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The Role of Lucy Webb Hayes in the Civil War

Emily Apt Geer

Many accounts have been written about the battles of the Civil War and the soldiers who fought them, but there are few stories about the wives and mothers who learned to cope with problems on the home front. Lucy Hayes, who later became First Lady of the United States, and numerous other women contributed more to the war effort than historians of the past realized. The story of Lucy Hayes’ life in Civil War camps, her observations of the hopes, fears, and prejudices of the civilian population, her encounters with Washington bureaucracy, and her efforts to provide a happy home for her children, even as she agonized over the fate of her husband and brothers, exemplify the part played by women of the Midwest in the War Between the States.

In the decade before the Civil War, Lucy and her husband, Rutherford Hayes, tried to convince themselves that differences between the North and South could be settled without resort to arms. But the firing upon the federal fort, square-walled Sumter, in Charleston harbor on April 12, 1861 followed by President Lincoln’s call for militia ended the hopes for a peaceful conciliation.

When the news of Sumter reached the home of the Hayes’ family in Cincinnati, Ohio, an enthusiasm for military action replaced Lucy’s doubts and questions. She even felt that if she had been at Ft. Sumter with a garrison of women, there would have been no abject surrender. The men of the family, her husband and brother, Dr. Joseph Webb, favored a vigorous war policy; all day long, her three little boys marched around the house beating their tin drums and shooting make-believe rifles. The two older women in the household took a more somber view of the situation; Sophia Hayes, Rutherford’s mother, visiting them at the time, read from the Old Testament, by the hour, and prophesied that "we are to be punished for our sins"; Maria Webb, Lucy’s mother, quietly grieved over the turn of events.

A wave of patriotism engulfed Cincinnati, Lucy reported in a letter to Rutherford’s niece, "The Northern heart is truly fired - - the enthusiasm that prevails in our city is perfectly irresistible." Then she added as a perceptive after-thought, "Those who favor secession or even sympathy with the South find it prudent to be quiet."

For a few weeks after the Sumter incident, Rutherford Hayes tried to concentrate on his law practice, but before the end of May he and his friend, Judge Stanley Matthews, decided "to go into the service for the war." As the father of three young children, Birchard Austin, seven years old, Webb Cook, five, and Rutherford Platt, nearly three, and as a man nearly forty, Hayes quite reasonably could have left the fighting to younger men without family responsibilities. Although motivated by patriotism, a desire for change from the routine of civilian life, and dreams of winning glory on the battlefield, he would not have volunteered without Lucy’s encouragement and enthusiasm for the "holy and just" cause.

After several weeks of communication with Governor William Dennison and other influential Ohioans, Matthews and Hayes received commissions as lieutenant colonel and major, in that order, of the newly-formed Twenty-third Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment. Unlike many men who volunteered, Hayes served in the Union army until the end of the war in 1865. While on guard duty in West Virginia, he conducted forays into enemy lines, and in the theater of the war east of the Appalachians commanded units in fierce encounters with Confederate forces. He suffered bullet wounds on three occasions and other injuries when horses were shot from under him. Various promotions culminated in Hayes’ appointment on the battlefield as a brigadier general; upon his resignation from the army in May 1864, he received the brevet (honorary) rank of major general of the volunteers. Throughout the war, Lucy’s pride in her husband sustained him in difficult situations.

Following six weeks of intensive training at Camp Jackson, near Columbus, Ohio, the Twenty-third left for Clarksburg in western Virginia (part of the area that officially became West Virginia in 1863). Lucy, who had journeyed to Columbus to spend the last days near Rutherford, tried to conceal her tears as the train bearing the regiment pulled out of the High Street station. Then, seeking solace for her loneliness, Lucy, her mother, and the three Hayes children left for a visit with her aunt, Margaret Boggs, who lived north of Chillicothe, Ohio. The first of September they returned to Cincinnati. With her headaches increasing in her fifth month of pregnancy, Lucy found it pleasant to be "quietly at home" again.

