Copyright
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

. (page 9 of 16)
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 9 of 16)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


as comfortable and cozy as you please.

I saw George Dakin day before yesterday—the first time since he went
into the army. I got a letter from Addie and expect my box is on the
way. I am actually suffering for something good to eat. Have you seen
the picture I sent Addie? Did you ever see a more disreputable-looking
outlaw?

———————

_LXXXVI_

HEADQUARTERS SICKLES’ DIVISION,
NEAR FALMOUTH, VA.,
_Sunday, February 8, 1863_.

Have you begun to wonder why I have not written for a fortnight? Well,
I have made another lightning change and am now on the provost guard at
division headquarters. I am not prepared to say that I exactly relish
the change. I was denned in for a comfortable, easy-going winter,
without much work, when I was pitchpoled into this place, where it is
nothing but hard work. Lawrence and I were notified by the Orderly
Sergeant that we were detailed for special duty, that we were to take
our entire outfit with us, and report to the Adjutant. We dismantled
our shack, packed up, and reported. We found nine more victims, from
other companies. I was placed in charge of the squad and ordered to
report to the Provost Marshal at Sickles’ headquarters. It snowed and
was awful cold. Along with detachments from other regiments of the
division we were quartered two nights in a barn, which was dry enough,
but we came near freezing. Then we pitched our tents and began to
hustle to make ourselves comfortable. In company with four from my own
squad and two from the First Massachusetts, I am now comfortably housed
in a log and canvas palace, 17x7 feet, inside measurement, with a big
fireplace and good bunks.

I have been promoted, “for gallant and meritorious”—_cheek_. When I
reported my squad, I gave in, of course, the names and rank of all as
privates. My first detail was for guard duty. I stood a post for two
hours, and I did a lot of thinking. I had been taking things in, and
had discovered that a private soldier on provost guard had about the
worst job in the army. It was not only guard duty, but police duty
of all kinds, and they were hewers of wood and luggers of water for
everybody. I wasn’t brought up that way. And at last I made a guess,
and I guess that I made a pretty good guess. When I came off post I
marched up to the Marshal’s tent, saluted, and delivered the following
oration: “Captain, I am Private Haynes of the Second New Hampshire.
The order for detail from my regiment called for ten privates and a
corporal. We are very short of non-commissioned officers, so I was
placed in charge as an acting corporal. It was my oversight in not so
stating when I reported my detachment. So I was given a post as sentry
today and have stood it, but I thought it best to call your attention
to the matter.” When the next relief was called Sergeant-Major
Featherstone announced: “Corporal Haynes takes charge of this relief.”
Relieved from a common laborer’s drudgery and from the heavier part
of guard duty, I will get along, probably, as comfortably as I would
with the regiment. And I am in position to make it easier for my boys
from the Second. Featherstone seems to have a pretty high idea of the
average capacity of my New Hampshire Yankees. The other day he called
on me for a skilled wood worker, who could do repair work mainly. I
recommended my bunkmate Lawrence, and now George has the softest job
of any man on the Guard—nothing to do but whittle. And the axe-helves
and tool handles he turns out to replace the broken ones are really a
credit to his skill.

My box has not come yet. The express matter is at Belle Plain, but it
is hard to get anything but army supplies up over the railroad. I have
not seen James for some time. His camp is a mile and a half from here,
and I have to stick pretty close to these headquarters, just now. I
have heard that the Ninth Army Corps, to which his regiment belongs,
is on the way to North Carolina. If so, I shall not see him again. He
was over here a few days ago, but I was off in the woods with a squad
of men. [I never saw him again. He was killed, the following year, at
Spottsylvania.]

———————

_LXXXVII_

HEADQUARTERS BERRY’S DIVISION,
NEAR FALMOUTH, VA.,
_February 15, 1863_.

