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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 15 of 16)
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_CXXXII_

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

Bill Ramsdell has just gone out of the tent. He is to make the
presentation speech when we give Bailey the sword. He has been
rehearsing what he is going to say, and it is tip-top—quite ornate
and complimentary.

_Friday, February 12._

The steamer “Whildin” is lying out in the river, a little ways from
shore, it being so rough she can not get in to the wharf. Col. Bailey’s
wife and mother and several officers’ wives are on board, and doubtless
very anxious to get ashore. The going-home fever is on the increase,
and the betting population are putting up their money freely that we
will be home at the March election. I hear a bet of $50 was made this
morning, but whether wind or money I don’t know.

_Saturday, February 13._

I received several letters yesterday and today, including a note from
mother sent by the hands of Mrs. Captain Platt, who was one of the
arrivals yesterday. Col. Bailey’s sword was presented yesterday, and
everything passed off slick as a pin. Three more of our subs attempted
to desert, the other night. They set out in a dugout canoe, the
handling of which they were not equal to, and pretty soon, over she
went. Two, unfortunately, managed to reach the shore. The other was
drowned. Our deserting subs are really having hard luck. Three are
known to have been drowned, and it is hoped the same fate has overtaken
the gang Gordon’s new corporal took off with him, as their boat was
picked up, far out in the bay and bottom side up.

Uncle Luther’s folks [Luther Trussell, of New London, N. H.] write me
that Hamilton Messer, one of my boyhood cronies, who went out in the
Eleventh, is dead. It is one of the pleasantest days imaginable, and
I am sitting with the door of my tent wide open, looking out upon the
camp, where all is bustle and activity—some wheeling sand to grade the
company streets, some building houses for the officers, and little
groups here and there, chatting, gossiping and arguing. Captain and
Mrs. Platt just rode by on horseback.

———————

_CXXXIII_

POINT LOOKOUT, MD., _February 20, 1864_.

Zero weather is pretty strenuous for this latitude, but that is what we
have been getting. The frigid wave has struck us good and hard, and the
river is again frozen up so that we have had no mail from Washington
for five days. Last Wednesday the thermometer stood at _seventeen
degrees below zero_, which would do credit even to New England. It was
so cold Wednesday night that about midnight I had to turn out and build
a fire. I filled my little stove with fine wood and soon had a roaring
fire going, over which I sat and dozed until nearly morning.

There certainly is a prospect that a portion of the old men who have
not re-enlisted will be given a chance to go home to vote at the coming
election. Day before yesterday a list was made of the Republican
members of the regiment, and it was my understanding that they were
to be furloughed and sent home at the same time as the re-enlisted
men. A boat came in yesterday morning to take the re-enlisted men, but
went away without them, and it is not improbable that when she comes
again it will be found she is to take away a hundred or two staunch
Republicans, among whom I will be glad to be numbered.

Again there are apprehensions of a rebel attempt on this post. A picket
boat brought information that there is quite a force of rebels at a
point on the other side, with many small boats. Our little fleet is all
ready for anything they may try on. An armed schooner lies right off
our camp, with boarding nets up. A detachment of men from the Second
has been sent on board to serve as marines, and if Johnny Reb strikes
that boat he will have all the fun he wants.

_Sunday, February 21._

Hen. Everett has a letter from his brother Willie, and they are
expecting him home before election. They have what they consider
absolutely reliable information that the Republican members of the
regiment, if not others, are coming home. They will be disappointed,
however. He cannot get away, as there is no one in the regiment who
understands his duties well enough to undertake them.

———————

_CXXXIV_

POINT LOOKOUT, MD., _February 29, 1864—Evening_.

Just received a letter from you, and answer it at once with the
announcement that within one week I will be with you. Furloughs are
being made out with all haste, and we will probably be off before
tomorrow night—possibly tonight. We are going all the way to Boston by
boat, so this letter will reach you before we get to Boston. We will
go first to Concord, and will be furloughed for some stated time from
there. I shall, of course, make no delay in getting down to Manchester.
I am writing identical letters both to Manchester and New London, so as
to be sure of reaching you wherever you may be. Good bye, for a week.

