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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 10 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 10 of 16)
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our supply train. When I started out this morning I had a piece of
boiled salt pork about as big as two fingers. At noon we halted about
three-quarters of an hour for rest and refreshments. We were short
on both. Other troops had camped on the same ground and moved on, and
among the embers of one of their campfires I saw some ribs of fresh
pork. Some old Virginia razor-back had died to make a Yankee holiday,
and perfectly good pork had been recklessly and wastefully thrown onto
the coals. I pulled out a chunk that looked good to me, carefully
scraped and pared off the charred outside, and never had a better pork
roast than I got by picking those ribs. Tonight I made a sumptuous
repast on hardtack and water. I missed, however, the “one day’s
solitary” that usually goes with that fare up in New Hampshire.

We do not know whether or not we are to go back to our old brigade, but
we are now with the old Excelsior Brigade. Rappahannock Station, where
we are camped, is a fine location—open, rolling country, with two or
three little redoubts in sight from our camp. The rebels are on the
other side of the river, and we have a strong force here, facing them.
It is getting so dark I can hardly see, so good night.

_Sunday, June 14._

We drew three days rations today and are under orders to be ready to
march at a moment’s notice. Three regiments from this brigade are on
picket, and it is very evident that trouble is apprehended in some
direction. We will probably move from here very soon, and the fact that
our wagon trains are not brought up here is a pretty good indication
that we are going to move fast and don’t want to be encumbered with a
train.

I had as much beefsteak as I could eat this morning. George Lawrence
cut up the fresh beef, and as pay for his trouble took what he wanted
for breakfast. This noon we were served with “_beef soup_”—the water in
which our fresh beef was boiled, with hardtack crumbled into it.

We are camped, I am told, on one of the estates of John Randolph, well
known in Virginia history. One of the natives tells me the soldiers
have burned thirty-five miles of fences on this plantation. I suppose
while I am here by the Rappahannock, crouched in my tent and wondering
if those dark clouds over yonder mean rain, you are listening to the
words and admonitions of good old Parson Wallace.

We have just had a little excitement. Three foolish hogs ventured out
into sight upon the meadow on our front, and more than two hundred
whooping savages started out in chase and killed two with clubs.

We have just got word that we are to march tonight at sunset, and
of course are speculating as to the movement. The favorite opinion
of our most astute camp strategists is that Hooker is going to fall
back to Washington and the Potomac, and that we are way up here as a
sort of rear guard, to give the rebels a hack if they try to crowd
too hard. I have got back again to the old, careless army spirit
of don’t-care-a-cent, and take everything as philosophically as
circumstances will permit. We have just heard the roar of guns in the
direction of Warrenton, which is ominous. I have had all the cherries
I could eat today. Have been jotting this letter down, bit by bit,
through the day. The old fellow who lives in a house near the camp has
a son who is a colonel in the rebel army. “Curley” Converse is smashing
up a blacking brush that he won’t carry any further and won’t leave
for the enemy. He says: “If I had a house out here I would burn it up
before I would let those fellows have the use of it.” I must pack up
now and be ready to march.

MANASSAS JUNCTION, _Tuesday, June 16_.

After a most exhausting march we find ourselves here at Manassas
once more. We left Rappahannock Station Sunday night at ten o’clock
and marched to Catlett’s Station—about fifteen miles—arriving there
yesterday morning at seven o’clock. At two o’clock in the afternoon
we continued on to this place—another fifteen miles. When we arrived
here, about midnight, I was actually all in. Half a dozen of us, all
in the same condition, consulted together and decided that if the
column passed out of the line of rebel redoubts we would drop out, get
a little rest and sleep, and chase on and catch up with the regiment
early in the morning. We fell out, went up into one of the redoubts,
laid down on the grass carpet that covered everything, and slept. We
were up before sunrise, and the first thing to greet our vision as we
looked over the parapet was the old regiment bivouacked out on the
plain, only a few rods beyond.

It was a frightfully hot day yesterday and a number of the men were
sunstruck. George Lawrence was one of the victims. Every one of the
Seventeenth men gave out. We marched over the same road as a year ago,
and several men were sunstruck at that time.

