CHAPTER XVIIIADVANCE AND RETREAT--WEST VIRGINIA--SPRINGOF 1862
TUESDAY, April 1.--Cloudy and threatening this morning.
. . . All Fools' day. Soldiers sent companies to
get pay out of time; bogus dispatches and the like.
I hear that Dr. Joe is in his trouble by consent of Scammon.
Was he induced to ask for his examination? If so, how foolish!
I can hardly be angry, and yet [I am] vexed outrageously. He
[Scammon] has been operated on, used. Surely he wouldn't do
such a thing if he was wide-awake.
April 2. Wednesday.--A windy day; roads drying rapidly.
Rode out with Avery. Saw the companies drill skirmish drill.
The militia called out to be enrolled in this county on the Union
side. About a hundred queer-looking, hollow-chested, gaunt,
awkward fellows in their tattered butternut garments turned
out. A queer customer calls our scouts "drives," another calls
it "drags." A fellow a little sick here calls it "trifling." He
says, "Yes, I feel 'trifling,'" meaning unwell.
Sent Captain Zimmerman with Company E and Lieutenant
Bottsford, Company C, the scout Abbott, and two or three citi-
zens out towards Wyoming. Will be gone two or three days.
CAMP HAYES, RALEIGH, VIRGINIA, April 2, 1862.
DEAR MOTHER: -- I received your letter yesterday, just one
day after it was written. Very glad you are so well and happy.
You do not seem to me so near seventy years old. I think of
you as no older than you always were. I hope you may see
other happy birthdays.
Our men stationed here, nine companies, were paid for the
third time yesterday. They send home about thirty thousand
dollars. Many families will be made glad by it. A small pro-
(221)222 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
portion of our men have families of their own. The money
goes chiefly to parents and other relatives. . . .
I send you two letters showing the business [we] are in.
General Beckley is the nabob of this county; commanded a regi-
ment of Rebels until we came and scattered [it]. He is now on
his parole at home. The other is from an old lady, the wife of
the Baptist preacher here. Her husband preached Secession
and on our coming fled South.
We are all in the best of health. Love to Sophia and Mrs.
Wasson. Your affectionate son,
P. S.--The total amount sent home from our regiment fig-
ures up thirty-five thousand dollars.
MRS. SOPHIA HAYES.
Raleigh, Virginia, Thursday, April 3.-- The rain last night
was merely an April shower. It has cleared off bright and
warm. The grass looks fresh and green. I have one hundred
and fifty dollars in treasury notes. Last night Lieutenant Hast-
ings with Company I started for the Marshes of Cool to protect
the election and if possible catch the Trumps. . . . .
Election day for West Virginia. One hundred and eight votes
polled here, all for the new Constitution. I doubt its success.
Congress will be slow to admit another slave State into the
Union. The West Virginians are blind to interest as well as
duty, or they would abolish slavery instantly. They would make
freedom the distinguishing feature of West Virginia. With
slavery abolished the State would rapidly fill up with an indus-
trious, enterprising population. As a slave State, slaveholders
will not come into it and antislavery and free-labor people will
Camp Hayes, Raleigh, Virginia, April 4, 1862. Friday. --
Very warm, windy. Mud drying up rapidly. Dr. Webb has
returned. Dr. Hayes was at the bottom of the affair. Colonel
Scammon telegraphed that Dr. Webb couldn't be spared and
ordered him to return here. I suspect that Dr. Hayes made
ADVANCE AND RETREAT--1862 223
such representations to Colonel Scammon as induced him to re-
port Dr. Webb for examination. On reflection Colonel Scam-
mon no doubt felt that he had yielded too much and will now,
I presume, put a stop to further proceedings.
About 4 or 5 P. M. yesterday I received an order requiring
Lieutenant Stevens and a corporal and six men to arrest General
Beckley and take him to Wheeling. The arrest was made.
General Beckley's wife and family felt badly enough. The gen-
eral said he recognized the propriety of it and did not com-
A thunder-storm last night. Will it clear off or give us
"falling weather"? The natives with their queer garments and
queerer speech and looks continue to come in.
Camp Hayes, Raleigh, Virginia, April 5, 1862. Saturday. --
Windy, cloudy, threatening more rain. Captain Haven in com-
mand of companies G and K started for the Bragg and Rich-
mond settlement this morning to defend that Union stronghold
and to operate if practicable against a force of cavalry and
bushwhackers who are reported to be threatening it. They will
remain at least three days.
Lieutenant Stevens, Sergeant Deshong, a corporal, and six
men started this morning with General Beckley for Fayetteville
and probably Wheeling.
Company A came up about 3 P. M. Hardy, well drilled.
Camp in Sibley tents in court-house yard in front of my quar-
Captain Zimmerman with Companies C and E and ten pris-
oners returned at 4 P. M. Marched fifty miles; burned the
residence of Pleasant Lilly. Lieutenant Hastings came in about
same time; had protected the election in the Marshes, and
marched forty miles.
Sunday, [April] 6.-- A lovely morning. Sent Sergeant Ab-
bott to Fayetteville with five prisoners. Company A look splen-
didly; drill well, sing well, and, I doubt not, fight well. Re-
ceived orders to be ready to move by Wednesday night. We
need canteens, a quartermaster, ammunition. Must see that
captains are all ready.
224 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
CAMP HAYES, RALEIGH, VIRGINIA, April 6, 1862.
DEAREST:--. . . We are to move southward this week.
You will not hear from me so often as heretofore. At any rate,
you will get shorter letters -- none but the shortest; but you will
feel and know that I am loving you as dearly as ever, and think
of you and the dear boys with so much affectionate sympathy.
The poor Lippetts! How sad! I did not doubt it. A man
who always spends more than he earns is on the downward road.
I advised him to go into the army, but he said his family would
not listen to it. Far better to be in the place of Mrs. Whitcomb
and child. Pshaw! it is absurd to make the comparison. After
the sharpness of the first grief is over, its bitterness will be
mixed with a just pride that in time will be a gratification
rather. Children would be sure to so regard it.
Corwine married to a girl of twenty-two! Joe tells a story of
a Lexington gate-keeper's remark to General Coombs about his
marriage: "Men must have been scarce where she comes from."
. . . Affectionately ever,
CAMP HAYES, April 6, 1862.
DEAR MOTHER:-- . . . We are to move southward be-
fore this will reach you, and before you will hear from me again.
. . . We are now about beginning our campaign. Your
philosophy as to what befalls us is the true one: What is best
for us will occur. I am satisfied that we are doing an important
duty, and do not, therefore, feel much anxiety about conse-
quences. . . .
The pleasantest thing in this part of our work is that, in this
region, the best people are on our side. We are not in an en-
[R. B. HAYES.]
MRS. SOPHIA HAYES.
Monday, April 7. -- Rained violently all day. Visited all offi-
cers to see if they were provided with canteens, etc., etc. All
ADVANCE AND RETREAT--1862 225
very nearly ready. Streams will rise and roads deepen so that
no movement can now be made. A gloomy day to pass in
camp, especially after getting ready to move. Set at liberty two
citizens in guardhouse.
Tuesday, 8.--A. M. Still raining! Have borrowed "Jack
Hinton" to read to pass time. Rained all day. At night heard
a noise; found the sutler was selling whiskey; ordered two
hundred bottles poured out.
CAMP HAYES, RALEIGH, VIRGINIA, April 8, 1862.
DEAR UNCLE:--We are getting ready to move south. Our
first halt, unless the enemy stops us, will be at Princeton, forty-
two miles from here, the county-seat of Mercer County. We
shall stop there for supplies, etc., etc., and to suppress Rebel
recruiting and guerrilla bands probably a fortnight, then on to
the railroad at Wytheville, Dublin, or some other point. The
enemy will try to stop us. They will do their best, as the rail-
road is of the utmost importance to their grand army in eastern
Colonel Scammon has a brigade consisting of [the] Twenty-
third, Thirtieth, and Thirty-seventh Ohio Regiments, a fine bat-
tery of eight pieces, and a small force of cavalry. I command
the Twenty-third which has the advance. General Cox com-
mands the division consisting of three brigades. At present only
one brigade (ours) moves up this side of New River.
We should move tomorrow, but heavy rains yesterday and
today have filled the streams so that they can't be forded. I
have got two companies cut off by the freshet, and have been
taxing the Yankee ingenuity of a company from Ashtabula in
getting grub to them. I think it has succeeded.
It is much pleasanter carrying on the war now than last cam-
paign. Now the people, harried to death by the Rebel impress-
ment of provisions and also of men, welcome our approach,
receive us gladly, send us messages to hurry us forward, and a
few turn out to fight. Guides are plenty, information furnished
constantly, etc. All which is very different from carrying on
an invasion of a hostile people.
226 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
I can't think that the new armies of the South will fight as
well as the old ones. Besides being raw, large numbers are
unwilling. Our troops have improved beyond all expectation.
Our regiment is now a beautiful sight. The Thirtieth too has
become, under the drilling of the last two months, a capital body
in appearance. The Thirty-seventh is a German regiment -- has
companies from Toledo, Sandusky, and Cleveland. I have not
yet seen it.
I prefer Lucy should let the house remain empty this summer,
or rented to some [family] to take care of it with my name on
the door, etc., and in the fall we will see as to permanent ar-
The war will certainly last another campaign--I mean
through this summer and until next fall. Even with victories
on the Potomac and at Corinth and Memphis, it will take months,
if not a year or two, to crush out the Rebellion in all quarters.
R. B. HAYES.
April 9, 1862. Wednesday.--Rain; cooler than yesterday.
Company B sent off to effect a crossing over Piney. Ten refu-
gees from Monroe [County], escaping [Governor] Letcher's
draft, just in. A crossing over Piney effected. Captain Haven,
with [Companies] G and K, reported to have fifteen prisoners
and twenty-five horses. Kept back by the high water. P. M.
Cold and windy, but still raining. Have read "Jack Hinton"
these two gloomy days with Avery.
How pleased I am to hear from Lucy that Birtie has been a
good scholar; that at the school exhibition he was called up to
speak and spoke Logan's speech very well. . . .
Captain Drake returned tonight. Sent my money by the pay-
master to my wife. He reports that the Thirtieth Regiment is
under marching orders for this point; that the Thirty-fourth
is at Fayetteville, and that a cavalry regiment, the Second Vir-
ginia, is to form part of our brigade.
ADVANCE AND RETREAT--1862 227
April 10. Thursday.--A. M. Ground whitened with snow;
still threatening bad weather.
3. P. M. Captain Haven, Company G, and Lieutenant Bacon,
Company K, have just returned. They bring fifteen prisoners
and about fifteen horses, with a number of saddles and bridles.
They were captured over New River in Monroe County.
At 8 P. M. F. M. Ingram (the silent telegrapher) came in say-
ing we had gained a victory at Corinth; Major-General Lew
Wallace killed; [Albert] Sidney Johnston, ditto; Beauregard
lost an arm. Later told me that Island Number 10 was taken
with six thousand prisoners. Glorious, if true ! Night, clear and
Friday, April 11. -- Clear and cold. Bet with Avery that five
men could not put a great log across Piney. Rode out to see
the work. The pine log was water-soaked, long, large, and very
heavy. Five men from Company C worked resolutely at it two
or three hours, when Avery gave it up.--Threatening again.
Further news shows that on Sunday our men near Pittsburg
[Landing] were surprised by the Rebel army in great force from
Corinth, Mississippi. They were driven from their camps with
heavy loss, took shelter near the river under protection of the
gunboats. Early next day Buell came up and attacked the
enemy, routing him. Sidney Johnston reported killed and Beau-
regard wounded--lost an arm. We barely escaped an awful
defeat, if these first accounts are true.
Island [Number] 10 was a great capture. Cannon, stores,
etc., etc., in prodigious quantities were taken. These victories
if followed up give us Memphis and New Orleans.--Nothing
said about our moving the last three or four days.
Camp Hayes, Raleigh, Virginia, April 12, 1862. Saturday. --
Windy, cold, and cloudy -- another storm impending. Cleared
up towards noon. Had two good drills. A first-rate ride,--
new horse getting up to it.
Further news confirms the victory at Pittsburg or Corinth.
The first day, last Sunday, our men [were] surprised and badly
whipped; the second day, the fresh troops redeemed the day
228 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
and gained a great victory. Island Number 10, a most important
capture; now said to have taken six thousand prisoners.
Nothing as to our future movements. Perhaps we are wait-
ing to see what effect these victories will have. -- Blowing up a
Sunday, 13. -- Rain begins at guard-mounting. A year ago
today Sumter was taken. Great events, great changes, since
then. The South was eager, prepared, "armed and equipped."
The event found the North distracted, undecided, unarmed,
wholly unprepared, and helpless. Then came the rousing up of
the lion-hearted people of the North. For months, however,
the superior preparation of the South triumphed. Gradually
the North, the Nation, got ready; and now the victory over Beau-
regard and [that] at [Island] Number 10, following Fort Don-
elson, put the Nation on firm ground, while the Rebellion is
waning daily. Tonight received Commercial of the 10th, with
pretty full accounts of the great battles.
Captain Haven and Lieutenant Bacon, Companies G and K,
marched seventy miles on their late scout into Monroe. Scout
Jackson, Company B, gone one week today toward Logan. I
hope he is all right.
Monday, 14, 1862. -- Still raining. No further knowledge of
movements. Lieutenant Reichenbach's party that went to Co-
lumbus with prisoners, returned this evening. We hear of the
taking of Huntsville, Alabama, today, the death of Beauregard,
and news of the siege of Yorktown.
Tuesday 15. -- Still rain! -- Read Bulwer's "Strange Story."
One idea I get: "We have an instinctive longing for a future
existence"; ergo, there is a future. "Jack Hinton" and "Strange
Story" both read in these days of rain and suspense. I think
often of my wife and mother as I read news which seems to
point to an early termination of the war. How happy peace
will make many families!
Lieutenant Harris, [a] corporal, and seven men go with pris-
oners to Fayetteville. Two will go on to Ohio.
