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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

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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 13 of 16)
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The Governor, Jack Hale and Dan. Clark were down here yesterday and
made speeches to a crowd at headquarters. Hale said we would probably
stay here until we are discharged, and that we had not got much longer
to serve.

———————

_CXIII_

POINT LOOKOUT, MD., _September 28, 1863_.

Now I can answer your question as to what I think has become of George
Slade. This very minute I have received a letter from him, dated at
Camp Parole, Annapolis. He has just got in from Richmond, where he has
been a prisoner at Belle Isle.

I am going to burn just four inches of candle. When not on duty the
boys have fine times boating and fishing. As soon as we got off guard
today I went a-fishing with two other fellows, and did not get back
till the middle of the afternoon. We had a grand time and poor luck. I
got only three.

There was a great naval disaster last Saturday. Steve Smiley and three
or four other bold mariners have been fitting up a boat that was
intended to be the boss of the fleet. Saturday, with a stiff breeze
blowing, they set out for a sail. They went down the river in grand
style and out into the bay. There was an injudicious combination of a
cranky boat, too much sail and too much wind, and the first thing they
knew the boat was bottom side up with care and the crew afloat on the
fierce rolling tide. A gunboat sent a boat to pick them up, and they
returned to camp wiser and wetter men.

We are receiving batches of prisoners every few days now. The Fort
Delaware prisoners are being transferred here, a steamer being kept
busy all the time. There are said to be about nine thousand there
awaiting transfer. Day before yesterday we had an arrival of prisoners
taken on Morris Island, S. C.

We are building a stockade across “the neck,” a narrow strip of sand
connecting the Point with the mainland. I don’t know whether I wrote
you, a short time ago, about five rebels escaping from here. Well, in
a squad which was brought in a few days ago who should appear but one
of these same fellows, back again! He had made his way to his regiment,
got into a skirmish immediately on his arrival, and was again taken
prisoner and returned to his old quarters.

Some of our officers are a good deal exercised just now with fears
for their positions. Under the new regulations a regiment must have a
certain number of men to entitle it to a colonel, and a company more
than sixty men to entitle it to a second lieutenant. And the fact that
our regiment, with its reduced rolls, is not entitled to anything
higher than a major in command, and no company has men enough to give
it a second lieutenant, has impressed our officers with a settled
conviction that the regiment should be filled up with conscripts. Our
second lieutenants have nearly all been made since the first of July,
when the order went into effect. But one of them told me, yesterday,
that Governor Gilmore had got ahead of the Government by dating their
commissions back beyond the first of July. But for all that, some of
them who have not yet been mustered are fearful they never will be.
It is a solemn fact that we now have more officers, commissioned and
non-commissioned, than we have privates doing duty in this regiment.

_Thursday, October 1._

Last night I was on patrol duty in the prison camp—really a sort of
policeman to see that order was maintained, and especially that there
were no unusual gatherings which might develope into an attempt to rush
the camp guard. The only assemblage permitted was a religious meeting
in an open space in camp—a regular old fashioned prayer meeting, the
character of which was accepted as a guaranty against treachery.
Marston thinks some of the prisoners are plotting an outbreak, which
is not at all improbable, as in such a gathering there are sure to be
more or less enterprising hot-heads. One of these insisted on passing a
sentry’s beat the other night, in spite of all commands to halt. When
he did halt he had a wooden “tompion” in his leg, the sentry having
forgotten to remove it from the muzzle of his gun.

I have a good mattress, made by filling my bunk with hay, then pulling
my old shelter tent over it and nailing down at the sides.

———————

_CXIV_

POINT LOOKOUT, MD., _October 8, 1863_.

The story is going that, the last of this month, the colonel,
lieutenant-colonel and all the second lieutenants of this regiment
are to be mustered out, as we have not men enough to allow us these
officers. In my company there are seven privates doing duty, and
three commissioned officers, which seems to be rather a top-heavy
organization. The men are watching the course of events with a good
deal of amused interest, and the officers with an equal amount of
anxiety.

