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 4 of 16)
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forty or fifty rods from our camp.

The boxes sent on by Joe Hubbard have at last arrived, and you may
be sure we were glad to see them. I presume you know what was in
mine as well as I do myself. The pies went into the common stock and
disappeared as though they had legs. The various articles of clothing
filled my knapsack as full as it would hold. And I must say to you
that the little knitted smoking-cap or skating-cap or sleeping cap,
or whatever you call it, is the gayest fez in camp. There are quite
a number in the company, built on the same general lines, but no two
alike, and mine takes first premium. I wish I could see you long enough
to thank you for it.

I took one of the big boxes and made a cupboard to keep my things in.
I have my eating utensils on one shelf, writing materials, bundles of
letters, &c., on another, papers, magazines and books on the third.

Col. Marston was wounded last Sunday by the accidental discharge of a
pistol, so Lieut.-Col. Fiske is in command. He is a great fellow for
drilling the men, and we are not having as easy a time as we did with

One of the boys has just come in, bringing a fragment of a shell fired
by the rebels at our battery down near the river. All the mementos I
have picked up so far are a sand-bag from the rebel works at Fairfax
Court House and a few insignificant trifles.



CAMP BEAUFORT, _Dec. 29, 1861_.

I am feeling pretty ragged just now, but I see a glimmer of comfort
ahead in the shape of a big lot of biscuits Damon is making for
supper. We have not had any rations of soft bread since we left
Bladensburg, but better days are coming. They are putting in a bakery
for the Second Regiment, and when it is done I expect the boys will
feel like getting up a celebration. Really, though, it won’t make
so much difference in this tent, where we have had a very efficient
private bakery in operation for some time. Even I, as a lover of
toast, have developed some skill in making good buttered toast out of
our hardbread. I soak and boil it a long, long time, then stack the
crackers up, buttering each, and it is a pretty palatable dish, if I do
say it as shouldn’t.



CHARLES COUNTY, MD., _Jan. 5, 1862_.

Night before last we had a regular old-fashioned hail-storm. I lay on
the ground in my tent, rolled up in my blankets and overcoat, cozy,
snug and warm in spite of the hail that was hammering my canvas roof,
and pitied the poor people who didn’t have a fireplace, a snug nest,
and a roof. But last night the boot was on the other leg. I was on
guard, and it was miserably cold, with ice a quarter of inch thick
over everything. When I came off, along in the night, I headed for my
tent and comfort for a while. Had just got comfortably settled when
some one stuck his head in and hollered, “_Your chimney’s on fire!_” I
rolled out, broke through the ice in a water-hole, mixed some mud, and
plastered it into the crevices. In about an hour, another good angel
sang the same song, and I went through the same performance. Another
hour, and the third alarm came. I was now thoroughly mad and utterly
demoralized, and I howled back, “Well, let her burn if she wants to.”
It smouldered until morning, when we doctored it so we hope it will
behave for a few days at least.

The rebels have not been very demonstrative lately. I hear that Gen.
Hooker has orders not to grant any more furloughs, as Heintzelman is
advancing on the other side and is liable to have a fight any day,
in which event we will be called upon to support him. And besides
this, Gunnison has had a dream. He believes in all sorts of uncanny
manifestations, and the other night he dreamed that the regiment was in
a battle, and in an awful hot place too. I am not very anxious to get
out of my present comfortable quarters, unless it might be to go home
or farther south where it is warmer. If it were not for that glorious
old fireplace of ours we should not be as comfortable or as cheerful as
we are.



CHICKAMOXEN, MD., _Jan. 12, 1862_.

I have been working like a beaver all day and am awfully tired. It was
that infernal chimney. Last night it got afire again and was roaring
gloriously before we found it out. So today the whole crew put in their
time reconstructing it. It is a pretty substantial piece of work, and
it ought to stand the wear and tear for a long time. This is one of the
most enjoyable days of the season—warm and with a refreshing breeze.
But O, the mud! And not a bit of snow on the ground.

Last night the rebels fired a great many random shots across the
river, hit or miss, here and there, and have been keeping at it,
intermittently, today. They know, of course, the location of our camps,
and it is really surprising that not a speck of damage has been done.
A number of the shells struck quite near to our camp. Today one shell
struck square in the New Jersey camp, but did not explode. And this
afternoon, while I was sitting in my tent half asleep, there was a wild
screech a few feet overhead, and a shell landed on the parade ground
a few rods beyond the camp, but did not explode. A crowd ran out from
the camp, but Damon captured the prize and brought it into our tent.
A little while after, he sold it for ten dollars. [Major Stevens was
the purchaser. For several years, properly labeled, it was one of the
exhibits in the Adjutant-General’s office at Concord.]

