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Full text of "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 Infantry. "The girl I left behind me" - Cornelia T. Lane, now and for more than fifty years the wife of the soldier boy"

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The Girl I Lei i Behind Mi 




1861 - 1864 


The Soldier Boy Martin. A. Haynes 

Company /, Second New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry 

"The Girl I Left Behind Me" - Cornelia T. Lane 

Now and for more than Fifty Years the Wife of the Soldier Boy 


i 9 i 6 









IN gathering material for a history of the Second Regiment, one of 
my sources of information was a big bundle of letters, even then 
yellowing with age — my letters, covering a period of over three years, 
"written to "The girl I left behind me" These — with the elimination 
of such strictly personal matters as concerned only the two of us — 
were carefully copied, and the letters then given to the flames. Thirty 
years later, breaking the seals of that bundle of manuscript, I read 
with indescribable interest my own story of more than half a century 
ago. And the whim came upon me to put those scraps of war history 
into type and print a few copies, especially for members of the family. 
I can see an opening for only one regret. It will probably destroy an 
illusion of those four grandchildren — Marforie and Warren, Martin 
and Eugene — as to their grandfather's relative importance in the war, 
and while Grant and Sherman will be moved up one notch on the roll 
of those who put down the Great Rebellion, I will, very likely, have 
to be content with third place. 

There is lots of history here — minor history, to be sure — and 
while there is a sequence of events, it is not a connected story, nor 
even complete. A series of letters rarely is. They do not deal, like 
Sherman's letters, in the grand strategy of campaigns, but they do 
give an idea of what the men in the ranks were talking and thinking 
and doing. Their interest lies almost entirely in the fact that they 
deal with the trivialities of army life. Here is recorded the small 
talk of the camp, and many incidents that are too trivial for big his- 
tory, but are really interesting and worth saving. I have preserved 
the personality of some of those royal old comrades of mine, who but 
for these letters would be remembered only through the cold lines of 
the official record. In these sketches — "right off the bat, 1 '' as it were 
— they seem to live again, and one can get a very fair idea of what 
manner of men they were. It is sometimes with moistened eyes that 
I catch the step with them again in these pages and in memory live 
over those stirring days when comradeship was so close and meant so 

I feel lonesome when I realize that I am almost the last survivor 
of those who live and move in the following pages. Not one member 

' \e ,'/</ "Abbott Guard 11 — a Manchester company and largely com- 

t oj Manchester men — now remains as a living resident of that 

city, and the survivors, scattered far and wide, can be counted upon 

the fingers of one hand. As often happened in the old army days, I 
am ('nee more a straggler, dusty, footsore and weary. But I know 

that he to re long I will swing around the bend in the road and come 
upon the whole precious hunch in hivouac. There 7oill he Rod. Man- 
ning and George Slade, Hen. Everett and Bill Ramsdell, "7/ccnan" 
and "Gunny" old Dan. Desmond — a hundred of the rarest aggre- 
gation that ever touched elbows in a common cause. And with the 
old familiar whoop they will greet the hela ted straggler and give him 
a place at their campfire. 

M. A. H. 

Lakt p o rt , Ntw Hampshire, October, iqib. 

* * * 


* * * 

* # * 

"Ofb h) bh,e sbilly pi^bb, 

ere Slumber's cb a ^) s b ave kour>d rr>e, 
For>d Merr>ory brir>£^ bt>e li6l)b 

of obt>er days arour>d rrje.'' 

* * * # 
* * # 


Camp Union, Concord, April 28, iSbr. 

IF you could look in on this scene you would rate it as about as 
good a comedy as we ever took in at Bidwell and Marston's. I 
am writing on a rough board table, and right opposite me the fellow 
who has set up as company barber is skinning a poor victim alive. 
I don't think he is much of a barber, and from the spasmodic and 
at times profane remarks of the patriot he is practicing on, I gather 
that I am not alone in that opinion. 

I have been very busy this week and have hardly had time to 
write the letters I promised Farnsworth for the American. But I 
am going to give you a little idea of the routine of camp life. We 
are in camp on the Merrimack County fair grounds, across the river 
from the city. Our barracks are rough board buildings with ample 
ventilation through a thousand cracks. One continuous bunk, bed- 
ded with straw, extends along one side. Into this we tumble at 
night, wrapped in our thick army blankets, warm and cozy, and 
go to sleep after about so much laughing and joking and black- 

The drum beats to marshal us to our meals, and each company 
falls into line, single file. At the command we march around by the 
commissary's stand, each man, as he passes, helping himself to plate 
and dipper with rations upon them. I have seen richer food and a 
more comprehensive bill of fare, but it is all right and there is plenty 
of it: fish hash (and I always did like fish hash,) bread (white and 
brown,) pickles, coffee. No butter, no condiments. But the whole 
outfit seems to agree with me, and I never was in better health and 
spirits in my life. 

There are now about 550 men here in camp — over 240 from 
Manchester. It is a rattling jolly crowd, and there is something 


doing about all the time. At night we gather around the canipfires 
and amuse ourselves with songs and stories and badinage until nine 
o'clock, when "Tattoo" sounds and we tumble into our bunk. As 
many as are needed are detailed each night to stand guard. I have 
had one round at it — routed out of my warm nest at one o'clock in 
the morning anil posted at the main gate of the camp. It was very 
cold, and every star was out with a broad grin on as I paraded up 
and down with a ten-pound musket on my shoulder. 

1 shall try to get leave to run down to Manchester Saturday and 
stop over Sunday. I want to "see my sister." 

We have not got our uniforms yet. We all expected to have 
them by the last of the week, so hardly anybody brought any change 
of clothing. I borrowed a collar of Cochrane [W. H. I).] until I 
could send home for wardrobe supplies. We have got to go to 
church at Concord this afternoon, in a body. 

There are lots of Manchester folks here today, and I have to 
stop every minute and shake hands with some friend who comes 
along. Kelley's [Capt. John L.] recruits came up yesterday. I met 
them as I was going to the city. Jim Atherton was among them. 
He brought me lots of things from my friends — pastry from mother, 
a mince pie from Mrs. Currier, a pin cushion from Augusta Currier, 
and a great big sugar heart from Mrs. Logue, bless her dear old 
Irish soul. 

Address, Camp Union, Company A, Concord, N. H. 


Camp Union, May i. /S6/. 

AM writing in great haste to let you know that the Guard are 
going to Portsmouth this afternoon, to join the Second 
Regiment, under Tom Pierce. We get away in a hurry, in order to 
get position on the right of the regiment — if we can. I will write 
t<> you in a day or two — by Sunday, sure. Shall run back to Man- 
cbester before we go to the war. Direct letters to Abbott (Iuard, 


A Soldier Boy's Letters 3 


Camp Constitution, Portsmouth, May 5, iSbi. 

ECEIVED a letter from you a few moments before the com-, 
pany left Concord, enclosing a note from Sally [Shepherd] 
and a fine picture of yourself. I don't think, however, it is quite as 
good as the one I have with me in a little round velvet case. 

The Second Regiment are quartered in an old ropewalk, four or 
five hundred feet long and about eighteen feet wide. Our bunks 
extend along each side, with a walk through the center and a rack 
over our heads to place our muskets in. Our quarters and food are 
much better than they were at Concord. 

There are now five companies here, all of us raw recruits fast 
enough, but the Guard are just conceited enough to imagine their 
military education is a little more advanced than that of the other 
fellows. You know, we've been sworn in almost three weeks, and 
naturally know it all. There was a little fiiction night before last. 
A guard from the Great Falls company was posted around the quar- 
ters, and word got around that they were acting mighty "cocky." 
They would not let our men even pass around in the yard, where 
they had a perfect right to go. I had had no intention of leaving 
the quarters that night, but was determined not to be cooped up 
that way. So I recruited two desperate outlaws, and we ran the 
guard and went over to the city, there we ran across our Orderly 
Sergeant [George W. Gordon] and he was as mad as we were. At 
a late hour we marched back to camp. When the guard at the outer 
gate hollered "Whoa, there !" and tried to block our way, we upset 
him and went right along. We didn't get a proper challenge down 
the whole line, but there was a succession of wild calls for the Officer 
of the Guard. The last I heard as I passed into the barracks was 
the assurance of the officer, to a sentry who had narrated his tale of 
woe, that the "Manchester boys" were right — that a proper chal- 
lenge would doubtless have been heeded and saved all trouble. 

Our boys are all pleased with Portsmouth, but are afraid we shall 
not be ordered away as soon as if we had stayed in Concord. r l here 
are many points of interest here — the navy yard, where noo men 
are employed fitting out three large war vessels, and the forts down 
the harbor, where they are putting in garrisons and mounting heavy 

4 A Soldier Boy's Letters 

Nil h. Higlin, alias "Heenan," one of our boys, had a thumb 
badly crushed in showing how strong he was. Up at the arsenal 
there are rows of big iron cannon, relics of the war of 1812, resting 
at each end on blocks. "Heenan" lifted an end of one of these, 
which was quite a feat, but his grin of triumph faded out when he 
let the gun back smash onto one thumb. 

I received today a very welcome present from the Manchester 
High School — a splendid waterproof blanket. John Johnson is the 
committee to distribute similar favors among the M. H. S. boys in 
camp here. 

I am detailed for guard and my round commences soon. You 
need have no fear that I shall not run up to Manchester before leav- 
ing here. 



Camp Constitution, Portsmouth, May //, i&bi. 

AVE been expecting all this week that I would have an op- 
portunity to run up home today, but have just learned 
that Gen. Stark has issued orders that no man is to leave camp till 
the regiment is uniformed, which he expects will be next Monday 
or Tuesday. There is a rumor circulating that this regiment will 
not be ordered into active service unless we enlist for three years or 
until the war is ended ; but Fred. Smith told me, yesterday, he 
would warrant we should be ordered off within ten days. If we are 
not, I think nearly all the boys will enlist for the war. We started 
out to see the rebels put down, and we are not willing to go home 
without seeing it done and having a hand in it. I do not think the 
war will last more than a few months. 

Sin< e our little affair with the Commissary we have had first rate 
grub. [This refers to the "rag hash war," when the Abbott Guard 
rebelled against the rations and marched over to the city, in a body, 
for something to eat.] We were placed under arrest when we got 
lia< k and kept under guard twenty-four hours. I gave a pretty plain 
statement of the affair in my letter to the American^ and yesterday 
down came Fred. Smith to see about it. With one of the (iovern- 
or*l Aide* be went around and investigated pretty thoroughly, and 
there are already signs of a decided improvement. 

A Soldier Boy's Letters 5 


Camp Constitution, Portsmouth, May ib, iSbr. 

YOU have, doubtless, been expecting me every day for a 
week. I wrote Tuesday throwing out a hint that I might be 
up Wednesday ; but when Wednesday came there was no move to 
uniform us, and I had to wait. But today something definite has 
transpired. We are officially informed that an opportunity will be 
given us to re-enlist for three years or the war, or to be discharged. 
We can take it or leave it. The Abbott Guard had a meeting this 
afternoon, and a majority voted to offer the services of the company 
to the President, for the war. Several of them will not go, but I, of 
course, could not be dogged back to Manchester while the company 
is headed for the South. A possible three years from home is a long 
stretch, but you can be pretty sure the war will not last many months. 
At any rate, my fortunes are cast with the Abbott Guard, and its 
fortunes I am bound fo follow, wherever they lead. 

General Abbott told us, this afternoon, that we should all have a 
chance to go home and put our affairs in order. 


Camp Constitution, Portsmouth, May iq, iSt>i. 

THE regiment is now uniformed — the queerest-looking uniform 
in the world. You have probable seen some like them in the 
streets of Manchester, on the First Regiment boys. The suit is gray 
throughout, with a light trimming of red cord. The coat is a ''swal- 
low-tail," with brass buttons bearing the New Hampshire coat-of- 
arms ; a French army cap to top off with. 

We have the Manchester Cornet Band here with us now — they 
came yesterday. They played in front of the barracks last evening 
— lots of the good old tunes that you and I have enjoyed together, 
many a time. 

6 A Soldier Boy's Letters 


Camt Constitution, Portsmouth, June 2, iSbi. 

DO not know how much longer we will be here, but not more 
than a few days — perhaps not over a week. Yesterday the 
First Maine Regiment passed through here. I wish this regiment 
had been in their place. 


Camp Constitution, Portsmouth, June 7, i8bi. 

["1XPECTED I would have a chance to write a long letter to- 
_J day. I was on guard last night, and in the natural course 

should have had the day to myself. But our company was mustered 
this forenoon — sworn in for three years' service — and the regiment 
has been marching and parading all the afternoon. I was never 
more tired in all my life. We shall be off in a day or two. Next 
Tuesday is the time set, but we may not get away until a day or two 
later. We are very busy getting ready to leave. 

A number of the boys have taken a notion to get married before 
leaving for the front, among the number being Eugene Hazewell, E. 
Norman (nicknamed "Enormous") Gunnison, and Johnny Ogden, 
the round-faced Englishman I pointed out to you down by the cem- 
etery, one day. 

We have lots of fun with the fellows who come creeping into the 
barracks late at night or early in the morning. All sorts of traps are 
set, and some one of them generally gets the bird. Sometimes it is 
the old trick of tinware over the door, which is bound to rouse the 
whole camp, no matter how carefully the door is opened ; or a gun 
box set on end in the aisle ; or a rope stretched across it. 

Just to bring myself to a realization of how long the three years 
ahead ought to seem, I have been measuring back to events that 
transpired three years ago. Three years seems a long time looking 
into the future, and yet many things that took place three years ago 
do not seem so very far away. In the depot at Manchester I met 
Ike Sawyer, who ha^ just got bark from sea. I asked him how long 
he had been gone this time, and he said, "Over three years." I WWM 

A Soldier Boy's Letters 7 

surprised that it was so long, and hope the coming three will sort of 
shorten up in the same way, 

Our company is now stocking up on mascots. The latest addi- 
tions are a splendid Newfoundland dog and a pretty maltese cat. 

Nich. Biglin is going up tomorrow to bid good bye to a large and 
enthusiastic circle of female admirers. Just now he and Dan Mix 
are engaged in an animated dispute as to whether a man will get 
tight on gin sweetened with sugar sooner than if sweetened with 
molasses, and "Heenan" proposes that they go out and experiment. 



Camp Constitution, Portsmouth, June 12, rSbi. 

(TILL in Portsmouth, in spite of all prophecies, augurs and 
Kdy omens. The excuse now is that the baggage wagons and 
some other camp equipage are not ready. The time now set is next 
Monday, but I am not counting on going before Wednesday, as a 
precaution against being disappointed. All our baggage wagons, 
harnesses, horses, and other field stuff are in Concord, and it is more 
than probable that we shall go there to get it, and thence to New 
York through Manchester. I hope so, as it will give me a chance 
to see you once more just for a moment. 

I was somewhat surprised to hear that Frank had gone to Wash- 
ington. I wish he was going with this regiment ; but I shall have as 
good care as I could wish for if I am sick, as my uncle, Dr. John, is 
going out with us in the hospital department. My aunt wrote me 
that if the doctor went she should put on the breeches and go too. 

And, by the way, I am not sure that you would recognize me now 
that 1 have followed the prevailing fashion and had my flowing locks 
shaved off close to my scalp. 

Yesterday morning, before breakfast, a party of us boys went 
down to the beach and had a glorious frolic, swimming, digging 
clams, and catching crabs. 

In the regimental organization we are designated as Company I. 
It is explained to us that this gives us a post of honor, as the color 
company, in the center of the regiment; but I am a little skeptical. 

8 A Soldier Boy's Letters 

The boys have been singing sentimental songs, but just now have 
switched off onto cheers over the taking of Big bethel, in Virginia, 
by Gen, Butler. "Hooray/" The way they are tearing it off is a 
caution. All are at fever heat to be off and helping in the war. 

Headqcakh Rbgt. N. H. V., 

Portsmouth, June /0, iSbi. 

"% TL y^"E know, at last, just when we are going away — "sure." 
\ \ Next Thursday, at 7 o'clock in the morning, we are off. 
A- we go direct to Boston, and not through Manchester, it is good 
bye until I come home from the war. 

Si. Swain is under guard today. He refused to do duty and in- 
vited Rod. Manning, one of the sergeants, to go to H ot place. 

My ribs are sore from laughing over the regatta we had today 
out on the mill pond. Some of the boys gathered together from 
somewhere a number of hogsheads, halved by being sawed in two, 
and went voyaging in them. They were not a very manageable 
craft. 1 hey rolled around every-which-way, capsized, collided, and 
went through all sorts of ridiculous stunts. 

We hive had issued to us blue flannel blouses, thin, loose, and 
far more comfortable than our uniform dress coats. 

Some of the boys have been fishing down at the fort today. 
They brought home a lobster they caught, and while a kettle of wa- 
ter is heating to boil him in, are teasing the poor fellow with sticks. 
"Heenan" is taking an active part in the persecution. He holds up 
long enough to say to me, "Tell her I want to keep the first two 
months' pay to buy my liquor with ; but after that I will remit enough 
so that, with her own efforts, the family will be insured from want." 

A Soldier Boy's Letters 9 


Headquarters Second Regt. N. H. Vols., 
Portsmouth, June iq, iSbi. 

OFF we go at 7 o'clock tomorrow morning, and everything is 
bustle and excitement. Have seen lots of Manchester folks 
here within a day or two. Mary Rice was on the parade ground 
yesterday. Dr. Nelson, Henry A. Gage, A. C. Wallace, policeman 
Bennett, Parker Hunt and his mother, and many more of my friends 
and acquaintances. We have been drilling today with knapsacks 
and equipments on, and my shoulders are as lame as if I had been 
beaten with a club. Twenty rounds of cartridges have been issued 
to us. You will direct letters to Company I, 2d Regt. N. H. Vols., 
Washington, D. C. We may not be at Washington, but there is no 
mail south of there, and it will be distributed from that point. 

There was quite an excitement here last night, resulting from a 
fire on the frigate "Santee." It was set near the magazine, in which 
was forty tons of powder. 


Washington, U. C, June 25, iSbr. 

HERE we are at last, in Washington, safe and sound, but 
stewed with the heat. We left Portsmouth on schedule 
time, Thursday morning. At Boston, we met with a grand recep- 
tion. The boys will never forget the superb collation that was served 
us there — not merely the toothsome meats and substantials, but all 
the little niceties, such as strawberries and cream, &c. From Boston 
we went to Fall River, where we took the steamer "Bay State" for 
New York. I roosted on the hurricane deck and never had a better 
night's sleep in my life. At New York the Sons of New Hampshire 
gave us a flag and a feast, after which we were ferried to Amboy, 16 
miles, and took cars for Baltimore. I got in a good night's sleep 
between Harrisburg and Baltimore, and Sunday noon we arrived in 

Our camp reminds me of the old-fashioned tin oven my grand- 
mother used to set before the fireplace to bake biscuits in. On the 
sunny slope of a ridge, with not a tree for shade and shelter. Hot ! 

io A Soldier Boy's Letters 

And the flies ! I know now how to pity those poor old Egyptians. 
We have plenty of unusual happenings now. I am not sure but that 
si .me of the boys are seeing spooks. Sunday night several of the 
sentinels reported exchanging shots with prowlers about the camp. 
I was on guard that night, where there were plenty of bushes, but 
the best I could do I couldn't find anything to get excited over. 
Dan Mix, one of the teamsters, says he was fired at four times while 
coming into camp with his team last night. And it is currently re- 
ported that the Zouaves, camped next to us, captured a spy a day 
or two ago, and he will be hanged today or tommorrow. I can un- 
derstand how some secessionists around here might be tempted to 
take a pot shot at a Yankee sentinel out of pure cussedness ; but 
1 haven't got it through my head yet what a spy could find to spy 
out that is n't perfectly open to anybody who cares to look about in 
broad daylight, unmolested. 

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

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

Our grub, since we got here, has not been quite up to the Astor 
House standard, hut the army stores will be here to-day, which will 
improve the bill of fare. So far it has consisted of hard bread bear- 
ing the stunj) "1810" — whatever that may signify — ham or salt pork 
and coffee. 

A Soldier Boy's Letters i i 


Camp Sullivan, Washington, July 2, iSbi. 

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

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

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

I am not starving now. I don't think anybody does in the com- 
missary department. Yesterday I had all the cherries I could eat, 
and some day, when I have a little leisure, I think I'll go blackber- 

12 A Soldikb Boy's Le iters 


Cami 1 Sullivan, Washington, July 7, iSbi. 

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

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

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


Camp Sullivan, 
Washington, D.C, Sunday t July '4< i$ b '- 

"% ia ~7 ' E are still here in Camp Sullivan, our marching orders 
\^ \ having been countermanded at the last moment; but 
are sure to be off before many days. We have been expecting to 
march t< day, but probably will not. 

A day or two ago there was a dreadful accident in our brigade. 
The Rhode Island battery were drilling upon the parade ground 
in front of our camp, when the ammunition in one of the limbers 
explode. 1 and the three men seated on the box were hurled high in 






7 < - 

:. fc: 











A Soldier Boy's Letters 13 

the air, two being killed instantly — literally blown all to pieces. I 
was on the spot almost instantly, and with the single exception of 
the Pemberton Mills horror, which I viewed as a newspaper report- 
er, it was the most sickening sight I ever saw. 

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

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



Washington, D. C, July 24, iSbr. 

INTENDED to write to you yesterday, but after what I have 
been through in the past week I simply couldn't get up steam. 
Last Tuesday — a week ago yesterday — this regiment crossed the 
Potomac at Long Bridge, with the other regiments and batteries of 
Burnsides' brigade, and advanced into Virginia. Saturday night we 
were encamped about a mile from Centerville. At two o'clock Sun- 
day morning we were up and on the march, and at ten o'clock we 
came upon the secessionists at Bull Run and engaged them. The 
battle lasted several hours, when we were obliged to withdraw. It 
was a very disorderly retreat. We expected to be followed sharplv, 
of course, and there was no halt worth talking about until we strag- 
gled into Washington, every man for himself. Coming and going 
we got in about sixty miles of travel, to say nothing of several hours 
on the battlefield. I was about all in when, midday Monday, I 
reached the Virginia end of Long Bridge. We were then inside the 
fortifications, and there were kettles of hot coffee and boxes of hard 

14 A Sol Ml k Boy's LETTERS 

bread set out for everybody to help themselves. It did seem as if I 
never could drag myself over to our camp. But I finally negotiated 
with a huckster who was over there with his team, and having pur- 
chased his remaining stock of pies and distributed them among the 
crowd of refugees, he gave me a ride across the bridge and up into 
the city well toward Camp Sullivan. 

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

In all my life I never suffered from thirst as I did that day. On 
the advance, our regiment was right at the ford of Bull Run creek 
when the head of the column sighted the enemy. A staff officer 
rode back with the announcement and called to the men to fill their 
canteens. I waded up a few feet and filled my canteen with good 
clear river water. A little while after, I took a drink. spat out the 
tepid mouthful in disgust, and emptied the canteen. I learned my 
lesson and "ill never do that again. Before that day was over I 
would have given dollars for one square drink of that same water. 
On the retreat I onetime scooped up a few sips from a mud puddle 
through which men and horses ami wheels were ploughing their way. 
re reaching Centerville I filled up clear to the ears from a little 
trickling rivulet, and filled my canteen as well. Laid down in the 

A Soldier Boy's Letters 15 

old bivouac, and went to sleep. After two or three hours was waked 
up and told to keep agoing. The old thirst was on me, but when I 
lifted my canteen it was empty — drained to the last drop. If I 
could have got hold of that sneak thief the casualty list would have 
been one bigger, I think. 

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

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


Camp Sullivan, Washington, D. C, July jo, rSb/. 

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

Things are getting straightened out so we can now tell about how 
many men we lost in the unfortunate battle of Bull Run. Our total 
loss in killed, wounded and missing is only about eighty or ninety. 
I lost some of my best friends. Mose Eastman was wounded in the 
leg. I saw him carried to the rear. If still living he is probably a 

16 A Soldier Boy's Letters 

prisoner. Frank Wasley has had a finger cut off. I had a letter 
from mother today. She says they do not know yet, in Manchester, 
who is missing, and there is the deepest anxiety there. 

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


Camp Suluvan, WASHINGTON, D. C, August 5, iSbi. 

f 1 1HE heat today is something awful. We are all just about dead 
1 from it — lying about camp and sweltering. I received your 
letter of the 30th and will answer your questions in turn. 

Charlie Farnam is in our regiment as a drummer. 

All the boys you specially inquired after are well. Hen. Pills- 
bury inquires often where "the woman" is and how she is getting 

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

M\ tentmates Holt and Morse were both awfully nice boys. Holt 
was the first man killed in the regiment. He was not with the com- 
pany, but with the corps of pioneers, a detai hment of axe-men, 
made up of details from the various companies. He was killed very 
early in the action, while crouching in a ditch, by a piece of shell 

A Soldier Boy's Letters 17 

which struck him in the shoulders. Morse was killed late in the 
day. The regiment was crossing from the slope where it had been 
fighting over to the opposite hill. It was halted in the valley, while 
Gen. Burnside rode up the hill a little piece and took an observation. 
We were under very sharp fire from a battery further up. I heard 
a shot from it come roaring down the slope, ending in a "thud" 
which told it had got a victim down the line. Looking back, I saw 
a prostrate form sprawled in the dust of the road, with Johnny Og- 
den bending over it. "Who is it, Johnny?" I called back. "Hen. 
Morse," he answered me. 

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

I hear from Manchester often. Roger Woodbury, George Da- 
kin, Ruthven Houghton and Frank Morrill have enlisted into the 
Third Regiment. How I wish that crowd was in this company 1 

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


Bladensburg, Md., August 12, i&bi. 

t ""AIDN'T wake up very early this morning; but when I did I 
I J got up, quick — rolled out of a puddle of water I had been 
sleeping in. We moved over to this camp last Friday morning, and 
are in a most delightful location. It is about five miles from Wash- 
ington, on the field where the battle of Bladensburg was fought in 
1 8 14. There is a little village, a little river, little hills, &c, and 
plenty of the very best of water close at hand. The place has quite 
a reputation for its mineral springs. There is one right in the vil- 
lage, and the water is so clear, so cool, so refreshing — only the merest 
suggestion of a mineral flavor. 

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

i8 A Soldier Roy's Letters 

August /■)". — I have been about used up for the past two days, 
but now I must finish my letter. You can assure your rebel-sympa- 
thizing friends that the rebels cannot take the capital, and I do not 
believe they will attempt it. I hope they will try. 

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


Camp Union", 
Bladensbcrg, Md., August 25, iSbi. 

PRESIDENT LINCOLN, accompanied by Secretaries Seward 
and Welles, reviewed the brigade this forenoon. Friday 
afternoon we were reviewed by Gen. McClellan, who is next in 
command to Gen. Scott. We expect to stay here several weeks — 
perhaps till the first of October. We are so very pleasantly situated 
that we would not object to lying around here for a few weeks. If 
the rebels should be bold enough to attack Washington there will 
"be lots of music. The city is being fortified against any such emer- 
gency. Our brigade is working on a fort near here that would prove 
a hard nut to crack. '1 hree of our regiments were at Bull Run. The 
First Massachusetts was in the Thursday fight at Rlackburn's Ford, 
and the Eleventh Massachusetts was in the Sunday fight. 

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

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

A Soldier Boy's Letters 19 


Camp Union, 
Bladensiu:rc, Md., Sept. 4, rS6r. 

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


Camp Uiion, 
Bladensburg, Md., Sunday, Sept. /j, iSbr. 

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

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

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

20 A Soldier Boy's Letters 

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

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

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


Camp Union, 

Bl.ADENSBURG, Md., Sept. 22, l8bt. 

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

S » you think, do you, it would be a good plan to go down to the 
< ity once in a while for something good to eat. Why, bless you, we 

A Soldier Boy's Letters 21 

don't have to do that now. We have sutlers here, and hucksters out 
from the city, and farmers with their truck, and can buy most any- 
thing we want to piece out the army rations, from sweet potatoes to 
pound cake. 


Camt Union, 
Bladensburg, Md., Sept. 2q, i8bf. 

COMPANY I goes on guard today, and I can manage to pick 
out a little time for writing letters. I wish you could be in 
camp here Sundays and see the colored people come in. Sunday is 
the negro's holiday, and they swarm into camp with their apples, 
peaches, chickens, or whatever they happen to have that can be 
turned into money or old clothes. Each one has a basket, with a 
crooked stick on which to swing it over the shoulder. r I hese plan- 
tation negroes — mostly slaves — are a quaint lot, not a bit like the 
bright colored people you see north. We used to think the stage 
negro at the minstrel show was a burlesque. He wasn't. 

Fast Day some four hundred of the regiment marched down to 
the camp of the Third and had a jolly time. Roger had got along, 
but I saw him for only a moment. Frank Morrill and I took a most 
cheerful stroll down to that most cheerful public institution, the 
Congressional Cemetery, and saw the tombs of Gen. Macomb, Gov. 
Clinton, and no end of generals, commodores and other big men. 

The Fourth N. H. Regiment passed here today. I do not know 
where they will camp. I have many acquaintances in its ranks. 

Have you read about the taking of Munson's Hill? Was n't 
that a pretty neat trick the rebels turned on us — mounting stove- 
pipes and wooden cannons on the forts? The boys are borrowing 
trouble now through fears that McClellan will not take us with him 
when he advances over into Virginia. It would be decidedly un- 
grateful not to give us a chance to square accounts for Bull Run and 
the run we made after it. I shall never forgive the rebels for that 
affair until we have paid them in their own coin. 

The First Michigan Regiment came in today and camped right 
beside us. They were at Bull Run as a three months' regiment, 
and enlisted again, for three years, when their time was up. 

22 A Soldier Boy's Letters 

I he fort we have been working on is about ready for business. 
It mounts thirteen 32-poundei guns, and would be a lovely thing for 
a few thousand men to butt their heads against. 

I he days are very hot and the nights terribly cold. I put my 
overcoat on and wrap my blanket about my legs and feet when I 
bunk down nights, and then I am almost frozen. This is a good 
time to catch the fever and ague, and I may be in for it. 


Camp Union, 
BlaDBNSBUBC, Md., Sunday, Oct. 6, l8bl. 

THE Fourth Regiment are encamped about two miles below 
here. I went down to see them one day last week and had 
a good time. Saw Kin. Foss, Sam. Porter, "Tulip" Bunten and 
many others. As I went strolling through the camp, I noted one 
street down ahead where there appeared to be half a dozens fights 
going on, in various stages of development. I said to myself, I'll 
bet a dollar that's C harlie Hurd's company. I won the bet. 

'1 he 'lhird Regiment has gone to Annapolis. This afternoon we 
are to be reviewed by Gen. McClellan. He has reviewed us once 
before, and it may be that he intends putting us ahead somewhere, 
and that we shall leave Bladensburg before long. 

So you want me to learn a lot of songs, do you? Well, I have 
anticpated your wishes and already commenced. There is one 
pathetic local ballad that I have been practicing on and can do 
pretty well for a green hand. Here is the first verse, which will 
give you some idea of its high artistic merits : 

". / grasshopper sat on </ sweet pertater vine, 

On a sweet pertater vine, on a sweet pertater vine, 
When a turkey gpb-u-Ur acoming up behind 
Just yanked him off of that sweet pertater vine." 

