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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 8 of 16)
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colder and looks as if it was going to snow. I do not care if it
does, having a snug, warm house and plenty of firewood. During the
week a great many of the boys have visited the Bull Run battlefield.
Some Company C boys who went over the first of the week found Frank
Robinson’s skeleton. It was fully identified by a peculiar filling of
the teeth.

“Curley” [Granville S.] Converse and I took a day off and went over
together. That field, where the battle-lines locked horns, was a field
of horrors. The hasty and incomplete burials—in many instances no
burial at all—with the work of the elements for months, had made a
ghastly mess of things. Human skulls rolling about, with fragments of
disjointed skeletons here and there. We found the body of one man lying
all alone far out in the open field, which had lain undiscovered and
undisturbed right where the poor fellow fell and died. There was one of
the “missing,” whose friends only know that he was lost in that fight.
I could have gathered wagon loads of bullets, shell fragments and other
debris. I send one bullet, with fragment of blue cloth attached, that
tells its own story. It struck some poor fellow, going right through
him, flattening on a bone as it passed and making a hook which tore
off a fragment of blouse as it came out. But enough of horrors for one
letter.

On our way back to camp “Curley” and I struck it rich. As we crossed
Bull Run creek at the stone bridge we noticed, on the flats below, an
old sow with a litter of pigs. And as we were studying the situation
reinforcements came up—a fellow from some New York regiment. He had his
old Belgian rifle with him, I had my six-shooter, and “Curley” had his
jackknife. We held a council of war, decided on a plan of operations,
and when we got through we had three of those pigs. They were neatly
and expeditiously dressed and “Curley” and I headed for camp with a
fine supply of pig pork swinging from a pole between us. Bill and I
have been living on fresh pork ever since—pork steak, pork chops, pork
cutlets, pork chitterlings. And Bill rigged up a wire contraption and
roasted one choice cut by hanging before the fire.

Friday night we had quite a flutter in camp in anticipation of an
attack. As near as I can find out, some place fifteen or twenty miles
from here was threatened by some rebel cavalry sometime or other, and
our super-alert officers determined not to be caught napping. So along
in the night the men were routed up and ordered to pack up ready to
march at a moment’s notice, and to sleep with all their equipments on.
Bill and I packed our blankets, but were not foolish enough to get into
our harness—time enough for that after there was an alarm. And after
a while, having discussed the situation and the probabilities, and
feeling the need of our blankets, we pulled them out, made ourselves
comfortable, and are still alive to tell the tale.

We have a battery of artillery here with us, two pieces in each of
three redoubts. They are now surrounding the redoubts with an abattis
of felled trees, the limbs and branches sharpened and pointed outward.
It makes a very troublesome thing to climb over, particularly of a dark
night.

Bill and I are seriously considering the advisability of enlarging our
house. I think it probable we will tackle the job within a few days.
We are also planning to take a little trip for a winter supply of
walnuts and pork, both of which grow wild and are quite abundant out
in the country. If we had a shot gun we could get any quantity of gray
squirrels. If we get into any place this winter where we are reasonably
sure of stopping, about the first thing I will do will be to send home
for a box of good things to eat.

There is a little girl here in Centreville that I have taken quite a
fancy to, she looks so much like you. She is about eight years old, and
I saw her while on guard duty. She has features like you, hair like
yours, and when she smiles her cheeks dimple up just as yours do. Yet
she is a little slave girl, just for that drop of negro blood that I
would never suspect.

* * * It is evening now, and I have seated myself on the edge of our
bunk to finish my letter. Bill is sprawled out beside me, reciting
poetry by the yard. We had a dress parade at sunset, Major Bailey in
command. He has got a monstrous big overcoat, to match his gloves, hat,
and shoulder-straps, and when I first saw him coming I thought it was a
woman. I expect to be on guard tomorrow. Our detail for guard duty now
is two men a day from each company. As Company I now has only fifteen
for duty, this brings us on guard about once a week. I heard somebody
in the street say, just now, that Hooker has ordered us to report to
him at the front. I am not over-anxious to get out of my comfortable
little nest here, but if we are to go we will be delighted to serve
again under glorious old Joe Hooker.

