Martin L. Williston | Tulane University Special Collections
Name: Martin L. Williston
Historical Note: 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.
Sources: American Civil War Research Database and Manuscripts Collection 1066
Note Author: AR