I hen there is another that is very popular with the boys. It is 
easy to learn, notwithstanding there are 147 verses to it. I will give 
you the first verse, and when you've got that you've got the whole 
thing, for they're all alike. One, two, sing: 

A Soldier Boy's Letters 23 

11 John Brown he knew that his father was well, 
Atul his father he knew that John Brown he was well, 
For when John Brown knew that his father was well, 
His father he knew that John Bnnun he was welly 

Our entire company was out yesterday cutting down woods that 
interfered with the range of the guns on the forts we have been 
building. My mother, having in recollection her experiences with 
the family wood box when I was a boy, would probably have ad- 
vised against taking me out. But I am inclined to think that, as a 
wood chopper I achieved some reputation this time, as after I had 
gnawed down a tree of considerable size some of the boys called the 
others to come and admire "Mart's stump." 

Well, I have strung out a long letter, and some of it you can 
credit to the delightful surroundings and conditions under which I 
am working. Here is the picture : A big tent — the Quartermaster's 
— overlooking from its back a railroad cut twenty- five or thirty feet 
deep ; an enormous oak tree deeply shading a large space, with a 
delicious breeze rustling its branches ; several of the boys sitting 
around reading the newspapers, chatting, and looking down upon 
the numerous trains that pass below ; and your own correspondent, 
with a big pile of army overcoats for a backrest. 


Camp Union, 
Bladensburg, Md,, Oct. 21, iSbr. 

^ 1L T'E are having some of the worst weather the almanac can 
\f \ dish out to us, and the hospital is full of sick men, some 
seriously ill. I have, myself, been off duty for several days, but am 
now on deck again all right. It is surprisingly cold, and tents are 
not the warmest sleeping apartments in the world. I hope they will 
take us off down south before long or give us good barracks. 

I had a letter from my uncle Nathaniel the other day. [Na- 
thaniel Columbus Knowlton of New London.] He wrote that after 
he went back from Boston, where he went to see me off, a girl came 
to my father's house, whom they introduced as Miss Lane, and who 
seemed to be very well acquainted. About a month after, Addie 
told him who you was. He approves. 

24 A Soldier Boy's Letters 

The two aunts you met at my house are all right. Aunt Polly is 
the wife of my father's eldest brother, Joshua. Aunt Olivia was 
reared down south, in a Catholic seminary at Charleston, South Car- 
olina. Her father, Captain Bailey, was an old time sea captain. 
Until recently she has been very decided in her southern predilec- 
tions. But a summer spent in Charleston two years ago changed 
her sentiment very radically. Her husband — my uncle William — is 
in the Massachusetts Eighteenth, which is now at Baltimore. 

'1 here is quite a little force of cavalry here with us now. '1 hey 
make a brave show in their drilling. Gen. Hooker, who commanded 
this brigade, now has a division, and Col. Cowdin, of the First Mas- 
sachusetts, commands the brigade. I believe we shall move from 
here before long. The boys are getting impatient, and will be very 
discontented if they hold us here much longer. 

You write me of your fingers being cold. If you could only 
know how cold I am this very minute, you would realize the pleas- 
ares of letter-writing in camp. It is a cold day, and I am writing 
in a wide open tent, which is just the same as out of doors. But we 
have lots of good times, notwithstanding the cold ; and when we get 
around the campfires at night, we talk of home and the jolly times 
we will have when we get back to Manchester. 


Hm.l Top, St. Charles County, Mo., 
October zS, /Sbi. 

YOU will take note that we have changed our location at last. 
We are now forty or fifty miles below Washington, on the 
Potomac river, below Budd's Point. The other side of the river is 
lined with rebel batteries for a distance of ten miles, up and down, 
and we are here with ten or twelve thousand men to watch them. 
We have cavalry and artillery with us. With our regiment is Doub- 
leday's battery of 12- and 32-pounders. .Most of the Fort Sumter 
men are in this battery, We left Bladensburg Thursday and got 
here last night — a march of four days. As we were in heavy march- 
ing order, all our earthly possessions strapped or hung to us in some 
way, you can be sure it was a pretty tired crowd that landed in here. 

A Soldier Boy's Letters 


Tuesday Morning. — I tried to write last night, but it was so cold 
I had to give up. We are camped down in a deep hollow, where 
the sun doesn't get in till pretty late. Every morning the ground is 
white with frost. It takes all our dry goods to keep us anywhere 
near comfortable, day or night. Our grub is neither rich nor varied, 
but it appears to agree with me — with what I have been able to 
pick up on the side. A man who is enterprising can occasionally 
get hold of a piece of fresh meat. Until last night, since leaving 
Bladensburg, every man has been his own cook. Our tin plates 
served very well as stew- or fry-pans, and coffee drank out of the 
tin dipper in which it was boiled on the coals of the campfire, has a 
flavor all its own. But last night the company cooks got into action 
again and served out boiled corned beef, hardbread, and coffee. As 
it never rains but it pours, our sutler also got along and opened up 

Guard duty in this place is not what it was at Bladensburg. Our 
company goes on picket today down by the mouth of the creek we 
are camped on [Nanjamoy,] to watch the rebels over across the 
river. Mail will leave here three times a week. 

Yesterday the rebel batteries were busy throwing shells over to 
this side of the river, but our regiment was far out of range of fire. 
Before we came down here the rebels used to come over and visit 
and forage and gather recruits and scout around with impunity. 

The infantry of this divison consists of our own brigade — the 
First and Eleventh Massachusetts, Twenty-sixth Pennsylvania, and 
the Second — and General Sickles' "Excelsior Brigade" of five New 
York regiments. The regiments are strung along for a distance of 
probably seven or eight miles, we being the farthest south. 


Camp Second N. H. Regiment, 
Near Budd's Ferry, Md., Nov. 10, ihbi. 

"^T" 1L T~HEN I wrote you last we were camped in a hollow by 

\r \ Nanjamoy Creek. Well, we got driven out. It was so 

infernally uncomfortable that Col. Marston moved the camp up onto 

the hill. It is not probable that we shall stay in this camp a very 

26 A Soldier Boy's Letters 

great while, but when or where we will move is a riddle. For all 
that, we are doing a good deal of fixing up that belongs to a perma- 
nent camp. Have built log huts for the company cooks, which will 
probably be labor thrown away. But we are having a good time. 
The woods are full of small game, although we do practically no 
hunting. But the darkies bring in coons, possums, gray squirrels, 
rabbits and chickens, all cooked, and well cooked. We have not 
seen any soft bread since we left Washington. Our hard bread cer- 
tainly does not belie its name. But given a good soaking in coffee, 
and well lubricated with butter, I manage to dispose of my share. 

Our mail is regular in nothing but its irregularity. A three days' 
mail for this regiment got as far as the Massachusetts First, and 
then, in some fool freak, was shipped back to Washington. Every- 
body is swearing — except, possibly, the chaplain. 


Camp Baker, 
Near Bidd's Ferry, Md., Ncn<. lb, iSbl. 

^"""""N lNCK my last letter we have moved up several miles and are 
K^_J} now encamped with the rest of our brigade, near General 
Hooker's headquarters. Our location here is a most attractive one, 
the camp being in the edge of woods thick enough to afford a per- 
fect wind-break. This insures us against such a calamity as we 
were up against at wind-swept Hill Top, when several tents were 

Yesterday I had a reserved seat at a first-class show. I heard 
the rebel batteries on the other side of the Potomac banging away 
at something, so I went down to the river — not a very great distance 
— to find out what the trouble was. It was a saucy little schooner 
skimming down the river, and the rebels trying to hit her. They 
fired about sixty shots and never made a score. But it was an in- 
spiring sight all the same, the big guns flashing from battery after 
battery as the vessel came in range, and puffs of smoke in the air or 
a big splash on the water marking the grand finish. 

It looks very much as though we were going into winter quar- 
ters here. I-ogs of suitable size and length are being hauled in, 

A Soldier Boy's Letters 27 

to be used as an underpinning for our canvas houses, and the boys, 
in squads of five or six, are already at work on their quarters. My 
crew is already made up, a picked squad of congenial souls, and we 
will get at our building operations next week. 

We had a thunder shower night before last, and it has cleared 
off very cold. But there is an abundance of fuel, and half a dozen 
campfires agoing in each company street. 


Camp Second N. H. Regiment, 
Chickamoxen, Md,, Nor. 27, iSbr. 

FOR amateurs, the association of house builders I joined has 
done a good job. It is on the same general plan as most of 
the others. First, you start in to build a log cabin. When the walls 
are four or five feet high, you stop, fasten your tent on top — and 
there you are. It is astonishing, the room you gain over a plain 
tent. On the right-hand corner fronting the street is a fireplace — a 
big one — built, with its chimney, of small logs laid cob-house fash- 
ion and thickly plastered with Maryland mud. The bottom is sunk 
a foot or more, and around the front is a one-log pen or barrier, 
which serves a double purpose. It is just right for a seat before the 
fire, and it keeps our thick carpet of straw out of mischief. When 
we are all fixed up we'll have bunks and a table and shelves and 
pegs and a gun rack and everything required in a well-regulated 
family. I am writing by the light of a candle. Roberts [Orsino,] 
one of the tent's crew, is warming himself at the fire and going over 
all the songs he has in stock, and the rest of the gang seem to have 
no higher ambition, just at present, than to "break up" both me and 

Sunday our company went up to "the landing" to help unload 
two or three small steamers that bring our supplies down from Wash- 
ington. The landing is at Rum Point, over three miles from here, 
but as near as boats can get to us, on account of the rebel batteries. 
As we did not start to return until after dark, we had a sweet time 
of it. The roads here are now nothing but a ditch through woods 
and fields, filled with mud of terrible adhesive qualities and of fabu- 
lous depth. I thought, for the life of. me, I should never get home. 

2& A Soldier Boy's Letters 

If I tried to follow the road, I wallowed up to my knees in mud. If 
I switched off to one side or the other, I had, in addition to the 
mud. a butting match with every tree in the county. It was pitch 
dark when I landed in ram]) just ahead of a smart shower. 

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Hay in New Hampshire, and we New 
Hampshire boys out here on the Potomac will observe it in a befit- 
ting manner. In our tent we have a big fat goose up on the shelf, 
with a rabbit- or chicken-pie or two and a few other fixings. Beat 
that if vou can. 


Camp Baker, 
Chickamoxen, Md., Dec. i, iSbr. 

I AM just in from our standard show — a little schooner running 
up the river and thumbing her nose at the rebel batteries. In 
all, they fired seventy shots at her, with the usual result — no damage 
done. There was much noise and smoke, a great splashing of the 
water, and lots of fun for the boys in the gallery. As every shot 
they fire costs them from ten to fifteen dollars, each schooner trip 
up or down the river must be an expensive job for them. They 
must burn up about a thousand good dollars every time, mainly to 
amuse a lot of Yankee soldiers over on the Maryland shore. 

Next Tuesday there is to be a grand review of this division, to- 
gether with an inspection. These functions are doubtless a military 
necessity, but not very popular with the men — especially the inspec- 
tions. You are toled out with your entire outfit, and everything is 
hauled over, peeked into and examined. They say den. M( -Powell, 
the old fellow who led us to Bull Run (and back,) is down at head- 
quarters. 'I he last time I saw him he was riding down the front of 
Burnsides' brigade, in the corn field at Bull Run, and telling us we 
had won a victory. 

There are a thousand-and-one rumors afloat as to our leaving 
here, but I am not expecting to move in any other direction than 
straight across the river. Any man with a \ i\ id imagination can 
make a guess, whisper it to one or two, and before night it is all 
over < amp as an authentic tip from headquarters, (ien. Heint/el- 
man's division is advanced on the other side almost down to the 

A Soldier Boy's Letters 29 

rebel position, and my guess is that he will come down on them be- 
fore long, while we will cross here and give them Jessie, with the 
aid of the gunboats. They are getting ready for us. We can see 
them digging and throwing up intrenchments on the opposite hills 


Camp Baker, 
Chickamoxen, Md., Dec. 8, i8br. 

TOMORROW rounds out just seven months of my three years' 
term. The other night, at the meeting of a literary society 
some of the First Massachusetts boys have started, the Lieutenant- 
Colonel of the regiment said he thought the regiment would be home 
by March. There's the cheerful optimist for you ! Our regiment 
has been in the service just about the same length of time as the 
First, and the two will probably be sent home about the same time. 
Presumably the regiments first in the field will go out first, and so 
we may get home many months before the later regiments from New 
Hampshire. They will have to keep them as a sort of police for a 
while after the war is really over. 

For a day or two we have been having splendid weather. But 
under foot it is simply awful. The "Maryland salve" is everywhere. 
The roads are a terror now, and in a short time will be absolutely 
impassible except where corduroyed with logs laid crossways to make 
some sort of a platform for teams. 

We were reinforced last week by a brigade of New Jersey troops. 
Just below the blockade is a large fleet of gunboats, ready to co-op- 
erate in any move we may make. Last night a big steamer ran the 
blockade in the darkness and there was a terrific hullaballoo. 

Joe Hubbard has got back from New Hampshire, but the boxes 
confided to him have not yet arrived. He says there is one for me, 
and I am, of course, very anxious to get it. 

30 A Soldier Boy's Letters 


Camp Beaufort, 
Near Budd's Ferry, Md., Dec. is, iSbi. 

I WISH you could take a peek-in on my luxurious surroundings. 
I have a barber's chair to sit in. It has a canvas back and 
seat, and was built by Damon [George B.,] the Jack-at-all-trades of 
my tent's party. There is a good fire, plenty of apples at my elbow, 
and, all in all, I am a pampered child of luxury. There are only two 
besides myself occupying the castle just at present — George Slade 
and George Damon — very companionable fellows, and who have 
seen a great deal of the world. Two — George Cilley and Bill Wil- 
ber — are in the hospital, and E. Norman Gunnison (a fellow with a 
decided talent for writing poetry) is in the guard house for some 
infraction of camp discipline. So we three that are left have plenty 
of room and get along mighty comfortably. Slade and Damon are 
good cooks. We buy flour, butter, sugar, &c, and cook a big slack 
of fritters whenever the spirit moves us. And we have rabbits, chick- 
ens, wheat biscuits, and various other camp luxuries. And occa- 
sionally we make molasses candy of an evening. All this, you will 
understand, is outside of and in addition to our regular army ra- 

Here is our schedule of duty : Reveille beats at sunrise, when 
we turn out and answer to roll call. Then comes the breakfast call. 
At 9 o'clock is guard mount — that is, the company which has been 
on guard duty is relieved by another. The remaining companies 
drill from 9 to 1 1 and 3 to 5 — but now only occasionally, owing to 
weather conditions. Dinner call at 12. Dress parade at sunset. 
Tattoo is beat at 8, when the roll is called and the men can go to 
bed. The Colonel says we will not have much drilling for the rest 
of the winter. 

The boys find plenty to amuse themselves with, and things are 
by no means dull here in camp. Quite a number of musical instru- 
ments have found their way in, and there are men here who know- 
how to play them too — fiddles and banjos and such. 

We had a large party of New Hampshire people in camp today 
— E. H. Rollins, John P. Hale, Daniel Glark, Waterman Smith, E. 
A. Straw and others. 1 here were also four good-looking New 
Hampshire women, and they got three rousing cheers at dress par- 

A Soldier Boy's Letters 31 

The old rumor factory now has it that the Second is going to 
Washington within a few days, to act as provost guard. Joe Hub- 
bard's boxes have not yet arrived, and may not for some time yet. 
The railroads leading into Washington are buried in freight and ex- 
press matter, but I suppose. our stuff will get through in due time. 

You inquire what sort of a place this is. Well, it comes about 
as near to being no place at all as it could and still be on the map. 
There are but few houses hereabouts, and a good part of these are 
just negro cabins. There is a store a little ways from here, but I 
have yet to discover where enough local trade can come from to 
keep it going. The Potomac is only about an eighth of a mile from 
our camp. From the western edge of the strip of woods in which 
we are camped one can see the river for a long distance, with the 
rebel batteries, and the upper works of their gunboat " George 
Paige," which sticks close up in Quantico Creek, out of reach of 
our gunboats. The river here is less than two miles wide and the 
deep-water channel runs very near the other side, so a large vessel 
has to run close in to the rebel batteries to get through at all. 

We witnessed a lively little brush the other day. The rebels 
started to throw up some works on Shipping Point, and the "Har- 
riet Lane" and five other gunboats dropped down and told them to 
stop it. The way they pitched shells onto that point was a caution. 
And a few nights ago — just for fun, as near as I could figure it out 
— one of our gunboats dropped down to the upper battery and had 
some sport for a while. I always did like fireworks, so I got the 
countersign and went out to take in the display. It was worth the 

You have thought to inquire for "Heenan." Alas ! PoorHee- 
nan ! It grieves me to inform you that the other night he got into 
an argument with a Company D boy. Just what condition the other 
fellow was left in — if still alive — I don't know. But when Heenan 
returned to the bosom of his family he was a sight. His face was 
badly bruised, both eyes in mourning, and one thumb chewed to a 
jelly. He says he wanted his thumbs to be mates, and the other 
was crushed out of shape before he left Portsmouth. 

32 A Soldier Boy's Letters 


Camp Beaufort, Dec. 22, i8bl. 

Ol'R friends over the river have got another battery in good 
working order. It mounts a 64-pounder rifled gun, and 
the other night they dropped two shells within the camp limits of 
the New Jersey brigade, 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 dis- 
chagre 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 Marston. 

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 me- 
mentos 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. 2Q iSbi. 

I AM feeling pretty ragged just now, but I see a glimmer of com- 
fort 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 liladensburg, but better days are coming. They are putting in 

A Soldier Boy's Letters 35 

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 ef- 
ficient 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. 


Camp Beai-fort, 
Charles County, Md., Jan. j, iSb2. 

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 ham- 
mering 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 hol- 
lered, "Your chimney 's on fire /" I rolled out, broke through the 
ice in a water-hole, mixed some mud, and plastered it into the crev- 
ices. 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 demoral- 
ized, 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 Heint- 
zelman 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 

34 A Soldier Boy's Letters 

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. 


Camp Beaufort, 
Chickamoxen, Md., Jan. 12, iSb2. 

IH WE 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, in- 
termittently, 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- 
(ieneral'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. 

A Soldier Boy's Letters 35 


Camt Beaufort, 
Charles Co., Md., Jan. tq, iSb2. 

J | QRRIBLE weather ! It is almost inconceivably muddy, 

1 1 and today it is raining. I went out to watch the batteries 

work, today, and it was a question sometimes whether a would n'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, yes- 
terday. 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. 


Camp Beaufort, 
Charles Co., Md., Jan. 2b, iSb2. 

YOU never saw a lovelier day than this — clear as a whistle, 
with breeze enough to set the whitecaps running on the riv- 
er. 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 In- 
dian 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 sightseeing. Kimball the shoe man, John B. Chase the tan- 
ner, and Cy. Mason, Washington agent for the Associated Press, 
were here day before yesterday ; and yesterday Dr. Ilawkes came 

Would you like a picture of myself and my surroundings right at 

36 A Soldier Boy's Letters 

thjs moment ? Well, here it ,s. See me sitting in front of a cheer- 
ful 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 
proved for m 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 
trom home. 

We had chickens, from New Hampshire, for supper. I am get- 
ting 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 
V* e set a deep lr on pan on a bed of coals. In this, four or five little 
rocks as supports for the plate carrying the dough. The whole cov- 
ered mth another iron pan filled with coals. The biscuits and plum 
cake we turn out cannot be beat anvwhere by anybody 


Camp Beaufort, 
Charles Co., Md., Feb. i, i8b2. 

T^\\KK\ night, almost, I dream that I am home again, and 
-J^ 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 ap- 
preaate 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 
< hanged h.s teamsters to keep their equipments in condition for a 
quick movement. Besides, a road is now being built down to 1 ,, 
erpool Point, about twelve miles below here on the Potomac This 
indicates that when we go we will emburk for somewhere-perhaps 
only to be ferried across the river. 

In all VOIir life, travels and experience you never ran across su.-h 
a mudhole as this is at this season. I heard, this afternoon, that we 
would have to ba< k our supplies up from the landing, as it is pretty 
near .mpossible for teams to get through. The landing is two miles 

A Soldifr Bov's Letters 37 

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 com- 
ing 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 ta 
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. 


Cami' Beaufort, 
Charles Co., Mr., Feb. g, iSb?; 

T^OR 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. 


Camp Beaufort, 
Charles Co., Md., Feb. it), iS6z. 

OF course you have rejoiced over Burnsides' victory at Roan- 
oke 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 

38 A Soldier Boy's Letters 

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. 
1 he 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 1 sup- 
pose the idea was that they would find lots of sailors in the regiments 
from the ccast. The order was quickly rescinded, however. 


Camp Beaufort, 
Chickamoxen, Md., Feb. 23, /Sb2. 

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 evacu- 
ated. 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. 

A Soldier Boy's Letters 39 


Camp Beaufort, 
Charles County, Mu., March 2, iSb2. 

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 musi- 
cians have an "ambulance drill" — learning to get men into and out 
of ambulances, to staunch wounds, and to generally care for wound- 
ed 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 val- 
entine, and I know who backed it. Perhaps Sally [Shepherd] does 
too. It's nearly midnight, and I'm off to bed. 


Camp Beaufort, 
Charles Co., Md., March 7, 1862. 

J\ " SIGNAL CORPS " of some one hundred men is now at- 
J V tached to this division. The signaling is done by means 
of flags. Yesterday a balloon went up over here, the observers sig- 
naling 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. 
['1 his 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 ques- 

40 A Soldi kr Boy's Letters 

tion 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. 

XL 1 7 

Camp Beaufort, Co., Md., March lb, l8b2. 

f~~^A OT your letter, with picture, on Friday morning. I placed 
\^_^J 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 pic- 
ture 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 actu- 
ally 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 posi- 
tions 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 burned. 

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 somewhere. 

The frogs are "peeping" now in every brook and mudhole. Da- 
mon 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 din- 
ner today Slade, Damon, Haynes & Gunnison had a great pile of 
fried oysters. 

A Soldi kr Boy's Letters 41 


Camp Beaufort, 
Charles County, Md., March 23, i8b2. 

NOT a mail has reached us since last Monday. The Gov- 
ernment has chartered all the boats within reach for troop 
transports, and none can be spared for side shows. Two expedi- 
tions have passed here this week. Yesterday about thirty large 
steamers went down the river. These fleets carried parts of Heint- 
zelman'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 Washing- 
ton 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 Fredericks- 
burg, 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. r lhen 
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 Depart- 
ment had to sit up and take notice of. Showing that headquarters 

4 2 A Soldier Boy's Letters 

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. 

g 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 tomor- 
row will be the last one out of here. I have eight letters to write 
to night, closing up my correspondence for the present. 


Camp Beaufort, 
Charles Co., Md., April j, iSb2. 

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 acquaint- 
ances 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. 


In Camp Before Yorktowk, Va., 

tfond.iy, Af>ri! 14, fSOJ. 

AM AIL 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 

A Soldier Boy's Letters 43 

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 com- 
fortable 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 comfort- 
able 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 going to be another big naval battle. But 
there wasn't ; and the old "South America" pulled out and ran up 
to the York river. 

'Ihere is now a tremendous army before Yorktown, as well as in 
it, and there will be a great battle. We have got the largest train of 
seige artillery ever brought together, and they have got some very 
strong forts and batteries. Our guns will be in position and open 
on the rebels before this letter reaches you. There is skirmishing 
every day. Berdan's sharpshooters are making themselves the terror 
of the rebels. They have some wonderful marksmen, and firing 
from little pits dug well out towards the rebel works, they make it 
mighty interesting for the rebel gunners. In some of the rebel bat- 
teries it is as much as a man's life is worth to attempt to load the 
guns. The instant he shows himself near the muzzle one of Ber- 
dan's men gets him. Some of them use telescope rifles. At some 
points the rebels put up planks to screen themselves while working 
the guns. I was a little acquainted with one of the Sharpshooters 
who was killed a few days ago — John Ide of Company E — a New 
Hampshire man from Claremont. 

44 A Soldier Boy's Letters 

Camp Winfibi.ij Scott, 
Near Yorktown, Va., April 20, 1862. 

r^I^lODAY we received our first mail since leaving Camp Beau- 
1 fort. We have moved up three miles nearer the rebel lines 
and are now doing our full share in the siege operations. We are 
working hard, building forts and trenches and roads, and should 
soon be able to qualify as experts with the pick and shovel. While 
our camp is probable a mile and a half from the rebel lines, our 
work is being done very much nearer, you can be sure. Yesterday 
and today we were out building roads. From where we were work- 
ing we had a better view of the rebels than they did of us, and they 
didn't pay much attention to us until we were on our way back. We 
got a little careless then, I suppose, and the first thing we knew one 
big shell burst directly overhead, while another tore up the land- 
scape not very far away. 

Day before yesterday a lieutenant of the Engineer Corps was 
brought on a stretcher back by our camp, one arm torn off and oth- 
erwise mutilated. He was sitting on the ground, making a sketch, 
when a rebel shell burst almost in his lap. 

We are having, really, a pretty hard time of it. We are turned 
out almost every night and held in line to repel anticipated attacks. 
[This was one of Gen. Naglee's fool stunts, that Hooker soon put a 
veto on.] 

Our camp is on a big plain, gullied here and there by creeks. 
Near to us are the spots pointed out as the headquarters of Wash- 
ington and Lafayette during the Revolutionary siege. I saw a little 
earthwork yesterday which was thrown up at that time, and a rusty 
iron cannon ball was dug up by the working party. 

Our new four-piece ["shelter" or "dog"] tents have one great 
advantage — perfect ventilation. The tent's crew of four button their 
sections together, and have a roof to crawl under; but the house is 
wide open at both ends. 

It was just one year ago tomorrow that our company was first 
sworn into the service. We hardly thought then that one year from 
that date would still find us 'way down South. So far as I am con- 
cerned, I am enjoying myself immensely. Was never in better spir- 
its or in better health. 

A Soldier Boy's Letters 45 

Wednesday, April 2J. — At last I have another chance to write 
on my letter. I have been on duty every day for six days. Today 
I am on camp guard. Our siege guns are now almost all in posi- 
tion, and they will doubtless get to work pretty soon. Thousands of 
men are working day and night on the siege works and the roads. 
On this wing of the army we are building a road along the side of a 
creek leading up to the rear of our batteries. The roadbed is twen- 
ty-four feet wide, made by tumbling in one bank of the creek. As 
this is mostly on the side toward the rebel works, leaving the road 
under embankments from ten to twenty feet high, troops and sup- 
plies going up to the front will have almost perfect cover and pro- 

There is a continual skirmish all along the line, and men are 
killed or wounded every day. The other night a large force of reb- 
els made a sally upon six companies of the Third Vermont, but the 
Sixth regiment, with a section of artillery, came to their support, and 
the rebels were sent back home in a hurry. We lost about 45 men, 
including two captains ; the rebels about the same number, includ- 
ing a colonel. 

Day before yesterday I managed to work about as much discom- 
fort into twenty-four hours as ever fell to my lot. We were working 
on the road. It rained all day, and I was, of course, thoroughly 
soaked. And when we got back to camp there was no warm, dry 
nest to crawl into. Instead, the rain poured through the tent in 
streams, and there was no way to get away from it. It has taken me 
till now to get back to anything like normal conditions. 

I saw two deserters from the rebels, who came in this morning. 
One of them was from Pennsylvania. He was pressed into the rebel 
service and took the first opportunity to desert. 

My old tent-crew of Camp Beaufort is broken. It is no longer 
a matter of choice and selection. We are counted off in fours and 
tent in the same order we stand in the ranks. My present mates 
are Bill Ramsdell, Lyn Woods and Joe Gleason — all royal good fel- 

46 A Soldier Boy's Letters 


Camp Winfield Scott, 
Before Yorktown, Va., May /, i8b2. 

j "^HYSICALLY I am pretty near used up. Night and day we 
1 are on duty in the trenches or on fatigue work, supporting 
batteries, throwing up earthworks, building roads, regardless of 
weather conditions. Last night we were digging on a parallel, or 
trench for infantry, the end of which was at the edge of the bluff 
overlooking the York river. It was all open ground between us and 
the rebel works, and, though very dark, the rebels kept the scene 
fairly well lighted up. Every two or three minutes there would be a 
flash way up there to the front, then a roar, another flash in the air 
down our way, and pieces of iron flying, 'lhe big guns, though, did 
not worry us much. It was practically impossible to land a shell in 
the trench from one of these guns. But they had one big mortar 
■working that was quite another matter. Every time this was fired 
the burning fuse marked its course. Up, up, up it would climb, 
then hang for an instant and come sweeping down, down, down. 
It did not land one shell in our trench, although it put some uncom- 
fortably close. 

I managed to steal one little nap, but it didn't last long. I got 
quite a comfortable seat at the end of the trench, overlooking the 
river. I have a recollection of watching the lights on vessels far 
down the river and in distant camps, and of listening to the lap of 
the waves on the beach below me. And I went to sleep. And I 
woke up — quick. I was trying to decide whether the rebels had 
sprung a mine or landed a shell in the trench, when it happened 
again, and I saw what the trouble was. Only a short distance below 
was the black mass of one of our gunboats, which had crawled up 
unusually close, and was firing her big shells right over our heads 
into the rebel works. 

The rebels made an effort to drive in our pickets on a part of 
the line, this morning, but got rather more than they were looking 
for. A burial party has just gone by, to give a soldier's burial to a 
New Jersey boy killed in the affair. The cemetery, near our camp, 
is rapidly filling with the bodies of men who have been killed CM 
have died of disease. Each grave is marked by a neatly-lettered 

A Soldier Boy's Letters 47 

Company H of the Massachusetts First charged a lunette, or 
small outer earthwork, which had become a nuisance, the other 
morning, and drove the rebels out at the point of the bayonet. They 
had three men killed and a dozen or fifteen wounded. One of their 
men had a remarkable escape. A ball struck the eagle plate on his 
breast strap — a round brass plate backed with lead — doubling it up 
and going through just far enough to show the point at the back. 
The blow knocked him several feet, and he naturally thought, for a 
little time, that he was a goner. 

That night we were in the trenches in support of the Hungarian 
battery. The rebels appeared to have a pretty accurate idea of its 
location, notwithstanding it was screened by trees, and sent shot 
and shell thick and fast. One shell struck on the parapet and rolled 
down under a platform on which six men were sleeping, but fortu- 
nately did not explode. 

It rains or drizzles most of the time, so we are kept tolerably 

May 2d, afternoon, 2 o'clock. — The regiment went into the 
trenches to work today, but as I was not feeling well I remained in 
camp. Ihe rebels have been doing more shooting today than any 
other day before, and many of their shot have struck near our camp. 
I went to sleep about noon, but was awakened by the infernal 
screech of a shell, and took it as a hint that I had better finish your 
letter. I do hope that May will prove a pleasanter month than April. 
I hope cur batteries will open before long, for I want to see this 
affair closed up. If we thrash them soundly here and at Corinth, I 
think the war will be about as good as over. 


