Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Lewis J. Martin Papers, 1861-1862

James S. Schoff Civil War Collection

Finding aid created by
Rob S. Cox, November 1997

Summary Information
Title: Lewis J. Martin papers
Creator: Martin, Charlotte E.
Inclusive dates: 1861-1862
Extent: 52 items
Abstract:
The Martin papers are made up of letters written home by Lewis Martin while serving with the Union Army. The letters express Martin's thoughts on the war as well as his concerns with matters at home, including finances, friends, and controversies over the regiment in local newspapers.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site: www.clements.umich.edu


Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

1981. M-1974.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.

Copyright:

Copyright status is unknown.

Alternate Format:

The collection has been microfilmed

Preferred Citation:

Lewis J. Martin Papers, James S. Schoff Civil War Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Arrangement

The collection is arranged chronologically.


Biography

Martin, Lewis J., d. 1862

Rank : 2nd Lieutenant (1861); Major (1862)

Regiment : 25th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment. Co. D (1861)
96th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment (1861-1865)

Service : 1861 April-1862 September 14

When leaving to enlist in the National Light Infantry in April, 1861, Lewis Martin bared his heart to his wife:

"It is possible, as I have acknowledged, that I did very wrong in leaving home under existing circumstances, I can hardly convince myself that I did not; then, there are two sides to the question; could I, after having taken the part I did in the preliminaries, have declined when the time for action arrived? True it may be said I owe a duty to my family which is paramount to that of any other worldly one, but what if all would make use of the same argument, who would there be to rescue the honor of Our Country and its flag, which, when dishonored, dishonors its People..." (1861 April 28)

Having married his wife, Minerva Smith, in the 1850s, and having begun to raise a family of three in Pottsville, Pa., Lewis Martin was initially torn by the conflicting obligations of home and country. Yet impelled by a powerful sense of duty, he helped organize and command one of the first five units in the state to respond to Lincoln's emergency call for troops: as a Lieutenant in the National Light Infantry, an independent militia unit incorporated as Co. D of the 25th Pennsylvania Infantry (three months' service), Maxim arrived in an anxious Washington, D.C., early in May, 1861, expecting that the show of Union force would dissuade the Rebels from their "suicidal course." Stationed at the arsenal, the regiment saw more tension than action before their muster out in August, but Maxim's hopes that the rebellion would fade away soon ran headlong into reality.

Returning to Pottsville, Martin and Col. Henry L. Cake assisted in the reorganization of the National Light Infantry, and reentered as the 96th Pennsylvania Infantry, with Martin enjoying a promotion to Major. Returning to Washington, and later Fairfax, Va., for the winter, the regiment occupied a position free from fighting. Though a conscientious man, Martin became as critical and concerned about the irregular postal service as he was about actual warfare, and he became embroiled in a dispute among officers and enlisted men in the regiment played out largely through anonymous letters published in the newspapers at home.

During the spring, however, the regiment got down to business when they were attached under the command of George McClellan and sent to the Peninsula. The 96th were ordered to Yorktown, but arrived on the day after the Confederate withdrawal, and finally went ashore only ten miles from Richmond, facing a brisk engagement at West Point. Although they missed most of the major engagements on the Peninsula, they were tested at Gaine's Mills, suffering severe casualties, and were in the reserve at both Malvern Hill and Second Bull Run. During the Antietam Campaign, the regiment was again seriously engaged, and on September 14, 1862, Martin was shot in the head and killed at Crampton's Gap.


Collection Scope and Content Note

The Martin papers consists of fifty-one letters written by Lewis Martin to his mother, Charlotte Martin, and sisters, Ellen and Sarah, and one written by Martin's commanding officer, Colonel Henry L. Cake, informing the family of Martin's death at Crampton's Gap. Martin's letters are an engaging chronicle of early Union Army activities in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. The first eight items in the collection date from Martin's association with the National Light Infantry. The remainder of Martin's letters document the travails of the 96th Pennsylvania Infantry, of which he was major, including their involvement in the Peninsular Campaign (West Point, Gaine's Mill, and Malvern Hill), 2nd Bull Run, and Crampton's Pass.

Martin's high rank and friendship with the staff officers of the regiment are not well represented in his letters home, nor are his letters particularly good resources for military information. Apart from the occasional asides, and some tangential references during the Peninsular Campaign, his letters are almost entirely consumed by problems at home, from finances, to friends, to minor controversies over the regiment as played out in the newspapers. For Martin, seemingly the most exasperating aspects of army life were the uncertainty, the waiting, and the irregularity of mail service.

There is a gap in the correspondence between the mustering out of the 25th regiment and the organization of the 96th, and no indication of his role in recruiting and organizing the 96th. Many of the letters written in the late spring and summer of 1862 concern McClellan's cautious planning and frustrating vigil on the outskirts of Richmond, and Martin believed that a single victory there, perhaps a direct attack on Richmond, would bring the war to a quick end. Though the hoped-for battle never took place, Martin nevertheless expressed total confidence in McClellan as a leader and in the arms of the Union Army.

Among other interesting topics covered in the correspondence are Martin's oft-expressed opinions on the course of the war, the situation of the army, and their health, and anecdotes such as an evening ride in an observation balloon, a great military review in Washington in November, 1861, a visit to fort Monroe, and of course the battles in which he participated.

