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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: August 3, 1864

Camp near Petersburg VA
August 3 rd 1864
 
Dear Sister
 
It is with pleasure that I acknowledge the receipt of your kind favour of the 25 th of July. It is the first letter that I hav received from home since J Y Horries [?] came.
 
Am glad to know that all are well and doing well. Am sorry to here of Uncle James il helth hope he will soon be restored to good health. W.H. Germany came to see me yesterday is in fine helth and spirits. Send his Respect to all the family. I wrote to John a few days again mainly to let you all know that I was stil on the land of the living & I will give you a short account of the two little fites we had last week bothe of which I acted my post.
 
On the 24 we were ordered to the Northe sides of the James River where we remained in Camp until the afternoon of the 26 th . Then we were ordered to move in the direction of deep Bottom all hand podding along not suspecting anything until just about sunset when a curier came dashing up and reported the enemy in our front. Preparations were made at once to meet them. A line of Battle was formed at once and skermishers thrown out in the front, that part of which fell to the lot of our company. By this time it was verry nearly dark. The skermishers was then ordered forward thru the woods which was verry thick and Brushey. We advanced as best we could some 400-500 yards when we came to within about one hundred yard of the road that that we were ordered to take if possible. Halted for a few moments to allign the skermishers preparatory to making a charg on the road. About that time Sum one in our front culled out halt wh cumes there. It was answered by about a half Doz. muskets and then the charge was ordered which was don in the Best Style that could hav been down there the Brush & etc. In a verry few moments we were in the road culling to the Flying to halt which some of them obeyed verry promptly well that is. Our company capture some 20 prisoners among the a captain that was in command of the SquadE. P. Boozer was the lucky man to get the captain. As his prize he required to surrender his sword to (B) he then turned round & said here is Newt give it to himbut at that time I thinking we would pressure the enemy and having as much lugage as I could to hav ordered (B) to take him the (Capt) to the rear. About that time the Reg’t came up and all hand took position in a ditch on the side of the road where we remained until the 26 th . Almost every hour from the time we reached the Road until we left the shells was falling around us Sometimes as many as (30) pr minute. A grate many of them the heaviest kind thrown from the gun boats which made the protection remarkably unpleasant. (2) men were struck and killed instantly. The Yanks Captured were troops Belonging to Banks Corps from New Orlean, have just reached that point a few days previous. I injoyed the little frolick verry much as there was verry few shots fired at us and what was took no affect. We fell back from the above mentioned morng of the 26 sum 2 ½ miles. On the 28 th we were excused to the front again to another position where we engaged the enemy for about ½ hours.
 
Charged a cross a cornfield about (400) yard for the purpose of capturing a Batery which was dun in good style by the 13 SCR which by mistake on our left succeeded in routing the enemy for a time.