Williamsburg Battlefield, Va., Ma 

I AM all well — not hurt a bit. Not time to write any. Mail 
going right out by a private citizen. Go right up and tell my 
folks I am well. An awful battle. Harder than Bull Run. Mart. 
[Written on an irregular scrap of brown paper.] 

48 A Soldier Boy's Letters 


Near WILLIAMSBURG, Va., May 8, /Sb2. 

HAVE just come in from a trip over the battlefield, and was 
fortunate enough to pick up the big sheet of paper on 
which I am writing this letter. I will commence at the beginning 
and tell you all about it. 

i On Sunday morning, as soon as it was discovered that the rebels 
had evacuated Yorktown, we were ordered to pack knapsacks and 
be ready to march immediately. We had no time to cook rations, 
and went for two days with only the fragments we happened to have 
in our haversacks. We marched up over the rebel intrenchments 
and through Yorktown. The rebel works were very strong and 
would have been a hard nut to crack. The rebels had planted tor- 
pedoes along the road, but none of our regiment were hurt by them. 
The road was in a horrible condition and badly crowded, and we 
did not get along very fast. It was nine or ten o'clock at night 
when we filed out into the woods by the side of the road and, with 
all our harness on, laid down for such rest as one could get under 
such conditions and in a drizzling rain. We were up at half-past 
four the next morning and soon on the road again, up through the 
woods. We had gone about a mile and a half when we came to a 
big slashing, where the trees over an area about twice as large as 
Merrimack Common had been felled, criss-cross, in every direction. 
Beyond this, a large open plain, with a line of small forts, one of 
which was directly facing the road up which we were advancing. 
( >ur regiment filed out and formed line to the right of the road, and 
the Massachusetts First upon the left. We threw out skirmishers 
and advanced up through the slashing. It was rough navigating in 
that network of prostrate trees and interlaced limbs and branches, 
as we had all our housekeeping outfits on our backs. My haversack 
got caught and was torn to pieces, but I made that good on the field 
the next day. We wormed our way ahead, up to the edge of the 
open field, and there halted for our artillery and the rest of the di- 
\iMon to come up. We had a pretty lively time there, but nothing 
very fierce. The rebels had four or five field pieces in the fort and 
skirmishers scattered along the front in little pits. We distributed 
ourselves behind stumps and l<^s, and quite a number had a gen- 
uine earthwork, made by punching holes through a thick mass of 

A Soldier Boy's Letters 49 

dirt that clung to the roots of an overturned tree. The cannon in 
the fort sent a solid shot, every little while, smashing and crashing 
down through the timber; but a number of our crack shots paid 
particular attention to those guns, while others devoted their talents 
to educating the rebels in those little picket holes. Perhaps half a 
dozen, selecting some particular hole, would lay with their sights 
covering the little mound of fresh dirt outside. The instant a head 
showed, there was trouble in that pit. They soon got enough of it, 
and for a long time the pits in front of the Second, for all we could 
see, might have been so many graves. All this time the rain was 
pouring, and we were fairly waterlogged. As business dragged, some 
of the men unfolded the little sections of tent and spread them over 
branches for a shelter. Others nursed up little fires and cooked a 
cup of coffee. Up to this time we had not had many men hit. 
Lieut. Burnham, of Manchester, was shot in the leg, and will, I am 
told, have to lose it. A man named Cole [Uriah W., of Co. H} 
was killed by a cannon ball. 

At length our artillery came up and went into position in front 
of us. We lay supporting them an hour or two — and they were not 
having a very hot time of it. 'I hen in the woods to our left, beyond 
the slashing, a tremendous fire of musketry broke loose. Volley 
followed volley, and after a while it was evident the firing was com- 
ing nearer, which meant that our troops in that part of the field 
were being driven back, and the rebels were gaining ground towards- 
us. They came upon us through the slashing and along the edge 
of the field. I got in three or four shots across the road — which 
was better than most of our fellows could do — when the order was 
passed to fall back to the edge of the woods and re-form. This was 
no boys' play. Balancing on a log and looking for the best path, 
my cap went flying and the bark from a limb I was holding onto. I 
had no further doubts as to the proper course — a tunnel was safer 
than an overhead bridge, just then, and the rest of the way I kept 
as close to the ground as I could. 

Once again out of the slashing and in line, we were ordered 
across the road, where the entire regiment was deployed as skii- 
mishers through the woods some distance back from the slashing. 
Then we were ordered to sail in, and moving forward we were soon 
in as lively a mix-up as you could well imagine. 1 'Ihe first squad of 


50 A Soldier Boy's Letters 

rebels I ran onto I mistook for Eleventh Massachusetts men, there 
being a similarity of uniforms, and I was going right up to them, 
when \1. Simmons shouted, "Look out, Mart — those are rebels !" 
and fired. Quicker than you could say it, I was behind a big tree, 
and the ball had opened. It was a regular Indian fight, dodging 
through bushes and from tree to tree, sometimes forward and some- 
times back. There were no end of personal encounters, and fights 
between squads and detachments, and all sorts of mixups, some ludi- 
crous and some tragic. "Heenan" had his usual luck, coming out 
damaged but alive. He had a sudden and close collision with a 
rebel who came up out of somewhere like a jumping-jack. Nich. 
grabbed the reb's bayonet and pushed it one side just as the fellow 
fired. He says he intended to polish that fellow off with his fists, 
but two others jumped in, and things were going hard with Nich., 
when some of us saw his predicament and started for the rescue 
with a big whoop and empty guns. They faded into the background, 
however, and we didn't get one of them. Nich. is now nourishing a 
somewhat lacerated powder-stained hand. 

One of the funny incidents was when Dave Steele, a lieutenant 
in Company G, made a dash into a squad of rebels, shouting, "Sur- 
render, you d — cusses, or I'll blow you to Hell !" What he was 
going to do his "blowing" with — as he had no arms but his sword — 
is still a question ; but the rebels took his word for it and dropped 
their guns. 

Gardner [Orrin S.] of my company — said to be part Indian and 
who looks it — was peekabooed and pestered by a couple of rebs in 
the cover of an old rifle pit, until he got out of all patience, gave a 
wild Indian war-whoop, and closed in like an express train and put 
a stop to any further foolishness. 

I Toward the last of the fight, though, we had all we could do to 
keep from being run over. From the way they swarmed in on our 
front it was very evident the rebels were being heavily reinforced. 
We were in a pretty solid line now, with stragglers from other regi- 
ments mixed in. Hut we were getting short of cartridges. Hooker, 
plastered with mud from head to foot, rode along the line and told 
us to hold that line fifteen minutes longer. Back in the woods we 
heard a hand strike up and play "Yankee Doodle.'' We were losing 
men rapidly. Captain Drown was killed and others killed or wound- 

A Soldier Boy's Letters 51 

ed. Then our reserves came up, paddling through the mud as fast 
as they possibly could, and we all went in together and won out. 

It was pretty near night when the fight was over and the regi- 
ment got together, counted noses, and bivouacked a little ways 
back, in the woods. We began to realize then that we were mighty 
hungry. But luck came my way. Lym. Dickey brought in a pris- 
oner that he got the drop on. Lym. and I hitched up together that 
night, made the best shelter we could with our pieces of tent, and 
took our rebel friend into the mess. Lym. and I had oceans of sugar 
and coffee, and that was about all. Our guest had a corn pone and 
a quantity of excellent bacon, but no coffee. So we pooled our is- 
sues, had a most enjoyable supper, and snuggled in together for a 
fairly comfortable night. In the morning we shook hands with him, 
said good bye, and Dickey turned him over as a prisoner. 

The day after the fight I went out over the whole battlefield, 
and a dreadful sight it was. In an old Revolutionary rifle pit close 
to the edge of the timber, where our last rush struck the main line, 
it was a ghastly sight. In one spot seven bodies lay, literally, in a 
heap. '1 hey were apparently cut off from rapid retreat by the bar- 
racade of felled trees. Up half-way through the slashing I came 
into a path, hardly wide enough to be called a roadway, which had 
been opened up for some purpose. In this regiments of the Excel- 
sior brigade had made their fight and had suffered heavy losses. In 
some spots I could have walked a considerable distance upon dead 
bodies. I followed this path out into the woods at the left, where 
the Jerseys fought ; and beyond them, dead rebels scattered about 
One of these had piled up a little cob-house screen of rails, which 
was about as much protection as a pasteboard box would have been. 
He was still there, prone on his breast, his gun thrust through be- 
tween two rails, a finger on the trigger, and a little round hole in 
the top of his head. 

The dead were lying in almost every conceivable position, some- 
times absolutely grotesque if it were not so pitiful. Some apparently 
never changed the position of a muscle after they were struck — arms 
in position as if loading ; some still clutching their piece in one 
hand and in the other the ramrod with the charge driven part way 
home. The rebels had some Indians in this fight — I saw at least 
two lying among the dead. The dead are not all buried yet, but 

52 A Soldier Boy's Letters 

are being covered up as fast as the details can get to them. I have 
quite a number of bullets I picked up, and buttons from the uni- 
forms of dead rebels. 

We will move on from here as soon as supplies come up, and 
will probably have more fighting before we reach Richmond. It 
was awfully rainy the day of the battle, but is sunny and beautiful 
now. I have tried to give you some idea of what a time we had. I 
had just time to write you the briefest sort of a note Wednesday 
morning. Did you get it? I begin to feel now as though we should 
get through before many months, for I know we are going to thrash 
them out before long. | 


Wiluamsburg, Va., May ir, 1S02. 

"% 1L T~E are now encamped on a large field just outside the 
\ \ city and close to William and Mary College. I have had 
a chance to look the city over a little, and find it a very homelike, 
cozy little burg. It is one of the oldest towns in the United States, 
with many nice buildings and ancient residences of the old Virginia 
gentry. The college is the oldest in America. Washington, Scott 
and many other famous men were educated here. On the college 
grounds is a rather badly-kept marble statue of Lord Berkley, one of 
the old colonial Governors of Virginia. 

'1 he women here are the most rabid of all secessionists — fairly 
venomons. Yesterday one of them, entirely unprovoked, hissed out 
to (iunnison, "You vile wretch !" "Gunny" kept thinking it over, 
and getting madder and madder, until today he stormed up to the 
house and demanded satisfaction of the head of the household. The 
old man regretted the unfortunate incident, and politely imited 
(iunnison to make the house his home while in town; and (iunni- 
son came back to camp not quite determined whether he had won 
or lost. 

Most of the public buildings here are being used as hospitals — 
full of wounded rebels. I suppose they enjoyed the parade of Yan- 
kees when our arniv passed through here — an almost uninterrupted 
stream of men for three days. The gayest sight was when a regiment 

A Soldier Boy's Letters 53 

of 1 600 lancers went by. The rebs left a few cannon here, and in 
some places quantities of shells which they evidently could not take 
along with them. They also planted torpedoes in places, and a 
number of men were blown up. Some were discovered before they 
were stepped on, and it is said General McClellan has ordered that 
rebel prisoners be set to work digging them up. 

We are having glorious weather, clear and sunny, with the birds 
singing merrily. And it seems rather nice to be in a city again, 
with signs of civilization, albeit slightly ancient and mildewed. We 
are very comfortably quartered now. The rebels left great numbers 
of big tents [the old conical "Sibleys"] which we appropriated ; and 
with only three or four in a tent we are very far from being crowded. 
Yesterday afternoon George Slade and I took a walk down to a little 
place about two miles from here, called Cottage Creek. It is a de- 
lightful bit of a place, where peace reigns in the midst of war. Three 
or four little cottages, a picturesque old mill, with an ancient bridge 
over the creek, make up as pretty a stage setting'as one would see 
in many a day. 

Beginning tomorrow, we will have to drill two hours a day as 
long as we slay here. The general impression is that we will not be 
here many days — not longer than until the prisoners are sent to 
some safer place. The rebs left most of their wounded in our hands, 
and they have the same care as our own. I had a talk with one of 
them who was at Bull Run, and it was very interesting to hear him 
tell of the battle as he saw it. He belongs to a Virginia regiment, 
and when the war broke out was living near Alexandria. He says 
he has been at his home since the war. It was lucky for him he was 
not caught, as his life might have been the forfeit as a spy. 

One of our "missing" men, of Co. G, was found in the brush 
yesterday, where he had crawled out of the fight and died. 

I hear that a lot of our men who were taken at Bull Run have 
been exchanged and are at Fortress Monroe. Won't we have a ju- 
bilee when they get back ! [As a matter of fact, one at least of 
these prisoners — George C. Emerson of Company B — joined in sea- 
son to to take part in the fight, and was killed.] 

Gen. Grover, who has displaced Naglee as commander of this 
brigade, has been appointed Military Governor of this district. I 
would like to look this region over at my leisure, for a distance of a 

54 A Soldier Boy's Letters 

dozen miles or so, it is so full of historic associations — Jamestown, 
Captain John Smith, Pocahontas, Powhattan, and various other dis- 
tinguished residents of the long, long ago. 

If it were not for home I think, on the whole, I should be quite 
well contented with army life. But I guess this affair will be settled 
up before long, and when sleighing-time comes in New Hampshire 
I will be there to help you enjoy it. 


Camp near Cumberland, Va., 
May iq, iSt>2. 

JUST where we are camped now I cannot tell, except that it is 
in the woods, within four miles of the enemy and nineteen 
from Richmond. We left our camp at Williamsburg last Thursday 
morning and got in here this afternoon. This is a heathenish coun- 
try, swarming with unpleasant neighbors other than rebels. Day 
before yesterday when I aroused from a wayside nap, one of the 
little snakes — common here, but harmless — slid out from under me. 
I gave a yelp and killed him as if he had been a rattlesnake. 

I thought I wrote you at the time about Solon Porter. He died 
at Camp Beaufort, some time before we left there, of apoplexy. He 
was sitting on his bunk, cracking a nut between his teeth, when he 
fell back, unconscious, and lived but a short time. 1 was not tent- 
ing with him at the time. He was the third of my Camp Sullivan 
tentmates to die. 

This ink is simply awful, and (Uinnison, who is writing out of 
the same bottle, is expressing his opinion very freely. That sprig 
of geranium you sent me was a fragrant reminder of home. I will 
inclose a sprig of cedar from a tree just in front of my tent. When 
I can I gather a quantity of these cedar branches for a bed. 

A dear little baby rabbit just came running into this tent and we 
caught him. The little rascal's confidence — if that was what led 
him here — was well placed. When I get through petting him I'll 
take him out into the woods and turn him loose in the safest place 
I can find. 

A Soldier Boy's Letters 55 


White Oak Swamp, Va., May 2b, 1862. 

~^\~1^ 7E are camped now some ways beyond Bottom Bridge, 
\f \ across the Chickahominy. We have had a pretty stren- 
uous time of it for the past week or two, a good part of the time 
wallowing through swamps, and our grub supplies very irregular and 
uncertain. I have had very little to eat besides hard crackers. My 
first move when I get "out of the wilderness" will be to get a good 
square meal with all the fixings. In getting to this point, we have, 
a good part of the time, been literally ploughing through swamp mud. 
Sometimes, where the road ran through a particularly bad morass, 
the road was built up and retained by logs along the side, upon 
which we picked our way after a fashion. But when one slipped or 
lost his balance it was a serious matter. And when we marched in 
the . night-time it was a double terror. The night we arrived at 
Bottom Bridge, about midnight and dark as Egypt, I was absolutely 
cased in mud, and my gun as well, and 1 had to lie down as I was 
and wait for daylight to get down to the river for a cleanup. 

We are now camped on a hill in the swamp [Poplar Hill,] in a 
nice clean field of clover. It is going to rain right away, but we 
have pitched our tent with extra care, have dug a good trench 
around it to carry the water off unless we have a flood. It rains 
very often, and the other day we had the fiercest hail storm I ever 
saw. The stones were very large and came down like cannon balls. 
I was out of camp and got behind a house, but was well pelted for 
all that. 

When I read the new call for more troops I gave up all idea of 
a speedy return home. We expect a battle here before Richmond 
any day, but whether we will get into it or not depends on circum- 
stances. Our camp strategists have got it figured out that we will 
be used to cut off the retreat of the rebel forces at Fort Darling. 

56 A Soldier Boy's Letters 


Faik Oaks, near Richmond, Va., 
Sunday, J une 15, lSt>2. 

IT has been some time since I last wrote, and you are doubtless 
getting anxious. We are now camped on the battlefield of Fair 
Oaks. We were not in the battle, but were in line, with skirmish- 
ers thrown out and batteries posted, waiting for the attack that never 
< ame and listening to the rattle of musketry off to our right. We 
did not come here until the second day after the fight. Before we 
started all our baggage was sent to the rear, and with my knapsack 
-went my writing materials. We are having rough duty now. Every 
third day the entire regiment goes on picket duty for twenty-four 
hours, which means, as a rule, not even a cat- nap in that time. I 
was just settling myself for a good sleep today, when the cry went 
up that our knapsacks had come ; so I sorted mine out from the 
heap and set to work to write some letters. 

We arrived here about three o'clock in the afternoon and imme- 
diately went on duty for twenty-four hours. It rained all night — a 
steady downpour — and the whole country was flooded. Coming up, 
we waded for considerable distances through ponds from ankle to 
knee deep. Here it was just mud and water. 'Ihe trenches we 
would have jumped into in case of an attack were half filled with 
water. Even if it had been permitted, there was no chance to lie 
down — no chance for much of anything but to stand up and take it 
through the long hours of the night. I did manage to get a few 
sticks of cOrdwood together and cobbled up a roost that gave two 
or three of us a sort of perch out of the mud. Directly in front of 
me lay a dead horse and a dead rebel. Within a short distance were 
perhaps a hundred dead horses — all killed when the rebels made 
their rush on our batteries on the first day. These have about all 
been cleaned up now, by burning, wood being piled upon them and 
great bonfires made. 

The battlefield presented one of the most horrible sights imag- 
inable. Many bodies of men killed in the later stages of the battle 
were still unburied. Some were in shallow graves, but as a rule 
burial consisted merely in covering the bodies as they lav. The 
heavy ram--, washing away the covering, had left many L'rutMinie 
I was an advanced picket the other night, my position be- 

A Soldier Boy's Letters 57 

ing in the midst of several dirt piles, with enough in sight to show 
that each covered a dead rebel. That day Eugene Hazewell acci- 
dentally shot himself through the foot and had to have a toe taken 
off. We were posted so near the rebels that we could hear them 
talk. We had orders not to shoot wantonly at their pickets, and we 
understood they had similar instructions ; but if so they disregarded 
them and took a shot at a Yankee whenever they could draw a bead 
on one. 


Fair Oaks, near Richmond, Va., 
"June 22, 1862. 

HAVE been out with a work party all the forenoon, and go 
on picket at three in the afternoon, to remain twenty-four 
hours, and feel as if I was earning my salary. There can be no ques- 
tion but what we are putting in full time. We are virtually on duty 
every minute, for, even in camp, we are on the alert ready to turn 
out for a fight at any moment. Yesterday the rebels attempted to 
drive in our pickets, and the result was a very lively little skirmish, 
as our boys had not got quite ready to come in. A few days ago 
the Sixteenth Massachusetts made a reconnoisance, attacking the 
rebel pickets for the purpose of ascertaining their position and 
strength. It cost the Sixteenth four or five men killed and eight- 
een or twenty wounded. The Sixteenth has recently been attached 
to our brigade. 

1 am as well contented in the army as I could expect to be, but 
still look forward with pleasant anticipations to the time when I will 
be home again. I was talking with Frank Robinson today about the 
good times we would have in Manchester. [He was killed, two 
months later, at Bull Run.] I had a letter from a friend in Great 
Falls — one of my old school chums — and he had so much to say of 
the happy times in the old Manchester High School that I had to 
pinch myself to keep from getting homesick. 

We are camped in a swamp, and yet water is one of the scarce 
articles. We have had no rain for several days, and the sun has 
dried up most of the surface water, so it is no easy matter to even 
fill our canteens. 

58 A Soldier Boy's Letters 


Fair Oaks, near Richmond, Va., 
June 2b, l8b2. 

BINCE I hist wrote you I have been in two lively fights — one 
last Monday and the other yesterday. Monday afternoon 
our pickets were ordered to advance and drive the rebel pickets as 
far as they could. Company I happened to to be one of the com- 
panies on the advanced line, so in we went. It was a sneak-up, 
crawling through the thick swamp brush till we struck the rebel 
pickets. Jesse Dewey and I, crawling along together, had the luck 
to open the ball, and in one minute there was lively popping along 
a half-mile front. The rebels had no call to make a very stiff fight 
— and they didn't, (ien. Grover, mounted, with his upper works 
all that was visible above the bushes, directed the movements, and 
we lushed them back a long distance. Then their reserves came 
swarming in — and we got back. Our loss was very light. In Com- 
pany I only one man wounded. 

Yesterday the entire Division advanced over the same ground, 
and we had a mighty stiff fight [battle of Oak Grove.] We found 
the rebels in heavy force this time, and it was only after a hard and 
bloody fight that we drove them back over practically the same 
ground we had covered on Monday. Only one man was killed in 
my company — John Brown, a fat, hearty, round-faced, good-natured 
boy as ever lived. Company B had over twenty men killed or wound- 
ed out of forty-six that went into the fight. Gen. McClellan arrived 
on the field in the afternoon and complimented us very highly for 
our work during the day. 

i '-. I \mi - River, 
WtdHtfday, July _>, iSbi. 

At last I have got a chance to finish my letter. Lots of things 
have happened since I commenced it. I have had no good rest for 
three days and two nights, so you can imagine the condition I am 
in. Sunday morning we marched away from Fair Oaks with three 
days' rations in our haversacks. The way property and supplies 
were destroyed didn't look good to us. The rebels followed closely, 
and a few miles back we went into line of battle, posted batteries, 
and were ready for them. There was a short and sharp fight a little 
ways to our right [Savage Station,] but we didn't get into it. The 

A Soldier Boy's Letters 59 

rebels were repulsed, and we moved on again. Along in the night 
we got into bivouac in the dark, a great mass of troops, where we 
could see but little of our surroundings until daybreak. Then we 
soon studied it out that we were at a cross-roads, with an immense 
wagon train parked near by, and a heavy force to protect it. Dur- 
ing the forenoon the troops were moved into position to meet any 
advance from the direction of Richmond. We were not attacked 
until the middle of the afternoon, and then a great battle was fought 
[Glendale or Charles City Cross Roads.] We whipped the rebels 
at every point. The Second Regiment was all over the field, gener- 
ally in support of some battery or other regiment. We lost very 
few men. I was hit in the groin by a spent ball and crippled about 
as I would have been if a mule had kicked me. We were advanc- 
ing up a slope, in line, to support a regiment that was breaking- I 
heard that bullet, and when it struck me it set me back out of the 
ranks and I thought I was shot through and through. I saw some 
of the boys look back sort of pityingly as the line went on. It did 
not take me long to find out that I was very far from being a dead 
man. There was a dent in my thick leather belt, but the bullet had 
not gone through. It had doubtless struck the ground and lost 
much of its force before it hit me. I was back in my place by the 
time the regiment reached the crest. But in a little while I was 
very lame, and it was only by great effort that I kept along with the 
regiment that day and the next. 

That night and the next morning we moved on a few miles far- 
ther and took position on high ground not far from the James river. 
Here another great battle was fought [Malvern Hill.] r l he artillery 
firing was simply terrific, we having some of our gunboats in action. 
The rebels charged again and again, and were driven back every 
time with frightful losses. It was. a terrible punishment we gave 
them. We were not actively engaged, and so lost no men. 

I got in here this afternoon pretty well used up. It commenced 
to rain last night, the roads were in bad condition, and there were 
thousands upon thousands of stragglers. But aides were stationed 
to direct these as they poured out onto the flats, and the disorgan- 
ization was quickly rectified. Don't know when I'll get a chance to 
send this. Go up and tell my folks. 

60 A Soldier Boy's Letters 


Camp nkar the James River, 
Monday, July 8, /8b2. 

CAN write only a short letter now, and my old excuse will 
have to do duty again — "used up." We are fortifying our 
position, and as there is a good chance of Johnny paying us a visit 
most any time, we are putting the house in order to entertain him. 
We work night and day on our intrenchments. We are camped in 
an open field, on a gentle slope along the crest of which run our 
rifle pits and earthworks. The weather is frightfully hot, and as a 
consequence the men feel very shiftless and lazy. I do, anyway, 
and judge the rest by their actions. Quite a number of our boys 
were taken prisoners in the retreat. Perk. Lane is probably among 
the number, as he was one of the sick sent back to Savage Station, 
and they were nearly all taken. 

Eddie Dakin, the Captain's waiter, is going home tomorrow, and 
1 will intrust this letter to him, to be dropped in the Manchester or 
some other post office. 


Camp near Harrison's Landing, 
James River, Va., July //, tSbi. 

RECEIVED a letter from you last night. I am writing under 
very unfavorable conditions, as it is a rainy day and mud 
and water reign supreme. Whenever it rains hard the water beats 
through the canvas like a fine seive. If the wind happens to blow 
it is pretty sure, in addition, to beat into one end or the other of 
the shelter. The prospect now is that we shall lay in our present 
position for some time and have considerable leisure. If we do you 
can expect a letter from me pretty often. 

We are hard at work fortifying our lines. The camp of our reg- 
iment is immediately to the rear of a redoubt where twenty or thirty 
cannon will be mounted. Two eight-inch howitzers are now in po- 
sition. We are building ritle pits from the right of this redoubt 
down to a pond [Rowland's mill pond.] When you know tint our 
intrenchments form a line several miles in length, you will get some 


A Soldier Boy's Letters 6i 

idea of the magnitude of our works. This is a very interesting lo- 
cality, plastered all over with historic associations. President Wm. 
Henry Harrison was born near here, and down by the river there is 
a stately mansion built long before the Revolution of bricks brought 
from England. In the family burying ground I saw stones dating 
back over two hundred years. 


Camp near Harrison's Landing, Va., 
July iq, i8b2. 

ROD. MANNING, my present tentmate, and I got tired of 
lying in the mud, so we sallied over to where they were 
tearing down a house, about three-quarters of a mile from here, and 
managed to gather in a quantity of the old clapboards. With these 
spread on a framework of poles, we have a bunk or platform high 
enough to keep us out of the water when it rains, and making a very 
fair seat when, for instance, I want to write a letter to you. This 
is not the only public improvement. We have built a bough arbor 
over the front of our tent to give some shade from the scorching 
sun, and are thinking of a bough screen at the back end of the tent 
to keep out the wind and rain. 

Our rifle pits are finished, so we will have no duty except guard 
duty and a short drill each day. I hope the North will send rein- 
forcements on quickly, for I want to see our army advance again on 
Richmond and end the war. This is a good place to rest in for a 
few weeks, where we can have our supplies landed at our very door 
from transports. 

In the retreat from Fair Oaks our company lost ten men taken 
prisoners. We have a pitifully short line now, compared with what 
it was when we left Manchester. 

6 2 A Soldier Boy's Letters 


Camp near Harrison's Landing, Va., 
July 23, i8b2. 

BY the papers I see that a hospital is to be established in New 
Hampshire for the care of sick and wounded soldiers from 
our state. That is all very nice, but, as much as I would like to see 
home, I hope I will never have any use for that establishment. I 
have been out today to a review by Gen. McClellan and am pretty 
well fagged out. Now I will try to answer some of your questions. 
There are not many houses about here— it's right out in the coun- 
trv. Such houses as there are are mostly occupied as hospitals. 
Those outside our lines that would interfere with the range of our 
guns have been torn down. Notwithstanding the ravages of war, it 
is a most beautiful region. The busy place now is down at the land- 
ing where the negroes are kept busy unloading supplies from the 
transports. Our food, for a few days, has not been quite up to the 
New Hampshire standard. Our meat has been "smoked sides"— 
a very poor quality of bacon. I have almost forgotten how a real 
first-class meal does taste. 

"those curls?" Well, I came to the conclusion, yesterday, that 
inasmuch as I had lost my comb and didn't know where I could get 
another, heroic measures were necessary. So I hunted up a camp 
barber and had mv hair cut and my head shaved, sandpapered and 
Tarnished. I was looking at the little round picture yesterday, and 
.a little end of black hair that straggled out between the case and 
the picture reminded me that you placed it there the night 1 told 
you 1 had enlisted. It was braided and tied just as you tied it that 
evening. We had but little idea then that I was to be so long away. 

Thursday, July -'/. 

It is about three o'clock in the afternoon, and I have just fin- 
ished my dinner. 1 looked over the miserable piece of miserable 
bacon that the company cook handed out to me, and then started 
off into the wilderness, and when I came back I had gathered in a 
pint of blackberries which helped out very materially. 

General McClellan was around today looking over the mtrench- 
ments. One of his staff had quite a little misadventure down by the 
pond, where a lot of us were having a swim. A small canal or 
Sluice, runs out of this pond, which is crossed by a frail plank bridge. 

A Soldier Boy's Letters 63 

The General and staff were crossing this bridge, when a plank gave 
way and down into the ditch went one horse and rider. The officer 
managed to crawl out — and a very draggled specimen he was — but 
it took the united efforts of the whole party to get that horse onto 
terra firma. 

I received a letter from Roger [Woodbury] yesterday. He was 
of opinion that the Third Regiment would come up to the Peninsu- 
la, as troops were being sent from that Department to reinforce Mc- 
Clellan. 1 saw Hen. [W. H. D.] Cochrane yesterday, and he told 
me the Third and Fourth were actually embarked for here. 

Saturday, July 26. 

Yesterday morning the Second Regiment went out on picket and 
got in at noon today. I had the most enjoyable picket tour in all 
my experience. We were out about two miles from camp, and as 
there were cavalry vedettes and patrols still farther out, we had no 
fears of a surprise attack. There were so many of us that no man 
had to stand a post more than one one-hour turn. The rest of the 
time we were at liberty to roam, pick blackberries and gather green 
apples and have a good time generally. No camp ever had a more 
perfect picket protection than was given by that swarm of foragers 
and sight-seeing scouts. Close to headquarters was a house — a 
well-shaded, cozy southern home. The owner and his two sons are 
in the rebel army, but his wife and daughter remain and have a safe- 
guard of our soldiers. And you never saw such a swarm of little 
negroes as there was about that place. 

Today has been feast day — the greatest dinner within the mem- 
ory of man — a genuine "biled dish" — potatoes, beets, onions, cab- 
bage and boiled salt pork. And just now Rod. Manning is frying 
some apples that are going to make a pretty good dish, if I can 
judge by the smell. 

Sunday, July zj. 

Hen. Everett has just been over here, and we had a good long 
chat about times in the old printing office in Manchester. The sun 
is coming up in a way that promises a hot day — and a hot day down 
here is hot. 

64 A Soldier Boy's Letters 


Cami 1 neak Harrison's Landing, Va., 
August 3, i8t>2. 

OUR Division went out, last night, on a reconnoissance most 
up to Malvern Hill, where the last great battle was fought 
on the retreat. We went on through woods, over stumps, wading 
brooks and bog holes, until we were pretty near the enemy's lines, 
when Gen. Hooker learned that Kearney had accomplished what we 
had set out to do, and we about-faced and blundered back to camp 
through the darkness. It was almost three o'clock when we got 
back, and I was tired through and through. [The expedition was 
really misled by a guide.] 

