DIARY AND LETTERS OFRUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYESCHAPTER XIVSECESSION AND WAR--1861
MR. HAYES did not perceive the full significance and
implication of the Presidential contest of 1860 while it
was in progress. The Southern extremists had been threat-
ening disunion so long that, in common with most men of
the North, Hayes attached little importance to their present
mutterings. In his thought, apparently, it was just an ordinary
Presidential canvass, complicated, to be sure, by the fact that
there were four candidates, but not one to get excited over. He
had figured out in June the probability of Lincoln's election,
but hardly more than a month before election day he was any-
thing but confident of the result. In a letter to his uncle of
September 30, he wrote: "I have made a few little speeches
in the country townships, and shall make a few more. I cannot
get up must interest in the contest. A wholesome contempt for
Douglas, on account of his recent demagoguery, is the chief
feeling I have. I am not so confident that Lincoln will get votes
enough as many of our friends. I think his chances are
fair, but what may be the effect of fusions in such anti-Repub-
lican States as New Jersey and Pennsylvania, is more than I
can tell or confidently guess until after the state elections."
On election day, November 6, he wrote in the Diary: "The
Southern States are uneasy at the prospect of Lincoln's election
today. The ultra South threatens disunion, and it now looks
as if South Carolina and possibly two or three others would
go out of the Union. Will they? And if so, what is to be the
result? Will other slave States gradually be drawn after them,
or will the influence of the conservative States draw back into
(1)2 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
the Union or hold in the Union the ultra States? I think the
latter. But at all events, I feel as if the time had come to test
this question. If the threats are meant, then it is time the
Union was dissolved or the traitors crushed out. I hope Lincoln
In the next few weeks of tense political excitement, with
South Carolina openly moving toward secession and President
Buchanan supinely looking on in a paralysis of inaction, the
Diary is silent, as are also the extant letters, on the absorbing
topic of the day. That he was not an indifferent observer of
passing events, however, and that for the moment with large
numbers of people of the North he contemplated calmly the
possibility of the permanent disruption of the Union, the pages
that follow clearly demonstrate.]
January 4, 1861.--South Carolina has passed a secession or-
dinance, and Federal laws are set at naught in the State. Overt
acts enough have been committed. Forts and arsenal taken, a
revenue cutter seized, and Major Anderson besieged in Fort
Sumter. Other cotton States are about to follow. Disunion
and civil war are at hand; and yet I fear disunion and war
less than compromise. We can recover from them. The free
States alone, if we must go on alone, will make a glorious
nation. Twenty millions in the temperate zone, stretching from
the Atlantic to the Pacific, full of vigor, industry, inventive
genius, educated, and moral; increasing by immigration rapidly,
and, above all, free--all free--will form a confederacy of
twenty States scarcely inferior in real power to the unfortunate
Union of thirty-three States which we had on the first of No-
vember. I do not even feel gloomy when I look forward. The
reality is less frightful than the apprehension which we have all
had these many years. Let us be temperate, calm, and just, but
firm and resolute. Crittenden's compromise!*
* Hayes's disapproval of the Crittenden Compromise is indicated by
the exclamation point. The venerable John J. Crittenden, Senator from
Kentucky, sought by eloquent appeals to induce Congress to submit to the
States for approval an amendment to the Constitution forbidding Con-
gress to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia so long as it existed
SECESSION AND WAR--1861 3
Windham speaking of the rumor that Bonaparte was about to
invade England said: "The danger of invasion is by no means
equal to that of peace. A man may escape a pistol however
near his head, but not a dose of poison."
CINCINNATI, January 6, 1861.
DEAR UNCLE:--We have had the usual fun and folly during
the holidays and are safely through with them. Mother is
almost perfectly well again and seems contented and happy. All
the rest of the family are in usual health. I had a few days'
influenza which passed off doing no harm.
I shall not be very busy, but employment enough for the next
few weeks. I expect to spend some days at Columbus within
two or three weeks. Mother wants to hear from you; thinks
something wrong if you do not write often.
CINCINNATI, January 12, 1861.
DEAR UNCLE:--I will write oftener hereafter. I have some
work, the days are short, and the state of the country is a
never-ending topic which all you meet must discuss, greatly to
the interruption of regular habits. I rather enjoy the excitement,
and am fond of speculating about it.
We are in a revolution; the natural ultimate result is to
divide us into two nations, one composed of free States, the
other of slave States. What we shall pass through before we
reach this inevitable result is matter for conjecture. While
I am in favor of the Government promptly enforcing the laws
for the present, defending the forts and collecting the revenue,
I am not in favor of a war policy with a view to the conquest
in Virginia or Maryland, or to abolish it in national territory south of
latitude 360 30'--the southern line of Kansas. This was to be irrepeal-
able by any subsequent amendment, as were also certain existing para-
graphs in the Constitution relating to slavery. Further, Mr. Crittenden
wished Congress to strengthen the Fugitive Slave Law and to appeal to
the States and to the people for its thorough enforcement.
4 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
of any of the slave States; except such as are needed to give
us a good boundary. If Maryland attempts to go off, suppress
her in order to save the Potomac and the District of Columbia.
Cut a piece off of western Virginia and keep Missouri and all
To do this we shall not need any long or expensive war, if
the Government does its duty. A war of conquest we do not
want. It would leave us loaded with debt and would certainly
fail of its object. The sooner we get into the struggle and
out of it the better.
There, you can read that perhaps. If you can't, you lose
nothing. If you can, it is no more worthless than the dis-
patches from Congress.
R. B. HAYES.
January 27, 1861.--Six States have "seceded." Let them go.
If the Union is now dissolved it does not prove that the experi-
ment of popular government is a failure. In all the free States,
and in a majority if not in all of the slaveholding States, popular
government has been sucessful. But the experiment of uniting
free states and slaveholding states in one nation is, perhaps,
a failure. Freedom and slavery can, perhaps, not exist side by
side under the same popular government. There probably is
an "irrepressible conflict" * between freedom and slavery. It
may as well be admitted, and our new relations may as well
be formed with that as an admitted fact.
CINCINNATI, February 13, 1861.
DEAR UNCLE:--We are all well. Mother is in better health;
went to church Sunday, and was able to enjoy the Lincoln
reception yesterday. The great procession and crowd could be
seen well from our windows and steps, and all had a good view
* This phrase had first been used by William H. Seward in a speech
at Rochester, New York, October 25, 1858.
SECESSION AND WAR--1861 5
of the President. He is in good health; not a hair gray or gone;
in his prime and fit for service, mentally and physically. Great
hopes may well be felt.
Lucy and I went with a jolly party of friends to Indianapolis
on Monday, and returned on the Presidential train to Cincin-
nati, seeing all the doings here and on the road. We heard
Lincoln make several of his good speeches, talked with [him],
etc., etc. Regards to all.
R. B. HAYES.
CINCINNATI, February 15, 1861.
DEAR UNCLE:--. . . The reception given to the Presi-
dent-elect here was most impressive. He rode in an open car-
riage, standing erect with head uncovered, and bowing his
acknowledgments to greetings showered upon him. There was a
lack of comfort in the arrangements, but the simplicity, the
homely character of all was in keeping with the nobility of this
typical American. A six-in-hand with gorgeous trappings, accom-
panied by outriders and a courtly train, could have added nothing
to him; would have detracted from him, would have been wholly
out of place. The times are unsuited to show. The people
did not wish to be entertained with a display; they did wish
to see the man in whose hands is the destiny of our country.
You will read the speeches in the papers, and search in vain
for anything to find fault with. Mr. Lincoln was wary at all
times, wisely so I think, and yet I hear no complaint. Our
German Turners, who are radical on the slavery question and
who are ready to make that an issue of war, planned to draw
from him some expression in sympathy with their own views.
They serenaded him and talked at him, but they were baffled.*
In private conversation he was discreet but frank. He believes
in a policy of kindness, of delay to give time for passions to
cool, but not in a compromise to extend the power and the
* Mr. William Henry Smith happened to be present when the Germans
serenaded Mr. Lincoln. He made a shorthand report of Mr. Lincoln's
reply. The speech is preserved in print in Francis F. Browne's "Every-
day Life of Lincoln," p. 385.
6 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
deadly influence of the slave system. This gave me great satis-
faction. The impression he made was good. He undoubtedly
is shrewd, able, and possesses strength in reserve. This will
be tested soon. . . .
R. B. HAYES.
CINCINNATI, March 17, 1861.
DEAR UNCLE:--I received yours of the 13th yesterday. I
shall not come out for three or four weeks, perhaps not so
soon. It is not yet possible to guess how the [city] election
will go, but the chances are decidedly against our side. The
Democrats and Know-nothings have united and will nominate
their ticket this week. If they nominate men tolerably accept-
able to both wings of the fusion, they will succeed beyond all
question. Their majority at the last election over the Repub-
licans was nearly three thousand. We can't beat this. Our
chance is that there will be some slip or mistake which will
upset the union. I shall go under with the rest, but expect to
run ahead of the ticket. Of course, I prefer not to be beaten,
but I have got out of the office the best there is in it for me.
