Image: Pvt. Alexander Lyle, Co. G, 2nd New Hampshire Infantry

17 09 2022
Alexander Lyle, Co. G, 2nd N. H. Infantry (Courtesy of Spared and Shared/David Marin Collection)

Alexander Lyle at Ancestry

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Image: “Major,” Mascot, 2nd New Hampshire Infantry

14 09 2022
“Major,” with two members of 29th Maine Infantry, Dec. 1863 (Courtesy of Nicholas Picerno Collection)

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Unit History – 2nd New Hampshire Infantry

22 06 2022

Cols., Thomas P. Pierce, Gilman Marston, Edward L. Bailey, Joab N. Patterson; Lieut.-Cols., Frank S. Fiske, Edward L. Bailey, James W. Carr, Joab N. Patterson, John D. Çooper, Jr., Levi N. Converse (not mustered); Majs., Josiah Stevens, Edward L. Bailey, James W. Carr, Samuel P. Sayles, John D. Cooper, Jr., Levi N. Converse, George T. Carter (not mustered). The 2nd regiment, composed of volunteers from all parts of the state, was mustered into the service of the United States at Portsmouth, from May 31 to June 10, 1861, except its band, which was mustered in Aug. 7, 1861, at Washington and mustered out Aug. 8, 1862, near Harrison’s landing, Va . The recruits transferred from the 17th N. H. infantry, April 16, 1863, were mustered out at Concord, June 21, 1864, the reënlisted men and recruits on Dec. 19, 1865, at City Point, Va. The regiment’s original members numbered 1,022, transferred 1, recruits 1,144, band recruits 22, recruits gained by transfer 366; making a total of 2,555. The losses include 159 killed or died of wounds, 178 deaths from other causes, making a total loss of 337. A large proportion of the members of the 2nd enlisted for three months in April, 1861, but reënlisted for three years when the second call for troops was sent out. The regiment left Portsmouth for Washington June 20, via Boston and New York, receiving ovations all along the route. On arriving in Washington it became a part of the 2nd brigade of Hunter’s division and opened the fight at Bull Run, July 21, 1861. The winter was spent at Budd’s ferry, Md., and in the spring the regiment took part in the siege of Yorktown, after which it pursued and attacked the Confederate rear-guard at Williamsburg. On May 31 , 1862, it was at Poplar hill and participated in the fight at Fair Oaks. Two days later they fought at Oak Grove. For bravery in action at Williamsburg and Oak Grove, Private Michael Dillon, Co. G, was awarded a medal by Congress. Skirmishes followed at Peach Orchard, Va., Glendale, Malvern hill and Kettle run and, on Aug. 29, the regiment was again at Bull Run. At Chantilly it was not brought into action and at Fredericksburg its duties were comparatively light. The 2nd wintered in New Hampshire. At Gettysburg, July 2, 1863, the 2nd made a historic defense at Sherfy’s peach orchard. It joined Grant at Cold Harbor in June, 1864, having made a noble record at Front Royal, Warrenton , Point Lookout, Petersburg and Fort Darling, and finished its active service with the Army of the Potomac.

From The Union Army, Vol. 1, pp. 81-82

Pvt. Frank M. Boutelle, Co. I[*], 2nd New Hampshire Infantry, On the Battle

5 01 2021


We are permitted to give a few extracts from a private letter from Frank M. Boutelle, of this city:

How they came on to the Field.

I was all worn out, having marched double quick for half a mile; the fight had been going on about fifteen minutes. The rebels had been driven about 40 yards, and as we came on, the rifles of Company B[*] sent them another notch, and a volley from the regiment made them take to the woods. Our cannon were then planted on the ground they had occupied.

How they faced Death.

Company B[*] did their duty. Poor Moses Eastman was shot in the leg; he stood behind me; the ball that struck him cut the sheath from my bayonet. One of my friends was shot through the breast a little way from me. H. L. Morse was struck by a cannon ball in the neck, which cut his head off. I could cover this sheet with such incidents; but it would do no good and is unpleasant.

Not good at a retreat.

