Martin L. Williston Papers, 1862-1866

Description

This collection consists of several letters Martin L. Williston wrote to his sister Annie while serving with the 52nd Infantry in Louisiana. This manuscript collection consists of letters that often span several days at a time and 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.

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, Louisiana, he wrote many letters to his sister, Annie in Brooklyn, New York, 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 Hudson, 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.
Letter from Martin L. Williston to Annie Williston, 1862 December 2
A letter from Martin L. Williston, a Union soldier serving in the 52nd Infantry, sent to his sister, Annie. 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., larc@tulane.edu
Letter from Martin L. Williston to Annie Williston, 1862 December 28
A letter from Martin L. Williston, a Union soldier serving in the 52nd Infantry, sent to his sister, Annie, while his battalion occupied Baton Rouge. Williston describes his journey by boat from the Gulf of Mexico up the Mississippi in great detail. His encounter with enslaved persons laboring on Southern plantations solidified his moral outrage and belief in the necessity of winning the war: "I believe that the mission of our great army henceforth should be to lay waste and destroy. Let cities and towns be wiped out that they may not give aid and comfort to this hateful cause. Let misery and death be sown wide-cast over this polluted country till the scourging be sufficient to wipe away the guilt that has brought upon the nation this flood tide of evil.", larc@tulane.edu
Letter from Martin L. Williston to Annie Williston, 1863 April 24
A letter from Martin L. Williston, a Union soldier serving in the 52nd Infantry, sent to his sister, Annie. Williston informs his sister of his first experience on the battlefield and the horrors that he felt, as well as his inability to reveal his current location and his dire need of her prayers and sympathies., larc@tulane.edu
Letter from Martin L. Williston to Annie Williston, 1863 February 14
A letter from Martin L. Williston, a Union soldier serving in the 52nd Infantry, sent to his sister, Annie. Williston expresses his utter loathing of the cruelties of men and war, as well as the desire and fulfilment of conquering, and describes the peculiarities of the forest in which the soldiers are camped., larc@tulane.edu
Letter from Martin L. Williston to Annie Williston, 1863 January 29
A letter from Martin L. Williston, a Union soldier serving in the 52nd Infantry, sent to his sister, Annie. While camped in a small, abandoned rebel town, Williston describes their accomodations, preaches of the importance of remaining pious during such trying times, reflects on the death of a friend from Typhoid, discusses the unlikely chance of a rebel guerilla attack, and expresses his deep devotion and longing to see his dear sister, Annie., larc@tulane.edu
Letter from Martin L. Williston to Annie Williston, 1863 March 23
A letter from Martin L. Williston, a Union soldier serving in the 52nd Infantry, sent to his sister, Annie. Williston gives a thorough explanation of his regiment's movements over the past week and describes the sounds and fears of a battle on the river near to the west of his position., larc@tulane.edu
Letter to good friend, 1866 January 10
A letter from Martin L. Williston, a former Union soldier, sent to a friend. Williston is appointed as the head of a day school for 250 African-American children by day, which takes place in the shambles of an abandoned baptist church, and teaches adults by night., larc@tulane.edu