There has been some little stir here for a few days in relation to 
transfers to the gunboats, as twenty-five or thirty seamen are wanted 
from each regiment. 1 hose who have been to sea and want to go 
again have passed in their names, but we do not know as yet who, 
if any, have been accepted, (iunnison sent in his with the rest. 

The company cooks are preparing a great dinner — soup, with 
potatoes, onions and cabbages in it. It certainly is a feast to men 
who have learned not to be surprised if they get nothing but hard 
bread, or even nothing at all. I have just heard that we are to go 
out tonight on another reconnoissance. I hope not. I had much 
rather lie comfortably in my tent than go on any such tramp as we 
had last night. 


Camp near Harrison's Landing, Va., 
A ugust 8, tSbi. 

BINCE I last wrote we have been on quite a little expedition 
to Malvern Hill and back. We left our camp Monday after- 
noon, just before sunset. It was a beautiful evening, and as we fol- 
lowed a fairly good road we trudged along very comfortably until 
about midnight, when we halted and slept on our arms until day- 
break. Bright and early we resumed our march. The enemy's 
cavalry pickets were struck within a few hundred yards and our cav- 
alry sent them flying, after the exchange of a few shots. When we 

A Soldier Boy's Letters 65 

came out into a large field I saw that we were on the ground where 
we fought on the second day of the retreat from Fair Oaks — [at 
Charles City Cross Roads.] Then we swung to the left and pushed 
down the road to Malvern Hill — the same we had followed once be- 
fore. When we came out into the great open area around Malvern 
Hill, one of our light batteries was already engaged with a rebel 
battery of four pieces. These guns naturally paid some attention to 
us, but with the exception of one shell which burst in our ranks be- 
fore we filed out of the road and did some damage, not a man was 
hit in the Second Regiment. We had, really, remarkable luck, as 
they did some very good 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, 'lhen 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 clasp- 
ing 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 re- 
turned, 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 prison- 

66 A Soldier Boy's Letters 

ers have returned. They have had a pretty hard time of it, but 
have many amusing stories to tell of prison life in Richmond. Pro- 
visions 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. r l hen shoot them — 
that's my advice — and the Second Regiment would like the job. 1 
can hardly write at all, the flies bother me so. They are here in 
millions, and nobody can take any comfort, for the torments. 


Camp near Alexandria, Va., 
September b, lib2. 

7\ FTER being here two days I have managed to get the ma- 
J V terials 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 rat- 
tletrap 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, di- 
rectly 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 rapports, 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 

A Soldier Boy's Letters 67 

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 direc- 
tion, would have spoiled my beauty, and three inches would have 
spoiled me. 

The actual fate of a lots 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 1 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 Alex- 
andria and Washington up there to the north. 

68 A Soldier Boy's Letters 


Camp near Alexandria, Va., 
September 14, /Sb2. 

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 hospi- 
tal, 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 Regi- 
ment, 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. 

A Soldier Boy's Letters 69 

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 
Ren 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.] 


Camp near Alexandria, Va_, 
Sunday Evening , September 21, l8bz r 

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 ac- 
quainted 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. 

70 A Soldier Boy's Letters 


Camp'near Alexandria, Va., 

S< f>t,-mlu-r 2Q, l8b2. 

IT is now almost nine o'olock 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 1 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. 

To-night "Bobby" [Albert B.] Robinson, who was taken pris- 
oner at the first Bull Run, got back to the company and the recep- 
tion he got from those of us who are still left baffles all descrip- 
tion. A camp story is going the rounds that Gov. Berry is trying to 
have this regiment sent to New Hampshire to recruit. 


Camp near Alexandria, Va., 
Sunday, October 12, /S62. 

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 tournequit 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 sit- 
uated 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 him- 
self a bunk, and still there is room to spare. The heavy tent-cloth 
keeps out the rain, so we have a perfectly dry nest. Bat there are 
persistent rumors that we will not remain here much longer. 

A Soldier Boy's Letters 71 


Camp near Alexandria, Va., 
October iq, /St>2. 

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 — some- 
thing 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. 


Camp near Alexandria, Va. t 
October zS, i8b2. 

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 dis- 
couraged. 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 

An order was recently issued by the 'War Department designed 
to fill up the legular cavalry regiments at the expense of the volun- 
teers. It permits the transfer of ten men from each volunteer 
company, by re-enlistment for three or five years, or to serve out 
the unexph d part of their present enlistment. Lots of our boys 
have been g< ing sour over some of the conditions here and were 
more than anxi »us to try a change. So yesterday ten from this 
company marched down to the recruiting station at Alexandria and 

7? A Soldier Boy's Letters 

joined the cavalry. When Col. Marston heard of this he was mad 
.1-^ 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 be- 
longed 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 ma- 
ny 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 enlist- 
ment 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 Kleventh 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. 

A Soldier Boy's Letters 73 


Camp near Alexandria, Va., 
October 30, iSbl. 

5"~T"^IVE minutes ago I received a letter addressed in your famil- 
1 ^ iar 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 get 
his. I return it, unread if not unopened. 


Manassas, Va., November 4, iSbz. 

"^"~TT" T'E 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 dif- 
ficulty 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 Jack- 
son in the raid that culminated in the last Bull Run battle. In som j 


74 A Soldier Boy's Letters 

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. 


Camp on Centrevii.le Heights, Va., 
Sunday, November q, 1862. 

YOU will see we have moved again. We remained at Man- 
assas only two nights, when the Second Regiment was sent 
over here. Centreville Heights are four or five miles from Manas- 
sas, and, like that place, strongly fortified, there are reboubts 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 pre- 
pare 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. I he 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 to- 
night will sit and bask and (hat and dream. We have a long shelf 
.i' russ 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 

A Soldier Boy's Letters 75 

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, crouch- 
ing 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 fol- 
lowed 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 

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 our 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. 

7 6 A Soldier Boy's Letters 


Centreville Heights, Va., 
November lb, iSbz. 

HAVE had delightful weather the past week, but today it has 
come off 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 fire- 
wood. During the week a great many of the boys have visited the 
Hull Run battlefield. Some Company C boys who went over the first 
of the week found Frank Robinson's skeleton. It was fully identi- 
fied 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 in- 
stances 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 
bad lain undiscovered and undistuibed 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 bul- 
let, 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, derided 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 cam]) 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 Hill rigged up a wire contraption and roasted 
one choice cut by hanging before the fire. 

A Soldier Boy's Letters 77 

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 nap- 
ping. 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 pc int- 
ed outward. It makes a very troublesome thing to climb over, 
particularly of a dark night. 

Bill and 1 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 abun- 
dant 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 

78 A Soldier Boy's Letters 

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 lit- 
tle nest here, but if we are to go we will be delighted to serve again 
under glorious old Joe Hooker. 


Camp at Wolf Rum Shoals, on Occoqi-an Creek, Va., 
November 23, 1862. 

I HAVE just finished reading letters from you and Addie that 
canie 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 Centre- 
ville. 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 
b.i< k in the woods I came upon a little clearing. In it was an aban- 

A Soldier Boy's Letters 79 

doned 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 excel- 
lent 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 

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 travel- 
ing. One pair of my size will be about all I will care to tote. 


Camp opposite Fredericksburg, Va., 
Sunday, November jo, iSt>2. 

THIS is the last day of Fall. Tomorrow commences the Win- 
ter 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, 

• s " A Soldier Boy's Letters 

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 1 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, S2.00 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 
lime was approaching when the question of this regiment going 
home would be presented in such a manner that it could not be re- 
fused. He thought, though, we would stay and see the Fredericks- 
burg 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. 


Camp in the Mid, 
Opposite Fredekkkshikl, Va., 

/V. , »:/■<■ r J, /SOJ. 

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. 

A Soldier Boy's Letters 8i 

Saturday, December b. 

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. 

Snnday T 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 destina- 
tion 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 over- 
coat. We are beginning to realize the beauties of a winter cam- 
paign. 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. 

82 A Soldier Boy's Letters 


In Cami- oitosite Fredericksburg, Va., 
/ uruiay Evening, Dec. lb, lSb2. 

THERE has been a terrible battle, in which New Hampshire 
has borne her full share and lost many a loyal son. Thurs- 
day 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 auda- 
cious 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 

A Soldier Boy's Letters 83 

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. I 

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 Man- 
chester Battery two of my old acquaintances — John Fish and Tom 
Morrill — were killed, and Bill Fish was wounded in the foot. Char- 
lie Vickery, of my company, was wounded in the neck. The reg- 
iment 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 1 am so, 
hungry I think I shall send for a box. 


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 writ- 
ten 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. 

84 A Soldier Boy's Letters 


Cam i- 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 wiitten to Sally 
was doubtless from some one of the burial party who went over, un- 
der 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 sit- 
uation. 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. 

Kill Ramsdell, who disappeared some little time ago, has been 
heard from. As near as I can make out he thought that while fur- 
loughs 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. 


A Soldier Boy's Letters 85 


Camp opposite Fredericksburg, Va., 
J unitary Q, /Sbj. 

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. 


Camp opposite Fredericksburg, Va., 
January lb, /Sbj. 

E EVERYTHING seems to be going wrong today. The wind 
J 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 senti- 
ment 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 mo- 
lasses seemed to have a chemical affinity for everything there was in 
that tent, and it is unnecessary to say it was a total loss. 


86 A Soldier Boy's Letters 

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 offi- 
cers in the regiment. 


Camp near Falmouth, Va.. 
January 24, 1S6J. 

BINCE 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 Rap- 
pahannock 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 condi- 
tions. 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 may back to the old camps. Iawrence and I rehabilitated 
our old shanty and are now 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? 

A Soldier Boy's Letters 87 


Headquarters Sickles' Division, 
Near Falmouth, Va., 
Sunday, February 8, iSbj. 

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 com- 
panies. 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. 

1 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 lug- 
gers 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 1 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 reg- 
iment 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 

88 A Soldier Boy's Letters 

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 an- 
nounced : "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 rail- 
road. 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 head- 
quarters, 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.l 


Headqi-arters Bekry's Division. 
Near Fai.mch:th, Va., 

February ij, /S6j, 

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 pro- 
vost guard along with him, of course. We are now about two miles 

A So i :>ier Boy's Letters 89 

from the camp of the Second, and fully a mile from any of the di- 
vision, 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 fur- 
lough 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, com- 
manding 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. 


Headquarters Berry's Div:sion, 
Near Falmouth, Va., 

February aj, i86j. 

/\ WEEK ago or so, the story was afloat that the regiment was 
^1 V going home right away, "and no mistake." Col. Marston 
had been down here, and had the consent of the President, the Sec- 
retary 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 

90 A Soldier Boy's Letters 

of going have died out and the excitement subsided. Such stories 
have been let loose every two or three weeks as regular as clock- 

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 chop- 
per 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. 

A Soldier Boy's Letters 91 

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 tomor- 
row, 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. 


The interval of time betiveen the preced- 
ing and the following letters is explained by 
the fact that the stories and rumors of "go- 
ing home''' actually materialized at this time. 
The regiment left the Army of the Potomac 
February' 26 and arrived in New Hampshire 
March J. It left the state for the front 
again May 2j, arriving in Washington May 
27. The « Soldier Boy " and "The Girl I 
left behind me" were married March Q. 


Washington, D. C, May 27, iS6j. 

S ^ OT into Washington this morning at half-past six — less than 

V A forty-eight hours on the route from New Hampshire. 

George Slade lost his knapsack somewhere on the way. Mrs. Was- 
ley 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.] 

92 A Soldier Boy's Letters 

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, notwithstand- 
ing 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. 


Camp Marston, Washington, D. C., 
May 30, f&bj. 

"% iy ~T E 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 com- 
fortable — 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 Amer- 
ican.'] We were marching toward Pong 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 

I saw Captain Bruce [John N.] Tuesday. He is a sergeant in 
the Fourteenth. He tapped his chevrons and observed, with a 
smile : "Coming ///, you see !" Which reminded me of the old, 
old times before the war, when he used to parade the streets of Man- 

A Soldier Boy's Letters 93 

Chester 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 miss- 
ing sure enough and has not since been heard from. My own pri- 
vate opinion is if he had been let alone he'd have been all right. 

General Martindale was in camp yesterday, and the camp gos- 
sips greased up the old rumor machine and ground out the follow- 
ing : 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 Four- 
teenth and says they are going to march tomorrow. I wish we could 
move over to their camp, as it it is a delightful location, with shade 
trees and nice clean grounds. 

Our batch of brand-new lieutenants are having the usual experi- 
ence in getting fitted into their places, and are subjected to the 
merciless cinicism 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 Quarter- 
master 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. 

94 A Soldier Boy's Letters 


Camp Makston, Washington, I». C, 
Saturday, June b, iSbj. 

W UST at present we are not living very high — not near as well 
f^J as we did at Falmouth. Hut 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. 
'Ihe 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 pa- 
per 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 rel- 
ics 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. 

(ien. Marston was up here Wednesday, looking fat and hearty. 

Our cooks have got a barrel of potatoes and a lot of cooking 

A Soldier Boy's Letters 95 

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 mak- 
ing 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 exhibi- 
tion 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 pun- 
ishment 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 cart- 
ridges 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. 

96 A Soldier Boy's Letters 


Camp Marston, Washington, D. C, 
Junr 10, /8bj. 

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. 


Ten Miles above Falmouth, Va., 
June 12. /SOJ. 

f "^VO not know when I shall have a chance to finish or to send 
1 J thi»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. T his morning we were off again at about sunrise. I un- 
derstand our destination is Warrenton, about forty miles from Fal- 
mouth. 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 Washing- 
ton. 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 thi< k 
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 res- 
taurant and ate ham and eggs, Strawberries and cream, and other 
luxuries. I didn't know as I should have another chance at a de- 

A Soldier Boy's Letters 97 

cent 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 won- 
derfully well done. The cavalryman artist — so the story goes — be- 
gan 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 Siearns, who used to keep store in Manches- 
ter. 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 rj. 

We have had a hard march today and I am very tired. The 
dust was simply stifling, and some merciless old rascal on horse- 
back, 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 look- 
ing for our supply train. When I started out this morning I had a 
piece of boiled salt pork about as big as two fingers. At noon we 
halted about three-quarters of an hour for rest and refreshments. 


98 A Soldier Boy's Lei 1 1 u^- 

We were short on both. Other troops had camped on the same 
ground and moved on, and among the embers of one of their camp- 
fires I saw some ribs of fresh pork. Some old Virginia razor-back 
had died to make a Yankee holiday, and perfectly good pork had 
been recklessly and wastefully thrown onto the coals. I pulled out 
a chunk that looked good to me, carefully scraped and pared off the 
charred outside, and never had a better pork roast than I got by 
picking those ribs. Tonight I made a sumptuous repast on hard- 
tack and water. I missed, however, the "one day's solitary" that 
usually goes with that fare up in New Hampshire. 

We do not know whether or not we are to go back to our old 
brigade, but we are now with the old Excelsior Brigade. Rappa- 
hannock Station, where we are camped, is a fine location — open, 
rolling country, with two or three little redoubts in sight from our 
camp. 'I he rebels are on the other side of the river, and we have 
a strong force here, facing them. It is getting so dark I can hardly 
see, so good night. 

Sunday, June 14. 

We drew three days rations today and are under orders to be 
ready to march at a moment's notice. Three regiments from this 
brigade are on picket, and it is very evident that trouble is appre- 
hended in some direction. We will probably move from here very 
soon, and the fact that our wagon trains are not brought up here 
is a pretty good indication that we are going to move fast and don't 
want to be encumbered with a train. 

I had as much beefsteak as I could eat this morning. George 
I-awrence cut up the fresh beef, and as pay for his trouble took 
what he wanted for breakfast. This noon we were served with H beef 
s<>///>" — the water in which our fresh beef was boiled, with hardtack 
crumbled into it. 

We are camped, I am told, on one of the estates of John Ran- 
dolph, well known in Virginia history. One of the natives tells me 
the soldiers have burned thirty-five miles of fences on this planta- 
tion. I suppose while I am here by the Rappahannock, crouched 
in my tent and wondering if those dark clouds over yonder mean 
rain, you are listening to the words and admonitions of good old 
Parson Wallace. 

We have just had a little excitement. Three foolish hogs vent- 

A Soldier Boy's Letters 


ured out into sight upon the meadow on our front, and more than 
two hundred whooping savages started out in chase and killed two 
with clubs. 

We have just got word that we are to march tonight at sunset, 
and of course are speculating as to the movement. The favorite 
opinion of our most astute camp strategists is that Hooker is going 
to fall back to Washington and the Potomac, and that we are way 
up here as a sort of rear guard, to give the rebels a hack if they try 
to crowd too hard. I have got back again to the old, careless army 
spirit of don't-care-a-cent, and take everything as philosophically as 
circumstances will permit. We have just heard the roar of guns in 
the direction of Warrenton, which is ominous. I have had all the 
cherries I could eat today. Have been jotting this letter down, bit 
by bit, through the day. The old fellow who lives in a house near 
the camp has a son who is a colonel in the rebel army. "Curley" 
Converse is smashing up a blacking brush that he won't carry any 
further and won't leave for the enemy. He says : "If I had a house 
out here I would burn it up before I would let those fellows have 
the use of it." I must pack up now and be ready to march. 

Manassas Junction, Tuesday, Ju7ie ib. 

After a most exhausting march we find ourselves here at Manas- 
sas once more. We left Rappahannock Station Sunday night at ten 
o'clock and marched to Catlett's Station — about fifteen miles — ar- 
riving there yesterday morning at seven o'clock. At two o'clock in 
the afternoon we continued on to this place — another fifteen miles. 
When we arrived here, about midnight, I was actually all in. Half 
a dozen of us, all in the same condition, consulted together and 
decided that if the column passed out of the line of rebel redoubts 
we would drop out, get a little rest and sleep, and chase on and 
catch up with the regiment early in the morning. We fell out, went 
up into one of the redoubts, laid down on the grass carpet that cov- 
ered everything, and slept. We were up before sunrise, and the 
first thing to greet our vision as we looked over the parapet was the 
old regiment bivouacked out on the plain, only a few rods bevond. 

It was a frightfully hot day yesterday and a number of the men 
were sunstruck. George Lawrence was one of the victims. Every 
one of the Seventeenth men gave out. We marched over the same 
road as a year ago, and several men were sunstruck at that time. 

ioo A Soldier Boy's Letters 

I saw Sam Newell yesterday — one of the boys who went from 
our company into the regulars. He said Perk. Lane was either 
killed or wounded and taken prisoner, in the fight at Beverly Ford. 
The last seen of him he was shot from his horse and surrounded by 
rebels. Nich. Biglin — our famous "Heenan" — has gone up to one 
of the gaps in the mountains, with the pioneers, to obstruct the 
roads against the rebels. 

During our march night before last our whole division made one 
of the most ridiculous breaks on record. We were marching along 
the railroad when, at a highway crossing, a runaway horse bolted 
into the column. It got the right of way right there, and the men 
beyond, unable to see what the trouble was, got off the track with- 
out stopping to ask any questions. It went through the whole di- 
vision like the tumble of a row of bricks, and the ditches, stumps 
and pitfalls made an awful mess of things. 

There has just been a little excitement out in camp. Some of the 
men rushed a couple of sutlers' carts that were passing. One of 
the sutlers whipped up and managed to get away after a smart chase, 
but the other was not as fortunate. The raiders surrounded his cart 
and tipped it over, and would doubtless have robbed him of his 
stock but for a mounted officer who plunged into the crowd and put 
a stop to the lawless raid. 


Camp near Centrevh.i.e, Va., 
June 18, /S6j. 

I HEARD, last night, that a mail was to go out this morning. I 
had an unfinished letter in my knapsack, but it was so dark I 
could not see to write ; so I did it up just as it was and put it in 
the bag. They say we will get a mail before long, and then I shall 
expect enough accumulated reading matter to keep me busy for a 
while. Today is the hottest yet. I could not stand it in camp, so 
I went over and filled my canteen with cool, fresh water, gathered 
up my writing materials, and came down here into the shade of the 
bushes. Now I will tell you what we have been doing. 

As I have written you, we got into Manassas about twelve o'clock 

A Soldier Boy's Letters ioi 

Monday night. We lay on the plains all day Tuesday, and drew 
three days' rations. The meat ration was salt pork only, but we 
were very glad to get that. I had the use of a fry-pan for a short 
time, sliced and fried the whole of my ration, and carefully packed 
it away in my haversack, convenient for transportation. 

We turned in for a night's sleep, Monday, but didn't get it. An 
orderly came in about midnight, with orders, and the regiment was 
moved out about two miles on the Centreville road and deployed as 
pickets. I was on camp guard that night, and had not had a wink 
of sleep when we started. O, how sleepy I was ! I actually fell 
asleep walking in the ranks, until I would wake myself by running 
into the man ahead of me. When the regiment was distributed as 
pickets, the camp guard detail was held in reserve, and had nothing 
to do but wait for something to turn up. I sat down without loos- 
ening a buckle of my equipments, leaned my back against a small 
tree, and was asleep on the instant. 1 slept perhaps a couple hours, 
and then woke up out of a nightmare. I dreamed I was in swim- 
ming and dove to the bottom, but when I tried to come up again it 
was no go. I kicked and struggled in vain. When at last I awoke 
I found I had slipped away from my tree and was lying with my 
head down hill, but so cumbered with my harness that I had hard 
work to straighten myself out again. 

Wednesday morning the entire Fifth Corps passed us, and then 
our regiment marched down to Blackburn's Ford and waited for the 
division to come up. We got away from the Ford about three 
o'clock in the afternoon and marched three or four miles, to our 
present position about a mile out of Centreville on the old Bull Run 

What I am suffering for now is a newspaper, so I can find out 
what is going on. 1 have not seen one since we left Washington. 

Gum Springs, Va., Sunday, June 21. 

We have made another hitch, about a dozen miles, and now find 
ourselves in this great Virginia metropolis, consisting of a meeting 
house, a cooper's shop, and half a dozen houses and hog pens, none 
in very good repair. We marched here day before yesterday, leav- 
ing Centreville after noon and arriving here before sunset. i he fool 
camp story now being passed from mouth to mouth is that the corps 

102 A Soldier Boy's Letters 

is now surrounded by the rebels. There can be no question, though, 
that there are any quantity of guerrillas lurking around, and a man 
outside the camp lines does well to keep his eye peeled. [This was 
Mosby's country.] It is said they picked up some thirty stragglers 
on the march up here. Yesterday they scooped in one of General 
Kirney's aides and two of his orderlies. A couple of them made the 
mistake of their lives yesterday. The lieutenant-colonel of one of 
the New Jersey regiments with which we are now brigaded had dis- 
mounted and gone some distance from his horse, when he spied two 
innocent-looking "farmers," with shot-guns in their hands, coming 
the sneak act. At the proper moment they looked into the yawning 
muzzles of two six-shooters, with a very determined Yankee behind 
them, and didn't hesitate a moment in accepting his polite invitation 
to drop their guns and come along. 

We had one of the heaviest rains I ever saw, Thursday afternoon. 
I did not have any tent pitched, but sat down on my knapsack, cov- 
ered myself in with my rubber poncho and let her rain. It did 
much good by laying the dust for a few hours. That night there 
was a very large detail from our regiment, for picket, and my good 
luck kept me off the job. Charlie Parrott [killed, a few days later, 
at Gettysburg] was one of the detail, and I loaned him my poncho 
in exchange for his piece of shelter tent. That night several of us 
joined together and patched up a shelter with as many gable ends, 
almost, as there were pieces of tent. We made a very thick bed of 
leaves and bushes and managed to keep pretty dry and comfortable, 
notwithstanding there was a good deal of rain through the night. 

We are camped in a very pretty location, on a little ridge with 
a railroad along its crest and a little creek at the foot. Just across 
the creek is the little hamlet of Gum Springs. There is a spring 
there with reputed medicinal qualities. Ed. Kenniston and I have 
pitched our tent in the shade of a mammoth persimmon tree. 

There is a commotion now in that select corps familiarly known 
as "bummers," such as cooks, officers' waiters, &c. There is an 
order that every enlisted man shall tote a gun. This means that our 
kettles will be thrown away and every man be his own meat cook. 
But that won't make much change. We have been on a salt pork 
diet, almost exclusively, and every man has been privileged to fry, 
broil, or eat raw, according to his fancy. 

A Soldier Boy's Letters 103 

The big guns are booming over towards the mountains, and in 
compliance with orders we have put ourselves in marching order — 
knapsacks packed, &c. But I have pulled my portfolio out to write 
a little more. We may move today, or we may not, but we are 
ready. Several prisoners have been brought in today — probably 
scouts or guerrillas. Our bands are playing all the time and making 
all the noise they can, possibly merely for their own amusement. 
The firing off to the west is growing heavier, and there is evidently 
a liveiy little fight on somewhere. 

Monday Morning, yune 22. 

Late yesterday the long-expected mail came, and with the rest 
were two letters from you. We were formed in line, ready to march, 
when the mail was distributed, and as 1 looked down the ranks I 
could see many a man leaning on his gun and eagerly scanning his 
news from home. We didn't have a very long march — about six 
rods. The corps was placed in battle order ready to entertain com- 
pany in case the Johnnies should see fit to honor us with a call. 

I was on guard last night, but only had to stand one round, so 
got a good sleep. The mail goes out at ten o'clock this forenoon. 
I ran across an old friend the other day, in the Seventeenth Maine 
— George Parker, who once lived on the Corporation. I am pretty 
well supplied with meat now. When George Slade distributed the 
rations he saved me out an extra piece big enough for a good square 
meal. It pays to be all hunks with the cook. 


Taneytown, Md., June 2Q, rS6j. 

I AM awful, awful tired ; but we got a mail tonight, the first in 
some time, and as a mail goes out tomorrow morning I must 
write a few lines to let you know I am alive and well, but pretty well 
used up from the tremendous marches we have been making. We 
have been constantly on the move, tramping from sun rise to sun 
set, and sometimes far into the night ; but we are now halted a lit- 
tle earlier in the day than usual, within five miles of the Pennsylvania 
line. There is much I would like to write, but as it is almost dark 
now I must wait until we get into camp for a day or two, if we ever 
do. Good night ! Send me a few stamps. 

104 A Soldier Boy's Letters 


Taneytown, Md., June 30, r8bj. 

MY NOTE of last evening will let you know I am still alive. 
As there are no signs as yet of an immediate movement, I 
will commence a letter, not knowing when I will have a chance to 
finish or to send it. The Second Regiment, in company with two 
other regiments, left Gum Springs on the afternoon of Wednesday, 
the 24th, marched out about three miles on the Leesburg road, 
camped, and threw out patrols on the road and in the neighbor- 
hood. The boys foraged about and brought in an unusual abund- 
ance of fresh meat of all kinds. As for myself, I not only gorged at 
supper, but had my haversack loaded when we started in the morn- 
ing. '1 here was a house close to camp, occupied, so far as we 
could see, only by two solitary women. Some of the boys discov- 
ered a great quantity of bacon in storage — enough, in fact, for a 
small army. They intimated to the women that it looked very much 
as if they had unearthed a guerrilla base of supplies. It probably 
was a good guess, and the women were very much frightened. But 
our men wanted that bacon, and a business arrangement was con- 
cluded under which the women were paid a fair price for it in good 
Yankee money. 

Thursday forenoon the whole corps marched past us and we fell 
in and brought up the rear of the column. That was a hard day's 
march. Late in the afternoon we reached the Potomac at Edwards' 
Ferry. 1 here were three pontoon bridges over the river, on which 
we crossed over into Maryland. As it was near night and raining 
we expected to halt somewhere near the ferry. But we were not 
permitted even to cross the canal to the turnpike beyond. Instead, 
were switched onto the towpath of the Ohio and Chesapeake Canal, 
heading up stream. '1 he night settled down, dark and gloomy, but 
no halt or rest. There was no place for either. The path was but 
a mule track with the canal on one side and the river on the other. 
Occasionally there was a little point or elbow of land on the river 
side. Then the rain came, and we were soaked. The towpath be- 
came muddy and slippery. The men had not had a chance since 
morning to cook coffee. By ten o'clock there was no organization 
left. The division was a straggling, swearing, disgusted mob. The 
men "went into camp" whenever and wherever they could find a 

A Soldier Boy's Letters 105 

place big enough to lie down on. I dug along until I was all in. I 
slid down the bank to the river's edge, along with Jess. Dewey and 
Joe Gleason, and camped down on a pile of brush. Jess, was a fair 
example of the utter demoralization. He was the color-sergeant and 
had the regimental colors with him. "Anybody that wants to carry 
the flag can have it," he said, "but I won't lug it another inch." 
The rain was pouring, and all I could do was to cover myself with 
my piece of shelter tent and take what came. I had lost my good 
old rubber poncho at Edwards' Ferry — sat down on it while waiting 
a passage, and forgot to pick it up when I started for the bridge. 

Friday morning we cooked coffee, had a good breakfast, and 
started up the towpath again. There was no chance to get out of 
the trap till we got to Monocacy Bridge, fifteen miles from Edwards' 
Ferry. There the General — who probably has learned something 
about driving cattle — collected his command as they came strag- 
gling along for hours. We camped, that night, about a mile from 
Point of Rocks. I had a share in a big fire of fence rails, and made 
up in a great measure for the discomforts of the previous night. 
Had a great warming up and drying out, hung my boots before the 
fire, got into my reserve pair of stockings, and slept soundly and 

Saturday we marched through a very rough, broken country. 
We passed through one village — Jefferson. South Mountain, where 
the battle was fought last fall, was in sight all day. At night I was 
detailed for brigade camp guard. The brilliant idea of a camp guard 
in that place was conceived by the colonel of the Ninth New Jer- 
sey, commanding the brigade. It was about as much use as a sec- 
ond tail for a cat. I felt that I had done enough marching for one 
day, so when I was posted I laid down where I could watch my beat 
and, of course, went to sleep. I didn't wake up until "Curley" Con- 
verse, on the next beat, shook me and told me the relief was falling 
in. I was greatly relieved, on looking around, to find that nobody 
had run away with the camp in my absence. 

When we started out Sunday morning we were assured we were 
going only nine miles — to Frederick City. We marched to that 
place on a splendid turnpike, over a mountain with an unpronounce- 
able name, and arrived in good season. We found quite a town, old 
and quaint, largely built of brick. But we did not stop according 

io6 A Soldier Boy's Letters 

to the advertised schedule. We pushed on and on until we had 
passed through Walkerville, about eight miles beyond. The first 
thing on getting into camp, we were ordered not to take any fence 
rails, as wood would be hauled to us. It was late, and we couldn't 
wait the arrival of wood teams, in which we didn't take much stock 
anyway. Hut the men were sparing in their use of rails. It didn't 
take many to cook our coffee and keep all the campfires we needed. 