Out I go again into the cold—the same old story. Somebody else is
enjoying the cozy quarters I helped build over at the Fitzhugh
house, while I am sitting in my little shelter tent, hardly big
enough for two, with the rain pouring and all my surroundings wet
and uncomfortable. It all comes from the fact that Sickles, having
been put in command of the corps, retains his old quarters as corps
headquarters, while Berry, put in command of the division, has to set
up housekeeping somewhere else, taking the division provost guard along
with him, of course. We are now about two miles from the camp of the
Second, and fully a mile from any of the division, and it is said we
are to move again in a day or two. The entire brigade is out on picket
now. Went out three days ago, and rations have been sent out for three
days more. They are out six or seven miles, above Falmouth. My box has
not reached me yet, and I am getting a little mad about it. Many of
the boys have got theirs, which started at the same time; but there is
still a great pile at the landing and mine is probably among them.

Charlie Vickery has got back looking like a new man. I was glad to see
him, for he brought me a half-dollar’s worth of postage stamps just as
I was all out and wondering where I would get more.

The furlough excitement might as well be set down as a delusion, except
for the favored few. Only one man in my company—Dave Perkins, the
orderly sergeant—has got one yet. One a week—or every ten days! You
see, by the time the last man gets his furlough it will be time for
his discharge. It will not be many weeks before Uncle Joe Hooker will
be making a forward movement and the furloughs will be shut off with a
snap. As a matter of form, and just to see what he would say, I asked
Lieutenant Gordon, commanding the company, to send my name in among
the first. He said he should give the married men the preference. When
I asked him if the men who were engaged had any special standing, he
looked as if he thought I was trifling.

Major Bailey was before a court martial a few days ago. Ed must be
getting used to it. The charge was, I believe, disrespect of superior
officers. I have not heard the result.

———————

_LXXXVIII_

HEADQUARTERS BERRY’S DIVISION,
NEAR FALMOUTH, VA.,
_February 23, 1863_.

A week ago or so, the story was afloat that the regiment was going home
right away, “and no mistake.” Col. Marston had been down here, and had
the consent of the President, the Secretary of War, and General Hooker,
and we were sure to go. All the officers took stock in the story, and
I did really hope that by next Saturday we might be in Manchester. But
even now the hopes of going have died out and the excitement subsided.
Such stories have been let loose every two or three weeks as regular as
clockwork.

You would have screamed if you could have seen the ridiculous
sleighride I did today. It was a lark of the General’s staff officers.
They had a set of sleigh-runners made and a wagon body mounted on them.
The sleighing would not have been called sleighing at all up in New
Hampshire. But they started out, with one lady in the party, tipped
over twice, and then went to smash entirely.

Ed. Bailey’s commission as Lieutenant-Colonel has come. His court
martial is ended, and whatever the findings he is returned to duty.
Frank Wasley is now Sergeant-Major. One of the boys saw my box at the
landing yesterday. There are several inches of snow on the ground,
which fell yesterday; but it is warm today and the snow will not last
long.

_Wednesday._—I have been busy the past two days. Yesterday my patience
about gave out. We had two choppers out in the woods, and along in the
afternoon I was sent out with teams and a squad of men to gather up and
bring in the wood they had down. Before we got to the woods we met one
of the choppers, who told me there was no need to go any farther, as
there was no wood cut; that they would not allow him to chop anywhere,
as the trees were wanted to build corduroy roads with. Of course I
turned around and went back—a distance of two miles. We had not been in
camp fifteen minutes before the other chopper came in and said he had
been chopping all day and had lots of wood down. The first chopper had
not been out at all, but had been having a glorious drunk, and told me
the story he did to get himself out of a scrape. Of course we had to
go out again—and of all the times! It looked sometimes as if we never
would get out of the woods. The teams got stuck, and chains broke.
There was an apology for a road, but its main features were stumps,
roots and bog holes. Nothing but an army wagon could ever have stood
the strain, and nothing but a team of army mules, guided by army mule
drivers, would ever have attempted to get in and out of that place. But
we got our wood, and were back at headquarters, tired but triumphant,
about eight o’clock in the evening.

Captain Gordon told me, yesterday, that Colonel Marston had declined
his Brigadiership and was coming back to take command of the regiment,
much to Bailey’s disappointment.

