September 1. Evening. — About five o'clock this P. M. heavy firing began in the old place — said to be near Centreville or at Bull Run. A fierce rain-storm with thunder set in soon after, and for the last ten hours there has been a roaring rivalry between the artillery of earth and heaven. It is now dark, but an occasional gun can still be heard. The air trembles when the great guns roar. The place of the firing indicates that our forces still hold the same ground or nearly the same as before. It is queer. We really know but little more of the fights of two or three days ago than you do; in the way of accurate knowledge, perhaps less, for the telegraph may give you official bulletins. We have seen some, a great many, of our wounded; some five or six hundred of the enemy taken prisoners, and a few of our men paroled. Some think we got the best of it, some otherwise. As yet I call it a tie.
I am very glad to be here. The scenes around us are interesting, the events happening are most important. You can hardly imagine the relief I feel on getting away from the petty warfare of western Virginia. Four forts or field works are in sight, and many camps. The spire of Fairfax Seminary (now a hospital), the flags on distant hills whose works are not distinguishable, the white dome of the capitol, visible from the higher elevations, many fine residences in sight — all make this seem a realization of “the pride and pomp of glorious war.” The roar of heavy artillery, the moving of army waggons, carriages, and ambulances with the wounded, marching troops, and couriers hastening to and fro, fill up the scene. Don't think I am led to forget the sad side of it, or the good cause at the foundation. I am thinking now of the contrast between what is here and what I have looked on for fifteen months past.
Dearest, what are you doing tonight? Thinking of me as you put to sleep the pretty little favorite? Yes, that is it. And my thought in the midst of all this is of you and the dear ones.
I just got an order that I must be “especially vigilant tonight to guard against surprise, or confusion in case of alarm.” I don't know what it indicates, but that I have done so often in the mountains that it is no great trouble. So I go to warn the captains. — Good night, darling.
Ever yours most lovingly,
SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 337-8