I shall get me an office alone, and start anew--a much pleas-
anter condition of things than the one I left with Corwine.
Yes, giving up Fort Sumter is vexing. It hurts our little
election, too; but I would give up the prospect of office, if it
would save the fort, with the greatest pleasure.
Elinor Mead * leaves us on Tuesday to return home the last
of the week. She has enjoyed her visit, I think. Mother is
very well again; is able to go out, to shop and to church. Little
Ruddy (our brag boy now) has been sick, but is getting nearly
well. The other boys count largely on going to Fremont this
R. B. HAYES.
*A cousin from Vermont; later to become the wife of William Dean
Howells, who that winter was a newspaper correspondent at Columbus.
SECESSION AND WAR--1861 7
CINCINNATI, March 22, 1861.
DEAR SIR:--I am on my way to Columbus and stopped
at your house to say for your own private ear, and as your
friend, that I would not [if in your place] consent to be a can-
didate for mayor in Eggleston's place. This is not your best
time. I shall say this to nobody else, but as a looker-on and
as one interested, I think what I say is true. Think of it well
before you consent.
TO THOMAS H. WEASNER.
CINCINNATI, March 24, 1861.
DEAR UNCLE:--. . . All well here. Both parties have
made their tickets for the election of the first of April. The
chances are still against us, but somewhat better than when I
wrote you last. . . .
S. BIRCHARD. R.B. HAYES.
CINCINNATI, March 29, 1861.
DEAR UNCLE:--I have received your favor, and suspect you
are more anxious that I should be re-elected than the occasion
calls for. I philosophize in this way: I have got out of the
office pretty much all the good there is in it--reputation and
experience. If I quit it now, I shall be referred to as the best,
or one of the best solicitors, the city has had. If I serve two
years more, I can add nothing to this. I may possibly lose.
I shall be out of clients and business a little while, but this
difficulty will perhaps be greater two years hence. So you see
it is no great matter. Still, I should prefer to beat, and with
half a chance, I should do it.
I am not wasting much time looking after the election--none
in mere personal electioneering. I am trying to so behave as
to go out respectably.
S. BIRCHARD. R.B. HAYES.
8 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
CINCINNATI, April 2, 1861.
DEAR UNCLE:--Before this reaches you, you will no doubt
learn that the Union-saving avalanche has overtaken us, and
that my little potato patch went down with the rest. To prevent
a general break-up of the Fusion, both wings agreed as far as
possible, to vote an open ticket without scratching. By the aid
of oceans of money and a good deal of sincere patriotism in
behalf of Union, the plan was carried out with perfect success.
It did not in the least disappoint me.
Now, what to do next and how to begin? My term expires
next Monday. I shall keep my eyes open, and meditate making
you a short visit before finally settling. I have enough cash
on hand, or available, to support me for a year, even if I should
fail to get business enough to do it, which I do not anticipate.
Nothing unpleasant has occurred in the whole course of the can-
vass. I am quite as well content as one who has drawn a
blank ever is, or can be.
R. B. HAYES.
CINCINNATI, April 1O, 1861.
DEAR UNCLE:--You spoke too late. I am again settled in a
respectable practice. I tried a case today and shall try an-
other tomorrow. Mr. Hassaurek, the German who gets the
highest office, viz., nine thousand feet above the sea at Quito,
leaves a good German practice. I have taken it with his half-
brother, a bright, gentlemanly, popular young German [Leopold
Markbreit]. It will have both advantages and drawbacks, but
it was the best that offered, and not getting a letter from you,
I left the solicitor's office yesterday and entered my new quar-
ters at once. I enclose my card for the German side of the
house. I feel free and jolly.
R. B. HAYES.
SECESSION AND WAR--1861 9
CINCINNATI, April 15, 1861.
DEAR UNCLE:--. . . We are all for war. The few dis-
sentients have to run like quarter-horses. A great change for
two weeks to produce. As the Dutchman said, "What a
beeples." Poor Anderson! What a chance he threw away.
The Government may overlook or even whitewash it, but the
people and history will not let him off so easily. I like it.
Anything is better than the state of things we have had the last
few months. We shall have nothing but rub-a-dub and rumors
for some time to come.
All pretty well. Mother thinks we are to be punished for
our sinfulness, and reads the Old Testament vigorously. Mother
Webb quietly grieves over it. Lucy enjoys it and wishes she
had been in Fort Sumter with a garrison of women. Dr. Joe
is for flames, slaughter, and a rising of the slaves. All the boys
R. B. HAYES.
COLUMBUS, April 19, 1861.
DEAR UNCLE:--I came up last night to help Dr. James
Webb get a place as surgeon, and for other purposes not war-
like. The doctor left for the East as assistant surgeon
of [the] Second Regiment with the soldiers this morning. I
shall return home on [the] next train.
At the first, I put down my foot that I would not think of
going into this first movement. This, of course, I shall stick
to; but if this war is [to] go on, it is obvious that sooner or
later thousands will be dragged into it who would now not
contemplate doing so. Platt enjoys it hugely. So do all the
old-style people who like a strong government. It took a great
many delicate youngsters from our neighborhood; almost every
other family on our street sent somebody--Wilson Woodrow,
Wright, Schooley, of our near neighbors. I saw them in their
tents last night--cold as Halifax, and compelled to get up
at 2:30 this morning to go East. A sharp experience for ten-
derly reared boys.
10 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
Come down and see us. All well here.
R. B. HAYES.
CINCINNATI, April 20, 1860 .
DEAR UNCLE:--. . . I have joined a volunteer home
company to learn drill. It is chiefly composed of the Literary
Club. Includes Stephenson, Meline, John Groesbeck, Judge
James, McLaughlin, Beard, and most of my cronies. We wish
to learn how to "eyes right and left," if nothing more.
A great state of things for Christian people, and then to have
old gentlemen say, as you do, "I am glad we have got to fighting
at last." Judge Swan and Mr. Andrews and the whole Meth-
odist clergy all say the same. Shocking! One thing: Don't
spend much on your house or furniture henceforth. Save,
save, is the motto now. People who furnish for the war will
make money, but others will have a time of it.
Mother thinks it is a judgment on us for our sins. Henry
Ward Beecher, who is now here, says it is divine work, that
the Almighty is visibly in it.
R. B. HAYES.
CINCINNATI, April 23, 1861.
DEAR UNCLE:--No doubt the accounts sent abroad as to the
danger we are in from Kentucky are much exaggerated. Ken-
tucky is in no condition to go out immediately. If the war goes
on, as I think it ought, it is probable that she will leave us, and
that we shall be greatly exposed, but she has no arms, and al-
most no military organization. Even their secession governor
is not prepared to precipitate matters under these circumstances.
We are rapidly preparing for war, and shall be on a war foot-
ing long before Kentucky has decided what to do.
Lucy dislikes to leave here just now. She enjoys the excite-
ment and wishes to be near her mother and the rest of us; but
as for camping down in Spiegel Grove and roughing it, she
SECESSION AND WAR--1861 11
thinks that will be jolly enough, and as soon as we are quiet
here, she will be very happy to go into quarters with you. . . .
A great many gentlemen of your years are in for the war.
One old fellow was rejected on account of his gray hair and
whiskers He hurried down street and had them colored black,
and passed muster in another company.
Sincerely, R.B. HAYES.
[Later.]--Yours of the 22nd just received. Fremont has done
well. We are sending about four thousand [volunteers] from
here, if all are accepted, besides [having] eight thousand more
stay-at-homes. I am acting captain of our crack rifle company.
I shall go into the ranks as a private in a week or two.
[The following statement in Hayes's handwriting, evidently
prepared about this time, shows what plans the citizens of Cin-
cinnati were making to defend the city against possible attack
To be ready on the day that Kentucky secedes to take posses-
sion of the hills on the Kentucky side which command Cincinnati,
or the approaches to it, and prepare to hold them against any
a. Regiments ready to cross on short notice with arms; am-
munition, provisions, tools, etc., for entrenching; cannon, boats,
and all essentials.
b. Cut off telegraphic communication south from Covington
c. Also railroad communication.
d. Take all boats; fortify all hills, etc.
e. The prevention of raids to rob banks, etc.
Spies to Frankfort with passwords for dispatches, etc.
CINCINNATI, April 25, 1861.
DEAR UNCLE:-- We are glad to hear from you often. I have
written almost daily, and am surprised you do not hear from
me more regularly. Your letters reach me in good time.
12 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
The point of interest here now is as to Kentucky. Her Leg-
islature meets on the 6th of May. If a secession measure is
passed we shall expect lively times here immediately afterwards.
The chances are about equal in my upinion. If they were armed
and ready they would go beyond all question; but their helpless
condition will possibly hold them. Our people generally are
quite willing to see them go. They prefer open enmity to a
deceptive armed neutrality.
R. B. HAYES.
P.S.--My company drills at 10 A. M. today--Sunday! I
have two clergymen and the sons of two others in the ranks.
I suspect they will not answer at roll-call.
CINCINNATI, April 30, 1861.
