Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Lieutenant-Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes to Colonel Eliakim P. Scammon, May 8, 1862 – 7 p.m.

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 addition 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 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 reported, 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 reconnaissance. 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 revolver 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 reinforcements either. In any event, the want of force will prevent us gathering all the provisions and forage our position here entitles us to have. Major Comly says a conversation with the family he boards in, satisfies him that the enemy has three regiments at Walker's Creek. We shall be vigilant tonight, and 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 O. V. I.,
[colonel E. P. Scammon.]

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 258-60

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