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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 14 of 16)
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_Sunday, December 13, 1863_.

The mail did not go to Washington today. Last night, after I had gone
to bed and to sleep, the mail agent came in, woke me up, and told me
to have my mail at headquarters before three o’clock. So I turned out
of my bunk at half-past two. It was dark as a pocket, raining great
guns, and the wind blowing a hurricane. I put on my overcoat and rubber
poncho and paddled down to headquarters. But, a few minutes ago, Jess.
Dewey stuck his head into the tent and told me the mail agent was still
here and the mail had not gone out yet.

It is among the possibilities that the rebels may attempt to rescue the
prisoners here, and every precaution is being taken against any such
movement. The road up into the country is patrolled at night, and the
gunboat squadron has been reinforced until we now have ten vessels here
ready for any emergency.

Frank Everett, in the Manchester _Mirror_ office, writes his brother
Henry that Farnsworth is back in the _American_ office, having resigned
his position in the army.

_Monday, December 14._

There has been a terrible gale today, and it is a wonder to me that my
tent has not taken to itself wings and flown away. Efforts are soon to
be made to get the old men to re-enlist. They will be given a furlough
of thirty days and a big bounty. Captain Gordon is to be the recruiting
officer for this regiment, and will commence operations very soon. I
shall not re-enlist.

———————

_CXXIII_

POINT LOOKOUT, MD., _December 19, 1863_.

Our old regiment got another dose today—350 Subs., off the same piece
as our first lot. It is tough on us old New Hampshire boys. Quite a
number of our precious Subs got away night before last, and yesterday
morning a detachment started out to scour the country for them. Four
were picked up and sent in yesterday. The detachment has not yet
returned, and are searching every barn and haystack, and we hope they
will get some more, living or dead—preferably dead.

_Sunday, December 20._

This is comfort—the wood pile for a seat and my overcoat for a cushion.
It is cold and blustering outside, but a good fire in our hide stove
makes it warm and comfortable within. By the way, I am going to move
before long—am to have a tent all to myself, for a post office.

The old rumor factory is in full operation. The latest story is quite
ingenious. According to this story, which has leaked down to some
veracious fellow from some headquarters, the old men of the regiment
are to be mounted and take the place of the cavalry detachment now
here. Bill Ramsdell is to be sergeant-major of the new organization,
but our non-commissioned officers are to stay and look after the
conscripts.

Mrs. Bailey has gone home—went a few days ago, with Hen. Pillsbury as
her attendant. He has a twenty days furlough.

A few days ago the Reb. prisoners, led by their sergeants, made an
organized assault on one of their cook houses. I don’t know what their
grievance was. One was shot dead by a sentry and several wounded. The
next day ten of the sergeants who had been conspicuous in the riot were
tied by their hands to the posts of the fence and given several hours
in which to meditate on their sins.

———————

_CXXIV_

POINT LOOKOUT, MD., _December 25, 1863_.

Xmas Greetings! One of our captains said the other day that the old men
would probably be discharged inside of two months, but I take no stock
in the story. I was talking with Captain Platt yesterday, and he had
lots of nice things to say about my wife. I learned a great deal about
you and Arie Platt, and you may be sure I was an attentive listener to
all he had to say.

General Ben. Butler was here yesterday, looking things over very
closely, and I understand he is arranging an exchange of prisoners.

_Tuesday, December 29._

Since I began this letter no mail has come in until this morning, and
none has gone out. The mail boat was sunk by ice, and I have been
anxiously watching for the boat that didn’t come. I have got to carry
the mail down in half an hour, so must close.

———————

_CXXV_

POINT LOOKOUT, MD., _December 31, 1863_.

I am in Quint’s sutler shop, writing on the head of a barrel. Quint
[Atherton W., of Manchester] is sutler at the prison camp, and I help
him a little, just enough to pay for the butter and other sutler’s
goods that I want. I have an ocean of waste time, and the arrangement
is profitable and highly satisfactory both to Quint and myself.