———————

_NOTE_

_On February 24th 450 men from the three regiments started for
New Hampshire on the steamer “Admiral Dupont,” on furloughs of 20
days. Returning, they left Boston on March 18th, as narrated in the
following letter._

———————

_CXXXV_

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

Got back to Point Lookout last night at about one o’clock, safe and
sound. The first thing, of course, I struck for my tent, with keen
anticipation of the comfort ahead. As it came into view it struck me
that Pendleton, who had been left in charge as acting postmaster, kept
rather open house. The door was wide open, and when I got inside and
felt around, I found nothing but an empty shell. Not a solitary piece
of furniture met my inquiring touch. The stove was gone, the desk,
distributing boxes—in fact, the entire outfit. The establishment was
entirely dismantled. For the first time in my whole army experience I
was homesick.

_I felt like one who treads alone
Some banquet hall deserted,
Whose guests were fled, its garlands dead,
And all but me departed._

Well, I went down to the company and turned into George Lawrence’s
bunk, and today I got the whole story. Pendleton carried things with
a high hand, did not attend to his duties in any kind of manner, and
his conduct became so outrageous that he was sent back to the company
and the business turned over to the chaplain. So now “Othello’s
occupation’s gone!” Old Mr. Bailey told me he heard them planning to
get rid of Pendleton, and the colonel said very emphatically that he
wanted me to have the place when I came back. But they decided it would
make but little difference to me what was done, as I would probably
receive a commission within a few weeks. My choice seems to lie between
taking a commission in a negro regiment or going back to company
duty under Gordon and his precious gang of non-coms., and I think my
preference will be for the negroes. I will have my furlough made out
today, and will probably go to Washington for examination within a few
days.

Now I must tell you about our trip back from New Hampshire. On our
arrival in Boston we at once went on board the steamer “Guide”—and a
slow old guide she was. But slow as she was, she was in a hurry to get
away. The instant the baggage was on board she started, so suddenly
that a number of the boys never got aboard, but were left behind. This
was Tuesday afternoon, and Friday morning we were at Fortress Monroe.
We got ashore about noon and loafed around until 5 o’clock, when we
took the Baltimore boat. At 11 we met the tugboat from the Point, got
aboard, and bobbed about out on the Bay until the boat from Baltimore
came along. From her we got some of the boys who missed connections at
Boston. Among the number were Jess, Dewey and Johnny Ogden, who had
come on to Baltimore by rail. My home grub gloriously met all drafts,
and I ate the last of it this morning, for breakfast.

Parties of our men now go across to Virginia every day, for wood. So
far as fuel is concerned, we are living off the enemy’s country.

Not more than half our furloughed men have got back yet, and they will
probably be straggling along for some time.

_Afternoon._—My furlough to go to Washington has just gone to
headquarters for indorsement, and I shall be off within two or three
days. Frank Wasley sent me word that he and Irene would like to see me,
so I went up and called. They were living as cozy as could be, and I
had a jolly visit. They have two tents, boarded up and the walls neatly
papered, making two very attractive rooms.

———————

_CXXXVI_

POINT LOOKOUT, MD., _Friday, March 25, 1864_.

I believe I was never lamer or more absolutely used up than I am right
at this present moment, the result of my participation in a great
snowball battle, yesterday, between the Second and Twelfth. I emerged
with both eyes blacked and a big cut over one, with minor contusions
too numerous to mention, and thoroughly soaked and bedraggled from top
to bottom. The Twelfth turned out _en masse_, which was more than our
fellows did, as half of them were lying in their bunks, asleep, having
been on guard the night before, while our subs didn’t care nor dare
to mix into anything so strenuous. The Twelfth mustered three men to
our one, but we held up our end in good shape. At the close both sides
got to throwing ice and bricks, and several men received quite severe
injuries.