———————

_LXXVII_

CAMP AT WOLF RUN SHOALS, ON OCCOQUAN CREEK, VA.,
_November 23, 1862_.

I have just finished reading letters from you and Addie that came in
this morning. My fingers are so cold I can hardly clutch the pen, and
the wind fairly howls as it comes tearing up the gorge. We left our
Centreville camp Tuesday and arrived here the next day. Up to yesterday
noon it rained without cessation, and as we trudged along through the
mud and rain, or shivered in our wet beds with no protection but our
little pieces of shelter-tent, you may be sure we thought of the happy
homes we had left at Centreville. This is one of the wildest places I
have seen in Virginia, the Occoquan rushing down through gloomy gorges
clothed in a dense vegetation. The river here is about as wide as Elm
street, and only to be crossed at fords, and at this season of the year
wading rivers has its disagreeable features. On the crest commanding
this ford the rebels had two forts, and along the hillside, between the
forts and river, a line of rifle pits. Our regiment is camped on the
hillside, between the forts and pits, and the declivity above us is so
steep as to be almost a precipice.

Our entire division is now assembled in this immediate vicinity. The
wind blows bitter cold today, and there is a good fire going in front
of every tent. Bill is sitting on a half-barrel, outside the tent,
writing letters, and I am on my blankets at the portal. Every few
minutes we have to stop and thaw out at the fire.

Bill and I have really been living pretty high on this expedition. We
lugged soft bread enough in our haversacks and knapsacks so that we
still have a good supply left. The day we got here I waded back across
the creek and went on an exploring expedition. Away back in the woods
I came upon a little clearing. In it was an abandoned cabin, and it
was a picture of desolation. I imagine there was a tragedy here. There
were the ruins of a garden patch which evidently had been raided and
plundered by vagabonds like myself. But they had not made a clean
harvesting, and ploughing around with a sharp stick I managed to turn
up quite a quantity of excellent potatoes. I also found some turnips
and onions, and some fairly good apples, and came back to camp loaded
with truck. We had fried chicken yesterday morning. Bill borrowed my
revolver, went off on a scout, and came back with the bird. I asked him
if he shot it or bought it; I suspect the latter. There are quantities
of walnuts, butternuts and persimmons about here. These last are a
wild plum, growing on a tree looking much like an apple tree. They are
awfully puckery when green, and sickish sweet when dead ripe.

Two days before we left Centreville Johnny Ogden’s wife came out to see
him. It is no place for a woman, and my opinion is she had better have
stayed at home. She has had a chance to see some of the rough side of
campaigning. All that could be done has been done for her convenience
and comfort. She has a fully inclosed tent here, thickly bedded with
hay—the best quarters in camp.

I have some hopes now that this awful war will be over before many
months. We all have confidence in Burnside and are hoping he will lead
us to victory. “Officers’ Call” has just sounded, and I am afraid it
means orders to march.

P. S.—It was an inspection, and we are now ordered to carry an extra
pair of shoes in our knapsacks. That looks like some traveling. One
pair of my size will be about all I will care to tote.

———————

_LXXVIII_

CAMP OPPOSITE FREDERICKSBURG, VA.,
_Sunday, November 30, 1862_.

This is the last day of Fall. Tomorrow commences the Winter campaign,
which, if carried on, will necessarily be one of privations and
hardships. We arrived in our present position day before yesterday, and
are encamped, with the rest of the Army of the Potomac, opposite the
ancient city of Fredericksburg, which, with the rest of the territory
on that side of the Rappahannock, is held by the rebel army. I can
distinctly see their camps and camp fires from where I am sitting. All
the New Hampshire troops now in Virginia are camped right here within
a distance of a mile or two and I have met hundreds of old friends and
acquaintances. I have seen James several times, and we had a hearty
laugh over that mix up you made in our letters.

