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Title: Letter from Professor William J. Martin to Charles Phillips, December 12, 1864: Electronic Edition.
Author: Martin, William James
Funding from the University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill supported the electronic publication of this title.
Text transcribed by Bari Helms
Images scanned by Bari Helms
Text encoded by Sarah Ficke
First Edition, 2005
Size of electronic edition: ca. 16K
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
© This work is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text
The electronic edition is a part of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill digital library, Documenting the American South.
Languages used in the text: English
Revision history:
2005-11-11, Sarah Ficke finished TEI/XML encoding.
Title of collection: University of North Carolina Papers (#40005), University Archives, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Title of document: Letter from Professor William J. Martin to Charles Phillips, December 12, 1864
Author: [William James Martin]
Description: 4 pages, 4 page images
Note: Call number 40005 (University Archives, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
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Letter from Professor William J. Martin to Charles Phillips , December 12, 1864
Martin, William James

Page 1
Wilmington Monday Dec. 12th 1864

My Dear Sir,

Yours of the 5th only reached me Friday night, too late therefore to communicate with Gov. Swain in time for the meeting of the Board on Sat. night. As I am not certain of his whereabouts, I will give you my views on the matter of a military establishment at the Univ. & you can communicate them to the Gov. if you think proper. I should have written on Saturday, but I sent your letter to Hepburn & hoped he would come around to talk it over that day. He has not come & I will delay no longer.
I think it best to take it as a fundamental notion that the college must be kept up. Come what may, its organization should not be destroyed. The idea that it is a "sinking ship" is not to be tolerated for a moment. It must be kept afloat somehow during the war, and then with proper management a prosperous voyage & glorious results are certain. I feel very earnest on this point, for I believe that if the college is disbanded now it will begin its new life after the war a sickly affair, as will be the fate of the numerous colleges in the South — While if it can be kept up during this struggle, it will have a prestige which properly seconded by the authorities who control the University will give it all the students that even the Gov. himself could desire. Let us only show that we are able & determined to make good scholars, & in two or three years after we have

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peace we will not lack material to work upon. If it be settled then that in spite of impressing agents & conscript officers the college stands its ground, it may be considered how far the consideration of military instruction will stiffen its back-bone. To the suggestion that the University be re-organized as a military institution, (even if the charter were not in the way, of which I know nothing) I say no-no-no. But I feel so certain that no serious desire exists for such a radical change that I will not combat it with arguments.
It seems to me probable however, that hereafter it might be prudent & might supply a felt want in the country to attach one or more military professorships, the studies in that department to be elective, as in the case of Kimberly's special chemistry. This will depend somewhat on the establishment or non-establishment of a national military school for the South, such as that at West Point, and on our ability to pay the additional Professors. For the present nothing of this sort is feasible, and all that can be done with propriety , if it be thought necessary to do anything military at all, is to give some sort of incidental instruction in the drill & in the general principles of the military art. If this will satisfy any clamor, or will bring any new students, or hold on to any old ones, I see no reason why it is not feasible & prudent. Whether it is thus made desirable, I confess I cannot even give an intelligent opinion. You who are on the ground are in the

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best position to answer the question. If it be determined to give this sort of instruction, then I would give as much of it as possible without interfering with the studies of the regular college course. These I would not by any means diminish, and I conceive there is no necessity for it. All the work that can be done at present towards making soldiers can be done outside of the present college course I am sure. The details of the plan would of course be worked out in Faculty meeting.
And finally, as to the possibility of my assisting in this instruction, I am not in a position to say anything definitely. My wound has been at a stand-still since I left Richmond. The journey was undoubtedly too much for it, & it is worse rather than better. I do not think I will be much account for anything before February, and then will probably not be able to walk readily. In that case I don't see that I could be of much service to you in the way of drilling, which is the main thing aimed at I suppose. And again I don't know but the Confed. authorities would say that when I am able to take charge of a small squad of soldiers at college I had best return & take charge of my big squad in the field. It may happen that I will never be fit for duty in the field again & may be put on light duty at some post. It will be at all events a month or so before the matter can be decided. But the selection of the man is subsidiary. The first thing is to decide on the proper policy.
I have given you my opinions on this subject after thinking it over long & often. I don't know whether they

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coincide with Hepburn's or not. Pray use them as you think best.
I think I shall not make my visit to Chapel Hill until my wound has healed over. I am afraid to repeat the risk I ran in coming from Richmond to this place. Please say to Fannie that the Dr makes me hug the bed very closely & has changed the dressing on the wound to something more stimulating than the simple curate. The granulations had come to look very "flabby" & unhealthy. They have improved within the past two days & I hope in a day or two to be allowed to sit up again. Is Lieut. Johnston1 out of the service that he is making arrangements to spend the winter with his friends? I have heard no news from the army since I left it. Eddie only writes regimental affairs. I feel quite anxious to hear from him since the affair near Belfield . I learn that Heth's Div. was engaged. The news we have from the line of the R.R. is encouraging. Hampton & Hill are said to have routed Grant's raiding party at Belfield & Leventhorpe to have done the same at Tarboro. I wish I could know that a similar fate has befallen Sherman. I confess I feel afraid of him. The Yankees will raise such a howl of delight if he gets through to the coast & our croakers will put on such long faces. Yet the real damage done will be slight except to individuals.
I wish you would button-hole Gov. Swain on the subject of corn. I have told Fannie to see him, but I wish you would speak to him also. Chuk backed out of his promise to furnish us except as to five barrels, & I will want twenty or twenty-five more, and I cannot afford to buy it at market rates.— What a struggle for life this is! A real hearty, desperate fight with famine. And the end— where is it? Who will survive to see it? But [Remainder of letter is missing.]


1. Probably George Burgwyn Johnston.