We had rather a jolly time here Christmas day. First, there was a
greased pig, which made no end of merriment. He was one of those gaunt,
ugly creatures that run wild in these southern woods. He had just been
brought in, and was as wild and savage as a wolf. So when his pursuers
closed in, on, over, around and under him, he made a gallant fight for
liberty and freely used all the defensive weapons the Lord had provided
him with. Then there were wrestling and sparring matches and a footrace.

Seven boatloads of negroes have come in from Virginia today. I was
down on the beach when one load landed. There were 32 men, women and
children, with all their household truck, packed into one boat. It
was a smart likely-looking lot of contrabands, and no doubt some poor
misguided rebel is now mourning the loss of several thousand dollars’
worth of live stock. A great many of the negroes that come in are
probably from Maryland, but all are received alike, and but very few,
if any, of the refugees ever get back into their masters’ hands.

_January 1, 1864._

I wish you a Happy New Year! I sat up pretty late last night playing
“muggins” down at the sutler’s shop.

Colonel Bailey issued orders to company commanders this morning which
are received with greater satisfaction by the _old_ boys than by some
of the officers. The “company funds” which have been accumulating
during the past two years now amount to a very considerable sum in each
company. This money is in the hands of the company commanders, and the
good it has done to the men to whom it belongs has been very slight
indeed. In fact, some of the captains who have left the regiment have
carried off the company funds without making any account of it, and
that was the end of it. Well, since these mercenaries came along, with
hundred-dollar bills sticking out of every pocket, Captain Gordon has
commenced using this fund that had been taken out of the hides of the
old men, to buy potatoes, onions and other luxuries, the greater part
of which are consumed by our cussed Subs. There is a bit of malice in
this, attributable to a feud between Gordon and the bulk of the old
men, for there have been several times in the past when this fund could
have been used to very good advantage for the men it belonged to. The
old boys were indignant, and Bill Ramsdell told Colonel Bailey, and he
was mad, and this morning the company commanders were instructed that
the company funds were to be used for the benefit of the old men only.
By Gordon’s account, the amount due each of the old men is about six
dollars, and we are not willing to divide that with the Subs.

———————

_CXXVI_

POINT LOOKOUT, MD., _January 2, 1864_.

Cannot write a long letter now, but will in a few days. I have been
hard at work all day constructing the walls for my new post office
tent, and am very tired indeed. It will be on the extreme left of the
field and staff line, and I will be a near neighbor to Bailey’s sutler
shop.

———————

_CXXVII_

POINT LOOKOUT, MD., _January 10, 1864_.

We got about two and a half inches of snow a few nights ago, and
although we have had pleasant weather since, it has been so cold
that much snow still remains. During the past few days the work of
demolishing and cleaning out the shantytown where contrabands have
quartered has been going on. The ground where the camp stood is a
perfect labyrinth of rat holes, and the swarms that are domiciled there
are almost inconceivable. Rat hunts are a standard amusement, and
bushels of them have been unearthed and killed. In the regimental camps
they are thicker than flies in summer time, and an awful pest, running
over everything and everybody at night, and stealing everything eatable
they can get their teeth onto. But Jess. Dewey has got the deadest open
and shut on them. Some of the boys caught a little owl out in the woods
and gave him to Jess., and since Mr. Owl assumed charge of affairs in
that tent rats and mice have given it a wide berth. He is a cunning
little fellow—sits all day long on his box, pulling away at his piece
of fresh meat. If you whistle to him, he looks up as grave as a judge,
and he is really a great addition to the company.

Our mail is very irregular now. The boat that got in from Washington
yesterday was three days late, being delayed by ice in the river.
She had to break her way for fifty miles through ice thick enough to
bear a man. One wooden boat attempted to force her way up the river,
but was so badly cut up by the ice that she had to turn back. But we
have a connection for outgoing mail by way of the Fortress Monroe and
Baltimore boat, and I now send much mail that way.

