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 2 of 16)
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exchanging shots with prowlers about the camp. I was on guard that
night, where there were plenty of bushes, but the best I could do
I couldn’t find anything to get excited over. Dan Mix, one of the
teamsters, says he was fired at four times while coming into camp with
his team last night. And it is currently reported that the Zouaves,
camped next to us, captured a spy a day or two ago, and he will be
hanged today or tomorrow. I can understand how some secessionists
around here might be tempted to take a pot shot at a Yankee sentinel
out of pure cussedness; but I haven’t got it through my head yet what
a spy could find to spy out that isn’t perfectly open to anybody who
cares to look about in broad daylight, unmolested.

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

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

Our grub, since we got here, has not been quite up to the Astor House
standard, but the army stores will be here today, which will improve
the bill of fare. So far it has consisted of hard bread bearing the
stamp “1810”—whatever that may signify—ham or salt pork and coffee.




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

Not much sleep, though. I had hardly lost myself when somebody shook
me and said the Captain wanted me up at his tent. I went up, in no
very amiable mood. Found Commissary Goodrich there, who said he wanted
me to be his clerk. I chewed the matter over and decided I’d take
the assignment. It relieves me from guard duty and drill, and gives
me very nice quarters with the Commissary. I jumped into my work the
next day—Sunday. Issued three days’ rations to the regiment, and had a
pretty busy time keeping track of the provisions. Monday and Tuesday I
had my hands full straightening up accounts and opening a set of books;
and not until today have I had any chance to write letters and attend
to private affairs.

Last night we had a rain—and _such_ a rain! The board floor in my tent
kept me high and dry above the flood, but the fellows down in camp came
pretty near being carried out to sea.

I am not starving now. I don’t think anybody does in the commissary
department. Yesterday I had all the cherries I could eat, and some day,
when I have a little leisure, I think I’ll go blackberrying.




Yesterday I received orders to deliver four days’ rations of beef,
bread and coffee, and the cooks were ordered to cook the meat, ready
for a march. We are now expecting marching orders at any moment. I have
an idea that they will come about night, so as to avoid marching in the
heat of the day. I am going, you bet. Captain Goodrich told me this
camp is not to be broken up at present. The commissary stores are to be
left here, the tents to remain standing, with the surplus baggage, all
under guard of the cripples and invalids. When it came to details, I
found the plan was for the Captain to go with the expedition, while I
remained behind to look after things in camp. That didn’t suit me; so
I asked him to hunt up another clerk, and notified the Captain that I
wanted my gun again and to go with the company.

Where we are going we do not know, but inasmuch as twelve regiments are
going with us, and we are to take no knapsacks, but four days’ rations
and a large supply of ammunition, it is fair to presume we will be
looking for trouble. I hope we are going down to Manassas to drive the
secessionists out of that stronghold. Very likely some of the boys have
not many days to live, but they are jolly eager to be off, and will
give a good account of themselves.

I went to a ride into the country yesterday to find a boarding place
for Captain Goodrich’s wife.



WASHINGTON, D. C., _Sunday, July 14, 1861_.

We are still here in Camp Sullivan, our marching orders having been
countermanded at the last moment; but are sure to be off before many
days. We have been expecting to march today, but probably will not.

A day or two ago there was a dreadful accident in our brigade. The
Rhode Island battery were drilling upon the parade ground in front
of our camp, when the ammunition in one of the limbers exploded and
the three men seated on the box were hurled high in the air, two
being killed instantly—literally blown all to pieces. I was on the
spot almost instantly, and with the single exception of the Pemberton
Mills horror, which I viewed as a newspaper reporter, it was the most
sickening sight I ever saw.

We certainly do have gay times here in camp. The days are frightfully
hot, but the evenings are cool and nice, and somehow or other the camp
scenes then remind me—and I can’t tell just how—of an old-fashioned
country fair. I suppose it’s the canvas, the lighted tents like open
booths, the men swarming hither and thither, the bustle and frolic and
singing—and we have some very fine singers in our company.

_P. S._—_Monday Morning._—We have received orders to march tomorrow at
two o’clock, with three days’ rations and without camp equipage. The
orders are imperative and we are sure of going. We shall probably see
some of the business we came for before long. I will write at the first
opportunity and let you know what happens.





WASHINGTON, D. C., _July 24, 1861_.