George Lawrence is expecting a furlough to come along tomorrow, and he
says: “Finish a long letter and I will carry it as far as Lawrence for
you.” But I guess it will go as quickly by mail.

———————

_NOTE_

_The interval of time between the preceding and the following
letters is explained by the fact that the stories and rumors
of “going home” actually materialized at this time. The regiment
left the Army of the Potomac February 26 and arrived in New
Hampshire March 3. It left the state for the front again May 25,
arriving in Washington May 27. The “Soldier Boy” and “The Girl
I left behind me” were married March 9._

———————

_LXXXIX_

WASHINGTON, D. C., _May 27, 1863_.

Got into Washington this morning at half-past six—less than forty-eight
hours on the route from New Hampshire. George Slade lost his knapsack
somewhere on the way. Mrs. Wasley was at Concord and rode down on the
train. The last I saw of her she was standing on the plank walk, her
eyes full of tears. I was glad you did not come to the depot when the
regiment passed through. George Slade’s wife was at Concord, almost
heart-broken. [It was their last farewell—George never came back.]

We are stopping now at the “Soldier’s Rest.” Captain Gordon tells me we
are ordered to report to General Casey, in command of the defenses of
Washington, and will probably stay about here some time. The Fourteenth
New Hampshire are here, camped on the hill not far away.

We rode from Norwich, Conn., to Jersey City on an old freight boat.
There were no bunks, and I found the deck planks of about the usual
quality and finish. The good grub the family so liberally stocked me
up with at Manchester is not all gone yet, notwithstanding I have
shared it freely with the poor and needy. I saw Norm. Gunnison at
Philadelphia. He was discharged for disability, not long ago, and is
now working on some newspaper.

———————

_XC_

CAMP MARSTON, WASHINGTON, D. C.,
_May 30, 1863_.

We are now fairly settled down in camp on what is known as East Capitol
Hill, with nothing to do but eat, sleep, and drill, and make ourselves
as comfortable as we can. The camp is right out in the open, with not
as much as a huckleberry bush for shade. But we have A-tents to sleep
in, which are roomy and comfortable—much more so than our “shelters.”
There are only three in my tent—Herm. Sleeper, “Curley” Converse, and
yours truly. George Slade did come in, but he was detailed as company
cook and now has a tent of his own.

I saw Farnsworth over in the city day before yesterday—[Major Simeon
D., Paymaster, onetime publisher of the Manchester _American_.] We
were marching toward Long Bridge, headed for Camp Chase on Arlington
Heights, and I had a chance to speak to him a moment. Our destination
was changed however before we reached the bridge and we were
about-faced and marched to our present camp.

I saw Captain Bruce [John N.] Tuesday. He is a sergeant in the
Fourteenth. He tapped his chevrons and observed, with a smile: “Coming
_up_, you see!” Which reminded me of the old, old times before the war,
when he used to parade the streets of Manchester at the head of his
crack company, the admiration and envy of every boy in town.

“Old Beauregard” [Orrin S. Gardner,] the old sinner whose picture I
sent home once, has deserted. Before we left the state he was arrested
and put in the guard house on mere suspicion that he was going to
desert; but the morning we started off he was missing sure enough and
has not since been heard from. My own private opinion is if he had been
let alone he’d have been all right.

General Martindale was in camp yesterday, and the camp gossips greased
up the old rumor machine and ground out the following: Martindale said
he should try to keep us here, as he wanted one such regiment in this
place. And it is supposed that Marston is doing what he can to keep us
in the defenses.

_Afternoon._—One of our boys has just come in from the Fourteenth and
says they are going to march tomorrow. I wish we could move over to
their camp, as it is a delightful location, with shade trees and nice
clean grounds.

Our batch of brand-new lieutenants are having the usual experience in
getting fitted into their places, and are subjected to the merciless
criticism of the old men for any blunder they may happen to make. Frank
Wasley was officer of the guard yesterday and got badly rattled and
mixed up. It was especially mortifying, as many officers from other
regiments were out to see our guard mount. We are to be inspected
tomorrow forenoon by an officer from General Casey’s staff, and I have
been polishing up my old Springfield. I have been in swimming once in
the East Branch.