It was a great storm that brought that snow down upon us. It set in
Tuesday, and at 9 o’clock in the evening was at its height—the fiercest
storm, by all odds, I have ever seen in this part of the country. I
slept in a bunk in the company cook-house. Snugly curled up, I slept
perhaps a couple hours, when I woke up and decided to straighten
out my cramped limbs. I opened out like a jack-knife, took just one
second to catch my breath, and pulled up again like a turtle going
into his shell. I had rammed both head and feet into a snowdrift. The
next morning the inside of our tent was like a view in the arctic
regions—everything covered or filled with snow. In front of the tent
was a drift five feet deep. I guess it was about the toughest snowstorm
this part of Maryland ever experienced.

_Evening._—I have a little piece of news which I know will make your
heart glad. I have decided not to go to Washington nor to make any
further move for a commission. The move served as an anchor to windward
in case I should otherwise have to go back to company duty under
Gordon. I appreciated that it was a good deal like deserting you to go
off again, perhaps for years. But things have come my way, and I do not
want a commission now any more than I have in the past, but will come
home and settle down in a few weeks.

No sooner did I make known my disinclination to go to Washington than
an order was made out detailing me again as regimental P. M., and I am
once more on my old job. Oh, it was sweet—the way I threw the hooks
into the captain! I was in the adjutant’s office, playing cribbage,
when Gordon came in. Just as he was going out he turned to me and
said, “Well, Haynes, when do you expect your furlough back?” “I don’t
know when it will come,” I answered, nonchalantly, “but probably
before long.” “Well,” he snapped back, “if it doesn’t come in a day
or two I’ll have to give you a gun and put you on duty.” “All right!”
I said—and butter wouldn’t have melted in my mouth. But no sooner had
he gone than John Cooper, the adjutant, turned to Hen. Everett and
said, “Make out a special order detailing Mart. for special duty at
these headquarters, and serve it on Captain Gordon.” The thing was done
so quickly that Gordon was hardly back to his tent before the order
reached him. It tickled Bill Ramsdell and my particular gang immensely,
and I could see them going around and laughing and slapping each other
on the back.

_Saturday, March 26._

I have been at work today fixing up my tent, and expect to move into
it tonight. The Washington mail is taken off, which makes my already
light work much lighter. The boat is needed in carrying troops to the
Peninsula, which the camp strategists think it likely will be Grant’s
line of advance on Richmond. And it is also the general impression that
we will leave here before many weeks.

———————

_CXXXVII_

POINT LOOKOUT, MD., _March 28, 1864_.

Have got my old tent in running order again, fixed somewhat as it was
before the Pendleton disaster overtook it. It does seem good to be back
doing business at the old stand. But still it does not look exactly
homelike yet. For a stove I have got one of the little sheet-iron
conical “Sibleys.” It was donated by Charlie Shute, the quartermaster,
but he had no stovepipe for me. But I made a raise of four lengths in
Bailey’s sutler shop, and stole one length down in the company, which
was sufficient for my purpose, and the stove works to perfection. But
yesterday and today have been so very, very pleasant that there has
been but little need of any fire. Warm, summery days, with the sun
shining and the robins flying.

Yesterday morning I was awakened, very early, by a violent banging
which threatened to burst in my door. I asked, in the polite manner
customary in camp, who was there, and the reply that came left no
doubt: “Hey, _Muggins!_ Get up and let me in here, won’t you?” Only one
of all my old school crowd remembers and still hails me by my schoolboy
nickname—“Muggins.” I tumbled out of bed in a hurry and opened the door
to our old friend Charlie Wilson, just in on the boat from Portsmouth,
Va. [Charles H. Wilson, of Manchester, until discharged for disability
a member of the New Hampshire battalion First New England Volunteer
Cavalry, and then in the employ of the Quartermaster Department at
Portsmouth, Va.] He was going back last night, but he enjoyed himself
so well yesterday that he decided to accidentally miss the boat. He
goes back tonight—that is, if he does not accidentally get left again.

