Thirteen Soldiers: A Personal History of Americans at War

  • 384 pages
  • 1476759669
  • Anglais
  • Format Kindle
Thirteen Soldiers: A Personal History of Americans at War

ᘋ Text ৰ Thirteen Soldiers: A Personal History of Americans at War free download ᚤ Kindle By John McCain ᛙ Thirteen Soldiers CHAPTER ONE Soldier of the Revolution Joseph Plumb Martin joined the Revolutionary War at fifteen and fought from Long Island to Yorktown TWO DAYS AFTER JOHN HANCOCK affixed his extravagant signature to the Declaration of Independence, an intelligent, spirited boy of fifteen pretended to write his name on an order for a six month enlistment in the Connecticut militia I took up the pen, loaded it with the fatal charge, made several mimic imitations of writing my name but took especial care not to touch the paper Someone standing behind him, probably a recruiting officer, reached over his shoulder and forced his hand The pen scratched the paper The helpful agent declared, The boy has made his mark Well, thought I, I may as well go through with the business now as not So I wrote my name fairly upon the indentures And now I was a soldier, in name at least, if not in practice Joseph Plumb Martin would remain a soldier for the duration of the revolution He first saw action as part of Washingtons outnumbered army on Long Island Five years and many hardships later he witnessed the British surrender at Yorktown He lived the remainder of his life in obscurity and poverty He received little compensation for his service, not even, at least in his lifetime, the reverence of his countrymen that was his due as one of the patriots to whom they owed their liberty MAJOR GENERAL GEORGE WASHINGTONS self control, maintained in its severest trials by a supreme exertion of will, seldom failed conspicuously But in the instances when it did, the effect was spectacular Those who witnessed Washingtons temper were stunned by its ferocity and left accounts of the experience that imagination need hardly embellish Around noon on September 15, 1776, after galloping the four miles from his command post at New Yorks Harlem Heights, General Washington beheld five hundred or so shell shocked Connecticut militia fleeing from hastily constructed defensive works on the East River at Kips Bay As they ran from British and Hessian bayonets, he urged them to turn and retake the ground they had surrendered without a fight They flooded past him Washingtons physical bearing appeared no less striking, and perhaps so, for his loss of composure He wheeled his white charger amid the noise and confusion, his powerful legs gripped the animal firmly, his broad shouldered, six foot two inch frame sat erect in the saddle Enraged, he cursed and threatened officers and men alike and struck at a few with his riding crop Then he drew his sword and pistol and charged toward the enemy within range of their muskets, seeking to impart courage by his example It was all to no avail, as the terrified farmers and shopkeepers, boys and men, some having lost or abandoned their muskets, others armed only with pikes, found to fear from the glittering bayonets of the enemy than the violent anger of their commander in chief He threw his hat to the ground and groaned, Are these the men with which I am to defend America At last the great mans frantic aides convinced him to ride to safety Private Joseph Martin must have made his escape that day by a route that avoided proximity to the raging Washington Had he witnessed the unforgettable sight, he would surely have recounted it in his remarkable memoir, which includes a characteristically candid and ironic account of the famous Kips Bay affair, which has been criticized so much by the historians of the Revolution The British commander in chief, General William Howe, had waited than two weeks to pursue the rebel army after Washington ordered its evacuation from Long Island to Manhattan on August 29 In the interim Washington and his officers had decided to abandon New York City, recognizing it was indefensible while the British fleet commanded its rivers and harbor The American forces were widely scattered four thousand men under General Israel Putnam garrisoned the city in lower Manhattan nine thousand men under Major General William Heath protected the armys escape route in the north from Harlem to Westchester County dispersed widely across the center of Manhattan were General Nathanael Greenes several thousand men, including the Connecticut militia under the command of the experienced Colonel William Douglas Washington was unsure where the British invasion would make landfall He feared they would try to block his outnumbered armys escape by attacking at Harlem, where he made his headquarters and where his largest force was deployed On September 13 four large warships by Martins account, although most historical accounts put the number at five sailed into Kips Bay, a small cove that offered a deep water anchorage on the East Rivers west bank Half of Private Martins regiment was deployed to Kips Bay that night to, in his words, man something that were called lines, although they were nothing than a ditch dug along the bank of the river with the dirt thrown out toward the water They returned to camp in the morning, and the following night the other half of the regiment, including Martin, were ordered to take their place in the lines Sentinels were posted along the river for several miles and passed the watchword All is well on the half hour We will alter your tune before tomorrow night, Martin remembered the British on their warships retorting They were