DEAR UNCLE:--Your frequent letters are very acceptable. I
am sorry, however, to be compelled to think that we are indebted
to your ill health for the favor. Lucy says, "Why don't Uncle
come down and make us a visit? If the house has a roof and
floors, it is finished enough for war times and needs no further
attention." You will find it almost as quiet as your own town.
About five thousand men have left, and our streets show that
even that number missing is noticeable. If any war news comes,
we shall be lively enough soon. The first ten days of the war
was as jolly and exciting as you could wish.
R. B. HAYES.
CINCINNATI, [May 27, 1861.]
DEAR UNCLE:--I have nothing in particular you to write. I
heard a good war sermon today on the subject, "The Horrors of
The weather is very unfavorable for troops in camp--wet
and chilly. The tents leak and the ground is low and flat. These
things will gradually mend themselves. We shall have precious
SECESSION AND WAR--1861 13
little business this summer, judging by present appearances.
Come down when you feel like it.
R. B. HAYES.
CINCINNATI, May 8, 1861.
DEAR GUY:--I have just received and read your letter of the
27th ult. It does me good to hear from you again. I have
thought of you often since these troubles began. Curiously
enough, having a bad cold and a slight fever, I dreamed of many
things last night. Among others I dreamed of seeing you at the
Burnet House; that you wore on your cap some sort of seces-
sion emblem and that you were in danger of getting into difficulty
with some soldiers who were in the rotunda, and that it was
after some effort that I succeeded in getting you rid of them.
I should have written you soon even if I had not heard from
Your predictions as to the course of things have indeed been
very exactly fulfilled. I can recollect distinctly many conversa-
tions had twelve, perhaps even fifteen, years ago in which you
pointed out the probable result of the agitation of slavery. I
have hoped that we could live together notwithstanding slavery,
but for some time past the hope has been a faint one. I now
have next to no hope of a restoration of the old Union. If you
are correct in your view of the facts, there is no hope whatever.
In such case, a continued union is not desirable were it possible.
I do not differ widely from you as to the possibility of con-
quering the South, nor as to the expediency of doing it even
if it were practicable. If it is the settled and final judgment of
any slave State that she cannot live in the Union, I should not
think it wise or desirable to retain her by force, even if it could
But am I, therefore, to oppose the war? If it were a war
of conquest merely, certainly I should oppose it, and on the
grounds you urge. But the war is forced on us. We cannot
escape it. While in your State, and in others, perhaps in all the
cotton-growing States, a decided and controlling public judg-
14 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
ment has deliberately declared against remaining in the Union,
it is quite certain that in several States rebellious citizens are
bent on forcing out of the Union States whose people are not
in favor of secession; that the general Government is assailed,
its property taken, its authority defied in places and in a way not
supported by any fairly expressed popular verdict. Undoubtedly
the design to capture Washington is entertained by the Govern-
ment of the Southern Confederacy. Undoubtedly that Con-
federacy has not by its acts sought a peaceful separation. Every-
thing has been done by force. If force had been employed to
meet force, I believe several States now out of the Union would
have remained in it. We have an example before us. Two weeks
ago Maryland was fast going out; now, aided by the power
of the general Government, the Union men seem again to be in
the ascendant. The same is true of Delaware, Kentucky, Mis-
souri, and western Virginia, with perhaps allowances in some
I do not, of course, undertake to predict what will be the
ultimate object of the war. I trust it will not be merely the
conquest of unwilling peoples. Its present object, and its ob-
vious present effect, is to defend the rights of the Union, and
to strengthen the Union men in the doubtful States. We were
becoming a disgraced, demoralized people. We are now united
If peaceful separation were to be attempted, it would fail.
We should fight about the terms of it. The question of boundary
alone would compel a war. After a war we shall make peace.
It will henceforth be known that a State disappointed in an
election can't secede, except at the risk of fearful war. What
is left to us will be ours. The war for the purposes indicated--
viz., for the defence of the capital, for the maintenance of the
authority of the Government and the rights of the United States,
I think is necessary, wise, and just. I know you honestly dif-
fer from me. I know that thousands--the great body of the
people in some States, perhaps,--agree with you, and if we
were only dealing with you and such as you, there would be no
war between us. But if Kentucky, Virginia, and other States
similarly situated leave the Union, it will be because they are
SECESSION AND WAR--1861 15
forced or dragged out; and our Government ought not to per-
mit it, if it can be prevented even by war.
I read your letter to Judge Matthews. We agree in the main
respecting these questions. I shall be pleased to read it to
George [Jones] when we meet. He has two brothers who have
volunteered and gone to Washington. Lorin Andrews, President
of Kenyon, our classmate, is colonel of a regiment. My brother-
in-law, Dr. [James D.] Webb, has gone as a surgeon. I shall
not take any active part, probably, unless Kentucky goes out.
If so the war will be brought to our own doors and I shall be in
it. If I felt I had any peculiar military capacity I should prob-
ably have gone to Washington with the rest. I trust the war
will be short and that in terms, just to all, peace will be restored.
I apprehend, and it is, I think, generally thought, that the war
will [not] be a long one. Our whole people are in it. Your
acquaintances Pugh, Pendleton, and Groesbeck, are all for prose-
cuting it with the utmost vigor. Vallandigham is silent, the only
man I have heard of in any party. He has not been mobbed
and is in no danger of it. I will try to send you Bishop McIl-
vaine's address on the war. It will give you our side of the
We shall, of course, not agree about the war. We shall, I am
sure, remain friends. There are good points about all such wars.
People forget self. The virtues of magnanimity, courage,
patriotism, etc., etc., are called into life. People are more gen-
erous, more sympathetic, better, than when engaged in the more
selfish pursuits of peace. The same exhibition of virtue is wit-
nessed on your side. May there be as much of this, the better
side of war, enjoyed on both sides, and as little of the horrors
of war suffered, as possible, and may we soon have an honorable
and enduring peace!
My regards to your wife and boy. Lucy and the boys send
P.S.--My eldest thinks God will be sorely puzzled what
to do. He hears prayers for our side at church, and his grand-
16 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
mother tells him that there are good people praying for the other
side, and he asks: "How can He answer the prayers of both?"
GUY M. BRYAN,
May 10, 1861.--Great events the last month. April 12 and
13, Fort Sumter [was] attacked and taken by the South Caro-
lina troops by order of the Government of the Confederate
States at Montgomery. Sunday evening, April 14, news of
Lincoln's call for 75,000 men [was] received here with un-
bounded enthusiasm. How relieved we were to have a Govern-
ment again! I shall never forget the strong emotions, the wild
and joyous excitement of that Sunday evening. Staid and sober
church members thronged the newspaper offices, full of the
general joy and enthusiasm. Great meetings were held. I wrote
the resolutions of the main one,--to be seen in the Intelligencer
of the next week. Then the rally of troops, the flags floating
from every house, the liberality, harmony, forgetfulness of party
and self--all good. Let what evils may follow, I shall not soon
cease to rejoice over this event.
The resolutions referred to were published in the Gazette of
the 16th [of] April and in the Intelligencer of the 18th.
[The resolutions were as follows:
"Resolved, That the people of Cincinnati, assembled without
distinction of party, are unanimously of opinion that the au-
thority of the United States, as against the rebellious citizens of
the seceding and disloyal States, ought to be asserted and main-
tained, and that whatever men or means may be necessary to
accomplish that object the patriotic people of the loyal States
will promptly and cheerfully furnish.
"Resolved, That the citizens of Cincinnati will, to the utmost
of their ability, sustain the general Government in maintaining its
authority, in enforcing the laws, and in upholding the flag of the
SECESSION AND WAR--1861 17
CINCINNATI, May 12, 1861.
DEAR UNCLE:--. . . The St. Louis and other news revives
the war talk. We are likely, I think, to have a great deal of it
before the thing is ended. Bryan writes me a long friendly
secession letter, one-sided and partial, but earnest and honest.
Perhaps he would say the same of my reply to it. I wish I could
have a good talk with you about these days. I may be carried
off by the war fever, and would like to hear you on it. Of
course, I mean to take part, if there seems a real necessity for
it, but I am tempted to do so, notwithstanding my unmilitary
education and habits, on general enthusiasm and glittering gen-
eralities. But for some pretty decided obstacles, I should have
done so before now.
All well at home. Lucy hates to leave the city in these stirring
times. We hear that some of the Fremont men are at the camp
near Milford. I shall see them one of these days, if this is so.
May 15, 1861.--Judge Matthews and I have agreed to go into
the service for the war,--if possible into the same regiment. I
spoke my feelings to him, which he said were his also, viz., that
this was a just and necessary war and that it demanded the
whole power of the country; that I would prefer to go into it if
I knew I was to die or be killed in the course of it, than to live
through and after it without taking any part in it.
CINCINNATI, May 16, 1861.
DEAR UNCLE:--I have got your favor of the 14th. . . .
You say nothing about my going into the war. I have been
fishing for your opinion in several of my late letters. Unless
you speak soon, you may be too late.
