Camp Number 6, Giles Court-house,
May 9, 1862. A. M.
Sir: — Your dispatch of yesterday reached me about 10:30 o'clock P. M. Its suggestions and cautions will be carefully heeded. If in any important respect my reports are defective, I shall be glad to correct the fault. The novelty of my situation and the number and variety of claims upon my attention must be my apology for what may seem negligence. Our men and horses are getting worn-out with guard, picket, and patrol duty, added to the labor of gathering in forage and provisions. You say nothing of the forward movement having been disapproved, nor of abandoning or reinforcing this point. I infer that we may look for reinforcements today. It is of the utmost importance that we get prompt and large additions to our strength. The facts are these: Large amounts of forage and provisions which we might have got with a larger force are daily going to the enemy. The enemy is recovering from his panic, is near the railroad and getting reinforcements. He is already stronger than we are, at least double as strong. But all this you already know from repeated dispatches of mine and I doubt not you are doing all you can to bring up the needed additions to our force.
I learn from contrabands that there is a practicable way for foot and horse, not teams, up Walker's Creek on this side, by which a force can pass over the mountains, five or seven miles from the road and reach the rear or turn the enemy's position. From the general appearance of the hills near here I think that some such passage can be found. The enemy has destroyed the boats at the ferries, or removed them from this side wherever it was possible to do so. The quartermaster is rigging up mule teams and ox teams to do the extra hauling with considerable success. There is of course some grumbling among owners of wagons, etc., but I tell them it is a military necessity. The morning papers of Lynchburg are received here frequently the evening of the same day and regularly the next day. This shows how near we are to the centre of things.
R. B. Hayes,
Lieutenant-colonel 23D Regiment O. V. I.,
P. S. — Details are constantly made from the force ready for battle to take care of prisoners, guard bridges, etc., etc., until our force here is reduced to a very small figure. Instant action is required one way or the other.
Colonel E. P. Scammon,
Commanding Third Brigade.
SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 260-1