I intended to write to you yesterday, but after what I have been
through in the past week I simply couldn’t get up steam. Last Tuesday—a
week ago yesterday—this regiment crossed the Potomac at Long Bridge,
with the other regiments and batteries of Burnsides’ brigade, and
advanced into Virginia. Saturday night we were encamped about a mile
from Centreville. At two o’clock Sunday morning we were up and on
the march, and at ten o’clock we came upon the secessionists at Bull
Run and engaged them. The battle lasted several hours, when we were
obliged to withdraw. It was a very disorderly retreat. We expected to
be followed sharply, of course, and there was no halt worth talking
about until we straggled into Washington, every man for himself.
Coming and going we got in about sixty miles of travel, to say nothing
of several hours on the battlefield. I was about all in when, midday
Monday, I reached the Virginia end of Long Bridge. We were then inside
the fortifications, and there were kettles of hot coffee and boxes of
hard bread set out for everybody to help themselves. It did seem as if
I never could drag myself over to our camp. But I finally negotiated
with a huckster who was over there with his team, and having purchased
his remaining stock of pies and distributed them among the crowd of
refugees, he gave me a ride across the bridge and up into the city well
toward Camp Sullivan.

The battle was the hardest fought so far, and the losses on both
sides were heavy. At the roll call this morning 175 were missing from
the Second Regiment, but this number will doubtless be cut down as
stragglers come in. Of my eight tentmates, six went. Two [Harvey Holt
and Henry Morse] were killed outright, and one [George F. Lawrence]
was severely wounded in the head. I got my little upset at the very
tail-end of the fight. The regiment had crossed over to the opposite
hill, and about a hundred of us had taken cover in a cut in the road.
We had a house on our front, some secessionist cannon up near it, and
enough of the enemy to give us a real lively time. There was a rail
fence along the edge of the cut, and I rested my musket on one of the
rails, and carefully sighted on a fellow who seemed to be showing off.
Then something happened. A cannon ball struck the rail, one of the
fragments hit me in the head and neck, and I rolled down the bank. I
heard one of the boys cry out “Mart is killed!” and for about half a
minute I didn’t know but what I was. But when we had to break for the
rear, a few minutes later, I had no trouble in keeping up with the

In all my life I never suffered from thirst as I did that day. On the
advance, our regiment was right at the ford of Bull Run creek when
the head of the column sighted the enemy. A staff officer rode back
with the announcement and called to the men to fill their canteens. I
waded up a few feet and filled my canteen with good clear river water.
A little while after, I took a drink, spat out the tepid mouthful in
disgust, and emptied the canteen. I learned my lesson and will never
do that again. Before that day was over I would have given dollars for
one square drink of that same water. On the retreat I one time scooped
up a few sips from a mud puddle through which men and horses and wheels
were ploughing their way. Before reaching Centreville I filled up clear
to the ears from a little trickling rivulet, and filled my canteen as
well. Laid down in the old bivouac, and went to sleep. After two or
three hours was waked up and told to keep agoing. The old thirst was on
me, but when I lifted my canteen it was empty—drained to the last drop.
If I could have got hold of that sneak thief the casualty list would
have been one bigger, I think.

You will be pleased to know that “Heenan” behaved finely. His tin
dipper, hanging by his side, was desperately wounded—otherwise all
right. Frank Wasley had one or more fingers hurt by a bullet. Col.
Marston was not more than twenty or thirty feet from me when he was
shot in the shoulder. It was rather a wild scene just then—a dead man
stretched out here and there; a stream of wounded men staggering or
being helped to the rear; the Rhode Island battery, shrouded in smoke
and with several horses down, soaking it to the batteries across the
valley, on the other hill. A little later we were farther down the
slope, lined up in a cornfield, helping drive the enemy out of woods
and bushes where they were strongly posted. While here we saw the Black
Horse, a famous secessionist cavalry corps, charge the Fire Zouaves,
and then go back with lots of empty saddles.

I find I must hurry to get this into the mail, but will write again in
a day or two.



CAMP SULLIVAN, WASHINGTON, D. C., _July 30, 1861_.

Just to let you know that I was alive and kicking, I wrote a week
ago, but did not write half I wanted to. I got a letter from Roger
[Woodbury] a few days ago. He has an idea of enlisting in the Third
Regiment. I advised him, as he is situated, not to do it. It may seem
inconsistent in me to advise him against doing what I myself have done;
but he has others dependent on him, while I have not.

Things are getting straightened out so we can now tell about how many
men we lost in the unfortunate battle of Bull Run. Our total loss in
killed, wounded and missing is only about eighty or ninety. I lost some
of my best friends. Mose Eastman was wounded in the leg. I saw him
carried to the rear. If still living he is probably a prisoner. Frank
Wasley has had a finger cut off. I had a letter from mother today. She
says they do not know yet, in Manchester, who is missing, and there is
the deepest anxiety there.

