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    [Civil War.] Union Private Harlan P. Martin, 123rd New York Volunteer Infantry. Archive comprised of twenty six Civil War-dated letters, spanning nearly the entirety of the war, dated from December 10, 1861 through May 26, 1865, with three undated letters. All correspondence addressed to his mother, this collection also includes several post-war letters, from 1866, 1891 and 1901. Some letters written in ink, the others in pencil. Most include their original transmittal envelope.

    Private Martin wrote extensive letters detailing his day to day life as his regiment travelled southward, making camp as they went. The letters from late 1861 through early 1862 find Martin, of Company E of the 123rd New York Volunteers, stationed in Washington waiting on his regiments marching orders. Being approximately sixteen years old at the time, he writes with a fresh-faced exuberance that alternates between excitement and boredom of camp monotony.

    On February 20, 1863, the young soldier is stationed near Stafford, VA, and encounters his first peril, albeit one not brought about by enemy troops, but pestilence. He writes, in part: "There is considerable sickness in the regiment now and there has been quite a number of deaths since we came here. There was one that died in our company the other day his name was Raymond from Hebron." From there, the 123rd moves camp to Kellys Ford, VA, along the Rapidan River. He spots rebels encamped on the other side, but no fighting ensues. They leave the Rapidan, travelling the Ohio River through Ohio, Indianapolis, Louisville, on to Tennessee, finally making camp in Bridgeport, AL. On October 3, right after the Union defeat in the Battle of Chickamauga, Union pride and resolve is still strong. In part: "The soldiers here say that Gen. Rosecrans was not defeated. They say the rebels got the worst of it."

    November 13, 1863 has Harlan writing of the Union grinding down the tough Confederate will. In part: "The rebels are getting very dispirited and squads of deserters and prisoners are brought in here from the front nearly every day. They are all tired of the war and willing to give up."

    After leaving camp at Bridgeport and setting up in Franklin, Tennessee, on January 18, 1864, Martin recounted an incident dealing with the tracking of Confederate guerillas. In part: "One of Company A's men was shot dead the other night while they were out hunting after some guerillas. It appears a nigger woman came in and reported them down the river about 5 miles and the Lt. Col. took his companies and went out after them when he got there it was to [sic] dark to do anything so they put up for the night and threw up four or five outposts. The fellow that was shot was walking his beat by an old shed when the guerilla shot him dead. His name was Nathan Lanphere."

    He stays camped in Tennessee the remainder of 1864, and in 1865 travelling to North Carolina, then Virginia where he has a stay at a hospital for Rush Fever. He recovers, and travels north to Maryland, with all the boys in the company excited for home.

    Harlan P. Martin (1845-1923) was from Hartford, a small town in Washington County, New York. By 1880, he was living in California, residing in Sacramento when he died.

    Condition: Smooth folds, with all letters having the expected toning and soiling as befitting the age. A few are missing the upper left corners, as they've been removed with scissors. Some weakness at the folds, with some fading and smudging, though most everything is highly legible.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    November, 2015
    4th-5th Wednesday-Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
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