Yesterday morning we started again, early, and marched to this 
place, which is, I should judge, about fifteen miles from Walkerville. 
We are now in a country where the people are our friends, and 
where the Old Flag and cheers for the Union are the rule and not 
the exception. We can buy about anything we want in the grub 
line, as the country has not been ravaged and plundered by the ar- 
mies. I have just had a good meal of home-made bread, right out 
of the oven, with delicious butter. The butter was a streak of luck 
for me. Strolling off a little ways into the country, I saw a swarm 
of men from various regiments at one of those stone 
which answer the purpose of an ice-box in this country. An old 
lady was peddling out her stock of butter in pound pats, and there 
were a dozen hands reaching for every ball. Being a late arrival 
and on the outskirts, it didn't look as if I was in the game. But I 
was. The old lady held the last ball in her hand. There was a 
wild competition for that. "No !" she said, decidedly, "this belongs 
to a gentleman over there ; I promised him he should have one, 
sure." "Thank you, ma'am !" I called out, "I knew you wouldn't 
forget me !" and I reached over half a dozen heads, got the butter, 
passed over a quarter, and struck for camp. 

Just now, old Dan. Desmond is assuring me, "By cripes, Mart., 
ye've saved me life." And I don't know but what I have. The old 
man was off his feed and flat on his back, in almost complete col- 
lapse, when I sailed forth. I divided my plunder of fresh bread and 
butter with him, and he ate ravenously, and in a little while was on 
his feet, bright and chipper. He got just the medicine he needed. 

The talk is that we are not going farther today. We hope it is 
so, for we need rest badly. Today I took all your letters from my 
knapsack and fed them to the flames. Several times I have come 
near losing my knapsack and all it contained. I have a bad tooth- 
ache and am afraid of neuralgia. 

A Soldier Boy's Letters 107 

General Sickles returned to the corps yesterday, and the men 
are giving him the credit for the long rest we are enjoying. Birney 
and Humphrey are not as careful of the men as Sickles. The wish 
is perhaps father to the thought, but the report is that Humphrey 
has been censured or disciplined in some way for that towpath 
scrape. We saw General Marston in Frederick and cheered him 
heartily. The sun is out and we have orders to pack for a march. 


Gettysburg, Pa., July 4, /S6j. 

I WRITE on the blank pages of an orderly's book, which George 
Slade picked up. It is the only paper I .have, as I lost my 
knapsack and all its contents in the battle day before yesterday. 
Our corps was engaged that day, and the Second Regiment was in 
the very fiercest of the fight and met its heaviest loss yet in any one 
battle. About two hundred are gone out of our little regiment, but, 
as usual, I came through all right. I don't know now how I did it. 
While we lay supporting a battery, before we had fired a shot, one 
shell burst right in my group. The man who touched me on the 
right [Jonathan Merrill] had his thigh cut away, and the two at my 
left [Lyndon B. Woods and Sergeant James M. House] were very 
severely wounded — and I never had a scratch. Talk about luck ! 
A little while after, we charged to save the battery, and it was a wild 
time. As many of our wounded were left in the hands of the rebels, 
no accurate list can be made now. Charlie Vickery and a Seven- 
teenth man in my company are killed. [Vickery did not die until 
the nth.] Joe Hubbard, Lieutenant Dascomb, Frank Chase and 
Johnny Barker are among the killed. [Barker recovered from his 
terrible wound and lived many years with a trephined skull.] Ed. 
Kenniston was shot through both legs. I blundered onto him in 
the field hospital near where we bivouacked. He was lying bv a 
stone wall, in a field packed with wounded men. He had lost eve- 
rything but the bloody clothes he wore. I fixed him up with what 
I had left — filled my canteen with water and laid beside him, with 
my haversack, in which there happened to be a few really tasty 

io8 A Soldier Boy's Letters 

pieces of grub.* Ed. wants father to go down and tell his folks it 
is only a flesh wound, and with a little assistance he will be able to 
stand on his feet. 

(ieorge Slade wants me to send you this wayside rose that he 
picked on the battlefield. The Johnny who had the overhauling of 
my knapsack got a fine picture of a certain black- eyed Yankee girl, 
but he didn't have the reading of any of her letters. 

A shell burst right on our colors, early in the action, breaking 
the staff into three pieces. The batteries were so close together, 
some of them, that they threw grape at each other. I never was 
under such an artillery fire. Gen. Sickles lost a leg. 

'1 here was a great fight yesterday, but not over the same ground 
;is the day before. The rebels made a tremendous effort to smash 
our lines [Pickett's charge,] but were thrown back in great disorder 
and leasing a great many prisoners in our hands. We were not in 
it, simply because they didn't happen to hit the part of the line 
we were holding, but struck a little to our right. Today we are 
waiting for something to turn up. Out to our front the skirmishers 
are industriously popping away, but it is a little early for the real 
business. Before night, somewhere along the line, we will probably 
have a real old-fashioned Fourth of July celebration, with plenty of 
fireworks. The armies are holding practically the same lines we 
started in on here, but the advantage is surely with us. 

Our new recruits stood up to their work like men — none did 
better. I cannot write more now, but when this fight is over and I 
can get my hands on some writing paper, I'll try to do better. 

*Many, many years afterward, Ed. came from Dayton, Ohio — where he was an inmate of 
the National Military Home — to the Weirs reunion, especially "to see Mart. Haynes." There, 
in the Second Regiment house, he told to an interested audience the story of his being wounded 
and of being discovered and relieved by me, substantially as given in my letter, but with greater 
< I. il»i ration and detail. And he closed with a climax which I had omitted in my letter and in 
the long lapse of years had all but forgotten. "Then Mart, said, 'Ed., it's going to rain, and 
you are in no shape to lay out without any cover. I've lost my whole outfit, but I'll see if I 
■ .mi pick up something for you.' And he went off, and in half an hour he came back. He said, 
'Don'l ask any questions, Ed.' And he covered me up with an officer's overcoat — a splendid 
garment, heavily braided — tucked me in, and made me comfortable. I honestly believe he 
saved tny lite." I loathe a thief, but I am glad I stole that overcoat. 



A Soldier Boy's Letters 109 


Camp near Boonsboro, Md., July //, /§6j. 

NOWING how anxious you must be to hear from me, and 
having a little spare time on my hands, I have traded a 
postage stamp for a sheet of paper and an envelope, and here I am. 
We have been doing some pretty tall marching since I last wrote. 
The rebels retreated from Gettysburg, leaving their dead unburied 
and thousands of their wounded as prisoners. Our army started at 
once in pursuit, our corps being, I think, the last to get away. I 
had ample time to go, at my leisure, over a good part of the field. 
And I got rid of that toothache that I told you about. For two or 
three days I wasn't thinking much about my teeth. But when the 
strain was off a little, it all came back, and at last I got simply wild. 
Bill Stark [hospital steward] gave me some powder — morphine, I 
think — to tuck in, but I might as well have used so much flour. Our 
surgeons said they didn't have a pair of forceps in their entire kit 
that they could tackle that tooth with. So I started out to find some- 
b -dy that had. 1 had determined, if necessary, to go into Gettys- 
burg, or even to Baltimore, to find a tooth-puller. The surgeon of 
one of the New Jersey regiments was my Good Samaritan. He was 
all packed up, ready for a start, but he overhauled a mule's load, dug 
out some forceps that looked like a pair of tongs, seated me on a 
cracker box, and fastened on. That was the only time, in my expe- 
rience, that it really felt good to have a tooth pulled. 

Our corps left Gettysburg at two o'clock on the morning of July 
7th, and now we are lying out here, somewhere within a thousand 
miles of Boonsboro, they say. Since the battle we have had rein- 
forcements enough to organize a third division, and it is said to be 
larger than the other two combined. We are being hustled around 
pretty lively, and are likely to be rushed off in any direction at any 
moment. Last night we went into camp on Antietam battlefield, 
and I had just got to sleep when we were tumbled out and started 
off again. I marched and marched and marched, until I was com- 
pletely fagged out. Then Jess. Dewey and I turned in by the side 
of the road, slept soundly and comfortably until morning, then raced 
on and caught up with the regiment. Just at this immediate time 
Company I is a little topheavy. Herm. Sleeper and I are the only 


iio A Soldier Boy's Letters 

privates on duty, with five non-commissioned officers. The rest are 
used up and camped along the roadside, or in hospitals. The Army 
of the Potomac is doing some great marching and is in good spirits 
for a fight. We are sorry to lose General Sickles. He is very pop- 
ular with the Third Corps, being very considerate in marching the 
men. Right or wrong, the average estimate of Birney is that he 
classes his men along with his horses and mules. 

I do a little foraging now, but not as much as when in Virginia. 
But I pay for everything I get here, except apples and plums, while 
in Virginia I enforce the principle of confiscation. 1 have fried ap- 
ples about every day. I got a pound of splendid butter yesterday 
for twenty-five cents, and once in a while I get a loaf of bread, some 
biscuits, or a pie. 

Jess. Dewey and I have made a calculation, and find that since 
leaving Falmouth we have footed it about three hundred miles. My 
load was materially reduced by the loss of my knapsack. I picked 
up another one, but all I am carrying in it just now is a single piece 
of shelter-tent cloth. One of the bummers attached to the regiment 
found a box in a ditch, at Emmitsburg, containing two hundred 
dollars, mostly in gold. [The finder was a disreputable camp fob' 
lower familiarly known as "Culpepper" — the brother of one of our 
officers — and there is reason to believe that his loot was the poor- 
box of the convent at Emmitsburg.] 


Camp near SHARPSBruc, Md.. July rj, /S6j. 

~^\^\ T~E ARE now lying in camp with a promise of remaining 
\f \ all day. Not a word have I had from you for many a 
day. We move so often and travel so fast that we cannot complain 
if the mail wagon doesn't catch up with us. The rebels have es- 
caped across the river out of the net we boys fondly hoped had been 
thrown around their army, and now we are anticipating another 
series of hard marches. Yesterday morning our skirmishers ad- 
vanced upon the rebel positions and found them abandoned and 
the rebels across the river. This morning the Thirds Corps started 
at six o'clock and marched until two in the afternoon with but one 
halt of a verv few minutes for rest. You can be sure the man and 

A Soldier Boy's Letters hi 

horse who set the pace at the head of the column came in for the 
usual amount of cussing. '1 he day, although cloudy, was very hot, 
and the road was lined with stragglers. 

We came pretty near having a wild riot here this afternoon. We 
were no sooner in camp than a sutler pitched his tent close by and 
opened up for trade. Pretty soon there was a big crowd around his 
establishment, and some of the lawless began to steal and pilfer. 
He very naturally tried to protect his property, and soon there was 
a wild tumult. It looked as if the guard that had been posted would 
have their hands full to save any part of his gingersnaps and cheese. 
The major of the Sixth New York Heavy Artillery, a young bud 
with shoulder-straps as big as a barn door, rushed down from their 
camp, near by, and made himself conspicuous. His regiment had 
never seen active service, having done garrison duty at Baltimore 
and Harper's Ferry, and when he ordered the dirty old fighting men 
to go to their regiments it was like waving a red flag before a bull. 
One of our small boys — a camp follower — told him to go to H — ot 
Place. 1 he major made a reach for the boy and missed connec- 
tion, then foolishly chased him into our camp, and caught him. 
Then somebody knocked the major down, and somebody else picked 
him up and pitched him out of camp. In a few minutes his regi- 
ment was seen to be falling in, under arms, whereupon the Sixth 
New Jersey bugles sounded the "Assembly," and every other bugle 
in the brigade caught up the call. Just at this time General French 
came tearing up, who listened to the major's story and bluffly told 
him he had no business or authority in that camp — and that was 
the end of it. 

We passed over Antietam battleground today — where Hooker 
fought, and the bridge Burnside carried by a charge. I have a rebel 
roundabout, cartridge box, and plate with letters "C S" on it. I 
inclcse an Indian arrow head I picked up in the road. It rains al- 
most every day now, and we must go to work pretty soon and put 
up our shelter. Jess. Dewey, Bill Pendleton and I are hitching up 
together just now. 

\ Soldier Boy's Letters 

Cam \i ^shby's Gap, Va., July ->/, 1&63. 

CAME up to this place yesterday, ami may stay here two or 
three days, as it is quite an important position just at the 
present time. On the one hand is the little villain of I'pperville, 
now devastated and dilapidated; on the other hand is Ashby's Gap, 
a pass through the Blue Ridge. We are ramped in fields on the 
slope of a mountain, from which point there is a broad view of the 
country far to the east. The bleached skeletons of horses tell of 
fierce cavalry fights, at various times, for the possession of the gap; 
and (lose to our camp are four fresh graves of men killed in Stahl's 
fight with Stuart. It is a country of wornout land nourishing a big 
crop of blackberry bushes. No sooner are arms stacked than the 
men make a break for blackberries, and even an army can hardly 
make any impression on the supply. 

You will probably see Steve Smiley at home before long. Three 
commissioned officers and six enlisted men from each regiment are 
going home to drill the drafted men, and Steve expects to be one of 
the detail from this regiment. Perhaps I will send this letter out by 
him. Our mail is a very uncertain factor, both coming and going, 
judging from the fact that you had not heard from me a week after 
the battle. But as my name was not in the killed and wounded list 
you were probably not much worried. We are drawing nice ham 
for a meat ration now. I found a lot of little onions in a deserted 
garden yesterday. 

Four of our wounded officers have died in the hospitals. Char- 
lie Yickery was shot through the back, injuring his spine. The 
rebels robbed him of everything he had. A rebel major came along, 
asked him some questions, then ordered some rebel soldiers to car- 
ry him to a barn near by and leave a canteen of water with him. 
'I he next day this barn was in the line of fire, and he was wounded 
again, slightly, in the shoulder by a grapeshot. When our men got 
possession of that part of the field he was carried to one of our hos- 
pitals, where he died on the iith. He would not believe he had 
got to die, and did not send a word to his wife ; but after he be- 
< ame speechless he tried to whisper something to one of the boys, 
but < ould not make himself understood. 

A Soldier Boy's Letters 113 

We crossed the Potomac at Harper's Ferry on the nth. I have 
seen some wild places, but never any to beat this. Two rivers here 
unite, rushing down between towering perpendicular cliffs, with only 
room for a road between cliff and river. This is the second anni- 
versary of the battle of Bull Run. Two years ago this very minute 
I was making good time toward Centreville. And here I am, only 
one day's march away, and still on the job. But we will win. 


Washington, D. C, July 28, 1863. 

SUDDENLY and unexpectedly, after all our troubles and trib- 
ulations, the Second Regiment finds itself in clover. Day 
before yesterday we were marching through Warrenton, sweating 
and puffing, when we saw General Marston standing in front of one 
of the houses and looking mighty pleasant and smiling. Pretty soon 
it was passed along that he was up there to get the Second, Fifth 
and Twelfth regiments for the formation of a New Hampshire brig- 
ade to serve under him in his new department on the lower Potomac. 
It seemed too good to be true ; but when, after our next rest, the 
corps marched on and left us, it began to look as if there was some- 
thing in the story, after all. Then we marched back to Warrenton 
and camped by General Meade's headquarters until yesterday morn- 
ing, when, about ten o'clock, we loaded onto a train of flat-cars, and 
at nine o'clock last evening we arrived in Alexandria. After waiting 
over two hours for cars to bring us up to Washington, we "huffed 
it" about half way to Long Bridge and bivouacked until morning, 
then continued on, took possession of the "Soldiers' Rest," and are 
waiting for orders. 

General Marston's department, I understand, is to be called the 
"Department of St. Mary's," and will take in St. Mary's county, in 
Maryland. It is on the lower Potomac, and probably a depot for 
prisoners of war will be established, the guarding of which, with the 
prevention of smuggling, will comprise our duties. This will be an 
agreeable change from the past few weeks — to be in a settled camp, 
no more long marches, mail and rations regular, a chance to bathe, 
fish, and have a good time on the water. We expect to stay in 

114 A Soldier Boy's Letters 

Washington a few days, though, until we can get new clothing, and 
perhaps be paid off. I shall lay in fish lines and hooks among my 
prime necessities. 

Now I will go back and tell you what else we have been doing 
since I wrote last. Last Wednesday, the 2 2d, the Third Corps left 
Ashby's Gap and reached a little railroad station called Piedmont, 
and the following morning marched to Manassas Gap. This pass is 
about five miles long, and when we got there the rebels held one 
end and our folks the other. Our cavalry had been skirmishing 
with the enemy for three days, and this day we moved in and took 
our turn. '1 he fight commenced early in the afternoon. The reb- 
els had a strong position along the crest of a high hill or ridge 
[Wapping Heights] that blocked the western end of the gap. For 
a time our brigade lay massed on the lower slope of an opposite hill 
and watched the preparations. And when the movement started 
there was something about it that reminded me of some of the "di- 
oramas" you and I have seen in Manchester. There was the steep 
hillside, with the long line of blue dots — our skirmishers — crawling 
up and up, and the solid blue lines of the supporting regiments not 
very far behind. The height was soon carried, and we pushed on 
beyond, our brigade two hundred yards in rear of the Excelsior 
Brigade, which we followed and supported. 

M he Excelsiors made one charge, and it was a hustler. They 
and the rebels were facing each other across a deep, rocky gulch. 
The Excelsiors charged down through this with a yell. Colonel 
Farnham, of the Second Excelsior, and Gen. Spinola dashed ahead 
of everything, on their horses, and took two rebel sharpshooters 
prisoners, although Spinola was badly wounded. Farnham was the 
captain of the slave ship "Wanderer," which was the cause of so 
much excitement a few years ago. By this day's work the rebels 
were cleared entirely out of the gap. 

The next morning our division advanced into the Shenandoah 
valley, the entire Second Regiment being deployed as skirmishers 
in advance of the column. We had not gone thirty rods when, on 
coming into the road, I came upon the sprawling form of one poor 
Johnny who had met his fate the previous day. He was apparently 
fighting in the shelter of a sunken road, when a bullet pierced his 
brain and he rolled down the bank to the roadbed. The cartridges 

A Soldier Boy's Letters i i 5 

were scattered from his open cartridge-box, and picking one up I 
noted it was of peculiar construction. None of us have ever seen 
one like it before. The paper is set firmly in the base of the bullet, 
so all one has to do in loading is to break the two apart with his fin- 
gers, pour his powder and ram his bullet home. It is the toothless 
man's sure-pop cartridge fast enough. [I still have it among my 
war relics.] We advanced clear to Front Royal without any serious 
opposition, then rallied on the colors, about-faced and marched back 
to the gap. 

I intend to carry this letter down to the post-office myself, so 
you will be pretty sure to get it. Hen. Everett is going down be- 
fore long and I will wind up so as to go along with him. 


Point Lookout, Lower Potomac, Md., 
August 1, 1S63. 

"\~~lt~ ~T E HAVE a mail at last, and I was fortunate enough to 
\r \/ get four letters from you. Now that we are here, it 
looks as if I would not have much of anything to do except to write 
letters. We got here yesterday forenoon, and are now fairly well 
settled. We are camped close to the beach, on smooth, level ground. 
We have A-tents and a plenty of them, so we are not crowded for 
room. Dan. Desmond and I have a tent all to ourselves. Jess. 
Dewey is acting orderly-sergeant, so he has his own tent. 

Afternoon. — I was called away rather suddenly this morning, to 
go on guard. Now, coming back to the guard headquarters from 
dinner, I have brought my writing materials along, so as to finish my 
letter today. Talking of comfort ! I am sitting in the shade of big 
pine trees, within two rods of the shore of Chesapeake Bay, a deli- 
cious breeze blowing from the water and the waves rolling up on 
the beach. [This was at General Marston's headquarters.] The 
first thing this morning, when reveille was blown, neaily every man 
in the regiment made a dash for the water, for a plunge and a swim. 
This was a fashionable summer resort before the war. The waters 
abound in crabs, and the boys have already got to catching them. 
When I was up to camp this noon one of the boys had a kettleful 

1 1 6 A Soldier Boy's Letters 

on boiling. We had a ration of "salt horse" [corned beef] today — 
the first we have had since leaving Washington for Falmouth. It 
seemed like an old friend. 

On the steamer, coming down, I had a long chat with one of the 
batch of prisoners we were taking along. He was a native of Alex- 
andria, and on the way down the river he pointed out the places 
where he had been for a good time before the war. We had been 
in the same fights, quite a number, and it was very interesting to 
compare notes. The day we left Washington I was on guard at the 
gate, and there was a flock of secesh women there to bid good bye 
to friends and give them things to eat or wear. Among the prison- 
ers was an Irishman who formerly lived in Manchester. I recog- 
nized him as soon as I saw him. He was down south when the war 
broke out, and was forced into the army. He fell out on the march 
on purpose to be taken and is very anxious to take the oath of al- 
legiance, as are many others, especially the foreigners. 


Point Lookoi/t, Md., August 4, /8bj. 

THIS forenoon "Curley" Converse and I went out to a creek 
near camp, hunting for oysters. We found and shucked till 
we had three pints of solid meats. There were lots of crabs there, 
some almost as big as lobsters, and I soon found out that a crab is 
a very pugnacious animal. I ran across one in shoal water hardly 
deep enough to cover my feet, and playfully tapped him with my 
knife, just to see him run. He ran. So did I, for I was barefoot- 
ed and he made straight for my toes, with the water boiling. Soon 
I encountered another, and just to make sure, I rapped him. He 
came on like the other ; but there was no surprise this time, and I 
speared him with my knife. The boys bring in bushels of them, 
and they are excellent eating — as good as lobsters. 

Cieorge Slade has not been with us for some time, but we expect 
he will join us soon. [We did not know it then, but he was in fact 
a prisoner, having been picked up by the rebels somewhere below 
Harper's Ferry. He never got back to the regiment, but <lied at 
( '.imp Parole.] 


A Soldier Boy's Letters 117 


Point Lookoit, Md., August 8, 1863. 

ID. BAILEY'S FATHER came down here night before last 

and is going to be regimental sutler, so they say. There is 
some pretty sharp talk by some of the Manchester men, who affirm 
that he would be more at home as sutler for a rebel regiment. I do 
not know, but I guess we can balance the colonel's good services 
against his father's political shortcomings. 

You ask me to tell you about Steve Palmer and . So 

the story has got to Manchester, has it? These are the facts : On 
the first day's march from Falmouth Steve had some whiskey in his 

wagon, which he was selling to those who wanted the stuff. 

was officer of the guard that day. He went to Steve and Steve gave 
him a drink. Then he brought a canteen to Steve and said : "Here, 
Steve, let me have some whiskey in this canteen and I will pay you 
when I get some money." Steve let him have it, and he went di- 
rectly to the colonel and reported Steve for selling whiskey. Steve 
was at once taken from his wagon and put into the ranks, and at 
Gettysburg was very badly wounded, and if he lives will be a cripple 
for life. [He died of his wounds.] The affair, naturally, has cre- 
ated a good deal of feeling. Steve did wrong in taking liquor upon 
his team to sell ; but there was an element of treachery in what 
did that I wouldn't want charged up to my credit. 

We are living pretty well now, for army rations. Here is our 
bill of fare for the past three days : 

Wednesday : Breakfast — Baked Beans, Coffee. Dinner — Beef- 
steak. Supper — Coffee. 

Thursday : Breakfast — Potatoes, Boiled Pork, Boiled Fresh Beef, 
Boiled Salt Beef, Coffee. Dinner — Soup, Parsley Greens. Supper — 

Friday : Breakfast — Potatoes, Boiled Beef, Coffee. Dinner — 
Boiled Dish of Potatoes and Parsley Greens. 

In addition, we have, each day, a loaf of "soft tack," baked here 
on the Point, and occasionally a ration of molasses. We call that 
high living. And Company I is going to have something extra for 
dinner today — roast beef and potatoes. The beef is roasting in two 
Dutch ovens. 

1 1 S A Soldier Boy's Letters 

A big school of porpoises went up the river yesterday. They 
•< ame so near in shore that some of the boys fired at them, and I 
should judge hit some, from the commotion that was created and 
the way they dug away from shore. Ed. Bailey and I struck up the 
beach for an old boat that lay there, in which to get out and have a 
• rack at them. The colonel had a carbine and an old stocking full 
of cartridges, and I picked up an ancient oar. We got the craft 
a loat and I paddled it out quite a piece. But the waves ran high 
and the water poured through the boat in a dozen places, until it 
was a question of pull about or swim for it. So we put about and 
got ashore before the old tub sank. Sixteen of us took a sail out to 
the mouth of the river two or three days ago. It was very rough 
and the boat was terribly overloaded, and it was only by good sea- 
ananship that we saved ourselves from going under. 

I have just run across another Manchester fellow — James, who 
used to be City Messenger. He is with the Twelfth Regiment sut- 

Now I must tell you the story of Bill Ramsdell, for it is decid- 
edly interesting, although rather rough on Bill. A short time after 
we came on from New Hampshire Bill went to Concord and re- 
ported to Major \\ hittlesey. Well, no sooner has he reported than 
he goes away again and is not seen about Concord for two or three 
days, when he again reports ; but this time the major puts him un- 
der arrest as a deserter, and when the squad of deserters leave New 
Hampshire under a guard of convalescents Bill is packed off with 
the rest. They go to Boston and stop at Fort Warren for a time, 
and while there the prisoners are put to all sorts of menial work. 
Bart of the time Bill was haying on the parapet, which was not at 
all bad, but after that he was given a mule's job, hauling coal. A 
dozen of the prisoners would load a cart, hitch on and drag it along, 
dump their load, and so on. All this I learned from George Cilley, 
who was left in New Hampshire, sick, and who was guarding pris- 
oners three or four weeks. He said Bill took it all very philosoph- 
ically — he couldn't help himself. He is now in Washington and will 
probably be sent to the regiment before long. 

The guard duty is divided now so that we do it one week and the 
Twelfth the next. During our week every man is on guard every 
other day, but we are not overworked, as we have no drilling to do. 

A Soldier Boy's Letters 119 

My tentmate, Dan. Desmond, is one of the quaintest old Irish- 
men you ever met. He loads me with his adventures and experi- 
ences until my ribs fairly ache from the laughing. Every night he 
regales me with some story — and a good one — to go to bed on. 

The Seventeenth fellows will be discharged within a few days. 
Two in my company have died in the service — Tibbetts, killed at 
Gettysburg, and Ingalls, died of disease. 

The laugh is on Steve Smiley, and it is too good to keep. The 
day we came down from Washington Steve ran down to some place 
on the street to get some papers — I don't know just what. But he 
didn't get them, because the colonel had been there before him. On 
his way back to the barracks — only a little ways — he ran into the 
provost guard, and as he had no pass they gathered him in and 
chucked him into the central guard house, where they kept him over 
night. The next morning they let him out and he got on a boat and 
came down. He is pretty touchy about it, and the boys like to 
thorn him about patronizing the "Central Hotel." 

The boys catch some nice fish here, among which are sea trout, 
which the natives tell us will be very plenty in a short time. There 
is a big kettle of beans on the fire, parboiling, which will be ready 
baked for breakfast. You see I have to keep bringing up grub mat- 
ters ; but it does seem good to have a plenty. 



Point Lookout, Md., August 10. 1863. 

WANT something to do, and so 'T take my pen in hand," &c. 

And yet, after all, I have been pretty busy this forenoon. We 
had to move our tents so as to give the officers more breathing room 
— delicate souls ! Then I went out and did my week's washing in 
a skillful and artistic manner. When that was "hung out" I watched 
the operations of a pile driver. We are to have a sink way out over 
the river, and the piles for its support are being driven into the sand. 
The toads here ! Their number is legion, of all sizes and con- 
ditions. There is the very best of understandings between them 
and the boys, for they are our dependable fly-traps. The men 

120 A Soldier Boy's Letters 

drive them into the tents rather than out. I am fairly in love with 
some of the bright-eyed little fellows that are tentmates of mine. 
They sit so demure and still until a fly comes within reach, when 
there is the flash of a tongue, and one less fly to plague us. Long 
live the toads, and may they multiply and increase at Point Lookout. 

We had another instalment of rebel prisoners yesterday, five 
hundred coming down from Washington. I could not help noticing 
the feeling between the men from North Carolina and those from 
the Gulf States. On their arrival here the prisoners were formed 
into companies of one hundred men each, and as far as practicable 
those from the same state were put together. There were not quite 
enough North Carolinians for a company, so some Mississippians 
were put in with them, who began at once to berate their new mess- 
mates, twitting them of being unpatriotic, and telling the guard that 
those fellows wanted to get back into the Union. 

Dan. and I are going to fix up our tent. First, we will raise it 
up a few inches, so as to give the air a chance to circulate under 
the bottom. Then we will build a couple of nice bunks, one on each 
side, and between the heads of the bunks a table just big enough to 
eat and write on. 

Tuesday Evening, August ir. 

I have been on fatigue duty today. This forenoon I was digging 
a hole on the beach in which to set a pile post, and this afternoon I 
helped pitch some tents for the adjutant. About half a dozen of our 
bjys came down on the boat yesterday, some of whom had been in 
the convalescent camps, or in the distributing camps at Alexandria, 
ever since the regiment left Washington for the front. But George 
Slade was not among them, and now I am wondering what has be- 
come of him and where he can be. 

Company I had fried fish both for breakfast and dinner today. 
They were fine sea bass, brought in last night by a fisherman in his 
boat. He had an iron bucket full of blazing pitchwood for a light, 
and his two little bareheaded children were with him — a boy and a 
girl five or six years old. They were very pretty, fair-haired, and 
their appetites evidently had not been spoiled by indulgence, for 
their father cut slices from a huge loaf of bread in his basket, which 
they put out of the way, clear, as fast as their little jaws could work. 

Well, my boy Dan. has made up the bed and gone to bed, and I 
guess I will follow suit. 

A Soldier Boy's Letters 121 

Wednesday Evening, August 12. 

I made a great discovery today — nothing less than a newspaper 
in this out-of-the-way place. It is named Hammond Gazette, and 
is published for the benefit of the sick and wounded in the Ham- 
mond General Hospital. It is a little fellow, just the size of The 
Literary Visitor that George Batchelder and I used to print. This 
afternoon I went down and hunted up the office, along with old 
printer Smith of the Twelfth — familiarly known in Manchester as 
"Snuffy" Smith. We found quite a neat little office, with a real so- 
ciable Vermont printer running the establishment. 

About the middle of the forenoon we had a wild gale here, com- 
ing off the bay, and the river was full of vessels fleeing to shelter 
under the Point. Desmond and I went out this evening and brought 
in a couple boards, which we have cut up into length for bunks ; but 
as we have yet to make a raise on some nails, we will use them to- 
night for a floor, and I guess we will need one, for it looks as if we 
were going to have a great shower. 

Thursday Morning, August 13. 

Last night we had a holy terror of a storm. The wind blew al- 
most a hurricane, the water was a continuous deluge, and the thunder 
and lightning were terrific. Many of the tents went down, but ours 
stood up nobly. Those boards of ours were a perfect godsend, as a 
brook of no mean proportions ran through our tent, and we were 
perched above it, high if not dry. Jess. Dewey's tent was one of 
those that blew over, and everything in it got thoroughly soaked. I 
thought, at one time, ours would have to go. It must have been a 
sight, Dan. and I each hugging a tent-pole and holding it down for 
dear life. 


Point Lookout, Md., August 18, rSbj. 

