Friday, November 11, 2016

Diary of Lieutenant-Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes: May 10, 1862 – 4 p.m.

Adair's, ten and one-half miles from Parisburg [Pearisburg]. — 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 battalions, 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 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 I P. M. safely. A well-ordered retreat which I think was creditable.

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 262-3

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