapidly "get religion," as
Sam Cary would say, "on that subject."
General Grant is now here in consultation with General Sheri-
dan. The recruits and convalescents will soon fill up his ranks
and I look for an active fall campaign.
508 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
September 18. Sunday P. M. -- As usual the order to move
comes on Sunday. We go on [in] what direction or why I don't
know. But, darling, I love you and the dear ones. -- Good-bye.
Monday, September 19, 1864. -- Marched fifteen miles and
gained the battle of Winchester. Colonel Duval and Captain
Hastings wounded near the close of the battle. I took command
of the Second (old "Kanawha") Division at end of day.
Tuesday, September 20.--Marched fifteen miles to Cedar
Creek (near Strasburg). Early badly beaten yesterday; twenty-
six hundred prisoners taken, swords, guns, and flags. Rebels
halt at Fisher's Hill. We hide in the woods after dark.
Wednesday, September 21. -- In camp at Cedar Creek.
Crook's troops concealed in woods. Rebels in a strong position
on Fisher's Hill beyond Strasburg with strong works; we are
trying to turn it.
CAMP NEAR STRASBURG, VIRGINIA, September 21, 1864.
DEAREST: -- As I anticipated when I added a few words in
pencil to a half finished letter last Sunday, we left camp to seek
General Early and give him battle. We met him at Winchester
and, as I telegraphed, gained a great victory. General Crook's
command in general, and my brigade and the Second (Kanawha)
Division in particular, squared up the balance left against us on
the 24th of July at the same place. The fighting began at day-
light Monday (19th), with our cavalry. Then the Sixth Corps
fighting pretty well, joined in; and about 10:30 A. M. the Nine-
teenth [Corps] took part -- some portions of it behaving badly,
losing ground, two guns, and some prisoners. We in the mean-
time were guarding the wagons (!). Since the fight they say
Crook's command was the reserve!
By noon the battle was rather against [us]. The Rebels were
jubilant and in Winchester were cheering and rejoicing over the
IN THE SHENANDOAH VALLEY 509
victory. We were sent for. General Crook in person superin-
tended the whole thing. At one o'clock, having passed around on
to the Rebel left, we passed under a fire of cannon and musketry
and pushed direct for a battery on their extreme flank. This
division was our extreme right. My brigade in front, supported
by Colonel White's old brigade. As soon as we felt their fire we
moved swiftly forward going directly at the battery. The order
was to walk fast, keep silent, until within about one hundred
yards of the guns, and then with a yell to charge at full speed.
We passed over a ridge and were just ready to begin the rush
when we came upon a deep creek with high banks, boggy, and
perhaps twenty-five yards wide.
The Rebel fire now broke out furiously. Of course the line
stopped. To stop was death. To go on was probably the same;
but on we started again. My horse plunged in and mired down
hopelessly, just as by frantic struggling he reached about the
middle of the stream. I jumped off, and down on all fours,
succeeded in reaching the Rebel side -- but alone. Perhaps some
distance above or below others were across. I was about the
middle of the brigade and saw nobody else, but hundreds were
struggling in the stream. It is said several were drowned. I
think it not true. (N. B. I just received the enclosed with
orders to have it read to every man in my division. I send you
the original. Save it as precious.)* The next man over (I don't
know but he beat me -- but--) was the adjutant of the Thirty-
Soon they came flocking, all regiments mixed up -- all order
gone. [There was] no chance of ever reforming, but pell-mell,
over the obstructions, went the crowd. Two cannons were cap-
*Two yellow flimsies. One giving a despatch of September 20 from
Secretary Stanton to General Sheridan, reading: "Please accept for your-
self and your gallant army the thanks of the President and the Depart-
ment for your great battle and brilliant victory of yesterday. . . .
One hundred guns were fired here at noon today in honor of your vic-
The other a despatch of the same date from General Grant, reading:
"I have just received the news of your great victory and ordered each of
the army corps to fire a salute of one hundred guns in honor of it at 7
o'clock tomorrow morning."
510 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
tured; the rest run off. The whole of Crook's Command (both
divisions) were soon over, with the general swinging his sword,
and the Rebel position was successfully flanked, and victory in
prospect for the first time that day.
We chased them three to five hundred yards, when we came in
sight of a second line, strongly posted. We steadily worked to-
wards them under a destructive fire. Sometimes we would be
brought to a standstill by the storm of grape and musketry, but
the flags (yours as advanced as any) would be pushed on and a
straggling crowd would follow. With your flag were [the]
Twenty-third, Thirty-fourth, Thirty-sixth, and Seventy-first men,
and so of all the others. Officers on horseback were falling
faster than others, but all were suffering. (Mem.: -- Two men
got my horse out and I rode him all day, but he was ruined.)
Things began to look dark. The Nineteenth Corps next on our
left were in a splendid line, but they didn't push. They stood
and fired at long range! Many an anxious glance was cast that
way. They were in plain sight, but no, or very little, effective
help came from that handsome line. It was too far off. At the
most critical moment a large body of that splendid cavalry, with
sabres drawn, moved slowly around our right beyond the creek.
Then at a trot and finally with shouts at a gallop [they] charged
right into the Rebel lines. We pushed on and away broke the
Rebels. The cavalry came back, and an hour later and nearly
a mile back, the same scene again; and a third time; and the
victory was ours just at sundown.
