Influenced by Lucy's antislavery sentiments, [Rutherford] Hayes, who had thought abolitionists too radical, began defending runaway slaves who had crossed the Ohio River from Kentucky. Influenced, in turn, by Rutherford Hayes's feelings against woman suffrage, Lucy, who had two aunts active in the women's movement and after hearing Lucy Stone had herself conceded that reform was needed, did not work for women's rights.
Thanks to the help of her mother, Hayes was freed from the constant care of her children. Taking an active part in her husband's political career, she accompanied him to Indianapolis to ride back to Cincinnati with President-elect Abraham Lincoln. After southerners attacked Fort Sumter, she enthusiastically supported his decision to volunteer for the Union army. Half a dozen times during the Civil War, Lucy Hayes--sometimes accompanied by her mother and children and always participating fully in camp life--joined her husband. Adored by young officers and common soldiers, she often helped her brother Joe, the surgeon of Hayes's regiment, care for the sick. She spent her "bitterest hour" in camp, when her infant son Joe sickened and died (Geer, p. 64). Sadly, the experience was not unique; two of her other boys would die in babyhood.