Monday, June 13, 2011

A Love Letter to a Future U. S. President

Today's entry is written by Lucy W. Hayes, wife of Rutherford B Hayes.  Rutherford B. Hayes, from Ohio, served as an officer during the Civil War, eventually being promoted to general.

Lucy W Hayes was an abolitionist and supporter of women rights. During the Civil War she routinely visited her husband's military camp, and helped in military hospitals. She reportedly disliked being a woman and unable to fight on the battlefield for the North.  She also secured supplies from Northern civilians to better equip the Union soldiers. Soldiers in the Twenty-third Ohio nicknamed Lucy Hayes "Mother of the Regiment" for her contributions to their welfare.  (

Here are some excerpts from a rather touching letter that Lucy wrote Rutherford at the beginning of the war -- a love letter to a future U.S. President, surely one of many such missives written by women waiting at home.  This letter can be found at

Cincinnati. June 13 th [1861]
Dearest Ruddy,

I cannot tell you how happy your first letter made me- I felt certain - satisfied that you loved me as dearly and truly as in all the past years- How rapidly time passes away we are now almost old folks and yet it is but a few months in feeling- I was down street to day and when I came home found your dear letter and read it and reread it till I almost knew it by heart . . . .

. . . .My greatest happiness now would be to feel that I was doing some thing for the comfort and happiness of our men I feel that in giving you up- (for dearest it is hard to feel we may be parted) I have tried to do cheerfully and with out a murmur what was my duty- If I could only follow you where ever you are called to go no privation or trial would cause the slightest discontent- you would find Ruddy that your foolish little trial of a wife was fit to be a soldiers wife. 

. . . .It is well dearest that you have expressed the wish to have me with you- for I had settled in my own mind- that as long as I can be with you I will but it was such a happiness to know that you in the midst of all the hurry and bustle of camp life thought of it.

. . . .Good bye my dearest- May it not be long till we shall be together.
Your loving Wife

Lucy W. Hayes, from the Library of Congress Collection

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