Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Lieutenant-Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes to Sophia Birchard Hayes, July 10, 1862

Flat Top Mountain, July 10, 1862.

Dear Mother: — I think you would enjoy being here. We have a fine cool breeze during the day; an extensive mountain scene, always beautiful but changing daily, almost hourly. The men are healthy, contented, and have the prettiest and largest bowers over the whole camp I ever saw. They will never look so well or behave so well in any settled country. Here the drunkards get no liquor, or so little that they regain the healthy complexion of temperate men. Every button and buckle is burnished bright, and clothes brushed or washed clean. I often think that if mothers could see their boys as they often look in this mountain wilderness, they would feel prouder of them than ever before. We have dancing in two of the larger bowers from soon after sundown until a few minutes after nine o'clock. By half-past nine all is silence and darkness. At sunrise the men are up, drilling until breakfast. Occasionally the boys who play the female partners in the dances exercise their ingenuity in dressing to look as girlish as possible. In the absence of lady duds they use leaves, and the leaf-clad beauties often look very pretty and always odd enough.

We send parties into the enemy's lines which sometimes have strange adventures. A party last Sunday, about forty miles from here, found a young Scotchman and two sisters, one eighteen and the other fourteen, their parents dead, who have been unable to escape from Rebeldom. They have property in Scotland and would give anything to get to “the States.” One officer took one girl on his horse behind him and another, another, and so escaped. They were fired on by bushwhackers, the elder lady thrown off, but not much hurt. They were the happiest girls you ever saw when they reached our camp. They are now safe on the way to Cincinnati, where they have a brother.

We are expecting one of these days to be sent to eastern Virginia, if all we hear is true.

I have just received an invitation to Rogers' wedding. If you see him or his bride tell them I regret I shall not be able to be at Columbus on the first of this month. . . . Love to all.

Affectionately, your son,
R. B. Hayes.
Mrs. Sophia Hayes,
Columbus, Ohio.

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 300-1

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