Diary and Letters of Rutherford B. Hayes.

Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes

Camp near Upton’s Hill, near Falls Church, on road to Manassas, August 30, 1862. — All or nearly all day we have heard cannon firing, as is supposed, in direction of Manassas Junction. It is believed that General Jackson is fighting Pope. The firing was heard yesterday a considerable part of the day. We all listen to it, look at the couriers; anybody moving rapidly attracts a thousand eyes. For a long time the thing was not very much attended to. Now it gets exciting. We feel anxious; we wish to know whether the battle is with us or with our foes. It is now 5 or 5:30 P. M. The decision must come soon. It is not a bright nor a dark day. It is neither hot nor cool for the season. A fair fighting day. The only report we hear is that a Union man eight miles out says we got possession of Manassas yesterday, and that the Rebels today are trying to get it back; that they have been repulsed three times. The firing seems to be in the same direction as heretofore and not differing much in loudness. Anxious moments these are! I hear the roar as I write.

7:30 P. M. — A lovely quiet sunset; an exhilarating scene around us; the distant booming growing more faint and more distant, apparently, till at early dark it died away. With us or with our foes?!! It is said Jackson was west of Pope and being driven back; if so, probably “with us.” That Jackson made a speech saying they must win this fight, that it would decide the fate of the Confederacy! Well, we wait. The suspense is less dreadful since the cannon no longer roar.

9:30 P. M. — No news. This I interpret to mean that there has been no decided victory — no decided defeat — a drawn battle. Why not mass tonight all the thousands of troops to overwhelm Jackson tomorrow? It could have been done in time to have flogged him today. He is the rebel chieftain. His destruction destroys the Rebel cause?