as good as their word for once He awoke that Sunday morning tiredand, as he would be throughout most of the war, starvingand saw the warships anchored within musket range of his regiments crude defensive line Although the ships crews appeared to be busy with preparations, nothing happened until midmorning We lay very quiet in our ditch waiting their motions, he recalled By ten oclock he could see scores of flatboats embark from Newtons Creek on the Long Island shore, ferrying four thousand British and Hessian soldiers across the river They formed their boats into a line and continued to augment their forces until they appeared like a large clover field in full bloom By late afternoon another nine thousand would join them Martin was idly investigating an old warehouse near their lines when, at eleven oclock, he heard the first roar of ships cannon, which, by his account, constituted over a hundred guns He dove into the ditch and lay as still as I possibly could until British guns leveled the militias breastworks, burying men in blasted earth At that point, realizing they were completely exposed to enemy fire, their officers neither possessing nor issuing orders to continue their futile resistance, to the dismay of their commander in chief, the Connecticut men ran for their lives In retreating we had to cross a level clear spot of ground 40 or 50 rods wide, Martin wrote, exposed to the whole of the enemys fire and they gave it to us in prime order The grapeshot and lagrange flew merrily, which served to quicken our motions Martin was separated from his regiment in the melee He spent the long, dangerous, oppressively hot day searching for them with a neighbor from home They made their way to the American lines in Harlem while trying to avoid, not always successfully, encounters with the enemy Their progress was slow His Connecticut neighbor became ill and dispirited, and Martin had considerable trouble convincing him to continue At one point, after nearly stumbling into contact with a company of British soldiers, he quit the road they were traveling on and hid in a bog When the enemy passed by after coming so close to him that he could see the buttons on their coats, Martin emerged from his hiding place and discovered that his sick friend had vanished He found him later, resting with a group of rebels in the shade of a tree Martin pleaded with him to continue the march north but was rebuffed No, I must die here, his friend despaired At length with persuasion and some force I succeeded in getting him on his feet again and moving on Martin and his companion had not eaten anything in than a day They had slept hardly at all the previous night They were thinly clothed, starving, and exhausted Twice they spotted American forces in the distance only to watch them be overtaken by British or Hessians and flee in terror Our people were all militia, he explained, and the demons of fear and disorder seemed to take full possession of all and everything on that day It began to rain, and as sundown approached, the hot day turned cool We were as wet as water could make us, Martin remembered, and he began to fear his sick friend would succumb to the chill They came upon a large body of Americans preparing to make a stand with a few artillery fieldpieces An officer ordered them to remain there Martin argued that they were trying to rejoin their regiment, which he believed was located a short distance ahead The officer didnt believe him and again ordered them to take a place in the line Martin pleaded for his sick comrade, who would die of exposure if he spent the night in the cold air Well, if he dies the country will be rid of one who can do it no good, the officer coolly replied When a man has got his bane in his countrys cause, wrote Martin, who was still appalled by the cruel remark a half century later, let him die like an old horse or dog, because he can do no A drunk and distracted sentinel guarding the road north gave Martin and his friend an opportunity to escape Not long afterward they found their regiment, which had joined Washingtons lines at Harlem Heights, resting themselves on the cold ground after the fatigues of the day They were warmly received by their fellows, who had assumed they had been captured, as many others had, including the regiments major, or killed Martin closed his reminiscence of the Kips Bay affair by mocking the much publicized story of a soldier who claimed to have been sitting by the highway when Washington rode by and asked him why he sat there I would rather be killed than trodden to death by cowards, the soldier was purported to reply Martin doubted whether the soldier had taken part in the fighting on September 15 and attributed the days humiliation to the conspicuous absence of officers to lead them Every man that I saw was endeavoring by all sober means to escape death or captivity, he recalled The men were confused being without officers to command them I do not recollect of seeing a commissioned officer from the time I left the lines on the banks of the East River in the morning until met with the gentlemanly one the artillery officer who had insulted his ailing friend in the evening What luck Washingtons army had that day appeared in the cautiousness of the dilatory General Howe After the British made quick work of the American defenders at Kips Bay, Howe halted their advance to wait for reinforcements when they reached a small rise, now known as Murray Hill, less than a half mile from the landing General Putnam, fearing his four thousand men would be cut off and trapped in lower Manhattan, rode to