At seven the retreat began in earnest. – Regiment after Regiment passed before I got off the field; as I was getting over the fence into the road, a hasty charge of rifle bullets came rattling after me; this opened my eyes some, but was soon driven out of my mind by a handful of marbles which plowed up the soil about me. One of them made of shoe of my right boot pretty quick, by taking off the leg. The same volley killed a horse and wounded two men, and one shot struck my heel. The first brook I came to filled my newly made shoe with gravel and water. I stood as long as I could and then pulled off both boots and stockings, for they had holes in them. After travelling all night Sunday, with the exception of two hours, and until 4 o’clock next day, I reached Alexandria. Reached Washington by boat on Tuesday. My feet were so cut up that I was obliged to take a hack, and arrived at Camp Sullivan at 10 o’clock, A.M., tired and worn out. Have not got over it yet, but soon shall. It begins to rain and has wet my paper, so I close.

Camp Sullivan, July 31, 1861.

(Manchester) New Hampshire Journal of Agriculture, 8/10/1861

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Contributed by John J. Hennessy

[*Frank M. Boutelle shows in the roster per regimental history as a member of Co. I. Moses Eastman and Henry L. Morse are also listed as Co. I. From this site, it appears this company was accepted into state service 4/22/861, but discharged and again accepted prior to its formation as Co. I. It may be that members referred to themselves as Co. B as a nod to their earlier enlistment date.]

Frank M. Boutelle at Fold3

Frank M. Boutelle at FindAGrave

Unknown Officer, Co. F, 2nd New Hampshire Infantry, On the Battle

5 01 2021


We are permitted to make the following extracts from a letter received in this city yesterday, written by an officer in the 2d New Hampshire regiment:

Camp Sullivan, 2d N H. regiment,
Washington, D. C., Jul 28.

Dear —-; — “Everything for the cause; nothing for men,” thought we as the bullets and bombs whisted Hail Columbia around out devoted heads at Bull Run on Sunday, but still we fought regardless of the danger for nine long and bloody hours; and if the order had not come for us to retreat, we should have remained on the battle field until no one was left to tell the tale. Yes, all hail 2d New Hampshire. You fought well, and if you were not successful in this, your first action, we thank God that there is a day of reckoning coming, and God pity the poor rebels when next we get at them – they that refused mercy to our wounded and dying will receive an awful retribution, and the day of retribution is not far distant.

Our poor company, F, was sadly shattered, and it seems as if ours was the unfortunate company in the regiment. We had fifteen brave boys killed and wounded, and quite a number missing. One of our lost, Sergeant Brackett, was my particular friend, and it seems hard to have him cut down thus early in his glorious career. His was a noble death! Peace to his ashes.

It seems as if our best men were picked out to be slaughtered. I wish it were otherwise, but I suppose it was so ordered, and all too for the best.

Our regiment was the first on the field and the last one to retire, and we did not want to go then, but the order was peremptory and we must obey, so with heavy hears and not very christian expressions we left the field to the traitors and rebels.

I would rather ten thousand times have been shot down like a dog than been obliged to retreat in such confusion – ‘twas a fight without a leader – and thank Heaven we have now a true General in McClellan. McDowell did not know his business.

Our Colonel, Marston, was severely wounded, and I don’t think he will resume command again. He was very brave on the field. After he was wounded he was brought on to the field and held upon his horse till the last shot was fired.

A Member of our company died yesterday at the hospital here. He has never seen a well day since he left New Hampshire. He was from Laconia, and leaves a widowed mother to mourn his untimely fate. His disease was consumption that fell destroyer of the North. He was not in the fight of course, not being able to set up.

A member of our company[*] is to be hung tomorrow for murdering a woman at Alexandria, yesterday. He was drunk; when sober he was a good soldier; he never has been in camp since the battle, having stayed out and kept drunk all the while. Poor fellow, what a pity he could not have died on the battle field.

