Martin A. (Martin Alonzo) Haynes.

A minor war history compiled from a soldier boy's letters to the girl I left behind me, 1861-1864. Dramatis personae, The soldier boy - Martin A. Haynes, Company I, Second New Hampshire Volunteer In online

. (page 1 of 16)
Online LibraryMartin A. (Martin Alonzo) HaynesA minor war history compiled from a soldier boy's letters to the girl I left behind me, 1861-1864. Dramatis personae, The soldier boy - Martin A. Haynes, Company I, Second New Hampshire Volunteer In → online text (page 1 of 16)
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The Girl I Lei i Behind Mi




1861 - 1864


The Soldier Boy Martin. A. Haynes

Company /, Second New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry

"The Girl I Left Behind Me" - Cornelia T. Lane

Now and for more than Fifty Years the Wife of the Soldier Boy


i 9 i 6









IN gathering material for a history of the Second Regiment, one of
my sources of information was a big bundle of letters, even then
yellowing with age — my letters, covering a period of over three years,
"written to "The girl I left behind me" These — with the elimination
of such strictly personal matters as concerned only the two of us —
were carefully copied, and the letters then given to the flames. Thirty
years later, breaking the seals of that bundle of manuscript, I read
with indescribable interest my own story of more than half a century
ago. And the whim came upon me to put those scraps of war history
into type and print a few copies, especially for members of the family.
I can see an opening for only one regret. It will probably destroy an
illusion of those four grandchildren — Marforie and Warren, Martin
and Eugene — as to their grandfather's relative importance in the war,
and while Grant and Sherman will be moved up one notch on the roll
of those who put down the Great Rebellion, I will, very likely, have
to be content with third place.

There is lots of history here — minor history, to be sure — and
while there is a sequence of events, it is not a connected story, nor
even complete. A series of letters rarely is. They do not deal, like
Sherman's letters, in the grand strategy of campaigns, but they do
give an idea of what the men in the ranks were talking and thinking
and doing. Their interest lies almost entirely in the fact that they
deal with the trivialities of army life. Here is recorded the small
talk of the camp, and many incidents that are too trivial for big his-
tory, but are really interesting and worth saving. I have preserved
the personality of some of those royal old comrades of mine, who but
for these letters would be remembered only through the cold lines of
the official record. In these sketches — "right off the bat, 1 '' as it were
— they seem to live again, and one can get a very fair idea of what
manner of men they were. It is sometimes with moistened eyes that
I catch the step with them again in these pages and in memory live
over those stirring days when comradeship was so close and meant so

I feel lonesome when I realize that I am almost the last survivor
of those who live and move in the following pages. Not one member

' \e ,'/i.

THE regiment is now uniformed — the queerest-looking uniform
in the world. You have probable seen some like them in the
streets of Manchester, on the First Regiment boys. The suit is gray
throughout, with a light trimming of red cord. The coat is a ''swal-
low-tail," with brass buttons bearing the New Hampshire coat-of-
arms ; a French army cap to top off with.

We have the Manchester Cornet Band here with us now — they
came yesterday. They played in front of the barracks last evening
— lots of the good old tunes that you and I have enjoyed together,
many a time.

6 A Soldier Boy's Letters


Camt Constitution, Portsmouth, June 2, iSbi.

DO not know how much longer we will be here, but not more
than a few days — perhaps not over a week. Yesterday the
First Maine Regiment passed through here. I wish this regiment
had been in their place.


Camp Constitution, Portsmouth, June 7, i8bi.

["1XPECTED I would have a chance to write a long letter to-
_J day. I was on guard last night, and in the natural course

should have had the day to myself. But our company was mustered
this forenoon — sworn in for three years' service — and the regiment
has been marching and parading all the afternoon. I was never
more tired in all my life. We shall be off in a day or two. Next
Tuesday is the time set, but we may not get away until a day or two
later. We are very busy getting ready to leave.

A number of the boys have taken a notion to get married before
leaving for the front, among the number being Eugene Hazewell, E.
Norman (nicknamed "Enormous") Gunnison, and Johnny Ogden,
the round-faced Englishman I pointed out to you down by the cem-
etery, one day.

We have lots of fun with the fellows who come creeping into the
barracks late at night or early in the morning. All sorts of traps are
set, and some one of them generally gets the bird. Sometimes it is
the old trick of tinware over the door, which is bound to rouse the
whole camp, no matter how carefully the door is opened ; or a gun
box set on end in the aisle ; or a rope stretched across it.