Kips Bay to consult with Washington, who was futilely exhorting his soldiers to fight Washington agreed that Putnams position was hopeless and authorized his retreat to Harlem, which Putnam managed with astonishing speed, leaving his supplies and than fifty cannon behind Had Howe ordered his troops to continue their advance west they would have encountered little resistance and reached the Hudson shoreline long before Putnam could escape, dooming a third of Washingtons army and possibly ending the war But he didnt He held his forces at Murray Hill until five oclock, and halted them again at nightfall Putnams rapid march north reached Harlem that night, with only the last of his line having been inconvenienced by the musket fire of the late arriving British American casualties, while not light, with nearly fifty killed and four hundred captured, were not determinative either Washingtons army, tired, bedraggled, and outnumbered though it was, remained intact The next morning, in the Battle of Harlem Heights, the Americans proved themselves capable of than a retreat Martins regiment gave a good account of themselves that, if it didnt erase the memory of their disgrace at Kips Bay, certainly improved their morale Just after daybreak a British force was spotted advancing north, and Washington dispatched a reconnaissance party under the command of Colonel Thomas Knowlton from Connecticut They were soon skirmishing with advance elements of British light infantry, with little advantage gained by either The Americans retreated in good order when superior British numbers began to press them As the British followed, their buglers played Gone Away, a tune familiar to fox hunt enthusiasts like Washington, signaling the fox was in flight from the hounds The insult enraged the Americans, except for Washington, who ignored it while he conceived a plan for a counterattack When Knowltons rangers reached the American lines, Washington reinforced them and ordered them to flank the British right while another party of volunteers staged a diversionary attack The British escaped the trap and retreated some distance before turning to fight Knowlton was killed early in the ensuing battle, as was his second in command, Major Andrew Leitch of Virginia Martin had known Knowlton in Connecticut and regarded him as a brave man and excellent citizen But his loss didnt dispirit the Americans, who pushed the British back repeatedly Martins regiment was ordered to take the field after Knowlton fell and the British were retreating into nearby woods They remained in the battle until Washington called off the chase that afternoon, when the retreating British had reached the protection of their ships cannon Both sides had suffered heavy casualties, though British losses were greater Martin recollected his regiment had lost eight to ten men, and their commander, Colonel James Arnold, had been wounded and would not return to the army But the British had left the field For the first time in the young war, Washington had stopped a British advance and won a battle And the men of the 5th Connecticut, including young Joseph Martin, had played their part in the victory bravely During the battle a sergeant from one of the Connecticut regiments had been sent to find ammunition An officer, a generals aide, stopped him and accused him of desertion The sergeant explained his purpose, but the officer ordered him to return to his regiment The sergeant refused, protesting that his mission was urgent The officer drew his sword and threatened to kill him on the spot if he didnt obey The sergeant drew and cocked his musket in response and was arrested, tried for mutiny, convicted, and, with Washingtons approval, sentenced to death The Connecticut troops were ordered to witness his execution, and Martins account of the incident claims they were on the verge of mutiny over the injustice At the last moment the sergeant was granted a reprieve It was well that he was, Martin remembered, for his blood would have not been the only blood that would have been spilt Martins regiment also took part in the Battle of White Plains in late October, where they lost in killed and wounded a considerable number After the British left White Plains, many of the Connecticut men, including Martin, having had little or nothing to eat for days and being poorly clad for the wet autumn weather, became ill They were sent to convalesce in Norwalk, Connecticut, quartering with local, mostly Tory residents, and returned to camp in New York a few weeks later He remained in the militia until Christmas, when his enlistment expired I had learned something of a soldiers life, he wrote, enough I thought to keep me at home for the future The sixteen year old veteran bid his comrades farewell and walked home to his grandparents farm in Milford, Connecticut He did not remain there long By spring he would again take up arms, this time as a regular soldier, a private in the new Continental Army FIFTY YEARS AFTER HE helped America win its independence, Joseph Martin, at the age of seventy, anonymously published a memoir of his service in the war A Narrative of Some of the Adventures, Danger and Suffering of a Revolutionary Soldier, Interspersed with Anecdotes of Incident that Occurred Within His Own Observation did not sell well in the authors lifetime, and the aged veteran died a pauper at ninety Many who did happen to read it were offended by its tone and content Rediscovered a century later, it has become a highly valued primary source for historians of the revolution, and Martin has finally received the acclaim he never