I am going over to the cavalry, right away, to get something to
eat. The lean years follow the fat years and the famine follows the
feast—and I am almost starved. Have been on short allowance for
three days. Sutlers are simply giving their goods away—butter, 50
cents; cheese, 45 cents; tobacco, $2.00 a pound—and everything else
in proportion. We have not had a mail for several days, but Bill
Pendleton, our mail agent, tells me there will be one tonight.

Just this moment I have heard something that encourages me to have
hopes that I may see you before long. Johnny Ogden told Bill Ramsdell
that Colonel Marston told his (Johnny’s) wife that the time was
approaching when the question of this regiment going home would be
presented in such a manner that it could not be refused. He thought,
though, we would stay and see the Fredericksburg affair through.

We have just got an order for inspection this afternoon, and the men
are sitting around on the ground taking their guns to pieces to clean
them. I might as well get busy with the rest.

———————

_LXXIX_

CAMP IN THE MUD,
OPPOSITE FREDERICKSBURG, VA.,
_December 5, 1862_.

I intend only to _begin_ this letter today, as I cannot hold on long
in my present position—the ground for a seat, my knees for a writing
desk, and my fingers blue with cold. A cold, drizzling rain set in
today, which drove me under my shelter tent. Every little while a
drop will splash down over my paper, and I cannot straighten up
without hitting my head and shoulders on the canvas. Sally Shepherd’s
brother—“Doctor”—was over here yesterday from the Ninth Regiment.

_Saturday, December 6._

You see I didn’t get a great ways on your letter yesterday. The rain
changed to snow and beat in at the open end of the tent, so I had to
leave off writing and get boughs to close it up. This done, Bill and I
rolled ourselves up in our blankets and did not rout out until supper
time. As soon as supper was swallowed we denned in again and did not
dig out until morning. It snowed considerable during the night and our
light tent sagged with the weight of the snow, but, curled up like two
bears in winter quarters, we were very snug and warm.

We have just drawn new clothing, and I was getting in need of it. Bill
and I have also come into possession of two extra pieces of shelter
tent, so we can now close our house in on all sides; and when we get
the rubber blankets we are expecting we will be pretty well heeled for
winter.

_Sunday, December 7._

We are expecting to march soon with eight or ten days’ rations in our
haversacks and on the wagons. We are expecting orders to cook extra
rations right away. A good many troops are embarking at Belle Plain,
eight or ten miles below here, but for what destination I do not know.
All the line officers are confident we are going home before long. I
understand the Adjutant told some of the boys who were transferred to
the Regulars that the regiment was going home soon; but that may have
been simply to make them regret their desertion of the Second.

It looks like winter now—as it is. The ground is covered with snow
and the wind blows cold. Woe be to him who has no overcoat. We are
beginning to realize the beauties of a winter campaign. But the
poorly-clad rebels must suffer much more than we do. Deserters tell us
a great many are barefoot, and that General Lee has issued instructions
for them to make moccasins of the raw hides of their cattle.

I am on police duty today, so between lugging water for the cooks,
wood for my fire, and writing letters, I will manage to make a fairly
busy day. Johnny Ogden’s wife has gone home. There is a story that
two men were found dead in their tents last night in the camp of the
Seventeenth Maine—probably frozen to death, as it was bitter cold.
As for myself, I am equipped now so I sleep as well as if I was on a
feather bed. There are more than twenty stories afloat about our going
home.

———————

_LXXX_

IN CAMP OPPOSITE FREDERICKSBURG, VA.,
_Tuesday Evening, Dec. 16, 1862_.

There has been a terrible battle, in which New Hampshire has borne her
full share and lost many a loyal son. Thursday we began to lay pontoon
bridges at points about two miles apart, on which to cross over and
attack the rebels on the heights around Fredericksburg. The rebels
vigorously opposed this work, especially at the upper bridge, crossing
into the city, and there was heavy skirmishing and a tremendous
artillery fire before the bridges were laid and the army commenced
crossing. Our regiment crossed Friday night, at the lower pontoons,
which we were at once stationed to guard. The great fight took place on
Saturday, when thousands of men were killed or wounded. Our regiment
was not engaged that day, and by climbing a little elevation near the
bridges I could see the fringe of the fight, at long range, over the
trees and houses of Fredericksburg. Our men advanced with the utmost
bravery, but the rebels had an enormous advantage in position, upon the
hills and behind breastworks, and our men charged across the open plain
only to be slaughtered by thousands.

