Joseph Plumb Martin

Joseph Plumb Martin

Joseph Plumb Martin (November 21, 1760 – May 2,1850) was an American Revolutionary War soldier who published an account of his experiences as a soldier in the 8th Connecticut Regiment of the Continental Army in 1830.


Martin was born in Western Massachusetts in 1760 to the Reverend Ebenezer Martin and Susannah Plumb. At the age of seven, he was sent to live with his grandparents in Milford, Connecticut. Because his family was well-to-do (His father studied at Yale), Martin was able to receive a well rounded education, including reading and writing.

When he was fifteen, in 1775, he was eager to join the war effort following the Battles of Lexington and Concord. His grandparents initially opposed the idea, but respected his decision. He joined the Connecticut State Troops and was assigned duty in the New York City area. After his first tour of duty ended, he joined the Continental Army in 1776, signing on for the duration of the American Revolutionary War. He served with the 8th Connecticut Regiment under the command of General James Varnum. He was assigned to Light Infantry in 1778 and the Corps of Sappers and Miners in 1780, attaining the rank of Corporal.

Martin participated in such notable engagements as the Battle of Brooklyn, the Battle of White Plains, the siege on Fort Mifflin and the Battle of Monmouth. He encamped at Valley Forge, witnessed John Andre being escorted to his execution and was also present during the climactic Siege of Yorktown. At some point before the final siege at Yorktown, he was promoted to Sergeant.

When Martin was discharged from duty when the Continental Army disbanded in 1783, he taught in New York state for a year, and eventually settled on Maine's frontier, becoming one of the founders of the town of Prospect, near modern day Stockton Springs. Over the years, he was known locally for being a farmer, selectman, Justice of the Peace and Town Clerk (the last position being held for over 25 years). He married Lucy Clewley in 1794 and had five children. He also wrote many stories and poems over the years, most famously a narrative of his experiences during the war in 1830.

In 1836, a platoon of United States Light Infantry was marching though Prospect and discovered that Plumb Martin resided there. The platoon stopped outside of his house and fired a salute in honor of the Revolutionary War Hero. []

Joseph Plumb Martin lived to the age of 89, dying on May 2, 1850. He is buried with his wife in Sandy Point, Maine.

Martin's narrative

This narrative has been frequently cited by scholars as an excellent primary source for the Revolution. It is notable that Martin was a mere private in the army, and his account does not involve the usual heroes of the Revolution.

Martin's narrative was originally published anonymously in 1830, at Hallowell, Maine, as "A narrative of some of the adventures, dangers, and sufferings of a Revolutionary soldier, interspersed with anecdotes of incidents that occurred within his own observation". It has been republished in many forms, most notably by Little, Brown in 1962, in an edition edited by George F. Scheer (ISBN 0-915992-10-8); as well as appearing as a volume in Series I of The New York Times' "Eyewitness Accounts of the American Revolution" in 1968.

Martin has been portrayed on various television documentaries/dramas by Aaron Carter, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Rick Schroder. The Joseph Plumb Martin Trail, named in his honor, encircles Valley Forge National Historical Park in Pennsylvania.

References, other reading

* Martin, James Kirby, ed. "Ordinary Courage: The Revolutionary War Adventures of Joseph Plumb Martin". 3rd ed. (Oxford, Blackwell, 2008), 224 pp.

External links

* [ Diary extracts]
*Diary [ extract] “Laying Close Siege to the Enemy”
*Gravestone of [ Joseph P. Martin] and wife
* [ Appearances] listed at Internet Movie Database

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