received in his lifetime Martins is not a story of glorious triumph over adversity but a chronicle of privation, misery, confusion, blunder, near mutiny, endurance, humiliation, and resentment He warns his readers not to expect an account of great transactions, of martial conquests won by great men daring to change the course of history No Alpine wonders thunder through my tale, he wrote in the books preface, quoting a British poem written at the turn of the nineteenth century His was merely an anecdotal account of the common transactions of one of the lowest in station in an army, a private soldier His narrative is outspoken, acerbic, self deprecating, irreverent, humorousoften darkly sosarcastic, ironic, poignant, and at times embittered He doesnt trumpet his or anyones heroism He doesnt expound eloquently on the meaning of the revolution and the ideals of the glorious cause His patriotism sprang from a simpler understanding of the purposes for which the founding fathers pledged their lives and sacred honor He shows rather than professes his love of country and her cause by his endurance in a terrible trial of body and mind And his claim is made powerful by the honesty and humility of his testimony He admired Washington and other celebrated heroes of the revolution Some officers he served under received his praise and others his contempt He reserved his greatest respect for the men like him, the mostly poor and young regulars of Washingtons army, the weary, hungry, aggrieved survivors of shell, shot, ball, and bayonet, of deadly winters and lost battles, of harsh discipline and their countrymens indifference His father was an itinerant and impoverished preacher, who sent young Martin to be raised by his maternal grandparents on their farm near Milford They were exacting guardians, who put him to work on the farm at an early age They were caring and generous as well He remembers his childhood with fondness and parting from his grandparents with sadness Martin rarely interrupts the account of his life with a discourse on the ideals of the revolution Patriotic sentiments are scarce and written matter of factly I collected pretty correct ideas of the contest between this country and the mother country, he wrote about his decision to enlist in the militia I thought I was as warm a patriot as the best of them His grandparents opposed his enlistment Even he didnt warm to the idea until his friends and neighbors began enlisting He recalled the passions aroused by the Stamp Act and the Boston Tea Party and confessed they had not stirred him to militancy His grandfather described to him the hardships and savagery of the French and Indian War, and Martin felt then that nothing should induce me to get caught in the toils of an army I am well, so Ill keep, was my motto then, and it would have been well for me if I had ever retained it His attitude changed when war came Enthused by the spectacle of neighbors marching off to Boston, excited by the talk of soldiers who had been briefly billeted on his grandparents farm, and having become tired of farm work, he resolved to go a sogering But his grandparents refused their permission He spent 1775 resenting his fate, envying the adventures of his friends, and working up the nerve to defy his grandparents They finally relented early the following year, after he threatened to run off to sea But his enthusiasm for sogering dimmed when he discovered that enlistment in the militia obligated him to give a years service I wished only to take a priming, he explained, before I took upon the whole coat of paint for a soldier His opportunity arrived when the army, facing daunting odds against a numerically superior British in New York and desperate for troops, cut the enlistment period to six months So he made his mark and went to war as many young men have, harboring misgivings and expressing bravado He confessed his determination was at times almost overset by the knowledge that once he enlisted there would be no turning back I must stick to it there will be no receding And yet when he heard the British were being reinforced by another fifteen thousand troops, he claimed, I did not care if there had been 15 times 15,000 The Americans were invincible in my opinion His opinion soon changed He sailed for New York City, where he joined his regiment and began brief and improvised training in the practices of soldiering His regiment was ordered into action not long after the start of the Battle of Long Island They were ferried to Brooklyn and marched to a plain, where he first encountered soldiers wounded in battle, the sight of which a little daunted me and made me think of home A battle raged nearby, and a young lieutenant lost control of his emotions, sniveling and blubbering and begging the men in his company to forgive any injuries he had done them Martin saw his first action the next afternoon, when some men of his regiment, making for a cornfield in search of something to eat, chanced upon an equal number of British soldiers The advantage shifted back and forth as both sides reinforced, until most of Martins regiment was engaged and the British were driven off The battle for Long Island ended the next night Surrounded by the British and facing the prospect of complete annihilation, Washington ordered his armys evacuation after a valiant stand by Maryland troops had temporarily delayed its destruction Martins regiment marched back to Brooklyn as quietly as it could manage and joined the rest of the army waiting on the wharves to be ferried to Manhattan In the morning the British discovered the