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Martin Letter Collection

This collection contains ten letters written by Lt. James "Newt" Martin, a Newberry native who enlisted as a private in Co. E, 3rd SC Volunteer Infantry at age 29. He was elected Lieutenant on December 31, 1863, and served throughout the entire war. The letters span over two and a half years of the Civil War, from January 1862 to August 1864.  Not only do these letters provide insight into the conditions that Martin and his fellow troops faced during battle, but they also show how he occupied his camp time, his thoughts on the war, and how he stayed connected to his family. The letters are all written to his father, sister, or brother and he describes everything from a snow storm near Fredericksburg and camp minstrel shows to Union spy balloons and religious services. Following the war, Martin returned to Newberry where he married, ran a mercantile business, and became the president of the National Bank of Newberry. He died on May 31, 1899, and is buried in Newberry's Rosemont Cemetery. Below is a sampling of the letters, with full transcriptions (PDFs).

Letter: April 17, 1863

Camp near Fredericksburg, Va
April 17, 1863
Dear Sister,
Your letter of the 7 th came to hand and as I wrote to John a few days after his omitted assuming it and as our camp is very dull at present I hav nothing new to write. We have preaching and prayer meetings near our quarters about 3 or 4 times a week and I am glad to say not without some affect there has a considerable number Professed Religion and several joined the church and it seems to be on the increase the soldiers give to preaching and really seem to take great interest even those that have never taken any interest in any religious service before. The minister said in his sermon a few days ago that our army could do more by sincere prayers than with the musket to close the war. And it seems as if they intend to try it. Our Brigade is not the only one that seems concerned from I can here it is almost the whole Army of the Potomac.
I hope it will have the affect predicted by the preachers as I am hastily tired of the war.
And I think the most of both Armies are in the same consideration.
The yanks seem very anxious to know what we are doing. They had Mr. Low the Balloonist watching our Camp’s yesterday all day and he was peeking into our Camp this morning Before Sunrise. Some of the Boys proposed show Show Ticker and inviting him to come over and attend our theater.
I do not believe I had told you that we was able to support of Company of Minstrals known as Kershaw Palmetto Minstrals it serves very well to pop off the time which is quite a drag now especially the nights as candles are a so scarce and hard to get that those that are disposed to read cannot do so after dark, and, this country is not helped with a sufficiency of pine to answer the purpose. The minstrals make fine musick and I am___. Our Quarters are near enough to get a benefit at all times and have rather a fortunate position to enjoy all of varieties of camp. Not a day or scarcely a night passes without preaching, prayer meeting, or the Minstrals is in hearing. This is assotiating the sublime with the ridiculous but as an rostrum answers for both I offer it as my excuse for ___ although there is nothing that could be called offensive connected with the Show. They make some musick and sing a few commick songs is about the extent of there exhibitions. Shoe leather is too high to wear it out on the jig question consequently no dancing. The weather has changed considerably in the last few days and we hav some prospect of pleasant weather. You asked me something about how I was doing in the way of provisions. Rations are rathe short but it is a poor commissary that cannot get enough for himself. There is very little grumbling among the men. Occasionally some men appear dissatisfied but it is less than you would imagine. The ration is ¼ lb bacon, 1 1/8 _ flour and 10 _ rice or peas.