Camp Maskell, December 14, 1862.
Dearest:— Very glad to have a good letter from you again. Very glad indeed the bag is found — glad you read the article of Dr. Holmes in the Atlantic Monthly. It is, indeed, a defense pat for your case. I knew you would like it. You must keep it. When we are old folks it will freshly remind us of a very interesting part of our war experience.
If the enchanted bag contains my spurs, and if they are both alike (which I doubt), you may send them to me when a good chance offers. The pair I now use are those worn by Lorin Andrews and given me by McCook. I don't want to lose them.
The fine weather of the past week has been very favorable for our business and we are getting on rapidly. The river is so low that a cold snap would freeze it up, and leave us “out in the cold” in a very serious way — that is, without the means of getting grub. This would compel us to leave our little log city and drive us back towards Ohio. . . .
One of our new second lieutenants — McKinley — a handsome bright, gallant boy, got back last night. He went to Ohio to recruit with the other orderly sergeants of the regiment. He tells good stories of their travels. The Thirtieth and Twelfth sergeants stopped at second-class hotels, but the Twenty-third boys “splurged.” They stopped at the American and swung by the big figure. Very proper. They are the generals of the next war.
I rode over to the Eighty-ninth. Promising boys over there. I like the cousins much. Ike Nelson is a master spirit. The others will come out all right.
Yes, darling, these partings don't grow any easier for us, but you don't regret that, I am sure. It will be all the pleasanter when it is all over. How is your health? Is all right with you? Your sake, not mine. Thanks for the Harper and Atlantic, mailed me by Stephenson. Love to all.
Conners whom we saw at Frederick is not dead. He returned safely last night. All the wounded are gathering in except the discharged. Sergeant Tyler whom we saw with his arm off at Frederick is in a bad way — others doing well. . . .
Affectionately yours, ever,
P. S. — Three months ago the battle of South Mountain. We celebrated it by climbing the mountain on the other side of the river to the castle-like-looking rocks which overlook the Falls of the Kanawha. Captains Hood, Zimmerman, Canby, Lovejoy and Lieutenant Bacon were of the party. Hood and I beat the crowd to the top. Hood, the worst wounded, up first. When I saw him shot through that day I little thought I would ever see him climbing mountains again.
SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 374-5