I WAS terribly provoked this evening. I had just got comforta- 
bly settled down to write a letter when I was ordered out on a 
detail. I soon found it was to load boards, at the wharf, for the 
sutler. As I was on guard last night, and going on again tomorrow, 
it looked to me very much like crowding the mourners ; and more 

122 A Soldier Boy's Letters 

than that, I did not like being ordered out to do work they have no 
right to put on a soldier anyway ; but to keep peace in the family I 
went and did the work, and now, at ten o'clock, I have got back to 
my letter. 1 have been very busy today, and have something to 
show for it. Dan and I got hold of some more boards and immedi- 
ately proceeded to build a palace. We have a good one, the walls 
tour feet high with our big tent perched on top, a bunk on each 
side, a table, and lots of spare room, not to mention a well-fitted 
board floor. 

We have an addition to our company in the shape of a contra- 
band who come across from Virginia in a little dugout canoe the 
other night. We took him in to the cook, and he is earning his 

Wednesday Morning, August /<?. 

We are getting quite a gathering of prisoners here. Several hun- 
dred arrived yesterday. The increasing force of prisoners calls for 
extra vigilance on our part. We now have two Dahlgren boat how- 
itzers posted so as to command the rebel camp, and are going to 
have four more. The rebels are set to do their own work — to dig 
wells, build cook houses, &c. In such a crowd you will altvays find 
a proportion of smarties, and a few of the lordly ones kicked up a 
rumpus and swore they would not do any work for the United 
States. They changed their mind when they were strung up without 
any parley, and the joke of the thing was that a good many of the 
prisoners were tickled to death to see them disciplined. 

Did you ever know Sam. Newell? He was one of the squad that 
enlisted from our company into the regular cavalry last fall. When 
we were in Washington on our way down here, he came on from the 
front with a lot of dismounted cavalrymen, and when we came down 
here he simply got homesick. So he got on board the boat and 
came along with us. This was nothing more nor less than desertion, 
and he was arrested here and put under guard. But one fine morn- 
ing Samuel turns up missing and is not heard from again for several 
days, when he appears at the guard house under full military escort 
and is again in the toils and more carefully guarded than before. 
When he ran away he went up country about forty miles and let 
himself to work in a sawmill. 'I he owner has a schooner on which 
he ships wood down here to the Point, and the next trip he made 

A Soldier Boy's Letters 123 

Sam. came along to help work the boat. He kept pretty shady 
while they were unloading here, but one of our officers got his eye on' 
him and Sam was ingloriously dragged out of his hole. I guess 
most of those fellows who went into the cavalry wish they had stayed 
with the old Second. They missed that long furlough at home, and 
life with the regulars is not like soldiering with your own crowd of 
old-time friends and acquaintances. 


Point Lookout, Md., August 22, iSbj. 

IRENE [Mrs. Wasley,] Mrs. Col. Carr and some other women 
came down on the boat day before yesterday. I got the little 
bundle, ate the cakes, enjoyed your cooking, and was delighted with 
the fine towel. We now have four or five times as many prisoners 
here as there are men to guard them. I put a picture in the mail 
today. It will look quite pretty framed, but I value it most as a 
record up to date of the boys of Company I. I only wish the copy 
had been prepared by some one a little more accustomed to that 
sort of work. 


Point Lookout, Md., August 2b. /S6j. 

HAVE just been up to see Mrs. Irene Stokes Wasley, and she 
had lots to tell me about you — so much she almost made 
me homesick. Mrs. Bailey came down on the boat Monday even- 
ing, and we catch a glimpse of her and the colonel parading. Dan 
expresses the opinion that they are a mighty wee bit of a couple. 

The other night, while I was on guard at Marston's headquar- 
ters, we had a queer lot there under guard. 1 here were fifteen men 
who said they had run away from Richmond to escape conscription. 
Some of them would not take the oath of allegiance, and it is said 
they will be returned to their friends — sent across and landed on 
the Virginia shore. They were mostly Irishmen and Jews, and it was 
the Irishmen who were willing to take the oath. 

i-4 A Soldier Boy's Letters 

Now I must tell you of one of the meanest little skunks that ever 
lived. He is a brother of our second lieutenant. He is familiarly 
known as "Culpepper," and the boys hate him devotedly. He is 
not enlisted, but ran away from the Reform School and came on 
with us. He is one of the most incorrigable little thieves that ever 
was. On the march through Maryland, while we were camped for 
a little while near Emmitsburg, he had a large sum of money which 
he pretended to have found in a box in a ditch, but which some of 
the boys now believe was stolen from the poor box of the convent 
there. Be that as it may, he has been engaged in two or three bad 
scrapes here which should furnish sufficient cause for having him 
arrested or sent home. His latest exploit was to crawl into the 
house of a man named Murphy, near the camp. He got in through 
a window, and Mrs. Murphy came in and caught him rummaging 
her bureau. She grabbed him, but he fought and scratched and bit 
until he got away, and now he is roaming around as big as ever, 
notwithstanding Mrs. Murphy declares several dollars in money are 
missing. The young scoundrel says he knocked a bag in at the 
window and climbed in to get it. His brother pretends to believe 
he is innocent, and shields him. 

We are going in for improvements here, just as they do in other 
enterprising cities. A brick oven is being built which will take in a 
pile of beans, meat or bread. Bill Summers, our company cook, is 
the architect and mason ; the next company's cook is the tender. 
Clay is used for mortar, and where the bricks come from is one of 
the company secrets. Another job that it has taken all day to ac- 
complish is the raising of a flag staff, eighty feet high, on the parade 
ground in front of the regiment. 

Evening. — Dan. and I have just risen in our wrath and put an 
end to — well, I won't try to tell how many millions of flies. By the 
judicious application of a couple of towels we wiped cartloads of 
them from the face of the earth. If any escaped to tell the tale, 
some fly historian will record August 26 as the fateful day when a 
wild Irishman and a crazy Yankee ran amuck at Point Lookout. 
Now Dan. is reading, in peace, an account of the operations at 
Charleston, the knocking to pieces of Fort Sumter, and wishing we 
could take the cussed city. 

A Soldier Boy's Letters 125 


Point LOOKOUT, Mi)., September 3, /$bj, 

^ UARD DUTY has been pretty strenuous for a time — everv 


other day, but with three reliefs. Now, however, the pris- 
on camp has been extended, doubling the number of posts around 
it, and we are put to it to find men enough to make two reliefs — the 
men being on post twelve hours out of twenty-four, every other day. 
Monday I marched a beat three hours at one time, and over four 
hours at another. But Marston has taken the matter in hand and 
ordered up reinforcements — that is, he has ordered that every man 
in these two regiments shall take a gun. All officers' waiters and 
other bummers are to be returned to their companies for duty and 
their places filled by contrabands. If carried out it will help us out 
some. Yesterday I had a very pleasant tour of duty, being on picket 
some distance from camp, on a narrow neck of land between the 
bay and creek, where I could sit down while on post. 

There is, naturally, more or less discussion as to the possibility 
of the rebels raiding over here from the Virginia shore, but they will 
not venture on any such foolhardy expedition. They took two of 
our small boats up in the Rappahannock river the other day and are 
reported to be mounting heavy guns on them, but they would have 
about as much show against our gunboats here as a boy with a bean- 
shooter would. 

Last night about forty prisoners and convalescents came down 
from Alexandria, and among the number was Bill Ramsdell. Not- 
withstanding his escapades he is a fine fellow and I was glad to see 
him. Our oven is completed and is a work of art. There are a 
great many schooners out in the river, raking for oysters, and peo- 
ple here say mackerel will be plenty before long. 

Some of our Johnny Rebs have been trying to get away. Bv 
some means three of them got out by the guard the other night and. 
started for the country. They didn't get far — only to the creek 
which makes Point Lookout almost an island. It is pretty wide at 
this end, quite a little pond, and looks more formidable for wading 
than it really is. One of their party couldn't swim, so they finally 
hid in the bushes, where they were found the next morning. They 
didn'c make a very good job of it. "Hang 'em !" said Marston^ 
"they won't stay and let us treat 'em well, when we want to," 

126 A Soldier Boy's Letters 

George Slade has not made his appearance yet, and I think he 
has not been heard from. 

I see by the list of drafted men in the papers that some of the 
meanest Copperheads in New London and Newbury have been 
drawn, and now I am interested to see what they propose to do. I 
wi>h they would send a few of the worst ones out here for the old 
Second to break in. 

'1 he Paymaster came down here a week ago and paid us up to 
the first of July, but he didn't have to disburse a great amount of 
money to the rank and file. The clothing account was squared up, 
and there were but very few men who had not overdrawn their al- 
lowance. Some did not have pay enough coming to balance their 
clothing account. To add insult to injury, company property, such 
as canteens, haversacks and rubber blankets were put down on the 
men's clothing accounts. Alba Woods had 74 cents coming to him 
and I was not much better off. We doubtless have to thank some 
desk officer up at Washington, who is drawing, perhaps, several 
thousand dollars a year and perquisites, for this raid on the fellows 
who are drawing thirteen dollars a month and doing the fighting. 


Point LOOKOUT, Md,, September 7. fSOj. 

THE men who like to fish are having the time of their lives. 
My particular passion is crab fishing. The outfit consists of 
a boat, a piece of fish or meat on the end of a string, and a dip-net. 
Three or four of us coast along the shore, and when a crab is sight- 
ed the bait is thrown to him, he fastens onto it and is tolled up 
within reach of the dip-net. There is a big sea turtle here in the 
cove. We see him every day. Some of the boys say they are just 
dying to get hold of his tail or flippers and be towed out a piece. 
What some negroes will risk for liberty was well illustrated by a 
slave family that came over last night from Virginia. There were a 
man and his wife and three children. '1 hey traveled all day, on 
foot, to reach the river. Then, although the water was very rough, 
they all packed into a little "dugout" canoe and got safely across 
the six or eight miles of tossing waters that to them was the high- 

A Soldier Boy's Letters 127 

way to liberty. A syndicate of us bought the canoe, and Sam. Oli- 
ver and I tried it out today. 

Day before yesterday we were reinforced by a company of regu- 
lar cavalry that came down from Washington on the boat. They 
were from the same regiment so many of our boys went into a year 
ago, and we have learned the fate of some of them. Rod. Manning 
was killed, a few days ago, in a cavalry fight near Culpepper, and 
Nich. Biglin — our "Heenan" — is supposed to have been killed, as 
he had a bad saber cut and a bullet wound and could not be carried 
away. [He died in Andersonville.] Father will remember Rod. 
Manning as my tentmate at Alexandria. I am glad I did not blun- 
der into the regulars with the other boys, for although we have had 
a rough time of it, they have had a rougher. A third of those who 
went from Company I are dead. When the boys went off to get 
transferred they urged me to go with them, and perhaps the only 
thing that saved me was the fact that I had come off a hard picket 
turn the night before and hated to crawl out of my warm nest. 

Several more rebel prisoners have escaped, and in consequence 
of the growing propensity to run away they have had their watches, 
money and other valuables taken away from them, and they have 
been restricted in many privileges they formerly enjoyed. I under- 
stand a board fence is to be put around the prison camp, and that 
will help some ; but the crying need is for more men to do guard 
duty. Some of the men who ran away have been recaptured. 

Most of our married officers have their wives here and are keep- 
ing house in the little tenements on "Chesapeake Avenue." 


Point Lookout, Md., September q, rSOj. 

BILL RAMSDELL had his trial today, but I have heard noth- 
ing of its course or result. Bill told me he was going to 
plead his own cause. In any civil court he would be acquitted ; but 
this is a military court, and Bill is only a private, and I am not so 
sure. It is getting to be more and more so that there is one law for 
officers and another for enlisted men. Shoulder-straps are a great 
protection to the men wearing them. For instance : At Washington 

128 A Soldikr Boy's LETTERS 

Colonel Bailey broke a sergeant for getting drunk, and issued a ter- 
rible manifesto decreeing condign punishment for any one who 
should disgrace the regiment in a like manner. Now for the sequel. 
A few days ago one of our officers appeared at guard-mount so glo- 
riously drunk that he could not walk straight, and made a big bull 
of the whole ceremony, to the disgrace both of himself and the reg- 
iment. Has he been disciplined as the sergeant was? Not on your 

Friday Evening, Se ptet n b tT it. 

Now for a tale of wild adventure ! I came off guard at nine 
o'clock this morning, and Sam. Oliver and I arranged to go a-fishing. 
We did not get off until after dinner, which for Dan. and I consisted 
of a big mess-pan of potatoes and bread and butter. We worked 
pretty hard to find some worms for bait, but not a worm could be 
found on the Point ; so we caught a few grasshoppers and a crab 
and started in a dugout for a point about two miles up the river. 
We fished diligently and faithfully, but not a fish came to our hooks. 
But we were repaid for our trouble by several very near views of the 
giant turtles which have lately made their appearance here. Several 
times they came up close to the boat. If they can bite as savagely 
as a "snapper" in proportion to their size — O, my ! Their heads 
looked as large as a man's, and their spread of flippers was tremen- 
dous. They would stick their heads out of the water, give a big 
puff, and lazily roll under again. As we couldn't catch fish, we went 
ashore, had a good swim, and then went home. Then I found I 
had left a rebel officer's belt on the beach, and I paddled the boat 
back again and picked up the belt. 

Here is another : Colonel Bailey, Steve Smiley and a few others 
went out sailing, yesterday, in a dugout they had rigged up with a 
keel and a sail. They had no trouble running out before the wind, 
but when it came to beating back they couldn't get anywhere. They 
went kiting about, hither and thither, and their boat did everything 
but what they wanted it to. One of our armed schooners fired two 
shots to bring them to, but they couldn't heave to if the fate of the 
world had depended on it. At last they came within an ace of run- 
ning down one of the gunboats, which obligingly lowered a boat and 
towed them ashore. 

1 do not know yet the result of Bill Ramsdell's court martial, 

A Soldier Boy's Letters 129 

but he says he is perfectly satisfied with the way he got his side of 
the case in. The President of the court did not hesitate to say that 
Bill's treatment had been "shameful" in some particulars. 

We have not had a drop of rain here for some time, although it 
is cloudy almost every day and looks as if it was going to pour right 
away. But we have an almost constant breeze, which is very re- 
freshing, although it is so late in the season that it begins to be a 
little cool. 

Old Dan. is the prince of story tellers. He tells me stories of 
Ireland and of his own adventures there and elsewhere. I like to 
hear him. He will start in with some entirely reasonable and prob- 
able narrative. Then he tells me something a little steeper, which 
I pretend to swallow. Properly encouraged, he goes on, each time 
improving on his last, until Gulliver and Munchausen sink into in- 
significance. Then I say : "Och, Dan., what a divvle of a liar ye 
are !" He twists his picked nose, snaps his eyes, and the show is 


Point Lookout, Md., September iS, iS6j. 

I WAS on guard yesterday, coming off this morning, and it was 
a lucky strike, as a rain storm has just set in. So while the 
poor fellows on duty today are paddling up and down in the wet, I 
will sit in my comfortable tent, nice and dry. But if the storm holds 
on tomorrow my crowing will be over and Pll be the one out in the 
cold. Our Seventeenth men will leave us very soon. Their time is 
up, but they are being kept here on the plea of waiting for a mus- 
tering officer and paymaster. There are three still doing duty in 
Company I. We had six, but three have died. Since our anival 
here the regiment has lost five by death, four of whom were from 
the Seventeenth. 

A good portion of our Reb prisoners, being out of ready monev, 
have taken to manufacturing little trinkets for sale to our men. 
They make bone rings and bosom pins and other ornaments, some 
of which are of remarkable workmanship. And they make wooden 
fans which are very ingenious. 

130 A Soldier Boy's Letters 

If the Fifth Regiment are coming down to help us I wish they 
would come along. 1 have got tired of standing guard every other 
day as regularly as days come around. We hear they are not hav- 
ing as good a time at home as we did. I had rather be out here 
than to be cooped up as they are, right at their homes and yet not 
permitted to spend their time there. 

Sunday Evening, September 20. 

The Governor, Jack Hale and Dan. Clark were down here yes- 
terday and made speeches to a crowd at headquarters. Hale said 
we would probably stay here until we are discharged, and that we 
had not got much longer to serve. 


Point Lookout, Md., September 28, 1863. 

NOW I can answer your question as to what I think has be- 
come of George Slade. This very minute I have received 
a letter from him, dated at Camp Parole, Annapolis. He has just 
got in from Richmond, where he has been a prisoner at Belle Isle. 

I am going to burn just four inches of candle. When not on 
duty the boys have fine times boating and fishing. As soon as we 
got off guard today I went a-fishing with two other fellows, and did 
not get back till the middle of the afternoon. We had a grand time 
and poor luck. I got only three. 

There was a great naval disaster last Saturday. Steve Smiley 
and three or four other bold mariners have been fitting up a boat 
that was intended to be the boss of the fleet. Saturday, with a stiff 
breeze blowing, they set out for a sail. They went down the river 
in grand style and out into the bay. There was an injudicious com- 
bination of a cranky boat, too much sail and too much wind, and 
the first thing they knew the boat was bottom side up with care and 
the crew afloat on the fierce rolling tide. A gunboat sent a boat to 
pick them up, and they returned to camp wiser and wetter men. 

We are receiving batches of prisoners every few days now. The 
Fort Delaware prisoners are being transferred here, a steamer being 
kt-pt busy all the time. There are said to be about nine thousand 
there awaiting transfer. Day before yesterday we had an arrival of 
prisoners taken on Morris Island, S. C. 

A Soldier Boy's Letters 131 

We are building a stockade across "the neck," a narrow strip 
of sand connecting the Point with the mainland. I don't know 
whether I wrote you, a short time ago, about five rebels escaping 
from here. Well, in a squad which was brought in a few days ago 
who should appear but one of these same fellows, back again ! He 
had made his way to his regiment, got into a skirmish immediately 
on his arrival, and was again taken prisoner and returned to his old 

Some of our officers are a good deal exercised just now with 
fears for their positions. Under the new regulations a regiment 
must have a certain number of men to entitle it to a colonel, and a 
company more than sixty men to entitle it to a second lieutenant. 
And the fact that our regiment, with its reduced rolls, is not entitled 
to anything higher than a major in command, and no company has 
men enough to give it a second lieutenant, has impressed our offi- 
cers with a settled conviction that the regiment should be filled up 
with conscripts. Our second lieutenants have nearly all been made 
since the first of July, when the order went into effect. But one of 
them told me, yesterday, that Governor Gilmore had got ahead of 
the Government by dating their commissions back beyond the first 
of July. But for all that, some of them who have not yet been mus- 
tered are fearful they never will be. It is a solemn fact that we now 
have more officers, commissioned and non-commissioned, than we 
have privates doing duty in this regiment. 

Thursday, October i. 

Last night I was on patrol duty in the prison camp — really a 
sort of policeman to see that order was maintained, and especially 
that there were no unusual gatherings which might develope into an 
attempt to rush the camp guard. The only assemblage permitted 
was a religious meeting in an open space in camp — a regular old- 
fashioned prayer meeting, the character of which was accepted as a 
guaranty against treachery. Mafston thinks some of the prisoners 
are plotting an outbreak, which is not at all improbable, as in such 
a gathering there are sure to be more or less enterprising hot-heads. 
One of these insisted on passing a sentry's beat the other night, in 
spite of all commands to halt. When he did halt he had a wooden 
"tompion" in his leg, the sentry having forgotten to remove it from 
the muzzle of his gun. 

X3 2 A Soldier Boy's Letters 

I have a good matrass, made by filling my bunk with hay, then 
pulling my old shelter tent over it and nailing down at the sides. 


Point Lookolt, Md., October 8. /86j. 

THE story is going that, the last of this month, the colonel, 
lieutenant-colonel and all the second lieutenants of this regi- 
ment are to be mustered out, as we have not men enough to allow 
us these officers. In my company there are seven privates doing 
duty, and three commissioned officers, which seems to be rather a 
top-heavy organization. The men are watching the course of events 
with a good deal of amused interest, and the officers with an equal 
amount of anxiety. 

A shanty for a Masonic lodge is being put up today. Desmond 
suggests that there is more need of a comfortable guard house. But 
Dan. is a devoted Catholic and doesn't believe in Masons anyway. 

The fence around the prisoners' camp is progressing rapidly. It 
is about a dozen feet high. Five of the Rebs made an attempt to 
escape night before last. One hid himself under the commissary 
building, but was soon found, and the hole through which he had 
crawled was securely boarded up. 

Friday Evening. 

I went on guard tonight at 5 and did not get relieved till after 8 
and am feeling pretty cross. I saw in a paper tonight a list of the 
men drafted in Manchester. There were some I was glad to have 
drawn, although I doubt if there is the making of one good soldier 
in the whole crowd. 

Our guard duty will be somewhat easier hereafter, as the fence 
is nearly completed and less posts will be required around the camp. 
Already we can divide our men into three reliefs instead of two, thus 
giving us a chance to get a little sleep between times. 


A Soldier Boy's Letters 133 


Point Lookout, Md,, Oetober 27, 1863. 

TWO of our fellows who were captured at Gettysburg have got 
in from the parole camp at Annapolis. When they came I 
expected to see George Slade with them. I had a letter from him 
only a few days before announcing that he had just got in from a 
"hell upon earth" — a rebel prison — "tired, dirty and lousy," as he 
expressed it — and asking me to send him five dollars. And now 
they bring me word that he is dead. I had no better friend in the 
regiment than good, loyal old George Slade. 

Another detachment of the Second Cavalry has arrived here, 
among whom are some of the boys who went out of our regiment at 
Alexandria, and from them we get authentic news of all the boys. 
Rod. Manning was killed instantly at Culpepper — shot in the mouth. 
"Heenan" was not killed, although he had a fierce saber cut on his 
head. When our boys went to pick him up he told them to let him 
die where he was. They were, in fact, so hard pressed that they 
could not have got him off anyway. But he has since turned up as 
a prisoner in Richmond. 

There has been a little disturbance up country. One of our of- 
ficers engaged in recruiting negroes was shot by an exasperated 
slaveholder. Another officer came down today for a force to go up 
and preserve order, and also for a gunboat to prevent them from 
running their slaves from Maryland over into Virginia. A detach- 
ment of cavalry has gone up. It beats everything how the contra- 
bands are coming in both from Maryland and Virginia. They come 
sometimes in squads of fifteen or twenty, and most of the men go 
into the army or some branch of the government service. Those 
coming from Maryland are not sent back into bondage, as formerly, 
but if the owner is loyal he receives three hundred dollars for his 
man, who is put in the army. This will make Maryland a free state 
before many years. The situation is very displeasing to the old se- 
cesh planters. 

We are building a combination guard- and block house, of logs, 
in which a howitzer will be mounted to command the main entrance 
to the prison camp. 


134 A Soldier Boy's Letters 

One of our men who deserted at Yorktown returned today — 
brought back under guard ; and I hear there are quite a number of 
men at Washington who deserted right after the first Bull Run bat- 
tle. It will be a corker on them if they have to make up the time 
they have lost. 

I have a bundle of curios I would like to send home by express. 
There is no express office here, but the sutler brings down all the 
express matter directed to the Point. Bill Pendleton, of this com- 
pany, who was mail agent, used to carry bundles to Washington for 
the boys, but he had some trouble with the captain of the boat and 
has been relieved. 


Point Lookout, Md., Nmember t, /St>j. 

MY BOX came today, bringing a good supply of clothing, so 
I think I can hold out pretty comfortably this winter. I 
am, also, unusually well fixed as to quarters. Have rearranged to 
take in Bill Pendleton. Bill and I have an upper bunk, and Dan a 
lower bunk all to himself. Bill has a good matrass and half a dozen 
quilts and we undress and go to bed like folks. I found much more 
of an eatable nature than I expected in my box. We are clearing 
out cakes, pies and apples, and are surveying one of those big on- 
ions to find the most available point of attack. 

Bill Ramsdell won out in his court martial, was acquitted, re- 
leased from arrest, and returned to the company for duty yesterday. 
I find Bill has a very bitter feeling against Captain Gordon and 
attributes most of his troubles to him. The captain warmly con- 
gratulated Bill and told him he had done everything he could to 
secure his acquittal. But Bill grimly says he knows better. 

Last night was a night of excitement over attempts of prisoners 
to escape. Three or four different parties had their plans all laid. 
One squad had made arrangements with a sentry to let five men 
pass beyond his beat, paying him a handsome sum in greenbacks ; 
but no sooner did he get their money than he betrayed them to the 
provost marshal. The consequence was that a squad of cavalrymen 
was lying in wait and two of the adventurers were severely wounded. 

A Soldier Boy's Letters 135 

The sympathies of our boys are all with the Rebs and against the 
fellow who was mean enough to take their money and then give 
them away. Two other parties had tunnels completed from their 
tents to a point outside the fence, but their schemes miscarried. I 
was down at my tent, eating my supper, when the "long roll" beat 
at the guard house, and I never knew before that there were so 
many logs and mud holes on Point Lookout as I tumbled over and 
into in my haste to answer the call. 

Monday Evening. 

More improvements ! I wish you could see our stove. It is the 
biggest box stove ever made, I guess. It is not exactly in our tent, 
but one end is. If the whole apparatus was there wouldn't be room 
for anything else. It is a government stove. We discovered a nest 
of about fifty, and one dark night not long ago the Second confis- 
cated the whole lot. I hear they are coming around tomorrow to 
pick them up, in which event we have done a good deal of heavy 
lugging for nothing. 

Col. Bailey has been living in one of the houses "down town," 
but today his tent is being fixed up for his reception. I do not 
know whether he is going to move his wife up to camp or not. 

Being off duty today I went oystering. Got lots of them, and 
cut my fingers all to pieces shucking them. 

Two volunteer recruits for our company came down on the boat 
tonight. They are a decided novelty — living proofs that there are 
a few left who do not wait to be drafted. 


Point Lookout, Md., November S, /S6j. 

THERE is more trouble for our last batch of second lieuten- 
ants. When commissioned, their names were dropped from 
the rolls of enlisted men; but when it came to being mustered, it 
could not be done, the regiment not having men enough. They are 
not on the rolls of enlisted men, and cannot be mustered as officers, 
so they are wondering where they are and how they are going to get 
any pay for the past four months. It is a serious problem for some 
of them who have spent considerable sums on officers' outfits. 

136 A Soldi kr Boy's Letters 

My big stove, "The Swamp Angel," has been taken away, and I 
don't know as I am very sorry, it was such an infernally clumsy 
contrivance. We had the fun of stealing it, anyway. Captain Gor- 
d >n says he has made arrangements for a little sheet iron stove for 
each tent, which will be much better. 

Our two new recruits from Manchester have both been placed 
in my tent. One, named Messenger, was in the Sixteenth Regiment. 
I do not remember the name of the other. [Jason Sherwood, a 
Seventeenth man, who served in Company F and re-enlisted shortly 
after his discharge.] 

A couple of steamers were in collision, out on the bay, Friday 
night. One, the "Curfew," was sunk, and the other, the "Louisi- 
ana," was towed in here the next day by a gunboat. One of them, 
it is stated, has been engaged in the hunt for the "Alabama." 

Last Wednesday was state election day in Maryland, and several 
wagons rigged out with flags and banners, and loaded with citizens 
and unarmed soldiers, went up to St. Mary's. It reminded me of 
some of my old election rackets in New Hampshire. 

The wild geese are beginning to come along. One small flock 
passed over the camp yesterday. Quite a number of shots were 
fired at them, and one big fellow came down. The residents here 
say there will be big rafts of them on the river this winter. 

A schooner has just gone ashore near camp, in trying to get 
around the point. Our guard details are so arranged now that we 
are on duty only every fourth day. If this continues, we will have 
an easy time this winter. 


Point Lookout, Mb., tfov*tmb*r 14. rSCij. 

ri^HE FIFTH REGIMENT has just landed and gone into camp. 
1 They came down from Washington yesterday afternoon, but 
did not land until this morning. There are 750, mostly substitutes, 
and I hear they have not come to help us on guard duty, but to be 
drilled preparatory to going to the front. We have the cutest little 
sheet-iron stove that ever was, set up and in running order. 

A Soldier Boy's Letters 137 

Monday Afternoon. 

Our new-comers of the Fifth are the toughest crowd I ever saw 
credited to New Hampshire. They are loaded with money paid to 
them as substitutes, and no sooner were they landed than almost 
every man was loading up with supplies from the sutler's. They are 
not going to do any guard duty, so we hear and so it appears. They 
are kept very close, having a guard about their camp, and cannot 
get out without a pass. If they had the same freedom the Second 
has, there would doubtless be a grand hiatus of the bounty fellows. 

Two prisoners were shot yesterday. The Fifth's drum corps was 
playing "Dixie," and when they got through the Rebs crowded up 
to the fence and gave "Three cheers for Dixie !" The demonstra- 
tion soon became riotous and threatening, and was passing beyond 
all control, when the Twelfth man on guard at that point fired into 
the crowd and brought the crazy fellows to their senses. 

Bill Ramsdell is doing duty right along, but he came very near 
getting into another scrape the other night. You must know that 
we soldiers have a free-and-easy way of appropriating to our own 
use any little bit of government property that will contribute to our 
comfort. It isn't stealing. We all do it. The government has sent 
whole shiploads of boards here, for fences, houses, &c, and if we 
fellows want one or two to build a bunk or fix our quarters, we take 
them, and no harm done. Well, the other night Bill went out on a 
piratical cruise, shouldered a board, and was almost into camp with 
it when, as ill luck would have it, he ran up against General Mars- 
ton himself, who ordered him to drop his load, personally escorted 
him down to headquarters, and turned him over to the guard. But 
Bill pulled up two or three tent-pins, crawled out under the canvas, 
and in due time appeared in camp lugging his board, which he had 
gathered in again on his way up. As all this took place at night, 
and as the Twelfth was on guard, Bill flattered himself no one would 
ever be any wiser as to who the prisoner was. But he was recog- 
nized by one of the guard, who thought the escape of Marston's 
own prisoner too good a thing to keep, and it leaked to the officer 
of the guard. In due time a guard appeared in camp hunting for 
"a man named Ramsdell." But nobody knew any such man. '1 he 
guard was a mighty decent fellow, and didn't rake with a fine-tooth 
comb. We kept Bill out of sight until a new officer of the guard 

138 A Soldier Boy's Letters 

came on, when the matter was forgotten or dropped at headquarters. 
I did not get off with my guard duty day before yesterday quite 
as well as I expected. A cold rain set in, and if it had not been for 
the overcoat and rubber blanket that came in my box, I should have 
suffered. That day we occupied, for the first time, the new guard 
house, which, however, had not been shingled, and it rained harder 
inside than out. So I came down to my tent and sat while not on 
post, and in this way made the best of a dismal situation. 


Point Lookoit, Md., 
Saturday Evening, Nn'ember 21, /SOj. 

RAINY and dreary outside, but inside is warmth and comfort. 
There is a good fire in the little stove, the tent is tight as a 
drum, and there is a snug warm bunk for me when I get ready to 
turn in. 

