Friday, October 28, 2016

Lieutenant-Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes to Colonel Eliakim P. Scammon, May 8, 1862

Camp Number 6, Giles Court-house,
May 8, 1862, 4:30 A. M.

Sir: — A citizen came in from Dublin last [night] about 11 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 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 strengthening 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 cornmeal, 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 important. We got Rebel papers to the 5th. Notice the article marked in the Lynchburg paper mentioning our advance. Also 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 reinforcements for defense, if our information is correct, as yet, but the point is too important to lose. You will see some beginnings 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 standing 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 O. V. I.,
Colonel E. P. Scammon,
Commanding Third Brigade.

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 256-8

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