Saturday night two regiments relieved us at the bridges and we rejoined
our brigade at the front. Early Sunday morning an audacious rebel
battery took position in a field on our front and opened on us. The
Pennsylvania boys on the picket line couldn’t do a thing with them;
but we sent out our Company B, and when their Sharp’s rifles began to
bark the rebels couldn’t get away from those guns fast enough. And they
made no further attempt to work them that day. We kept out one company
at a time, relieving as fast as ammunition was used up. I fired fifty
rounds. A dozen of us lay in a ditch by the side of the road, and kept
up a brisk fire on a couple of houses used by the rebels as a cover. We
fired over each other’s heads sometimes and had a merry time. Some of
our boys got cover behind a big pile of loose lumber, and we kept two
men behind an old chimney.

After this work had been going on nearly all day, there was a truce for
some purpose or other, on that part of the line, the firing ceased,
and the two skirmish lines mingled together like the best of friends,
comparing notes and joking and chaffing each other. One rebel colonel,
for some reason or other, was especially interested in the man behind
the chimney and wanted to meet him. After a time the men leisurely
meandered back to their hiding places, but there was very little
shooting after that exchange of courtesies.

We recrossed the river last night, and got back into our old camp
late this afternoon. I saw James this afternoon. He was unhurt and
was writing letters. His regiment suffered severely, losing over two
hundred. Jason Barker was killed. In the Manchester Battery two of my
old acquaintances—John Fish and Tom Morrill—were killed, and Bill Fish
was wounded in the foot. Charlie Vickery, of my company, was wounded in
the neck. The regiment lost only twelve men wounded [two mortally.]

I will write home tomorrow, and meantime you must slip up and let
the folks know I am unhurt. I am glad I am to name my little sister.
Shall send some short, pretty name. For the past week my rations have
consisted solely of salt pork and crackers, and I am so hungry I think
I shall send for a box.

———————

_LXXXI_

CAMP OPPOSITE FREDERICKSBURG, VA.,
_December 23, 1862_.

Received a letter from Addie last night and she said they had thought
of naming the little sister _Flora_. I had written a day or two before
and suggested the name _Cora_. Now, isn’t it a queer coincidence that
we should think of names so near alike? Either is pretty enough, and I
do not care a snap which they adopt. Addie wrote she imagined I would
send _Nealie_ for a name—and I did think some of doing so.

———————

_LXXXII_

CAMP OPPOSITE FREDERICKSBURG, VA.,
_January 1, 1863_.

Happy new year! and a great many of them! The new year presents itself
to us in very pleasant fashion—clear and bright, but cold enough
to suit a Laplander. James was over here and stayed with me Monday
night, and we had a gay time. We sat before the fire and chatted and
laughed and planned good times for the future. Then we rolled up in our
blankets and slept. Jim was the first awake and kicked me out of bed,
whereupon I arose in my wrath and drove him out of camp.

I went over to the Ninth Regiment to inquire concerning Sally
Shepherd’s brother [Enoch O., familiarly known as “Doctor.”] I could
learn nothing further than that he was missing and had not been heard
from since the battle. No one knew when he fell. I pity Sally and her
mother, as there can now be no doubt that he is another victim of this
accursed rebellion. The note written to Sally was doubtless from some
one of the burial party who went over, under a flag of truce, to bury
our dead, and who, finding the envelope on a body, was thoughtful
enough to write to the address. It must remove from her mind all doubts
as to his fate.

For days the boys have been kept in a constant stew with stories of
marching, but I am not losing any sleep over any of them. My main
effort now is to get all the bodily comfort I can out of the situation.
Well well, of all the sights! A load of soft bread has just come in.
The most popular camp story just now is that Marston is to be appointed
Military Governor of Washington and the Second Regiment is going there
as provost guard and is to be armed with Allen & Wheelock breechloading
rifles.

