More soldiers passed down on the cars. Mrs. Bailey is quite sick. I sat with her two hours this afternoon -- am afraid she will have a settled fever. She has just heard the particulars of death of her brother in law, Rev. Mr. Maddox who has been under Military arrest nearly a year, and lately died at Camp Chase. He was a Virginian and his proclivities were all Southern. Still after his first arrest he took the oath of allegiance and there does not appear to have been any sufficient cause for his second arrest and imprisonment. There are doubtless some cases where individuals suffer hardship and injustice.
The bloody battles of the Wilderness and Spotsylvania Court House were drawing to a close. Rufus again wrote to his wife Mary Gates Dawes:
Line of Battle near Spottsylvania, May 20th, 1864
Who should come riding to the battle front but your good father. I saw him for only a few moments, but I was greatly rejoiced and encouraged. His visit did me more good than I can tell you, and for him to come to the front was an undertaking of no little peril, as it proved. He barely escaped getting into a battle, but he is all right at Fredericksburgh. I sent Philip Gaubatz with him and he is back.
Our hearts were rejoiced also this morning at receiving our mail. I got five letters from you. I will not try to write how burdens are lightened and how life comes back. I find (by the mail,) that the Wisconsin State Agent telegraphed to Wisconsin that I was killed and my body burned. I saw many bodies burning (at Laurel Hill), in the brush between the lines, set on fire by burning wads from the muskets.
I was very much alarmed about your father. The battle was on the road to Fredericksburgh, directly in our rear. The rebels attacked us. This does not look like Lee was entirely defeated, does it? (General B. S. Ewell commanded the troops of the enemy in this action and portions of the second and fifth corps and General Tyler's foot artillerists were engaged on our side). The enemy are probably re-enforced, and I do not believed General Grant will again attack them in their entrenched position. Your letters came to me truly when I was 'sick with the horrors of war.'