The prison camp is soon to be enlarged, and all the rebel officers now
at Sandusky, Ohio, are to be brought here. I hear that 200 men from our
regiment, with a battery, are going over into Virginia on a scouting
expedition.

Two of our tent’s crew will, I expect, move out tomorrow. If they do I
shall be in no particular hurry to get into my new quarters, as Dan.
and I can be as comfortable as you please right where we are.

———————

_CXXVIII_

POINT LOOKOUT, MD., _January 16, 1864_.

A mail reached us yesterday—the first we have had since the 9th.
Reason, the ice in the river. The boat started from Washington all
right, ran down as far as Mount Vernon, about fifteen miles, and
anchored for the night. When she started, she _didn’t_ start, for she
was frozen in as tight as a drum. And there she lay in the ice, for two
days, with our mail aboard. Then another boat came and cut her out.
During this lay-up some of our boys on board went ashore on a visit to
Washington’s home and tomb.

The monotony of camp life has been broken by a raid across the river
into the counties of Northumberland, Lancaster and Richmond. The
expedition left here last Tuesday, the 12th, and was made up of 150
cavalry and detachments of 150 men from both the Second and Twelfth.
Bill Ramsdell was one of the marauders, and he says it was one of
the greatest larks of the war. The men came home loaded with every
conceivable kind of plunder, but they were pretty well fagged out.
The expedition went up the river about fifteen miles, then up a creek
several miles, where they destroyed a sloop and several schooners,
then landed and marched inland. They spread out over the country, and
picked up quite a number of prisoners—soldiers on furlough, conscript
officers, &c. One of these was a captain, who was enjoying a carriage
ride with his lady love. He was politely requested to get down, one
of the boys politely took his seat in the carriage, politely drove
the young lady home, politely helped her out, bade her good bye with
exquisite politeness, and drove away with the team as a prize of war.

You ask me about Charlie Farnam. It was not here, but down in South
Carolina, I think, that he was drowned. He had been discharged from
this regiment and had joined the navy. As we hear it, he was in a boat,
which capsized, and he had nearly reached the shore when he sank.

_Sunday, January 17._

I must tell you, before I forget it, all about our crazy man. One
of the fellows in my tent, who came out about two months ago, had
evidently got tired of the service, and began to play crazy, for a
discharge. He began to sleep all day, so as to be in good shape to
lie awake all night. For two nights he kept us awake with his “Boots
ten feet long,” “Man in the tent,” “Where am I?” “Who am I?” and such
nonsense. When awake in the daytime he was continually hunting for
horsehairs on his hands, and it was a decidedly interesting case of
amateur lunacy. He couldn’t eat anything—so he said—but he managed to
pack away a good quantity of grub on the sly. Well, he started in
on his third night, and kept his twaddle going until midnight, when
something happened. Dan’s Irish got the best of him and he could hold
in no longer. He kicked off the blankets that covered us, elevated his
heels, and fairly kicked the top bunk into kindling wood. The crazy
man landed on the stove, and the wreckage was scattered all over the
tent. Then old Dan. opened up with his tongue and gave our amateur
lunatic Hail Columbia, Rule Britannia and Erin go Bragh, all rolled
into one, and threatening to take him out and pitch him into the river
if he didn’t become immediately and permanently sane. Dan’s treatment
effected a complete and wonderful cure.

One of the old men of the regiment was married a short time ago to
the daughter of an old planter living up country a short distance.
The fellow was Pete Gravlin; the girl seventeen and very pretty; the
parents rich. The old folks were dead set against any such arrangement,
but Pete and the maiden were determined, so down to the Point he
brought her and she became Mrs. Gravlin.

A collection has been taken up in this regiment for a fund to build
a chapel. The human desire to outstrip our neighbors has made the
“collection” a success. The Twelfth built one which cost $300, and now
twice that sum has been raised in the Second, and we are congratulating
ourselves, not upon the prospect of having a chapel, but upon the fact
that it will be bigger than the Twelfth’s.

———————

_CXXIX_

POINT LOOKOUT, MD., _January 23, 1864_.