I saw Sam. Newell yesterday—one of the boys who went from our company
into the regulars. He said Perk. Lane was either killed or wounded and
taken prisoner, in the fight at Beverly Ford. The last seen of him he
was shot from his horse and surrounded by rebels. Nich. Biglin—our
famous “Heenan”—has gone up to one of the gaps in the mountains, with
the pioneers, to obstruct the roads against the rebels.

During our march night before last our whole division made one of the
most ridiculous breaks on record. We were marching along the railroad
when, at a highway crossing, a runaway horse bolted into the column.
It got the right of way right there, and the men beyond, unable to see
what the trouble was, got off the track without stopping to ask any
questions. It went through the whole division like the tumble of a row
of bricks, and the ditches, stumps and pitfalls made an awful mess of
things.

There has just been a little excitement out in camp. Some of the
men rushed a couple of sutlers’ carts that were passing. One of the
sutlers whipped up and managed to get away after a smart chase, but
the other was not as fortunate. The raiders surrounded his cart and
tipped it over, and would doubtless have robbed him of his stock but
for a mounted officer who plunged into the crowd and put a stop to the
lawless raid.

———————

_XCIV_

CAMP NEAR CENTREVILLE, VA.,
_June 18, 1863_.

I heard, last night, that a mail was to go out this morning. I had an
unfinished letter in my knapsack, but it was so dark I could not see to
write; so I did it up just as it was and put it in the bag. They say we
will get a mail before long, and then I shall expect enough accumulated
reading matter to keep me busy for a while. Today is the hottest yet. I
could not stand it in camp, so I went over and filled my canteen with
cool, fresh water, gathered up my writing materials, and came down here
into the shade of the bushes. Now I will tell you what we have been
doing.

As I have written you, we got into Manassas about twelve o’clock
Monday night. We lay on the plains all day Tuesday, and drew three
days’ rations. The meat ration was salt pork only, but we were very
glad to get that. I had the use of a fry-pan for a short time, sliced
and fried the whole of my ration, and carefully packed it away in my
haversack, convenient for transportation.

We turned in for a night’s sleep, Monday, but didn’t get it. An orderly
came in about midnight, with orders, and the regiment was moved out
about two miles on the Centreville road and deployed as pickets. I
was on camp guard that night, and had not had a wink of sleep when we
started. O, how sleepy I was! I actually fell asleep walking in the
ranks, until I would wake myself by running into the man ahead of me.
When the regiment was distributed as pickets, the camp guard detail
was held in reserve, and had nothing to do but wait for something to
turn up. I sat down without loosening a buckle of my equipments, leaned
my back against a small tree, and was asleep on the instant. I slept
perhaps a couple hours, and then woke up out of a nightmare. I dreamed
I was in swimming and dove to the bottom, but when I tried to come up
again it was no go. I kicked and struggled in vain. When at last I
awoke I found I had slipped away from my tree and was lying with my
head down hill, but so cumbered with my harness that I had hard work to
straighten myself out again.

Wednesday morning the entire Fifth Corps passed us, and then our
regiment marched down to Blackburn’s Ford and waited for the division
to come up. We got away from the Ford about three o’clock in the
afternoon and marched three or four miles, to our present position
about a mile out of Centreville on the old Bull Run road.

What I am suffering for now is a newspaper, so I can find out what is
going on. I have not seen one since we left Washington.

GUM SPRINGS, VA., _Sunday, June 21_.

We have made another hitch, about a dozen miles, and now find ourselves
in this great Virginia metropolis, consisting of a meeting house, a
cooper’s shop, and half a dozen houses and hog pens, none in very good
repair. We marched here day before yesterday, leaving Centreville after
noon and arriving here before sunset. The fool camp story now being
passed from mouth to mouth is that the corps is now surrounded by the
rebels. There can be no question, though, that there are any quantity
of guerrillas lurking around, and a man outside the camp lines does
well to keep his eye peeled. [This was Mosby’s country.] It is said
they picked up some thirty stragglers on the march up here. Yesterday
they scooped in one of General Birney’s aides and two of his orderlies.
A couple of them made the mistake of their lives yesterday. The
lieutenant-colonel of one of the New Jersey regiments with which we are
now brigaded had dismounted and gone some distance from his horse, when
he spied two innocent-looking “farmers,” with shot-guns in their hands,
coming the sneak act. At the proper moment they looked into the yawning
muzzles of two six-shooters, with a very determined Yankee behind them,
and didn’t hesitate a moment in accepting his polite invitation to drop
their guns and come along.