My division [was] entering Winchester as the Rebels were
leaving, far in advance of all other troops. My division com-
mander had fallen (Colonel Duval) badly, not dangerously,
wounded, and I commanded the division in the closing scenes.
The colonel of the other brigade, Captain Hastings, one of my
orderlies (Johnny Kaufman), and hosts of others [were]
wounded. You will see the lists. No intimate friends killed.
It was a great victory, but a much greater battle to take part
in than the results would indicate. I certainly never enjoyed
anything more than the last three hours. Dr. Joe was perfectly
happy, the last two hours at least -- always after the first cavalry
charge. We felt well. The sum of it is, [the] Sixth Corps
IN THE SHENANDOAH VALLEY 511
fought well; [the] Nineteenth only so-so. Crook's skill and his
men turned the Rebel left making victory possible, and the
cavalry saved it when it was in danger of being lost.
Of course this is imperfect. I saw but little of what occurred.
For that reason I would never have a letter of mine shown out-
side of the family. There is too much risk of errors. For in-
stance, crossing the creek, I could only see one hundred yards
or so up and down. Forty men may have beaten me over, but I
didn't see them.
Colonel Duval has gone home. I command the division. Col-
onel Devol of the Thirty-sixth commands the First Brigade in
my stead. We are following the retreating Rebels. They will
get into an entrenched position before fighting again, and I sus-
pect we shall not assault them in strong works. So I look for no
more fighting with General Early this campaign. -- Love to all.
Send this to Mother and Uncle with request to return it to you.
P. S.--A comment on this letter. I am told that the creek we
crossed was a swail or "sloo" [slough] three hundred yards long,
and that my line above and below me crossed it easily--thus
separating still more the different parts of my line. No one
knows a battle except the little part he sees.
Friday, September 23. -- Marched twelve miles to Woodstock.
Rebels outran the first Bull Run great rout. Woodstock a pretty
reigon. Bath and clean woollen today.
WOODSTOCK, VIRGINIA, September 23, 1864.
DEAREST:-- We fought the enemy again [yesterday] at
Fisher's Hill near Strasburg. They had fortified a naturally
strong position with great industry. It seemed impregnable, but
General Crook contrived an attack, by going up a mountainside,
which turned their position. My division led the attack. The
victory was [as] complete as possible and, strangest of all, our
loss is almost nothing.
512 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
Captain Douglass sits near me in excellent health. We are
following the enemy. Shall be out of hearing for some time.
In the rush after the Rebels no flag was so conspicuous as
yours. It seems a trifle larger than others, is bright and new,
and as it went double-quick at the head of a yelling host for
five miles, I thought how you would enjoy the sight. The color-
bearer told me he should go to see you when the war was over.
He is an American German, with a dark Indian face, full of
Captain Hastings' wound is severe but not dangerous. Captain
Stewart, the best captain in [the] Thirteenth, ditto. Captain
Slack killed. In the fight yesterday none were killed of your
friends or acquaintances and very few hurt.
A train goes in a minute and I must send a line to Mother. --
Dr. Joe perfectly triumphant. He was at the head of the host
yesterday. -- Love to all.
P. S. -- Since the wounding of Colonel Duval, I command the
splendid old Kanawha Division--two brigades, now not over
three thousand strong, but no better fighters live.
WOODSTOCK, VIRGINIA, September 23, 1864.
DEAR MOTHER:--We have gained two great victories this
week. The first was after a fierce and long battle, in which we
lost heavily. The last unwounded man of my staff was badly
wounded; one orderly ditto; two horses killed, rode by my aides.
I am unhurt and in good health. We are in pursuit and will
soon get out of the reach of mails. -- In haste. Love to all.
Affectionately, your son,
MRS. SOPHIA HAYES.
Saturday, September 24. -- Marched five [miles] to Edinburg,
seven to Mount Jackson, seven and one-fourth to New Market --
nineteen and one-fourth [in all]. A fine day; fine scenery.
IN THE SHENANDOAH VALLEY 513
Rebels stood a short time at Reed's Hill near Mount Jackson,
but soon retreated; admit a bad defeat -- loss of seventeen pieces
of artillery and five thousand men. Camp facing the gap into
Sunday, September 25. -- March nine [miles] to Sparta and
nine to Harrisonburg--eighteen. A fine town and a fine day.
General Early reported [to have] gone over into Luray Valley
to go through Blue Ridge. I conjecture he will go to railroad and
Lynchburg. This is a splendid day, a fine town.
Monday, September 26. -- At camp near Harrisonburg. Re-
ceive Sheridan's telegraphic report of our last battle. Crook's
command gets proper credit for once.
HARRISONBURG, VIRGINIA, September 26, 1864.
DEAREST: -- Another victory and almost nobody hurt. The
loss in my division (you know I now command General Crook's
old Division, Twenty-third and Thirty-sixth Ohio and Fifth and
Thirteenth Virginia, Thirty-fourth and Ninety-first Ohio and
Ninth and Fourteenth Virginia) is less than one hundred.
Early's Rebel veterans, Jackson's famous old corps, made our
Bull Run defeat respectable. They ran like sheep. The truth is,
General Crook outwitted them. The other generals opposed his
plan but Sheridan trusts him absolutely and allowed him to be-
gin the attack on his own plan. But I have written all this.