My new business arrangement and my prospects, bad as times
are, are evidently good. Whenever other lawyers have business,
I shall easily make all that is needed; but still, as Billy Rogers
18 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
writes me, "This is a holy war," and if a fair chance opens, I
shall go in; if a fair chance don't open, I shall, perhaps, take
measures to open one. So don't be taken by surprise if you hear
of my soldiering. All the family have been sounded, and there
will be no troublesome opposition.
In view of contingencies, I don't like to leave home to visit
you just now. I shall be able to leave money to support the
family a year or two, without reckoning on my pay. Events
move fast these days.
Since writing the foregoing, Judge [Stanley] Matthews called,
and we have agreed to go to Columbus to lay the ropes for a
regiment. There are a thousand men here who want us for
Sincerely, R. B. HAYES.
May 19, 1861.--We find a good deal of difficulty in getting
new companies or regiments accepted for the war, but we shall
CINCINNATI, May 22, 1861.
DEAR UNCLE:--Your last is highly satisfactory. It is by no
means certain that we shall get in, but we shall keep trying and
sooner or later I suspect we shall succeed.
Lucy rather prefers, I think, not to go out to Fremont this sum-
mer if I should go away, but will of course do what we think
best. I will come out before going away, even if I can stay only
a day. If I should not leave, I shall of course visit you this
summer and stay some time.
R. B. HAYES.
CINCINNATI, May 23, 1861.
DEAR UNCLE:--I received yours of the 17th this morning,
and am glad to know that your views as to finishing and furnish-
ing the house correspond with our own. If I should not go
SECESSION AND WAR--1861 19
away during the summer, I will, of course, visit you several
times, and we can arrange all these matters. . . .
I suspect you do not like to commit yourself on my warlike
designs. We have often observed, that on some questions, advice
is never asked until one's own purpose is fixed; so that the ad-
viser is throwing away breath. Perhaps you think this is such a
case, and perhaps you are right; but if the dispatches of this
morning are correct, that the Government already has two hun-
dred and twenty thousand men, and will accept no more, the
question is settled.
It is raining again--disagreeable times for people in camp.
I have not seen any Fremonters, but have written to Haynes*
to come and see me, with any of the men.
CINCINNATI, May 26, 1861.
DEAR UNCLE:--. . . I have been watching the enlistments
for the war during the last week with much interest, as the
chance of our enterprise for the present depends on it. If
twenty regiments enlist out of the twenty-six now on foot in the
State, there will be no room for ours. If less than twenty go
in for three years, we are safe. Until the news of the advance
into Virginia arrived, and the death of Colonel Ellsworth, there
was a good deal of hesitation in the various camps. The natural
dissatisfaction and disgust which many felt, some with and some
without adequate cause, were likely to prevent the quota from
being filled out of the three-months men. But now all is en-
thusiasm again. Of course I like to see it, but for the present
it probably cuts us out. Well, we shall be ready for next time.
If all immediate interest in this quarter is gone, I shall likely
enough come up and spend next Sunday with you.
R. B. HAYES.
*W. E. Haynes. Later a colonel. Long a prominent citizen of
Fremont. Member of Congress, etc.
20 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
CINCINNATI, May 31, 1861.
DEAR UNCLE:--I made my preparations to start for Fremont
by way of Toledo tomorrow, as intimated in my letter of the
early part of the week, but a gleam of light breaks in upon us in
regard to our war project, and I concluded to wait; but if noth-
ing turns up, I will come and see you a week hence. Mother
is quite well again. All the rest of us in excellent health.
The times are no better, and I see nothing which indicates an
early termination of the war. We must make up our minds for
hard rations and little money.
R. B. HAYES.
CINCINNATI, June 5, 1861.
DEAR UNCLE:--I have received your letter of the 3rd. Am
sorry to have disappointed you last Saturday. Shall try to
come soon. I have just had a call from Buckland,* and went
with him to the Burnet House and saw Miss Annie and Ralph.
A dispatch in the Commercial indicates that we are having
better luck at Washington than at Columbus. If the authorities
at Columbus do not interfere, we are likely to get in our regi-
ment. We had a letter from Governor Chase a few days [ago],
which encouraged us to hope that such would be the case.
Mother will probably go to Columbus next week or the week
after. If the Commercial correspondent is correct, we shall
probably be pretty busy for a few days or a week. I will ad-
vise you as soon as anything definite is known.
R. B. HAYES.
*Ralph P. Buckland, of Fremont, Hayes's old law partner, later a
general. Always a leading citizen.
SECESSION AND WAR--1861 21
CINCINNATI, June 10 , 1861.
DEAR UNCLE:--I shall go to Columbus in the morning under
orders. I do not know what is intended, but by telegraph, Judge
Matthews and myself are informed that we are to be in a regi-
ment with Colonel Rosecrans--a West Pointer and intimate
friend of Billy Rogers, and a capital officer,--Matthews as
lieutenant-colonel and I as major. This is all we know about
it. Buckland perhaps told you that I had got a dispatch asking
if I would accept, and that I replied accepting the place. We
have since been telegraphed that we were under orders accord-
ingly, and must report at Columbus forthwith. This seems
certain enough, but as red-tape is in the ascendant, we don't
count positively on anything.
I shall try to visit you before definitely leaving home. Mother
will return to Columbus soon. I hope this matter is as it ap-
pears. It is precisely what we wish, if we understand it.
R. B. HAYES.
COLUMBUS, June 1O, 1861.
DEAR UNCLE:--Matthews and myself are here and find that
the governor makes up a list of regimental officers, calls it
a regimental organization and assigns to it companies as he
pleases, preferring to select officers from one part of the State
and men from another. We are the Twenty-third Regiment*
and our companies will probably be from the north. The men
indicated are said to be a superior body. We have seen the
captains and are favorably impressed. Of course this policy
is calculated to cause embarrassment, but the governor shoulders
the responsibility and we are not involved in any personal
unpleasantness. We shall be here probably a week before going
down to make our final preparations.
I may not be able to visit Fremont. If not you will see
me here. Sincerely,
R. B. HAYES.
*The first three-years regiment organized in Ohio
22 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
(Private--Don't show this out of the family.)
CINCINNATI [COLUMBUS], June 1O, 1861.
DEAR DOCTOR:--We are not quite certain, but our matters
probably stand this way. The governor makes up a regi-
mental staff and assigns to it companies as far removed from it,
usually, as possible. We are to be the Twenty-third Regiment
and companies will be assigned, usually, from the north. The
proposed companies are very fine ones. This policy naturally
creates some embarrassment, and may, or may not, work well,
but the governor takes the responsibility in a very manly way,
and relieves us from all embarrassments. If there is trouble,
it will be between the governor and the companies, not involving
us in the least. We like our captains, and would get along
with them well, if this policy don't interfere. Nothing can be
said about surgeon at present. I suspect it is arranged, but
can't guess how.
I can't say when I shall come down, but soon, to stay two
or three days and fix up; probably about Saturday next. Lucy
may gradually get ready my matters; not too many things;
there will be time enough.
The camp is at the race-track four miles west. You need
not talk much of my probable fix, as changes are possible. Love
to all. I will write often.
R. B. HAYES.
P.S.--Order at Sprague's a major's uniform for infantry;
they have my measure; see Rhodes; also, a blue flannel blouse,
regulation officer's; pants to be large and very loose about the
legs; to be done the last of this week, or as soon as convenient.
Blouse and pants first to be done.
DR. JOSEPH T. WEBB.
COLUMBUS, June 10, 1861.
DEAR FORCE:--I do not dispatch you as to matters here,
because it is not certain what will be done, but our present im-
pression is, that we can get no additional companies into our
SECESSION AND WAR--1861 23
regiment. Full regiments have been made up, and the governor
is assigning officers to them, or, rather, he makes up regimental
staffs, and assigns companies from a list of accepted companies
already in camp. . . . This mode of doing the thing
creates some difficulty, and changes are possible, but not prob-
able. I regret this, but we can't perhaps change it. The gov-
ernor is doing it in a frank, manly way which relieves us from
all embarrassment in the premises.
M. F. FORCE, ESQ.
COLUMBUS, Monday, 10 P. M., June 10, 1861.
DEAREST LU:--I have just sent Judge Matthews to bed in
the room over the library, and I thought I'd write a few words
to my dear wife before sleeping. We have been at the camp
all the afternoon. Our quarters are not yet built; all things
are new and disorganized; the location is not nearly so fine
as Camp Dennison, but with all these disadvantages, we both
came away feeling very happy. We visited our men; they be-
haved finely; they are ambitious and zealous, and met us in
such a good spirit. We really were full of satisfaction with it.
We are glad we are away from the crowds of visitors who in-
terfere so with the drills at Camp Dennison.
When we reached town, Judge Matthews learned that Bosley
was elected over the Grays; he was more than content with it.
I shall not need things in a hurry; take time, and don't worry
yourself. I shall probably be down the last of the week; I
shall only be prevented by the absence of Colonel Rosecrans
and Judge Matthews. The colonel has accepted and will be
There is a good band in camp; several well drilled companies.