_Sunday._—Two of our boys who were in the city yesterday saw General
Marston and asked him what was to be done with us. He said we would be
with our old division in the Army of the Potomac within eight days.

Our inspection is over. It was not an exhausting ordeal. The inspecting
officer, as it was very hot and dusty, probably was as anxious as we
were to have it over with. He directed the Quartermaster to draw straw
enough to bed every tent.

I have sure-enough cow’s milk in my coffee quite often now. Quite a
number of cows find free pasturage and very good grazing on the open
lands in the vicinity of the camp.

———————

_XCI_

CAMP MARSTON, WASHINGTON, D. C.,
_Saturday, June 6, 1863_.

Just at present we are not living very high—not near as well as we
did at Falmouth. But George Slade is cook for the company, and he
says: “When you want something special, Mart, just give me the wink,
and if it’s in the cook house you’ll get it.” This noon we had boiled
potatoes and boiled salt pork. Tonight we are to have hasty pudding and
molasses. Somebody has been stealing everything eatable lying around
loose in the cook house, and Slade has gone down to the city to buy
some ipecac. He will set his trap and there is bound to be some awfully
sick fellows about camp before long.

I cut a lot of bullrushes down by the East Branch this afternoon—enough
to thickly carpet the whole floor of our tent—and they make a glorious
bed indeed.

Monday evening the third brigade of the Pennsylvania Reserve Corps, who
have been camped on this side for some time, crossed the river, and the
Second and Fourteenth New Hampshire and Thirty-fourth Massachusetts are
now the only troops on this side. The Fourteenth is doing provost and
guard duty in the city.

We got a belated mail last Tuesday. I had a letter from Frank Morrill
dated March 2, one from you dated February 24, and a paper from Roger
mailed in February. This mail had been hung up in Washington ever since
we went home. Of course the boys had lots of fun circulating items of
“news.”

Last Wednesday, as I had a pass, I went down to the city, sight
seeing. In the forenoon I visited the Patent Office and was greatly
interested. Besides the models of inventions there were many relics and
curios—Washington’s effects, the presents from the Emperor of Japan,
treaties made with various nations, the coat Gen. Jackson wore at New
Orleans, and thousands of other objects of interest. In the afternoon
I went down to the Capitol. I have been there many times before, but
never tire of looking over that building. There are now about five
hundred men at work on it. The next time I have a pass I am going down
to the Navy Yard.

Gen. Marston was up here Wednesday, looking fat and hearty.

Our cooks have got a barrel of potatoes and a lot of cooking utensils,
bought from the “company funds.” This is about the first use that has
ever been made of this fund. Our company’s fund now amounts to several
hundred dollars, and some of the boys were making ugly inquiries as to
why it was not being used for the benefit of the men to whom it belongs.

The drummers and fifers of the regiment have been on exhibition for
the past half hour, at the same time giving us a concert that it would
not be easy to catalogue. Of all the rattletybang and screeching! On
dress parade they made a blunder, then had a big jabbering over it,
and came pretty near having a fight. As a punishment they were mounted
on barrels out on the parade ground and ordered to do their best. They
have a very appreciative and enthusiastic audience, but are about the
maddest set of men I ever saw. I wouldn’t be surprised if, after we get
paid off, some of the indignant musicians turned up missing.

_Sunday, June 7._

We had a good rain last night and it is cool and nice today. We have
had our morning inspection and expect to be gone over, later, by one of
Gen. Casey’s staff officers. We had forty rounds of cartridges dealt
out this morning. They are called “musket shells”—made to explode—and
woe to the Johnny that stops one! We had boiled ham this morning. I got
a big bone for my ration, gnawed off all I wanted for breakfast, and
have enough left for supper, when no meat ration is served. Just think
of it—your husband hiding away bones, like a dog, against future needs.

Alba Woods just sailed down by my tent spreading a story he heard in
another company—that Companies I and F are going up to Chain Bridge
today. I don’t care a darn, one way or the other.

