Saturday, March 4, 2017

Diary of Lieutenant-Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes: July 26, 1862

Had a good trip. Got out from under the noses of heavy forces of the enemy the wife and four children of Mr. Archibald Caldwell. He will settle in Indiana. We left camp with Companies A, I, C, and E at half past twelve and marched to within a mile of the ferry; halted in a valley out of sight of the river and of the river hills until 7:30 We were joined by Captain Gilmore, Lieutenant Abraham, and Lieutenant Fordyce with their excellent company of cavalry about 7 P. M. We marched to the ferry just at dark and were there joined by Companies B and F and by Lieutenant Croome with a squad of Captain McMullen's artillery company and one howitzer. We crossed New River on the flying bridge built by Captain Lane of the Eleventh. We had three loaded wagons and an ambulance. Four trips, fifteen minutes each, crossed us. At the Farms Road, five miles from the ferry, Company B, Captain Sperry, and Company I, Captain Warren, were detailed to take position to hold that road and prevent any enemy's force from coming into our rear.

Soon after passing the ferry, it was found that the road had in places been washed away, in others, filled by slides, and in others, cut into deep gullies. The waggons and ambulances were turned back; the column pushed on. Near Indian Creek, at Mrs. Fowler's, about 1:30 P. M. [A. M.], Captain Gilmore and myself with Captain Drake being in advance, we stopped and these officers and myself went in. Mrs. Fowler refused to get a light, saying she had none; refused to tell whether there was a man about the house; said she didn't know Mr. Caldwell and was very uncommunicative generally. She persisted in asking us who we were, what we wanted, and the like. Just as she had said there was no candle or light in the house, I struck a light with a match when we saw the candle she had blown out on going to bed not two yards off! It was lit and a man was discovered peeping through a door! We got from her the fact that no soldiers were at Indian Creek and very few at Red Sulphur or Peterstown.

I ordered the cavalry to push rapidly on to Mr. Caldwell's house, and bring off his wife and children on horseback. I rode back to the infantry and artillery and directed them to bivouac — to sleep on the ground. Lieutenant Hastings was officer of the guard. I told him he need station no pickets or guard! A year ago we camped our first night in Virginia. It was near Clarksburg in the midst of a Union region. No enemy anywhere near, and we had one hundred and sixteen men, on guard! My reason for not worrying anybody with guard duty was that our position was concealed; and as we had just taken it after a night march no one could know that we were there. The camp was inaccessible, by reason of [the] river on one side and impassable mountains on the other, except by the road up and down the river. [Companies] B and I were on this road at the first road leading into it, eight miles off, and the cavalry were passing up in the other direction. So I made up my mind that as I was not sleepy I would keep awake and would be guard enough. I lay down on an India-rubber blanket — my sheepskin for a pillow — with only an overcoat on, Dr. Joe sleeping by my side; and in this position where I could hear every sound, remained comfortable but watchful until morning. The stars disappeared towards morning, covered by fleecy clouds.

In the morning we, built fires, got warm coffee, and felt well; we were opposite Crump's Bottom. We hailed a man on the bank at Crump's and made him bring over a canoe, but learned little from him. About 5:30 the cavalry returned having Mrs. Caldwell and the children on their horses. We immediately set out on our return. The first eight miles in the cool of the morning was done in two and one-fourth hours; after that leisurely to the ferry. Six men of Company A waded New River near the mouth of Bluestone. A long, tedious wade they had of it. Stopped at the ferry two hours; men all had a good swim. Got back to camp here safe and sound. Cavalry marched almost fifty miles in about twelve hours; artillery with mountain howitzer twenty-five miles in nine hours' marching time and thirteen hours altogether; infantry thirty-six in fourteen hours' marching time and twenty hours altogether. A pretty jolly expedition! Horses fell down, men fell down; Caldwell got faint-hearted and wanted to give it up. Lieutenant Abraham was cowed and I sent him with the infantry to bivouac. As they returned, the cavalry took all of Mrs. Fowler's new blackberry wine and honey! All sorts of incidents; — funny good time.

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 310-2

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