Saturday, October 31, 2009

Raise the Rutherford!

Rutherford B. Hayes Month

Hayes & the Civil War
Part VII: Conclusion

Hayes called his years of military service during the Civil War the best years of his life. This now seven-part series in honor of his birthday will visit four locations associated with Hayes’ service to the Union.

As Hayes remarks in his letter to his wife after Cedar Creek, fighting was generally over in the Shenandoah. And Cedar Creek was Hayes’s last battle. In January 1865, he was promoted to brigadier general. In March of 1865, Hayes was brevetted a Major General "for gallant and distinguished service during the campaign of 1864 in West Virginia and particularly at the battles of Fisher's Hill and Cedar Creek, Virginia". But in April 1865, Hayes was supposed to lead a raid on Lynchburg, Virginia, however Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Grant on April 9, 1965. And Lincoln was assassinated on April 14. And there was no need for the raid. The fighting of the Civil War was basically over.

Hayes was officially mustered out of service on June 8, 1865. Having been elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Cincinnati, he prepared to go to Washington to begin the next phase of his life.

Rutherford B. Hayes, taken 1861, from the Hayes Presidential Center

And thus ends Rutherford B. Hayes Month.

Here is a summary of all of the 'Hayes & the Civil War' posts:
Part I: Camp Chase
Part II: Battle of South Mountain
Part III: Battle of Buffington Island
Part IV: Battle of Second Kernstown
Part V: Battle of Third Winchester
Part VI: Battle of Cedar Creek
Part VII: Conclusion

There is so much more that could have been said about Hayes and his military service during the Civil War. I left much out, including many interesting details.

First and foremost, I left out many battles in which Hayes fought with the 23rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry. This includes his first battle, Carnifax Ferry, West Virginia, and a number of other battle sites in present day West Virginia. A whole ‘Hayes in West Virginia’ trip may be in order. (Though ‘The Education of Rutherford B. Hayes’ is certainly on the list at some point as an excuse to visit Harvard again.)

So I also left out how he had been appointed Colonel of the 79th Ohio Infantry Volunteers in 1862, but he never assumed that position and stayed with the 23rd Ohio once appointed their Colonel.

23rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regimental Flag from the Ohio Historical Society Exhibits
But I also left out a bunch of little details . . .
- Like I simply find it fascinating that his wife Lucy and the children would come visit him while the 23rd was in camp, mostly in West Virginia. A man at Cedar Creek indicated that for ranking officers it was easier for family to come to the camp instead of leaving so regimental business could continue.
- Hayes and Lucy even conceived a child, George, while the war was going on. (He would died in 1866.) That child was named after George Crook his commander. And one child, Joseph, died while visiting Camp White near Charleston with his mother. (Joseph & George are buried in Spring Grove. Check out this post from last year.)
- Another interesting side-notion was it never really donned on me that fighting sort of took a break in wintertime.
- And I simply find it fascinating that Hayes would have been 42 by the time fighting had ended in 1865. Yes, 42! President William McKinley for instance was 18 when he enlisted and 22 when the war ended.


Raise the Rutherford! is a continuing, slightly humorous series to raise awareness of Rutherford B. Hayes and erect a statue of him in Cincinnati.

The Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center
Including the Dairy and Letters of Rutherford B. Hayes
Fight for the Colors, The Ohio Battle Flag Collection. Ohio Historical Society Exhibits

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