_Tuesday, March 29._

One day nearer home, and only sixty-seven more are between us. I have
a card almanac hung up, and as soon as a day passes I scratch it off,
just as I have heard of men doing who were going to be hanged. The fine
weather I was bragging about has changed to cold and windy, with every
indication of a coming storm. Charlie Wilson started back last night,
and I went down to see him off. I am messing now with the cooks, down
at the company cook house, and you may be sure we have the best of
rations and plenty of them.

The wind is piping up furiously, and my old tent is shaking and
creaking like a ship in a gale, but I guess she will weather it.
Charlie Wilson sent his regards—come to think of it, I guess it was his
love.

———————

_CXXXVIII_

POINT LOOKOUT, MD., _April 5, 1864_.

The mail boat did not go out last night, owing to the storm, and it
bids fair to be much rougher tonight. It is an awful storm we are
having, and I would like to see the sun once more and feel its warmth.

Yesterday General Marston was relieved by General Hinks, and from
this the boys look for an early transfer of the regiment to the
front, as Marston will probably want us with him, while Hinks would
naturally prefer his own old regiment, the Nineteenth Massachusetts.
The paymaster is expected here day after tomorrow to make what will
probably be the last payment we will receive in the southern country.

A drop of water comes through the tent occasionally and strikes this
paper with unerring accuracy, but I am bound to write in spite of it.
Jess. Dewey and I are going up the river for sea shells the first fair
day. He is now “right general guide” for the regiment, and has his time
to himself quite as much as I do, so there is nothing to stand in the
way of our little expedition when the weather will permit. The Veteran
Volunteers have returned from their furloughs, some of them completely
“busted,” so far as finances are concerned.

_Wednesday, April 6._

Orders have just come for our regiment to be ready to embark tomorrow
morning. We are to take two days’ rations, and are going, probably,
to either Norfolk or Yorktown. I may stay here a day or two, or may
not, to look after the mail. The officers of the regiment have for
some time been making great preparations for a grand ball to come off
tomorrow night. It was to have been held in the chapel, and as it
would not sound well to talk of a dance in the church, the affair,
was designated as a “picnic.” But it is all the same now. Some of the
officers do not relish the idea of leaving the quarters they have
fitted up so comfortably and at considerable expense. Frank Wasley
swears he will burn his when he has to leave it, orders to the contrary
notwithstanding.

Bill Pendleton has been down to headquarters, and he says Gen. Marston
says we are going to Norfolk, and that we will have an easier time than
we are having here. Marston has been appointed military governor of
Norfolk. As for myself, if I fare as well where we are going as I have
here I will have no reason to complain.

———————

_CXXXIX_

YORKTOWN, VA., _April 11, 1864_.

Here I am again, only a couple miles from the spot where we camped two
years ago. I have been looking around a little since we arrived here.
Yesterday Hen. Everett, Jesse Dewey and I paid a visit to that old
camp, and it was intensely interesting to us. The company streets and
the ditches around the tents were there almost as we left them, and
even much of the litter of the camp. I found the site of my tent and
sat down on the very spot where, two years ago, I used to rest after
a night in the trenches, and where the letters addressed to “Miss
Nealie T. Lane” were written. I picked up one of the old tent-pins, and
intend to make some little souvenir of it. Also a piece of shell and a
fragment of boiler from the old Magruder sawmill, the music of which
was continually in our ears.

Perhaps you remember about an old tentmate of mine named Damon. When we
were here then he hollowed out an oven in the steep bank of a ravine,
and as that was one of the institutions of Company I, we hunted it up.
We found it in perfect condition and as good as new, and as we stood
there Damon was right before my eyes again, bobbing about and learnedly
discoursing on the peculiar advantages of ovens built on that peculiar
plan.