Love to the boys. Regards to Uncle Scott and all on the hill.
I got his good letter just before our last fight.
HARRISONBURG, VIRGINIA, September 26, 1864.
DEAR UNCLE:--You have heard enough about our great
victories at Winchester and Fisher's Hill. I will say only a word.
No one man can see or know what passes on all parts of a
battle-field. Each one describes the doings of the corps, division,
or what not, that he is with. Now, all the correspondents are
514 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
with the Sixth and Nineteenth Corps and the cavalry command.
General Crook has nobody to write him or his command up.
They are of course lost sight of. At Winchester at noon, the
Sixth and Nineteenth Corps had been worsted. In the afternoon,
General Crook (who is the brains of the whole thing) with his
command turned the Rebel left and gained the victory. The
cavalry saved it from being lost after it was gained. My brigade
led the attack on the Rebel left, but all parts of Crook's command
did their duty. The Sixth Corps fought well, the Nineteenth
failed somewhat, and the cavalry was splendid and efficient
throughout. This is my say-so.
My division entered the fight on the extreme right of the
infantry, Merritt's splendid cavalry on our right, and Averell still
further on our right. We ended the fight on the extreme left.
The Rebels retreated from our right to our left, so that we went
in at the rear and came out at the front, my flag being the first
into and through Winchester. My division commander was
wounded late in the fight and I commanded the division from
that time. It is the Second, General Crook's old division.
At Fisher's Hill the turning of the Rebel left was planned and
executed by General Crook against the opinions of the other
generals. My division led again. General Sheridan is a whole-
souled, brave man (like Dr. Webb) and believes in Crook, his
old class and roommate at West Point. Intellectually he is not
General Crook's equal, so that, as I said, General Crook is the
brains of this army.
The completeness of our victories can't be exaggerated. If
Averell had been up to his duty at Fisher's Hill, Mr. Early and
all the rest would have fallen into our hands. As it is, we have,
I think, from the two battles five thousand Rebel prisoners un-
hurt--three thousand wounded, five hundred killed; twenty-five
pieces of artillery, etc., etc.
In the Fisher's Hill battle, the Sheridan Cavalry was over the
mountains going around to the rear. This, as it turned out, was
unfortunate. If they had been with us instead of Averell, there
would have been nothing left of Early. General Averell is re-
I lost one orderly, my adjutant-general, Captain Hastings, and
IN THE SHENANDOAH VALLEY 515
field officers in all regiments, wounded. No officers especially
intimate with me killed. I had my scene which I described in
a letter to Lucy.
ONE HUNDRED MILES SOUTH OF THE POTOMAC,
HARRISONBURG, VIRGINIA, September 27, 1864.
DEAREST: -- We have left the further pursuit of Early's broken
army to cavalry and small scouting parties. We are resting near
a beautiful town like Delaware. We suspect our campaigning is
over and that we shall ultimately go back towards Martinsburg.
It has been a most fortunate and happy campaign for us all --
I mean, for all who are left! For no one more so than for me.
My command has been second to none in any desirable thing.
We have had the best opportunity to act and have gone through
with it fortunately.
My chief anxiety these days is for you. I hope soon to hear
that your troubles are happily over. -- Much love to the dear ones
and oceans for yourself.
Affectionately ever, your
ONE HUNDRED MILES SOUTH OF THE POTOMAC,
September 27, 1864.
DEAR UNCLE: -- Our work seems to be done for the present.
The cavalry and small scouting parties are after the scattered
and broken army. It looks as if we should, after [a] while,
return towards the Potomac. We are resting in the magnificent
Valley of Virginia. A most happy campaign it has been. Our
chance to act has been good, and it has been well improved.
My immediate command is one of the very finest, and has done
all one could desire.
There are five or six brigadier-generals and one or two major-
generals, sucking their thumbs in offices at Harpers Ferry and
516 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
elsewhere, who would like to get my command. One came out
here yesterday to ask for it, but General Crook tells them he has
all the commanders he wants and sends them back. There is not
a general officer in General Crook's army and has not been in this
Things look well in all directions. Lincoln must be re-elected
easily, it seems to me. Rebel prisoners -- the common soldiers --
all talk one way: "Tired of this rich man's war; determined to
quit if it lasts beyond this campaign."
R. B. HAYES.
HARRISONBURG, VIRGINIA, September 27, 1864.
DEAR MOTHER:--We are now one hundred miles south of
Harpers Ferry. Our victories have so broken and scattered the
Rebel army opposed to us that it is no use for infantry to pur-
sue further, except in small parties scouting the woods and
mountains. The cavalry are going on. We are resting in a lovely
valley. I rather think that our campaigning is over for the
present. It has been exceedingly fortunate. General Crook's
whole command has done conspicuously well. I commanded in
the last fighting the fine division formerly commanded by Gen-
eral Crook. We led the attack on both days. It is the pleasant-
est command a man could have. Half of the men are from Ohio,
the rest from West Virginia.
I think we shall stay here some time and then go back towards
Martinsburg. -- Love to all.
R. B. HAYES.
MRS. SOPHIA HAYES.