New Bedford (Massachusetts) Evening Standard, 8/1/1861

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Contributed by John J. Hennessy

*Per regimental history, William F. Murray of Co. F was hanged 8/2/1862 for the murder of Mary Banks A history of the Second regiment, New Hampshire volunteer infantry, in the war of the rebellion : Haynes, Martin A. (Martin Alonzo), 1845-1919 : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive

Corp. Alfred W. Burnham, Co. C, 2nd New Hampshire Infantry, On the Battle and His Wounding

5 05 2020

Camp Beaufort, Hooker’s Division, Md., December 5th, 1861:

Well, brother, you wished me to give you a sketch of my life in this war, and the battle of Bull Run. It would take me a long time, but I will do it in as brief space as possible. We went from Manchester to Portsmouth, and stayed in barracks about three weeks; then took the cars to Fall River, and thence by steamboat to New York; remained there one day; then by ferry-boat to Jersey City, and thence by rail, by way of Harrisburg and Baltimore to Washington; staid there two days, and then bivouacked two miles from Washington, at Camp Sullivan; staid there until the 15th of July; from thence we went within ten miles of the battle-field; staid over night beside the road, and on the morning of the 21st heard the roar of cannon; took a hasty breakfast of hard crackers and salt junk, and started — three regiments — under command of General Burnside; we marched quick time about six miles; we could hear the guns so plainly we thought we were very near them, and orders were given for double-quick time, and we kept it up all the way to the battle-field.

When we arrived there we were nearly exhausted from our long march, but the rifle and cannon-balls came pouring in upon us like a hail-storm. We were drawn up in line on a hill, and orders came to fire at will, and we gave them the cold lead right smart, until they retreated into the woods, where we could not see them. Then we were ordered back, and found that but few of our boys were wounded. We lay there for half an hour, with the exception of one or two companies which deployed as skirmishers, and then we were ordered to the left of the Second Rhode Island Artillery, to support it from the rebel flanking movements. While marching to the left flank my position was second corporal, at the head of the 2d platoon. The enemy were at our right, and the balls flying like fury, and our men falling dead. As we were marching in this position a ball struck me between my shoulder and right breast. It felt like a shock from an electric wire. I called out, 0 my God! I am shot! —killed! let my gun fall, and dropped to the ground. Two corporals caught me in their arms, and carried me to where the surgeons were surrounded with the dead and wounded, and laid me on a blanket. As they placed me in this position it hurt my back. I put my hand around and felt the ball between my ribs, and called the doctor to cut it out, which he did, first cutting my coat and shirt nearly off. Pretty soon I saw our men retreating. I told them to put me into a wagon. They tried to keep me there, saying that I should be safe, for they thought that I would surely die. Seeing our chaplain, I requested him to have me put in, and he did so. By that time our men were passing us on the retreat to Washington, and we started, and every jolt seemed that it would kill me. As I lay on the bottom of the wagon I expected to die, but was bound not to be taken by the rebels. On we went till we got to the bridge at Cob Run, where cannon, wagons, and ambulances, lay overturned in a promiscuous heap. As our team could get no further, I got out and crawled between cannon, horses, wagons, and amidst their firing, and crossed the bridge. I had not the least fear of being shot though the balls flew about my head. I was perfectly cool and reconciled to my fate; shot or not, I expected to die.

Well, I reached the other side of the bridge, and traveled on foot twelve miles that night, to Centreville, and lay down on the floor in an old house. Next morning, I started at four o’clock, passed through Fairfax and on to within about six miles of Alexandria, where I stopped at a house and got some gruel—the first refreshment for two days. I reached here by the help of the boys that strayed along. Some of them would carry me on a board till they could carry me no farther. I told them not to wait for me—that I should get through; so, I staggered along until some one else would come up and assist me.

At one time they put me on an old horse; one held me on and another led him; every one that came along would lend me a helping hand, until I would urge them to leave me. Well, this is the way that I avoided being taken. If I had followed the advice urged upon me, I should have been a prisoner; but I was bound to die on free land, and among free men. While I was here one of our ambulances came out to pick up the wounded; in it I rode to Alexandria, by standing on tip-toe and holding on to the bows overhead. I remained at the hospital seven weeks.

Here all was confusion, but they found a mattress and placed me upon it, and the next morning, for the first time, I had my wound dressed. Here I had the best of care and attention. I will close by saying that my health is good, and that I weigh 165 lbs.; my average weight has been 145 lbs. for a number of years.

You may direct your letter to Sergeant Alfred W. Burnham, as before, &c.

The Burnham Family, Or, Genealogical Records of the Descendants of the Four Emigrants of the Name, who Were Among the Early Settlers in America, p. 458

Contributed and transcribed by David Morin

Alfred Burnham at

Alfred Burnham at Fold3

2nd New Hampshire Regimental history has Burnham listed as Berham, Alfred W.