We are camped just outside the works around Yorktown, on a plateau
overlooking the York river and, far off to the east, the blue waters of
Chesapeake Bay—on the whole, a very pleasant location. The first night
we were here we had no tents, but they came the next day, although not
as many as we needed, and we are, consequently, somewhat crowded. It
was the intention to give Jess. Dewey and I a tent together, but we
will have to wait. But at the rate our subs are deserting there will
be tents enough and room enough before long. About a hundred have made
tracks, so far.

Yesterday the Fourth U. S. Colored Regiment left here. One of the
officers went out of this company. They are going to Point Lookout. The
fellow I would have gone to Washington with if things had not shaped
themselves to my liking in the regiment, is back with a captain’s
commission. You see what I escaped. Col. Bailey tells me I ought to go
up anyway, whether I accept or not—it would help pass the time away.
But I tell him I am getting along very comfortably as I am, that I
can enjoy myself better with the regiment than I could loafing around
Washington, and that if I had wanted a commission I could have had one
long, long ago. I am quartering now in the cook-tent, and have very
good accommodations. It is understood we are going to Williamsburg
soon. Hen. Pillsbury says Col. Bailey is determined to go home when
the old men do, and most of the officers are of the same mind. We have
just drawn rations of cracked pease, beans, rice, smoked sides, &c., so
there are no signs of immediate starvation.

———————

_CXL_

YORKTOWN, VA., _April 13, 1864_.

Not a bit of mail have we had, until yesterday, since our arrival here.
Then George Colby came down from Point Lookout, bringing what had
accumulated there.

We are expecting to have a military execution of a deserter this
afternoon. He is one of our subs, going under the name of John Egin. He
was taken while trying to make his way into the rebel lines, was tried
yesterday by court martial, and condemned to be shot today between the
hours of five and six o’clock in the afternoon. He was making for the
rebel lines when he met a man in a gray uniform, and he gave himself
dead away. He didn’t know that a gray uniform between the lines was
pretty sure to cover one of our scouts, so he unbosomed himself, and
was then about-faced and marched back to Yorktown.

Just outside our camp is the grave of a man who was executed a little
over a month ago. He was on guard over a prisoner, at Williamsburg,
whom he allowed to escape, carrying important information to the
rebels. Most of the large number who have deserted since we got here
have been picked up at one place or another. Their utter ignorance
of the geography of the country has in many instances led to their
undoing. It is probable that several of them will meet the same fate
that has been decreed for Egin. The second of Gordon’s precious subs,
made corporals to spite the old men, made tracks day before yesterday,
but was picked up and brought back yesterday. When the bulk of the old
men are discharged, and the subs have all run away, and most of the
officers have been mustered out, where will the glorious old Second
Regiment New Hampshire Volunteers be? I am glad I have not got to stay
and serve any longer, for it can never again be the old Second except
in name.

Close to our camp is a contraband settlement familiarly known as “Slab
City.” There are several hundred houses. It is laid out in streets, the
shanties, built of slabs, split logs, &c., averaging about half the
size of an ordinary New Hampshire woodshed. Jess, and I have explored
it from one end to the other, and it was as good as a circus. They
have quite a corps of teachers, both white and black, and there is
more religion to the square inch than in any other part of the United
States. There are stores, with little stocks of goods that wouldn’t
inventory twenty dollars apiece, and the signs are fine examples of
phonetic spelling. Here is one: “GROSERIS STOOR.” And on two that
we saw appeared the magic word “GROSEYS”—the orthography evidently
dictated from the same fount of knowledge. The mechanical execution was
on a par with the spelling.

_Friday, April 15._

This forenoon I witnessed the execution of two deserters from our
regiment. One was the John Egin I have spoken of before, who was
respited for a day. The other was a man who has gone by the name of
Holt, but who last night acknowledged that his name was McGuire,
and that he was from Yorkshire, England, where he had a wife and
two children. The Second Regiment was drawn up in line, facing the
execution ground, with two loaded cannon in position to rake it, one
negro regiment in line to the rear of the Second, and another drawn
up at right angles, on its left. When the troops were in position, the
two condemned men rode upon the ground, each seated upon his coffin in


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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 15 of 16)