A shanty for a Masonic lodge is being put up today. Desmond suggests
that there is more need of a comfortable guard house. But Dan. is a
devoted Catholic and doesn’t believe in Masons anyway.

The fence around the prisoners’ camp is progressing rapidly. It is
about a dozen feet high. Five of the Rebs made an attempt to escape
night before last. One hid himself under the commissary building, but
was soon found, and the hole through which he had crawled was securely
boarded up.

_Friday Evening._

I went on guard tonight at 5 and did not get relieved till after 8
and am feeling pretty cross. I saw in a paper tonight a list of the
men drafted in Manchester. There were some I was glad to have drawn,
although I doubt if there is the making of one good soldier in the
whole crowd.

Our guard duty will be somewhat easier hereafter, as the fence is
nearly completed and less posts will be required around the camp.
Already we can divide our men into three reliefs instead of two, thus
giving us a chance to get a little sleep between times.

———————


[Illustration: THE SOLDIER BOY]


———————

_CXV_

POINT LOOKOUT, MD., _October 27, 1863_.

Two of our fellows who were captured at Gettysburg have got in from the
parole camp at Annapolis. When they came I expected to see George Slade
with them. I had a letter from him only a few days before announcing
that he had just got in from a “hell upon earth”—a rebel prison—“tired,
dirty and lousy,” as he expressed it—and asking me to send him five
dollars. And now they bring me word that he is dead. I had no better
friend in the regiment than good, loyal old George Slade.

Another detachment of the Second Cavalry has arrived here, among whom
are some of the boys who went out of our regiment at Alexandria, and
from them we get authentic news of all the boys. Rod. Manning was
killed instantly at Culpepper—shot in the mouth. “Heenan” was not
killed, although he had a fierce saber cut on his head. When our boys
went to pick him up he told them to let him die where he was. They
were, in fact, so hard pressed that they could not have got him off
anyway. But he has since turned up as a prisoner in Richmond.

There has been a little disturbance up country. One of our officers
engaged in recruiting negroes was shot by an exasperated slaveholder.
Another officer came down today for a force to go up and preserve
order, and also for a gunboat to prevent them from running their
slaves from Maryland over into Virginia. A detachment of cavalry has
gone up. It beats everything how the contrabands are coming in both
from Maryland and Virginia. They come sometimes in squads of fifteen
or twenty, and most of the men go into the army or some branch of
the government service. Those coming from Maryland are not sent back
into bondage, as formerly, but if the owner is loyal he receives
three hundred dollars for his man, who is put in the army. This will
make Maryland a free state before many years. The situation is very
displeasing to the old secesh planters.

We are building a combination guard- and block house, of logs, in which
a howitzer will be mounted to command the main entrance to the prison
camp.

One of our men who deserted at Yorktown returned today—brought back
under guard; and I hear there are quite a number of men at Washington
who deserted right after the first Bull Run battle. It will be a corker
on them if they have to make up the time they have lost.

I have a bundle of curios I would like to send home by express. There
is no express office here, but the sutler brings down all the express
matter directed to the Point. Bill Pendleton, of this company, who was
mail agent, used to carry bundles to Washington for the boys, but he
had some trouble with the captain of the boat and has been relieved.

———————

_CXVI_

POINT LOOKOUT, MD., _November 1, 1863_.

My box came today, bringing a good supply of clothing, so I think I can
hold out pretty comfortably this winter. I am, also, unusually well
fixed as to quarters. Have rearranged to take in Bill Pendleton. Bill
and I have an upper bunk, and Dan. a lower bunk all to himself. Bill
has a good mattress and half a dozen quilts and we undress and go to bed
like folks. I found much more of an eatable nature than I expected in
my box. We are clearing out cakes, pies and apples, and are surveying
one of those big onions to find the most available point of attack.

