Monday, December 3, 2012

Not so minor, Mr. Haynes

Thursday night at 6:30 p.m., I’ll be discussing my book with what I hope will be a good crowd at the Manchester City Library.

This event gives me a chance to talk about some of the many Manchester soldiers in Our War, including Martin Alonzo Haynes, a brave, articulate young man. Haynes was a private in the Second New Hampshire Volunteers, the first three-year regiment from this state. He is featured in three battle chapters in my book: first Bull Run, Gettysburg and Cold Harbor.

Perhaps his role in the Gettysburg chapter best illustrates the approach I took in writing Our War. I had no interest in writing a comprehensive chapter on the battle’s second day. What I was after was a chapter in which I could show how that day’s fighting affected three individual New Hampshire soldiers – one each from the three infantry regiments that fought there. I also wanted to show how the fate of each of those regiments affected the fates of the others.

I chose Col. Edward E. Cross from the Fifth New Hampshire. Although Cross led a brigade of the Second Corps that day, his old regiment was in that brigade. I chose Sgt. Richard Musgrove from the Twelfth. He left a rich memoir of his service at Gettysburg and elsewhere. And I chose Haynes, a cub reporter before the war and his regiment’s historian after it.

Among Haynes’s published works my favorite is A Minor War History Compiled from a Soldier Boy’s Letters to “the Girl I Left Behind Me.” Published in 1916 in Lakeport, N.H., it comprises the wartime letters Haynes wrote to Cornelia Lane, his girlfriend when he left for the war, his wife at the time of the Gettysburg battle (he married her on furlough in the spring of 1863).

Only 60 copies of A Minor War History were printed. You can read it here. Although such online publication is useful, during this 150th anniversary of the Civil War, the Haynes book is one of several New Hampshire letter collections and memoirs that deserve to be reprinted with fresh introductions.

In the meantime I was blessed to find Haynes’s letters and other writings and to give him a star turn in Our War.


  1. Thanks for this, Mike. It is available on Amazon, as a paperback reprint, for about $20. I just bought one.

  2. Just finished reading "A Minor War History" - a very interesting story of one NH soldier's life for three years of war. I particularly noted the references to the arrival of substitutes with the 5th NHV at Point Lookout and the lengths necessary to keep them from deserting.