Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
George W. Martin Papers, 1864-1865

James S. Schoff Civil War Collection

Finding aid created by
Shannon Wait, March 2010

Summary Information
Title: George W. Martin papers
Creator: Martin family
Inclusive dates: 1864-1865
Extent: 16 items
The George W. Martin papers consist of letters from a young soldier in the 22nd Pennsylvania Cavalry to his parents in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania.

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:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

1995. M-3171.1.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the "We the People" project.

Preferred Citation:

George W. Martin papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


The letters are arranged chronologically, with undated items at the end.


George W. Martin was born in 1849 or 1850 to George M. Martin, a carpenter, and his wife Mary. In 1860, he was living with his parents and three siblings, Joseph, Mary, and Samuel, in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania. In February 1864, when he was just 14 or 15, he joined the 22nd Pennsylvania Cavalry, possibly against the wishes of his parents, as indicated by a letter home in which he wrote, “Dear father I have seen the day that I have regretted to be in the army if I ever live to get out of the army I shall listen to you all at home. But you must forgive for this time I am sure it will learn me a lesson.” (February 11, 1865) Martin survived the war and returned to Shippensburg, where he married a woman named Nancy and took up carpentry. George and Nancy had at least five children.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The George W. Martin papers consist of 16 letters from Martin to his parents, dated between March 1864 and May 1865. Many of the letters are postmarked from Virginia and include items sent from the Harper's Ferry area, with a number of the 1865 letters posted from New Creek, West Virginia. The letters primarily concern daily camp life, such as a fire in the camp (March 31, 1864) and the theft of two pounds of Martin’s coffee (January 11, 1865). Martin also frequently recounted hardships (“We are almost starving these three or four days.” February 11, 1865), and continually discussed and requested care packages from his parents. On April 16, 1865, Martin wrote to his parents concerning the death of Lincoln, “We got very bad news here yesterday that President Lincoln was shot. And also secretary Steward was stabbed and his son. Dear Mother I am affraid that is a going to put the war back it will encourage the rebbles and they will fight the harder now since he is killed.” The letters document the experiences of a young adolescent faced for the first time with the hardships of army life.

Subject Terms

    • Harper’s Ferry (W. Va.)
    • Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865--Assassination.
    • Shippensburg (Pa.)
    • Soldiers--Pennsylvania.
    • United States. Army--Military life.
    • United States. Army. Pennsylvania Cavalry Regiment, 22nd (1864-1865)
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Participation, Juvenile.
    • Martin, George W.
    Genre Terms:
    • Correspondence.
    Contents List
       Container / Location    Title
    Box   93, Schoff Civil War Collection  
    George W. Martin papers [series]:
    Folder   28  
      1864 March 31-1865 April 1
    Folder   29  
     1865 April 9-1865 May 5, plus 4  undated items