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Henry Boynton Transcript

8th Maine Regiment

Steamship Ariel

Hampton Roads, Oct 25, 1861

The Hon. I Washburn

Dear Sir:

The health of this Regiment is excellent and its proficiency in Company drill and movements is, considering the time the men have been under instruction, good, but I regret to say that, owing to a remarkable degree of incapacity in field Officers, in Battalion instruction and drill, it has made little or no improvement since leaving Augusta, and is in that respect but little better now than raw recruits. This is a hard statement but it is actually and positively true. The Colonel cannot give accurately the orders necessary for the movements embraced in the first pages of Art. 1 of the "School of the Battalion" in the Regulation Tactics. For instance on a recent occasion on dress parade ; with the Battalion in open order; with the officers to the front and reading his order ; without previous inspection of arms ; some of the pieces actually loaded with ball cartridges, he exercised the battalion in the firings.

That almost universal dissatisfaction should under such circumstances exist among both officers and men is but the natural result of so deplorable and mortifying a state of facts. The above instance of his ignorant blundering is but a mere trifle compared with some of his wrong movements. The military imbecility of the Colonel and the Lt. Col. renders the Regiment a reproach instead of an honor to our noble State.

The men of the Regiment are far above an average of those of the regiments we have seen from other States. They are generally noble fellows and with good field officers and arms this might easily become one of the very first regiments in the American service. The men are capable of it and it is a burning shame for so noble a regiment to be under so incompetent leaders. Nineteen line officers presented the Colonel a written request to resign but he disregarded it. The company officers are generally men capable of filling their places well.

Now I have this incentive in addition to a natural ambition to desire a position as Lieut. Col or Major in some other Regiment now raising or to be raised, which you can give. Trusting to the friendly feelings which exist between us I hope you will favorably consider my application and you well know the zeal in the cause of our country is not wanting.

The deficiency in our field officers is the more marked as the other Regiments all around us in the same Division have made good and some of them most excellent progress in Battalion instruction and reflect some honor on their respective States.

While at Washington on the same parade ground with five other regiments and at Annapolis in the immediate vicinity of 14 Regts we were compelled to see them bring their troops into a good state of Battalion instruction while we were restricted to "company drill" omitting that so necessary to prepare for combined battle service.

 

May good success attend you in your ardurous labors in our great cause and may Heaven bless you. With high respect I remain

 

Yours Truly

Henry Boynton