We shall have four thousand men by Saturday. Ours is the
best regiment: two companies from Cleveland, one from San-
dusky, one from Bellefontaine and one from Ashtabula, under
a son of J.R. Giddings--a pleasant gentleman and a capital
24 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
But I must stop this. You know how I love you; how I love
the family all; but Lucy, I am much happier in this business
than I could be fretting away in the old office near the court-
house. It is living. My only regret is that you don't like our
location. We shall probably spend the summer here, or a good
part of it, unless we go into Virginia. No more tonight. Much
COLUMBUS, June 12, 1861.
DEAR UNCLE:--We are in Camp Jackson--hot, busy, and
jolly. Colonel Rosecrans is an energetic, educated West Pointer,
very cheerful and sensible. Judge Matthews you know. We
are on good terms with our captains, and the whole thing pleases
me vastly; but I see no chance of getting out to see you; so
you must come here one of these days. We are in the suds yet;
still I would enjoy a visit even now. I cannot say more now.
P.S.--We were sworn in to-day; our commissions are from
COLUMBUS, June 12, 1861.
DEAR FORCE:--You can't regret more than I do the issue of
this business, so far as you are concerned. I have tried to get
two companies (so as to include you and Company A of G.G.
[Guthrie Greys]) admitted. Failing in that, I tried one, but
the thing is all settled, and the governor fears to disturb the
Our regiment promises to be an exceedingly pleasant one.
We are the first regimental officers on the ground. Our colonel
will command in this camp until a brigadier-general arrives.
We are the best known persons, and the struggle is to get into
our regiment from all quarters. The camp is yet higgledy-pig-
SECESSION AND WAR--1861 25
gledy and will require some labor to bring it up. But all goes
on rapidly. We have been busy as bees a large part of the
time in the scorching sun; but so far, it [is] great fun. I
enjoy it as much as a boy does a Fourth of July.
M. F. FORCE, ESQ.
CAMP JACKSON, NEAR COLUMBUS,
Friday P. M., June 14, 1861.
DEAR UNCLE:--I received from Cincinnati two letters from
you, and am very sorry to hear of your ill health. If you are
not likely to come here soon, let me know, and I will certainly
visit Fremont, when I can get leave to go home. The business
here will require attention for a few days yet, before we get
into an established routine. I shall probably leave here in
about a week, and can then, if you wish it, visit you one day.
If you were well, you would enjoy a few days here. Laura
could send you out in the morning, and there are hosts of con-
I enjoy this thing very much. It is open-air, active life, novel
and romantic. Hotter than Tophet in the sun, but a good breeze
blowing all the time.
Our arrangement of regimental matters has turned out to be a
capital one so far. We are in command of the whole camp, and,
as Colonel Rosecrans is absent, Matthews and I are starring it.
What we don't know, we guess at, and you may be sure we are
kept pretty busy guessing.
My want now is a good horse. A small or medium-sized
animal of good sense, hardy and kind, good looking enough,
but not showy, is what I want. A fast walk, smooth trot, and
canter are the gaits. I don't object to a pacer if he can walk
and gallop well. Don't bother yourself to find one, but if you
happen to know any, let me know. I am busy or I would write
R. B. HAYES.
26 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
[The Diary gives the following narrative of the entrance into
the service and the first few days in camp.]
June 7, 1861, I received a dispatch from Governor Dennison
asking me if I would accept the majority in a regiment of
which William S. Rosecrans was to be colonel and Judge
Matthews lieutenant-colonel. I read it to Lucy, consulted with my
old law partner [Ralph P. Buckland], who happened to be
visiting Cincinnati, and thereupon replied that I would accept
as proposed. Late in the afternoon of the next day I received
a dispatch from the governor, addressed to Judge Matthews
and myself, directing us to report to the adjutant-general at Co-
lumbus, Monday morning. Not being able to find Judge Mat-
thews in the city, on the next day (Sunday, P. M.), I rode
out to Judge Matthews' residence at Glendale, took tea with him
and his family and friends (Mrs. Matthews and mother, and
Mr. and Mrs. Todd), and rode into the city arriving a few
minutes before 9 P. M. I bid good-bye to my family (my
mother, mother-in-law, Mrs. Webb, Lucy, and the boys), and
at 9:30 P. M. we took the cars by way of Dayton for Columbus.
June 10, Monday morning, after a few hours' rest at the
Goodale or Capitol House, we went over to the governor's
office and learned that the governor had made up a regiment
composed of companies chiefly from the extreme northern and
northeastern part of the East [State], the field officers being
all from Cincinnati, to be the Twenty-third Regiment Ohio Vol-
unteer Infantry, for the service of the United States during the
war. This regiment was to be organized under General Order
No. 15, issued by the adjutant-general of the United States,
May 4, 1861, and was the first regiment in Ohio in which
the regiment did not elect its own field officers. We feared
there would be some difficulty in reconciling the men and offi-
cers to officers--strangers--not of their own selection. . . .
Several of these companies had been in camp in Camp Taylor,
near Cleveland, together, and wished to remain and act together.
All the captains came into the governor's office, soon after we
entered, in a state of some excitement, or at least some feeling,
at finding themselves placed under strangers from a distant
part of the State. We were introduced to them. Colonel
SECESSION AND WAR--1861 27
Rosecrans unfortunately was not present, having not yet ar-,
rived from some military service at Washington. The governor
explained to Matthews and myself that the field officers of the
Twenty-third were fixed, that we were the Twenty-third Regi-
ment, and that those captains could go into it or not as they
saw fit. A little acquaintance satisfied us that our captains
were not disposed to be unreasonable, that their feeling was a
natural one under the circumstances, and that all ill feeling
would disappear if we showed the disposition and ability to
perform our duties. Captain Beatty, however, would not be
content. He had been a senator in the Legislature, was fifty-
five or sixty years old and not disposed to go under young men.
We took a hack out to Camp Jackson,* four miles west of
Columbus on the National Road. Several companies were
mustered into service by Captains Simpson and Robinson the
same day. Colonel E. A. King, of Dayton, was, under state
authority, in command of all the soldiers, some twenty-five hun-
dred in number, not mustered into service. As rapidly as they
were mustered in, they passed under Colonel Matthews, as the
ranking field officer in United States service. Luckily, Captain
Beatty was not ready for the mustering officer and we succeeded
in getting Captain Zimmerman's fine company in his place.
Ditto Captain Howard in place of Captain Weller.
Our mustering was completed June 11 and 12. We were
guests of Colonel King (for rations) at the log headquarters
and slept at Platt's. Both good arrangements. Wednesday
evening, 12th, we got up a large marquee, fine but not tight, and
that night I had my first sleep under canvas--cool but refresh-
Thursday, June 13, Colonel William S. Rosecrans appeared
and assumed the command. Our regiment was paraded after re-
treat had been sounded. The long line looked well, although
the men were ununiformed and without arms. We were lucky
in having a band enlisted as privates at Ashland.
Colonel Rosecrans is a spirited, rapid talker and worker and
makes a fine impression on officers and men. Appointments of
regimental staff officers were made. . . . Guards or sentinels
*Name changed a few days later to Camp Chase.
28 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
detailed. Men lectured on manners and behavior, etc., etc.
There are many good singers in camp, and as we are not
reduced to order yet, the noises of the camp these fine evenings
and the strangeness have a peculiar charm. How cold the nights
are! I am more affected as I look at the men on parade than
I expected to be; not more embarrassed. I am not greatly
embarrassed, but an agreeable emotion, a swelling of heart
possesses me. The strongest excitement was when I saw the
spirit and enthusiasm with which the oath was taken.
Our captains impress me, as a body, most favorably. Cap-
tain McIlrath is a large, fine-looking man, six feet three and a
half inches high; has been a chief of police in Cleveland--one
of the best in his vocation; takes great pride in his company
and has it in a fine state of discipline--the best of any in camp.
Captain Skiles has served in Mexico, is apparently a man of fine
character, a member of church. Captain Moore is a New Eng-
land-farmer-like man, shrewd and trusty. Captain Zimmer-
man is a conscientious, amiable, industrious man and has a
stout set of men from the iron region, Mahoning County.
Sunday [June] 16.--Colonel Rosecrans and Matthews, hav-
ing gone to Cincinnati, and Colonel King to Dayton, I am left in
command of camp, some twenty-five hundred to three thousand
men--an odd position for a novice, so ignorant of all military
things. All matters of discretion, of common judgment, I get
along with easily, but I was for an instant puzzled when a cap-
tain in the Twenty-fourth, of West Point education, asked me
formally, as I sat in tent, for his orders for the day, he being
officer of the day. Acting on my motto, "When you don't know
what to say, say nothing," I merely remarked that I thought of
nothing requiring special attention; that if anything was wanted
out of the usual routine I would let him know.
CAMP JACKSON, Sunday, June 16, 1861.
DEAREST L--:--Morning work done and waiting till Dr.
Hoge begins, I write to my darling wife and boys. Would you
like to know our daily routine. (Mem.:--Colonel King com-
manding State troops and my superiors, Colonels Rosecrans and
SECESSION AND WAR--1861 29
Matthews, all having gone home, I am now in command of all at
this post, eighteen companies United States troops and sixteen
companies State troops, in all three thousand men and upwards.
