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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 7 of 16)
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shooting and burst a number of shells and case-shots in our very faces.
The Eleventh Massachusetts had two men killed and eight wounded by
one shot. After half or three-quarters of an hour of this, the rebel
battery limbered up and struck up the river road for Richmond, and our
cavalry went after them. We gathered in quite a bunch of prisoners,
singly and in little squads—men scattered around on outpost and picket
duty, who came up out of the woods to see what the trouble was—and
found out. One of these was particularly low-down mean and “sassy,” and
he and “Heenan” had it out. After looking us over he said there was
one thing he cussed himself for, and that was that he looked so much
like a Yankee. Then Nich., leaning on his gun took Johnny in hand. He
looked him up and down, with _such_ a contemptuous sneer on his face.
He commented on his general disreputable appearance, and to wind up
with, set the fellow fairly wild with rage, by leaning forward and
confidentially asking him how much nigger blood there was in him.

The rebel battery was posted under big trees in the grounds of the old
mansion house on the hill. When we advanced to the position we found
three or four wounded and one dead batteryman that the rebels had left
behind. The dead man had been hit on the head by a piece of shell, and
lay all curled up, but still tightly clasping in his hands the shell he
was carrying to his gun.

We occupied the hill until Thursday morning, when we leisurely returned
to camp. It was really a delightful outing. When we returned, my
haversack was bulging with the fruits of my foraging—apples and plums,
fresh pork, hog’s liver, and one good fat chicken.

Perk. Lane and four others of our boys who were taken prisoners have
returned. They have had a pretty hard time of it, but have many amusing
stories to tell of prison life in Richmond. Provisions there are very
high indeed—molasses six dollars a gallon, flour twenty-five dollars
a barrel, bread twenty-five cents a loaf, and everything else in
proportion. We are beginning to get a little soft bread now ourselves.
Yesterday we had a whole loaf to a man, and we have had one meal before
that.

_Sunday, August 10._

I hear from home that a great many of the white-livered gentry swear
they will not submit to being drafted. Then shoot them—that’s my
advice—and the Second Regiment would like the job. I can hardly write
at all, the flies bother me so. They are here in millions, and nobody
can take any comfort, for the torments.

———————

_LXVI_

CAMP NEAR ALEXANDRIA, VA.,
_September 6, 1862_.

After being here two days I have managed to get the materials together
for writing a letter. We have had a mighty strenuous time since we
marched away from Harrison’s Landing [August 15]—in two hard battles,
to say nothing of hard marches and transportation by sea and land, on
crowded steamers and rattletrap freight cars. Marching to Yorktown, we
were there loaded onto transports. No sooner were we fairly landed in
Alexandria than we were toted out to Warrenton Junction and dumped,
late at night, in the fields by the side of the road. Here, we were
told, we would have a chance to rest, and we did, just one day and one
night. That night Stonewall Jackson showed up at Manassas, directly in
our rear, and we were sent after him. We came upon him at Kettle Run
and had a rattling smart fight, with several hundred men killed and
wounded on both sides. Two days later we were engaged in the second
great battle of Bull Run. Our brigade here showed its mettle as it
never had before, and especially the Second Regiment. We were ordered
to advance through woods, without any supports, and attack the rebels
behind a railroad grade five or six feet high. We went in. They gave
us a volley, and we charged them, the Second going over the work with
a yell and giving those fellows the surprise of their life. It was
savage work for a short time, but we were determined to drive them, and
we did. Then we went for the second line, a few rods further on, and
set them agoing. And pretty soon it became apparent that what there was
left of us were being surrounded. Then we got out—we had to or be taken
prisoners. We lost 147 men out of a little over 300 that went in, and
most of these within a very few minutes. Gen. Grover said it was the
greatest bayonet charge of the war.