P. M. Cleared off enough to have a parade in the evening.
Evening, read Commercial of 11th containing more particulars
ADVANCE AND RETREAT--1862 229
of the fight, the great battle at Pittsburg Landing. What a
complete success General Pope's operations against Island Num-
ber 10 turned out to be! Complete. It must weaken the enemy
more than any blow they have yet received.
April 16. Wednesday.--A. M. Sun shining brightly. I have
hopes of weather now that will allow us to move forward. A
fine day at last! Major Comly drilled the non-commissioned
officers as a company, A. M. and P. M. I drilled the regiment
after parade. In the evening the new sutler, Mr. Forbes,
brought me [a] letter from Lucy and portrait. Dear wife,
the "counterfeit presentment" is something. Also papers of
12th. The victory at Pittsburg [Landing] was not so decisive
as I hoped. The enemy still holds Corinth, and will perhaps
fight another battle before giving it up.
Captain Bragg came in tonight, reporting a gang of bush-
whackers in his neighborhood. Would send out a company if
I were not afraid that orders to move would catch me unpre-
Thursday, April 17. -- Another fine day; very warm this A. M.
Drilled three times. Heard that Colonel Scammon and Mc-
Mullen's Battery were on the way here from Fayetteville; that
we must get ready for them.
RALEIGH, VIRGINIA, April 17, 1862.
DEAREST:--I was made happy by your letter and the fine
picture of you it contained. You seem undecided which you
intended should have it, Uncle Joe or your husband. But I shall
keep it. You will have to send another to Joe.
Very glad the money and everything turned out all right. I
get the Commercial quite often -- often enough to pay for taking
it. And you paid Mr. Trenchard! Why, you are getting to be
a business woman. I shall have to let the law out to you when
I come home again. I do not know that I shall have an oppor-
tunity to do much for Will De Charmes, but I shall bear him in
mind. If Fremont ever comes along here I may succeed.
We are still hunting bushwhackers, succoring persecuted
230 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
Union men, and the like. Our intended advance was stopped
by a four-days rain which, like the old four-days meeting, I
began to think never would end. We are now getting ready to
go on -- in fact we are ready, but waiting for others. A great
battle at Pittsburg [Landing] and probably not a very great vic-
tory. It will all come right, however. We are told that Captain
Richardson of the Fifty-fourth was killed. You will perhaps
remember him as a gigantic lieutenant of Company D, whose
wife was at Camp Chase when you were there.
18th, A. M. -- We shall make a short march today. Letters,
etc., may be directed as heretofore. Very glad to hear your talk
about the boys. It is always most entertaining to me. You
will be a good instructor for them. Let me hear from you as
often as you can. You need not feel bound to write long let-
ters -- short ones will do. I always like your letters to be long,
but I don't want you to put off writing because your time will
not allow you to write long ones.
It begins to look like spring at last. We are on very elevated
ground. The season is weeks later than in the valley of the
Kiss all the boys. Love to Grandma. I wish so much to be
with you all. I think of you constantly and with much happi-
ness and love. Good-bye.
P. S. -- 18th, P. M. I am ordered to advance to Princeton
tomorrow morning, in command of [the] Twenty-third, a sec-
tion of McMullen's Battery, and a squadron of cavalry. We
are all delighted with this plan.
Friday, 18.-- A. M. Finished letter to Lucy. Must get
ready to move. Put all the regiment into tents today, by one
o'clock. A shower fell just after the tents were up.
Colonels Scammon and Ewing [arrived]; Lieutenant Kennedy,
A. A. A. G. to Colonel Scammon, and Lieutenant Muenscher,
ADVANCE AND RETREAT--1862 231
aide, with an escort of horsemen came with them. The Thirti-
eth began to arrive at 2:30 P. M. They came in the rain.
Major Hildt came to my quarters. I joined the regiment out
in camp--the camp in front of General Beckley's residence
one mile from Raleigh. Rainy all night. Our right rest on
the road leading southwardly towards Princeton, the left on the
graveyard of Floyd's men. The graves are neatly marked;
Twentieth Mississippi, Phillips' Legion, Georgia, Fourth Louisi-
ana, furnished the occupants. Four from one company died
in one day! (November 2, 1861.)
Slept in Sibley tent. Received orders to proceed with Twenty-
third, thirty [of] Captain Gilmore's Cavalry, and a section
of McMullen's Battery to Princeton tomorrow at 7 A. M.
Saturday, April 19.-- Rained violently; starting postponed.
Order modified to marching by easy stages to Flat Top Moun-
tain, there to choose strong position. General Fremont speaks
of our forces as his right wing; the left must be up towards
Cheat Mountain. We are now at the pivot; to proceed slowly
until the left wheels so as to face southwardly with us. Rained
all day; couldn't move. At evening looked slighteously like
Sunday, 20. -- Rained four or five hours, part very violently.
I fear we can't cross Piney. Sent to Piney; find it too high to
cross teams, but not so high as to preclude the hope that it will
run down in a few hours after the rain stops falling.
A cold rain coming; men sing, laugh, and keep mirthful. I
poke about from [the] major's tent to my own, listen to yarns,
crack jokes, and the like. Avery won a knife and fifty cents of
Dr. McCurdy (a cool-head Presbyterian) today at (what is it?)
freezing poker! The doctor couldn't play himself and sent
for Bottsford to play his game. This, Sunday! Queer antics
this life plays with steady habits!
Received by Fitch, Company E, a Commercial of 16th. Pitts-
burg battle not a decided victory. Beauregard in a note to Grant
asks permission to bury his dead; says that in view of the rein-
forcements received by Grant and the fatigue of his men after
two days' hard fighting, "he deemed it his duty to withdraw
232 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
his army from the scene of the conflict." This is proof enough
that the enemy was repulsed. But that is all. Two or three
Ohio regiments were disgraced; [the] Seventy-seventh mus-
tered out of service, [the] Seventy-first has its colors taken from
it, etc., etc. Lieutenant De Charmes, the brother of Lucy's
What a day this is ! Cold rain, deep mud, and "Ned to pay."
Cold and gusty. Will it snow now?
CAMP NEAR BECKLEY'S, Easter Sunday, April 20, 1862.
DEAREST:--We left Raleigh the day before yesterday and
came here intending to continue our march at least as far south
as Flat Top Mountain. But just as we had got our tents up
the rain began to fall and by morning all movement was out of
the question. It has rained ever since. The streets of the camp
are trodden into mortar-beds, the weather is getting cold, and
you would naturally think that a gloomier set of fellows could
hardly be found. But we are jolly enough. A year ago we
used to read of these things and sympathize with the suffering
soldiers. But a year of use has changed all that. Like sail-
ors in a storm, the soldiers seem stimulated to unnatural mirth
by the gloomy circumstances. We are guessing as to when it
will stop. We hope this is the last day of the storm, but there
is no trusting to experience in the Virginia mountains. Every
new storm has a new set of phenomena. The men sing a
great deal, play fiddle, banjo, etc. At the stated calls, the fifer,
buglers, and band exert themselves to play their liveliest airs,
and so we manage to get on.
I (when alone) get out your two pictures and have a quiet
talk with you. Joe is in the next tent with Major Comly and
Dr. McCurdy singing sacred music. I am alone in a tall Sibley
tent writing this on a book on my knee, my ink on my trunk.
The mess-chest open is before me; next to it, saddle, etc., then
India-rubber cloth and leggings, old hat, haversack, glass, and
saddle-bags; by my side, trunk; behind me cot with overcoat
and duds, and on the other side of the tent Avery's truck in
similar disorder. We have a sheet-iron stove in the centre-
ADVANCE AND RETREAT--1862 233
no fire now. So you see us on a muddy sidehill. I can't find
time to write often now. If we are resting I don't feel like
writing; when going, of course I can't.
Send this to Mother Hayes. She is seventy years old this
month, about these days. She will think I am forgetting her
if I don't send her some "scrabble" (western Virginia for
"scribbling") of mine.--Love to all at home.
Affectionately, your R.
Beckley's farm near Raleigh, Virginia, Monday, April 2I.--
A.M. All night a high wind and driving cold rain; mud in camp
deep. Like the Mount Sewell storm of September last. All day
rain, rain -- cold, cold rain. Rode to Raleigh, called on Colonel
Scammon and Lieutenant-Colonel Jones and Major Hildt of
Thirtieth. Talked over the troubles between the men of the
Twenty-third and the men of [the] Thirtieth. The talk very
CAMP SOUTH OF RALEIGH, VIRGINIA, April 22, 1862.
DEAR UNCLE:--The ugly chap on the enclosed bill is Gov-
ernor Letcher of Virginia. He is entitled to our lasting
gratitude. He is doing more for us in this State than any two
brigadiers I can think of. He has in all the counties, not occu-
pied by our troops, little squads of volunteers busily engaged in
hunting up and "squadding in," as they call it, all persons
capable of military duty. Thousands who wish to escape this
draft are now hiding in the mountains or seeking refuge in our
lines. Meantime the rascals are plundering and burning in all
directions, making friends for the Union wherever they go. The
defeat of the enemy in eastern Virginia sends this cobhouse
tumbling very fast.
We left Raleigh last week and have been struggling against
storms and freshets ever since. Today it has snowed, rained,
sleeted, and turned off bright but gusty a dozen times. Camp
muddy, tents wet, but all glad to be started.
I have for the present an independent command of the
234 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
Twenty-third Regiment, a section of McMullen's Battery, and a
small body of horse. We are the advance of Fremont's col-
umn. We are directed to move by "easy marches" forward
south. The design being, I suppose, to overtake us in force by
the time we meet any considerable body of the enemy. We
meet and hear of small bodies of enemy now constantly, but
as yet nothing capable of serious resistance.
I see that Buckland's Seventy-second was in the great battle
at Pittsburg. Glad they are not reported as sharing the dis-
grace which seems to attach to some of the other new regiments.
There was shocking neglect there, I should guess. Generals,
not the regiments, ought to be disgraced. A sudden surprise by
a great army with cavalry and artillery can't be had without
gross negligence. The regiments surprised ought not [to] be
held up to scorn if they are stricken with a panic in such a case.
A few thousand men can slip up unperceived sometimes, but
for an army of fifty or sixty thousand men to do it--pshaw!
it's absurd. What happened to Buckland's regiment? Send
your newspapers of Fremont giving letters from the regiment.
I see that your friend McPherson* is one of the distin-
Colonel Scammon is back with the brigade, Thirtieth, Thirty-
fourth, and a regiment of cavalry.
Good-bye, R. B. HAYES.
April 23.--Since writing the foregoing I have received
Commercials of 17th and 18th containing the doings of Buck-
land and the Seventy-second. They did well. It is absurd to
find fault with men for breaking away under such circumstances.
The guilty officers ought to be punished--probably Grant or
Prentiss, or both.--H.
* James B. McPherson, a native of Sandusky County. He was at
that time chief engineer on General Grant's staff. A brilliant and able
officer who rose to the position of corps commander. He was killed in
battle at Atlanta, July 22, 1864,--the officer highest in rank and command
killed during the war. His grave is at Clyde, Ohio, marked by an im-
posing monument. One of the entrances to Spiegel Grove bears his name.
ADVANCE AND RETREAT--1862 235
Price's Farm, four miles south of Raleigh, Virginia, April 24,
1862. Thursday.--Left camp at Beckley's at 10:30 A. M. with
Twenty-third, a section of McMullen's Battery under Lieutenant
Crome, twenty horse under Captain Gilmore and his first lieu-
tenant, Abraham. Reached here at 1:30 P.M. A short march
but crossed two streams somewhat difficult. Broke one whiffle-
tree. All right, with this exception. Camp on fine ground,
sandy, rolling and near to Beaver Creek. Floyd camped here
on his retreat from Cotton Hill. The men carried their knap-
sacks; shall try to accustom them to it by easy marches at first.
They are in fine spirits; looked well.
A hostile feeling exists toward the Twenty-third by the
Thirtieth. Had a talk with Colonel Jones, Major Hildt, and
Colonel Ewing. All agree that Major Comly and myself have
treated them well, but the company officers of the Twenty-third
have not behaved fraternally towards them. The immediate
trouble now is some defilement of the quarters we left for the
Thirtieth in Raleigh. This must be looked into and punished
This is one of the finest camping spots I have seen. Soil
sandy, surface undulating, in the forks of two beautiful moun-
tain streams; space enough for a brigade and very defensible.
It began to rain within half an hour after our tents were pitched
and was "falling weather" (west Virginia phrase for rainy
weather) the rest of the day. This is the sixth day of falling
weather, with only a few streaks of sunshine between.
Friday, April 25. Camp Number 2, Price's Farm, four miles.
--Rained in torrents all night. The windows of heaven were
indeed opened. By midnight the streams we crossed with teams
yesterday swum a courier's horse. At 7:30 this morning they
were impassable--swollen to rushing rivers. About seven this
morning rain ceased to fall.
Received orders last evening to send party to New River to
crush one hundred and twenty-five Rebels who crossed Monday
evening. In view of the storm, order countermanded this A.M.
Hereafter the camps of this detachment will be known by their
number. This is Number 2. Men catch fish this morning--
236 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
a species of chub. We have a corps of scouts organized, Ser-
geant Abbott commanding, composed chiefly of citizens--six
or eight citizens. Names: Russell G. French, Mercer County
farmer, and Thos. L. Bragg, Wm. C. Richmond, ---- Maxwell,
and --- Simpkins, all of Raleigh.
Prepared during the afternoon to send four companies, A, E,
G, and H, to the junction of New River and Bluestone to "bag"
(favorite phrase with officers) a party of one hundred and
twenty-five Rebels supposed to be there on this side, shut in by
the high water. They left in the night under Major Comly, Dr.
Webb accompanying. Had a dress parade and a spirited little
drill after it. The sun set bathing the western sky and its
fleecy clouds in crimson. Said to indicate fair weather. I
hope so. The streams still too high to be crossed.
Camp Number 2, near Raleigh, Virginia, Saturday, April 26,
1862. -- The sky is still overcast. We shall move on five miles
today if it clears up.
At General Beckley's residence are the females of three fami-
lies. Mrs. Beckley and all cried when we left. One young
lady, Miss Duncan, has a lover in Company F; Miss Kieffer, in
hospital staff, and all the other damsels in the like category.