[Dr. J. T. Webb, in a letter from "Camp nigh Harrisonburg,
Virginia, September 28, 1864," describes the battle of Fisher's
Hill in a graphic way:
"[After the battle on the Opequon] the enemy fell back to
Fisher's Hill, some eighteen miles from Winchester. This was
IN THE SHENANDOAH VALLEY 517
supposed to be impregnable, the key to the Valley. Here they
fortified themselves and boasted, as you will see by the Rich-
mond papers, that they could not be ousted. We followed on.
At this point the Valley is quite narrow, North Mountain and
Middle Mountain approaching each other, say within three miles
of each other. The mountainsides are steep and rough. Now,
just here, a creek runs directly across the valley, whose banks
are steep and high on which the Rebels have erected strong
earthworks. To attack these would be worse than death. The
Rebels felt quite secure. We could see them evidently enjoying
themselves. After looking about a day or so, Crook proposed to
flank them on their left again, this time climbing up the side of
the mountain. So after marching all day, at four P. M., we
found ourselves entirely inside of their works, and they knew
nothing of it. Again Crook orders a charge, and with yells
off they go, sweeping down the line of works, doubling up the
Rebels on each other. They were thunderstruck; swore we had
crossed the mountain. The men rushed on, no line, no order, all
yelling like madmen. [The] Rebs took to their heels, each striv-
ing to get himself out of the way. Cannon after cannon were
abandoned (twenty-two captured). Thus we rushed on until we
reached their right. Here again [as on the 19th] darkness saved
them once more. Such a foot-race as this was is not often met
with. The Rebs say Crook's men are devils.
"It was after this charge, as we were encamped on the road-
side, [that] the Sixth and Nineteenth [Corps] passing gave us
three cheers. Crook had given Averell his orders to charge just
so soon as the enemy broke, but as usual he was drunk or some-
thing else and failed to come to time. Thus he wasted the grand-
est opportunity ever offered for capturing the enemy and gain-
ing credit for himself. Sheridan ordered him to the rear, re-
lieving him of his command. This same Averell was the sole
cause of Crook's disaster at Winchester. He failed constantly
on the Lynchburg raid; now he lost everything almost, and is
merely relieved. Had he followed up the enemy after they were
dispersed, he could have captured all their train, cannon, etc.,
besides scattering and capturing all of the men. Sheridan's
Cavalry proper had been sent round to turn their flank through
518 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
Luray Valley, but the Rebs had fortified the pass and they could
not reach us. As it is, however, we have whipped the flower
of the Rebel army; they are scattered in all directions. We have
captured about four thousand prisoners (sound) and three thou-
sand wounded, killing some five or seven hundred.
"Our cavalry are still pursuing. All this day we can hear
artillery firing. It is reported that yesterday we captured or
caused them to burn one hundred waggons. I presume the
infantry will not move much farther in this direction.
"The men all feel fine. We have 'wiped out' Winchester.
Notwithstanding the Rebs had choice of position, [the number
of] our killed and wounded does not equal theirs. They have
lost four or five generals; colonels and majors, any quantity.
Many are coming in from the mountain. All say they are tired
of this war. The people are getting tired, and many noted Rebels
are willing and anxious to close this out."]
HARRISONBURG, VIRGINIA, September 28, (5 A. M.), 1864.
DEAREST: -- We have marching orders this morning. Where
to, etc., I don't yet know. I think we shall have no more heavy
fighting. You will know where we are before this reaches you
through the papers. We shall probably be out of the reach of
you for several days.
My thoughts are of you these days more than usual and I al-
ways think of my darling a good deal, as I ought to do of such
a darling as mine. You know I am
Your ever affectionate
MRS. HAYES. R.
HARRISONBURG, VIRGINIA, September 29, P. M., 1864.
DEAREST:--The cavalry and part of our infantry are in
Staunton and on the road to Gordonsville. They are merely
keeping up the big scare. The Sixth and Nineteenth Corps are
eight miles on the Staunton Road. We are enjoying ourselves.
We rather expect and prefer to start back towards Winchester
soon, but we know nothing.
IN THE SHENANDOAH VALLEY 519
I write so often these days because I feel anxious about you
and because I am uncertain about the delivery of my letters
within our lines.--Love to all. Much for your own private self,
P. S. -- It is now universally conceded in this army that Crook
and his men did it.
HARRISONBURG, VIRGINIA, October 1, 1864.
DEAREST: -- The First Brigade has gone out six miles to grind
up the wheat in that neighborhood -- three mills there -- and Dr.
Joe has gone with them.
Colonel Powell just returned from Staunton. They burned
all wheat stacks, mills, and barns with grain, and are driving in
all cattle and horses. Large numbers of families are going out
with us. Dunkards and Mennonites, good quiet people, are gen-
erally going to Ohio. I hope we shall move back in a day or two.
Our wounded all doing well. Only seven deaths in all the
hospitals at Winchester. Miss Dix and Presidents of Christian
and Sanitary Commissions with oceans of luxuries and comforts
there, and the good people of Winchester to cook and help.