Being right here in Washington, we put on a good many airs—white
gloves, shiny boots, &c. To see the regiment on dress parade now one
would hardly recognize it as the same set of men that we have seen
plugging through the Virginia mud or dust, dirty, ragged, and lousy.

We have another man in our tent—one of the Seventeenth—James C. Rand.
He is nineteen years old, was married just before he came away, and was
in the Sixth New Hampshire a while.

———————

_XCII_

CAMP MARSTON, WASHINGTON, D. C.,
_June 10, 1863_.

You must not be disappointed if I make a short letter of this. I came
off guard this forenoon and am going to have a pass to the city.
Tomorrow morning, at sunrise, we start to rejoin the army on the
Rappahannock, and I will write more as soon as we are with the old
crowd again.

———————

_XCIII_

TEN MILES ABOVE FALMOUTH, VA.,
_June 12, 1863_.

Do not know when I shall have a chance to finish or to send this
letter, but just now I have plenty of time to begin it. We left
Washington about noon yesterday, on the steamer “Hugh Jenkins,” for
Acquia Creek. There we took a train for Stoneman’s Switch, where we
arrived about dark and bivouacked for the night. I did not go to the
trouble to pitch any tent, but “Curley” Converse and I made up a bed
together and slept soundly. I woke up once during the night and found
the rain beating in my face, which was very easily remedied by simply
pulling my head down under the blankets. This morning we were off
again at about sunrise. I understand our destination is Warrenton,
about forty miles from Falmouth. The rest of the Third Corps started
yesterday, and is on ahead somewhere. We may not catch up with them
before they reach Warrenton. We halted here about noon, having made a
march of a dozen miles or so during the forenoon. Notwithstanding the
showers in the night, the roads were dusty and the march fatiguing.

I made a pretty busy day of it the day before we left Washington. I
went down to the city in the forenoon, after getting off guard. First,
up to the post office and posted my letters. Then down to a Dutch
cobbler’s shop, where I had some staving thick soles and heels put on
my boots. I waited while he did the job, and when he got through it
was dinner time. So I went into a restaurant and ate ham and eggs,
strawberries and cream, and other luxuries. I didn’t know as I should
have another chance at a decent meal for eleven months, and I filled
up accordingly. Then I went around and laid in a big stock of writing
materials and stamps and was ready to go to the front.

About two miles back from here is a little brick church, known as
“Hartwood Church,” which possesses a great deal of interest on account
of the pictures and inscriptions on the walls. There is a picture,
drawn by one of our cavalrymen, representing a cavalry charge. It is
on a grand scale, drawn with charcoal, and is wonderfully well done.
The cavalryman artist—so the story goes—began it for his own amusement,
and was “laying on the colors” when the Rebs dropped in and took him
prisoner. They insisted on his finishing up his picture, so he drew
in a lot of ragged, unkempt Rebs running as fast as their legs would
carry them; and the artist’s captors laughed and roared and thoroughly
enjoyed the lampoon on themselves. There is an inscription on the wall
which is a rather neat little puzzle—“Major BBBB CCCC.” Have you made
it out? Major Forbes’ Forces.

We have run across a good many of our old brigade boys, and they were
mighty glad to see the Second again. Ran across Hen. Everett today.
Also Stearns, who used to keep store in Manchester. He was on a
sutler’s wagon—is sutler for some Pennsylvania regiment, I understand.
A two-years regiment, whose term had expired, passed us on its way home
today.

RAPPAHANNOCK STATION, _June 13_.

We have had a hard march today and I am very tired. The dust was simply
stifling, and some merciless old rascal on horseback, at the head of
the column, evidently set the pace and gauged the capacity of the men
at what he and his horse could do. We were hustled right along, hour
after hour, without a moment’s rest. Fool orders were read in the
morning, that if three men straggled from any one company the officers
of that company would be tried by court martial. But this did not
prevent straggling, for many men simply _could not_ keep up—especially
our Seventeenth recruits.

We are getting mighty hard up for grub and are anxiously looking for


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 9 11 12 13 14 15 16

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 9 of 16)