Lucy tried to be a good soldier’s wife, but, as her husband knew, it would have been contrary to her nature to have hidden her worries completely. She wrote that the boys missed their father and Uncle Joe, who had been assigned to the Twenty-third as a surgeon, but she did not regret his decision to enter the army because "every day I feel our cause more holy and just...." Then showing the compassion characteristic of her personality added, "You know my great desire is that you and Joe constantly feel for the soldiers - - do what you can to lighten their hardships."

Along with news of the family, and Cincinnati’s efforts to prevent an invasion of the city, her letters reflected the public’s criticism of the war effort, particularly her anger over President Lincoln’s treatment of her hero, General John C. Fremont. (Eventually, Fremont’s incompetence and disregard of the President’s orders forced Lincoln to remove him as commander of the Western Department.) Like many other civilians, Lucy had little understanding of Lincoln’s problems in dealing with the border states. In one letter she wrote:

At times, we have such conflicting rumors of trouble in the
Cabinet- - then the present trouble with General Fremont,
till I feel almost crazed and think there are not true men
among our leaders- - President Lincoln I fear lacks
decision- - he is too easy.

Lucy Hayes was even more agitated when she wrote to her husband a few weeks later:

Do you ever feel impatient, vexed and in fact as mad as a
March Hare with all the Generals and most especially with
the President of these United States- - Daniel’s interpretation
of the handwriting on the Wall- - will apply to A Lincoln.

This letter, reflecting her abhorrence of slavery, also admonished her husband not to allow the regiment to be disgraced by returning any contraband (escaped slaves) to the South.

Dr. Joseph Webb returned to Cincinnati early in December to assist in the birth of his sister’s baby. When he wrote to Rutherford Hayes in western Virginia, he observed, "This city presents none of the appearances of War; save the number of military coats one meets with; ...all the ladies are working for the soldiers, knitting gloves, mittens & C." A few weeks later, December 21, 1861, Lucy Hayes gave birth to her fourth son, whom the older boys affectionately named "little Joseph." When the news reached Rutherford, he admitted how much he had worried: "I love you so much," he wrote Lucy, "and have felt so anxious about you...It is best it was not a daughter. These are no times for women."

In her first letter to Rutherford after the birth of baby Joseph, Lucy Hayes wrote, "How long the time seems since we parted- - almost six months- -the first time in nine happy years." Before she had finished writing, a sergeant on-leave from Hayes’ regiment stopped to collect the letter. A few days earlier, this same soldier, in a state of intoxication, pushed his way past her protesting nurse to personally deliver a message from Lieutenant Colonel Hayes (promoted the last of October). With typical consideration, Lucy asked her husband not to reprimand the soldier because "getting home had quite overcome him."

Lucy was pleased whenever soldiers from the regiment stopped in Cincinnati to deliver messages from Rutherford; along with words of praise for his leadership. A visit from Hayes’ commanding officer turned out well, after he expressed admiration for Rutherford’s character and candidly discussed army promotions with her. She wrote her husband’s uncle, Sardis Birchard, that if soldiers and officers liked Rutherford after the close association of camp life, "his talent for governing is fixed." Lucy’s interest in her husband’s career and confidence in his ability not only supported and encouraged him as a soldier, but as a congressman, governor of Ohio, and finally President of the United States.

In February, Rutherford’s turn for a furlough allowed him to become acquainted with the new baby. Arrangements were made at this time for Lucy and the children to move to Fremont, Ohio early in the summer, where they would live in a house Sardis Birchard had built for them in Spiegel Grove. After Rutherford left Ohio, Lucy began to worry about the plan, particularly when it became apparent the Sophia Hayes would live there also. Finally, with trepidation because of her horror of family "jars," Lucy revealed the extent of her concern to Rutherford. To her relief, Rutherford supported her desire to postpone the move until after the war. (Actually Lucy found excuses to put off the move until 1873.)

