Saturday, March 25, 2017

Diary of Lieutenant-Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes: Saturday, August 9, 1862

Am planning an expedition to go to Salt Well and destroy it; also to catch old Crump if he is at home. Jacobs, Company G, a scout, went up yesterday to Crump's Bottom. Reports favorably. All safe now. Curious, quiet fellow, Jacobs. He takes no grub, wears moccasins; passes himself for a guerrilla of the Rebels, eats blackberries when he can't get food; slips stealthily through the woods, and finds out all that is going.

Old Andy Stairwalt, a fat, queer-looking old fifer with a thin voice, and afflicted with a palpitation of the heart (!) — a great old coward, otherwise a worthy man — was one of the first men who reached here from the ferry after the attack of Wednesday. He was impressed that the enemy were in great force. I asked him if they fired their cannon rapidly. “Oh, yes,” said he, “very rapidly; they fired twice before I left the camp”!

Sad news. The dispatch tells us that “General Bob McCook was murdered by guerrillas while riding in front of his brigade in Tennessee.” He always said he did not expect to survive the war. He was a brave man, honest, rough, “an uncut diamond.” A good friend of mine; we have slept together through several stormy nights. I messed with him in his quarters on Mount Sewell. Would that he could have died in battle! Gallant spirit, hail and farewell!

I send out today Company E, thirty-nine men, K, twenty-seven men, H, about thirty men, and a squad of men from A, I, and C of twenty-seven men, and about twenty-five cavalry to stop the salt well in Mercer, twenty miles above here. Total force about one hundred and fifty men. They go up to Crump's Bottom, catch him if they can, take his canoe and the ferry-boat and destroy the Mercer salt well. This is the programme.

A charming affectionate letter from my dear wife. She speaks of her feelings on the night before the regiment left for the seat of war, a year ago the 24th of July. Dear Lucy, God grant you as much happiness as you deserve and your cup will indeed be full! She speaks of the blue-eyed beautiful youngest. He is almost eight months old. A letter from mother Hayes, more cheerful than usual, religious and affectionate. She is past seventy, and fears she will not live to see the end of the war. I trust she will, and to welcome me home again as of old she used to from college.

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 321-2

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