By the way, I may as well remind you that this is my birthday, and I
am nineteen years old. If some one with the gift of prophecy had told
me, a year ago, that at my next birthday I would be in the army and
a participant in the greatest battle ever fought on this continent,
wouldn’t it have seemed a wild piece of fortune telling?



CAMP SULLIVAN, WASHINGTON, D. C., _August 5, 1861_.

The heat today is something awful. We are all just about dead from
it—lying about camp and sweltering. I received your letter of the 30th
and will answer your questions in turn.

Charlie Farnam is in our regiment as a drummer.

All the boys you specially inquired after are well. Hen. Pillsbury
inquires often where “the woman” is and how she is getting along.

As to the talk that we are going to be beaten in this war, that is the
veriest _bosh_. The next time we march towards Richmond we will have
force enough to crush our way. We were not beaten this time in the
fighting, but by an unfortunate combination of adverse circumstances.
Had Johnston’s division been held back by Patterson, as it was expected
it would be, we should have beaten them anyway. And even with that
reinforcement I am not sure we would not have whipped them in the end,
but for that unaccountable panic communicated to two or three broken
regiments by teamsters who had driven their teams into places where
they were not wanted, and who took the order to change positions as
a signal for retreat. Then everything went to pieces before anybody
really knew what had happened.

My tentmates Holt and Morse were both awfully nice boys. Holt was the
first man killed in the regiment. He was not with the company, but with
the corps of pioneers, a detachment of axe-men, made up of details from
the various companies. He was killed very early in the action, while
crouching in a ditch, by a piece of shell which struck him in the
shoulders. Morse was killed late in the day. The regiment was crossing
from the slope where it had been fighting over to the opposite hill.
It was halted in the valley, while Gen. Burnside rode up the hill a
little piece and took an observation. We were under very sharp fire
from a battery further up. I heard a shot from it come roaring down the
slope, ending in a “thud” which told it had got a victim down the line.
Looking back, I saw a prostrate form sprawled in the dust of the road,
with Johnny Ogden bending over it. “Who is it, Johnny?” I called back.
“Hen. Morse,” he answered me.

We expect to change our position before long—are hoping to spend a
few of these hot weeks at Fort McHenry, in Baltimore, or at Fortress
Monroe. I don’t know where the idea started from, but it would be fine.

I hear from Manchester often. Roger Woodbury, George Dakin, Ruthven
Houghton and Frank Morrill have enlisted into the Third Regiment. How I
wish that crowd was in this company!

Some of our officers are now in New Hampshire after recruits to fill
the gaps in the Second Regiment.



BLADENSBURG, MD., _August 12, 1861_.

Didn’t wake up very early this morning; but when I did I got up,
quick—rolled out of a puddle of water I had been sleeping in. We moved
over to this camp last Friday morning, and are in a most delightful
location. It is about five miles from Washington, on the field where
the battle of Bladensburg was fought in 1814. There is a little
village, a little river, little hills, &c., and plenty of the very
best of water close at hand. The place has quite a reputation for its
mineral springs. There is one right in the village, and the water is
_so_ clear, _so_ cool, _so_ refreshing—only the merest suggestion of a
mineral flavor.

It is surprising how many of my old friends I manage to run across.
Gust. Hutchinson, who used to work with me in the old _American_
office, is in the Massachusetts Eleventh, which is camped here. Almost
every day I run across somebody I have known before.

_August 15._—I have been about used up for the past two days, but now I
_must_ finish my letter. You can assure your rebel-sympathizing friends
that the rebels cannot take the capital, and I do not believe they will
attempt it. I hope they will try.

I have just received a paper with a list of the second company of
Abbott Guards. I note that Roger Woodbury, Frank Johnson, Johnny Stokes
and others of my old friends are in it. My uncle John has gone home.
The climate did not agree with him as well as it does with me.



BLADENSBURG, MD., _August 25, 1861_.

President Lincoln, accompanied by Secretaries Seward and Welles,
reviewed the brigade this forenoon. Friday afternoon we were reviewed
by Gen. McClellan, who is next in command to Gen. Scott. We expect
to stay here several weeks—perhaps till the first of October. We are
so very pleasantly situated that we would not object to lying around
here for a few weeks. If the rebels should be bold enough to attack
Washington there will be lots of music. The city is being fortified
against any such emergency. Our brigade is working on a fort near
here that would prove a hard nut to crack. Three of our regiments
were at Bull Run. The First Massachusetts was in the Thursday fight
at Blackburn’s Ford, and the Eleventh Massachusetts was in the Sunday

There was a most laughable scene here today. Colonel Fiske’s horse ran
away with him and bolted smack into [Lieut.] Joe Hubbard’s tent. Down
went tent, horse and rider all in one grand mix-up. And while they
were trying to save something from the wreck out of the ruins crawled
the worst-scared man ever seen in these parts since Bull Run. He was
reading a newspaper, all unsuspecting, when the heavens fell.