Most of the letters Lucy and Rutherford Hayes exchanged early in 1862 expressed optimism about an early end to the war. Exhilaration, after victories in western Kentucky and Tennessee in the early spring, turned to anxiety when reports of casualties suffered by Ohio troops in the battle of Pittsburg Landing (Shiloh) reached Cincinnati newspaper. Distraught when she read that two regiments, lacking ammunition and composed largely of new recruits, bore the brunt of the criticism, she wrote, " Is it not cruel to disgrace so many men- - when others were really to blame."

How much Lucy Hayes wished she could do something to ease the suffering of the wounded and dying! She often reminded her brothers, Joseph and James Webb, both of whom served with the medical corps, that they should be kind and tender in their treatment of the wounded. She had an opportunity in May to help four disabled soldiers and their doctor-escort who were stranded for the night in Cincinnati. Lucy and her mother lodged them in their home and had coffee ready the next morning before they boarded the train for Chicago. "I thought of you," she told Rutherford, " in a strange country- - wounded and trying to get home. . .but if any one was kind to you- - would I not feel thankful."

Coincidentally, at about the same time, Rutherford found himself in a somewhat similar position. As commander of a company sent to relieve soldiers occupying an advanced position near an important Confederate railroad junction, he came under heavy enemy fire. To counteract a false report that he suffered a serious wound, he wired Lucy, "My wound was merely a scratch on the knee which did me no harm..."

Having seen the account of the action in the newspaper, Lucy appreciated the prompt dispatch from Rutherford. She wrote, "The lightness of heart that took the place of the heavy load is indescribable- - now I feel you will let me know whatever happens." As have other soldiers’ wives, she gently reminded her husband that she should be the first to know if disaster overtook him. Her heart "glowed with pride" as she read the story of the engagement, but she mourned those who had fallen and asked, " Would not the sad intelligence (to relatives) be lightened by words of praise and condolence from their leader."

At times, during the spring of 1862, Lucy felt that she could not endure separation any longer, "And yet with all her heart’s longing I would not call you home...it is right- - your duty, and so believing I look to the happy future when we shall be together." She wondered if he tired of reading her rambling letters for "writing is not my forte but loving is..."

Late in the summer, Hayes’ regiment was transferred to the Washington area. Although camped along the road to Manassas Junction on August 29 and 30, no order came through for them to join the Second Battle of Bull Run. As he listened to the sound of guns, Rutherford wondered why the thousands of troops in the area were not massed together to overwhelm the army of General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson. He also reread letters from Lucy and mused, "Darling wife, how this painful separation is made a blessing by the fine character it develops or brings to view. How I love her more and more!" During the first years of their marriage, Lucy’s reactions sometimes baffled and bewildered Rutherford, but wartime reunions and candid comments in her letters deepened his understanding of her character and personality.

On the morning of September 14, 1862, Ohio brigades tried to seize a fortified hill in the South Mountain Range, near Sharpsburg, Maryland, where the Battle of Antietam took place three days later. The leading regiment commanded by Hayes, soon encountered a heavy concentration of enemy forces, and in the furious fighting a musket ball struck Hayes’ left arm; although painfully wounded, he continued to direct the action until his men insisted upon carrying him from the field. Shortly afterward, the remainder of the brigade came up and a united charge drove the enemy from the hill. Dr. Joe Webb dressed Hayes’ wound in the field hospital and later an ambulance took him to Middletown, Maryland where he was cared for in the home of Jacob Rudy. Expert treatment by Dr. Webb probably prevented amputation of Hayes’ arm.

The morning after the battle, Rutherford Hayes dictated dispatches concerning his injury to his wife, brother-in-law in Columbus, William Platt, and a close friend in Cincinnati, John Herron. Later Lucy learned that the orderly had money for only two messages and the telegrapher selected for transmission those addressed to the men instead of the wife- - an act that infuriated her.

Lucy Hayes’ animated account of the missing telegraph plus that of a second and misleading message, and the story of her frustrated search for her wounded husband became such a favorite with the family that they persuaded her to dictate it to a White House stenographer, while Hayes was President (1877-1881). The original draft entitled "Lucy’s Search for Her Husband," typed in capital characters on one of the early typewriters provides the basis for the following narrative.

