The Civil War Starts: Excerpt #4 from the "Private Journal of Henry Joseph Martin"

Edited by Matthew Farfan

The following is our fourth excerpt from the "Private Journal" of Henry Joseph Martin, a resident of Stanstead, Quebec.

Funding for transcription and research into this unique historical document has been provided in part by the Bélanger-Gardner Foundation of Bishop's University, Townshippers' Foundation, and through the Heritage Online Multimedia Enrichment Initiative of the Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network (QAHN).

larger_martin_001.jpgHenry Joseph Martin (1828-1885):

Henry Joseph Martin (1828-1885) is an obscure man today. This is due in part to the fact that he was such a private, modest man. But in life, Martin was profoundly respected by his friends, colleagues and community, where he was heavily involved in numerous behind-the-scenes ways, giving freely of his time and energy, without expectation of reward.

Martin was remembered by historian Arthur Henry Moore (History of Golden Rule Lodge) as being "of a quiet, even temperament, born to win the hearts of his fellows and to lead them by the sheer force of his personality."

Born and raised in Stanstead, Quebec, Henry Joseph Martin studied to become a civil engineer and land surveyor. After working as a surveyor and draughtsman for several years in the Townships, Martin moved to Iowa in 1861, where he remained until 1864. He then returned to Stanstead for several years until he received an appointment to the U.S. Patents Office in Washington D.C.

After moving to the U.S., Martin maintained close ties to the place of his birth, returning frequently to Stanstead where, among other things, he was one of the leading lights (and several times master) of Golden Rule Masonic Lodge. Martin died of tuberculosis in Washington D.C. in 1885. He was much lamented by all who knew him.

In his lifetime, Martin was known as a meticulous record-keeper. The diary that has come down to us, from which the following is an excerpt, is remarkable in its detail. Within its pages may be found descriptions of everything from local disasters to political events of regional or international significance.

This fourth excerpt in this series spans the period between April and August 1861. Henry Joseph Martin is now in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where he has gone (unsuccessfully as it turned out) to take up a surveying job with the railway. For a number of weeks, he worked instead at a local bank. Later on, he entered into the warehousing and grain forwarding business with an associate. This period corresponds to the opening days of the Civil War in the United States.

Private Journal of Henry Joseph Martin

Sunday. April 14th. Having a bad head ache I did not go to Church. At noon I was at the Telegraph Office where they were getting news of the surrender of Fort Sumpter. Great Excitement. Went over the River into the City of Kingston (!) and took a walk. Called at Mr Deans.

Monday. April 15th. Pleasant day. In the Bank all day. Civil war commenced in these United States. United no longer.

Tuesday. April 16th. Pleasant day. Took H B Stibbs out to ride in the forenoon. In the Bank the rest of the day [...]

Thursday. April 18th. Pleasant day. In the Bank all day. Spent the eve’ at Dr Elu’s. There is great excitement here about War, troops are enlisting fast.

Friday. April 19th. Beautiful day. In the Bank all day. The war excitement growing more intense daily. There is no doubt but the Americans are to have a terrible civil war. The American government has gone as far as possible, on dearly bought experience of other governments. She has now got to carve out the course she is to pursue in future, and pay for her knowledge as she gets it. And it will be singular if she escapes the wars, turmoils rebelions and disentions, which have from time to time threatened the very existence of other nations equally as strong and as enlightened [...]

Sunday. April 21st. Beautiful warm day. Wrote a letter home in the forenoon. Attended meeting in the afternoon when I heard the Rev Mr Eberhart address the Soldiers who have enlisted. The Church was crowded almost to suffuckation, and a great many outside who could not get in [...]

Monday. May 6th. The Volunteers left this morning at 6 o’clock for the seat of war. There was an immense crowd of people to see them off. Speach making. Music. firing of cannon. Smiles & tears. waving of flags etc. in fact the American Eagle sored on high. flew over the State house [...]

Monday. August 26th. Pleasant. Lots of wheat comming in. Company K of the 1st Iowa Volunteers came in at 11 o’clock PM. Great fuss and feather made over them. Supper. Speaches. Shouting. Etc etc etc in fact everybody got drunk [...]

Click here for:
Grave Duties to Perform: Excerpt #5 from the "Private Journal of Henry Joseph Martin."