Just to bring myself to a realization of how long the three years
ahead ought to seem, I have been measuring back to events that
transpired three years ago. Three years seems a long time looking
into the future, and yet many things that took place three years ago
do not seem so very far away. In the depot at Manchester I met
Ike Sawyer, who ha^ just got bark from sea. I asked him how long
he had been gone this time, and he said, "Over three years." I WWM

A Soldier Boy's Letters 7

surprised that it was so long, and hope the coming three will sort of
shorten up in the same way,

Our company is now stocking up on mascots. The latest addi-
tions are a splendid Newfoundland dog and a pretty maltese cat.

Nich. Biglin is going up tomorrow to bid good bye to a large and
enthusiastic circle of female admirers. Just now he and Dan Mix
are engaged in an animated dispute as to whether a man will get
tight on gin sweetened with sugar sooner than if sweetened with
molasses, and "Heenan" proposes that they go out and experiment.



Camp Constitution, Portsmouth, June 12, rSbi.

(TILL in Portsmouth, in spite of all prophecies, augurs and
Kdy omens. The excuse now is that the baggage wagons and
some other camp equipage are not ready. The time now set is next
Monday, but I am not counting on going before Wednesday, as a
precaution against being disappointed. All our baggage wagons,
harnesses, horses, and other field stuff are in Concord, and it is more
than probable that we shall go there to get it, and thence to New
York through Manchester. I hope so, as it will give me a chance
to see you once more just for a moment.

I was somewhat surprised to hear that Frank had gone to Wash-
ington. I wish he was going with this regiment ; but I shall have as
good care as I could wish for if I am sick, as my uncle, Dr. John, is
going out with us in the hospital department. My aunt wrote me
that if the doctor went she should put on the breeches and go too.

And, by the way, I am not sure that you would recognize me now
that 1 have followed the prevailing fashion and had my flowing locks
shaved off close to my scalp.

Yesterday morning, before breakfast, a party of us boys went
down to the beach and had a glorious frolic, swimming, digging
clams, and catching crabs.

In the regimental organization we are designated as Company I.
It is explained to us that this gives us a post of honor, as the color
company, in the center of the regiment; but I am a little skeptical.

8 A Soldier Boy's Letters

The boys have been singing sentimental songs, but just now have
switched off onto cheers over the taking of Big bethel, in Virginia,
by Gen, Butler. "Hooray/" The way they are tearing it off is a
caution. All are at fever heat to be off and helping in the war.

Headqcakh Rbgt. N. H. V.,

Portsmouth, June /0, iSbi.

"% TL y^"E know, at last, just when we are going away — "sure."
\ \ Next Thursday, at 7 o'clock in the morning, we are off.
A- we go direct to Boston, and not through Manchester, it is good
bye until I come home from the war.

Si. Swain is under guard today. He refused to do duty and in-
vited Rod. Manning, one of the sergeants, to go to H ot place.

My ribs are sore from laughing over the regatta we had today
out on the mill pond. Some of the boys gathered together from
somewhere a number of hogsheads, halved by being sawed in two,
and went voyaging in them. They were not a very manageable
craft. 1 hey rolled around every-which-way, capsized, collided, and
went through all sorts of ridiculous stunts.

We hive had issued to us blue flannel blouses, thin, loose, and
far more comfortable than our uniform dress coats.

Some of the boys have been fishing down at the fort today.
They brought home a lobster they caught, and while a kettle of wa-
ter is heating to boil him in, are teasing the poor fellow with sticks.
"Heenan" is taking an active part in the persecution. He holds up
long enough to say to me, "Tell her I want to keep the first two
months' pay to buy my liquor with ; but after that I will remit enough
so that, with her own efforts, the family will be insured from want."

A Soldier Boy's Letters 9


Headquarters Second Regt. N. H. Vols.,
Portsmouth, June iq, iSbi.

OFF we go at 7 o'clock tomorrow morning, and everything is
bustle and excitement. Have seen lots of Manchester folks
here within a day or two. Mary Rice was on the parade ground
yesterday. Dr. Nelson, Henry A. Gage, A. C. Wallace, policeman
Bennett, Parker Hunt and his mother, and many more of my friends
and acquaintances. We have been drilling today with knapsacks
and equipments on, and my shoulders are as lame as if I had been
beaten with a club. Twenty rounds of cartridges have been issued
to us. You will direct letters to Company I, 2d Regt. N. H. Vols.,
Washington, D. C. We may not be at Washington, but there is no
mail south of there, and it will be distributed from that point.