They all speak of our regiment as such fine men! We burned
all their rails! Will pay for them if General Beckley is dis-
At 10 o'clock marched to Shady Spring; camped on a fine
sandy piece of ground belonging to Dr. McNutt. The Secesh
burned the dwelling, the doctor being a Union man. Floyd
camped here also. A large spring gives the name to the place.
The water gushes out copiously, runs on the surface a few rods
and runs again into the earth. The grass is starting. The
horses of the cavalry were turned loose on it and played their
liveliest antics. The sun came out bright, a clear, bracing
breeze blowing. Altogether a fine afternoon and a happy time.
Camp Number 3, Shady Spring, nine miles' march from Ral-
eigh. Sunday, April 27.--A shower during the night; clear
and beautiful again this morning. Scrubbed all over; arrayed
in the glories of clean duds!
ADVANCE AND RETREAT--1862 237
Six fugitives from Wyoming [County] came in today. Major
Comly returned. No enemy at the point where expected. Ex-
pedition a "water-haul."
Monday, 28.--A fine, warm spring day. Drills as usual.
. . . Four of Company I, a sergeant, two corporals, and
one private, left on Sunday to forage. They have not returned.
Their leave of absence extended a few hours--not to [be]
longer than the evening dress parade. They stayed last night
with two of Company B near Flat Top and in the morning sepa-
rated from the Company B men saying they would not return
until they got something, but would be in by the Monday dress
parade "which period has now expired." I much fear that
they are taken. Sergeant Abbott's party of scouts were fired
on last evening; "nobody hurt." We must break up the gang
(Foley's) near Flat Top before we shall be rid of them.
Camp 3, Shady Spring, Tuesday, April 29, 1862. -- Rain fell
at intervals last night; falling in a "drizzling manner" this
morning. Colonel Scammon says we have rifled muskets at
Gauley. If good long-range pieces, this is good. We must
have pieces that will carry half a mile, or we shall never hit
these fellows in western Virginia. Sent Lieutenant Botts-
ford with Company C sixteen miles after Foley's bushwhackers.
CAMP NUMBER 3, SHADY SPRING, April 29, 1862.
DEAREST: -- We are camped in a beautiful healthy place at the
foot of Flat Top Mountain, on the line between Raleigh and
Mercer Counties, Virginia. The whole "surroundings" are ex-
hilarating--just enough of enemy's guerrillas to keep men
awake. We are in the advance, the only grumbling being be-
cause we are not allowed to push on as fast as we would like.
Our only drawback is the frequency of rain-storms.
I don't know but they prepare our minds to appreciate more
keenly the bright bracing air that succeeds them.
I need not say that I read all the accounts of the great battle.
We made a narrow escape there. It will probably save us
from similar disasters in the next two or three engagements.
238 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
We fear we have lost four good men in a scout a few days
back. They disobeyed or neglected a positive order and have,
I fear, been captured or worse.
You must, I suppose, be getting ready for a move northwardly.
I hope you will enjoy the new home as much as we have the old
one. I do not quite feel like giving up the old home yet,
but when I think of the boys, I think of it as a duty we owe
Affectionately, dearest, your loving husband,
P.S. -- Our four lost men escaped. They were fired on but
have got back safely. It is hard to punish men over whose escape
we are so rejoiced, but it must be done.
Camp 4, Miller's Tannery, twelve miles from No. 3, April
30, 1862.--Mustered the men before breakfast at reveille;
marched for this camp twelve miles; arrived in good condition.
Rained P.M. Joined by Lieutenant-Colonel Paxton and Major
Curtis, Second Virginia Cavalry, with four companies, fine
horses and men. Report from Bottsford that he found Foley's
nest but the bird gone.
Camp 5, Princeton, May 1, 1862. Thursday. -- Marched at
6 A. M. Heard firing in advance. Turned out to be Company
C on Camp Creek, attacked by Lieutenant-Colonel Fitzhugh with
four companies, dismounted, Jenkins' Cavalry and Foley's bush-
whackers. The company was in line ready to move off to return
to camp when they saw a party of bushwhackers coming down
the road who called out (Captain Foley called): "Don't fire;
we are Richmond's men." Immediately after, a volley was fired
into our men from all sides. They were surrounded by three
hundred Secesh. Finding the attack so heavy, Company C was
ordered by Lieutenant Bottsford to take shelter in the log house
where they had quartered. They kept up such a spirited fire
that the enemy retreated, leaving four dead, four mortally
[wounded], four more dangerously. All these we got. Cap-
ADVANCE AND RETREAT--1862 239
tain Foley had his shoulder broken. The enemy fled in confu-
sion leaving their dead and wounded on the field. This was a
splendid victory for Lieutenant Bottsford and Sergeant Ritter,
of Company C, and Sergeant Abbott, Company I. They were
the prominent officers. Our loss was a German, Pfeffer, killed;
Lenox and another mortally wounded, three severely wounded,
and fifteen others slightly. Sergeant Ritter had a bullet shot
into his head lodging between the scalp and skull. He fell, but
instantly jumped up saying, "You must shoot lower if you want
to kill me." It was a gallant fight. Company C wears the
I came up to the scene of the conflict soon after the enemy
fled. They say our coming drove them away. I couldn't speak
when I came up to the gallant little company and they presented
arms to me. I went around shaking hands with the wounded.
They all spoke cheerfully. We immediately pushed on in mud
and rain after the retreating foe. Captain McIlrath's company
(A) [led]. At a house where three cavalrymen were leaving
two of the enemy's wounded, they killed one and captured his
horse and shotgun, etc. I then sent the cavalry under Lieu-
tenant-Colonel Paxton in advance. They soon were fired on by
a gang of bushwhackers from a hill and their horses badly
stampeded. One horse threw his forelegs over Colonel Pax-
ton's horse's neck. The cavalry dismounted, charged up the
hill, and caught one dragoon.
Finding the cavalry would dismount and skirmish all the bad
hillsides (and they were abundant--being twelve miles of de-
files), I again put the Twenty-third in advance. At Ferguson's
we saw Captain Ward, quartermaster Rebel army, badly wound-
ed and another young soldier.
We pushed on rapidly, crossing Wolf Creek, Camp Creek,
and wading Bluestone waist-deep--rain falling, mud deep and
slippery. We came in sight of the wagons of the retreating foe,
but for want of cavalry familiarized to the business, we were un-
able to overtake them. We were told of great reinforcements at
Princeton or soon to be at Princeton. The Forty-fifth [Vir-
ginia] there or coming. Captain Ward, a pleasant gentleman,
said we would probably "get thunder at Princeton." We kept
240 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
ahead. On approaching town we saw great clouds. Some
thought it smoke, some supposed it was clouds. Within two
miles we knew the Rebels were burning the town. We hur-
ried forward; soon reached an elevated ground overlooking the
place. All the brick buildings, court-house, churches, etc., were
burning. I ordered up the howitzers to scatter out the few
Rebel cavalry who were doing it; deployed the regiment by a
file right into a field and marched forward by battalion front.
The town was soon overrun. Some fires were put out; four
or five tolerably fine dwellings were saved; a number of small
buildings and some good stables were also saved.
And so ended the first of May--twenty-two miles in mud and
rain. An exciting day. Five enemy killed, nine badly wounded
that we got; three unwounded prisoners, and about a dozen
Rebels wounded. Total five killed, three prisoners, twenty-one
wounded. A good day's work.
Camp No. 5, Princeton, May 2, 1862. Friday.--A fine day.
The cavalry yesterday took the Bluff Road and came into [the]
road from Princeton to Giles five miles. They came across
tracks leading to Princeton. Soon saw soldiers, opened fire
and had a fusillade of wild firing, the enemy fleeing to the moun-
tains. It was the Forty-fifth Virginia coming to reinforce
Princeton. Slightly "too late." Spent A. M. organizing de-
tachment of occupation.
CAMP NUMBER 5, PRINCETON, May 2, 7:30 A. M., 1862.
SIR:--Your strictures on the expedition under Lieutenant
Bottsford are very severe. I wrote you my account of it hastily
during a momentary delay of the column and am perhaps blam-
able for sending to you anything so imperfect as to lead to such
misapprehension. I was, however, compelled to write such an
account or none at all. I trusted to your favorable judgment
of what was done rather than to the fulness and accuracy of
what I was writing. I thought that a most meritorious thing in
all respects had been done and did not imagine that it could
be so stated as to give you such a view of it as you have taken.
You seem to think that the expedition was an improper one
ADVANCE AND RETREAT--1862 241
and that Lieutenant Bottsford or his men must have been guilty
of great negligence. I think the expedition was strictly according
to the spirit and letter of instruction given by both you and Gen-
eral Fremont and that no blame ought to attach to any one for
the manner of it in any particular. I knew by reliable informa-
tion, which turned out to be perfectly correct, that Captain Foley
and his notorious gang of bushwhackers were camped within
sixteen or eighteen miles of the camp at Shady Spring where
I was stationed; that Foley's force was from thirty to sixty
men, and that the only way of catching him was by surprising
his camp at night or early daylight. I sent Lieutenant Botts-
ford with about seventy-five men of Company C, aided by Ser-
geant Abbott and his scouts, six in number, to do this service.
I was satisfied that the enemy had no force worth naming nearer
than Princeton, and at Princeton their force was small, prob-
ably not over two hundred or three hundred. All this informa-
tion has turned out to be correct. Lieutenant Bottsford left
camp at 9 P. M., April 29, and reached Foley's about daylight.
He found the nest warm but the bird was gone. I can find no
blame in this. He was compelled to move slowly in a strange
country at night. A scout could easily give the required warn-
ing without fault on our part.
On the 30th, Lieutenant Bottsford scouted the country for
the bushwhackers; camped in a house very defensible within
four to six miles of where he knew I was to camp with the
regiment. In the meantime Lieutenant-Colonel Fitz Hugh, or
Fitzhugh, had marched with the whole force at Princeton, four
companies of Jenifer's Cavalry, dismounted, numbering over two
hundred, to aid Foley. This was done on the morning of the
30th, and on that evening Foley with bushwhackers and militia,
to the number of seventy-five or one hundred, joined Fitzhugh.
During the night they got as near Lieutenant Bottsford as they
could without alarming his pickets, not near enough to do any
mischief. In the morning Lieutenant Bottsford prepared to
return to camp. He drew in his pickets, formed his line, and
then for the first time, the enemy came within gunshot. Botts-
ford's men, in line of battle in front of a log house, saw the
enemy approaching. A volley was fired on each side, when
242 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
Lieutenant Bottsford, finding the strength of the attack, took
shelter in the house and fired with such spirit and accuracy as
to drive the enemy out of gunshot, leaving his dead and four
of his wounded on the field, all of whom were taken possession
of by Lieutenant Bottsford's men immediately, besides four
wounded prisoners who didn't run far enough before hiding.
This attack was in no blamable sense "a surprise." It found
Lieutenant Bottsford perfectly prepared for it.
You seem to think there was nothing gained by this affair;
that it is a "disaster" and that "we lost twenty men." Surely
I could have said nothing to warrant this. Of the twenty
wounded over two-thirds were able and desired to march to
Princeton with us. Our loss was one killed, two dangerously,
perhaps mortally, wounded, and two, possibly three, others dis-
abled,--perhaps not more than one. The enemy's loss was
thirteen dead and disabled that "we got." Captain Foley was
disabled and we know of four others in like condition and I
know not how many slightly wounded. This is not a disaster,
but a fight of the sort which crushes the Rebellion.
You speak of Company C as advanced beyond "supporting
distance." We heard the firing and if the enemy had been
stubborn should have been in good time to help drive him off.
He reported here that our advance did in fact drive him off.
If this is not supporting distance, parties cannot leave camp
without violating an important rule. Lieutenant Bottsford had
retreated to within four miles of us.
Upon the whole, I think that the affair deserves commenda-
tion rather than censure, and I take blame to myself for writing
you a note under circumstances which precluded a full statement;
such a statement as would prevent such misapprehension as I
think you are under.
R. B. HAYES,
LIEUTENANT-COLONEL 23RD REGIMENT, O. V. I.,
ADVANCE AND RETREAT--1862 243
CAMP NUMBER 5, PRINCETON, May 2, 8 A. M., [1862.]
SIR: -- Lieutenant-Colonel Paxton with the cavalry reached
here by the Giles Road about dark. He left the direct road to
Princeton at Spanishburg and took the Bluff Road, which
strikes the road from Giles to Princeton four miles from Prince-
ton. We found it impossible to send the cavalry to the Tazewell
or Wytheville Road, at least in time, and they went to the Giles
Road hoping to catch the enemy retreating on that road. The
enemy took the Wytheville Road to Rocky Gap and escaped.
The cavalry on entering the Giles Road found a great number
of fresh tracks leading to Princeton. Hastening on, they came
suddenly on the Forty-fifth Virginia coming to the relief of
Princeton. As soon as the cavalry came in sight there was a
"skedaddling" of the chivalry for the hills and a scattering of
knapsacks very creditable to their capacity to appreciate danger.
There was a good deal of hurried firing at long range, but nobody
hurt on our side and perhaps none on the other. The regiment
seemed to number two or three hundred. We suppose they will
not be seen again in our vicinity, but shall be vigilant.
This is a most capital point to assemble a brigade. The best
camping for an army I have seen in western Virginia. Stabling
enough is left for all needful purposes, two or three fine dwell-
ings for headquarters, and smaller houses in sufficient numbers
for storage. The large buildings were nearly all burned, all of
the brick buildings included. Churches all gone and public
buildings of all sorts. Meat--sheep, cattle, and hogs--in
sufficient quantities to keep starvation from the door. If you
will send salt we shall be able to live through the bad roads.
Forage I know nothing of -- there must be some. Our couriers
were fired on at Bluestone. They report Foley's gang is scat-
tered along the road. There should be a strong force at Flat
Top under an enterprising man like Colonel Jones. The country
we passed over yesterday is the most dangerous I have seen;
at least twelve miles of the twenty-two [miles] needs skirmishing.