Bill Ramsdell won out in his court martial, was acquitted, released
from arrest, and returned to the company for duty yesterday. I find
Bill has a very bitter feeling against Captain Gordon and attributes
most of his troubles to him. The captain warmly congratulated Bill and
told him he had done everything he could to secure his acquittal. But
Bill grimly says he knows better.

Last night was a night of excitement over attempts of prisoners to
escape. Three or four different parties had their plans all laid. One
squad had made arrangements with a sentry to let five men pass beyond
his beat, paying him a handsome sum in greenbacks; but no sooner did
he get their money than he betrayed them to the provost marshal. The
consequence was that a squad of cavalrymen was lying in wait and two
of the adventurers were severely wounded. The sympathies of our boys
are all with the Rebs and against the fellow who was mean enough to
take their money and then give them away. Two other parties had tunnels
completed from their tents to a point outside the fence, but their
schemes miscarried. I was down at my tent, eating my supper, when the
“long roll” beat at the guard house, and I never knew before that there
were so many logs and mud holes on Point Lookout as I tumbled over and
into in my haste to answer the call.

_Monday Evening._

More improvements! I wish you could see our stove. It is the biggest
box stove ever made, I guess. It is not exactly _in_ our tent, but one
end is. If the whole apparatus was there wouldn’t be room for anything
else. It is a government stove. We discovered a nest of about fifty,
and one dark night not long ago the Second confiscated the whole lot. I
hear they are coming around tomorrow to pick them up, in which event we
have done a good deal of heavy lugging for nothing.

Col. Bailey has been living in one of the houses “down town,” but today
his tent is being fixed up for his reception. I do not know whether he
is going to move his wife up to camp or not.

Being off duty today I went oystering. Got lots of them, and cut my
fingers all to pieces shucking them.

Two volunteer recruits for our company came down on the boat tonight.
They are a decided novelty—living proofs that there are a few left who
do not wait to be drafted.

———————

_CXVII_

POINT LOOKOUT, MD., _November 8, 1863_.

There is more trouble for our last batch of second lieutenants. When
commissioned, their names were dropped from the rolls of enlisted men;
but when it came to being mustered, it could not be done, the regiment
not having men enough. They are not on the rolls of enlisted men, and
cannot be mustered as officers, so they are wondering where they are
and how they are going to get any pay for the past four months. It is
a serious problem for some of them who have spent considerable sums on
officers’ outfits.

My big stove, “The Swamp Angel,” has been taken away, and I don’t know
as I am very sorry, it was such an infernally clumsy contrivance. We
had the fun of stealing it, anyway. Captain Gordon says he has made
arrangements for a little sheet-iron stove for each tent, which will be
much better.

Our two new recruits from Manchester have both been placed in my tent.
One, named Messenger, was in the Sixteenth Regiment. I do not remember
the name of the other. [Jason Sherwood, a Seventeenth man, who served
in Company F and re-enlisted shortly after his discharge.]

A couple of steamers were in collision, out on the bay, Friday night.
One, the “Curfew,” was sunk, and the other, the “Louisiana,” was towed
in here the next day by a gunboat. One of them, it is stated, has been
engaged in the hunt for the “Alabama.”

Last Wednesday was state election day in Maryland, and several wagons
rigged out with flags and banners, and loaded with citizens and unarmed
soldiers, went up to St. Mary’s. It reminded me of some of my old
election rackets in New Hampshire.

The wild geese are beginning to come along. One small flock passed over
the camp yesterday. Quite a number of shots were fired at them, and one
big fellow came down. The residents here say there will be big rafts of
them on the river this winter.

A schooner has just gone ashore near camp, in trying to get around the
point. Our guard details are so arranged now that we are on duty only
every fourth day. If this continues, we will have an easy time this
winter.

———————

_CXVIII_

POINT LOOKOUT, MD., _November 14, 1863_.

The Fifth Regiment has just landed and gone into camp. They came down
from Washington yesterday afternoon, but did not land until this
morning. There are 750, mostly substitutes, and I hear they have not
come to help us on guard duty, but to be drilled preparatory to going
to the front. We have the cutest little sheet-iron stove that ever was,
set up and in running order.