We had one of the heaviest rains I ever saw, Thursday afternoon. I did
not have any tent pitched, but sat down on my knapsack, covered myself
in with my rubber poncho and let her rain. It did much good by laying
the dust for a few hours. That night there was a very large detail from
our regiment, for picket, and my good luck kept me off the job. Charlie
Parrott [killed, a few days later, at Gettysburg] was one of the
detail, and I loaned him my poncho in exchange for his piece of shelter
tent. That night several of us joined together and patched up a shelter
with as many gable ends, almost, as there were pieces of tent. We made
a very thick bed of leaves and bushes and managed to keep pretty dry
and comfortable, notwithstanding there was a good deal of rain through
the night.

We are camped in a very pretty location, on a little ridge with a
railroad along its crest and a little creek at the foot. Just across
the creek is the little hamlet of Gum Springs. There is a spring there
with reputed medicinal qualities. Ed. Kenniston and I have pitched our
tent in the shade of a mammoth persimmon tree.

There is a commotion now in that select corps familiarly known as
“bummers,” such as cooks, officers’ waiters, &c. There is an order that
every enlisted man shall tote a gun. This means that our kettles will
be thrown away and every man be his own meat cook. But that won’t make
much change. We have been on a salt pork diet, almost exclusively, and
every man has been privileged to fry, broil, or eat raw, according to
his fancy.

The big guns are booming over towards the mountains, and in compliance
with orders we have put ourselves in marching order—knapsacks packed,
&c. But I have pulled my portfolio out to write a little more. We may
move today, or we may not, but we are ready. Several prisoners have
been brought in today—probably scouts or guerrillas. Our bands are
playing all the time and making all the noise they can, possibly merely
for their own amusement. The firing off to the west is growing heavier,
and there is evidently a lively little fight on somewhere.

_Monday Morning, June 22._

Late yesterday the long-expected mail came, and with the rest were two
letters from you. We were formed in line, ready to march, when the mail
was distributed, and as I looked down the ranks I could see many a man
leaning on his gun and eagerly scanning his news from home. We didn’t
have a very long march—about six rods. The corps was placed in battle
order ready to entertain company in case the Johnnies should see fit to
honor us with a call.

I was on guard last night, but only had to stand one round, so got
a good sleep. The mail goes out at ten o’clock this forenoon. I ran
across an old friend the other day, in the Seventeenth Maine—George
Parker, who once lived on the Corporation. I am pretty well supplied
with meat now. When George Slade distributed the rations he saved me
out an extra piece big enough for a good square meal. It pays to be all
hunks with the cook.

———————

_XCV_

TANEYTOWN, MD., _June 29, 1863_.

I am awful, awful tired; but we got a mail tonight, the first in some
time, and as a mail goes out tomorrow morning I must write a few lines
to let you know I am alive and well, but pretty well used up from the
tremendous marches we have been making. We have been constantly on the
move, tramping from sun rise to sun set, and sometimes far into the
night; but we are now halted a little earlier in the day than usual,
within five miles of the Pennsylvania line. There is much I would like
to write, but as it is almost dark now I must wait until we get into
camp for a day or two, if we ever do. Good night! Send me a few stamps.

———————

_XCVI_

TANEYTOWN, MD., _June 30, 1863_.