A day or two ago I read a letter from a daughter of old John Brown.
It was written to a brother-in-law of hers in my company—Willard P.
Thompson—whose brother, her husband, was one of John Brown’s men killed
at Harper’s Ferry two or three years ago. It was a gem of patriotic
sentiment, and with a fine womanly instinct she expressed her sorrow
that Avis, who was her father’s jailer, was killed at Bull Run—he was
so very kind to the old prisoner.



BLADENSBURG, MD., _Sept. 4, 1861_.

Orders came tonight to pack and be ready to march at a minute’s notice
with two days’ cooked rations. I learn from headquarters that we are
going over into Virginia again. We want a chance to try the Southern
Chivalry on again, and I guess we will have it before long. We hear
there was a scrimmage over there today, and our troops took possession
of Munson’s Hill, which the rebels had fortified. It is after ten
o’clock at night. “Taps” beat an hour ago, and I must close. Perhaps
in my next letter I will tell of a battle, and if I do, it will be a
battle won.



BLADENSBURG, MD., _Sunday, Sept. 15, 1861_.

I am somewhat surprised to hear that M—— has, as you write me, given
her secession-sympathizing lover the mitten. I can not work up any more
sympathy for a rebel in New Hampshire than for one in Virginia, and a
Manchester man who would jubilate over our defeat at Bull Run ought to
be taken out into a back pasture and shot. As for my never getting home
again, I’m not worrying about that. I went through Bull Run safe and
sound, and I don’t believe we will ever see a harder fight than that,
and there is no reason why I should not come out of the rest of the
battles equally well.

There has been some sort of a shake up in the commissary department.
Capt. Goodrich has had three clerks since I got out, all of whom threw
up the position. He and the Brigadier General [Hooker] didn’t hitch up
together very well, and now, I understand, he has quit the service.

Am I homesick? you ask. Not a bit. And that does not mean that I
would not like to see you and the “old folks at home.” We are very
comfortably situated just now. No signs of immediate starvation.
Government rations are excellent, and we can piece out with any luxury
we are willing to pay for. And drill and camp duties are so arranged
that we have much time for pleasure.

I got a letter from Roger Woodbury Wednesday. He is camped on Long
Island and is enjoying camp life immensely. The Division he is in will
consist of ten New England regiments, and is probably designed to
operate somewhere along the coast when the time comes for the grand

We are building a line of forts to encircle Washington on the north.
Details from this brigade have worked upon two near our camp. One of
these now has twenty guns mounted, commanding the country for miles
around. How soon we will move, we cannot tell—perhaps in a day, perhaps
not for a month. We have two days’ rations constantly in readiness. The
Massachusetts First has gone over into the country somewhere for a few

I ran into a little bunch of excitement this noon. Had gone over to a
huckster’s on the road running between the camps of the Pennsylvania
Twenty-sixth and Massachusetts Eleventh, to buy a pie for dinner. Saw a
commotion over in the Eleventh camp which seemed worth looking into, so
I went over. Had just passed the camp guard when I saw one of the boys
rushing a negro out of the crush and over to the Pennsylvania camp. The
negro was almost paralyzed with fright. He was a runaway, and had been
with the Massachusetts boys quite a little time. His master got track
of him and sent two slave catchers to get him. But when they tried to
execute their mission, some of the boys promptly knocked them down and
got the negro out of the way.



BLADENSBURG, MD., _Sept. 22, 1861_.

Last Wednesday I went down to the Third Regiment and saw lots and
lots of the old crowd. Roger Woodbury had not come on yet from Long
Island. I met Frank Morrill, Jack Holmes, Ruthven Houghton, and many
others. Frank and I had such a good long talk over the happy old times.
The regiment is camped about three miles from here, and the men are
worrying for fear they may be ordered back to Long Island.

So you think, do you, it would be a good plan to go down to the city
once in a while for something good to eat. Why, bless you, we don’t
have to do that now. We have sutlers here, and hucksters out from the
city, and farmers with their truck, and can buy most anything we want
to piece out the army rations, from sweet potatoes to pound cake.


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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 2 of 16)