A few days after the Battle of South Mountain, Lucy, visiting near Chillicothe, received the following telegram from her husband: " I am here, come to me. I shall not lose my arm." The telegram bore a Washington byline. Leaving the children with relatives and entrusting her mother to find a wet nurse for the baby, Lucy caught the early morning stage to Columbus. William Platt met her at the stage office and insisted upon accompanying her to Washington. Lucy forgot the passes that would permit them to enter the military area, but by pretending to be with another party evaded sentries at the Harrisburg railroad station. Finally, a week after Hayes had been wounded, they arrived in Washington.

Surprised not to find Rutherford at the Kirkwood House where he said he would be in case of accident, Lucy Hayes began a round of the hospitals. There she encountered the bureaucratic red-tape and inefficiency that plagued war-time Washington.

Personnel at the Patent Office, which had been turned into a military hospital, repulsed Lucy in what she described as a very "cruel and unfeeling manner," nor did she have any success in efforts to secure information from the Surgeon General’s Office in the Capitol Building. After considerable difficulty, Platt located the original draft of the telegram on which Middletown had been marked out and Washington substituted. The telegraph operator had no explanation for this.

At Lucy’s insistence, they returned to the Patent Office, hoping for more information about Rutherford. Among the wounded soldiers on the steps, Lucy noticed several with "23" on their caps and called out "Twenty-third Ohio." Immediately several shouted "Why, this is Mrs. Hayes." Much to her relief, they knew their colonel had been taken to a house on the main street of Middletown to recuperate from his wound.

By noon, Lucy Hayes and William Platt were on their way to Frederick, Maryland, as close as the railroad could take them to Middletown. Lucy stood in the aisle most of the three hours on the hot and dusty ride over a war-torn roadbed. When they finally alighted in Frederick, they found Dr. Webb, who had ridden over from Middletown every evening hoping they would arrive.

While the men hitched the horse to a rented carriage, Lucy sat on the steps of the station, " With my bundle in my hand, looking rather forlorn, when a rather rough looking man said to me, ‘Haven’t you any place to stay tonight?’ I said, ’Yes, I am going on.’" Fortunately the buggy pulled up at that moment and Lucy, Platt, and Dr. Joe crowded into the single seat of the carriage.

When they reached the Rudy house in Middletown, Rutherford greeted Lucy with the jest, "Well you thought you would visit Washington and Baltimore." Lucy’s sense of humor may have been strained because she answered rather laconically that she was glad to see him.

Lucy spent her time in Middletown looking after her husband and visiting wounded soldiers in local homes and makeshift hospitals. About two weeks after her arrival, Rutherford and Lucy with six or seven disabled soldiers of the Twenty-third began the tiresome journey back to Ohio.

On one occasion when they had to change trains, Lucy Hayes, finding no seats in coaches, led the way into the Pullman car which was occupied by the fashionable crowd returning from Saratoga. Oblivious to resentful glances, Lucy helped her "boys" into empty seats. When a telegraph messenger came through the car paging Colonel Hayes, the "society folk" became interested in the group and offered them grapes and other delicacies. Lucy disdainfully declined them. As a cousin recalled, "Even reminiscently, years afterward, as she told the story, she declined them.

When the Hayes family discussed events of the Civil War, they remembered most vividly the months they spent together in army camps along the Kanawha River. After January 1863, Hayes served as commander of the First Brigade of the Second Kanawha Division, which was responsible for guarding West Virginia from enemy attacks. Except for occasional danger from Confederate raids and anxiety over forays into enemy territory, West Virginia provided a relatively safe haven for families of Union officers.

After Hayes’ arm healed and he rejoined the regiment, he began to encourage the family to come to West Virginia. Thus toward the end of January, Lucy and the two older boys, Birch and Webb came to Camp Reynolds, a log cabin village on the Kanawha, near Gauley Bridge. As described by Hayes, mother and sons "rowed skiffs, built dams, sailed little ships, played cards, and enjoyed the camp life generally." It worried Rutherford, however, to have Lucy and here brother ride any distance from the camp area, particularly after one occasion when the found Union picket lines removed and had to dash back to camp with rebels in hot pursuit. When the brigade abandoned Camp Reynolds and moved to Camp White, across the river from Charleston, Lucy and the boys returned to Ohio.