My note of last evening will let you know I am still alive. As there
are no signs as yet of an immediate movement, I will commence a letter,
not knowing when I will have a chance to finish or to send it. The
Second Regiment, in company with two other regiments, left Gum Springs
on the afternoon of Wednesday, the 24th, marched out about three miles
on the Leesburg road, camped, and threw out patrols on the road and
in the neighborhood. The boys foraged about and brought in an unusual
abundance of fresh meat of all kinds. As for myself, I not only gorged
at supper, but had my haversack loaded when we started in the morning.
There was a house close to camp, occupied, so far as we could see, only
by two solitary women. Some of the boys discovered a great quantity of
bacon in storage—enough, in fact, for a small army. They intimated to
the women that it looked very much as if they had unearthed a guerrilla
base of supplies. It probably was a good guess, and the women were
very much frightened. But our men wanted that bacon, and a business
arrangement was concluded under which the women were paid a fair price
for it in good Yankee money.

Thursday forenoon the whole corps marched past us and we fell in and
brought up the rear of the column. That was a hard day’s march. Late
in the afternoon we reached the Potomac at Edwards’ Ferry. There
were three pontoon bridges over the river, on which we crossed over
into Maryland. As it was near night and raining we expected to halt
somewhere near the ferry. But we were not permitted even to cross the
canal to the turnpike beyond. Instead, were switched onto the towpath
of the Ohio and Chesapeake Canal, heading up stream. The night settled
down, dark and gloomy, but no halt or rest. There was no place for
either. The path was but a mule track with the canal on one side and
the river on the other. Occasionally there was a little point or elbow
of land on the river side. Then the rain came, and we were soaked.
The towpath became muddy and slippery. The men had not had a chance
since morning to cook coffee. By ten o’clock there was no organization
left. The division was a straggling, swearing, disgusted mob. The men
“went into camp” whenever and wherever they could find a place big
enough to lie down on. I dug along until I was all in. I slid down the
bank to the river’s edge, along with Jess. Dewey and Joe Gleason, and
camped down on a pile of brush. Jess, was a fair example of the utter
demoralization. He was the color-sergeant and had the regimental colors
with him. “Anybody that wants to carry the flag can have it,” he said,
“but I won’t lug it another inch.” The rain was pouring, and all I
could do was to cover myself with my piece of shelter tent and take
what came. I had lost my good old rubber poncho at Edwards’ Ferry—sat
down on it while waiting a passage, and forgot to pick it up when I
started for the bridge.

Friday morning we cooked coffee, had a good breakfast, and started
up the towpath again. There was no chance to get out of the trap
till we got to Monocacy Bridge, fifteen miles from Edwards’ Ferry.
There the General—who probably has learned something about driving
cattle—collected his command as they came straggling along for hours.
We camped, that night, about a mile from Point of Rocks. I had a
share in a big fire of fence rails, and made up in a great measure
for the discomforts of the previous night. Had a great warming up and
drying out, hung my boots before the fire, got into my reserve pair of
stockings, and slept soundly and restfully.

Saturday we marched through a very rough, broken country. We passed
through one village—Jefferson. South Mountain, where the battle was
fought last fall, was in sight all day. At night I was detailed for
brigade camp guard. The brilliant idea of a camp guard in that place
was conceived by the colonel of the Ninth New Jersey, commanding the
brigade. It was about as much use as a second tail for a cat. I felt
that I had done enough marching for one day, so when I was posted I
laid down where I could watch my beat and, of course, went to sleep. I
didn’t wake up until “Curley” Converse, on the next beat, shook me and
told me the relief was falling in. I was greatly relieved, on looking
around, to find that nobody had run away with the camp in my absence.

When we started out Sunday morning we were assured we were going only
nine miles—to Frederick City. We marched to that place on a splendid
turnpike, over a mountain with an unpronounceable name, and arrived in
good season. We found quite a town, old and quaint, largely built of
brick. But we did not stop according to the advertised schedule. We
pushed on and on until we had passed through Walkerville, about eight
miles beyond. The first thing on getting into camp, we were ordered not
to take any fence rails, as wood would be hauled to us. It was late,
and we couldn’t wait the arrival of wood teams, in which we didn’t take
much stock anyway. But the men were sparing in their use of rails.
It didn’t take many to cook our coffee and keep all the campfires we
needed.