[The] Sixth Corps take one street; [the] Nineteenth, the Main
Street; and Crook's, the Eastern. Rebel [wounded] and ours
now there about three thousand. Twenty-third, thirty-three;
Fifth, eight; Thirty-sixth, thirteen, and Thirteenth, twenty. All
the rest gone home. Captain Hiltz, Twelfth-Twenty-third, lost
his leg. As soon as the operation was over and the effect of the
chloroform passed off, he looked at the stump and said: "No
more eighteen dollars for boots to sutler now; nine dollars [will]
shoe me!" Captain Hastings doing well; heard from him last
General Lightburn came up a day or two ago with staff and
orderlies and asked General Crook for the command of my divi-
sion. He had reported along the road that he was going out to
take General Crook's old division. General Crook told him the
520 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
division was officered to his satisfaction and ordered him back
to Harpers Ferry to await orders.
Colonel Duval is doing well and hopes to return by the last of
this month (October).
Colonel Comly keeps a pretty full diary. He has sent extracts
containing the two battles home. They will probably appear in
the Cincinnati Gazette.
I shall send a Rebel's diary to the Commercial. It was taken
from his pocket at Winchester.
We rather expect to go into something like winter quarters
soon after getting back to Winchester or Martinsburg. Of course
there will be extensive campaigning done yet, but we think we
shall now be excused. I speak of Crook's Command. -- Love
to all. Affectionately ever,
Harrisonburg, Sunday, October 2, 1864. -- A fine day. First
Brigade six miles out grinding; came in after dark. Cannonad-
ing in front. A hegira of Dunkards and others. Grant orders
all provisions destroyed so "a crow flying from Staunton to
Winchester must carry his rations."
HARRISONBURG, VIRGINIA, Sunday, October 2, 1864.
DEAREST: -- I am writing to you so often these days because I
am thinking of you more anxiously than usual, and on account
of the great uncertainty of our communications. There are some
indications today that we shall push on further south. You will
know if we do by the papers. If so we shall be cut off from
friends more than ever.
Dr. Joe has gone with the First Brigade out about six miles to
grind up the wheat at some mills in that quarter. It seems to be
a great place for sport. They are having a jolly time.
We hear from Winchester today. One of our orderlies,
Johnny Kaufman, died of his wound. Captain Hastings and the
rest are all doing well.
IN THE SHENANDOAH VALLEY 521
Great droves of cattle and sheep are going past us north.
Everything eatable is taken or destroyed. No more supplies to
Rebels from this valley. No more invasions in great force by
this route will be possible.
P. M.--Indications look more like going on with our cam-
paign. I would prefer going towards my darling and the chicks.
Still, I like to move. We came here a week ago. After this
active year I feel bored when we stop longer than a day or two.
I have tried all available plans to spend time. I read old Harpers,
two of Mrs. Hall's novels, -- you know I don't "affect" women's
novels. I find myself now reading "East Lynne." Nothing su-
perior in it, but I can read anything.
For the first time in five or six days, we are just startled by
cannon firing and musketry, perhaps four or five miles in our
front. It is probably Rebel cavalry pitching into our foraging
parties, or making a reconnaisance to find whether we have left.
"Have your men under arms," comes from General Crook. I
ask, "Is it thought to be anything?" "No, but General Sheridan
sends the order to us." Well, we get under arms. This letter
is put in my ammunition box. I mount my horse and see that
all are ready. The firing gets more distant and less frequent.
"We have driven them," somebody conjectures, and I return to
my tent, "East Lynne," and my darling, no wiser than ever.
I am in receipt of yours of [the] 13th. The mail goes back
immediately. Good-bye. Blessings on your head.
CAMP SOUTH OF HARRISONBURG, VIRGINIA,
Sunday, October 2, 1864.
DEAR MOTHER:--I have supposed that we would soon go
back, at least as far as Winchester. We have destroyed the
railroad from Richmond to Staunton in several places, and all
the provisions and stores at Staunton and for a considerable dis-
tance south of that point. It would seem to be impossible for the
Rebels to get supplies from this valley, or even to march a large
force through it for the purpose of invading Maryland and Penn-
522 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
sylvania. There are now some appearances which would indicate
that we may push on further south. We have no regular com-
munication now with the States, and if we go further we shall
probably be for some time out of hearing of friends.
All things with us are going on prosperously. The people
here are more inclined to submit than ever before.
I have heard nothing from Ohio later than the 8th -- almost
a month. I still hope that we shall be allowed to return north. --
Love to all. Affectionately, your son,
MRS. SOPHIA HAYES.
Tuesday, October 4. -- My birthday -- forty-two. Wrote to
mother. Lieutenant Meigs killed last night by guerrillas, three
miles south of camp. Houses on the road for five miles burned
by order of General Sheridan. Not according to my views or
HARRISONBURG, VIRGINIA, October 4, 1864.
DEAR MOTHER:--I celebrate my forty-second birthday by
writing a few letters.
We have had a few gloomy days -- wet, windy, and cold -- but
this morning it cleared off bright and warm. The camps look
prettier than usual. Many flags are floating gaily and every one
seems hopeful and happy. There is a universal desire to return
towards the Potomac. We shall probably soon be gratified, as
we have pretty nearly finished work in this quarter.
I am in excellent health. This life probably wears men out a
little sooner than ordinary occupations, even if they escape the
dangers from battle and the like, but I am certain that we are
quite as healthy as people who live in houses. -- My love to all.
Affectionately, your son,
MRS. SOPHIA HAYES.
*The order was mitigated. Only a few houses near the scene of the
murder were burned.
