Inauguration Day March 4, 1865

Benjamin Franklin MartinAs we approach the historic inauguration of 2017, I thought I would share with you a letter my 2nd great grandfather, Benjamin Franklin Martin wrote home to his mother on March 5, 1865. It tells his experience witnessing the 2nd inauguration of Abraham Lincoln in Washington, DC. At the time Benjamin Martin was serving garrison duty at Fort Barnard, VA as part of the 4th Regiment of Mass Heavy Artillery.

Headquarters No. 2 Batt

4th Regt. Mass Heavy Artillery

Fort Barnard, VA  March 5th ’65. 

 March 5th ‘65

           Dear Mother

            Your letter of the 28th of Feb came duly to hand by which as I am glad to learn you are all well. In regard to those shoes I am not prepared to say anything about as I have forgotten what there is there so if there is nothing said say nothing, I will endeavor to let you know more about it should occasion require but I do not think it will.

Yesterday Abraham was inaugurated for his second term of four years which I had the pleasure of witnessing. It had been foul weather for two days previous and was foul in the morning blowing and raining hard and lighting up occasionally looking very much like a rainy day but I had made up my mind to go and see him inaugurated as I may never have a chance to see another so I started in the rain it rained more or less all the way going over and some after arriving but the possession started about 11 o’clock from just above the White House and proceeded towards the capital where after seeing it pass I wended my steps arriving there just about in season to not have to wait long when the dignitaries assembled on the platform in front of the east side of the capitol and from which the President delivered his inaugural address and the oath administered to him by Chief Justice Chase. There was one peculiar feature about it which made considerable impression on me that was the way the weather acted, as I told you it was raining well it was thick and slightly raining while the prossession was moving towards the capitol after arriving the clouds began to grow thinner and finally when the President began his address the sun shone out brightly and it was very warm everything passing off pleasantly which I could not help thinking was symbolic of the nations destiny.

Not only the sun shone brightly but the moon visible and also a star which everybody seemed to be gazing at as it was called the star of peace. But there was one thing about it which was anything but agreeable that was the mud it was horrid about as much as you could wade through in some places. I started for the Fort about 6 o’clock and arrived about eight walking as fast as I could at that as I was in a hurry to get here as there was something up. I immediately as soon as I arrived helped get everything in readiness for an attack being ready we lay on our arms all night turning out at three o’clock in the morning and remaining until after day light. I am well and send my love to all and will write more in my next as this sheet is full.

                                                            From you affectionate son


I love the way he wrote his letters. My favorite line in this letter is “Not only the sun shone brightly but the moon was visible and also a star which everybody seemed to be gazing at as it was called the ‘star of peace’”. Let’s hope one shines from up above on Friday, January 20, 2017.





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