_Monday Afternoon._

Our new-comers of the Fifth are the toughest crowd I ever saw
credited to New Hampshire. They are loaded with money paid to them as
substitutes, and no sooner were they landed than almost every man was
loading up with supplies from the sutler’s. They are not going to do
any guard duty, so we hear and so it appears. They are kept very close,
having a guard about their camp, and cannot get out without a pass. If
they had the same freedom the Second has, there would doubtless be a
grand hiatus of the bounty fellows.

Two prisoners were shot yesterday. The Fifth’s drum corps was playing
“Dixie,” and when they got through the Rebs crowded up to the fence and
gave “Three cheers for Dixie!” The demonstration soon became riotous
and threatening, and was passing beyond all control, when the Twelfth
man on guard at that point fired into the crowd and brought the crazy
fellows to their senses.

Bill Ramsdell is doing duty right along, but he came very near getting
into another scrape the other night. You must know that we soldiers
have a free-and-easy way of appropriating to our own use any little bit
of government property that will contribute to our comfort. It isn’t
stealing. We all do it. The government has sent whole shiploads of
boards here, for fences, houses, &c., and if we fellows want one or two
to build a bunk or fix our quarters, we take them, and no harm done.
Well, the other night Bill went out on a piratical cruise, shouldered
a board, and was almost into camp with it when, as ill luck would have
it, he ran up against General Marston himself, who ordered him to drop
his load, personally escorted him down to headquarters, and turned him
over to the guard. But Bill pulled up two or three tent-pins, crawled
out under the canvas, and in due time appeared in camp lugging his
board, which he had gathered in again on his way up. As all this took
place at night, and as the Twelfth was on guard, Bill flattered himself
no one would ever be any wiser as to who the prisoner was. But he was
recognized by one of the guard, who thought the escape of Marston’s own
prisoner too good a thing to keep, and it leaked to the officer of the
guard. In due time a guard appeared in camp hunting for “a man named
Ramsdell.” But nobody knew any such man. The guard was a mighty decent
fellow, and didn’t rake with a fine-tooth comb. We kept Bill out of
sight until a new officer of the guard came on, when the matter was
forgotten or dropped at headquarters.

I did not get off with my guard duty day before yesterday quite as
well as I expected. A cold rain set in, and if it had not been for
the overcoat and rubber blanket that came in my box, I should have
suffered. That day we occupied, for the first time, the new guard
house, which, however, had not been shingled, and it rained harder
inside than out. So I came down to my tent and sat while not on post,
and in this way made the best of a dismal situation.

———————

_CXIX_

POINT LOOKOUT, MD.,
_Saturday Evening, November 21, 1863_.

Rainy and dreary outside, but inside is warmth and comfort. There is a
good fire in the little stove, the tent is tight as a drum, and there
is a snug warm bunk for me when I get ready to turn in.

You appear to be having quite a little run of adventures. Well, here
is one of mine. The other day I took an outing up into the country,
just to see what sort of a place it is up there. It was dark when I
got within a mile of camp, and I was tired and anxious to get in the
shortest way. I knew that by the route which would save me half my
travel I would have to wade a network of little creeks, but that didn’t
trouble me, and across-lots I started. Wading into creek No. 1, I found
myself up to my middle, with a strong tide setting in. But I was in for
it, and I kept forging ahead, but when I came to the last crossing I
wished I had gone the other way. This was at the point where the creek
empties into the river. It was not wide, but the tide was setting into
it like a millrace. I waded in. Once or twice I thought I would be
swept off my feet and floated up the creek like a piece of driftwood.
But I got through—and so ended my soul-stirring adventure.

It is reported that we are to have “Sibley” tents for winter quarters,
and that all the improvements we have been making will have to go to
make way for the new arrangement. The Sibley is much larger than our
A-tents, and is a great canvas cone supported by a center pole. Ours
are to be stockaded about four feet high on logs planted on end in the
ground, and ten men will make a tent’s crew. Each tent is equipped
with a stove, and the whole outfit makes the most comfortable quarters
imaginable. The only drawback is the trouble of making the change.

