Letter of the 2d. New Hampshire Regiment.
Washington, D. C.,
July 4, 1861.*
Messrs. Editors: I will write you a few lines this week, though not much of interest has transpired during the last few days, with, perhaps, the exception of the arrival of a paymaster in our camp, who just at this time is a very welcome visitor. To day the soldiers are being paid off, the idea of which is cheering, for many of us are getting short of change, which comes in handy even here in buying many of the smaller comforts of life with which we have been obliged to dispense with. Paying the soldiers thus promptly, seems to inspire them with new confidence and vigor, and all will fight the better for it.
Sunday the 7th, Mr. Parker** preached to us from the Acts of the Apostles, chapt. 16, verse 28th – “Do thyself no harm.” The application of which he made was that all of us should act in the same spirit to each other as Paul did towards the jailor who drew his sword in despair to slay himself when he saw his prisoners about to escape. Paul had the spirit of goodness in him which he showed even then when smarting under cruelties imposed upon him by those who were his enemies. Now, he said, when far away from the kind influences of home, we should exercise the same spirit towards ourselves. This we could do in abstaining from all the trends to demoralize us, from the many vicious practices to which the most of soldiers were addicted. Take these words, he said, as a rule of life – Do thyself no harm – and a glorious reward would be ours. Now when surrounded by ten thousand temptations, it would tend to develop our strength of character. Then, he said, while he was speaking, if every fathers ear could hear his voice, he would thank him for giving his boy this advice, and every blessed mother and sister left behind, would feel it an honor for any injury that might happen to the son and brother, at the hands of any rebel, if he kept from temptation and did himself no harm. Here lies the danger, It was an excellent discourse, and left an impression on those who hear it that will not soon be forgotten.
Tuesday afternoon, the regiment were favored with a speech from Gen. Wilson*** of California, a noble son of the old Granite State, who said he was proud of being here and seeing faces many of which were familiar to him. He came a son of New Hampshire to speak to New Hampshire soldiers in whom he took a great interest, though sixty-four years had taken away something of his manhood strength, still he meant to follow them in their marches and their battles, that when he returned to their native State he might tell her people how well her sons stood the trial. He had fill confidence in them. He spoke something like an hour, and was listened to with marked attention throughout. He was applauded frequently, and when he spoke of his daughter, who sat near us, as also taking a deep interest in us and of praying for our welfare, the cheers were absolutely deafening. At its close cheer upon sheer arose for the speaker, and the daughter who took such an interest in us. Gen. Wilson often visits our camp and is quite a favorite with both officers and men.
Yesterday was the holy Sabbath, and how sweet to my ears would have been the sound of the village church bell; everything reminds me that I am out of New England, every voice, and face, and sound I hear (except in our own regiment) are strangers. To-day I have been led to think of this more than at any time before. I know not why it is unless it is that I have loved my native hills and voices of those with whom I have been accustomed to associate more than I ought. No this cannot be; I have loved them I hope truly, but not too well. Dear old New New Hampshire; there is no land on the face of the wide earth like her, no hills from which the fresh breezes blow sweeter, no people whose hearts are warmer or who can take the hand with a firmer grasp in token of the kind friendship so peculiar to her, though I have seen hills whose sides were not so steep and rugged, tho’ I many have seen in this southern clime men and women who may be more polished but not more refined, still my heart clings to her; she shall never be disgraced by those she had sent forth in this hour of our country’s peril to fight her battles. We can strike with a truer and firmer stroke at traitor hearts, we can sight with an aim more exact at those who seek to destroy our common country when we think what a kind mother she has been to us. God bless her! I have no doubt is said in his own heart by every one of her two thousand sons who are now in the field ready for the contest this day. We were expecting to march to-day at 1 o’clock, the time has been postponed until to-morrow at 1 when no doubt every man that can go will, for all are anxious. Where we are to go none of us know. Wherever it may be we will try to do our duty, only hoping that we may not be exposed needlessly, and everything be planned in good judgment as no doubt it will be. The whole nation has full confidence in the noble old General at the head of her armies.
Yesterday, Mr. Parker preached to us from Proverbs 18th chapter and 10th verse – “The name of the Lord is a strong tower, the nations runneth into it and are safe” – and a good discourse it was too. Mr. Parker is a good man and well liked by the regiment; we hope his labors in our behalf will be productive of good as certainly they deserve to be.
Since I wrote you last we have had a change in our culinary department, Austin Sanger having declined and appointed postmaster for the regiment, and a good appointment too, his place being supplied by Roberts, who understands his business – even now I hear the welcome sound i”fall in for supper”i so I must close for to-night.
Tuesday morning – This morning we are told that it is sure that we are to march at 1 P. M. all are busy in making preparations for departure in rolling up their blankets &c., we are to take four days rations in our haversacks, so we think we are to have something of a march. The whole regiment are all in good spirits, singing and cheering at the prospect of having something to break the monotony of the camp life we have had for the three weeks we have been here. None are in better spirits or more anxious to go than the Goodwin Rifles. It is possible these orders may be countermanded, we hope not. Good bye for this time, you shall hear from me again.
C. A. M.****
Concord Independent Democrat, 7/25/1861
*This appears to be the date that this letter was begun. It appears to end the day on which the movement to Manassas began, July 16, 1861.
**Chaplain Henry E. Parker in A History of the Second Regiment, New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry
***Likely Congressman James Wilson. Sketch of General James Wilson of New Hampshire
****There are four C. A. M.’s listed in the regimental roster who were in the regiment at this time (plus numerous C. M.s, no middle initial). Two were in the Goodwin Rifles, Co. B: Pvt. Charles A. Mace and Sgt. Charles A. Milton .
Contributed by John J. Hennessy