From their home in Cincinnati, Lucy complained about the high price of butter- -considered necessary for the baby’s health- -and the rising cost of coal. With houses scarce and in great demand, rents showed a perceptible increase. The next year, a combination of high prices and heavy family expenses influenced the Hayes family to rent their house in Cincinnati to friends.

Lucy rejoiced when she heard that a daring raid by Jenkins’ Confederate cavalry on strategic Point Pleasant, located where the Kanawha joins the Ohio River, had been repulsed. She wanted to begin her letter to Rutherford with the chorus of "John Brown’s Body"- -"Glory, glory, hallelujah!...His soul is marching on"- -but her husband might think her "daft". Also the victory of the Union (war-time term used by the Republican party) ticket in local elections pleased her. Referring to the selection of a former army officer for superior court judge, Lucy said she did not believe a soldier should leave his post for public office; thus expressing a sentiment that Rutherford made famous later when he refused to take time out from the army to canvas for a seat in Congress. A further item in this letter described her distress when a relative, surgeon in General Braxton Bragg’s Confederate army, who had been paroled following his capture in the Battle of Murfreesboro, stopped to see them on his way South. She explained, "Love your enemies is not prominent in my character."

On June 15, 1863, Lucy Hayes, her four sons, and mother, Maria Webb traveled to Camp White on the river steamer Market Boy. After a few happy days together, little Joseph became ill and died (June 24). His father wrote in his diary that complications brought about by teething and dysentery caused his death. Hayes had seen so little of the eighteen-month-old baby that he did not "...realize a loss; but his mother, and still more his grandmother lost their little dear companion, and are very much afflicted." In later years, Lucy Hayes said the bitterest hour of her life was when she stood by the door of the cottage at Camp White and watched the steamer with the "lonely little body" depart for Cincinnati. Lucy’s brother, James Webb, who had resigned from the army because of poor health, assisted friends in Cincinnati bury the child in Spring Grove Cemetery. Lucy and her children left a few days later for Chillicothe where they hoped to escape the heat and humidity of the city.

Early in the autumn, Rutherford, apprehensive that the brigade might be ordered East, sent word to Lucy to come to Camp White immediately. She left Webb and Ruddy with their Grandmother Webb in Chillicothe and Birchard with his uncle in Fremont. Soon a letter arrived for Birchard from his mother. She described how the officers and their wives sat around the campfire on the fine October nights listening to the regimental band or watching the soldiers square-dance with each other to the merry sound of the fiddle. One officer’s wife remembered that Lieutenant William McKinley (a future President of the United States), "a jolly happy boy of 20," spent so much time tending the camp-fire that Lucy Hayes nicknamed him Casabianca. (A reference to a young naval hero who refused to leave a burning ship during the Battle of the Nile, 1798).

When it became evident that the regiment would remain in the Kanawha Valley for the winter and the family could live there, Lucy and Rutherford decided it would be economical to rent their home in Cincinnati. Lucy and Dr. Joe Webb made the necessary arrangements and then returned to camp with Maria Webb, Ruddy, and Webb; Birch did not join the family until March, 1864.

Lucy Hayes deserved the popularity she enjoyed with the soldiers; she nursed them when they were ill, sewed and mended their uniforms, and listened to their troubles. One story that reflected her kindness appeared in the Ohio State Journal when Rutherford ran for President in 1876. A slightly abbreviated version follows:

James Parker of Trumbull County was jolly good-natured
"boy" soldier. He expressed concern to his comrades
because there was no one to mend his blouse and sew on
pockets. "Why Jim," they said "why don’t you take it to the
woman who does sewing for the regiment, and get her to
fix it." When he asked where he could find the woman, they
told him that she was in Colonel’s tent.