Bill Ramsdell, who disappeared some little time ago, has been heard
from. As near as I can make out he thought that while furloughs were
being passed out to the favored few he was entitled to one himself, and
applied for it. He got turned down, and now he turns up at his home in
Milford and writes that he is recruiting his strength and is coming
back “when his furlough expires.”

I have got my tent raised up on logs, with a good bunk of poles and a
turf fireplace. Have a big pile of wood to burn tonight, and will have
a good fire to drive away Jack Frost.

———————


[Illustration: HEN. EVERETT]


———————

_LXXXIII_

CAMP OPPOSITE FREDERICKSBURG, VA.,
_January 9, 1863_.

Charlie Vickery is going home on furlough tomorrow. So am I—in about
sixteen months. We have moved camp about a mile and a half, and already
have very comfortable winter quarters fixed up. Yesterday I wrote home
for a box. The chances are good for our staying here long enough for
me to get it. I am tenting now with George Lawrence, who was one of
my tent’s crew at Camp Sullivan. Of my six tentmates there, two have
been killed, one died of disease, and one joined the cavalry. Ed.
Bailey [Major commanding the regiment] is under arrest on charges of
disobeying orders of General Carr. I don’t imagine it is anything very
serious.

———————

_LXXXIV_

CAMP OPPOSITE FREDERICKSBURG, VA.,
_January 16, 1863_.

Everything seems to be going wrong today. The wind has been blowing
a perfect hurricane; last night it rained hard; just now there is a
good prospect of our having to leave the snug huts we have built and
go somewhere—the Lord only knows where. Marston has been appointed
Brigadier-General, and the story persists that he has had this regiment
detached for special duty at Washington and that the order is now at
headquarters.

Bill Ramsdell’s “furlough” appears to be still in good working order.
There are doubtless some details under the surface that we don’t know,
but I’ll bet on Bill. So will all the old boys. He was not the type of
patriot who couldn’t serve his country unless he was ornamented with
shoulder straps, and there is a quite general sentiment that smaller
men than he is have refused him a square deal.

There was a terrible catastrophy in my tent last night. Over our bunk
was a shelf loaded with a miscellaneous assortment of a little of
everything—letters, papers, portfolio, a dish of cooked rice and a
can of molasses. All of a sudden, Lawrence, in performing some of his
antics, sent the shelf flying, and such a mess! The molasses seemed to
have a chemical affinity for everything there was in that tent, and it
is unnecessary to say it was a total loss.

Perk. Lane, Rod. Manning and the other boys who went into the cavalry
are visiting in camp. Their regiment is near here. Hen. Pillsbury and
Joe Hubbard are here and well. Joe is captain of Company B. He is one
of the best fellows and most popular officers in the regiment.

———————

_LXXXV_

CAMP NEAR FALMOUTH, VA.,
_January 24, 1863_.

Since last Tuesday we have been paddling around in the rain and mud
to our heart’s content—and a good deal more. The short of the story
is that Gen. Burnside intended to cross the Rappahannock a few miles
above here and attack the enemy, but owing to continuous rains the
roads became impassable and the army was obliged to wallow back to its
old position and wait for better conditions. Our division left camp
Tuesday noon, in a pouring rain, and accomplished about a mile and a
half, under difficulties. Then we waited until about nine o’clock at
night, when we were ordered back to our camps. Wednesday we tried it
again and managed to get about six miles. The mud was simply awful, and
it was almost an utter impossibility to move the wagons and artillery
at all. The Manchester battery was striddled along the road, a gun
here and a caisson there, over a stretch of three miles. And that was
the way everything on wheels was hung up. General Burnside had issued
an address to the army, saying they were soon to meet the enemy and
enjoining them to display their old-time bravery. But God willed that
the battle should not take place just at present, and with the elements
at command He prevented it. Yesterday the division made its way back to
the old camps. Lawrence and I rehabilitated our old shanty and are now


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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 8 of 16)