Subject Terms

    Subjects:
    • McClellan, George Brinton, 1826-1885.
    • Military Camps.
    • Officers' wives.
    • Peninsular Campaign, 1862.
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Naval operations.
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Postal service.
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Women.
    • United States. Army--Leaves and furloughs.
    • United States. Army--Officers.
    • Washington (D.C.)--Description and travel.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Box   23, Schoff Civil War Collection  
    Lewis J. Martin papers, 1861 April 28-1862 September 15 [series]
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Related Materials

    An image of Major Lewis J. Martin can be found on the website of 96th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Company G.

    Bibliography

    Bates, Samuel P. History of Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-1865 (Harrisburg, 1870). Vol. III, pp. 382-410.

    Partial Subject Index
    Antietam Campaign, 1862.
    • 1862 September 15
    Arsenals--District of Columbia.
    • 1861 May 13
    Balloons.
    • 1862 May 23
    • 1862 June 16
    Bull Run Campaign, 1862.
    • 1862 August 22
    • 1862 September 3
    Camps (Military)--District of Columbia.
    • 1861 May 13
    • 1861 November 15
    Camps (Military)--Virginia.
    • 1861 December 7
    • 1861 December 27
    Civilians--Virginia--Civil War, 1861-1865.
    • 1862 May 23
    Cookery, Military.
    • 1861 May 13
    Crampton's Gap, Battle of, 1862.
    • 1862 September 15
    Deserters, Military.
    • 1861 December 17
    Executions and executioners.
    • 1861 December 17
    Firearms--Accidents.
    • 1862 June 19
    Fort Monroe (Va.)
    • 1862 April 22
    Gaines Mills, Battle of, 1862.
    • 1862 July 5
    • 1862 July 25
    Horses.
    • 1862 June 3
    Letter-writing.
    • 1862 January 21
    • 1862 June 11
    Malvern Hill, Va., Battle of, 1862.
    • 1862 July 18
    Manassas (Va.)--Description and travel.
    • 1862 March 12
    Marches--Virginia.
    • 1861 July 16
    McClellan, George Brinton, 1826-1885.
    • 1862 April 29
    • 1862 June 11
    • 1862 June 25
    • 1862 July 18
    Merrimack (Vessel)
    • 1862 April 22
    Monitor (Vessel)
    • 1862 April 22
    Newspapers.
    • 1862 March 22
    • 1862 June 19
    Officers' wives.
    • 1861 December 17
    • 1862 February 24
    • 1862 March 22
    Patriotism.
    • 1861 April 28
    Peninsular Campaign, 1862.
    • 1862 May 5-8
    • 1862 May 23
    • 1862 June 3
    • 1862 June 11
    • 1862 June 13
    • 1862 June 25
    • 1862 July 5
    • 1862 July 11
    • 1862 July 18
    • 1862 July 25
    Photographs.
    • 1862 April 29
    Reporters and reporting.
    • 1862 June 19
    Reviews, Military.
    • 1861 November 23
    Soldiers--Alcohol use.
    • 1862 February 24
    Soldiers--Alcohol use--Confederate States of America.
    • 1862 July 18
    Soldiers--Confederate States of America.
    • 1862 July 18
    Soldiers--Correspondence--Censorship.
    • 1861 May 5
    Soldiers--Death.
    • 1862 September 15
    Soldiers--Pennsylvania.
    • 1861 June 6
    Soldiers--Recreation.
    • 1862 April 3
    Souvenirs (Keepsakes)
    • 1862 March 22
    Sutlers.
    • 1862 January 21
    • 1862 July 11
    Tents.
    • 1861 November 15
    Treason.
    • 1861 December 17
    United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Afro-Americans.
    • 1862 May 23
    United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Health aspects.
    • 1861 May 13
    • 1862 April 29
    • 1862 June 19
    United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Naval operations.
    • 1862 April 22
    • 1862 April 29
    • 1862 May 5-8
    United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Postal service.
    • 1861 November 23
    • 1861 December 11
    • 1862 January 8
    United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Songs and music.
    • 1862 February 24
    United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Transportation.
    • 1862 April 29
    • 1862 May 5-8
    United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Women.
    • 1862 January 8
    • 1862 February 24
    • 1862 March 22
    United States. Army--Bands.
    • 1862 February 24
    United States. Army--Enlistment.
    • 1861 April 28
    United States. Army--Leaves and furloughs.
    • 1861 December 7
    • 1862 February 24
    • 1862 April 29
    United States. Army--Officers.
    • 1861 May 5
    • 1861 May 13
    • 1861 December 11
    • 1862 January 21
    • 1862 March 22
    United States. Army--Pay, allowances, etc.
    • 1862 January 21
    • 1862 January 31
    • 1862 June 16
    United States. Army--Reenlistment.
    • 1861 June 10
    United States. Army--Uniforms.
    • 1861 June 10
    Virginia--Description and travel.
    • 1862 June 3
    Washington (D.C.)--Description and travel.
    • 1861 May 5
    • 1861 May 13
    • 1862 September 9
    West Point (Va.), Skirmish at, 1862.
    • 1862 May 5-8
    Yorktown (Va.)--Description and travel.
    • 1862 May 5