Thursday, August 24, 2006

Lucy Hayes’ Civil War Letters

The Rutherford Hayes Center has transcribed all of Lucy Hayes’ Civil War letters. I found these absolutely fascinating to read and they give a much warmer, fuller picture of Lucy Hayes than the title we all remember – Lemonade Lucy. The letters would even make a nice addition to any Civil War lesson. You can also go visit the Lucy Hayes Heritage Center. So go explore another side of Lucy Hayes so you will remember more than the fact she discouraged the use of alcohol in the White House!

I decided I need to post at least one here in case you aren’t the link following type! That way I will lure you in (my diabolical plan!).

Before you read, though, you will need an adjustment to your mental image of the Hayes. I want you to think of this version of the Hayes:
Wedding picture, Source: Lucy Hayes Center

As opposed to this one (the one I bet was in your head!):

Source: WW Norton

Cincinnati- June 13th [1861]

Dearest Ruddy, [Remember what I told you - President Hayes in his official portraits doesn't make a good "Ruddy," but the first one does!]

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- I can sympathize with your feelings as the men were sworn in- what a solemn sight it is- and oh how my heart fills with joy and feelings too great for utterance crowd upon me as I think of our brave men- This morning as I was going down street a young man dressed in Guthrie Grey- spoke to me How do you do Mrs Hayes- I looked closely at him and recognised [sic] the boy or man that used to be in the meat store- He grasped my hand warmly and I felt that he was not a poor boy but one of our defenders-

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 without a murmur what was my duty- If I could only follow you whereever [sic] 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.

Ruddy last night I dreamed that Dr Muscroft was Surgeon of the Regiment- I awoke in an agony- if I could only feel that brother- Joe would be with you- I could see you go cheerfully- you do not know how intense my feeling is upon the subject dearest do all you can I know you have confidence in him- and oh how it would brighten my heart-

Mother says she never felt before that you were really away from us- she is pretty well and sends much love to you-

Birchie says tell Papa- That I have prayed for him and asked God to take care of him- and he must pray for himself and say I love him so much Webb says- Ask him if he wants me and Birch up there- I wish he would say, yes- that he prays for him every night and if you want any nuts he will bring them to you Webb says to tell you Ruddy says his prayers and says Now I lay me down to sleep- Ruddy says- sends the letter to him- and give him some nuts-

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. We have had two letters from Uncle which I will send- also the notice of your election to the Presidency of the Y- M G. Association.

We are all well- hope to see you soon- I will have everything ready for you as far as I know-

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

Your loving Wife


Jude said...

Wow, this is great. Thanks for the link. I have no idea when I'll have *time* to read these letters, but at least now I know they exist.

Anonymous said...

This is really neat I never even thought of looking for civil War letters on the internet but there here.