By Eira Tansey and Anna Richards
Title: Martin L. Williston papers, 1862-1866
ID: LaRC/Manuscripts Collection 1066
Primary Creator: Martin L. Williston
Extent: 1.0 Boxes. More info below.
Arrangement: Each letter often spans several days at a time. They are arranged chronologically. The collection consists of 1 box and is 0.5 linear feet.
Date Acquired: 07/01/1996
Scope and Contents of the Materials
This collection consists of several letters Martin L. Williston wrote to his sister Annie while serving with the 52nd Infantry in Louisiana. These letters contain an insightful representation of a Unionist soldier's views of the South, as well as the fears and horrors of the first few months of the war. Williston started as a Private but was soon promoted to First Sergeant on 1862 October 1. By 1866, he worked as a school teacher in Wilmington, North Carolina.
Martin L. Williston enlisted in the Union Army at the age of 19 in Northampton, Massachusetts on 1862 September 8. Previously a student at a college in Massachusetts, he started in the 52nd Infantry as a Private but was soon promoted to First Sergeant on 1862 October 1. During his time stationed near Baton Rouge, LA, he wrote many letters to his sister Annie in Brooklyn, NY, describing his experiences during the first six or so months of the war. These letters contain an insightful representation of an educated Unionist's views of the rebel South, as well as the fears and horrors of war. After seeing slaves quartered at Ship Island, Williston became very passionate regarding emancipation. As a deeply spiritual young man, he often wrote of the importance of remaining pious during his wartime experiences. Participating in skirmishes such as Port Hudsont, he gave an account of his first experiences of battle in one of his letters. Williston survived the following years of his enlistment and, by 1866, became the head instructor of a school for 250 African-American children in Wilmington, North Carolina.
Louisiana Research Collection
Alternate Extent Statement:
0.5 linear feet
Collection is open to the public. No known restrictions.
Physical rights are retained by the Louisiana Research Collection. Copyright is retained in accordance with U.S. copyright laws.
Martin L. Williston papers, Manuscripts Collection 1066, Louisiana Research Collection, Howard-Tilton Memorial Library, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118.
Box and Folder Listing Browse by Folder:
[Folder 1: Letter to dearest sister, 1862 December 2],
[Folder 2: Letter to darling sister, 1862 December 28
[Folder 3: Letter to dearest sister, 1863 January 29
[Folder 4: Letter to darling sister, 1863 February 14
[Folder 5: Letter to darling sister, 1863 March 23
[Folder 6: Letter to precious sister, 1863 April 24
[Folder 7: Letter to good friend, 1866 January 10
- Folder 1: Letter to dearest sister, 1862 December 2
- Williston writes of preparations on the Steamer Illinois in the New York Harbor, visits with relatives nearby, and the journey along the coast, eating hard tack while the officers dine in luxury, sea sickness, deaths, weather, passing by Ship Island and other topics.