IN THE SHENANDOAH VALLEY 523
[Thursday, October 6, the Union forces began to retire down
the Valley. That day Hayes's division marched north twenty-
four miles to Mount Jackson. The next day it made Wood-
stock, fourteen miles. Then]
Saturday, October 8. -- Marched eleven miles to Fisher's Hill.
Ascended Round Top Mountain, Rebel signal station. A fine
view of the Valley, marred by the fires and smoke of burning
stacks and barns. A bitter, windy, cold afternoon and night.
Rebel cavalry harrassing our rear.
Sunday, October 9. -- Felt a great repugnance to fighting an-
other battle last night; all right this morning. Our cavalry
flogged the Rebels handsomely today. Took nine pieces of artil-
lery and many prisoners and train. Captain H. J. Farnsworth.
a quartermaster, reported to my division.
HEADQUARTERS SECOND INFANTRY DIVISION A. W. VA.,
CAMP NEAR FISHER'S HILL, SOUTH OF STRASBURG, VIRGINIA,
October 10, 1864.
DEAREST: -- I am very anxious to hear from you. I hope you
are doing well.
We have slowly returned from our splendid campaign to this
point. The Rebel cavalry impudently undertook to harass us
as we approached here. General Sheridan halted his army and
sent his cavalry back supported by two of my infantry regiments
(Ninth and Fourteenth Virginia) and gave them a complete
flogging, capturing their cannon (nine), train, and many pris-
oners. They were chased from the field at a run for twenty
I don't know when we shall return to Winchester, but probably
soon. This valley will feed and forage no more Rebel armies.
It is completely and awfully devastated -- "a belt of desolation,"
as Sherman calls it for one hundred and twenty-five miles or
more from our lines. -- My love to all.
524 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
P. S. -- Just heard through Captain Douglass (10 A. M.) that
I am the father of another boy. God bless the boy -- all the
boys -- and above all the mother. -- H.
CAMP NEAR STRASBURG, VIRGINIA, October 12, 1864.
DEAR UNCLE SCOTT:--I am much obliged for your letter
announcing the arrival of the big boy and the welfare of his
mother. I had been looking for news somewhat anxiously. I
intended to have had a daughter, but I failed to see the new moon
over my right shoulder. I am glad to hear he promises to be a
good boy, as Aunt Phoebe writes Dr. Joe.
We had a quiet election here yesterday. My old brigade, Ohio
voters, were unanimous--the two veteran regiments voting as
follows: Twenty-third--two hundred and sixty-six Union;
Thirty-sixth--two hundred and fifty-nine ditto, and no Copper-
heads. The whole of Crook's Command stands fourteen hundred
Union and two hundred Democrats in round numbers -- three-
fourths of the Democrats being in companies from Monroe and
Our campaign in the Valley is supposed to be ended. It winds
up with a most signal cavalry victory. It is believed that the
Sixth and Nineteenth Corps with Sheridan's splendid cavalry
will join Grant and that Crook's hard-worked command will
have the duty of guarding the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad in
winter quarters. We hope this is correct. If so, I shall probably
get home by Christmas for a good visit.
I am compelled to write this on the half sheet of your letter.--
Love to all. Sincerely,
R. B. HAYES.
MATTHEW SCOTT COOK.
Thursday, October 13. -- Today Rebels surprised us. The first
intimation we had of them, a battery opened on my Second
Brigade marching to put a signal station on Massanutten Moun-
IN THE SHENANDOAH VALLEY 525
tain. Colonel Thoburn made a reconnaisance, was forced back
losing Colonel Wells, Thirty-fourth Massachusetts, and one hun-
dred and fifty men, after a great fight.
Friday, October 14.--I had five killed and six wounded by
the Rebel battery yesterday. Colonel Brown, Thirteenth, went
out and established a picket line easily. General Early very timid.
Captain Little, five days in Libby [Prison, at Richmond], says
Mosby's men are gentlemen.
Saturday, October 15. -- Rebels still in front. Election said to
be favorable. Captain Hastings I fear is worse. Mosby cap-
tures a railroad train. General Angus gets Mosby's artillery.
Mosby gets three hundred thousand [dollars].
CEDAR CREEK NEAR STRASBURG, VIRGINIA, Saturday
Morning before breakfast, October 15, 1864.
MY DARLING WIFE:--Oceans of love for you and the fine
new boy--yes, and for the boys all. You may be sure I shall
come to see you as soon as affairs here will allow.
Early with a large re-inforcement came up to us on Thursday
evening. He evidently supposed that the Sixth and Nineteenth
Corps were gone. The Sixth was gone. He came up very boldly.
But after a brisk affair, learning that the Nineteenth was still
here, he hastily withdrew and took up his old entrenched position
on Fisher's Hill. Yesterday he was at work fixing his left on
North Mountain where we turned him before. The Sixth came
back yesterday. This morning the Sixth and Nineteenth are mov-
ing out as if for battle.
In any event, you know all I would wish to say. So, think
of me, dearest, as ever your
LOVING HUSBAND, R.
CAMP NEAR STRASBURG, VIRGINIA, October 15, 1864.
DEAR MOTHER:--We have remained quiet in camp during this
week with the exception of one afternoon's skirmishing. Early,
526 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
or somebody with a considerable force, is entrenched near us.
We may fight another battle with him, but I have no information
as to the intention.