Pvt. Mattison C. Sanborn, Co. A, 2nd New Hampshire Infantry, On the March and Battle

31 01 2020

Letters from the Army.

The following letter from a member of Company A, 2d N. H. Regiment, to his father, Dr. Caleb Danborn, of South Berwick, had been furnished us for publication:

Camp Sullivan, Washington, July 24th.

Dear Father, – Last Tuesday we left Washington with our Brigade, under command of Gen. Burnside, to join our Division, under Gen. McDowell, at Fairfax Court House. We arrived there at 11 o’clock, Thursday morning, the rebels retreating before us towards Manassas Junction. In their camp they left guns, ammunition, provisions, blankets and tents. They blocked up the road by falling the trees and piling up fences.

Our pioneers cleared the obstructions out of the roads, and the army consisting of about 19,000 men, proceeded about 4 miles from Fairfax Court House, where the flag of the 2nd N. H. Regiment floated in place of the Confederate Flag, and encamped there Friday night and Saturday and Sunday until 2 o’clock in the morning. Then the advance of the army commenced and we advanced near 18 miles from our previous encampment, and engaged the enemy at Blue Ridge, near 3 miles from Manassas Junction. By that time we had about 25,00 men in the field and the battle began in real earnest, and the bullets rained about us like hail. The cannon balls and shells of the enemy did great execution. Sherman’s and the R. I. battery played powerfully upon the enemy and once silenced their batteries. Then they displayed a flag of truce, which proved only to cause a delay so that reinforcements might come for them, and General James came from Manassas Junction with 13,000 for the rebels. The Ellsworth Zouaves made a noble charge upon the rebel cavalry and routed them. We were ignorant of the forces of the enemy and their position. There were so many of our artillery men shot that it was difficult to man the guns, our ammunition gave out and we then retreated. The enemy had at least 126,000 men engaged and we no mote at any time than 40,000. Col. Marston was shot by a cannon ball in the shoulder, but he is doing well. As soon as his wound was dressed he mounted his horse and being led on the battlefield by one of the boys he made a speech and told us to defend the Stars and Stripes at all hazards and to remember New Hampshire. Capt. Rollins was hit by a musket ball in the shoulder, and is getting along finely.

The cursed rebels bayoneted our men we left on the field. In our company 2 are killed 3 missing and 3 wounded.

We had a pretty hard journey, we marched 18 miles to the battle field, fought from 11 o’clock, till 4 then retreated, 56 miles without resting an hour at a time.

The enemy are now this side of Centreville, about 36 miles from Washington.

When we move on we shall sweep every thing before us, for we shall have an army of 75,000 or 100,000 men, and artillery enough.

Several pieces of the R. I. guns were spiked by the boys. All the rest our men had safe. Sherman’s battery came in to Washington complete with only one man killed.

The cry of the Ellsworth Zouaves every time one of their men was shot was Ellsworth, and then they rushed on like tigers.

When we first heard the whizzing of the balls we felt a little ticklish, but after we saw our friends fall by our side we feared neither man not the devil.

Our Regiment conducted bravely and left the field with colors flying. Give my love to mother and all my friends, and tell them I’ve killed one rebel sure.

M. C. Sanborn

Dover (NH) Enquirer, 8/1/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy

Mattison Sanborn at 

Mattison Sanborn at Fold3

AKA Mattson C. Sanborn – Bio sketch – Sanborn later was an officer in the 20th Maine Infantry

Mattson Caleb Sanborn at

Mattson Caleb Sanborn at Fold3

Mattson Caleb Sanborn at 

Lieut. Warren H. Parmenter, Co. D, 2nd New Hampshire Infantry, On the Battle and Retreat

29 01 2020

The following is an extract of a letter from Lieut. Parmenter of the Dover Company, to a friend in this city:

Washington, July 24th, 1861

I suppose by this time you have heard all about the great battle at Manassas, but you must not believe more than half you read. We received orders Saturday night to get ready to march at 2 o’clock and we started and traveled until 10 o’clock, and the first thing we knew of the rebels was a volley of musketry and a discharge of grape and canister. We were then drawn up in a line and such a shower of bullets you never read about as we received, and we returned them as fast as we could. At that time our Colonel was shot in the shoulder, and a great number of soldiers, but very few badly hurt. This was the first volley that was fired at them. – We then move to the centre and gave them another pop, and fell back to give the big guns a chance, and they did a good deal of damage and drove them from their battery; but we had not force enough to back up our line and they came back and started the big guns on us again, and we went round to the left and came up in rake with their battery and rifles. I thought we were in a hornet’s nest to hear the bullets fly around my ears. We staid there about half an hour and then returned, but every other regiment had left before us, even the U. S. Cavalry, which were put there to cover our retreat. So you see we were the first on and the last off the field, and by that time a regular stampede had commenced. Away they went, pell mell, army wagons, private carriages, horses, infantry and artillery, all together. I started for the hospital where Capt. Rollins was, he being shot on the field sometime before. We got him and the Colonel into the ambulance and started for camp, two miles below Centreville; it was nearly dark. We came along several miles until we reached Bull’s Run, when they opened a masked battery on us. We left the ambulance and started again for camp, which we reached about ten o’clock, laid down about fifteen minutes, and then were ordered to Washington, which we reached Monday afternoon, having marched and fought nearly forty-eight hours with nothing to eat but pilot bread, so hard that it was almost impossible to eat it, and nothing to drink but water we got from the puddles along the road side. We lost from our regiment, killed and wounded, about 40 men. There is missing from our Company, six, but I am in hopes some of them will come in yet.

Dover (NH) Enquirer, 8/1/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy

Warren H. Parmenter at 

Warren H. Parmenter at Fold3

Image: Pvt. Ezra C. Goodwin, Co. D, 2nd New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry

22 01 2020


From Publication source not known.

Pvt. Ezra C. Goodwin*, Co. D, 2nd New Hampshire Infantry, On the March, Battle, and Retreat

21 01 2020

We have been furnished for publication with the following interesting letter which was received in this city on Friday last, from one of our Dover Boys, Co. D, 2d Regiment.

Washington, July 15th [sic]

Dear Father and Mother: – I will improve the few leisure moments I have in writing to you, to give you an account of one of the most bloody battles ever fought on this continent. We left out camp at Washington one week ago to-day, in Col. Burnside’s Brigade, and marched to Fairfax Court House, where we arrived at 12 o’clock the next day. We stayed until 7, the next morning, when we left for Centreville. We had not gone more than one mile, when we received orders to wait for orders from General McDowell. We stayed there until five o’clock in the afternoon and then marched within 1 ½ miles of Centreville, where we remained until Sunday morning, 2 o’clock. Then we left for Bull’s Run, and followed the road to Bull’s Run Bridge, where we went into a piece of woods, in order to come up in the enemy’s rear, supposing that General Patterson would come up in their front. We came up to their batteries about 12 o’clock, having marched ten hours without food or water, and tired most to death. Our artillery being ahead, commenced the fight. Our regiment was ordered to support the R. I. battery, and we marched to the right of it. We were exposed to the fire of two batteries, and from six to seven thousand men. They commenced firing at us, with cannon and musket balls, but, we soon stopped their fun. When we commenced firing at them, they began to run for the woods. We drove them two miles, when they were reinforced by 30,000 men, which was more than we had, they having three to our one. But they could never have driven us back, if it had not been for their masked batteries, and the woods, which were alive with the rebels. We had to charge up a steep hill, with not a thing to cover us, while they were on the top of the hill in the thick woods, and behind earthworks.

I was in the engagement four hours, and only got my head grazed by a musket ball; it just brought blood. When we got back to Bull’s Run Bridge, their cavalry and flying artillery had cut us off, and they thought they had a sure thing on us; but they got much mistaken. One old nigger, came up to me and said “Lay down your arms,” I drew my pistol and put a ball through his head, and he laid down his arms, in double quick time. A cannon ball cut my gun off four inches over my head. Out of 300 that attacked us, not over 12 returned. I had to buy my food on the road or starve. I must now close my letter, and will give you more particulars next time.

E. C. G.

Dover (NH) Enquirer, 8/1/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy

* Ezra C. Goodwin is the only E. C. G. in Co. D found in this roster.

Ezra C. Goodwin at Fold3

Ezra C. Goodwin at