If quartermasters are energetic there ought to be no scarcity
here. The road can't get worse than it was yesterday and our
trains kept up to a fast-moving column nearly all the way. The
244 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
Twenty-third marched beautifully. A steady rain, thick slippery
mud, and twenty-two miles of travelling they did, closed up
well, without grumbling, including wading Bluestone waist-deep.
The section of the battery behaved well. I have already praised
the cavalry. You see how I am compelled to write--a sen-
tence and then an interruption; you will excuse the result. I
am very glad the telegraph is coming; we shall need it. I have
just heard that the train and one piece of artillery was in rear
of the point where our cavalry came on the Forty-fifth. I
would be glad to pursue them but am bound to obey instructions
in good faith. Rest easy on that point. The men are praying
that they [the enemy] may be encouraged yet to come to us.
R. B. HAYES,
LIEUTENANT-COLONEL 23D REGIMENT O. V. I.
P.S. -- Lieutenant-Colonel Paxton will act as provost marshal.
He is admirably fitted for it and is pleased to act.
CAMP NUMBER 5, PRINCETON, May 2, 1862. 4:30 P. M.
SIR: -- Company B and a company of cavalry scouted the road
towards Wytheville several miles today. They report the enemy
all gone to Rocky Gap. None, bushwhackers, or others, any-
where in the direction near here. Numbers of militia who were
in service here yesterday are reported escaped to their homes and
willing to take the oath of allegiance and surrender their arms.
A cavalry company scouted the road towards Giles. They re-
port the Forty-fifth retreated in great haste to Giles, saying they
found Princeton just occupied by two thousand cavalry and
eight thousand infantry. Their panic on falling in with Colonel
Paxton's cavalry was even more complete than was supposed.
They left knapsacks, blankets, and baggage. They had marched
over twenty miles yesterday to get here and were worn-out.
There was a mistake as to the enemy firing on our couriers.
No bushwhackers have been seen between here and Flat Top
since we passed. Three parties have passed the entire distance
since baggage trains. Negro servants of officers straggling
ADVANCE AND RETREAT--1862 245
along alone, etc., etc., and nobody disturbed by the enemy. The
courier rode past a picket post of one of my scouting parties
refusing to halt, and was therefore fired on.
Captain Gilmore is here with his company. Lieutenant Cooper
and property left at Shady Spring is here. Forage is turning
up in small quantities in a place but amounts to an important
item in the aggregate. Fifteen head of cattle have been gathered
up. There are sheep and hogs of some value.
Only twelve men reported excused from duty out of seven
hundred Twenty-third men who came up. Company C I left
behind to look after their wounded. They will come up to-
morrow. Russell G. French will perhaps be crippled for life,
possibly die. Can't he be put in the position of a soldier en-
listed, or something, to get his family the pension land, etc., etc.?
What can be done? He was a scout in our uniform on duty
at the time of receiving his wound.
If the present indications can be relied on, this region will
soon return to its allegiance. If nothing new of interest trans-
pires, will not one dispatch each day be sufficient hereafter, with
the understanding that on any important event occurring a mes-
senger will be sent?
R. B. HAYES,
LIEUTENANT-COLONEL 23D REGIMENT O. V. I.
CAMP NO. 5, PRINCETON, MERCER COUNTY, VIRGINIA,
May 2, 1862.
DEAREST:--I reached yesterday this town after a hard day's
march of twenty-two miles through deep, slippery mud and a
heavy rain, crossing many streams which had to be waded--
one, waist-deep. The men stood it bravely and good-humoredly.
Today, only twelve are reported as excused from duty. Our
advance company (C), Lieutenant Bottsford in command, had
a severe battle. Seventy-five of them were attacked by two
hundred and forty of Jenkins' Cavalry, now Jenifer's, with
seventy-seven of Foley's guerrillas. The battle lasted twenty
246 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
minutes, when the Rebels fled, leaving their killed and wounded
on the ground. One of our men was killed outright, three mor-
tally wounded, and seventeen others more or less severely in-
jured. The whole regiment came up in a few moments, hearing
the firing. Didn't they cheer us? As I rode up, they saluted
with a "present arms." Several were bloody with wounds as
they stood in their places; one boy limped to his post who had
been hit three times. As I looked at the glow of pride in their
faces, my heart choked me, I could not speak, but a boy said:
"All right, Colonel, we know what you mean." The enemy's
loss was much severer than ours.
We pushed on rapidly, hearing extravagent stories of the force
waiting for us at Princeton. Prisoners, apparently candid, said
we would catch it there. We would have caught Lieutenant-
Colonel Fitzhugh and his men, if our cavalry had had experience.
I don't report to their prejudice publicly, for they are fine fel-
lows--gentlemen, splendidly mounted and equipped. In three
months they will be capital, but their caution in the face of
ambuscades is entirely too great. After trying to get them
ahead, I put the Twenty-third in advance and [the] cavalry in
the rear, making certainly double the speed with our footmen
trudging in the mud, as was made by the horsemen on their
fine steeds. We caught a few and killed a few. At the houses,
the wounded Rebels would be left. As we came up, the men
would rush in, when the women would beg us not to kill the
prisoners or the wounded. I talked with several who were
badly wounded. They all seemed grateful for kind words,
which I always gave them. One fine fellow, a Captain Ward,
was especially grateful.
This work continued all day; I, pushing on; they, trying to
keep us back. The fact being, that General Heth had sent word
that he would be in Princeton by night with a force able to hold
it. As we came on to a mountain a couple of miles from Prince-
ton, we saw that the Rebels were too late. The great clouds
were rolling to the sky--they were burning the town. We
hurried on, saved enough for our purposes, I think, although the
best buildings were gone. The women wringing their hands
and crying and begging us to protect them with the fine town
ADVANCE AND RETREAT--1862 247
in flames around us, made a scene to be remembered. This
was my May-day. General Heth's forces got within four miles;
he might as well have been forty [miles away]. We are in pos-
session, and I think can hold it.
Joe and Dr. McCurdy had a busy day. They had Secesh
wounded as well as our own to look after. Dr. Neal of the
Second Virginia Cavalry (five companies of which are now
here in my command), a friend of Joe's, assisted them.
Saturday morning.--I intended to send this by courier this
morning, but in the press of business, sending off couriers,
prisoners, and expeditions, I forgot it. Telegraph is building here.
Anything happening to me will be known to you at once. It
now looks as if we would find no enemy to fight.
The weather yesterday and today is perfect. The mountains
are in sight from all the high grounds about here, and the air
pure and exhilarating. The troubles of women who have either
been burnt out by Secesh or robbed of chickens and the like
by us, are the chief thing this morning. One case is funny.
A spoiled fat Englishwoman, with great pride and hysterics,
was left with a queer old negro woman to look after her wants.
Darky now thinks she is mistress. She is sulky, won't work,
etc., etc. Mistress can't eat pork or army diet. There is no
other food here. The sight of rough men is too much for her
nerves! All queer.
We are now eighty-five miles from the head of navigation
in time of flood and one hundred and twenty-five in ordinary
times; a good way from "America," as the soldiers say.
"I love you so much." Kiss the dear boys. Love to Grandma.
Ever so affectionately,
MRS. HAYES. R.
Camp 5, Princeton, May 3. Saturday.--The Forty-fifth
Regiment had marched twenty miles through the rain to reach
here, were very tired and straggled badly. They were regularly
stampeded, panic-stricken, and routed. They report three killed
in one party of stragglers. They had a cannon drawn by six
248 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
horses, but our men "yelled so" and "fired so fast" that it was
no place for cannon; so they wheeled it about and fled with it.
All queer! Company C killed eleven, Colonel Jenifer burned
Rocky Gap (four houses) and continued his flight towards
Wytheville. The Rebels report us two thousand cavalry and eight
thousand infantry!! Got our tents today; got into a good camp
overlooking the town.
Camp 5, Princeton, May 4, 1862. Sunday.--A fine day. Rode
with Avery out two or three miles. This is a fine country.
Mountainous but with much good land and tolerably well cul-
tivated. A train of waggons with eight or ten thousand rations
arrived about 2 P. M. escorted by Captain Townsend's Com-
pany B, Thirtieth. Captains Hunter and Lovejoy arrived from
Cincinnati bringing good letters from Lucy--all about the dear
boys. . . . She takes a great interest in Will De Charmes; I
have today written Corwine of Fremont's staff to get him a place
if possible. A pleasant night -- the men sitting around their fires
and in tents on the fine hillside, laughing, joking, singing so
happily! A more happy lot of men can't be found. It is every-
where cheerfulness and mirth.
CAMP NUMBER 5, PRINCETON, May 4, 6 A. M. .
SIR:--At this time I have received no communication from
[you] written after you heard of the capture of this point. I
shall hold this until 10 o'clock if I don't sooner hear from you.
I send you enclosed a list of Captain Foley's men, the "Flat
Top Copperheads," taken from the pocket of one killed by
Lieutenant Bottsford's men. You have the precious document
with spelling, etc., etc. It should be copied for all who are
likely to catch any of the scamps. Foragers yesterday found
considerable quantities of well-cured bacon and fresh meat.
With the new grass coming on and this meat, an enterprising
army is not going to starve. This move was not made a day
too soon; a further advance while the panic prevails is a plain
duty and I doubt not you will order it as soon as you arrive.
Company C will be very anxious to come here to be ready to
ADVANCE AND RETREAT--1862 249
go forward with us. If a guard is required when you reach
them for their wounded, I suggest that you order a detail of
say two men from each company of this regiment, to do that
duty and thus relieve the company.
Two citizens of Kanawha County fled here with their slaves
soon after our forces entered the valley,--Colonel Ward and
Blain, or some such names. They hesitated about taking the
oath to support Governor Pierpont's Government. They will
take the oath to the United States. This simply means secession.
One of them got a pass from General Cox, dated December 17.
I think these wealthy scoundrels ought to be treated with the
same severity as other Rebels. They want food for their slaves.
We have none to spare to such men. Colonel P. [Paxton] will
perhaps pass them to you. If you allow quartermaster Gardner
to furnish them, let them pay sutler's prices the same as our
soldiers do. If I hear that you put them in the guard-tent, I
shall be pleased. They may not leave here until you come.
I have stricken Rev. Amos Wilson's name from the rolls.
If he sends his resignation, all well; if not the order will be
published if you approve. I enclose Major Comly's remarks
on the Foley list.
R. B. HAYES,
LIEUTENANT-COLONEL 23D REGIMENT O. V. I.,
Camp 5, Princeton, May 5, 1862. Monday.--A rainy day.
Very interesting today. The citizens admitted freely. Militia-
men, Union men, and all, coming in taking the oath. The enemy
reported running with a big scare, hurrying through Rocky Gap,
burning it, their tents and arms even. Tazewell Court-house,
deserted by troops, reported burned. Giles Court-house reported
ditto!!! Got a fine Mississippi rifle, brought in today by a
repentant Rebel. My orderly, Gray, will carry it for me. The
Narrows of New River deserted, too.
250 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
CAMP NUMBER 5, PRINCETON, May 5, 8 A. M. .
SIR:--There will be no difficulty in turning the enemy's
position at the Narrows of New River. There are paths or
open woods accessible to infantry leading across the mountains
to the right of the Narrows into the valley of Wolf Creek;
thence by good roads to the mouth of Wolf Creek, four to
six miles from Giles Court-house, and in the rear of the Nar-`
rows. This you will understand by looking at any map of this
region. Guides can be procured who will undertake to pilot us
across, a circuit of perhaps ten or twelve miles. I doubt whether
the enemy will attempt to hold the Narrows. Their force was
the Forty-fifth Regiment, and about eight hundred militia of
Giles, Montgomery, and Counties.
The Forty-fifth has a large part of it scattered over towards
the Wytheville Road, a part missing, and the remnant at the
Narrows will run on the first excuse. The force now here can
take the Narrows on your order in forty-eight hours. They
are said to have some artillery--three to six pieces. I have
sent reliable scouts to try to get accurate information. A Rebel
captain of the Forty-fifth said: "No man could stand the yelling
of the Yankees, especially as they fired so fast !!" Twenty wagons
[with] provisions and Company B, Thirtieth, arrived at 2 P. M.
They report the roads hence to Raleigh very good and improv-
ing; the trouble is from Raleigh to Gauley.
Captains Hunter and Lovejoy have arrived. They report
Captain Foley died of his wounds. This will be a death-blow
to the "Copperheads." All the people tell us we need apprehend
no bushwhacking this side of that gang, either here or in front
I am much gratified with the order and messages you send.
I know I have not given you as full and explicit reports of
things as would have been desirable. But when actually en-
gaged in an enterprise I am so occupied in trying to do the best
thing that I can't write satisfactorily. I think in this matter
every important thing was right, save possibly one which I will
explain when we meet. We can get here and in the country
in front considerable meat--some cured but mostly fresh. In
ADVANCE AND RETREAT--1862 251
sending forward provision trains this can to some extent be
considered. More salt and less meat can be sent.
Will you dispatch General Cox that our long-range muskets
are much needed in the present service. Our experience the
last few days satisfies everyone that a man who can kill at four
hundred yards is worth three or four men with common muskets.
The quartermaster will never, send them unless General Cox
It rained during the night and is cloudy this morning. I
think we shall not have another "smart spell of falling weather,"
however. In the house intended for your headquarters are ten
or fifteen rooms of all sorts, some chairs and tables but no
bedding, a good kitchen cooking stove, two negro women and
all appendages. Thomas will be able to make it a good estab-
lishment in a few hours for everybody you want and room for
hospitality. If, however, you prefer smaller quarters, there are
three or four others that will do as well, and the house in ques-
tion can be a hospital if needed. No sick here now. You must
have your bedding with you when you arrive if possible.
R. B. HAYES,
LIEUTENANT-COLONEL 23D REGIMENT 0. V. I.,
CAMP NUMBER 5, PRINCETON, May 5, 1862.
SIR:--This whole region is completely conquered. Rapid
movement is all that is needed to take possession of the railroad
and several good counties without opposition. Militiamen are
coming in glad to take the oath and get home "to work crops."
A part of Jenifer's force retreated through Tazewell, abandon-
ing Jeffersonville and it is reported burning it. Humphrey
Marshall is reported on the railroad and near or at Wytheville.
