Meadow Bluff, Greenbrier County, West Virginia,
May 19. l864.
Dear Uncle: — We are safely within what we now call “our own lines” after twenty-one days of marching, fighting, starving, etc., etc. For twelve days we have had nothing to eat except what the country afforded. Our raid has been in all respects successful. We destroyed the famous Dublin Bridge and eighteen miles of the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad and many depots and stores; captured ten pieces of artillery, three hundred prisoners, General Jenkins and other officers among: them, and killed and wounded about five hundred, besides utterly routing Jenkins' army in the bloody battle of Cloyd's Mountain. My brigade had two regiments and part of a third in the battle. [The] Twenty-third lost one hundred killed and wounded. We had a severe duty but did just as well as I could have wished. We charged a Rebel battery entrenched in [on] a wooded hill across an open level meadow three hundred yards wide and a deep ditch, wetting me to the waist, and carried it without a particle of wavering or even check, losing, however, many officers and men killed and wounded. It being the vital point General Crook charged with us in person. One brigade from the Army of the Potomac (Pennsylvania Reserves) broke and fled from the field. Altogether, this is our finest experience in the war, and General Crook is the best general we have ever served under, not excepting Rosecrans.
Many of the men are barefooted, and we shall probably remain here some time to refit. We hauled in wagons to this point, over two hundred of our wounded, crossing two large rivers by fording and ferrying and three ranges of high mountains. The news from the outside world is meagre and from Rebel sources. We almost believe that Grant must have been successful from the little we gather.
R. B. Hayes.
SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 463-4