A sudden responsibility for a civilian, but the duties are chiefly
such as a civilian can easily do, so it is strange rather in ap-
pearance than reality). First, at 5 A. M., gun fired and
reveille sounded, calling all men to roll-call. I was up and
dressing. Owing to bright light in a tent, sound sleeping in the
cool air, etc., etc., this I did not find difficult. In a few min-
utes all the captains call at my tent to report themselves and
the condition of their men.
I sit at a table looking towards the front entrance of the tent;
an orderly on my right to go errands; a clerk at a table on the
left to write; an adjutant ditto to give orders and help me guess
what ought to be done in each case, and a sentinel slowly pacing
back and forth in front of the entrance whose main employment
is telling men to take off their hats before entering on the sur-
roundings. The first business is looking over the orders of the
day, and telling the adjutant to see them carried out. These are
as to guards and sich, which are stereotyped with slight altera-
tions to suit circumstances--such as guarding wells, fixing new
sentinels where men are suspected of getting out, etc., etc. Next
comes issuing permits to go out of camp to town and to parties
to go bathing in the Scioto one and one-half miles distant.
Then comes in, for an hour or more, the morning reports of
roll-call, showing the sick, absent, etc., etc., all to be looked over
and corrected; and mistakes abound that are curious enough.
Once we got all the officers returned as "under arrest." One
captain lost a lieutenant, although he was present as plainly as
Hateful W. Perkins was in Pease's anecdote. Then rations are
returned short; on that point I am strong, and as the commissary
is clever, we soon correct mistakes. Then we have difficulties
between soldiers, very slight and easily disposed of; but trou-
bles between soldiers and the carpenters whose tools dis-
appear mysteriously, and farmers in the neighborhood who go to
bed with roosts of barnyard fowl and wake up chickenless and
fowlless, are more troublesome. The accused defenders of their
country can always prove an alibi by their comrades, and that
30 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
the thing is impossible by the sentinels whose beat they must
Since writing the above, I have waited under a tree, with a
flag raised, three quarters of an hour for Dr. Hoge's congre-
gation, but for some reason he did not come, and an audience of
one thousand were disappointed, possibly(?), however, not all
disagreeably. I have sent five men and a sergeant to arrest
two deserters in Columbus (not of our regiment) belonging to
Captain Sturgess' company of Zanesville; one sergeant and two
men to see safely out of camp two men who were about to have
their heads shaved for refusing to take the oath of allegiance;
a lieutenant and ten men to patrol the woods back of the camp,
to prevent threatened depredations on a farmer. This all since
I began writing. The wind is rising and the dust floats in on my
paper, as you see. As yet, we eat our meals at Colonel King's
quarters--plain good living. Guard-mounting is a ceremonious
affair at 9 A. M. At 12 M., drum-beat and roll-call for dinner;
at 6 P. M., ditto for supper; at 7 P. M., our band calls out the
regiment for a parade; not yet a "dress parade," but a decidedly
imposing affair, notwithstanding. The finale is at 10 P.M.
The evenings and night are capital. The music and hum, the
cool air in the tent, and open-air exercise during the day, make
the sleeping superb. We have cots about like our lounge, only
slighter and smaller, bought in Dayton. Our men are fully
equal to the famous Massachusetts men in a mechanical way.
They build quarters, ditches, roads, traps; dig wells, catch fish,
kill squirrels, etc., etc., and it is really a new sensation, the affec-
tion and pride one feels respecting such a body of men in the
We are now feeling a good deal of anxiety about Colonel Rose-
crans. He is said to be appointed a brigadier. If it were to
take effect six weeks or three months hence, we would like it if
he should be promoted; but now we fear some new man over
us who may not be agreeable, and we do not like the difficulties
attendant upon promotion. The governor says we shall not
lose Colonel Rosecrans, and we hope he is right.
I enclose a letter in the Cleveland Herald written by some one
in one of our Cleveland companies. With Colonel Rosecrans
SECESSION AND WAR--1861 31
in command, we should have no trouble with our men. We
have reconciled them as, I think, perfectly, or as nearly so as
men ever are with their officers. But if Colonel Rosecrans goes,
we are between Scylla and Charbydis you know--officers at
our head whom we may not like, or men under us who do not
like us; but it will all come right. I am glad I am here, and
only wish you were here.
I was in at Platt's last evening an hour or so. Laura was
expecting Platt by the late train, but as he has not yet come out
here, I suspect he did not arrive. Love to all. Kiss the boys.
I enjoyed reading your talk about them and their sayings.
R. B. HAYES.
June--, 1861.--Early in the second week of our camping out
in service, Colonel Rosecrans returned and set vigorously to
work organizing the regiment. The evening of the day he
returned we were closing up matters in our tent preparatory to
going to bed, when two gentlemen rode up with a dispatch
which announced the appointment of Colonel Rosecrans to the
post of brigadier-general, and ordering him to repair to west-
ern Virginia to take command of Ohio troops moving in that
direction. We rode into Columbus and saw the colonel now
general, off about midnight. Good-bye to our good colonel.
A sorry thing for us. May it prove all he hopes to him. I
shall never forget how his face shone with delight as he read
CAMP CHASE, June 20, 1861.
DEAR UNCLE:--I now expect to leave here on Saturday and
come to Fremont to stay over Sunday with you. On Monday
I will go down to Cincinnati to stay one or two days, and then
I return to devote myself to the instruction and exercises of my
post. Matthews returned yesterday, having finished his home
32 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
We have been in camp almost two weeks, and were getting
on finely when we lost our colonel. Rosecrans has been pro-
moted to a brigadier-generalship, and left us night before last
to command the Virginia expedition to the Kanawha. We are
helping the governor find some competent military man to take
his place. If Matthews had had two months' teaching and
experience, he would be willing to take the place, and I should
have perfect confidence in him, but as it is, he prefers not to take
Mother has returned. She was out here a few days ago, in
good health for her and spirits. I shall see you so soon, that I
need not write further. I enjoy this life, and it is going to be
healthy for me. I shall hardly be more exposed to cold than
in a very open tent the two cold nights a few days ago; but I
am gaining in strength and spirits.
R. B. HAYES.
CAMP CHASE, June 20, 1861.
DEAREST L--:--Your letter filled me with joy--as your
letters will always do. I write to say that my present purpose
is to go to Fremont Saturday, to remain over Sunday, and
Monday, to go down home and stay one or two days only. You
will find it so pleasant up here that I do not go down except for
business. Make little mem.'s of all things you want me to attend
to. Recollect about any thin duds I have, especially coats. I
am now well provided with most things.
Yes, the loss of our colonel did trouble us. Matthews does
not yet wish the responsibility of command. With a few
weeks' experience I would prefer his appointment; in fact, I
would anyhow, but we are casting about and the governor will
consult our wishes. Our present preference is either Colonel
[Eliakim Parker] Scammon or Colonel George W. McCook, the
latter if he would take it. It will probably be satisfactory.
If the new man is competent, he will be a very mean man if
he does not get on well with us.
MRS. HAYES. R.
SECESSION AND WAR--1861 33
CAMP CHASE, June 22, 1861.
DEAREST LU:--I start for Fremont this morning. . . .
As to surgeons, four only are to be appointed; it will not be
possible to get two of them from Cincinnati. Either Clendenin
or Dr. Joe will not get appointed. I mention this merely to
show the facts. I want the doctor to do nothing at all about
it, nor to say anything about it. Dr. Clendenin can probably get
an appointment from Washington as brigade surgeon. It will
be some days before the appointments will be made. There is
a good disposition to accommodate us at headquarters, and I
think the prospect fair for his [Dr. Joe's] appointment.
I shall want towels, sheets, and three table-cloths, one and
one-half dozen napkins, two comforts. Don't buy them, or any
of them, but if you have them to spare, I will take them. I
would advise the spending of as little as possible. We do not
know the future, and economy is a duty. These things are
merely luxuries. Love to all.
P. S.--You will enjoy looking at us here, and I shall be glad
to have you come up. You can hardly live out at camp; but
possibly, we can keep you a night or two, and you can stay here
through the day. It is pleasant living here. Colonel Scammon
is our colonel. This will do. It has advantages which I need
not explain which would not occur to an outside looker-on.
CAMP CHASE, June 27, 1861, Thursday, A. M.
DEAREST L--:--At my leisure, I have looked over the little
what-you-may-call-it and its chapter of contents. It is so nice,
and has everything needful that I have thought of, and more
too. Much obliged, dearest. With all my boots, I find I have
no slippers; forgot, also, my pepper-and-salt vest.
Found mother and all well and happy, and most glad that
you are coming up. . . . We shall probably be here some time
longer than I supposed. Matthews says Colonel Scammon turns
34 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
out to be socially and individually a most agreeable person to be
We have chosen a Methodist chaplain, Amos Wilson, of
Bucyrus. The governor could not appoint but one of these
four surgeons from Cincinnati, and took Clendenin as first on
the list, and first applied for by Colonel Fyffe. If Dr. Clen-
denin declines, he will appoint Dr. Joe for us, and says he
shall be the next appointed from Cincinnati. He has appointed
a good man for us, but will transfer him to make room for
Joe if Clendenin does not accept. We can't complain of the
governor's disposition in the matter. He wishes to know Dr.