The Forty-fifth retreated on to Giles abandoning the Narrows,
leaving the position deserted. These are the reports. Not
perfectly reliable, but I am inclined to credit them. At the
Rocky Gap many muskets even were burned, the militiamen
thinking it safer to return home unarmed. There is a report
252 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
from Tazewell that a battalion of cavalry is approaching through
Logan and McDowell, the other part of the Second Virginia.
If so they will meet with no opposition worth naming. It is
about certain that the enemy had but one cannon at the Nar-
rows. All I give you is rumor, or the nature of rumor, except
the conduct and disposition of the new militia. I hear that from
their own lips. An active command can push to the railroad,
taking coffee, salt, and sugar, and subsist itself long enough to
get the railroad from Newbern a hundred miles west. I speak
of the future in the way of suggestion that your thoughts may
turn towards planning enterprises before the scare subsides.
The rations I speak of because we ought to have a larger supply
of some things, counting upon the country for the others.
Colonel Little will send in reports perfectly reliable as to the
Narrows tomorrow. I hear a report that the enemy--the
Forty-fifth--didn't stop at Giles but kept on towards Newbern!
I give these reports as showing the drift of feeling in this country,
and [as] hints at truth rather than truth itself.
Monday night.--I now have reliable information of the
enemy, I think. It differs in many respects from rumors men-
tioned in the foregoing. The Forty-fifth Regiment during Fri-
day and Saturday straggled back to its camp at the mouth of
Wolf Creek, a short distance above the Narrows. About four-
fifths of the force got back foot-sore, without hats, coats, knap-
sacks, and arms in many cases. In the course of Friday and
Saturday a considerable part (perhaps half) of the cavalry we
drove from here reached the same point (mouth of Wolf Creek)
having passed through Rocky Gap and thence taken the Wolf
Creek and Tazewell Road easterly. On Saturday evening they
were preparing to leave camp; the Forty-fifth to go to Richmond
whither they had just been ordered, and the cavalry and the
few militia were to go with them as far as Dublin. The militia
were uncertain whether they were to remain at Dublin or go
west to the Salt Works in Washington and Wythe Counties.
They all expected to be gone from Wolf Creek and the Narrows
during Sunday. There would be no fighting the Yankees this
side of Dublin--possibly at Dublin a fight. The militia of
Wythe, Grayson, and Carroll, seven hundred strong, are the
ADVANCE AND RETREAT--1862 253
force [at] Wytheville. At Abbington, one thousand [of] Floyd's
men. In Russell County Humphrey Marshall is still reported
with three thousand men badly armed and worse disciplined.
The great Salt Works (King's) work four hundred [men],
ten furnaces, and turn out seventeen hundred bushels every
twenty-four hours. No armed force there. All this from con-
trabands and substantially correct.
Later.--Seven more contrabands just in. They report that
on Sunday the Forty-fifth and other forces, except about thirty
guards of baggage, left the vicinity of the Narrows arriving at
Giles Court-house Sunday afternoon on their way to Dublin
Depot; that from there they expected to go west to Abbington.
The contrabands passed the Narrows; only a small guard was
there with a few tents and wagons. No cannon were left there.
I do not doubt the general truthfulness of the story. It con-
firms the former. The enclosed letters perhaps contain some-
thing that ought to be known to General Fremont; if so you
can extract a fact or two to telegraph. They were got from
the last mail sent here by the Rebels. The carrier stopped
seven miles south of here and the mail [was] picked up there.
I wish to send three companies or so to the Narrows im-
mediately to see if we can catch the guard and baggage left
behind. If you approve send me word back immediately and
I will start the expedition in the morning.
Latest.--Two more contrabands!! We can surely get the
baggage in six hours (eighteen miles) without difficulty. Do
send the order.
R. B. HAYES,
LIEUTENANT-COLONEL 23D REGIMENT 0. V. I.,
Princeton, May 6, 1862. Tuesday evening.--A clear, cold,
bright day. Got a letter from my dear wife, very patriotic, very
affectionate. An angel of a wife, I have. And the boys, dear
little fellows I hope we shall be together again before many
254 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
I have been rather anxious today. We heard from contra-
bands and others that the Narrows [of New River] was de-
serted except by a small guard for property and tents. Major
Comly with Companies H, I, and K and Captain Gilmore's
Cavalry was dispatched to the point eighteen to twenty-two
miles distant. No tidings yet, although a courier ought to have
reached here before this time if they and he travelled rapidly.
I suggested that if necessary to secure property they go to Giles
In the meantime I hear that a foraging party of six of our
men as guards under Corporal Day, with three battery men
and a waggon, have been taken by a large party of cavalry on
the Tazewell Road, ten miles. Jenifer's Cavalry have gone to
Tazewell; got their horses and are now in the saddle ready to
cut off our men. Oh, for an enterprising cavalry force!
I have looked for a messenger since 5 o'clock from Major
Comly. At midnight received a message from Major Comly
that the party finding the Narrows deserted and all property
gone, had gone on to Giles and taken it completely by surprise,
capturing some prisoners and a large amount of stores,--two
hundred and fifty barrels of flour and everything else. Very
lucky! and Colonel Scammon thereupon approved of the whole
expedition, although it was irregular and in violation of the
letter of orders. The enemy just out of Giles were at least
eleven hundred and had forces near to increase it to fifteen
hundred. Our party was only two hundred and fifty! The
colonel fearing the capture of our little party ordered me to
proceed at daylight with two companies Second Virginia Cavalry
and the rest of [the] Twenty-third Regiment to reinforce Giles.
Giles Court-house, or Parisburg [Pearisburg], Camp Num-
ber 6, May 7, 6:30 P. M. Wednesday. -- Just reached here from
Princeton after a fatiguing march of twenty-eight miles. Found
the major very glad to see us. All anxious, hearing reports of
[the] Forty-fifth reinforced by [the] Thirty-sixth or [the]
Twenty-second with artillery, etc., etc. Now all safe if we are
vigilant. The country after the road strikes New River is
romantic, highly cultivated, and beautiful. Giles Court-house is
ADVANCE AND RETREAT--1862 255
[a] neat, pretty village with a most magnificent surrounding
country both as regards scenery and cultivation. The people
have all been Secesh, but are polite and intelligent. When
Major Comly, Captain Gilmore, and Captain Drake entered town,
the people were standing on the corners, idly gossiping--more
numerous than the invaders. They did not at first seem to
know who it was; then such a scampering, such a rushing into
the streets of women, such weeping, scolding, begging, etc., etc.
Spent the night posting pickets and arranging against an
attack so as to prevent a surprise. At midnight a citizen came
in saying the enemy were preparing to attack us--the Forty-
fifth and Twenty-second--when he was at their camp, twelve
miles from here at Cloyd's Mountain. I doubled the pickets,
dressed myself and kept about quietly all the rest of the night.
CAMP NUMBER 6, GILES, May 7, 1862, 6:30 o'clock.
SIR: -- We arrived here after a pretty severe march of twenty-
eight miles. We know really very little of the enemy. It is
reported that the Jenifer Cavalry is at Newbern, the Forty-fifth
at Cloyd's Mountain, thirteen miles distant, also the Twenty-
second. We are without artillery and perhaps you would do
well to send us some. We are told that the enemy are informed
of our strength and of the large amount of property of theirs
in our hands. There is no reason other than this fact for
apprehending an attack. The current rumor is that they intend
fortifying Cloyd's Mountain. You can judge from these facts
what is required. My opinion is we are perfectly safe. The
property is valuable, very valuable, especially for us here. It
is worth here not less than five thousand dollars.
R. B. HAYES,
LIEUTENANT-COLONEL 23D REGIMENT 0. V. I.,
P.S. -- General Heth is nowhere near here.
[COLONEL E. P. SCAMMON.]
256 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
Parisburg [Pearisburg], Virginia, May 8, 1862. Thursday. --
A perfectly splendid day. No attack or approach last night.
Passed out at daylight a mile and a half in direction of enemy.
Selected my ground in case of an approach of the enemy. Talked
with Mr. Pendleton [and] Colonel English. Find more intel-
ligence and culture here than anywhere else in Virginia. Today
Sergeant Abbott found a Rebel picket or scouting party on the
mountain overlooking the village, peering into us with a fine
glass. A reconnaissance today discovered three regiments in
line marching coolly and well to the front as our men crossed
Walker's Creek, ten or twelve miles from here. They are said
to have three pieces of artillery and some cavalry.
We get no reinforcements today and hear of none on the way.
I have asked for artillery two or three times and get none.
No message even today. It is a great outrage that we are not
reinforced. We are losing stores all the time which the enemy
slips away,-- not [to] speak of the possibility of an attack by
an overwhelming force. Shameful! Who is to blame? I think
we shall not be attacked, but I shall have an anxious night.
CAMP NUMBER 6, GILES COURT-HOUSE,
May 8, 1862, 4:30 A. M.
SIR:--A citizen came in from Dublin last [night] about II
o'clock. He reports no troops there except a few guards, and
the enemy engaged in removing all stores to Lynchburg; they
commenced removing before we came here. He came over
Cloyd's Mountain and in the Gap, posted strongly, he found
the Forty-fifth and its militia, perhaps five hundred strong, and
the Thirty-sixth, which had just joined them from the other
side of New River (they had been at Lewisburg), three hundred
strong, with five (5) pieces artillery, one large and four small.
They had ascertained that the "advance guard of Yankees"
which took Giles was only two hundred and fifty strong and
were then getting ready to march against us to attack last night,
with one cannon. He heard when he came within four miles
that we were being reinforced; the negro reporting it thought
ADVANCE AND RETREAT--1862 257
there must be fifteen thousand now in Giles. He said if they
heard of the reinforcements it would certainly stop their coming.
They had hope of reinforcements to stop us at Cloyd's Mountain
from the men on furlough from Floyd's Brigade. The brigade
is to be reorganized immediately. It will form part of three
regiments. No other reinforcements hoped for in the camp talk
of the enemy.
This is the substance of the information given me. I think it
reliable. I doubled the pickets at 12 last night and sent cavalry
patrols four miles to the front. I could not help wishing, if our
information was correct, that the enemy would be discovered
approaching. But all is reported quiet. I suspect they will let
us alone. If they had approached in the force reported we
should have flogged them well. As to reinforcements, we should
have some artillery. All others should bring tents with them.
The houses are all occupied. If the Thirtieth comes let them
take two days, it is too severe on feet to march twenty-eight
miles on stones and hard knobs. The necessity for strengthen-
ing this post lies here: The country has a great deal of forage,
and we can't get it unless we are strong. The enemy yesterday
ran off six hundred bushels of shelled corn from near here. We
have two hundred and fifty barrels of flour, nine barrels corn-
meal, six barrels salt, sugar, drugs, some corn, and a vast variety
of stuff such as ammunition, tools, harness, material of wear in
stuff, etc., etc., all hauled into town and under guard. But a
great deal is slipping through our fingers for want of force to
take and hold it.
This is a lovely spot, a fine, clean village, most beautiful and
romantic surrounding country, and polite and educated Secesh
people. It is the spot to organize your brigade. For a week or
two we are almost independent of quartermasters. The road
from you to this place has some very bad places -- perhaps five
miles in all; the rest is hard, smooth, and dry, a good road. Our
teams broke down a good deal but got within twenty miles. I
left a guard at Wolf Creek Bridge. That is where the road
from Tazewell comes to the river and the bridge is very im-
portant. We got Rebel papers to the 5th. Notice the article
marked in the Lynchburg paper mentioning our advance. Also
258 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
letters, etc., which you will find interesting; also important list
of captured stores. Our prisoners, the officers and militia, nice
gentlemen but of no importance. I found [turned?] them out
on parole. You will not greatly disapprove of this when you
know the facts. In short, if you can get the permission you
want to come here with your brigade, do so by all means as
fast as you can get tents for them. We are in no need of rein-
forcements for defense, if our information is correct, as yet,
but the point is too important to lose. You will see some be-
ginnings at fortifying the Narrows. It was a strong place.
I still retain Gilmore's Cavalry. It is a necessity. Captain
Gilmore and his two lieutenants pretty much captured this town.
They have behaved admirably. Do get a revocation of the order
sending them to the rear, at least for the present. You will
need them very much. Will you send up their tents and baggage
today? They must stay for the present. They can send tents,
etc., up with their own teams now there. I say nothing about
the major and his command. They deserve all praise. Say
what you please that is good of them, and it will be true. The
taking of Giles Court-house is one of the boldest things of the
war. It was perfectly impudent. There were more Secesh stand-
ing on the corners than were in the party with Major Comly
and Captain Gilmore when they dashed in.
R. B. HAYES,
LIEUTENANT-COLONEL 23D REGIMENT 0. V. I.,
COLONEL E. P. SCAMMON,
COMMANDING THIRD BRIGADE.
CAMP NUMBER 6, GILES COURT-HOUSE,
May 8, 1862. 7 P. M.
SIR:--We are getting on very prosperously gathering up
forage, etc. We have in town six hundred bushels corn in addi-
tion to amount heretofore reported. Our stores of all sorts
exceed anything this side of Fayette. We are in much need of
shoes. We have got a lot of Secesh which though inferior will
ADVANCE AND RETREAT--1862 259
help until our quartermaster gets a supply. It is ascertained
that the enemy is fortifying beyond Walker's Creek in a gap of
Cloyd's Mountain, twelve or thirteen miles from here; that they
have the Forty-fifth, Thirty-sixth, and probably the Twenty-
second Virginia, also a small number of cavalry and three to six
pieces of cannon. They advanced to within four miles of us
last night, but learning of our reinforcements they retreated.
Their advance guard was seen by my patrols and promptly re-
ported, but on scouting for them, they were found to have turned
back. Today I sent Captain Gilmore with half of his men and
a company of the Second Virginia cavalry to make a reconnais-
sance. They drove in the enemy's pickets, crossed Walker's
Creek, and went within a mile of the enemy's position. The
whole force of the enemy was marched out and formed in order
of battle. The apparent commander with a sort of body-guard
of twenty or so rode up to Lieutenant Fordyce drawing a re-
volver when he was shot from his horse by Colonel Burgess.
He was certainly an important officer. No one on our side hurt.
