Friday, January 20, 2017

Lieutenant-Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes to Sardis Birchard June 21, 1862

Camp Jones, Flat Top Mountain, June 21, 1862.

Dear Uncle: — We have been here and hereabouts almost a month. Our line of defense extends twenty to thirty miles from New River southwesterly along a mountain range. We have mountain weather. If the wind happens to lull when the sun shines we get a taste of summer heat. At all other times it is very cold. We have fires, wear overcoats, and sleep under winter blankets every night. Our men from the lake shore say it is very much like April and May weather in the neighborhood of home. The men are very healthy; not over a dozen or so unfit for duty out of eight hundred. We have frequent reconnaisances and scouting expeditions against the enemy, not amounting to any great matter. We have not seen or heard of a guerrilla in these mountains since we passed here about the first of May. We get and meet parties of the enemy occasionally, but they are regular soldiers. We suppose the savage treatment administered when we went across a month ago finished bushwhacking in this vicinity. We do not expect any important movement until the event at Richmond is known. Then, whatever the result, we expect to be busy enough.

Soon after we came on to this mountain, I caught a bad cold — the worst I have had in some years. Since I have been in camp I had not had a severe cold before. It held on two weeks, but is now nearly gone without doing any mischief.

Both sides appear to be fighting well in all parts of Virginia now. It seems to be reduced pretty nearly to a question of numbers — I mean, of course, numbers of drilled soldiers. I do not reckon the enemy's recent conscripts nor our own new regiments as amounting to much yet. It seems therefore as if, with the superior numbers which we ought to have at the critical points, we would crush them out during the next six weeks in Virginia. Virginia gone, with what the Rebels have already lost, and the Rebellion is a plain failure. But I think we shall need all our soldiers a long time after that. I hope we shall not be needed another winter, but I greatly suspect we shall.

R. B. Hayes.

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 292-3

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