You inquire of me why we don’t fight. I don’t know. Suppose the time
hasn’t come yet. I have no doubt it will before long, however, and
there will be a lively time.



CHARLES CO., MD., _Jan. 19, 1862_.

Horrible weather! It is almost inconceivably muddy, and today it is
raining. I went out to watch the batteries work, today, and it was a
question sometimes whether I wouldn’t have to leave my boots in the
mud. We have spells of cold weather, with a little snow, but it soon
gets warm and rains.

Jim Carr, of our company, cut his foot terribly with an axe, yesterday.
The blade went right through the bones, and he will be crippled for a
long time.

I have studied it out that we will not trouble the rebels on the
other side for some time yet. We are building big mortar rafts up at
Baltimore, to be used in shelling out the rebel batteries. It will take
some time to get them ready, of course; but when the time does come
there will be music in the air.

Last week I helped dig out a rebel shell. It was buried seven feet in
the solid earth and must have traveled over four miles.



CHARLES CO., MD., _Jan. 26, 1862_.

You never saw a lovelier day than this—clear as a whistle, with breeze
enough to set the whitecaps running on the river. In the forenoon I
went down to our battery, near the river, just for the walk. One of the
lookout pickets I passed on the bluff had a powerful spy-glass, through
which I got a good view of the rebel fort on Shipping Point. Down by
the battery I picked up an Indian arrow head. Some contrast between
this stone weapon of a dead and gone race and those long 32-pounders
close by.

I see a good many old Manchester acquaintances here who drop down
sight-seeing. Kimball the shoe man, John B. Chase the tanner, and Cy.
Mason, Washington agent for the Associated Press, were here day before
yesterday; and yesterday Dr. Hawkes came down.

Would you like a picture of myself and my surroundings right at this
moment? Well, here it is. See me sitting in front of a cheerful wood
fire, my boots off, and your gorgeous smoking cap on my head. By my
side, a cup of steaming hot cocoa, a cookie and a quarter of mince
pie. Slade is at my right, writing, and similarly provided for in the
eatable line. Just at this moment he is digging down into his box
hunting for a big lump of candy that came to him from home.

We had chickens, from New Hampshire, for supper. I am getting to be an
expert, myself, in certain branches of cookery. I can toss and turn
fritters now, without dropping them in the ashes. Can you? Our “oven”
is very simple, but it does its work to perfection. We set a deep iron
pan on a bed of coals. In this, four or five little rocks as supports
for the plate carrying the dough. The whole covered with another iron
pan filled with coals. The biscuits and plum cake we turn out cannot be
beat anywhere by anybody.





CHARLES CO., MD., _Feb. 1, 1862_.

Every night, almost, I dream that I am home again, and those dreams
are perhaps a forerunner or premonition of something that is going
to happen. The signs are decidedly more promising for an early
termination of the war. We have worsted the rebels in every fight we
have had for some time, and the tone of the Southern press indicates
that the Southern people begin to appreciate what a scrape they have
gotten themselves into. I expect we will move from here before long.
The Quartermaster says he does not expect to stay in this place
much longer, and has especially charged his teamsters to keep their
equipments in condition for a quick movement. Besides, a road is now
being built down to Liverpool Point, about twelve miles below here
on the Potomac. This indicates that when we go we will _embark_ for
somewhere—perhaps only to be ferried across the river.

In all your life, travels and experience you never ran across such a
mud hole as this is at this season. I heard, this afternoon, that we
would have to back our supplies up from the landing, as it is pretty
near impossible for teams to get through. The landing is two miles
and a half from here, and we would have a fine time toting up boxes of
hardbread, beef, and other fixings. I saw one of our boys coming up
from the landing last night who had evidently misjudged the depth of
the mud in some place, for clear to his waist he was cased in Maryland
salve. A man is fortunate if he can find a place to cross the road
without going in to his knees.

My tentmate Damon is on furlough. He was not in condition for duty,
having strained his back, so they gave him a furlough of thirty days.
His time is about half up, and we do miss the boy. Frank Robinson has
got back, looking pleasant and happy, as a newly-married man should.



CHARLES CO., MD., _Feb. 9, 1862_.

For a day or two I have been laid up with a bad cut on my foot, which I
got chopping wood for my tent. I can not get a boot or a shoe on, but
hope it won’t bother me a great while. I guess—in fact almost know—that
we are to leave here soon. Gen. Hooker has been to Washington to confer
with the commanding General. Rahn, our Commissary Sergeant, thinks we
are going on an expedition to Galveston, Texas. Wouldn’t we have a
time down there among those Spaniards, Greasers, Negroes, and those
perfectly _awful_ Texas Rangers!