There was quite an excitement here last night, resulting from a
fire on the frigate "Santee." It was set near the magazine, in which
was forty tons of powder.


Washington, U. C, June 25, iSbr.

HERE we are at last, in Washington, safe and sound, but
stewed with the heat. We left Portsmouth on schedule
time, Thursday morning. At Boston, we met with a grand recep-
tion. The boys will never forget the superb collation that was served
us there — not merely the toothsome meats and substantials, but all
the little niceties, such as strawberries and cream, &c. From Boston
we went to Fall River, where we took the steamer "Bay State" for
New York. I roosted on the hurricane deck and never had a better
night's sleep in my life. At New York the Sons of New Hampshire
gave us a flag and a feast, after which we were ferried to Amboy, 16
miles, and took cars for Baltimore. I got in a good night's sleep
between Harrisburg and Baltimore, and Sunday noon we arrived in

Our camp reminds me of the old-fashioned tin oven my grand-
mother used to set before the fireplace to bake biscuits in. On the
sunny slope of a ridge, with not a tree for shade and shelter. Hot !

io A Soldier Boy's Letters

And the flies ! I know now how to pity those poor old Egyptians.
We have plenty of unusual happenings now. I am not sure but that
si .me of the boys are seeing spooks. Sunday night several of the
sentinels reported exchanging shots with prowlers about the camp.
I was on guard that night, where there were plenty of bushes, but
the best I could do I couldn't find anything to get excited over.
Dan Mix, one of the teamsters, says he was fired at four times while
coming into camp with his team last night. And it is currently re-
ported that the Zouaves, camped next to us, captured a spy a day
or two ago, and he will be hanged today or tommorrow. I can un-
derstand how some secessionists around here might be tempted to
take a pot shot at a Yankee sentinel out of pure cussedness ; but
1 haven't got it through my head yet what a spy could find to spy
out that is n't perfectly open to anybody who cares to look about in
broad daylight, unmolested.

Just before I left Portsmouth I had a letter from my moiher that
touched a sensitive nerve. My dear old Grandmother Knowlton
came down from New London to see me, but I had just gone back
to Portsmouth. As the first and favorite grandchild I always filled
a big space in her little world. She mourned over her disappoint-
ment, and grieved that she should never see me again. My mother
could not even conceal her own blue streak. She and father were
in Boston when we went through, and I had a chance just to shake
hands and say good bye to them.

I have seen Dave Perkins here two or three times. [David L.,
of Manchester, then connected with one of the Departments.] He
asked me if I wanted to send any word to that little girl away up in
New Hampshire, for he was going back in a few weeks. I gave him
lots of messages, and have no doubt he will forget every one of them
before he sees you.

Our grub, since we got here, has not been quite up to the Astor
House standard, hut the army stores will be here to-day, which will
improve the bill of fare. So far it has consisted of hard bread bear-
ing the stunj) "1810" — whatever that may signify — ham or salt pork
and coffee.

A Soldier Boy's Letters i i


Camp Sullivan, Washington, July 2, iSbi.

BATURDAY was quite an eventful day with me. I went over
to the city on a sight-seeing trip with Hen. Morse, one of my
tentmates [killed, three weeks later, at Bull Run.] Went first to
the Capitol, and viewed the paintings and statuary, i hence to the
Smithsonian Institute and spent several hours in its wonderful mu-
seum, where I could have interested myself for days. From there
to the Washington monument. Among the stone blocks there, con-
tributed from various sources and to be built into the walls, was one
inscribed : "Frotn the Home of Stark. From the Ladies of Man-
chester, N. H." We wound up our sight-seeing in the parks around
the President's house ; and when we got back to camp I was tired
enough to pile onto my blankets and go to sleep.

Not much sleep, though. I had hardly lost myself when some-
body shook me and said the Captain wanted me up at his tent. I
went up, in no very amiable mood. Found Commissary Goodrich

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Online LibraryMartin A. (Martin Alonzo) HaynesA minor war history compiled from a soldier boy's letters to the girl I left behind me, 1861-1864. Dramatis personae, The soldier boy - Martin A. Haynes, Company I, Second New Hampshire Volunteer In → online text (page 1 of 16)