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Bill Thayer

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The following text is reproduced from (the report of the) Fortieth Annual Reunion of the Association of the Graduates of the United States Military Academy, June 10th, 1909.

 p34  William Thomas Martin
No. 907. Class of 1837.
Died about February 1, 1903, in Baltimore, Md., aged 88.

The following letter is inserted as a regular obituary notice, for it contains all the essential facts of Mr. Martin's career:

"The Charleston Museum,

Charleston, S. C., June 26, 1908.

To the Secretary Association of Graduates,
West Point, N. Y.

Dear Sir — Your favor of 25th inst. is at hand. I regret that so long a time should have passed since the death of my dear old uncle, and feel that it should not have been so. I had felt that word ought to be sent to West Point, but did not know just whom to address, and hence allowed it to pass, being also much engaged and far from his late residence (Baltimore).

I am sorry that I cannot furnish any detailed account of his life, all the more active part of which lay in the years of my childhood and before. He was born in Mount Holly, N. J., on the day of the battle of Waterloo, June 18, 1815. His parents were John Peter Martin, originally of South Carolina and an active patriot soldier through the Revolution, and Isabella Innes Martin. He died in Baltimore, Md., about February 1st, 1903, in his 88th year, simply from the weakness of old age, retiring as usual the night before and passing away in his sleep.

He was educated at the Academy in Trenton, N. J., and thence went to West Point. His career there, grade and first appointment, are doubtless matters of record. All that part of his histories antedates my birth and is little known to me. He entered the Engineer Corps and was in service in Florida, after the active period of the "Florida war." Some years later he resigned from the service, and became in the later "forties" a professor, and I think associate principal, in a military academy at Harrodsburg, Kentucky. About 1853 or 1854, he became connected with the U. S. Coast Survey at Washington, as a skilled draughtsman, and remained there until 1861. He then resigned, his South Carolina ancestry causing him to feel indisposed to attach himself to the government service, although he never "took sides" in the conflict, but retained a sorrowful neutrality.

 p35  About 1865, his West Point comrade and lifelong friend, the late General Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Henry W. Benham, was assigned to construction work on the forts at Portsmouth, N. H., and requested my uncle to come to him as an architectural draughtsman, which he at once did. He remained in that position for several years, and later in similar work, also with General Benham, on the breakwater at Provincetown, Mass. By this time he had become entirely deaf; and about 1870, he came to New York and resided in my home in that city, aiding my father and myself more or less in literary work, but with no regular position. After my father died, 1883, his home remained with me for ten years more, until the house was sold and the inmates somewhat scattered. He lived in Brooklyn until 1899, when he moved to Baltimore, and spent his closing years very quietly with a family of kind friends.

He was a tireless reader and an elegant writer, but he could not be induced to write for publication — unfortunately — as his military and historical studies and judgments would have made him a reputation if they could have been known and read. Almost the only thing that he ever published was a brief statement of the Revolutionary services of his father (my grandfather) in South Carolina.

Very truly yours,

Daniel S. Martin

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Page updated: 27 Oct 15