The cavalry quietly fell back when the enemy burned the bridge
over Walker's Creek after our cavalry had turned back.
This indicates to my mind that as yet the enemy is disposed
to act on the defensive, but it is certain we ought to be promptly
and heavily reinforced. I do not doubt you have men on the
way. We shall not be attacked, I think, in advance of their
coming; if so we shall be ready, but the stores and position are
too valuable to be left in any degree exposed. With a large
force we can get much more property. Today while our scouting
party of cavalry was in front, about twenty of the enemy under
an officer with a large glass was seen by Sergeant Abbott and
a scout, examining the village from a very high mountain whose
summit, two miles distant, overlooks the whole town.
8:30 P. M.--Couriers have arrived bringing messages for
the cavalry, but none for me. No words of any rein-
forcements either. In any event, the want of force will prevent
us gathering all the provisions and forage our position here en-
titles us to have. Major Comly says a conversation with the
family he boards in, satisfies him that the enemy has three regi-
ments at Walker's Creek. We shall be vigilant tonight, and
260 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
shall be astonished tomorrow if we do not hear of the battery,
at least, moving to us before another of these clear moonlight
nights has to be watched through.
R. B. HAYES,
LIEUTENANT-COLONEL 23D REGIMENT 0. V. I.,
[COLONEL E. P. SCAMMON.]
Parisburg, [Pearisburg], May 9. Friday.--A lovely day.--
No reinforcements yet; have asked for them in repeated dis-
patches. Strange. I shall be vigilant. Have planned the fight if
it is to be done in the houses at night, and the retreat to the
Narrows, if in daylight with artillery against us. The town
can't be held if we are attacked with artillery. Shameful! We
have rations for thirty days for a brigade and tents and other
CAMP NUMBER 6, GILES COURT-HOUSE,
May 9, 1862. A. M.
SIR:--Your dispatch of yesterday reached me about 10:30
o'clock P. M. Its suggestions and cautions will be carefully
heeded. If in any important respect my reports are defective, I
shall be glad to correct the fault. The novelty of my situation
and the number and variety of claims upon my attention must
be my apology for what may seem negligence. Our men and
horses are getting worn-out with guard, picket, and patrol duty,
added to the labor of gathering in forage and provisions. You
say nothing of the forward movement having been disapproved,
nor of abandoning or reinforcing this point. I infer that we may
look for reinforcements today. It is of the utmost importance
that we get prompt and large additions to our strength. The
facts are these: Large amounts of forage and provisions which
we might have got with a larger force are daily going to the
enemy. The enemy is recovering from his panic, is near the
ADVANCE AND RETREAT--1862 261
railroad and getting reinforcements. He is already stronger
than we are, at least double as strong. But all this you already
know from repeated dispatches of mine and I doubt not you
are doing all you can to bring up the needed additions to our
I learn from contrabands that there is a practicable way for
foot and horse, not teams, up Walker's Creek on this side, by
which a force can pass over the mountains, five or seven miles
from the road and reach the rear or turn the enemy's position.
>From the general appearance of the hills near here I think that
some such passage can be found. The enemy has destroyed the
boats at the ferries, or removed them from this side wherever
it was possible to do so. The quartermaster is rigging up mule
teams and ox teams to do the extra hauling with considerable
success. There is of course some grumbling among owners of
wagons, etc., but I tell them it is a military necessity. The morn-
ing papers of Lynchburg are received here frequently the eve-
ning of the same day and regularly the next day. This shows
how near we are to the centre of things.
R. B. HAYES,
LIEUTENANT-COLONEL 23D REGIMENT 0. V. I.,
P. S. -- Details are constantly made from the force ready for
battle to take care of prisoners, guard bridges, etc., etc., until
our force here is reduced to a very small figure. Instant action
is required one way or the other.
COLONEL E. P. SCAMMON,
COMMANDING THIRD BRIGADE.
CAMP NUMBER 6, GILES COURT-HOUSE,
May 9, 1862, 10:30 (P. M.)
SIR: -- You will have to hurry forward reinforcements rapidly
--as rapidly as possible -- to prevent trouble here. This is not
a defensible point without artillery against artillery. No news
262 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
of a movement by the enemy but one may be expected soon.
Shall we return to the Narrows if you can't reinforce?
R. B. HAYES,
LIEUTENANT-COLONEL 23D REGIMENT 0. V. I.,
P.S. -- A party the other side of the river is firing on our men
collecting forage and provisions.
COLONEL E. P. SCAMMON,
Adair's, ten and one-half miles from Parisburg [Pearisburg],
Saturday, May 10, 4 P.M. -- We were attacked at 4 o'clock this
morning. I got up at the first faint streak of light and walked
out to see the pickets in the direction of the enemy. As I was
walking alone I heard six shots. "No mistake this time," I
thought. I hurried back, ordered up my own and the adjutant's
horse, called up the men and officers, [and] ordered the cavalry
to the front. [I ordered] Captains Drake and Sperry to skirmish
before the enemy and keep them back; the rest of the regiment
to form in their rear. Led the whole to the front beyond the
town; saw the enemy approaching -- four regiments or battal-
ions, several pieces of artillery in line of battle approaching.
The artillery soon opened on us. The shell shrieked and burst
over [our] heads, the small arms rattled, and the battle was
begun. It was soon obvious that we would be outflanked. We
retreated to the next ridge and stood again. The men of the
Twenty-third behaved gloriously, the men of Gilmore's Cavalry,
ditto; the men of Colonel Paxton's Cavalry, not so well. I was
scratched and torn on the knee by a shell or something, doing
no serious injury. I felt well all the time. The men behaved
so gallantly! And so we fought our way through town, the
people rejoicing at our defeat, and on for six hours until we
reached the Narrows, five and one-half miles distant. The time
seemed short. I was cheered by Gilmore's Cavalry at a point
about three and one-half miles from Giles Court-house, and we
ADVANCE AND RETREAT--1862 263
were all in good humor. We had three men killed, a number
wounded, none severely, and lost a few prisoners.
In the Narrows we easily checked the pursuit of the enemy
and held him back until he got artillery on to the opposite side
of New River and shelled us out. Reached here about 1 P.M.
safely. A well-ordered retreat which I think was creditable.
Camp near Adair's, Giles County, Virginia, Sunday (?) May
11. -- This is the first Sunday that has passed without my
knowing the day of the week since childhood. The men biv-
ouacked on a sidehill near New River. Nothing exciting during
the day. The enemy in the Narrows, but not coming through.
Our masterly retreat of yesterday lost the Twenty-third one
killed, Hoyt C. Tenney, Company B, and three missing -- prison-
ers and mostly drunk; perhaps eight or ten wounded, generally
slightly. The cavalry, one killed, three missing, and some
wounded. Gilmore's Cavalry, one killed and one wounded. The
Twenty-third behaved admirably, cool, steady, obedient. A few
cowards -- a corporal or two in Company H, the most exposed
company, a sergeant of Company ---, etc., etc.; but men of
the Twenty-third with teams, etc., from Raleigh hastened to share
our fate; five for every one who left. The Second Virginia
Cavalry left us! Bad state of things.
CAMP AT ADAIR'S, NEAR NARROWS OF NEW RIVER,
May 11, 1862.
SIR:--Yesterday morning, 10th inst., at dawn, our mounted
pickets three miles south of Parisburg [Pearisburg] gave notice
that the enemy was approaching in order of battle. It was soon
discovered that his force was from twenty-five hundred to three
thousand, and that he had a battery of five pieces. In pursuance
of your order and according to a plan previously arranged, the
following disposition of my command was made. All our teams
and all the teams we could press were loaded and started for
the Narrows of New River. The cavalry under Captain Gil-
more, numbering thirty-five, and detachments of two companies
of the Second Virginia V. C. [Volunteer Cavalry] under Cap-
tains Emmons and Scott respectively were dispatched to the
264 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
front with instructions to harrass and delay the enemy. Com-
pany H, Captain Drake, and Company B, Captain Sperry of
the Twenty-third Regiment O. V. I. were assigned a similar
duty. The remaining seven companies (Company C not having
joined the regiment) of the Twenty-third Regiment were drawn
up in line of battle on a ridge in the rear of the village and
about a half a mile in rear of our skirmishers. My whole force
did not exceed six hundred men.
The enemy on approaching the first line of skirmishers halted
and opened upon it with their artillery. The enemy, soon after
the firing commenced, sent detachments right and left to flank
our skirmishers. The skirmishers slowly and in good order
withdrew keeping up a constant and galling fire upon the advanc-
ing lines. The enemy continued to press forward slowly and
occasionally halting until they reached the seven companies of
the Twenty-third Regiment in line of battle. Our whole force
was gradually pushed back, the enemy following with his whole
force, halting frequently to place his guns in position. In this
way the fight was kept up four or five hours when we reached
the Narrows of New River five and a half miles north of Paris-
burg [Pearisburg]. Here we were able to take advantage of
the narrow pass and brought the enemy to a stand. He made
no serious effort to enter the Narrows in the face of the force
I had posted at the extreme southern entrance of the Narrows
at Wolf Creek Bridge.
After perhaps two hours' delay the enemy succeeded in getting
two guns on the opposite bank of New River and at a distance
of two hundred and fifty or three hundred yards began to throw
shell into the detachment defending the pass. Our force drew
back to a new position out of range. The enemy again ad-
vanced his guns, and thus gradually we were forced to the lower
entrance of the Narrows. No part of the enemy's force suc-
ceeded in getting through the Narrows. About the time the
enemy ceased to push forward, the cavalry under your command
came up. The fighting lasted seven or eight hours during which
time the detachment under my command retreated about seven
Our loss was two killed and ten wounded and six missing.
ADVANCE AND RETREAT--1862 265
Of these the Twenty-third 0. V. I. lost Private Hoyt C. Tenney,
Company B, killed; and Privates Thomas Redmond, Company
I, John Leisure, Company D, and Henry Ward, Company B,
missing and probably taken prisoners. The wounded are all
doing well. Sergeant-Major Eugene L. Reynolds was hit in the
head by a fragment of shell while fighting in the front line of
skirmishers and knocked down. He had a narrow escape, but
was not seriously hurt. A severe wound was received by Ser-
geant 0. H. Ferrell, Company H. The other wounds are all
slight. The names of the injured in the Second Virginia Cavalry
have not been sent in.
We brought off our prisoners taken when we entered Paris-
burg [Pearisburg] and carried away all our quartermaster stores
and ammunition. We lost the provisions we had previously
captured from the enemy (except what we had consumed), of
which there was a large quantity. The enemy's loss in killed
and wounded is not known.
The officers and men of Captain Gilmore's Cavalry behaved
with the greatest gallantry during the entire day. The two com-
panies of the Second Virginia Cavalry rendered important serv-
ice when dismounted and acting as skirmishers on the right of
our line in the morning. The Twenty-third Regiment, officers
and men, were cool and steady and the whole retreat in the face,
and for the most part under the fire, of an overwhelming superior
force was conducted without the slightest confusion or haste on
It is much to be regretted that reinforcements which I had so
frequently and urgently requested could not be sent in time to
save Parisburg [Pearisburg], as the loss of position and prop-
erty is very serious.*
R. B. HAYES,
LIEUTENANT-COLONEL 23D REGIMENT 0. V. I.,
Copy [of] report to Colonel Scammon of retreat from Giles
C. H. May 10, submitted May 11.
* [This paragraph] erased before signing on request of Colonel Scam-
mon--not because I did not deem it true, but because he wished it, and
I did not want to embarrass him.
266 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
CAMP AT MOUTH OF EAST RIVER, GILES COUNTY,
VIRGINIA, May 11, 1862.
DEAREST: -- Since I wrote you last I have lived a great deal.
Do you know that Giles Court-house was captured with a large
amount of stores, etc., etc., by a party sent by me from Prince-
ton? It was so bold and impudent! I went with six companies
of the Twenty-third to reinforce. I soon found that unless
further reinforced we were gone up. The enemy, three thousand
strong, were within ten miles of us with a battery of artillery.
We had none. The place, a lovely mountain village, was wholly
indefensible except by a large force. I sent two couriers a day
to beg for reinforcements for three days. None came. At the
last moment the order came that I should retreat if attacked by
a largely superior force. This was easy to say, but to do it
safely, after waiting till the enemy is on you, is not a trifle. I was
up every night. Had guards and pickets on every point of approach.
Well, yesterday morning, I got up before daylight, and visited
the outposts. Just at dawn, I heard the alarm guns. The enemy
were coming even in greater force than we expected. Four
regiments, a battery of guns, and a small force of cavalry. I
had only nine companies of the Twenty-third, much weakened
by detachments guarding supply trains, etc., and two weak com-
panies of cavalry. Not more than one-fourth of the enemy's
strength. But all went on like clockwork. Baggage was loaded
and started. Captains Drake and Sperry undertook to hold the
enemy with their companies and Captain Gilmore's Cavalry until
the rest could take position in rear of the town. I went out
with Captains Drake and Sperry.
Just before sunrise, May 10, a lovely morning, we saw the
advancing battalions in line of battle in beautiful order. They
were commanded, it is said, by General Heth. They opened
first with cannon firing shell. The first personal gratification
was to find that my horse stood it well. Soon I saw that the
men were standing it well. As they came in range of our skir-
mishers, some fatal firing checked them; but they were rapidly
closing around us. Now was the first critical moment: Could
our men retreat without breaking into confusion or a rout?
ADVANCE AND RETREAT--1862 267
They retired slowly, stubbornly, in good spirits and in order!
I got a scratch on the right knee, just drawing blood but spoiling
my drawers. But what of that? Things were going well. The
enemy now approached our main line. Could it retreat also in
order, for I knew it must be forced back. Here was the crisis
of our fate. They stood firmly. The enemy halted to get his
guns in position again. Soon we were in a fair way to be sur-
The men were ordered to retire slowly, firing as they went,
to a ridge forty rods back, and then to form again. They did
it to perfection, and I knew we were safe. From that time, for
five hours, it was only exciting fun. The fight lasted seven
hours, we retreating six and one-half miles until we came to a
narrow pass where three of our companies could hold back any
number. Here we were safe. The Twenty-third looked glori-
ously after this. We got off as by a miracle. We lost one killed,
one wounded badly and a host slightly, in the regiment; about
the same in the cavalry. Applause was never so sweet as when
right in the midst of the struggle, Gilmore's Cavalry gave me
three cheers for a sharp stroke by which I turned the column
out of range of the enemy's guns, which, with infinite trouble,
he had placed to sweep us.