Clendenin's intentions as soon as possible. If he declines, Dr.
Joe must be ready to come up forthwith. Dr. Jim will pretty
certainly be retained as assistant, in any event, but he must
pass an examination, if he is in this region when the new ap-
pointment is to be made.
Love to "all the boys," and much for Grandma and yourself,
from your loving and affectionate.
CAMP CHASE, June 28, 1861.
DEAR UNCLE:--I found all well at home and at Columbus--
all feeling anxious about you. I gave as favorable an account
of your health as I could conscientiously.
I am again in camp. Our new colonel is personally an
agreeable gentleman to be associated with; in experience and
education, equal to the place; but probably deficient in physical
health and energy. . . .
R. B. HAYES.
CAMP CHASE, June 30, 1861.
DEAREST:--Sunday morning, according to army regulations,
there is to be a mustering and inspection of all men, visiting
of sick quarters, etc., etc., on the last Sunday of each month.
We have gone through with it, and have found, with a few
exceptions, matters in good sort. Our colonel is fond of pleas-
SECESSION AND WAR--1861 35
antry, amiable and social. He enjoys the disposition of Mat-
thews and myself to joke, and after duty, we get jolly. But he
has not a happy way of hitting the humors of the men. Still,
as we think him a kind-hearted, just man, we hope the men will
learn to appreciate his good qualities, in spite of an unfortunate
I have had some of the jolliest times the last week I have
any recollection of. A camp is a queer place; you will enjoy
being here. Matthews writes his wife not to come until the
men are uniformed. This will be in about ten days we sup-
pose. I don't want you to wait on that account, but would
like to have you stay until after we get on our good "duds."
Mother and Platt were out with Ruddy last night. He wanted
to stay with us very much, but his father objected; he prom-
ised to let him stay out here with Birch.
I have heard nothing from Clendenin, but our colonel says
he thinks Dr. Joe will be our physician, even if Clendenin con-
cludes to accept the post he is offered in the Twenty-sixth. I
hope he is right, and as he has had some talk with Governor
Dennison on the subject, I am inclined to put faith in his
CAMP CHASE, July 2, 1861.
DEAREST:--The comet, or the storm, or something makes
it cold as blazes this morning, but pleasant. Speaking of shirts,
did I leave my shirts at home? I have but two or three here
now. Have they been lost here, or how? You need not make
me any if they are gone. I intend to wear flannel or mixed
goods of some sort, but if there are a few tolerably good ones
or collars, you may let Dr. Joe bring them up when he comes.
By the by, you know Dr. Joe has been appointed to our
regiment, Dr. Clendenin having declined the Twenty-sixth. I
wrote Dr. Joe a scolding letter in reply to his note abusing the
governor. I did so because I felt confident that he was to be
appointed in some way, and I didn't want him to kick the fat
36 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
in the fire by getting in a sensation about it before the matter
was finally determined. Matthews and all are very glad. I
am more interested in it than in anything else connected with the
I believe I told you it would be in good point if you could
fix up one or two of my thick vests. I shall take away from
here nothing but my gray travelling suit and thick vests. The
military coats will conceal the vests, so they are as good as
any other. Dr. Joe better get a good ready before he comes up.
It may be difficult for him to get away. As for clothing and
fixings, they can all be sent to him; but his business arrange-
ments better be made, if possible, before he leaves. If he keeps
well, as I think he will, he will enjoy this life very much. His
rank and pay will be the same as mine. He is allowed two or
three horses, and should have at least one. There is no stabling
here at present, so he need not now bring his horse, if he would
prefer not to keep him at the hotel or in Columbus.
Love to Grandma and all. Kisses for the dear boys. They
will mourn the loss of their Uncle Joe. I should not be much
loss to them now; when they get older I will try to help in their
education. Birch, if possible, should be a soldier; Webb will
do for a sailor; Ruddy will do for either or 'most anything else.
I am sorry you are to be left with so much responsibility; but,
with your mother's advice, do what you both agree is best and
it will perfectly satisfy me.
Affectionately, yours ever,
CAMP CHASE, July 5, 1861.
DEAR UNCLE:--I have so little to write that I have, perhaps,
neglected you. . . . . We are getting on very pleasantly here.
It is a gentlemanly, social life, with just business and exercise
enough to pass the time.
I have probably engaged a horse for one hundred dollars--
a dark sorrel, good stock, neat, graceful, and of good temper.
Dr. Joe has been appointed our surgeon. We have not heard
from home since he received the appointment, but I expect him
SECESSION AND WAR--1861 37
to accept it. It will please Lucy and mother particularly. Let
me hear of or from you often.
R. B. HAYES.
CAMP CHASE, July 6, 1861.
DEAREST:--I have written to John Herron to supply you with
what money you need for the present, and I suppose it will be
convenient for him to do so out of a loan I made him some
time ago. It does not seem like Saturday. The Fourth was like
Sunday here. Colonel Matthews and I formed the regiment into
a hollow square (rather oblong, in fact). I read the Declara-
tion and he made a short pithy speech and wound up with cheers
for the Union; and no more duty during the day. In the evening
there were fire-balls and a few fireworks. A little shower this
morning laid the dust, a fine thing in our little Sahara.
Colonel Matthews came in last night from Columbus, saying
he rode out with the surgeon of the Twenty-sixth--the one in-
tended for us--"and what an escape we have made. He is a
green, ignorant young doctor who has all to learn." I suppose
Dr. Joe is getting ready to come; we hear nothing from
him; I hope we shall see him soon. I am seeing to his hut which
is building today. Uncle is rather better but not decidedly so.
We have a lot of Secessionists from Virginia--a good camp
sensation. I went in late last night after ball-cartridges, which
stirred up the soldiers with its warlike look. I esteem these
armed sentinels about as dangerous to friends as to foes. Here
is our style of countersign. Done up Know-nothing fashion.
Love to all and much for your own dear self.
R. B. HAYES.
CAMP CHASE, July 8, 1861.
DEAR UNCLE:--Lucy came up to Columbus with Birtie Sat-
urday evening. They have both been out once, and Birch twice
to see me in camp. It is very pleasant to see them about. We
are jogging on in routine duties. The only variation is the ad-
38 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
vent of twenty-three Secessionists, held as hostages for Union
men seized in Virginia. On the release of the Union men, our
prisoners were sent home yesterday.
I fear from the tenor of McLelland's letters, and what Hale
told me, that you are not getting rid of your cough. I hope you
will do so soon. It is too bad that you should be unwell now.
You would enjoy a little campaigning with me very much, and
I would so enjoy having you along. . . .--Good-bye.
R. B. HAYES.
CAMP CHASE, July 11, 1861.
DEAR UNCLE:--I am now almost at home. Lucy is at Platt's
with Birch and Webb. Dr. Joe came yesterday bringing Webb
with him. We shall have the boys out here a good deal. It is
a good place for them. Birch was infinitely disgusted to meet
me without my uniform on.
I have my horse here and ride him all about the camp and
parade ground. Although young, he is sensible to the last. I
shall probably not need Ned, Jr. A horse must canter or lope
well to be of any account in a camp. The colonel and Matthews
have both been disappointed in theirs. Matthews sent his back
home yesterday. My sorrel cost one hundred dollars. He is
called the cheapest and one of the best horses in camp. . . .
R. B. HAYES.
CAMP CHASE, July 18, 1861.
DEAR UNCLE:--I have just read your letter of the 16th.
I hope it is good proof that you are mending rapidly. It is
pleasant to see your own handwriting again.
Our men are uniformed and we are daily receiving our need-
ful equipments. The indications are that we shall soon move.
In what direction and under whose command, we do not know.
We are not very particular. We prefer the mountainous region
of Virginia or Tennessee.
If Ned, Jr. was down here, I would try what could be done
SECESSION AND WAR--1861 39
with him. But the travelling is done so much by rail, that I
hardly need two horses. My sorrel is a good one.
My notion is that we shall go within a fortnight. Lucy and
the two boys will stay until we go with Platt. Come down if you
can, but not at the risk of health. Write often. No letters are
so good as yours.
R. B. HAYES.
COLUMBUS, Sunday morning, July 21, 1861.
DEAR UNCLE:--I came in last evening to attend a little tea
gathering at Mr. Andrews'; shall return this morning. We are
now in condition to move on a few days' notice, and expect to
go soon--say a week or two. I constantly at camp am re-
minded of you. You would enjoy the company we have and
the amusing incidents which are occurring. The colonel [Jacob
Ammen] of the Twenty-fourth next us is a character. He has
been an army officer (West Pointer) many years, a teacher of
mathematics, etc., in different colleges, and has seen all sorts
of life. He is a capital instructor in military things, and finding
Matthews and myself fond of his talk, he takes to us warmly.