Parker walked over to the tent, saluted Colonel Hayes and
explained what
he wanted. Hayes, with a merry twinkle in
his eye, called Mrs. Hayes who
promised to fix the blouse.

When Parker returned to his comrades and told them that
he had left his blouse "with the woman to be fixed," they
weren’t sure whether the joke was on him or themselves.
Later in the day, when Parker appeared with his blouse
neatly mended and two ample pockets in it, he was the
hero of the company.

Later in April, the Twenty-third Regiment broke camp and started on the memorable campaign of 1864. For the first few days, the troops marched along the Kanawha River. Lucy and several of the wives rented a small boat and steamed slowly up the river, cheering and waving to the troops as they kept pace with them. When the head of navigation was reached, the little craft turned and started downstream. As a veteran recalled, "Mrs. Hayes...stood aft and waved us an encouraging adieu, and the mountains round rang with the cheers of the brave boys."

If the soldiers of the Twenty-third Regiment could have foretold the hardships and slaughter of the campaign of 1864, there would have been little gaiety and few cheers on the beautiful spring morning when they marched away from Camp White. Nor could Lucy Hayes, smiling and waving to the columns, guess the full extent of the anxiety she would feel as she waited for news from the battlefield.

After leaving West Virginia, Lucy and her family, as they had after previous separations, sought refuge with the kind and affectionate relatives in Chillicothe. Since this might be a long visit, Lucy rented two rooms in what she described as a pleasant and convenient boarding house with a large play-yard for the children and space for a garden. The rent amounted to fifty dollars a month.

In the meantime, the West Virginia divisions took part in important raids near the Virginia border. While the soldiers rested between thrusts into enemy-held territory, Rutherford wrote that the new flag Lucy had sent was flying before headquarters. Provoked, Lucy reminded him that the flag was meant for the soldiers and not the staff." (To) let them know how near they are to me- -that not a day passes that our gallant soldiers are not remembered by me." Anxious as usual to please his wife, Rutherford arranged to have the flag from Lucy presented to the regiment at dress parade.

During the time Hayes’ brigade took part in the dangerous raids into rebel territory, the family in Chillicothe spoke of little else but the war. Lucy wrote that Webb talked only of the "glory of victory" but Birch thought of "desolate homes and hearts." Worried about the fate of a cousin, who died later in Andersonville prison and fearing that wounded soldiers of the regiment left with their nurses in enemy territory might be taken to Danville prison, Lucy criticized President Lincoln for excessive kindness to the rebel prisoners. In reply, Rutherford scolded her for suggesting that Lincoln should or could protect Union prisoners by a policy of retaliation. He thought such a policy should be avoided as much as possible. "There are ‘brutal Rebels’ no doubt," he wrote, " but we have brutal officers and men too...And there are plenty of humane Rebels."

After a short rest from the rigors of the raids, General George Crook’s Army of the Kanawha, which included Hayes’ command, received orders to join Union forces in northern Virginia. En route Rutherford Hayes spent a weekend with his family at the Boggs farm. Lucy appreciated the short visit, but the weeks that followed with Rutherford in the midst of dangerous campaigns distressed her. As sensitive and thoughtful husband, he continued to try to send dispatches assuring her of his safety after every major engagement.

In August, 1864, political supporters of Hayes in Cincinnati nominated him for Congress from the second district (previously he had served as City Solicitor for Cincinnati). Appreciative of the compliments and congratulations, Lucy wrote to Uncle Sardis, " Of course dear Uncle it is gratifying to know how he stands with our citizens and friends -- I wonder if all women or wives have such a unbounded admiration for their better half." Rutherford measured up to the expectations of his wife and friends in this answer to the plea that he take time off to canvass: "An officer fit for duty who at this crisis would abandon his post to electioneer for a seat in Congress ought to be scalped." Doubtless Hayes’ concept of duty, his war record, and reputation for integrity helped him with the election to Congress in October.