It was a retreat (which is almost a synonym for defeat) and
yet we all felt grand over it. But warn't the men mad at some-
body for leaving us? We were joined by a battery and the
Thirtieth Regiment at 4 P. M. under Colonel Scammon, starting
at the seasonable hour of 7 A. M.! We are now strong again,
but driven from a most valuable position with a loss of stores
we had captured worth thousands.
I am reported dangerously wounded by some of the cowardly
cavalry (not Gilmore's) who fled forty miles, reporting us
"routed," "cut to pieces," and the like. Never was a man
prouder of his regiment than I of the Twenty-third. I keep
thinking how well they behaved.--Love to all.
Affectionately, R. B. HAYES.
12th, A. M. -- Since writing the foregoing, we have got
information which leads me to think it was probably well we
268 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
were not reinforced. There would not have been enough to hold
the position we had against so great a force as the enemy brought
against us. You see we were twenty miles from their railroad,
and only six to twelve hours from their great armies. . . .
Monday, May 12. Camp at north of East River near line be-
tween Giles and Mercer Counties, eleven miles from Giles Court-
house. -- We moved here to a strong position. The whole bri-
gade as now organized is with us. This is the First Brigade of
the Army of the District of Kanawha--General Cox. It con-
sists of [the] Twelfth, Twenty-third, and Thirtieth Ohio Regi-
ments, McMullen's Battery (two brass six-pounders and four
howitzers), and four companies [of] Paxton's or Bowles' Second
Virginia Cavalry; with Captain Gilmore's Cavalry for the
present. Brigade commanded by Colonel Scammon.
Colonel White of [the] Twelfth a clever gentleman. Lieu-
tenant-Colonel Hines, ditto, but a great talker and a great memory
for persons and places.
Fine weather since Sunday the 4th. Out of grub, out of mess
furniture. Rumors of the defeat of Milroy and of overwhelm-
ing forces threatening us. Great news by telegraph: The cap-
ture of Norfolk, blowing up the Merrimac, and the like! Corinth
being abandoned. York peninsula falling into McClellan's hands.
If all that this indicates comes to pass, the Rebellion is, indeed,
on its last legs.
HEADQUARTERS 23D REGT. O. V. I., CAMP AT MOUTH
OF EAST RIVER, GILES COUNTY, VIRGINIA,
May 12, 1862.
SIR:--Enclosed I send you the proceedings of the company
commanders of the Twenty-third Regiment O. V. I. nominating
Rev. Russell G. French, a clergyman of the Methodist Episcopal
Church, to the office of chaplain of the regiment. I have to
request that Mr. French may be immediately commissioned--
his commission to bear date May 1, 1862.
ADVANCE AND RETREAT--1862 269
Rev. Amos Wilson was the former chaplain. He resigned on
the 30th of April. His resignation was accepted and I directed
his name to be stricken from the roll of officers of the Twenty-
Mr. French is a loyal citizen of Mercer County, of unblem-
ished character, and with a fair reputation as a Christian and
clergyman. He was driven from his home because he was a
Union man; joined my command at Raleigh to act as guide and
scout. We found him a most valuable man. He served without
compensation. When serving with Company C in the late fight
at Camp Creek he had his right thigh shattered to pieces by a
Rebel ball. He is probably mortally wounded; in any event, he
is crippled for life. Lieutenant Bottsford, who commanded
Company C, says he behaved with great gallantry. He has a
large family and small means. Officers and men all desire his
appointment as herein requested.
R. B. HAYES,
LIEUTENANT-COLONEL 23D REGIMENT 0. V. I.,
BRIGADIER-GENERAL C. P. BUCKINGHAM,
Copy [of] letter to Governor Tod asking a commission for
Russell G. French, our wounded scout, etc., etc., as chaplain
Twenty-third Regiment 0. V. I.
Tuesday, [May] 13, Same Camp, Giles County, Virginia.--
Still dry and dusty! We shall soon need rain! Queer need in
Virginia! No bread in camp today, but beans and beef and some
bacon. Had an evening parade. The regiment looked strong
and well. Our camp, on a hill overlooking New River in front
and East River in the rear -- the Twelfth and Thirtieth in the
valley of East River, McMullen's Battery near by--is very pic-
turesque. High mountains all around; some finely cultivated
country in sight.
The Second Virginia Cavalry, out foraging, came rushing in
covered with foam; reported a great force of Rebel cavalry
270 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
near by! Turned out to be our own-Gilmore's Cavalry! What
a worthless set they are proving to be.
Camp near Mouth East River, Giles County, May 14, 1862.
Wednesday. -- Rained violently last night; not a bad morning,
however. Rumors of defeat of General Milroy up northeast by
Stonewall Jackson. Don't believe it. If true, it is not very
important, if the taking of Norfolk holds out. We ought to
catch the whole Rebel army near Richmond. With gunboats at
West Point up York River, up James River, and so on, we must
have that whole region soon. We now have a base of opera-
tions close up to the enemy's right.--Rain in violent storms
during the day two or three times.
No bread; men want crackers. Transportation insufficient.
But for the large quantities of bacon we get in this neighbor-
hood, we should suffer. General Cox with Second Brigade is at
Napoleon French's, six or seven miles from here. Will be here
tomorrow. General McClellan within twenty miles of Rich-
mond! The crisis is now at hand. If no serious disaster occurs
in the next ten days, the Rebel cobhouse tumbles speedily and
Same Camp, Thursday, May 15, 1862. -- Cloudy and threat-
ening rain. Several warm showers during the day. Firing be-
tween pickets constantly going on two or three miles down the
river. We send out two or three companies and a howitzer or
six-pounder to bang away, wasting ammunition. If the enemy
is enterprising he will capture some of these parties and per-
haps a cannon.
CAMP, MOUTH OF EAST RIVER, GILES COUNTY, VIRGINIA,
May 15, 1862.
DEAR MOTHER:--We have marched a great many miles
through this mountain region since I last wrote you. We have
had some fighting, some excitement, and a great deal to do.
We are now in a strong position. General Cox commands the
army, about five thousand strong, in this vicinity. We feel
pretty safe, although the success of our arms at the East seems
ADVANCE AND RETREAT--1862 271
to be driving the enemy to these mountains in greater strength
The scenery is finer than any we have before seen. How you
would enjoy the views from my tent. In sight, at the bottom
of the hill the Twenty-third is camped on, runs New River, a
stream larger than the Connecticut at Brattleboro, then a beauti-
ful cultivated country along its banks, and steep high mountains
bounding the scene on all sides. I am afraid I am ruined for
living in the tame level country of Ohio.
The reports indicate that the Rebellion is going under very
rapidly. If no serious disaster befalls us the struggle will hardly
outlast the summer.
I shall write very rarely. You will hear by telegraph all
important news of us. I think of you and all the dear ones
R. B. HAYES
MRS. SOPHIA HAYES.
Saturday, May 17.--A very hard day,--muddy, wet, and
sultry. Ordered at 3 A. M. to abandon camp and hasten with
whole force to General Cox at Princeton. He has had a fight with
a greatly superior force under General Marshall. We lost
tents, -- we slit and tore them, -- mess furniture, blankets, etc.,
etc., by this hasty movement. I was ordered with the Twenty-
third, Gilmore's Cavalry, and two pieces McMullen's Battery, to
cover the retreat to Princeton. We did it successfully, but oh,
what a hard day on the men! I had been up during the night,
had the men out, etc., etc. We were all day making it. Found
all in confusion; severe fighting against odds and a further re-
treat deemed necessary. Bivouacked on the ground at Princeton.
Mem.:--I saved all my personal baggage, tent included; but
no chance to use it at Princeton.
Sunday!! Came again unawares upon me at Princeton. At
1 or 2 A. M. aroused to prepare to move. Moved off quietly;
got off, again unmolested, to this point, viz., Bluestone River,
272 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
Mercer County, Virginia. I hope this is the last of the retreat.
We have [the] Thirty-fourth, Twenty-eight, Twelfth, Twenty-
third, Thirtieth, Thirty-seventh O. V. I.; Second Virginia Cav-
alry; and Simmonds' and McMullen's Batteries. The enemy re-
ported to have three thousand or so under General Heth and five
thousand or so under General Humphrey Marshall. The num-
bers are nothing, but at present our communications can't well be
kept up. All will soon be remedied under Fremont. Then, for-
ward again! In the fights we have lost in our army, chiefly
Thirty-seventh and Thirty-fourth, near one hundred killed,
wounded, and prisoners.
Camp on Flat Top Mountain, May 20, 1862.--Monday,
19th, marched from camp on Bluestone River to this point (yes-
terday) -- a hot dry march -- with knapsacks. I supposed we
were to go only five miles; was disappointed to find we were
retreating so far as this point. Being out of humor with that,
I was out of sorts with all things; scolded "some" because the
column was halted to rest on the wrong side of a stream which
had to be crossed single file; viz., the near instead of the oppo-
site side; mad because Colonel Scammon halted us in the sun
half an hour--no water -- without telling us how long we
were to halt, etc., etc. But got good-humored again soon. Must
swear off from swearing. Bad habit. Met Dr. Jim Webb,
assistant surgeon of [the] Twelfth, yesterday as we approached
here. March fourteen miles.
[Today], Tuesday, 20th, rains occasionally--a cold rain. No
tents, some trouble, but men are patient and hardy. Heard of
Ike Nelson's wounds, four to six in number and twenty bullet
holes in his clothing. Left for dead but got well.
Avery and Captain Drake go to Raleigh this morning. We
are holding on, waiting for supplies in the place of the tents,
etc., we have lost. No news yet of Richmond's having been
taken, but it is likely soon to fall unless we are defeated.
ADVANCE AND RETREAT--1862 273
CAMP ON FLAT TOP MOUNTAIN ON LINE BETWEEN
MERCER AND RALEIGH COUNTIES, May 20, 1862.
DEAR UNCLE:--The last three weeks has been a period of
great activity with us -- severe marching, sharp fighting, and all
sorts of strategy and manoeuvring. I had command of the
advance southward and marched to within ten miles of the rail-
road, seventy miles south of this. This was ten days ago. On
the morning of the 10th the enemy attacked us in greatly superior
numbers and with artillery. In obedience to orders we have
been falling back ever since. I was much vexed that we were
not reinforced. Perhaps I was wrong. It is now believed that
the enemy, since their reverses in eastern Virginia, have been
sending heavy bodies of troops this way; that our force is
wholly inadequate to its task, and must wait here until largely
strengthened. I am not sure about this, but accept it without
much grumbling. As I had command of the advance, I also had
command of the rear-guard during the two most perilous days
of the retreat. I am glad to know that nobody blames me with
anything. Perhaps nobody ought to be blamed, certainly not if
the force of the enemy is correctly reported. We have got off
very well, having the best of all the fighting, and losing very
little property in the retreat, and conducting it in good order.
General Cox and staff narrowly escaped capture. My com-
mand had a narrow escape. With any common precautions we
should have been captured or destroyed, but luckily I had
mounted pickets two miles further out than usual and got notice
of the trap in time. The total loss of my command up to yes-
terday since May I inclusive is seven killed, six missing, and
thirty-five wounded. We have killed forty to fifty of the enemy,
captured about fifty, and wounded a large number. We have
captured and destroyed many arms, and lived on the enemy's
grub a week. We also took several teams and waggons. We
have lost our tents (except headquarters) and part of our mess
We shall remain here and hereabouts some time to get rein-
forced and to get supplies. We are in telegraphic communica-
tion with the world and only sixty miles from navigation.
274 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
Dr. James Webb is now in this brigade, assistant surgeon of
the Twelfth Regiment 0. V. I. Dr. Joe is brigade surgeon.
We shall enjoy a few days' rest here. The Twenty-third is a
capital set. They always stood up squarely to the work and
enjoyed it. A vast difference between raw troops and those
who have tried it enough to be at home.
Love to all. Good-bye.
R. B. HAYES.
CAMP ON FLAT TOP MOUNTAIN,
May 20, (Tuesday), 1862.
DEAREST:-- Here we are "back again" -- fifty or sixty miles
in rear of the advanced position we had taken. The short of it
is, since the Rebel disasters in eastern Virginia they have thrown
by the railroad a heavy force into this region, forcing us back
day by day, until we have gained a strong position which they
are not likely, I think, to approach. I do not think there is any
blame on the part of our leaders. We were strong enough to
go ahead until recent events changed the plans of the enemy,
and made it impossible [for us] to reinforce sufficiently. I was
much vexed at first, but I suspect it is all right. We have had
a great deal of severe fighting -- fragmentary--in small de-
tachments, but very severe. We have had narrow escapes. My
whole command was nearly caught once; the Twenty-eighth
barely escaped. General Cox and staff got off by the merest
chance. Colonel Scammon's brigade was in close quarters, etc.,
etc. And yet by good luck, we have had no serious disaster.
We have lost tents and some small quartermaster stores, but
nothing important. In the fighting we have had the best of it
usually. The total loss of General Cox's command is perhaps
two hundred to three hundred, including killed, wounded, pris-
oners, and missing. The enemy has suffered far more. In my
fight at Giles, the enemy had thirty-one killed and many
wounded; our total casualties and missing, about fifteen. We
shall remain here until reinforced or new events make it possible
I see the Thirty-third, not the Twenty-third, gets the credit
ADVANCE AND RETREAT--1862 275
of taking Giles. Such is fame. No Thirty-third in this country.
[The papers also said] Major Cowley not Comly, and so on.
Well, all right. General Fremont complimented me for "energy
and courage" and the Twenty-third for "gallantry" to this di-
vision. So it is all right.
Jim is here in our brigade (the Twelfth Regiment) looking
very well. Dr. Joe well. Adjutant Avery is to take this to
Raleigh only twenty miles off. We are connected by telegraph
with you too, so we are near again for a season.
