Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Lieutenant-Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes to Lucy Webb Hayes August 6, 1862

August 7 [6].

Dearest: — I wrote this last night — today has been a day of excitement. All has not been quiet on New River. This morning at daylight I was aroused by a courier saying our most distant picket had been fired on and as no one had come in, they were believed to be all cut off. I got out two companies to see to it. In twenty minutes another came in saying that the enemy three thousand to four thousand strong, with artillery, were coming to attack our four companies at Packs Ferry, under Major Comly. I sent word to the major and three companies, [and] word to Flat Top for help. Well, they made the attack both at the ferry and the ford — but it was across a broad river. Cannon shots barely missed many times. Shell lit in close proximity and failed to explode, and our sharpshooters getting bold and skilful, the enemy retreated, running the gauntlet of our sharpshooters on the river bank for three miles. Not a man of ours killed or wounded. Reinforcements reached us under Colonel Scammon at 4 P. M., just four hours after the last Rebel had disappeared six miles above here. Our courier carried the news to Flat Top in one hour and ten minutes. The “aid” did it in six hours!

We had a terrific thunder-storm about six P. M. The lightning struck our guard-tent. Five men were laid out apparently dead. Dr. Joe and all of us were there in an instant. The men are all restored and I think will all get well. They all appeared dead, and but for instant aid would have died. . . .

Mrs. Hayes.

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 318

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