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 exhilarating — just enough of enemy's guerrillas to keep men awake. We are in the advance, the only grumbling being because 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. 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 to them. . . .
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.
SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 237-8