Show this to Steve [Stephenson].
Camp Flat Top, May 21, 1862. Wednesday.-A warm, windy,
threatening day. Drilled the regiment this morning; marched
to the summit of Flat Top, thence along the summit to the Ral-
eigh Road, and so back to camp. Men looked well. Companies
A, E, and K, under Major Comly, with a howitzer, marched
to Packs Ferry to hold it, build boats, and the like. They take
about twenty carpenters from the Twenty-third, also six cavalry-
men and a howitzer.
Camp Flat Top, May 22, 1862. Thursday. -- Today Colonel
Scammon with a small escort went over to Packs Ferry to look
after affairs with Major Comly and his boat-builders. A Cap-
tain Jenkins, of Kentucky, came from General Williams to nego-
tiate as to exchange of prisoners. General Cox detailed Lieu-
tenant-Colonel Hines and myself to meet him. After some re-
flection, I suggested that it was honoring Captain Jenkins too
much to send two lieutenant-colonels, and the programme was
I have caught a bad cold, the worst I have had since I came
into the army, caused chiefly by changing underclothes and
stockings from thick to thin.
Called on Colonel Moor of the Twenty-eighth. The German
officers are neater and more soldierly in dress and accoutrements
than ours. The Twenty-eighth has a fine band, twenty or
276 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
twenty-four musicians. Wrote to Lucy a short letter -- no flow
in it; but how I love my wife and boys All the more tenderly
for these separations.
CAMP FLAT TOP MOUNTAIN, May 22, 1862.
DEAREST:--I have written you one or two letters which I
suspect fell into the hands of the enemy, but ere this, I do not
doubt, you have received dispatches and word by Thomas which
relieves you of all trouble on my account.
We have had a good deal of war this month. More than half
the time during two weeks we were in the presence of the enemy.
Most of the time they [we] were either pursuing them or they
were crowding us. The number killed and wounded, consider-
ing the amount of firing, was not large. I suppose the total loss
of this army would not exceed two hundred. Our force is not
strong enough to do the work before us. We have so many
points to garrison and so long a line of communications to pro-
tect, that it leaves a very small force to push on with. . . .
Before this reaches you, the great battles of the war will
probably be fought. If successful, we shall not meet with much
determined opposition hereafter. I was sent to meet a flag of
truce sent by General Williams and Humphrey Marshall this
morning. The officers talk in a high tone still, but the privates
are discouraged, and would be gladly at home on any terms.
Flat Top Mountain, May 23, 1862. Friday.--Warm and
dry; getting dusty!! Mr. French lies here wounded--his
thigh bone shattered by a ball that passed clear through his leg.
Dr. McCurdy thinks he will not survive more than three or four
weeks. . . . Our regiment elected him chaplain a week or
two ago to date from the day of battle, May 1, 1862. I hope the
Governor will commission [him] promptly. . . .
ADVANCE AND RETREAT--1862 277
The Commercial is reported as saying that people may "act
as if they had heard some very good news" from General Hal-
It is dusty!! A cold wind blowing. The plan of going to
Packs Ferry and crossing New River, uniting with Colonel
Crook, and thence through Union to Christiansburg, is not yet
Flat Top Mountain, May 24, 1862. Saturday. -- Cold, rainy,
and windy,--an old-fashioned storm. Men bivouacking! Col-
onel Crook, of [the] Third Brigade, was attacked yesterday
morning by General Heth with the same force which drove me
out of Giles. Colonel Crook had parts or the whole of three
regiments. He defeated Heth and captured four of his cannon.
Our loss, ten killed and forty wounded. Enemy routed and one
hundred prisoners. What an error that General Cox didn't
attack Williams and Marshall at Princeton! Then we should
have accomplished something.
CAMP FLAT TOP MOUNTAIN, May 24, 1862.
DEAR MOTHER:--I have written you twice this month, but
am not sure as to your getting my letters. The enemy have
captured some of our mails, and possibly your letters are in
Secession. . . .
We are having pretty busy times in the mountains. One of
our brigades, under Colonel Crook, gained an important victory
over the Rebels under General Heth yesterday morning at Lew-
isburg, capturing cannon, etc., etc. We shall not remain long
in the same place. Our force is not so large as that of the
enemy, and we must make up the difference by activity. They
are very sick of the contest, and if our great armies are suc-
cessful, we shall soon be over the worst of the Rebellion. . . .
Affectionately, your son,
MRS. SOPHIA HAYES.
278 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
Camp Flat Top Mountain, May 25, 1862. Sunday. -- Bright,
clear, and bracing. My cold no better yet, but no worse. I
hope it has reached the turning-point. All suspense in military
matters, awaiting result at Corinth and Richmond. The three
Companies, A, E, and K of Twenty-third, sent to Packs Ferry
were ordered in yesterday, as if much needed. They marched
in the rain and darkness seventeen miles last night and six this
morning; the severest trial they have had. It was too bad,
Sacred music by the band at sundown. Captain Evans, a
Cincinnati boy of [the] Thirty-fourth Zouaves, called to see me.
Queer people meet here. The Thirty-seventh and the Thirty-
fourth (Zouaves) suffered badly in the skirmishing about Prince-
ton. About sixty wounded (of ours) came up tonight, having
been exchanged, from Princeton.
CAMP FLAT TOP MOUNTAIN, May 25, 1862.
DEAREST:--Dr. Joe has a letter from McCabe in which he
speaks of your anxiety on my account. I hope that it has not
been increased by my dispatch. You will always hear the pre-
cise truth from me. You may rely on it that you hear exactly
the state of things. It would be idle to say that we have been
in no danger, or that we are not likely to be in peril hereafter.
But this is certain, that there is not half the danger for officers
in a regiment that can be trusted to behave well, as there would
be in a regiment of raw troops; besides, the danger on this line
is much diminished by a victory which one of our brigades under
Colonel Crook gained day before yesterday at Lewisburg. He
routed the army under General Heth, which drove me out of
Giles Court-house, captured their cannon, etc., etc. Now the
drift is again all in our favor.
This is a lovely Sunday morning, after a cold storm of about
thirty hours. It brings great relief to men bivouacking on the
ground without tents, to have the sun shining out bright and
warm. The weather, except two days, has been good this whole
ADVANCE AND RETREAT--1862 279
month. This is the department to spend the summer in--
healthier and pleasanter than any other.
I received Uncle's letter written when he was with you. I
am rather gratified to hear that you are not going to Fremont
this summer. It pleases me that Uncle likes the boys so well.
Dear little fellows, they must be so interesting. I think of them
We expect to move from here southward in a few days. Our
army is under General Cox, and consists of the First Brigade,
Twelfth, Twenty-third, and Thirtieth under Colonel Scammon;
Second Brigade, Twenty-eighth, Thirty-seventh, and Thirty-
fourth under Colonel Moor; Third Brigade, Eleventh, Thirty-
sixth, Forty-fourth, and Forty-seventh under Colonel Crook,
besides a due proportion of cavalry and artillery. It is a good
army, but too small for the magnificent distances we have to
operate over. We expect to be able to unite with Fremont's
larger body in about three or four weeks. In the meantime,
good luck at Richmond and Corinth may pretty nearly take
away our occupation.
P.M. -- Recent news indicate [indicates] that we shall see no
enemy for some time. I believe I told you my Commercial has
stopped again. Try to start it so it will hold out. It comes to
subscribers here pretty regularly and promptly.
Tomorrow a couple of men leave here for Camp Chase with a
prisoner. I shall send a Mississippi rifle with them. This is
the most formidable weapon used against us in this region by
the Rebels; they will leave it either with you or at Platt's in
I enclose for Uncle a fifty-dollar bill. It was worth fifty
dollars when I got it. I could buy a pretty fair horse with it.
Love to all the boys and kisses all round. Ever so much
affection for your own dear self.
Camp Flat Top Mountain, May 26, 1862. Monday.--Clear
and cool. A private dispatch informs General Cox that General
280 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
Banks has been driven back by the Rebel Jackson, probably to
Harpers Ferry. This is a long move to the rear. If true, it
indicates a pretty heavy disaster; places in jeopardy the Balti-
more and Ohio Railroad, etc. So we go.
CAMP FLAT TOP, May 26, 1862.
DEAREST:--Your excellent letters of [the] 17th and 19th
came this morning--only a week in getting to me. I wrote
you yesterday by the soldiers, Corporal West and Harper, but
I must give you another by the sutler who goes in the morning,
just to show how much I think of you and your letters.
We are now at rest on a mountain top with no immediate
prospect of anything stirring. We stand for the moment on
the defensive, and are not likely to be disturbed. We have
been having exchanges of wounded and prisoners with the enemy.
They have behaved very well to our men, and were exceedingly
civil and hospitable in our negotiations with them. They feel
a good deal discouraged with the general prospect, but are
crowding our small armies under Banks and Fremont pretty
severely. All will be well if we carry the pivots at Richmond
and Corinth. Enough of this.
I still feel just as I told you, that I shall come safely out of
this war. I felt so the other day when danger was near. I
certainly enjoyed the excitement of fighting our way out of
Giles to the Narrows as much as any excitement I ever experi-
enced. I had a good deal of anxiety the first hour or two on
account of my command, but not a particle on my own account.
After that, and after I saw we were getting on well, it was
really jolly. We all joked and laughed and cheered constantly.
Old Captain Drake said it was the best Fourth of July he ever
had. I had in mind Theo. Wright singing "The Star-Spangled
Banner." "The bombs bursting in air" began before it was quite
light, and it seemed to me a sort of acting of the song, and in
a pleasant way, the prayer would float through my thoughts,
"In the dread hour of battle, O God, be thou nigh!"
ADVANCE AND RETREAT--1862 281
A happy thing you did for the sick soldiers, good wife!*
"I love you so much." Well, that is all I wrote to tell you.
I must repeat again, send the Commercial "for the war." Tell
Webb Lieutenant Kennedy was delighted with the picture, and
will try to send his to Webb some day. Send me one of all the
boys if you get them--Webb's of course. I am much pleased
that you are to stay in Cincinnati. Love to all the boys and
Grandma. Send me by sutler Harper and Atlantic for June.
P.S.--I enclose you a letter which I wish Dr. Murphy [to
read] or somebody to read to him. He behaves badly, I sus-
*Mrs. Hayes, in her letter of May 19, had written: "Our hospitals
are all full of sick and wounded. A great difference can be seen between
the sick and [the] wounded. The sick appear low-spirited--downcast,
while the wounded are quite cheerful, hoping soon to be well. I felt
right happy the other day, feeling that I had made some persons feel a
little happier. Going down to Mrs. Herron's I passed four soldiers,
two wounded and two sick. They were sitting on the pavement in
front of the office where their papers are given to them. I passed them,
and then thought, well, anyhow, I will go back and ask them where they
are going. A gentleman who I saw then was with them, said he had
just got in from Camp Dennison, and found they were too late to get
their tickets for that evening. I asked, 'Where will you take them?' He
said he did not know, but must get them to the nearest place, as they
were very weak. I said, 'Doctor, (the wounded man had told me he
was his family doctor and had come to take him home), if you will
take them to my house I will gladly keep them and have them taken to
the cars. There is the street-car which will take you near my house.'
He was very thankful, and he put sick and wounded on, and I started
them for Sixth Street, while I finished my errand, took the next car, and
found my lame man hobbling slowly along. We fixed them in the back
parlor. The doctor I asked to stay also, to attend to them. He said he
could not thank me enough, that he was a stranger here and was almost
bewildered as to what to do or where to take them. Mary was up
early and we had a cup of coffee for them before five. I thought of
you in a strange country, wounded and trying to get home. The cases
were not exactly alike, but if anyone was kind to you, would I not feel
282 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
pect. In short, darling, all men who manage to keep away from
their regiments are to be suspected. They are generally rascals.
Flat Top, May 27, 1862. Tuesday.--A warm, fine day. My
cold is still very bad. I call to see Mr. French, the wounded
citizen of Lieutenant Bottsford's fight, now our Twenty-third
chaplain, daily. He is in good spirits, but [the] doctors talk
discouragingly of his case.
News today that General Halleck has taken Corinth and
twenty thousand prisoners! Is it true? I hope so.
Flat Top, May 28, 1862. Wednesday.-- No news yet from
Corinth; none from Richmond; all in suspense yet. We almost
fear to hear the news. Many rumors indicate that the Rebels
are leaving Richmond. The gathering of great forces opposite
to General Banks, and to Fremont all look that way. A large
force is reported near Tazewell or at Tazewell, also. The air
is full of rumors. The great events will soon clear the air,
and we shall see where we are.
Flat Top, May 30, 1862. Friday.-- A hot summer day. A
very singular thing happened this afternoon. While we were
at supper, 5:30 P. M., a thunder-storm broke out. It was
pretty violent. Avery and Dr. McCurdy got up a warm dis-
cussion on electricity. As the storm passed away we all stepped
out of the tent and began to discuss the height of the clouds,
the lapse of time between the flash and the thunder. While
we were talking, Avery having his watch out and I counting,
there came a flash and report. It seemed to me that I was
struck on the top of the head by something the size of a buck-
shot. Avery and McCurdy experienced a severe pricking sen-
sation in the forehead. The sentinel near us was staggered as
by a blow. Captain Drake's arm was nearly benumbed. My
horse Webb (the sorrel) seemed hit. Over a hundred soldiers
felt the stun or pricking. Five trees were hit about a hundred
yards off and some of them badly splintered. In all the camps
something similar was felt; but "no harm done."
ADVANCE AND RETREAT--1862 283
The news not decisive but favorable. Lost a bet of twenty-
five cents with Christie, Company C, that either Richmond or
Corinth would be taken today.
May 31, 1862. Saturday. -- Clear and bracing. Had a very
satisfactory inspection on the hill back of General Cox's head-
quarters. The men were many of them ragged and their clothes
and caps faded, but they looked and marched like soldiers.
We hear of the retreat of Beauregard's great army from
Corinth. This is probably a substantial victory, but is not so
decisive as I hoped it would be. The Rebels have a talent for
retreating. Our generals do not seem to be vigilant enough to
prevent their slipping away. A thunder-storm last night.