Friday, April 28, 2017

Lieutant-Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes to Lucy Webb Hayes: September 1, 1862

Upton's Hill, Near Washington, September 1, 1862.

Dearest: — Very severe battles were fought day before yesterday and the day before that a few miles west of here. The roar could be heard in our camp the greater part of each day. We are six or eight miles west of Washington over the Potomac in Virginia between Forts Ramsay and Buffalo — strong works which we, I conjecture, are to hold in case of disaster in front. The result of the battles, although not decisive, I think was favorable. The enemy's advance was checked, and as our strength grows with every hour, the delay gained is our gain.

You have no doubt heard of the battles, and perhaps feel anxious about us. One thing be assured of, after such affairs no news of us is good news. The reason of this is, if we are well we shall not be allowed to leave, nor send communications; if injured or worse, officers are taken instantly to Washington or Alexandria and tidings sent. I write this to relieve, if possible, or as much as possible, your anxiety on hearing of battles. At present I see no prospect of our being engaged, but I look for battles almost daily until the enemy is driven back or gives up his present purpose of carrying the war into our territory. I feel hopeful about the result.

Your letter of the 13th August, directed to me Raleigh, etc., I got last night. We shall now get one another's letters in three or four days. I was made happy by your sensible and excellent talk about your feelings. A sense of duty or a deep religious feeling is all that can reconcile one to the condition we are placed in. That you are happy notwithstanding this trial, adds to my appreciation and love and to my happiness. Dearest, you are a treasure to me. I think of you more than you suppose and shall do so more here than in western Virginia. Here I have far less care and responsibility. I am now responsible for very little. The danger may be somewhat greater, though that I think doubtful.

By the by, we hear that Raleigh and our camps in west Virginia were occupied by the enemy soon after we left. No difference. There is one comfort here. If we suffer, it is in the place where the decisive acts are going on. In west Virginia, success or failure was a mere circumstance hardly affecting the general cause.

Well, love to all. Dearest be cheerful and content. It will all be well.


P. S. — I was near forgetting to say that I think I shall not be permitted to join the Seventy-ninth. That matter I suppose is settled. The prospect of Colonel Scammon being brigadier is good.

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 335-7

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