The new men of the Fifth are making a great deal of trouble by their
attempts to desert. Last Tuesday several made the venture, and one
party got clean away by taking a boat from the beach at our camp. As a
result, Marston has ordered all the boats taken away, and there is the
end of our boating and oyster raking. Two Subs managed to get out to a
schooner, and struck a bargain with a negro—who was captain, cook and
all hands—to set them on shore outside our picket line. As they landed,
a squad of mounted men went tearing up the beach and gathered them in,
while a gunboat went after the schooner and brought it in as a prize.

Colonel Bailey has had an old shanty moved up here, which I suppose he
intends to have fixed up for himself and wife. He has been quartering
down on the point, and it is reported that General Marston has ordered
him to make his quarters with his regiment.

Rats! Rats!! Rats!!! We are overrun with them. They swarm everywhere,
and are big enough to waylay a cat. They run over us as we lie in our
bunks, and the other night one dropped plump in my face from the upper
bunk. One of the fellows in that bunk got his hand on one and combed
it across the tent, where it struck the boards with a loud thump and a
terrified squeak.

I hear the Fifth are going to take their turn at guard duty tomorrow.
If they do it will make our duty much easier.

———————

_CXX_

POINT LOOKOUT, MD., _November 28, 1863_.

Quite a relief it is to us overworked fellows to have the Fifth take
their turn at guard duty. We cannot now be called upon oftener than
every third day, and probably not as often as that. You need have
no uneasiness about small pox here. There is only one case in this
regiment, so far as I know. Most of the cases are from the prison camp.
The small pox hospital is outside the lines, and the guard are immunes
who have had the disease.

_Evening._—I have just had a good supper of oysters, and the papers
bring us news of a great victory at Chattanooga, so I am feeling pretty
well both in body and mind.

———————

_CXXI_

POINT LOOKOUT, MD.,
_Sunday, December 6, 1863_.

If I had only known, I need not have been dreading, as I have, the cold
nights coming, with guard duty out in the snow and rain. I have served
now coming on three years, without asking any favors nor getting any.
But last Tuesday Colonel Bailey issued an order detailing me as mail
carrier for this regiment. It is decidedly the softest job at Point
Lookout. I am entirely relieved from all guard duty and drill. Our mail
comes in every other day, and I go down to the boat—about a quarter of
a mile—bring up the mail and distribute it, and the next morning carry
the outgoing mail down to the boat. That is all there is to it. Really
an army postmaster, Jesse Dewey has been performing double duty for a
time, as orderly sergeant and mail carrier, but the two jobs interfered
with each other, and I am the beneficiary.

During the past week our regiment received an installment of about 175
substitutes. Company I got a dose of twenty. There are a few good men
among them, but they are mighty few. Most of them are foreigners, and
many of them are just watching for an opportunity to desert. Three or
four got away the other night in a boat that came ashore from one of
the gunboats. The officer left his boat without a guard, and perhaps
there wasn’t any swearing when he came for it and it was gone. It
takes the iron hand to keep such a gang in bounds. More than twenty of
them have already been tied up to the flagstaff, bucked and gagged, or
otherwise disciplined. We have never had a guard around our camp until
today, but now it is to be a fixture. So much extra work for the boys,
all on account of these human vermin that New Hampshire is filling
up her old regiments with. The old men are terribly disgruntled. It
makes no difference to me personally, and it does seem good to turn in
every night for an unbroken rest. The story is going that we are to
be relieved by detachments of the Invalid Corps and sent to the front
before long. I have no idea though that we will be sent away until the
spring campaign opens. George Colby came down the first of the week
and is clerking in Bailey’s sutler shop. [Geo. H., then of Manchester,
and later, until his tragic death, in the employ of the railroad at
Plymouth, N. H.]

———————

_CXXII_

POINT LOOKOUT, MD.,


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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 13 of 16)