Colonel Comly is very well. He has had great luck to get
through all this fighting with so little injury. He and the
Twenty-third have been in all the hottest places. Over twenty
officers in the regiment have been killed or wounded since the
first of May. . . . My love to all.
Affectionately, your son,
MRS. SOPHIA HAYES.
CAMP NEAR STRASBURG, VIRGINIA, October 15, 1864.
DEAR UNCLE: -- We are resting. Early, reinforced, came up a
few days ago, evidently thinking a good part of our army had
gone to Grant. Finding his mistake, he moved back to his old
fortifications on Fisher's [Hill], and is now there digging and
chopping like mad. What we are to do about it, I can't tell. It
must be a serious business for the Rebels to feed an army there
I have not yet heard from the Ohio election. The two Ohio
regiments in my old brigade (Twenty-third and Thirty-sixth
Ohio) gave five hundred and fifteen votes for the Union state
and county ticket, and none at all for the Democrats. People at
home can't beat that!
Give my regards to Father Works and to Mr. and Mrs. Valette.
My sympathies or congratulations, perhaps, should be given to
Mr. Oscar Valette. I see he is drafted. Of course, his health
will be reason enough not to go. Jim Webb was drafted; ill
health excused him.
Monday, October 17.--My election [to Congress] reported.
Seventeen [Republican] to two [Democratic] members of Con-
gress in Ohio; sixteen to eight in Pennsylvania. Better than all,
Governor Morton elected by a good majority in Indiana.
IN THE SHENANDOAH VALLEY 527
Tuesday, October 18. -- A letter from Stephenson congratulat-
ing me on my election by twenty-four hundred majority. [In
the] First District, Eggleston has seventeen hundred majority.
Still busy on entrenchments.
Wednesday, October 19. -- Before daylight under cover of a
heavy fog Rebels attacked the left. Colonel Thoburn's First
Division was overwhelmed. His adjutant, Lieutenant ---
brought me the word. We hurried up, loaded our baggage, and
got into line. [The] Nineteenth Corps went into the woods on
right (one brigade). General Sheridan was absent. General
Wright, in command, directed my division to close up on [the]
Nineteenth. Too late; the fugitives of the First Division and the
Nineteenth's brigade came back on us. The Rebels broke on us
in the fog and the whole line broke back. The Rebels did not
push with energy. We held squads of men up to the fight all
along. My horse was killed instantly. I took Lieutenant
Henry's, of my staff. We fell back--the whole army--in a
good deal of confusion but without panic. Artillery (twenty-five
pieces) fell into Rebel hands and much camp equipage. About
two and one-half miles back, we formed a line. [The] Rebels
failed to push on fast enough.
P. M. General Sheridan appeared; greeted with cheering all
along the line. His enthusiasm, magnetic and contagious. He
brought up stragglers. "We'll whip 'em yet like hell." he says.
General Crook's men on left of pike. -- Line goes ahead. A fine
view of the battle. [The] rebels fight poorly. Awfully whipped.
-Cannon and spoils now on our side. Glorious!
CAMP AT CEDAR CREEK NEAR STRASBURG, VIRGINIA,
October 21, 1864.
MY DARLING: -- We have had another important victory over
General Early's oft-defeated army. Reinforced by a division or
two of Longstreet's Corps, he was foolish enough to follow and
attack us here on the 19th. In the darkness and fog of early
morning he was successful in doubling up our left flank, held by
General Crook's little First Division, and so flanking our whole
528 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
army out of its position, capturing for the time our camps, a
good many cannon, and perhaps fifteen hundred prisoners. But
soon after it got light, we began to recover and finally checked
and held them.
In the afternoon we took the offensive and without much dif-
ficulty or loss flogged them completely, capturing all their cannon,
trains, etc., etc., and retaking all we had lost besides many pris-
oners. The Rebels marched off a part of our prisoners. For a
time things looked squally, but the truth is, all the fighting capac-
ity of Early's army was taken out of it in the great battle at
Winchester a month ago. My loss was small. In the Thirteenth
Lieutenant-Colonel Hall, a conspicuously brave and excellent
officer, was killed. Lieutenant McBride (of [the] Twelfth) was
wounded in [the] Twenty-third; two officers of [the] Fifth [Vir-
As usual with me I had some narrow escapes. While gallop-
ing rapidly, my fine large black horse was killed instantly, tum-
bling heels over head and dashing me on the ground violently.
Strange to say I was only a little bruised and was able to keep
the saddle all day. (Mem.:--I lost all my horse trappings,
saddle, etc., including my small pistol.) I was also hit fairly
in the head by a ball which had lost its force in getting (I sup-
pose) through somebody else! It gave me only a slight shock.--
I think serious fighting on this line is now over.
I suppose you are pleased with the result of the
election. Of course, I am, on general reasons. My particular
gratification is much less than it would be, if I were not so much
gratified by my good luck in winning "golden opinions" in the
more stirring scenes around me here. My share of notoriety
here is nothing at all, and my real share of merit is also small
enough, I know, but the consciousness that I am doing my part
in these brilliant actions is far more gratifying than anything
the election brings me.
Love to all. I am more than anxious to see you again.
Affectionately ever, your
IN THE SHENANDOAH VALLEY 529
CAMP NEAR STRASBURG, VIRGINIA, October 21, 1864.