You appear to be having quite a little run of adventures. Well, 
here is one of mine. The other day I took an outing up into the 
country, just to see what sort of a place it is up there. It was dark 
when I got within a mile of camp, and I was tired and anxious to 
get in the shortest way. I knew that by the route which would save 
me half my travel I would have to wade a network of little creeks, 
but that didn't trouble me, and across-lots I started. \Vading into 
creek No. i, I found myself up to my middle, with a strong tide 
setting in. But I was in for it, and I kept forging ahead, but when 
I came to the last crossing I wished I had gone the other way. This 
was at the point where the creek empties into the river. It was not 
wide, but the tide was setting into it like a millrace. I waded in. 
Once or twice I thought I would be swept off my feet and floated 
up the creek like a piece of driftwood. But I got through — and so 
ended my soul-stirring adventure. 

It is reported that we are to have "Sibley" tents for winter quar- 
ters, and that all the improvements we have been making will have 
to go to make way for the new arrangement. The Sibley is much 
larger than our A-tents, and is a great canvas cone supported by a 
center pole. Ours are to be stockaded about four feet high on logs 
planted on end in the ground, and ten men will make a tent's crew. 

A Soldier Boy's Letters 139 

Each tent is equipped with a stove, and the whole outfit makes the 
most comfortable quarters imaginable. The only drawback is the 
trouble of making the change. 

The new men of the Fifth are making a great deal of trouble by 
their attempts to desert. Last Tuesday several made the venture, 
and one party got clean away by taking a boat from the beach at 
our camp. As a result, Marston has ordered all the boats taken 
away, and there is the end of our boating and oyster raking. Two 
Subs managed to get out to a schooner, and struck a bargain with a 
negro — who was captain, cook and all hands — to set them on shore 
outside our picket line. As they landed, a squad of mounted men 
went tearing up the beach and gathered them in, while a gunboat 
went after the schooner and brought it in as a prize. 

Colonel Bailey has had an old shanty moved up here, which I 
suppose he intends to have fixed up for himself and wife. He has 
been quartering down on the point, and it is reported that General 
Marston has ordered him to make his quarters with his regiment. 

Rats ! Rats ! ! Rats ! ! ! We are overrun with them. They 
swarm everywhere, and are big enough to waylay a cat. They run 
over us as we lie in our bunks, and the other night one dropped 
plump in my face from the upper bunk. One of the fellows in that 
bunk got his hand on one and combed it across the tent, where it 
struck the boards with a loud thump and a terrified squeak. 

I hear the Fifth are going to take their turn at guard duty to- 
morrow. If they do it will make our duty much easier. 



Point Lookout, Md., November 28, /Sbj. 

UITE a relief it is to us overworked fellows to have the Fifth 
take their turn at guard duty. We cannot now be called 
uporr*oftener than every third day, and probably not as often as 
that. You need have no uneasiness about small pox here. There 
is only one case in this regiment, so far as I know. Most of the 
cases are from the prison camp. The small pox hospital is outside 
the lines, and the guard are immunes who have had the disease. 

Evening. — I have just had a good supper of oysters, and the pa- 
pers bring us news of a great victory at Chattanooga, so I am feeling 
pretty well both in body and mind. 

140 A Soldier Boy's Letters 


Point Lookout, Md., 
Sunday, December 6, iSbj. 

IF I had only known, I need not have been dreading, as I have, 
the cold nights coming, with guard duty out in the snow and 
rain. I have served now coming on three years, without asking any 
favors nor getting any. But last Tuesday Colonel Bailey issued an 
order detailing me as mail carrier for this regiment. It is decidedly 
the softest job at Point Lookout. I am entirely relieved from all 
guard duty and drill. Our mail comes in every other day, and I go 
down to the boat — about a quarter of a mile — bring up the mail and 
distribute it, and the next morning carry the outgoing mail down to 
the boat, j hat is all there is to it. Really an army postmaster. 
Jesse Dewey has been performing double duty for a time, as orderly 
sergeant and mail carrier, but the two jobs interfered with each oth- 
er, and I am the beneficiary. 

During the past week our regiment received an installment of 
about 175 substitutes. Company I got a dose of twenty. There 
are a few good men among them, but they are mighty few. Most 
of them are foreigners, and many of them are just watching for an 
opportunity to desert. Three or four got away the other night in a 
boat that came ashore from one of the gunboats. The officer left 
his boat without a guard, and perhaps there wasn't any swearing 
when he came for it and it was gone. It takes the iron hand to 
keep such a gang in bounds. More than twenty of them have al- 
ready been tied up to the flagstaff, bucked and gagged, or otherwise 
disciplined. We have never had a guard around our camp until to- 
day, but now it is to be a fixture. So much extra work for the boys, 
all on account of these human vermin that New Hampshire is filling 
up her old regiments with. The old men are terribly disgruntled. 
It makes no difference to me personally, and it does seem good to 
turn in every night for an unbroken rest, 'lhe story is going that 
we are to be relieved by detachments of the Invalid Corps and sent 
to the front before long. I have no idea though that we will be sent 
away until the spring campaign opens. George Colby came down 
the first of the week and is clerking in Bailey's sutler shop. [Ceo. 
II., then of Manchester, and later, until his tragic death, in the em- 
ploy of the railroad at Plymouth, N. H.] 

A Soldier Boy's Letters 141 


Point Lookout, Md., 

Sunday, December /j, /SOj. 

THE mail did not go to Washington today. Last night, after I 
had gone to bed and to sleep, the mail agent came in, woke 
me up, and told me to have my mail at headquarters before three 
o'clock. So I turned out of my bunk at half-past two. It was dark 
as a pocket, raining great guns, and the wind blowing a hurricane. 
I put on my overcoat and rubber poncho and paddled down to 
headquarters. But, a few minutes ago, Jess. Dewey stuck his head 
into the tent and told me the mail agent was still here and the mail 
had not gone out yet. 

It is among the possibilities that the rebels may attempt to res- 
cue the prisoners here, and every precaution is being taken against 
any such movement. The road up into the country is patrolled at 
night, and the gunboat squadron has been reinforced until we now 
have ten vessels here ready for any emergency. 

Frank Everett, in the Manchester Mirror office, writes his 
brother Henry that Farnsworth is back in the American office, hav- 
ing resigned his position in the army. 

Monday, December 14. 

There has been a terrible gale today, and it is a wonder to me 
that my tent has not taken to itself wings and flown away. Efforts 
are soon to be made to get the old men to re-enlist. They will be 
given a furlough of thirty days and a big bounty. Captain Gordon 
is to be the recruiting officer for this regiment, and will commence 
operations very soon. I shall not re-enlist. 


.Point Lookout, Md., December iq, /St)j. 

OUR OLD REGIMENT got another dose today— 350 Subs., 
off the same piece as our first lot. It is tough on us old 
New Hampshire boys. Quite a number of our precious Subs got 
away night before last, and yesterday morning a detachment started 
out to scour the country for them. Four were picked up and sent 

M- A Soldier Boy's Letters 

in yesterday. The detachment has not yet returned, and are search- 
ing every barn and haystack, and we hope they will get some more, 
li\ing or dead — preferably dead. 

Sunday, December 20. 

This is comfort — the wood pile for a seat and my overcoat for a 
cushion. It is cold and blustering outside, but a good fire in our 
hide stove makes it warm and comfortable within. By the way, I 
am going to move before long — am to have a tent all to myself, for 
a post office. 

'lhe old rumor factory is in full operation. The latest story is 
quite ingenious. According to this story, which has leaked down to 
some veracious fellow from some headquarters, the old men of the 
regiment are to be mounted and take the place of the cavalry de- 
tachment now here. Bill Ramsdell is to be sergeant-major of the 
new organization, but our non-commissioned officers are to stay and 
look after the conscripts. 

Mrs. Bailey has gone home — went a few days ago, with Hen. 
Pillsbury as her attendant. He has a twenty days furlough. 

A tew days ago the Reb. prisoners, led by their sergeants, made 
an organized assault on one of their cook houses. I don't know 
what their grievance was. One was shot dead by a sentry and sev- 
eral wounded. The next day ten of the sergeants who had been 
conspicuous in the. riot were tied by their hands to the posts of the 
fence and given several hours in which to meditate on their sins. 


Point Lookout, Md., Dectmber sj, 

XMAS GREETINGS! One of our captains said the other 
day that the old men would probably be discharged inside 
of two months, but I take no stock in the story. I was talking with 
Captain Piatt yesterday, and he had lots of nice things to say about 
my wife. I learned a great deal about you and Arie Piatt, and you 
may be sure I was an attentive listener to all he had to say. 

(ieneral Ben. Butler was here yesterday, looking things over very 
closely, and I understand he i> arranging an exchange of prisoners. 

A Soldier Boy's Letters 


Tuesday, December 2q. 

Since I began this letter no mail has come in until this morning, 
and none has gone out. The mail boat was sunk by ice, and I have 
been anxiously watching for the boat that didn't come. I have got 
to carry the mail down in half an hour, so must close. 



Point Lookout, Md., December 31, iSbj. 

AM in Quint's sutler shop, writing on the head of a barrel. 
Quint [Atherton W., of Manchester] is sutler at the prison 
camp, and I help him a little, just enough to pay for the butter and 
other sutler's goods that I want. I have an ocean of waste time, 
and the arrangement is profitable and highly satisfactory both to 
Quint and myself. 

We had rather a jolly time here Christmas day. First, there was 
a greased pig, which made no end of merriment. He was one of 
those gaunt, ugly creatures that run wild in these southern woods. 
He had just been brought in, and was as wild and savage as a wolf. 
So when his pursuers closed in, on, over, around and under him, he 
made a gallant fight for liberty and freely used all the defensive 
weapons the Lord had provided him with. Then there were wrest- 
ling and sparring matches and a footrace. 

Seven boatloads of negroes have come in from Virginia today. 
I was down on the beach when one load landed. There were 32 
men, women and children, with all their household truck, packed 
into one boat. It was a smart likely- looking lot of contrabands, and 
no doubt some poor misguided rebel is now mourning the loss of 
several thousand dollars' worth of live stock. A great many of the 
negroes that come in are probably from Maryland, but all are re- 
ceived alike, and but very few, if any, of the refugees ever get back 
into their masters' hands. 

January l, 1864. 

I wish you a Happy New Year ! I sat up pretty late last night 
playing "muggins" down at the sutler's shop. 

Colonel Bailey issued orders to company commanders this morn- 
ing which are received with greater satisfaction by the old boys than 
by some of the officers. Ihe "company funds" which have been 

144 A Soldier Boy's Letters 

accumulating during the past two years now amount to a very con- 
siderable sum in each company. This money is in the hands of the 
company commanders, and the good it has done to the men to 
whom it belongs lias been very slight indeed. In fact, some of the 
captains who have left the regiment have carried off the company 
funds without making any account of it, and that was the end of it. 
Well, since these mercenaries came along, with hundred-dollar bills 
sticking out of every pocket, Captain Gordon has commenced using 
this fund that had been taken out of the hides of the old men, to 
buy potatoes, onions and other luxuries, the greater part of which 
are consumed by our cussed Subs. There is a bit of malice in this, 
attributable to a feud between Gordon and the bulk of the old men, 
for there have been several times in the past when this fund could 
have been used to very good advantage for the men it belonged to. 
The old boys were indignant, and Bill Ramsdell told Colonel Bailey, 
and he was mad, and this morning the company commanders were 
instructed that the company funds were to be used for the benefit 
of the old men only. By Gordon's account, the amount due each 
of the old men is about six dollars, and we are not willing to divide 
that with the Subs. 


Point Lookoit, Md., January 2, iSt>j. 

CANNOT write a long letter now, but will in a few days. I 
have been hard at work all day constructing the walls for 
my new post office tent, and am very tired indeed. It will be on 
the extreme left of the field and staff line, and I will be a near 
neighbor to Bailey's sutler shop. 


POINI Md., January 10, iSOj. 

"V X ~r E got about two and a half inches of snow a few nights 

\/ \ ago, and although we have had pleasant weather since, 

it has been so cold that much snow still remains. During the past 

few days the work of demolishing and cleaning out the shanty town 

A Soldier Boy's Letters 145 

where contrabands have quartered has been going on. The ground 
where the camp stood is a perfect labyrinth of rat holes, and the 
swarms that are domiciled there are almost inconceivable. Rat 
hunts are a standard amusement, and bushels of them have been 
unearthed and killed. In the regimental camps they are thicker 
than flies in summer time, and an awful pest, running over every- 
thing and everybody at night, and stealing everything eatable they 
can get their teeth onto. But Jess. Dewey has got the deadest open 
and shut on them. Some of the boys caught a little owl out in the 
woods and gave him to Jess., and since Mr. Owl assumed charge of 
affairs in that tent rats and mice have given it a wide berth. He is 
a cunning little fellow — sits all day long on his box, pulling away at 
his piece of fresh meat. If you whistle to him, he looks up as grave 
as a judge, and he is really a great addition to the company. 

Our mail is very irregular now. The boat that got in from 
Washington yesterday was three days late, being delayed by ice in 
the river. She had to break her way for fifty miles through ice thick 
enough to bear a man. One wooden boat attempted to force her 
way up the river, but was so badly cut up by the ice that she had to 
turn back. But we have a connection for outgoing mail by way of 
the Fortress Monroe and Baltimore boat, and I now send much mail 
that way. 

The prison camp is soon to be enlarged, and all the rebel offi- 
cers now at Sandusky, Ohio, are to be brought here. I hear that 
200 men from our regiment, with a battery, are going over into Vir- 
ginia on a scouting expedition. 

Two of our tent's crew will, I expect, move out tomorrow. If 
they do I shall be in no particular hurry to get into my new quar- 
ters, as Dan. and I can be as comfortable as you please right where 
we are. 


Point Lookout, Md., January ib. iSOj. 

MAIL reached us yesterday — the first we have had since 
the 9th. Reason, the ice in the river. The boat started 
from Washington all right, ran down as far as Mount Vernon, about 



i4^' A Soldier Boy's Letters 

fifteen miles, and anchored for the night. When she started, she 
didrit start, for she was frozen in as tight as a drum. And there she 
lay in the ice, for two days, with our mail aboard. Then another 
boat came and cut her out. During this lay-up some of our boys on 
li >ard went ashore on a visit to Washington's home and tomb. 

1 he monotony of camp life has been broken by a raid across the 
river into the counties of Northumberland, Lancaster and Rich- 
mond. The expedition left here last Tuesday, the 12th, and was 
made up of 150 cavalry and detachments of 150 men from both the 
Second and Twelfth. Bill Ramsdell was one of the marauders, and 
he says it was one of the greatest larks of the war. The men came 
home loaded with every conceivable kind of plunder, but they were 
pretty well fagged out. The expedition went up the river about 
fifteen miles, then up a creek several miles, where they destroyed a 
sloop and several schooners, then landed and marched inland. They 
spread out over the country, and picked up quite a number of pris- 
oners — soldiers on furlough, conscript officers, &c. One of these 
was a captain, who was enjoying a carriage ride with his lady love. 
He was politely requested to get down, one of the boys politely took 
his seat in the carriage, politely drove the young lady home, politely 
helped her out, bade her good bye with exquisite politeness, and 
drove away with the team as a prize of war. 

You ask me about Charlie Farnham. It was not here, but down 
in South Carolina, I think, that he was drowned. He had been dis- 
charged from this regiment and had joined the navy. As we hear 
it, he was in a boat, which capsized, and he had nearly reached the 
shore when he sank. 

Sunday, January tj . 

I must tell you, before I forget it, all about our crazy man. One 
of the fellows in my tent, who came out about two months ago, had 
evidently got tired of the service, and began to play crazy, for a dis- 
charge. He began to sleep all day, so as to be in good shape to lie 
awake all night. For two nights he kept us awake with his "Boots 
ten feet long," "Man in the tent," "Where am I?" "Who am I?" 
and such nonsense. When awake in the daytime he was continually 
hunting for horsehairs on his hands, and it was a decidedly inter- 
esting case of amateur lunacy. He couldn't eat anything — so he 
•-aid — but he managed to pack away a good quantity of grub on the 

A Soldier Boy's Letters 147 

sly. Well, he started in on his third night, and kept his twaddle 
going until midnight, when something happened. Dan's Irish got 
the best of him and he could hold in no longer. He kicked off the 
blankets that covered us, elevated his heels, and fairly kicked the 
top bunk into kindling wood. The crazy man landed on the stove, 
and the wreckage was scattered all over the tent. Then old Dan. 
opened up with his tongue and gave our amateur lunatic Hail Co- 
lumbia, Rule Britannia and Erin go Bragh, all rolled into one, and 
threatening to take him out and pitch him into the river if he didn't 
become immediately and permanently sane. Dan's treatment ef- 
fected a complete and wonderful cure. 

One of the old men of the regiment was married a short time 
ago to the daughter of an old planter living up country a short dis- 
tance. The fellow was Pete Gravlin ; the girl seventeen and very 
pretty ; the parents rich. The old folks were dead set against any 
such arrangement, but Pete and the maiden were determined, so 
down to the Point he brought her and she became Mrs. Gravlin. 

A collection has been taken up in this regiment for a fund to 
build a chapel. The human desire to outstrip our neighbors has 
made the "collection" a success. The Twelfth built one which cost 
$300, and now twice that sum has been raised in the Second, and 
we are congratulating ourselves, not upon the prospect of having a 
chapel, but upon the fact that it will be bigger than the Twelfth's. 


Point Lookout, Md,, January 23, 1804. 

I AM seated in the sutler's shop at the prison camp with a whole 
ream of paper before me, waiting to be written over. The mail 
got in last night, for a wonder, on time. A warm spell has opened 
the ice in the river. I got a letter from Frank Morrill, and he writes 
me, "I want you to assume command of Frances and Nealie when 
you hear that I am coming home, meet me at the depot and escort 
me to the house." [When he came, he came in his coffin, having 
received mortal wounds the following July.] 

We have had a most delightful day, and the boys of Company I 
have been busy stockading their new Sibley tents. As soon as they 

148 A Soldier Boy's Letters 

move in I will have a post office tent all to myself, and I have got 
it in my mind now just how it will be rigged up for my business, 
even to the establishment of an art gallery, the nucleus of which I 
already have in a highly colored lithograph from a cigar box. 

Sunday, January 24. 

I am messing now with Hen. Everett, who is clerk for the Adju- 
tant, and a fellow named Soseman. We do our own cooking, and 
as a consequence live better — much better — than we should if we 
depended entirely on the company cooks and rations. We have 
beefsteak, baked beans, fritters, and the best coffee on the Point, 
and gathered about our little mess table at the Adjutant's quarters, 
envy no man his share of the good things of life. 

Last night I saw about fifty rebels take the oath of allegiance. It 
was an impressive sight when these men raised their right hands 
and with uncovered heads swore to support the Constitution and 
the Government of the United States. They have a camp outside 
the prison camp and are on practically the same footing that we are. 


Point Lookout, Md., January 2q, /St>4. 

BUSY time now, putting up the new tents, and when the work 
is done the regiment will certainly have good winter quar- 
ters. The fine weather continues. It is as warm and pleasant as a 
New Hampshire May, and the breezes from the south are balmy and 

Day before yesterday we witnessed a magnificent mirage, which 
brought the "Eastern Shore," distant twenty-five or thirty miles 
across the bay, to within an apparent distance of not more than five 
miles. The optical illusion continued until afternoon, when it faded 
gradually. The trees and houses became less and less distinct, and 
at last the outlines of the shore faded, until nothing met the eye but 
the sparkling waters of Chesapeake Bay. 

The story is going the rounds that we old fellows who have not 
re-enlisted are to be discharged next month, so that we may be 
home for the March election. There may be something in this, as 
nine-tenths of the old men are stanch Republicans, and most of the 

A Soldier Boy's Letters 149 

others are staunch War Democrats, which is just as good, and if the 
election is to be very close they would be a mighty reliable rein- 
forcement. One of the boys in my company has a letter from one 
of the Governor's staff, who writes that we are coming home in Feb- 
ruary ; and Marston's Assistant-Adjutant-General says we are going 
home soon. 

Sunday, January 31. 

Dan. has moved into one of the new Sibley tents, leaving me all 
alone, in solitary grandeur, and I declare I am lonesome. Large 
numbers of the Rebs here have taken the oath and enlisted into our 
army or navy. Day before yesterday officers of the navy came 
ashore and had all they could attend to until late in the evening, 
enlisting these men. A regiment also is to be recruited from them, 
which will probably be stationed where there is not much danger of 
their being taken prisoners, as in such an event, if recognized, they 
would be promptly executed. 

Jess. Dewey has got a pleasant job as forage master up at Leon- 
ardstown, a few miles above here on the river. I am told that the 
paymaster came down on the boat last night and has gone up to 
Leonardstown today to pay off the cavalry and other troops up there. 
The men who have re- enlisted will go home on furlough as soon as 
they are paid. 

The laugh is most decidedly on one of our fellows who, tiring of 
army fare, went out into the country to get a good square home 
meal. He found a place where they expressed their ability and 
willingness to give him just what he was looking for. He, of course, 
expected a rare feast, and what do you suppose he got? Bacon and 
hoecake, coffee without milk, no butter, nor any of the little trim- 
mings that round out a Yankee "home meal." He came back to 
camp thoroughly disgusted with the Maryland farmer's bill of fare, 
and filled the aching void with a good square army ration. 

The joke on another fellow came through a massive gold pen, 
which was given to him on condition that he send and have it re- 
pointed. In a few days the pen came back with this indorsement : 
•'Your pen is brass, and I return pen and money." 

One of the Fifth's substitutes was found drowned in the creek 
the other day. He probably tried to desert by swimming the creek, 
but could not make a go of it. 

150 A Soldier Boy's Leiters 


Point Lookout, Mil, February 7, 1S04. 

Ill \YK moved into my new tent at last, and have a mighty 
homelike little domicile, all to myself. It has a good floor and 
a nice roomy bunk. At the head of the bunk a little table equipped 
with writing materials. On one side of the door is my drop letter 
box, and in the opposite corner one of those cute little sheet-iron 
stoves. And other furnishings will come as they may be required. 
I already have my boxes arranged for distributing the mail — ten ci- 
gar boxes, one for each company, nailed to the wall. By the time 
I am discharged I will have an office that will rival Boston and New 

I got a letter last night from an old schoolmate of mine — Lucius 
Chilson. He was my especial chum in the old South Grammar 
School on Park street. His home was then in Bridgeport, Conn., 
but his father sent him to Manchester especially to get him under 
Webster's iron discipline. He writes me that he has been in the 
Second Massachusetts regiment, that he was wounded in the wrist 
at Gettysburg, losing the use of his right hand, and is now in the 
Invalid Corps, at Cincinnati, Ohio. He has learned to write with 
his left hand, and is a first-class back-hand writer. 

Rumors of our going home are flying as thick as ever. The lat- 
est is that all who desired would be granted a furlough of fifteen 
days to go home and vote. Mrs. Bailey, Mrs. Piatt, Mrs. Wasley 
and other officers' wives are coming down within two or three 
weeks, and quarters are being fitted up in anticipation. 

A little mail robbery came to light in a queer manner today. 
A fellow who used to have the run of my tent down in the company 
gave away a cheap little brass breastpin. The recipient recognized 
it at sight as the identical pin he had, some time before, sealed in 
an envelope for one of the men, and addressed and mailed to that 
man's little girl. The thief purloined it from the box, and was 
caught in a trap which nobody set for nobody, 

The old boys of Company I are to present Colonel Bailey with 
a costly sword. The little remnant still left of the old "Abbott 
Guard" — the boys of 1861 — have chipped in 5 150, and Jess. Dewey 
and Steve Smiley have gone to Baltimore to buy the sword. 1 he 

A Soldier Boy's Letters 151 

breach between Captain Gordon and the old men is now very wide 
and the feeling very bitter, and this sword business is in some de- 
gree an outcome of the feud. In this way the old men can show, in 
a way not open to criticism, how much more they think of their first 
captain than of their last. In addition to this, somebody has put 
the subs up to get a sword for our second-lieutenant, Dave Per- 
kins. They have more money than they know how to spend, and 
you can work a collection on them for almost anything. With a 
sword presentation on each side of him, I don't see how a more 
adroit snub could have been arranged. I see Bill Ramsdell's fine 
Italian hand in the whole thing. 

[This sword presentation record would not be complete without 
the story of the exploit of one of the subs who sailed under the name 
of Cady. He made himself conspicuous in denouncing the old men 
for slighting their captain. He solicited contributions from his fellow 
subs for a sword for Gordon, which, you may be sure, Gordon was 
fully advised of. Then he asked Gordon for a furlough of five days 
to attend to "a little private matter at Baltimore." He got his fur- 
lough, and that was the last ever seen of him in that regiment. 1 

But Gordon holds one trump card, and he is playing it for all it 
is worth. He has been making corporals of some of the last batch 
of bounty jumpers — actually putting these men in authority and po- 
sition over the old fellows who have given nearly three years of 
faithful service to their country. I, on my special detail, am out 
from under it. If not, I think I should find some honorable way 
out — perhaps through a commission in a negro regiment. 

On the night of the first day of this month, one of Gordon's new 
corporals was in charge of a squad of four men at the wharf. There 
were several boats there in their charge, and the corporal and his 
entire squad, with others to whom the word evidently been passed, 
made off with one of the boats during the night. Two days after, 
another squad of three deserters was brought in, having been picked 
up by one of the guard boats, many miles down the bay. It was a 
very cold, rough night, and one of the bounty jumpers had done a 
really good service to the country by freezing to death, while his 
two companions were, unfortunately, still alive. 

152 A Soldier Boy's Letters 


Point Lookout, Md., February /o, /S04. 

BILL RAMSDELL has just gone out of the tent. He is to 
make the presentation speech when we give Bailey the 
sword. He has been rehearsing what he is going to say, and it is 
tip-top — quite ornate and complimentary. 

Friday, February 12. 

The steamer "Whildin" is lying out in the river, a little ways 
from shore, it being so rough she can not get in to the wharf. Col. 
Bailey's wife and mother and several officers' wives are on board, 
and doubtless very anxious to get ashore. The going-home fever is 
on the increase, and the betting population are putting up their mo- 
ney freely that we will be home at the March election. I hear a bet 
of $50 was made this morning, but whether wind or money I don't 

Saturday, February fj. 

I received several letters yesterday and today, including a note 
from mother sent by the hands of Mrs. Captain Piatt, who was one 
of the arrivals yesterday. Col. Bailey's sword was presented yester- 
day, and everything passed off slick as a pin. Three more of our 
subs attempted to desert, the other night. They set out in a dug- 
out canoe, the handling of which they were not equal to, and pretty 
soon, over she went. Two, unfortunately, managed to reach the 
shore. The other was drowned. Our deserting subs are really hav- 
ing hard luck. Three are known to have been drowned, and it is 
hoped the same fate has overtaken the gang Gordon's new corporal 
took off with him, as their boat was picked up, far out in the bay 
and bottom side up. 

Uncle Luther's folks [I.uther Trussell, of New London, N. H.] 
write me that Hamilton Messer, one of my boyhood cronies, who 
went out in the Eleventh, is dead. It is one of the pleasantest days 
imaginable, and I am sitting with the door of my tent wide open, 
looking out upon the camp, where all is bustle and activity — some 
wheeling sand to grade the company streets, some building houses 
for the officers, and little groups here and there, chatting, gossiping 
and arguing. Captain ami Mrs. Piatt just rode by on horseback. 

A Soldier Boy's Letters 153 


Point Lookout, Md., February 20, 1864. 

r ^^"ERO WEATHER is pretty strenuous for this latitude, but 
S J that is what we have been getting. The frigid wave has 
struck us good and hard, and the river is again frozen up so that we 
have had no mail from Washington for five days. Last Wednesday 
the thermometer stood at seventeen degrees belozv zero, which would 
do credit even to New England. It was so cold Wednesday night 
that about midnight I had to turn out and build a fire. I filled my 
little stove with fine wood and soon had a roaring fire going, over 
which I sat and dozed until nearly morning. 

There certainly is a prospect that a portion of the old men who 
have not re-enlisted will be given a chance to go home to vote at 
the coming election. Day before yesterday a list was made of the 
Republican members of the regiment, and it was my understanding 
that they were to be furloughed and sent home at the same time as 
the re-enlisted men. A boat came in yesterday morning to take the 
re- enlisted men, but went away without them, and it is not improb- 
able that when she comes again it will be found she is to take away 
a hundred or two staunch Republicans, among whom I will be glad 
to be numbered. 

Again there are apprehensions of a rebel attempt on this post. 
A picket boat brought information that there is quite a force of reb- 
els at a point on the other side, with many small boats. Our little 
fleet is all ready for anything they may try on. An armed schooner 
lies right off our camp, with boarding nets up. A detachment of 
men from the Second has been sent on board to serve as marines, 
and if Johnny Reb strikes that boat he will have all the fun he wants. 

Sunday, February 21, 

Hen. Everett has a letter from his brother Willie, and they are 
expecting him home before election. They have what they consider 
absolutely reliable information that the Republican members of the 
regiment, if not others, are coming home. They will be disap- 
pointed, however. He cannot get away, as there is no one in the 
regiment who understands his duties well enough to undertake them. 

154 A Soldikr Boy's Letters 


Point Lookout, Md., February 2q, /S64 — Evening. 

JUST received a letter from you, and answer it at once with 
the announcement that within one week I will be with you. 
Furloughs are being made out with all haste, and we will probably 
be off before tomorrow night — possibly tonight. We are going all 
the way to Boston by boat, so this letter will reach you before we 
get to Boston. We will go first to Concord, and will be furloughed 
for some stated time from there. I shall, of course, make no delay 
in getting down to Manchester. I am writing identical letters both 
to Manchester and New London, so as to be sure of reaching you 
wherever you may be. Good bye, for a week. 


On February 24th 4JO men from the 
three regiments started for New Hampshire 
on the steamer "Admiral Dupont" on fur- 
loughs of 20 days. Returning, they left 
Boston on Mareh 18th, as narrated in the 
following letter. 


Point Lookoit, Md., .WarcA iq, 1864. 

S ^ OT back to Point Lookout last night at about one o'clock, 
V_JI safe and sound. The first thing, of course, I struck for my 
tent, with keen anticipation of the comfort ahead. As it came into 
view it struck me that Pendleton, who had been left in charge as 
acting postmaster, kept rather open house. The door was wide 
open, and when I got inside and felt around, I found nothing but 
an empty shell. Not a solitary piece of furniture met my inquiring 
touch. The stove was gone, the desk, distributing boxes — in fact, 

A Soldier Boy's Letters 155 

the entire outfit. The establishment was entirely dismantled. For 
the first time in my whole army experience I was homesick. 

/ felt like one who treads alone 

Some banquet hall deserted, 
Whose guests were fled, its garlands dead, 

And all but me departed. 

Well, I went down to the company and turned into George Law- 
rence's bunk, and today I got the whole story. Pendleton carried 
things with a high hand, did not attend to his duties in any kind of 
manner, and his conduct became so outrageous that he was sent 
back to the company and the business turned over to the chaplain. 
So now "Othello's occupation 's gone !" Old Mr. Bailey told me he 
heard them planning to get rid of Pendleton, and the colonel said 
very emphatically that he wanted me to have the place when I 
came back. But they decided it would make but little difference to 
me what was done, as I would probably receive a commission within 
a few weeks. My choice seems to lie between taking a commission 
in a negro regiment or going back to company duty under Gordon 
and his precious gang of non-coms., and I think my preference will 
be for the negroes. I will have my furlough made out today, and 
will probably go to Washington for examination within a few days. 

