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Brevet Major-General Rutherford B. Hayes, U.S.V.

Brevet Major-General Rutherford B. Hayes, ex-President of the United States, was born in Delaware, Ohio, October 4, 1822. At the outbreak of the Rebellion, he was elected captain of the military company formed from the celebrated Cincinnati Literary Club. In June, 1861, he was appointed major of the Twenty-third Ohio Infantry, and was ordered to West Virginia in July following, remaining there until the summer of 1862, when his command was transferred to the Potomac, and participated in the battle of South Mountain. In this action Hayes was severely wounded in the arm. He served in West Virginia in 1863, against John Morgan in Ohio, and in the movement against the Tennessee Railroad in the spring of 1864, and led a brigade with marked success in the battle of Cloyd's Mountain.

He took part in several engagements between Early and Sheridan's troops prior to the battle of Winchester. In that important encounter he had the right of Crook's command, and it was therefore his troops which, in conjunction with the cavalry, executed the turning maneuver that decided the fate of the day.

At one point in the advance his command came upon a deep slough, fifty yards wide and stretching across the whole front of his brigade. Beyond was a rebel battery. If the brigade endeavored to move around the obstruction it would be exposed to a severe enfilading fire; while, if discomfited, the line of advance would be broken in a vital part. Hayes, with the instinct of a soldier, at once gave the word " Forward!" and spurred his horse into the swamp. Horse and rider plunged at first nearly out of sight, but Hayes struggled on till the beast sank hopelessly into the mire. Then dismounting, he waded to the farther bank, climbed to the top, and beckoned with his cap to the men to follow. In the attempt to obey many were shot or drowned, but a sufficient number crossed the ditch to form a nucleus for the brigade; and, Hayes still leading, they climbed the bank and charged the battery. The enemy fled in great disorder, and Hayes reformed his men and resumed the advance. The passage of the slough was at the crisis of the fight, and the rebels broke on every side in confusion.

At Fisher's Hill Hayes led a division in the turning movement assigned to Crook's command. Clambering up the steep sides of North Mountain, which was covered with an almost impenetrable entanglement of trees and underbrush, the division gained, unperceived, a position in rear of the enemy's line, and then charged with so much fury that the rebels hardly attempted to resist, but fled in utter rout and dismay. Hayes was at the head of his column throughout this brilliant charge.

At Cedar Creek he was again engaged. While riding at full speed, his horse was shot under him, but, soon recovering, he sprang to his feet and limped to his command.

"For gallant and meritorious service in the battles of Winchester, Fisher's Hill, and Cedar Creek," Colonel Hayes was promoted to the rank of brigadier-general of volunteers, and brevetted major-general for "gallant and distinguished service during the campaign of 1864 in West Virginia, and particularly in the battles of Fisher's Hill and Cedar Creek." He had commanded a brigade for more than two years, and at the time of these promotions was in command of the Kanawha division. In the course of his service in the army he was five times wounded, and had four horses shot under him.

General Hayes was in 1864, while in the field, elected to Congress, and in 1866 was re-elected. He was elected governor of Ohio in 1867, and re-elected in 1869 and in 1875. He filled the office of President of the United States from March 4, 1877, to 1881, and is now living in private life at his home in Ohio.

General Grant, in his Memoirs (Vol. II.), says of General Hayes

"On more than one occasion in these engagements General R. B. Hayes, who succeeded me as President of the United States, bore a very honorable part. His conduct on the field was marked by conspicuous gallantry as well as the display of qualities of a higher order than that of mere personal daring. This might well have been expected of one who could write at the time he is said to have done so, 'Any officer fit for duty who at this crisis would abandon his post to electioneer for a seat in Congress ought to be scalped.' Having entered the army as a major of volunteers at the beginning of the war, General Hayes attained by meritorious service the rank of brevet major-general before its close."

Source: Officers of the Volunteer Army and Navy who served in the Civil War, published by L.R. Hamersly & Co., 1893, 419 pgs.

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