I got my first man as I went over the bank. I dashed round a big bush
in the very edge of the grade right onto a rebel, who threw his gun
up aiming at somebody to my right. He never fired, for I gave it to
him from the hip and doubtless saved the life of some Second Regiment
man—I’ll never know who. And just as I was starting on my return trip
something tickled my upper lip and the roots of my nose, and for a
while I was doing the ensanguined act on the smallest capital of any
man in the regiment. It was a pretty close shave, all the same. One
inch further, in the wrong direction, would have spoiled my beauty, and
three inches would have spoiled me.

The actual fate of a lot of the boys is still in doubt. Charlie Smiley
is missing, and nobody can tell anything about him. [He never came
back.] Frank Robinson was shot through the bowels, near the railroad
bank. Captain Carr told me, a few minutes later, that he had to leave
him there, dying.

Father is over in Washington, but so far has been unable to get a pass
to come over here, while I could not get a pass to go over there. It
will be pretty tough if, after all I have gone through, and he so near,
they do not give me a chance to see him.

I do not know how soon we may be on the move, but hope not for some
time, for really the regiment is in pretty bad shape. The latest camp
rumor is that we are going down to Budd’s Ferry, which would be very
nice, but is entirely improbable. But we certainly should have a chance
to get our breath, at least. We have been in ten fights, and in some
of them have borne the brunt. There are regiments here that have never
been in any fight at all, but have laid back here in comfort, while
others were getting the rough of it.

It is a beautiful day, and I am sitting in front of my tent, upon a
pile of corn husks, the Potomac at my feet and the cities of Alexandria
and Washington up there to the north.

———————

_LXVII_

CAMP NEAR ALEXANDRIA, VA.,
_September 14, 1862_.

It bids fair to be a very hot day, so I am starting my letter just as
early as I can get down to business. Father got over the river three
or four days ago. Dan. Clark [U. S. Senator] took it up with the War
Department and Gerry got his pass. He is going to stay several days
longer, and you can imagine how much I am enjoying his visit. He is
spending a good part of his time visiting the hospitals and hunting
out and cheering up the New Hampshire men he finds there. He doesn’t
say anything, but I have my doubts whether the lodgings here are fully
up to his standard of comfort. Rod. Manning and I, in our capacity as
chambermaids, make up the best bed we can with the materials at our
command, and give E. G. the middle berth, with us under the eaves. But
the ground is hard, and a knapsack or pair of shoes is not a real good
pillow until you get fitted to them. Our guest grunts a good deal and
turns over pretty often, and this morning I woke up before daylight and
found him outside, sitting on a cracker box, over a little campfire he
had nursed into action.

Since my last letter we have moved our camp about two miles, over to
Fairfax Seminary, a brick building now occupied as a hospital, on the
heights overlooking the city of Alexandria. Our camp is right to the
rear of Fort Ward.

Did you ever know Joe Locke?—[Joseph L., a Manchester boy.] I saw
him yesterday. He is in the Thirty-third Massachusetts, which is
temporarily assigned to this brigade.

Father brought up from the city, yesterday, a big bag of flour, butter,
and about all the other “fixings” he could lug, and there will be high
living, for a time, in our tent. The laugh was on him, good and hard,
the day we moved camp. He started out in the morning from our old camp,
to visit the hospitals. When we arrived here he was at the Seminary,
only a few rods away. He watched us come and pitch our tents, without
any idea that it was the Second Regiment, and when he got ready to go
he tramped back to the old camp, only to find himself among strangers.
Fortunately, some one was able to direct him, and in due time he was
back here with four extra miles of travel to his credit.

Those boxes that the boys sent for from Harrison’s Landing came along
yesterday, but a great deal of the stuff had been so long on the way
that it had spoiled. When I see these new regiments coming out now I
remind myself that when my term of service is ended they will be only
half way through. But I hope that with the new calls for troops there
will be enough to finish this up in so short a time that we can all be
home before long.

Two or three of the boys supposed to have been killed at Bull Run have
turned up in the hospitals, but poor Frank Robinson is undoubtedly dead.

What company is your brother in? I will hunt him up if I can get to his
regiment after it arrives. [James K. Lane, Company G, Eleventh N. H.]