Now I must tell you about our trip back from New Hampshire. 
On our arrival in Boston we at once went on board the steamer 
"Guide" — and a slow old guide she was. But slow as she was, she 
was in a hurry to get away. The instant the baggage was on board 
she started, so suddenly that a number of the boys never got aboard, 
but were left behind. This was Tuesday afternoon, and Friday 
morning we were at Fortress Monroe. We got ashore about noon 
and loafed around until 5 o'clock, when we took the Baltimore boat. 
At 1 1 we met the tugboat from the Point, got aboard, and bobbed 
about out on the Bay until the boat from Baltimore came along. 
From her we got some of the boys who missed connections at Bos- 
ton. Among the number were Jess. Dewey and Johnny Ogden, who 
had come on to Baltimore by rail. My home grub gloriously met 
all drafts, and I ate the last of it this morning, for breakfast. 

Parties of our men now go across to Virginia every day, for wood. 
So far as fuel is concerned, we are living off the enemy's country. 

156 A Soldikk Boy's Letters 

Not more than half our furloughed men have got back yet, and 
they will probably be straggling along for some time. 

Afternoon. — My furlough to go to Washington has just gone to 
headquarters for indorsement, and I shall be oft' within two or three 
days. Frank Wasley sent me word that he and Irene would like to 
see me, so I went up and called. They were living as cozy as could 
be, and I had a jolly visit. They have two tents, boarded up and 
the walls neatly papered, making two very attractive rooms. 


Point Lookout, Mu., Friday, March 25. /Sbj. 

I BELIEVE I was never lamer or more absolutely used up than 
I am right at this present moment, the result of my participa- 
tion in a great snowball battle, yesterday, between the Second and 
Twelfth. I emerged with both eyes blacked and a big cut over one, 
with minor contusions too numerous to mention, and thoroughly 
soaked and bedraggled from top to bottom. The Twelfth turned 
out en masse, which was more than our fellows did, as half of them 
were lying in their bunks, asleep, having been on guard the night 
before, while our subs didn't care nor dare to mix into anything so 
strenuous. The Twelfth mustered three men to our one, but we 
held up our end in good shape. At the close both sides got to 
throwing ice and bricks, and several men received quite severe in- 

It was a great storm that brought that snow down upon us. It 
set in Tuesday, and at 9 o'clock in the evening was at its height — 
the fiercest storm, by all odds, I have ever seen in this part of the 
country. I slept in a bunk in the company cook-house. Snugly 
curled up, I slept perhaps a couple hours, when I woke up and de- 
cided to straighten out my cramped limbs. I opened out like a 
jack-knife, took just one second to catch my breath, and pulled up 
again like a turtle going into his shell. I had rammed both head and 
feet into a snowdrift. The next morning the inside of our tent u.i> 
like a view in the arctic regions — everything covered or filled with 
snow. In front of the tent was a drift five feet deep. I guess it 
wat about the toughest snowstorm this part of Maryland ever expe- 

A Soldier Bov's Letters 157 

Evening. — I have a little piece of news which I know will make 
your heart glad. I have decided not to go to Washington nor to 
make any further move for a commission. The move served as an 
anchor to windward in case I should otherwise have to go back to 
company duty under Gordon. I appreciated that it was a good deal 
like deserting you to go off again, perhaps for years. But things 
have come my way, and I do not want a commission now any more 
than I have in the past, but will come home and settle down in a 
few weeks. 

No sooner did I make known my disinclination to go to Wash- 
ington than an order was made out detailing me again as regimental 
P. M., and I am once more on my old job. Oh, it was sweet — the 
way I threw the hooks into the captain ! I was in the adjutant's 
office, playing cribbage, when Gordon came in. Just as he was go- 
ing out he turned to me and said, "Well, Haynes, when do you 
expect your furlough back?" "I don't know when it will come," I 
answered, nonchalently. "but probably before long." "Well," he 
snapped back, "if it doesn't come in a day or two I'll have to give 
you a gun and put you on duty." "All right !" I said — and butter 
wouldn't have melted in my mouth. But no sooner had he gone 
than John Cooper, the adjutant, turned to Hen. Everett and said, 
"Make out a special order detailing Mart, for special duty at these 
headquarters, and serve it on Captain Gordon." The thing was 
done so quickly that Gordon was hardly back to his tent before the 
order reached him. It tickled Bill Ramsdell and my particular 
gang immensely, and I could see them going around and laughing 
and slapping each other on the back. 

Saturday, March 2b. 

I have been at work today fixing up my tent, and expect to move 
into it tonight. The Washington mail is taken off, which makes my 
already light work much lighter. The boat is needed in carrying 
troops to the Peninsula, which the camp strategists think it likely 
will be Grant's line of advance on Richmond. And it is also the 
general impression that we will leave here before many weeks. 


158 A Soldier Boy's Letters 


Point Lookout, Md., March 28, i8t>4. 

HAVE got my old tent in running order again, fixed some- 
what as it was before the Pendleton disaster overtook it. 
It does seem good to be back doing business at the old stand. But 
still it does not look exactly homelike yet. For a stove I have got 
one of the little sheet-iron conical "Sibleys." It was donated by 
Charlie Shute, the quartermaster, but he had no stovepipe for me. 
But I made a raise of four lengths in Bailey's sutler shop, and stole 
one length down in the company, which was sufficient for my pur- 
pose, and the stove works to perfection. But yesterday and today 
have been so very, very pleasant that there has been but little need 
of any fire. Warm, summery days, with the sun shining and the 
robins flying. 

Yesterday morning I was awakened, very early, by a violent 
banging which threatened to burst in my door. I asked, in the po- 
lite manner customary in camp, who was there, and the reply that 
came left no doubt : "Hey, Muggins ! Get up and let me in here, 
won't you?" Only one of all my old school crowd remembers and 
still hails me by my schoolboy nickname — "Muggins." I tumbled 
out of bed in a hurry and opened the door to our old friend Charlie 
Wilson, just in on the boat from Portsmouth, Va. [Charles H. Wil- 
son, of Manchester, until discharged for disability a member of the 
New Hampshire battalion First New England Volunteer Cavalry, 
and then in the employ of the Quartermaster Department at Ports- 
mouth, Va.] He was going back last night, but he enjoyed himself 
so well yesterday that he decided to accidentally miss the boat. He 
goes back tonight — that is, if he does not accidentally get left again. 

Tuesday, March 2Q. 

One day nearer home, and only sixty-seven more are between 
us. I have a card almanac hung up, and as soon as a day passes I 
scratch it off, just as I have heard of men doing who were going to 
be hanged. The fine weather I was bragging about has changed to 
cold and windy, with every indication of a coming storm. Charlie 
Wilson started back last night, and I went down to see him off. I 
am messing now with the cooks, down at the company cook house, 
and you may be sure we have the best of rations and plenty of them. 

A Soldier Boy's Letters 


The wind is piping up furiously, and my old tent is shaking and 
creaking like a ship in a gale, but I guess she will weather it. Char- 
lie Wilson sent his regards — come to think of it, I guess it was his 


Point Lookout, Md., April 5, 1864. 

T I ^HE mail boat did not go out last night, owing to the storm, 
1 and it bids fair to be much rougher tonight. It is an awful 
storm we are having, and I would like to see the sun once more and 
feel its warmth. 

Yesterday General Marston was relieved by General Hinks, and 
from this the boys look for an early transfer of the regiment to the 
front, as Marston will probably want us with him, while Hinks would 
naturally prefer his own old regiment, the Nineteenth Massachu- 
setts. The paymaster is expected here day after tomorrow to make 
what will probably be the last payment we will receive in the south- 
ern country. 

A drop of water comes through the tent occasionally and strikes 
this paper with unerring accuracy, but I am bound to write in spile 
of it. Jess. Dewey and I are going up the river for sea shells the 
first fair day. He is now ''right general guide" for the regiment, 
and has his time to himself quite as much as I do, so there is noth- 
ing to stand in the way of our little expedition when the Weather 
will permit. The Veteran Volunteers have returned from their fur- 
loughs, some of them completely "busted," so far as finances are 

Wednesday, April 6. 

Orders have just come for our regiment to be ready to embark 
tomorrow morning. We are to take two days' rations, and are go- 
ing, probably, to either Norfolk or Yorktown. I may stay here a 
day or two, or may not, to look after the mail. The officers of the 
regiment have for some time been making great preparations for a 
grand ball to come off tomorrow night. It was to have been held in 
the chapel, and as it would not sound well to talk of a dance in the 
church, the affair, was designated as a "picnic." But it is all the 
same now. Some of the officers do not relish the idea of leaving 

160 A Soldier Boy's Letters 

the quarters they have fitted up so comfortably and at considerable 
expense. Frank Wasley swears he will burn his when he has to 
leave it, orders to the contrary notwithstanding. 

Bill Pendleton has been down to headquarters, and he says Gen. 
Marston says we are going to Norfolk, and that we will have an 
easier time than we are having here. Marston has been appointed 
military governor of Norfolk. As for myself, if I fare as well where 
we are going as I have here I will have no reason to complain. 


Yorktown, Va., April //, rib4. 

HERE I am again, only a couple miles from the spot where 
we camped two years ago. I have been looking around a 
little since we arrived here. Yesterday Hen. Everett, Jesse Dewey 
and I paid a visit to that old camp, and it was intensely interesting 
to us. The company streets and the ditches around the tents were 
there almost as we left them, and even much of the litter of the 
camp. I found the site of my tent and sat down on the very spot 
where, two years ago, I used to rest after a night in the trenches, 
and where the letters addressed to "Miss Nealie T. Lane" were writ- 
ten. I picke"d up one of the old tent-pins, and intend to make some 
little souvenir of it. Also a piece of shell and a fragment of boiler 
from the old Magruder sawmill, the music of which was continually 
in our ears. 

Perhaps you remember about an old tentmate of mine named 
Damon. When we were here then he hollowed out an oven in the 
steep bank of a ravine, and as that was one of the institutions of 
Company I, we hunted it up. We found it in perfect condition and 
as good as new, and as we stood there Damon was right before my 
eyes again, bobbing about and learnedly discoursing on the peculiar 
advantages of ovens built on that peculiar plan. 

We are camped just outside the works around Yorktown, on a 
plateau o\erlooking the York river and, far off to the east, the blue 
waters of Chesapeake Bay — on the whole, a very pleasant location. 
The first night we were here we had no tents, but they came the 
next day, although not as many as we needed, and we are, conse- 

A Soldier Boy's Letters 161 

quently, somewhat crowded. It was the intention to give Jess. 
Dewey and I a tent together, but we will have to wait. But at the 
rate our subs are deserting there will be tents enough and room 
enough before long. About a hundred have made tracks, so far. 

Yesterday the Fourth U. S. Colored Regiment left here. One 
of the officers went out of this company. They are going to Point 
Lookout. The fellow I would have gone to Washington with if 
things had not shaped themselves to my liking in the regiment, is 
back with a captain's commission. You see what I escaped. Col. 
Bailey tells me I ought to go up anyway, whether I accept or not — 
it would help pass the time away. But I tell him I am getting along 
very comfortably as I am, that I can enjoy myself better with the 
regiment than I could loafing around Washington, and that if I had 
wanted a commission I could have had one long, long ago. I am 
quartering now in the cook-tent, and have very good accommoda- 
tions. It is understood we are going to Williamsburg soon. Hen. 
Pillsbury says Col. Bailey is determined to go home when the old 
men do, and most of the officers are of the same mind. We have 
just drawn rations of cracked pease, beans, rice, smoked sides, &c, 
so there are no signs of immediate starvation. 


Yorktown, Va., April ij, 1S64. 

NOT a bit of mail have we had, until yesterday, since our 
arrival here. Then George Colby came down from Point 
Lookout, bringing what had accumulated there. 

We are expecting to have a military execution of a deserter this 
afternoon. He is one of our subs, going under the name of John 
Egin. He was taken while trying to make his way into the rebel 
lines, was tried yesterday by court martial, and condemned to be 
shot today between the hours of five and six o'clock in the after- 
noon. He was making for the rebel lines when he met a man in a 
gray uniform, and he gave himself dead away. He didn't know that 
a gray uniform between the lines was pretty sure to cover one of our 
scouts, so he unbosomed himself, and was then about-faced and 
marched back to Yorktown. 

1 62 A Soldi kr Boy's Letters 

Just outside our camp is ihe grave of a man who was executed 
a little over a month ago. He was on guard over a prisoner, at 
Williamsburg, whom he allowed to escape, carrying important 
information to the rebels. Most of the large number who have 
deserted since we got here have been picked up at one place or 
another. Their utter ignorance of the geography of the country has 
in many instances led to their undoing. It is probable that several 
of them will meet the same fate that has been decreed for Egin. 
The second of Gordon's precious subs, made corporals to spite the 
old men, made tracks day before yesterday, but was picked up and 
brought back yesterday. When the bulk of the old men are dis- 
charged, and the subs have all run away, and most of the officers 
have been mustered out, where will the glorious old Second Regi- 
ment New Hampshire Volunteers be? I am glad I have not got to 
stay and serve any longer, for it can never again be the old Second 
except in name. 

Close to our camp is a contraband settlement familiarly known 
as "Slab City." There are several hundred houses. It is laid out 
in streets, the shanties, built of slabs, split logs, &c., averaging about 
half the size of an ordinary New Hampshire woodshed. Jess, and I 
have explored it from one end to the other, and it was as good as a 
circus. They have quite a corps of teachers, both white and black, 
and there is more religion to the square inch than in any other part 
of the United States. There are stores, with little stocks of goods 
that wouldn't inventory twenty dollars apiece, and the signs are fine 
examples of phonetic spelling. Here is one : "GROSERIS STOOR." 
And on two that we saw appeared the magic word "GROSEYS" — 
the orthography evidently dictated from the same fount of knowl- 
edge. The mechanical execution was on a par with the spelling. 

Friday, April rj. 

This forenoon I witnessed the execution of two deserters from 
our regiment. One was the John Egin I have spoken of before, 
who was respited for a day. The other was a man who has gone 
by the name of Holt, but who last night acknowledged that his name 
was McGuire, and that he was from Yorkshire, England, where he 
had a wife and two children. 'I he Second Regiment was drawn up 
in line, facing the execution ground, with two loaded cannon in 
position to rake it, one negro regiment in line to the rear of the 

A Soldier Boy's Letters 163 

Second, and another drawn up at right angles, on its left. When 
the troops were in position, the two condemned men rode upon the 
ground, each seated upon his coffin in the bottom of a wagon. Ar- 
riving at the spot where they were to be shot to death, they got 
down from the wagons, their coffins were taken out and placed end 
to end before the open graves. Then the firing squad of twelve 
men were drawn up about a dozen paces in front of them. They 
knelt by their coffins while a Catholic priest, who had come up from 
Fortress Monroe, conducted the appropriate offices of the church. 
Then they arose, their handcuffs were taken off, and they removed 
their coats and vests. Their eyes were bandaged, their wrists tied 
with white handkerchieves, and each seated on his coffin. What an 
awful moment it must have been for them when they heard the click 
of the gun-locks as the executioners cocked their pieces. The next 
instant they fell back across their coffins, each pierced by five bul- 
lets. Holt did not die for several moments, and raised his hands a 
number of times. There are some eighty or ninety deserters under 
guard down town, and more will follow in the way these two have 

George Colby is down here, and is going into a little sutler bus- 
iness on his own hook, as he does not think Mr. Bailey will take the 
risk and bother of doing business under present conditions. 


Yorktown, Va., April 21. /SO4. 

TODAY is, I believe, the third anniversary of my entrance up- 
on a military life. It is entertaining to hear the old fellows 
count up the number of days that lie between them and home. The 
9th of May appears to be the generally accepted date of release, but 
I am afraid the wish is father to the thought. The first thing 1 hear 
in the morning is something like this : "Well, only eighteen days 
more !" or "Only eighteen loaves more of army bread for me !" 

Since I wrote last we have moved our camp about a mile, and 
are now in a delightful location, on a smooth, grassy slope close to 
the river and near the spot where Egin and Holt were executed. At 
the right of the camp is the last parallel in which I put in a night's 
work two years ago. The very tree under which I shoveled so dil- 

164 A Soldier Boy's Letters 

igently is still standing, close by an angle of the trench. I some- 
times catch myself imagining the seige is still going on, and when 
the sunset gun is fired, involuntary duck my head below imaginary 
earthworks and listen for the rush of the shell. 

A great army is being gathered here. Troops are pouring in, by 
regiments and by brigades. Several regiments have arrived from 
Hilton Head, S. C, among them the Fourth New Hampshire. I 
hear the Third is expected. The negro troops who have been sta- 
tioned here during the winter are going to Fortress Monroe, and 
from there, I understand, to Port Royal, and troops are coming here 
from Norfolk and Portsmouth. The Tenth and Thirteenth New 
Hampshire are on the way and will be here today. We will soon be 
ready for another advance on Richmond, and, to tell the truth, I 
rather like the idea of seeing a little more of active service before I 
go home. Gen. Smith [W. F. — "Baldy,"] who, it is supposed, will 
lead this column of advance on Richmond, arrived yesterday, and 
was escorted to headquarters with great parade, which there were 
indications was not exactly to his liking. He is a western general, 
one of Grant's favorites, a big, rough-looking, grizzled old fellow, 
without any frills, and I hope will not disappoint expectations. 

It was at first intended to send this regiment to Williamsburg, 
but there were so many desertions it was not deemed advisable, 
and we may be kept here. But the execution of the two deserters 
has had a good effect, and there has not been a single case of de- 
sertion since that time. 


WlLLlAMSBCRG, Va., April 20. 1SO4. 

BINCE my last letter we have made our first hitch up the Pe- 
ninsula, and are now about two miles from Williamsburg and 
one mile from the spot where, two years ago the 5th of May, we had 
the little scrimmage known as the battle of Williamsburg. We got 
our orders to march last Friday afternoon, started about sunset, and 
marched until one o'clock, when we arrived at our present location. 
Now, who do you suppose I saw last Friday? None other than our 
old friend Frank Morrill. I was just out of camp at Yorktown, 

A Soldier Boy's Letters 165 

heading for town so as to get my mail off before we started up here, 
when I heard my name shouted, and turning around, saw some one 
galloping toward me. And who should it be but Frank ! The Third 
Regiment has not come up yet, and it is not definitely known that 
they will come, but Frank is signal officer on Gen. Terry's staff and 
so came up with the General. [I never saw him again. He was 
mortally wounded, before Petersburg, in July.] 

I have to go clear to Yorktown, now, for my mail. I leave here 
about one in the afternoon and get back about sunset. For a horse 
they have given me a great, stout, rawboned "buckskin," a hard- 
rider, and the immediate physical effects on a fellow as soft and out 
of practice as I am have been slightly disastrous. The first day I 
wore out the seat of my pants, and it didn't stop wearing when it 
got through the cloth. As I have to make the trip every day, I am 
having a pretty tough time getting acclimated, as it were. 

Everything here indicates that we will soon be on the move. 
Orders were issued, day before yesterday, limiting the personal bag- 
gage of officers below the rank of brigadier-general to one small 
valise — to become operative in five days. There are to be only two 
wagons for each regiment, one of these exclusively for the hospital 
department. We may not move, though, for a fortnight. Whether 
or not we are to be discharged before the 4th of June is the main 
subject of discussion now. If we are not, we may, and probably 
will, have a chance to see "the dirty Chickahominy" again, and pos- 
sibly the city of Richmond. When we old fellows are discharged, 
the Second Regiment is likely to be still further reduced in num- 
bers by transfers to the navy, as permitted by recent orders. Now 
that I am counting my time by days, I am not troubling myself 
about how large or how small the regiment may be. 


Williamsburg, Va., May 4, /S64. 

THIS letter may be the last I will write you from the army, as 
there is a prospect of our being discharged on the 9th of 
May. Our "final statements" were made out yesterday and for- 
warded to headquarters. But they may decide at headquarters that 

1 66 A Soldier Boy's Lktters 

our time is not up until June. In that event we will have a chance 
to march a piece in this "On to Richmond" movement. A big pier 
is being built on the James River, about three miles from here, in- 
dicating that we are to take boats there for some point — perhaps to 
go up the river as far as Fort Darling and attempt to take it as a 
preliminary to the capture of Richmond. 

We are having nice weather now, but night before last we had a 
great thunder shower. It came up very suddenly, about sunset, 
and was the blackest, ugliest-looking sky I ever saw. The rebels 
have, for some time, been very busy planting torpedoes in the roads 
leading toward Richmond, and a few days ago a squad of four were 
scooped in while engaged in this laudable undertaking. 

Day before yesterday two regiments of negro cavalry came up 
from Norfolk, and yesterday I rode up from Yorktown with a couple 
of the troopers. They kept me in a roar of laughter relating their 
experiences in the army, which were inexpressibly funny. 


Camp between Bermuda Hundred 
and Petersburg, Va., 

May o, 1^64. 

I HAVE just time to write a short letter before going to the 
Landing to attend to my mail. The indications are that we are 
going to have a fight today. The Corps has marched out toward 
the rebel lines, and now a long train of ambulances is going by, 
which is ominous. This is the day when the old men of Company 
I figure their time is out, and it is not impossible that some of them 
may get their final discharges today. I shall go to the Landing, 
about four miles, for my mail, at ten o'clock, and then hurry out to 
the front to see how matters are progressing. 

We broke camp at Williamsburg on the 4th and embarked from 
a temporary wharf on the James River. The next morning the bulk 
of the expedition came up from Fortress Monroe, and it was a great 
spectacle. As far as the eye could reach swarmed vessels of every 
description — transports, tugs, ironclads and gunboats. About dark 
we were at Bermuda Hundred, at the mouth of the Appomattox 
River. We mounted men were on a different boat from the regi- 

A Soldier Boy's Letters 167 

ment, and after a vain hunt of a couple hours we gave up trying to 
find the Second that night and camped by the roadside, picketing 
our horses and with our saddles for pillows. The next day the 
troops advanced to our present position, and Heckman's brigade, of 
our division, had a smart little fight. Yesterday our boys were 
throwing up a redoubt down by the Appomattox, but today the work 
is discontinued and the men have gone out to fight. 

I met John Hynes yesterday, on the road to the Landing. [John 
R., an old-time Manchester printer, in the Third N. H. Regiment.] 


Camp near Bermuda Hundred, Va., 
May 13, 1864. 

YESTERDAY MORNING the Second set out, with the rest 
of the army, for a raid on the Danville Railroad, and are 
expected back today, as they took rations for but two days. My 
duties required that I should stay here, and right glad was I, as it 
rained nearly all day and through the night, and I was much more 
comfortable under a good shelter tent than I would have been plug- 
ging through the mud. There were about half a dozen left in my 
camp squad, and we had a jolly time of it. We bought a beef liver 
and some potatoes for dinner, and sirloin steak and potatoes for 
supper, and Johnny Powell and I fixed up a tent in which we slept 
as snug as a bug in a rug. 

Day before yesterday Gordon got instructions to make out our 
final statements, which are the preliminaries to a discharge, He 
was at work on them when marching orders came, when, of course, 
he suspended operations until he gets back from this raid, which 
will probably be today. 

May 17. 

I think it is about time to finish this letter. The army has been 
for five days on a movement against Fort Darling, and got back to- 
day. [Here follows an account of the Fort Darling expedition, 
substantially as given in the succeeding letter, and the reason for 
duplicating which is made clear in that letter.] 

1 68 A Soldier Boy's Letters 


Headquarters Second N. H. v., 
Poim of Rocks, \'\., May iS, iSb4. 

T I ^HIS morning I received your letter, dated from Manchester. 
1 Yesterday I sent a letter off directed to New London, but as 
you have concluded not to go there I suppose your chances of get- 
ting it right off are not very good. So, to relieve your anxiety, I 
write again. Our date of discharge has at last been definitely set- 
tled, and you need not expect me before the 7th of June. That is 
General Butler's fiat, which is law. 

This army has had some fighting to do since it landed here. Al 
this very moment the rebels are attacking a portion of our intrenched 
line not half a mile from where I am sitting, and there is a terrific 
uproar of cannon and musketry. A week ago the army went out or 
an expedition to stir up the rebels. '1 hey skirmished with them, 
drove them toward Fort Darling, and took the outer line of rifle- 
pits. I took the regimental mail up, and found the boys within five 
hundred yards of a large rebel fort, over which two big garrison flags 
were floating. They were behind a good log breastwork, and oui 
skirmishers were well out in front, behind logs and stumps, popping 
away so industriously that the rebels were not working a single one 
of their cannon. I stayed as long as I could find any excuse, to 
distribute my mail and to watch the sport, then rode back to camp. 
The next morning, before I had rolled out of my blankets, I heard 
heavy firing up the river, and knew that a battle was on. It was a 
couple hours before I could get started with my mail. The road, 
after I had gone a piece, was full of wounded men on foot and am- 
bulances loaded with mangled humanity. One driver told me he 
had in his wagon the body of Captain Piatt, who was killed by a 
bullet in the head. 

When I reached the regiment I learned the full story of ihe 
fight The morning was a very foggy one, and the rebels crawled 
silently toward our lines, and then rushed for our breastworks But 
there was an obstacle in the path that they hadn't dreamed of. Our 
fellows had busied themselves during the night in weaving telegraph 
wire> among the stumps out at the front, and when the rebs charged 
they suddenly found themselves sprawling every- which- way, while 
our boys were pumping lead into them as fast as they could load 

A Soldier Boy's Letters 169 

and fire. The rebs came on again and again, until the ground in 
front of the Second was carpeted with dead and wounded rebels. 
But the rebels managed to get through the lines to the right and the 
left, and the army fell back and formed a new line of battle a mile 
or less to the rear of the old position. Although there was light 
skirmishing all day, at some points, the rebels had done about all 
the attacking they cared to for one day. 

I stayed with the regiment all day, to see the fun if there was 
any more going. One time I throught there would be. The brig- 
ade was called to attention and moved forward in battle line, across 
the fields, toward the woods where the morning's fight had taken 
place. Old "Buckskin" and I thoughtlessly jogged along behind the 
Second. Before we were within ordinary rifle range of the woods, 
a bullet "pinged" by not far from me. Pretty soon there was an- 
other. And then another ! Looking up and down, I saw I was the 
only mounted man on the line, and it dawned upon me that some 
sharpshooter with a long-range rifle had picked me out as the boss 
of the expedition and was trying to get me. And he could shoot, 
too. My pride wouldn't let me turn and run, badly as I wanted to, 
and I was about to drop to the ground and walk when the bugles 
sounded a halt, and we about-faced and marched back — and I was 
mighty glad to go. 

During the night our army came back into the camps. This 
morning the rebels appeared in front of our lines and lively skir- 
mishing has been going on all day. The army is engaged in throw- 
ing up intrenchments, the Second working as hard as any of them. 


Headquarters Second N. H. V., 
Near Petersburg, Va., May 24, 1S64. 

f I ^HE discharge of veteran regiments in this command has al- 
1 ready begun. Yesterday I went down to Bermuda Hundred 
with my tentmate, Johnny Powell, and on our way back we met the 
First Connecticut Heavy Artillery on their way home, their time 
having expired. The present camp of the Second is delightfully 
located, in a beautiful pine grove, shady, cool and clean, just to the 


170 A Soldier Boy's Letters 

rear of our rifle-pits. I now have about fifteen minutes' work each 
day, carrying the outgoing mail down to brigade headquarters, a 
distance of a dozen rods, and bringing the regimental mail up over 
the same course. 

Colonel Bailey is determined to go home when we do, and prob- 
ably will. The regiment will then be reduced below the minimum 
entitling it to a colonel. Also, if War Department orders are 
enforced, it will have to be consolidated into companies of one 
hundred men each and superfluous officers mustered out. Bailey 
has written to Major Davis, (ien. Butler's Assistant- Adjutant-Gene- 
ral, expressing his wish to be mustered out with the old men and 
stating the facts in regard to the regiment. His wife, I know, has 
set her foot down against his staying in the army longer than he is 
obliged to — just as mine did. 

We are having a very quiet time .along the lines, just now. For 
two or three days there has hardly been a shot fired. We have in- 
trenchments behind which we can defy the whole rebel army. But 
the other night we had noise enough down a little to our right. I 
had just turned in when it started, and in five minutes there was 
such a riot that the regiment turned out and manned the breast- 
works. But our section of the line was not molested, and in half 
an hour the firing had degenerated into an occasional straggling 
shot, and the regiment turned in again. 

Well, as Bill Pendleton says, "Every day is like an inch on a 
man's nose." 


Headquarters Second N. H. V., 
Near PbTEKSBVSC, Va., Friday, May 27. 

IN my last letter, written three days ago, I promised to write one 
more letter from the army. The chances are that if I do not 
write now 1 may not have another opportunity, as we are evidently 
getting in trim to move within a day or two, and we may not get 
settled down again until we are discharged. Last night an order 
came here that all men in the regiment who are unable to travel in 
light inarching order shall be sent at once to the division hospital. 
We will doubtless move very soon — perhaps before tomorrow morn- 

A Soldier Boy's Letters 171 

ing. Hen. Pillsbury has just come in with the news, coming from 
Dr. Merrow, that we will march within a few hours, a good part of 
Butler's force going to reinforce Grant. If so, we will have some 
hard marching to do. 

Now that the time for my release draws nigh, I must say I am 
getting very impatient. Bill Ramsdell says : "When I get my dis- 
charge in my hand, I shall feel as if I had shaken off a man who for 
three years has had his hand at my throat, trying to strangle me." 
And with his experience, I do not wonder that he feels that way. 

Since I began this letter the preparations for departure have set 
in in good earnest. The shovels which we have used in throwing up 
defensive works are being loaded up, the sick men have taken up 
their line of march for the hospitals, and the cooks are busy prepar- 
ing two days' rations. If Grant has got Lee back pretty well toward 
Richmond, it may not be a very hard march to join him. But if he 
is still at the Anna rivers we will have some right smart "huffing" to 
do. At any rate, I will not be troubled with a heavy load — only 
what I may need to make myself comfortable. I have turned in my 
horse, and will "frog it" with the boys, which will be rather pleas- 
ant, and I will not have the horse to care for. It has been some 
time since I have received a letter from you, but suppose you do not 
write for fear I may not get it, being liable to start for home any 
day. Good bye, for a very short time. 

This was the Soldier Boy's last letter from the army. The Eight- 
eenth Army Corps did join Grant, being transported to White House, 
on the Pamunky, by water. The Second gloriously maintained its 
ancient reputation in the sanguinary battle of Cold Harbor, and an 
ill fate took heavy toll from the little handful of old men whose faces 
were already turned joyously toward home and the loved ones. Three 
company commanders — includi/ig Captain Gordon — were killed, and 
the rank and fie were decimated. Immediately after this terrible 
sacrifice the remnant returned to New Hampshire and were mustered