Damon has not got back yet. We have a letter from him saying he was at
Lunenburg, Vt., laid up with a lame leg.

We have been rigged out with new uniforms. Dark blue dress coats with
light blue cord trimmings, and light blue pants.



CHARLES CO., MD., _Feb. 16, 1862_.

Of course you have rejoiced over Burnsides’ victory at Roanoke Island
and the success of the Kentucky army at Fort Henry. If we can keep on
with the good work, this rebellion will be crushed and we home again
before long. We are under orders to be ready to march at short notice
and will soon be doing our share of the business. A Vermont brigade is
expected here, any day, to reinforce us; and some big guns are being
brought down from Washington, probably to be used in shelling the rebel
batteries. The gunboats have not had their full armament until lately.

That foot of mine, that I was fool enough to cut over a week ago, is a
beauty now. I got cold in it, or something, and it now looks more like
a parboiled pig than a foot. If we get orders to march right now, I
shall have the foot swathed up in some way and go with the regiment.

Slade is sorting over his stuff, to see what he shall send home. He
actually has more than he can lift.

A few days ago there came an order to find out how many men in this
division wanted to go on the Mississippi river gunboat flotilla. They
proposed to transfer forty out of each regiment, and I suppose the idea
was that they would find lots of sailors in the regiments from the
coast. The order was quickly rescinded, however.



CHICKAMOXEN, MD., _Feb. 23, 1862_.

My foot is most well now, much to my gratification. I would not like a
furlough just now. There will be some fighting before long and I want
to be in it. The rebels over the way have not fired a gun for a week,
and it is surmised that they have evacuated. Everything indicates that
we will move soon—very soon. A Brigadier General has been assigned to
command of this brigade, Col. Marston is coming back from Washington,
and the officers on recruiting service in New Hampshire have been
ordered back to the regiment. The Quartermaster assures me we will be
off within a few days.



CHARLES COUNTY, MD., _March 2, 1862_.

Very cold just now, and the mud is drying up fast, so it is getting to
be very good traveling. You know we are going to move when the roads
are in condition. McClellan says so, and he ought to know. All the
signs point to a movement before long. We have shipped the company
property to Washington, and also our dress coats. We will not take any
tents, and only two wagons, for ammunition. We drill now about six
hours a day. The musicians have an “ambulance drill”—learning to get
men into and out of ambulances, to staunch wounds, and to generally
care for wounded men. Senator Hale told one of our boys, a while ago,
that he thought we would be home by July.

Damon got back today, and we celebrated his return by cooking and
eating two or three pounds of molasses candy. I got one valentine, and
I know who _backed_ it. Perhaps Sally [Shepherd] does too. It’s nearly
midnight, and I’m off to bed.



CHARLES CO., MD., _March 7, 1862_.

A “Signal Corps” of some one hundred men is now attached to this
division. The signaling is done by means of flags. Yesterday a balloon
went up over here, the observers signaling with one over Heintzelman’s
division, miles away on the other side of the river. The rebel
batteries have opened up on something in the most furious manner. Every
gun appears to be working full blast, and the heavy explosions fairly
shake the canvas of the tent. [This was one of the preliminaries of the
evacuation, which was completed on the 9th.]

Our new Brigadier General [Henry M. Naglee] has got himself universally
hated, right off quick. All sorts of stories are going. Here is one,
for what it is worth: He had an altercation with Gen. Sickles and
pulled his revolver, with a threat to shoot. But when Sickles coolly
pulled out his gun and reminded Naglee that he had shot his man
before, the latter subsided. I guess there is no question but that he
especially and particularly dislikes the Second New Hampshire and First
Massachusetts. It is stated that he tried to get them transferred from
his brigade, but Hooker wouldn’t allow it.



CHARLES CO., MD., _March 16, 1862_.

Got your letter, with picture, on Friday morning. I placed the picture
on one of my shelves, and when Gunnison came in Damon picked it up
and asked him if he had ever seen the picture of his youngest sister.
“Gunny” told him no, and when he looked at the picture said, “O, well,
you can’t fool me; that’s the girl Mart Haynes travels with when he’s
home.” But Damon actually made him believe it was his sister. “Well,”
said Norman as he held your two pictures up for comparison, “they
look enough alike to be twins. If Mart should see the two together he
wouldn’t know which one to hitch onto.”