———————

_LXVIII_

CAMP NEAR ALEXANDRIA, VA.,
_Sunday Evening, September 21, 1862_.

I have been down to the Eleventh Regiment to see James [K. Lane, “the
girl’s” brother] and other boys there. I went into the camp, stopped a
while at one of the Manchester companies, where I found lots of fellows
that I knew, and then started for Co. G to find James, when he bore
down on me with all sail spread. I knew him, and he knew me, at sight,
and we were just as well acquainted after we had shaken hands as though
we had known each other for years.

We are doing a little digging now—just enough to keep our hand in—on
rifle pits between Forts Worth and Ward. Our knapsacks, which were
loaded onto barges when we left Harrison’s Landing, got here only two
days ago. I had begun to think they were gone for good, and was ready
to bewail the loss of all my valuables, when they turned up safe and
sound.

———————

_LXIX_

CAMP NEAR ALEXANDRIA, VA.,
_September 29, 1862_.

It is now almost nine o’clock in the evening, and I have had a pretty
busy day. And tomorrow I go on picket, which will spoil two days more.
So I guess I had better write tonight. This morning, as soon as I had
eaten my breakfast, I started off for the Tenth Regiment. Met lots of
old Manchester acquaintances, and Billy Cochrane, Ichabod, Sargent
Bartlett and I got together and had a real Excelsior Literary Society
reunion. On my way back I called in at the Eleventh Regiment camp, and
James walked a part of the way home with me.

Tonight “Bobby” [Albert B.] Robinson, who was taken prisoner at the
first Bull Run, got back to the company and the reception he got from
those of us who are still left baffles all description. A camp story is
going the rounds that Gov. Berry is trying to have this regiment sent
to New Hampshire to recruit.

———————

_LXX_

CAMP NEAR ALEXANDRIA, VA.,
_Sunday, October 12, 1862_.

Have just got back from the Thirteenth Regiment, where I found not a
single man I knew, so I got a good long tramp for nothing. Got a mosaic
letter from sister Addie Friday, made up of contributions from half a
dozen of her friends. Have just had a pocket tourniquet given me, a
little instrument to stop the flow of blood from a wounded arm or leg.
I don’t see how it could be of much use in stopping a bloody nose.
Charlie Smiley has never been heard from and doubtless never will.

So far as quarters are concerned, we are mighty comfortably situated
just now. We have folded up our pieces of shelter tent and in their
place pitched a camp of old-fashioned army “Sibleys.” My tent-crew
comprises seven good fellows. Each man has built himself a bunk, and
still there is room to spare. The heavy tent-cloth keeps out the rain,
so we have a perfectly dry nest. But there are persistent rumors that
we will not remain here much longer.

———————

_LXXI_

CAMP NEAR ALEXANDRIA, VA.,
_October 19, 1862_.

The Eleventh Regiment is now in the vicinity of Harper’s Ferry. Simons,
who used to keep the bookstore, was down here yesterday, hunting up
stragglers from the division. He thought that by this time the regiment
might be over in Virginia.

The nights are getting to be uncomfortably cool. My two heavy blankets
are not enough to keep me from feeling right chilly some nights. And I
will have to draw an overcoat before long—something I have not felt the
need of for some time. We went up to the fort today to report to the
engineer for fatigue duty, but he was not at home and we didn’t feel we
had any call to hang around waiting for him.

———————

_LXXII_

CAMP NEAR ALEXANDRIA, VA.,
_October 28, 1862_.

My company went on picket last Saturday. It was a most disagreeable
outing. A miserable rain storm came on in the night, and when the
boys, after a very tardy relief, dragged themselves back to camp, they
were cold, wet, bedraggled and discouraged. The rain held up yesterday
forenoon, but the wind kept up in a wild gale. I hardly ever saw such
a blow. Some of our tents were blown over. The tent-pins of my tent
pulled out and I thought at one time the whole outfit was going sure
enough. But we managed to anchor it, and today is one of the most
delightful imaginable.