I am seated in the sutler’s shop at the prison camp with a whole ream
of paper before me, waiting to be written over. The mail got in last
night, for a wonder, on time. A warm spell has opened the ice in the
river. I got a letter from Frank Morrill, and he writes me, “I want you
to assume command of Frances and Nealie when you hear that I am coming
home, meet me at the depot and escort me to the house.” [When he came,
he came in his coffin, having received mortal wounds the following
July.]

We have had a most delightful day, and the boys of Company I have been
busy stockading their new Sibley tents. As soon as they move in I
will have a post office tent all to myself, and I have got it in my
mind now just how it will be rigged up for my business, even to the
establishment of an art gallery, the nucleus of which I already have in
a highly colored lithograph from a cigar box.

_Sunday, January 24._

I am messing now with Hen. Everett, who is clerk for the Adjutant, and
a fellow named Soseman. We do our own cooking, and as a consequence
live better—much better-than we should if we depended entirely on the
company cooks and rations. We have beefsteak, baked beans, fritters,
and the best coffee on the Point, and gathered about our little mess
table at the Adjutant’s quarters, envy no man his share of the good
things of life.

Last night I saw about fifty rebels take the oath of allegiance. It was
an impressive sight when these men raised their right hands and with
uncovered heads swore to support the Constitution and the Government of
the United States. They have a camp outside the prison camp and are on
practically the same footing that we are.

———————

_CXXX_

POINT LOOKOUT, MD., _January 29, 1864_.

Busy time now, putting up the new tents, and when the work is done the
regiment will certainly have good winter quarters. The fine weather
continues. It is as warm and pleasant as a New Hampshire May, and the
breezes from the south are balmy and exhilarating.

Day before yesterday we witnessed a magnificent _mirage_, which brought
the “Eastern Shore,” distant twenty-five or thirty miles across the
bay, to within an apparent distance of not more than five miles. The
optical illusion continued until afternoon, when it faded gradually.
The trees and houses became less and less distinct, and at last
the outlines of the shore faded, until nothing met the eye but the
sparkling waters of Chesapeake Bay.

The story is going the rounds that we old fellows who have not
re-enlisted are to be discharged next month, so that we may be home
for the March election. There may be something in this, as nine-tenths
of the old men are stanch Republicans, and most of the others are
staunch War Democrats, which is just as good, and if the election is
to be very close they would be a mighty reliable reinforcement. One
of the boys in my company has a letter from one of the Governor’s
staff, who writes that we are coming home in February; and Marston’s
Assistant-Adjutant-General says we are going home soon.

_Sunday, January 31._

Dan. has moved into one of the new Sibley tents, leaving me all alone,
in solitary grandeur, and I declare I am lonesome. Large numbers of
the Rebs here have taken the oath and enlisted into our army or navy.
Day before yesterday officers of the navy came ashore and had all
they could attend to until late in the evening, enlisting these men.
A regiment also is to be recruited from them, which will probably
be stationed where there is not much danger of their being taken
prisoners, as in such an event, if recognized, they would be promptly
executed.

Jess. Dewey has got a pleasant job as forage master up at Leonardstown,
a few miles above here on the river. I am told that the paymaster came
down on the boat last night and has gone up to Leonardstown today
to pay off the cavalry and other troops up there. The men who have
re-enlisted will go home on furlough as soon as they are paid.

The laugh is most decidedly on one of our fellows who, tiring of
army fare, went out into the country to get a good square home meal.
He found a place where they expressed their ability and willingness
to give him just what he was looking for. He, of course, expected a
rare feast, and what do you suppose he got? Bacon and hoecake, coffee
without milk, no butter, nor any of the little trimmings that round out
a Yankee “home meal.” He came back to camp thoroughly disgusted with
the Maryland farmer’s bill of fare, and filled the aching void with a
good square army ration.

The joke on another fellow came through a massive gold pen, which was
given to him on condition that he send and have it repointed. In a few
days the pen came back with this indorsement: “Your pen is _brass_, and
I return pen and money.”