With Rutherford’s brigade exposed to constant danger in the fierce fighting for possession of the Shenandoah Valley and uncomfortable because of her impending confinement, the last days of August were a nightmarish period for Lucy Hayes. "I hope it is true," she wrote, "the darkest hour is just before day." She also worried about threats by "butternuts" (nickname for rural secession sympathizers) to burn barns in the Chillicothe area. Before long, cooler weather and her natural tendency toward optimism helped Lucy recover her spirits.

Rutherford and Lucy Hayes’ fifth son was born on September 29, 1864. When Lucy was able to write her husband, she described the baby as a "fine large child...No little stranger was ever so warmly welcomed by Uncles and Cousins. We have given Uncle Scott (Cook) the title of Grandfather." Eventually they named the baby George Crook after Rutherford’s favorite army commander.

About the same time Lucy posted her letter, Cincinnati papers carried the news that Rutherford Hayes had been killed in the Battle of Cedar Creek, an engagement immortalized by the poet’s description of General Philip Sheridan’s success in turning defeat into victory. Soon after the delivery of the newspaper, purposely put aside by Uncle Scott, a telegraph boy arrived with the following message for Lucy from a captain in Hayes’ command. "The report that your husband was killed this morning is untrue. He was wounded, not dangerously, and is safe."

In November, 1864, President Lincoln was re-elected by a sizable margin of electoral votes. Although pleased with the outcome, Lucy Hayes was disturbed because Kentucky cast a majority for General George McClellan, the Democratic nominee. Her brother Joe assured her that Kentucky would come out all right and suggested she be charitable toward their Kentucky relatives who criticized emancipation. "It touches their pocket," he explained, "where more principles are carried than anywhere else."

In common with much of the North, Lucy Hayes’ joy in the fall of Richmond and the surrender of Lee’s army at Appomattox Courthouse on April 9, 1865 quickly turned to sorrow at the assassination of President Lincoln on April 14. She began her letter, "From such great joy how soon we were filled with sorrow and grief past utterance." Then in her own words, "I am sick and tired of this endless talk of Forgiveness- -taking them back like brothers. . . . Justice and Mercy should be together." Anticipating Rutherford’s reaction, she added, "Now don’t say to me Ruddy that I ought not to write so."

The middle of May, Rutherford met Lucy at Marietta, Ohio and after stopping at his last post, New Creek, West Virginia, to send in his resignation from the army, they proceeded to Washington for the Grand Review of the army. On May 23 and 24, Rutherford and Lucy watched from the Congressional stand as Union legions marched in review along Pennsylvania Avenue.

Lucy Hayes wrote her mother that she borrowed Rutherford’s field glasses to watch President Andrew Johnson and General Grant, in the reviewing stand directly opposite. She could not help but have confidence in the President: "A fine noble looking man- - who impresses you with the feeling of honesty and sincerity." General Grant appeared "noble" and "unassuming," and his two little boys leaned on him with "all fondness and love." It thrilled her to see the cavalry that fought "so splendidly" in the Valley and around Richmond, but she regretted that their brave leader, General Sheridan, was not with them. She hoped foreign ministers watching would be impressed by the power and might of the United States.

The following lines, which concluded her description of the Grand Review, briefly and eloquently expressed her sentiment toward the conflict:

While my heart filled with joy at the thought of our mighty
country- - its victorious army - - the sad thoughts of thou-
sands who would never gladden home with their presence
made the joyful scene mingled with so much sadness- -that
I could not shake it off.

From the vantage point similar to the Congressional stand, Lucy Hayes had viewed the panorama of the Civil War for four long years. When not living in army camps in West Virginia, she had followed the movements of troops through accounts in the newspapers and exchanges of letters with her husband, brothers, and cousins: a collection of letters remarkable for spontaneity of expression and graphic descriptions of life in the army and on the home front. While Rutherford Hayes had carried out his part as a soldier with bravery and efficiency, Lucy Hayes had faced the problems of civilian life with courage and ingenuity. The unsung contributions of women, such as Lucy Hayes, played an important role in the war effort, both in the North and South.

Originally published in the Great Lakes Review: A Journal of the Midwest Culture (Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago, 1979), Volume 16.