An order was recently issued by the War Department designed to fill
up the regular cavalry regiments at the expense of the volunteers.
It permits the transfer of ten men from each volunteer company, by
re-enlistment for three or five years, or to serve out the unexpired
part of their present enlistment. Lots of our boys have been getting
sour over some of the conditions here and were more than anxious to
try a change. So yesterday ten from this company marched down to the
recruiting station at Alexandria and joined the cavalry. When Col.
Marston heard of this he was mad as a hornet, and when they shouldered
their knapsacks this morning and marched away to their new command,
he sent a guard down to arrest and bring them back. But Col. Starr
ordered the guard away, telling them they had no business there, and
that the men now belonged to the Second U. S. Cavalry. It is really a
pretty hard blow to the old company, and makes me feel a little blue
and lonesome. The lost men are among the cream of the old company—such
men as “Heenan” and Perk. Lane and ’Gene Hazewell and my bunkie Rod.
Manning.

We have not a quarter of a regiment to do duty now, and yet we are
doing the work of a full regiment. And the people in New Hampshire
think we are resting up! Why, I am now, and for some time have been,
doing heavy guard duty every other day. There are lots of mighty cross
men here, just now, who blame some of the officers for everything that
goes wrong, and the dearest wish of many is to get out of the regiment
as soon as possible.

I am sure the report that Charlie Smiley is in a hospital near
Washington is incorrect. We have heard nothing of it here, and I fear
we will never hear him sing those songs of his any more.

I began this letter this morning, and now it is evening. I have written
little snatches as I had opportunity through the day. ’Gene Hazewell
and one or two more of the “cavalry boys” have just come up visiting.
They go over to Washington tomorrow. Col. Marston managed to get some
sort of a veto put on any more cavalry enlistment down where our boys
went, but some thirty or forty from other companies went off today
and found another place where they could enlist, so they beat the old
Colonel after all. Everything I can hear the boys talk about now is
“_Cavalry_.” Rod. Manning has just come in to bid me good bye. Good old
Rod!—I almost wish I was going with him.

There is any quantity of noise about camp, and the new band of the
Eleventh Massachusetts is contributing to the general hilarity by
putting in some of its loudest work. It is getting awfully cold
now—frost last night—and I can hardly hold my pen in my fingers.

———————

_LXXIII_

CAMP NEAR ALEXANDRIA, VA.,
_October 30, 1862_.

Five minutes ago I received a letter addressed in your familiar hand.
Four minutes and fifty-nine seconds ago I tore open the envelope.
I extracted, first, a note, which I supposed you had inclosed from
Mary. I opened it. “_Dear Brother_” stared me full in the face.
The note surely was not for me, but for brother James—just your
carelessness, sending it with the wrong letter. I unfolded your letter,
and—what!—“_Dear Brother!_”—there it was again. The whole huge joke was
clear. I hope James was not as grievously disappointed when he got my
letter as I was when I got his. I return it, unread if not unopened.

———————

_LXXIV_

MANASSAS, VA., _November 4, 1862_.

We are once more out here at famous old Manassas. We left Alexandria
Saturday afternoon, marching eight or nine miles in the direction of
Fairfax Court House. Sunday we got in seventeen miles and camped by the
side of Bull Run creek. Yesterday forenoon we marched up here—about
three miles—and by night had our canvas city of little shelter tents
set up and in good running order. Bill Ramsdell and I hitched up
together, and we have got as cozy and comfortable a mansion as one
could desire. There is any quantity of stuff lying around loose, and we
had no difficulty in finding canvas to close up one end of the tent and
boards enough to floor it. Then we got a quantity of hay for bedding,
and what more could we wish for? We expect our big Sibley tents along
soon, but Bill and I are well enough off as we are.