One of the Fifth’s substitutes was found drowned in the creek the other
day. He probably tried to desert by swimming the creek, but could not
make a go of it.

———————

_CXXXI_

POINT LOOKOUT, MD., _February 7, 1864_.

I have moved into my new tent at last, and have a mighty homelike
little domicile, all to myself. It has a good floor and a nice roomy
bunk. At the head of the bunk a little table equipped with writing
materials. On one side of the door is my drop letter box, and in the
opposite corner one of those cute little sheet-iron stoves. And other
furnishings will come as they may be required. I already have my boxes
arranged for distributing the mail—ten cigar boxes, one for each
company, nailed to the wall. By the time I am discharged I will have an
office that will rival Boston and New York.

I got a letter last night from an old schoolmate of mine—Lucius
Chilson. He was my especial chum in the old South Grammar School on
Park street. His home was then in Bridgeport, Conn., but his father
sent him to Manchester especially to get him under Webster’s iron
discipline. He writes me that he has been in the Second Massachusetts
regiment, that he was wounded in the wrist at Gettysburg, losing the
use of his right hand, and is now in the Invalid Corps, at Cincinnati,
Ohio. He has learned to write with his left hand, and is a first-class
back-hand writer.

Rumors of our going home are flying as thick as ever. The latest is
that all who desired would be granted a furlough of fifteen days to go
home and vote. Mrs. Bailey, Mrs. Platt, Mrs. Wasley and other officers’
wives are coming down within two or three weeks, and quarters are being
fitted up in anticipation.

A little mail robbery came to light in a queer manner today. A fellow
who used to have the run of my tent down in the company gave away a
cheap little brass breastpin. The recipient recognized it at sight as
the identical pin he had, some time before, sealed in an envelope for
one of the men, and addressed and mailed to that man’s little girl. The
thief purloined it from the box, and was caught in a trap which nobody
set for nobody.

The old boys of Company I are to present Colonel Bailey with a costly
sword. The little remnant still left of the old “Abbott Guard”—the
boys of 1861—have chipped in $150, and Jess. Dewey and Steve Smiley
have gone to Baltimore to buy the sword. The breach between Captain
Gordon and the old men is now very wide and the feeling very bitter,
and this sword business is in some degree an outcome of the feud. In
this way the old men can show, in a way not open to criticism, how
much more they think of their first captain than of their last. In
addition to this, somebody has put the subs up to get a sword for
our second-lieutenant, Dave Perkins. They have more money than they
know how to spend, and you can work a collection on them for almost
anything. With a sword presentation on each side of him, I don’t see
how a more adroit snub could have been arranged. I see Bill Ramsdell’s
fine Italian hand in the whole thing.

[This sword presentation record would not be complete without the story
of the exploit of one of the subs who sailed under the name of Cady.
He made himself conspicuous in denouncing the old men for slighting
their captain. He solicited contributions from his fellow subs for a
sword for Gordon, which, you may be sure, Gordon was fully advised of.
Then he asked Gordon for a furlough of five days to attend to “a little
private matter at Baltimore.” He got his furlough, and that was the
last ever seen of him in that regiment.]

But Gordon holds one trump card, and he is playing it for all it is
worth. He has been making corporals of some of the last batch of bounty
jumpers—actually putting these men in authority and position over the
old fellows who have given nearly three years of faithful service to
their country. I, on my special detail, am out from under it. If not, I
think I should find some honorable way out—perhaps through a commission
in a negro regiment.

On the night of the first day of this month, one of Gordon’s new
corporals was in charge of a squad of four men at the wharf. There were
several boats there in their charge, and the corporal and his entire
squad, with others to whom the word evidently been passed, made off
with one of the boats during the night. Two days after, another squad
of three deserters was brought in, having been picked up by one of
the guard boats, many miles down the bay. It was a very cold, rough
night, and one of the bounty jumpers had done a really good service
to the country by freezing to death, while his two companions were,
unfortunately, still alive.

———————


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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 14 of 16)