DEAR UNCLE:--Early reinforced by a division or two of
Longstreet's Corps was foolish enough to attack us again on the
19th. It was a foggy morning, and the attack before daylight.
One of General Crook's divisions (the First) was doubled up
and our whole army flanked out of its position in confusion. But
after daylight, order was gradually restored and in the afternoon,
General Sheridan attacked in turn; retook all we had lost and
utterly ruined Early. It was done easily and with small loss.
The fact is, all the fight is out of Early's men. They have been
whipped so much that they can't keep a victory after it is gained.
This is the last of fighting on this line, I am confident. My horse
was killed under me instantly, dashing me on the ground violent-
ly. Luckily, I was not hurt much. I was hit fairly in the
head with a spent ball. Narrow escapes! The Rebels got my
saddle, pistol, etc.
The elections also are encouraging. In haste.
Sincerely, R. B. HAYES.
P. S. -- General Max Weber, a "veteran of European reputa-
tion," and one of the senior brigadiers in our service, came out
yesterday with the intention of taking command of this division.
General Crook sent him to Hagerstown, Maryland, to await
CAMP NEAR STRASBURG, VIRGINIA, October 25, 1864.
MY DARLING: --. . . . We expect to remain here some
time yet. I suspect that apprehension is felt at Washington
that the Rebels will try to get up a raid into Maryland or Penn-
sylvania to create a panic about the time of the Presidential
election, and that we are kept here to prevent it. I can't think
that after the complete defeat of Early's Army on the 19th, any
serious attempt will be made to drive us back. I regard the
fighting on this line as at an end for this year. I suspect that
about the 10th [of] November we shall move north, and I hope
go into winter quarters soon afterwards.
530 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
We are having fine weather. Camped on a wooded ridge, we
are very comfortable. This life is a good deal like that of the
fall of 1861 when General Rosecrans' Army was camped around
Tompkins' Farm. The men were then very sickly. Now there
is no sickness. We now talk of our killed and wounded. There
is however a very happy feeling. Those who escape regret of
course the loss of comrades and friends, but their own escape and
safety to some extent modifies their feelings.
Laura has a daughter! I must write her a congratulatory
note. But how much I prefer a boy. Well stocked as our house
is with boys, I almost rejoice that our last is not a girl.
My regards and love to all the good friends who are so kind
to you. Kiss all the boys.
Affectionately ever, your R.
P. S. -- Had a good letter from Force. He is returning to the
CAMP AT CEDAR CREEK, VIRGINIA, October 27, 1864.
MY DARLING: -- Yours of the 18th -- the first since the boy--
reached me last night. Very glad you were able to write so soon.
I don't want you to make any exertion to write -- just write one
line and it will be enough. Half a page of your little note sheet
will be a long letter now.
We have had so far fine weather. Our camps are as comfort-
able as possible. We expect to stay here until the season is too
far advanced to admit of any formidable raids into Maryland or
Pennsylvania. The Rebels, it is known, have been resolved to
create a panic if possible in time to affect the Presidential
Some of the foolish fellows in the Sixth and Nineteenth Corps,
feeling envious of our laurels in previous battles, have got the
Eastern correspondents to represent the rout of Crook's Corps
as worse than theirs, etc., etc. There is not a word of truth in it.
A sentence in General Sheridan's dispatch was no doubt intend-
ed to correct this in a quiet way. "Crook's Corps lost seven
pieces of artillery, the Nineteenth, eleven, and the Sixth Corps,
IN THE SHENANDOAH VALLEY 531
six." We were attacked before them, and of course under more
unfavorable circumstances, and yet we lost no more. In fact I
lost nothing. My division fell back, but brought everything we
had--our two cows, tents, and everything. Of course we lost
no artillery, but did save an abandoned piece of the Nineteenth
I hope to see you soon. It is impossible now to tell when we
shall be in a situation to ask for leaves of absence, but I suspect
it will be within a month or six weeks. If we get on the railroad,
I can go for a few days and not be missed.
The Rebels have not shown their heads since the last crushing
defeat. Nothing but a determination to interfere with the elec-
tion will bring back their forces. -- Love to all.
MRS. HAYES. R.
Friday, October 28. -- Rained hard last night; gusty and cold
this A. M. Mem.:--Buy Lowell's "Fireside Travels." Barry,
of Hillsboro, and West, of Cincinnati, bring poll-books for all
and tickets for both sides. General Crook anxious to have Comly
write our side of battle of Cedar Creek.
Saturday, October 29. -- Bright and warm. Read "John
Phoenix." A new tent put up in good style. Bunk and fire-
Sunday, October 30.--Another beautiful October day. We
are having delicious weather. The only shadow on my spirits
now is the critical condition of Captain Hastings. So brave, so
pure, so good! God grant him life!
Monday, October 31. -- [The] Fifth and Ninth Virginia con-
solidated as First Veterans West Virginia Volunteer Infantry.
A splendid regiment it will be. Rode with Captain Hicks to
Strasburg and down the Shenandoah below [the] railroad bridge
and back to camp. Rebels at New Market with six pieces of
artillery left! A month of splendid weather for campaigning.
In a court-martial case for cowardice at Winchester a soldier
testifies of the accused: "He is a good soldier in camp, but does
not relish gunpowder well from what I saw."
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