You know the rebel army occupied this place last winter and strongly
fortified it. Their fortifications are on every side, very rough, but
very strong, and now covered with weeds. But a little ways from our
camp, littering the railroad tracks and the ground on either side, is
the wreckage of the railroad trains destroyed by Jackson in the raid
that culminated in the last Bull Run battle. In some places are great
piles of shovel blades, in others carbines—in fact, almost everything
in the shape of army supplies and equipments—nothing left but the
irons. Near by are the rebel log barracks, which we are tearing down
for firewood. We have the entire division, now commanded by Sickles,
here at Manassas, with about thirty pieces of artillery. I presume we
will stay here some time, although it will depend in a great measure
upon the movements of the main army. I see the mail bag has just gone
out, so there is no chance for this to go today. I hear, also, that
there are lots of apples outside our picket line, and I am going out to
see about it.

———————

_LXXV_

CAMP ON CENTREVILLE HEIGHTS, VA.,
_Sunday, November 9, 1862_.

You will see we have moved again. We remained at Manassas only two
nights, when the Second Regiment was sent over here. Centreville
Heights are four or five miles from Manassas, and, like that place,
strongly fortified. There are redoubts and rifle pits almost without
end, and the rebel barracks form a veritable log city. We relieved the
120th New York, which we found here, and now have the whole thing to
ourselves. It has been a busy camp since we arrived, as the approaching
winter warns us to prepare for storms. The abandoned rebel camps are a
rich quarry of building materials—boards, nails, bricks, &c.—with which
we have built a veritable shanty city on the ridge. Bill Ramsdell and
I have put together one of the cutest little mansions that ever was.
The ground dimensions are about seven feet by six, six feet high at the
eaves. The fireplace and door take up the entire front, and the house
is tight, snug and warm. The fireplace works to a charm, and there
is a delicious sensation of coziness in sitting by your own cheerful
fireside. We have an unlimited supply of wood, and tonight will sit
and bask and chat and dream. We have a long shelf across the rear end,
a mantle-shelf over the fireplace, and tomorrow will put in a bunk, a
little table and some stools. Our fireplace is built up of flat rocks,
the chimney of bricks, and topped out with a big iron kettle minus a
bottom. And our cabin has a good board floor. Now if they will only
let us stay here a while and enjoy the fruits of our labors we will be
a thousand times repaid. The winter season has fairly set in. Friday
we had the first snow of the season and it was bitter cold. I happened
to be on guard that day, and I had a pretty bleak time of it. My post
was in a redoubt, from which I had the whole country clear to the Blue
Ridge spread out before me like a map. The wind whistled and the snow
blew, and, crouching under the protecting walls of the work, I tried
to extract some comfort from the situation. When I went on at night I
decided to have a fire, and I gathered up wood and built a good one in
one of the angles of the fort. It was a little irregular for a sentry
on post, and still was the right thing under the circumstances, and I
got lots of comfort out of it. From my post I could trace the routes I
followed on my two pilgrimages to Bull Run.

A long wagon train has come up, going out to McClellan, and six
companies are going along with it as a guard. I am glad our company is
not in the detail. They are to take four days’ rations. The village
of Centreville is close by our camp—a typical southern, village of
twenty-five or thirty houses, mostly deserted and all very dilapidated.

It is now evening, and I have been writing in the glow of a good fire.
Just a few minutes ago Bill got up and went out of doors. In a few
minutes the smoke was pouring into the room like a coalpit. I stood it
till I was in danger of choking, then plunged outside just in season
to see Bill dodge out of sight up the street, and to find a big pan
covering the top of the chimney. When Bill came in I laid it to him
and he owned up. He said he tried to peek into the tent, but the smoke
was so thick he couldn’t see anything, and he waited until he thought
I never would be driven out. Bill is a good deal of a character. He is
smart, fine-looking, well-educated, and an adventurer, having spent
many years in California. His home is in Milford, and he went to
Portsmouth as a lieutenant in the Milford company—and he was the best
posted one in the line. When his company was broken up, he was too
patriotic to back out, and after looking the ground over, he enlisted
as a private in this company.

This very day terminates one-half of my enlistment—have turned the
corner and am now headed for home.

Bill wants to go to bed, so good night.

———————

_LXXVI_

CENTREVILLE HEIGHTS, VA.,
_November 16, 1862_.

Have had delightful weather the past week, but today it has come off


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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 7 of 16)