Dr. Joe is now settled with us, and we are made up. We have
had good visits from Mr. Giddings, David Tod, and other State
celebrities. . . .
It would have been a great happiness to have spent the sum-
mer and fall fixing up around Spiegel Grove. But in this war
I could not feel contented if I were not in some way taking part
in it. I should feel about myself as I do about people who lived
through the Revolution, seeing their neighbors leaving home,
but doing nothing themselves--a position not pleasant to occupy.
I hope you will be well enough to come down. If not, I do
not doubt we shall be together again one of these days. All
R. B. HAYES.
40 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
July 22.--Just received news of a dreadful defeat at
Manassas, or beyond Centreville. General McDowell's column
pushed on after some successes, were met apparently by fresh
troops, checked, driven back, utterly routed! What a calamity!
Will not the secession fever sweep over the border States, driv-
ing out Kentucky, Missouri, (Baltimore) Maryland, etc., etc.?
Is not Washington in danger? I have feared a too hasty push-
ing on of McDowell's column into ground where the Rebels
have camped and scouted and entrenched themselves for months.
My brother-in-law, as surgeon, is with the Second Ohio Regi-
ment in advance, and is doubtless among those in the worst
position. But private anxieties are all swallowed up in the
general public calamity. God grant that it is exaggerated!
Our regiments are now likely, I think, to be speedily needed
at Washington or elsewhere. I am ready to do my duty,
promptly and cheerfully. Would that I had the military knowl-
edge and experience which one ought to have to be useful in
my position! I will do my best, my utmost in all ways to pro-
mote the efficiency of our regiment. It is henceforth a serious
July 23. 6 A. M.--This extra* was handed me on our parade
ground last evening about 6 P. M. by my brother-in-law, Dr.
Joe Webb, who had just galloped out from the city on my
sorrel. We had heard the first rumor of a great defeat, but
this gave us the details. A routed army, heavy loss, demoraliza-
tion, on our side; a great victory, confidence, and enthusiasm,
on the other, were the natural results to be expected. Washing-
ton in danger, its capture probable, if the enemy had genius.
These were the ideas I was filled with.
But so far as we were concerned all was readiness and energy.
Colonel Matthews and myself superintended the opening and
distribution of cartridge-boxes, etc., etc., until late at night that
our regiment might be ready to march at a moment's warning.
Slept badly. Meditated on the great disaster. On Lucy prob-
* Pasted in the Diary is the report of the disaster at Manassas Junction
and the retreat of the Union army, clipped from the Ohio State Journal
SECESSION AND WAR--1861 41
ably hastening to Cincinnati to comfort and be with her mother.
I dreamed I was in Washington, Union men leaving in haste,
the enemy advancing to take the city, its capture hourly expected.
My own determination and feelings when awake were all as I
would wish. A sense of duty excited to a warmer and more
This morning I rose at the first tap of reveille and went out
on the parade-ground. Soon came the morning papers correct-
ing and modifying the first exaggerated reports. There was a
great panic, but if the morning report is reliable, the loss is not
very heavy; the army is again in position. The lesson is a
severe one. It may be a useful one. Raw troops should not
be sent to attack an enemy entrenched on its own ground unless
under most peculiar circumstances. Gradual approach with
fortifications as they proceeded would have won the day.
Last evening Adjutant-General Buckingham took tea with
Colonel Scammon. My mind was full of the great disaster.
They talked of schoolboy times at West Point; gave the bill of
fare of different days--beef on Sunday, fish on etc., etc.--
anecdotes of Billy Cozzens, the cook or steward, never once al-
luding to the events just announced of which we were all full.
July 12, Lucy and Birch and Webb came up to Columbus.
They spent a few days in camp, she remaining over night but
once. They will probably remain until we leave here.
Mrs. Matthews and Willie left today (23rd). With her
daughter Jennie, they have spent two or three days in camp.
Continuing my narrative.--In the place of Colonel Rosecrans,
promoted to brigadier-general, Colonel Scammon is appointed to
command our regiment. He is a gentleman of military education
and experience. Amiable and friendly with us--an intelligent,
agreeable gentleman; but not well fitted for volunteer command;
and I fear somewhat deficient in health and vigor of nerve.
We shall find him an entertaining head of our mess of field
officers.--After some ups and downs we have succeeded in get-
ting for our surgeon my brother-in-law, Dr. Joseph T. Webb.
Our field officers' mess consists of Colonel Scammon, Lieutenant-
Colonel Matthews, Dr. Webb, and myself.
42 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
CAMP CHASE, July 23, 1861.
DEAR UNCLE:--We are in the midst of the excitement pro-
duced by the disastrous panic near Washington. We expect it
will occasion a very early movement of our regiment. We shall,
perhaps, be ordered to the Kanawha line. We certainly shall,
unless the recent defeat shall change the plan of the campaign.
Colonel DePuy's regiment is on that line, so that the Fremont
companies are likely to be in the same body with us. Their as-
sociation will be pleasant enough, but there are two or three regi-
ments with them in which I have very little confidence; viz., the
Kentucky regiments "falsely so called." We are yet raw troops,
but I think we shall soon grow to it.
The Washington affair is greatly to be regretted; unless speed-
ily repaired, it will lengthen the war materially. The panic of
the troops does not strike me as remarkable. You recollect the
French army in the neighborhood of the Austrians were seized
with a panic, followed by a flight of many miles, caused merely
by a runaway mule and cart and "nobody hurt." The same
soldiers won the battle of Solferino a few days ago [later].
But I do think the commanding officers ought not to have led
fresh levies against an enemy entrenched on his own ground.
Gradual advances, fortifying as he went, strikes me as a more
prudent policy. But it is easy to find fault. The lesson will
have its uses. It will test the stuff our people are made of.
If we are a solid people, as I believe we are, this reverse will
stiffen their backs. They will be willing to make greater efforts
We worked late last night getting our accoutrements ready.
In the hurry of preparations to depart, I may not be able to
write you before I go. Good-bye.
R. B. HAYES.
CAMP CHASE, July 24, 1861.
DEAR UNCLE:--I am surrounded by the bustle and confusion
attendant upon a hurried leaving of camp. We go tomorrow at
5 A. M. to Zanesville by railroad, thence down the Muskingum
SECESSION AND WAR--1861 43
on steamboats to Marietta, and on the Ohio to Ripley Landing, a
short distance from Point Pleasant in Virginia. We are to be
a part of General Rosecrans' force against Wise.
Last night I had a good chat with Fremont. He is a hero.
All his words and acts inspire enthusiasm and confidence. He
and the governor reviewed our regiment today. Lucy, Laura,
and many friends were present. It was a stirring scene. I wish
you could have been here. You would subscribe heartily to
General Fremont. Good-bye. My saddest feeling--my almost
only sad feeling--is leaving you in such bad health.
R. B. HAYES.
P.S.--Always send me full sheets of paper--the blank sheet
is so useful. The use and scarcity of paper is appalling.
July 25 .--A.M. our regiment was reviewed by the Gov-
ernor and Major-General Fremont. It was a gratifying scene.
The Colonel (Fremont--I must always think of the man of
fifty-six [as] the colonel) looked well. How he inspires confi-
dence and affection in the masses of people! The night before
I was introduced to him at the American. He is a romantic,
rather perhaps than a great, character. But he is loyal, brave,
and persevering beyond all compare. Lucy and Laura were
July 26 .--Last night I went in to Columbus to bid
good-bye to the boys; on the road met Lucy, Laura, and Mother
Webb; advised them to return. After we were at home (Platt's),
Lucy showed more emotion at my departure than she has hitherto
exhibited. She wanted to spend my last night with me in Camp
Chase. I took her out. We passed a happy evening going
around among the men gathered in picturesque groups, cooking
rations for three days at the camp fires. Early in the morning,
as she was anxious Mother Webb should see the camp before
I left, I sent her in by a hack to return with Mother Webb which
she did, and they saw us leave the camp.
44 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
I marched in with the men afoot; a gallant show they made
as they marched up High Street to the depot. Lucy and Mother
Webb remained several hours until we left. I saw them watch-
ing me as I stood on the platform at the rear of the last car as
long as they could see me. Their eyes swam. I kept my emo-
tion under control enough not to melt into tears.--A pleasant
ride to Bellaire; staid in the cars all night.
BELLAIRE, July 26, 1861,
Friday morning, 7:30 A. M.
DEAR BROTHER WILLIAM:--I write for you and Lucy. Please
send this note to her. We were ordered at Zanesville to change
our destination to this point and Grafton. Whether we are to
go from Grafton to the Kanawha country or to Oakland, Mary-
land, is uncertain; we think Oakland is our point; we hope so.
It is to hold in check a rising secession feeling and to sustain
Union men. We reached here at midnight and slept in the cars
until morning. All in good spirits. I will advise you as to the
ultimate determination of our course.
If my pistols come to the express office, send them to me by
express when you ascertain where we are. You can probably
learn at the governor's office, if not direct from me. The ex-
press to the armies is very safe usually. Love to all.
R. B. HAYES.
W. A. PLATT.