Yesterday morning we started again, early, and marched to this place,
which is, I should judge, about fifteen miles from Walkerville. We are
now in a country where the people are our friends, and where the Old
Flag and cheers for the Union are the rule and not the exception. We
can buy about anything we want in the grub line, as the country has
not been ravaged and plundered by the armies. I have just had a good
meal of home-made bread, right out of the oven, with delicious butter.
The butter was a streak of luck for me. Strolling off a little ways
into the country, I saw a swarm of men from various regiments at one
of those stone spring-houses which answer the purpose of an ice-box in
this country. An old lady was peddling out her stock of butter in pound
pats, and there were a dozen hands reaching for every ball. Being a
late arrival and on the outskirts, it didn’t look as if I was in the
game. But I was. The old lady held the last ball in her hand. There was
a wild competition for that. “No!” she said, decidedly, “this belongs
to a gentleman over there; I promised him he should have one, sure.”
“Thank you, ma’am!” I called out, “I knew you wouldn’t forget me!”
and I reached over half a dozen heads, got the butter, passed over a
quarter, and struck for camp.

Just now, old Dan. Desmond is assuring me, “By cripes, Mart., ye’ve
saved me life.” And I don’t know but what I have. The old man was off
his feed and flat on his back, in almost complete collapse, when I
sailed forth. I divided my plunder of fresh bread and butter with him,
and he ate ravenously, and in a little while was on his feet, bright
and chipper. He got just the medicine he needed.

The talk is that we are not going farther today. We hope it is so, for
we need rest badly. Today I look all your letters from my knapsack
and fed them to the flames. Several times I have come near losing my
knapsack and all it contained. I have a bad toothache and am afraid of
neuralgia.

General Sickles returned to the corps yesterday, and the men are giving
him the credit for the long rest we are enjoying. Birney and Humphrey
are not as careful of the men as Sickles. The wish is perhaps father
to the thought, but the report is that Humphrey has been censured or
disciplined in some way for that towpath scrape. We saw General Marston
in Frederick and cheered him heartily. The sun is out and we have
orders to pack for a march.

———————

_XCVII_

GETTYSBURG, PA., _July 4, 1863_.

I write on the blank pages of an orderly’s book, which George Slade
picked up. It is the only paper I have, as I lost my knapsack and all
its contents in the battle day before yesterday. Our corps was engaged
that day, and the Second Regiment was in the very fiercest of the fight
and met its heaviest loss yet in any one battle. About two hundred
are gone out of our little regiment, but, as usual, I came through
all right. I don’t know now how I did it. While we lay supporting a
battery, before we had fired a shot, one shell burst right in my group.
The man who touched me on the right [Jonathan Merrill] had his thigh
cut away, and the two at my left [Lyndon B. Woods and Sergeant James
M. House] were very severely wounded—and I never had a scratch. Talk
about luck! A little while after, we charged to save the battery, and
it was a wild time. As many of our wounded were left in the hands of
the rebels, no accurate list can be made now. Charlie Vickery and a
Seventeenth man in my company are killed. [Vickery did not die until
the 11th.] Joe Hubbard, Lieutenant Dascomb, Frank Chase and Johnny
Barker are among the killed. [Barker recovered from his terrible wound
and lived many years with a trephined skull.] Ed. Kenniston was shot
through both legs. I blundered onto him in the field hospital near
where we bivouacked. He was lying by a stone wall, in a field packed
with wounded men. He had lost everything but the bloody clothes he
wore. I fixed him up with what I had left—filled my canteen with water
and laid beside him, with my haversack, in which there happened to be
a few really tasty pieces of grub.[1] Ed. wants father to go down and
tell his folks it is only a flesh wound, and with a little assistance
he will be able to stand on his feet.

George Slade wants me to send you this wayside rose that he picked on
the battlefield. The Johnny who had the overhauling of my knapsack got
a fine picture of a certain black-eyed Yankee girl, but he didn’t have
the reading of any of her letters.

A shell burst right on our colors, early in the action, breaking the
staff into three pieces. The batteries were so close together, some of
them, that they threw grape at each other. I never was under such an
artillery fire. Gen. Sickles lost a leg.

There was a great fight yesterday, but not over the same ground as the
day before. The rebels made a tremendous effort to smash our lines
[Pickett’s charge,] but were thrown back in great disorder and leaving


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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 10 of 16)