You have, of course, heard that the rebels evacuated their positions
last Sunday. They burned everything they could not take away—camps and
houses, their gunboat “George Page” and various smaller craft that had
taken refuge with her up Quantico Creek. It was a wild scene as viewed
from this side. For miles it was an ocean of smoke and flame. They left
eighteen or twenty big guns, with other property that could not be

How this will affect our movements is the problem now. The old rumor
factory is working overtime, and one man’s guess is as good as
another’s. The story that appears to find most favor is that we are
going to New Mexico, where troops are much needed just now. Another
wise man has it that we are going down to reinforce Burnside. Sickles’
brigade is actually on board steamers now, ready to be transported

The frogs are “peeping” now in every brook and mudhole. Damon shakes
his head wisely, and says if we could only stay here till they get a
little bigger and fatter, we’d live on frogs’ legs. For dinner today
Slade, Damon, Haynes & Gunnison had a great pile of fried oysters.



CHARLES COUNTY, MD., _March 23, 1862_.

Not a mail has reached us since last Monday. The Government has
chartered all the boats within reach for troop transports, and none can
be spared for side shows. Two expeditions have passed here this week.
Yesterday about thirty large steamers went down the river. These fleets
carried parts of Heintzelman’s corps, and have probably gone down below
Acquia Creek and landed. We are now a part of this corps, and will
probably be the next to move—as soon as the steamers can go back to
Washington and coal up.

We will have to make pack-horses of ourselves when we do go. Are to
carry sixty extra rounds of ammunition in our knapsacks, and will
be equipped with some new-fangled French tent. This tent is in four
pieces, each man to carry a piece, and when put up it only makes a
screen from the dew and the sun, being open at both ends.

I talked yesterday with a contraband who ran away from the rebels over
in Virginia. He says they are fortifying at Fredericksburg, a place
about twenty miles from Acquia and about thirty from here. Very likely
that is where we will first run into them; and it will probably be a
hard place to take, as they have a great many guns in position there
and a large force of soldiers.

James O. Adams was here a few days ago. We had a good time together
that evening.

Now comes the best joke of the season. Gen. Naglee is very
unpopular—thoroughly hated by everybody from highest to lowest. I said
so frankly in a letter which Farnsworth published. Then Halifax broke
loose. I don’t know how the matter ever got before the War Department
at Washington—but it did. And the first thing Farnsworth knew he got a
communication from Washington that scared him stiff. He showed it to
my folks, and I guess they went wild—expected me to be taken out at
sunrise and shot for high treason. The first intimation I got was in
a hysterical letter from my mother, that I could hardly understand.
Then in a day or two John Kenney came down from the hospital and said
Harriet Dame wanted to shake hands with the private soldier that
the War Department had to sit up and take notice of. Showing that
headquarters here had some orders in relation to me. I don’t know what
was in either of the communications, but the folks at home need have no
fear of anybody in Hooker’s division being very severely disciplined
for voicing the universal sentiment in regard to General Naglee.

_9 o’clock in the Evening._—You will not hear from me again for some
time, probably, as it is given out that the advancing troops shall not
write home. The Chaplain says the 9 o’clock mail tomorrow will be the
last one out of here. I have eight letters to write to night, closing
up my correspondence for the present.



CHARLES CO., MD., _April 3, 1862_.

I have just learned, late at night, that a mail is going out tomorrow
morning. It is getting to be very exasperating—these orders to leave,
and then having them countermanded. We expected to get off today, and
now the announcement is that we are certainly going tomorrow. The
transports have been ordered, and temporary piers built to load us
from. Captain Bailey has just got along with a batch of recruits. Don’t
know yet how many acquaintances I have in the lot.

One of Company E’s men [Luther W. Fassett] was shot by rebel scouts
yesterday, on the other side of the river. The company was over there
digging up a big gun which the rebels had buried. He was sent back for
some shovels, when three rebels stepped into the road and shot him. He
had a brother in the same company and a wife and child in New Hampshire.



_Monday, April 14, 1862_.

A mail is going out, I am told, at three o’clock, and it is nearly
that time now. We left our old camp, with all its really delightful
associations, the day after I last wrote you, and were on the steamer
two days and two nights before she cast off from the pier. When we got
to Point Lookout, at the mouth of the river, a wild gale was blowing,
and it was not considered prudent to proceed down Chesapeake Bay, the
“South America” being a crazy old river boat, and overloaded. So we
ran in and tied up at the wharf, and almost everybody went ashore. It
was a seaside summer resort, out of season, and we took possession.
We made ourselves very comfortable in the cottages. There were good
fireplaces and plenty of wood, and though it rained great guns, and the
gale howled most of the time, we were dry and warm, and made ourselves
very comfortable there for three days. But we came pretty near starving
before a boat got down from Washington bringing us something to eat.
The boys gave it a very appropriate name—“Camp Starvation.”

When we got away we went straight to Fortress Monroe. We got there
in the morning, just as the rebel ironclad “Merrimack” came out from
Norfolk. The harbor was cleared of shipping in double-quick time, the
“Monitor” and other war vessels moved up, and we thought there was

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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 4 of 16)