Thursday, May 4, 2017

Diary of Lieutenant-Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes: Thursday, September 4, 1862

A cheerful bright morning and a sound sleep dispels the gloom resting on my views of the future. During the night a courier came to my tent saying that two thousand of our wounded are in the hands of the enemy and are starving! The enemy is in bad condition for food.

Siege guns were put in the fort on our right (Ramsay) during the night; the preparations are advancing which will enable us to hold this post and “save Washington.”

10 A. M. — The rumor is that the enemy is directing his course up the Potomac, intending to cross into Maryland. We now hear cannon at a great distance, in a northern direction.

About 4:30 P. M. the enemy began to fire at our cavalry picket, about three miles out. Waggoners rolled in, horsemen ditto, in great haste. The regiments of General Cox's Division were soon ready, not one-fourth or one-third absent, or hiding, or falling to the rear as seems to be the habit in this Potomac army, but all, all fell in at once; the Eleventh, Twelfth, Twenty-third, Twenty-eighth, Thirtieth, and Thirty-sixth Ohio can be counted on. After skedaddling the regiment of cavalry, who marched out so grandly a few hours before, the firing of the enemy ceased. A quiet night followed.

Cincinnati is now threatened by an army which defeated our raw troops at Richmond, Kentucky. Everywhere the enemy is crowding us. Everywhere they are to be met by our raw troops, the veterans being in the enemy's country too distant to be helpful. A queer turning the tables on us! And yet if they fail of getting any permanent and substantial advantatge of us, I think the recoil will be fatal to them. I think in delaying this movement until our new levies are almost ready for the field, they have let the golden opportunity slip; that they will be able to annoy and harass but not to injure us; and that the reaction will push them further back than ever. We shall see! A rumor of a repulse of the enemy at Harpers Ferry by Wool. Hope it is true!

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 342-3

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