rebels had escaped Then came the disgrace at Kips Bay and the regiments partial redemption in Harlem, the retreat from White Plains and Martins return home, a bloodied, hard worn veteran, still possessing the boyish sense of humor he would never lose but not the swagger that had been the first casualty of his war In his telling Martin went to war the first time for adventure, the second time for money After his defeat at Fort Washington in November, Washington took his main army to New Jersey and across the Delaware River into Pennsylvania, where, a month later, he would recross the Delaware and surprise a Hessian garrison at Trenton and a British garrison at Princeton The Continental Congress, heeding Washingtons urgent pleas, had finally recognized the need to field and train an army that would not be in constant danger of disintegration due to the prevalence of short term enlistments and poorly trained, independent minded militia It authorized a new standing army of seventy five thousand men who would enlist for three years or the duration of the war Each of the thirteen states was given a recruitment quota it was to fill by whatever means it deemed necessary Notwithstanding the morale boosting victories at Trenton and Princeton, the size and success of the British offensive dampened the patriotic fervor for the war that had characterized the initial response to Concord and Lexington States had a difficult time meeting their quotas and instituted drafts, or schemes that were not quite drafts but that obligated towns to recruit the service of a specific number of citizens In Connecticut, townships divided men into separate groups, and each group was required to procure one soldier for the army either by finding a volunteer or paying for a substitute If they failed to produce a volunteer or substitute, one of their number would be drafted In the spring of 1777 Martin was entreated to reenlist by a friend who had taken a lieutenants commission He was slowly warming to the idea, and eventually decided to put his name forward as a substitute, and was happily accepted by his peers I thought, as I must go, I might as well get as much for my skin as I could, he explained He didnt remember the sum he was paid but doubted it was than the amount he spent enjoying his last few days of freedom He marched off to war for the second time with greater misgivings than he had the first time and none of the bravado His sense of humor, however, remained intact That little insignificant monosyllableNowas the hardest word in the language for me to pronounce, he recalled, especially when solicited to do a thing which was in the least degree indifferent to me I could say Yes, with half the trouble He joined his new regiment, the 8th Connecticut, in May in Newtown, New York, and shortly thereafter marched to Peekskill, New York He remained in the Hudson highlands most of that summer as part of an undermanned force that was expected to prevent the British from gaining control of the entire Hudson and severing New England from the other colonies But rather than challenge the Americans hold on the highlands, General Howe believed he could end the rebellion by occupying the rebel capital, Philadelphia In late August he landed a force of fifteen thousand men at the northern reach of the Chesapeake Bay and two weeks later defeated the Americans at Brandywine Creek, after which he marched triumphantly into Philadelphia Martins regiment was one of several ordered to reinforce the battered main army after the Brandywine defeat Martin had injured his ankle some days before and was left to guard the regiments baggage train as it made its way to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania But he chafed at the duty He had for some time been under the command of officers who were not from his regiment, and he didnt like it Soldiers always like to be under the command of their own officers, he explained They are generally bad enough, but strangers are worse As soon as the baggage reached Bethlehem, he asked for permission to rejoin his regiment He returned in time to limp along with the 8th Connecticut as it marched through the night to Germantown, where Americans and British were about to clash again The regiment arrived not long before the tide of battle turned The Americans fought well in the beginning and seemed to have the advantage But Washington had conceived a complicated battle plan involving four separate columns, and in the gun smoke and low lying fog their lines became entangled Americans began to fire on each other, precipitating another disorderly retreat The Battle of Germantown inaugurated what Martin would remember as the period that encompassed his worst experiences in the war, including a brutal siege of a small island fort in the Delaware River, but also a comfortable winter than that experienced by soldiers who bore the awful deprivations of Valley Forgehardships that Martin witnessed but, for the most part, did not share He begins his account with reference to the deprivation that plagued him the worst throughout the war the constant want of food He makes his first complaint about hunger days after entering the army From there to the end of his narrative all the experiences he recounts, the battles won and lost, the long marches and near escapes, the many mishaps and few occasions of unexpected good fortune, all the wounds and exhaustion and heat and cold he and his comrades endured, never figure so prominently in his story as does the subject to which he always returns starvation Every few pages there appears another account of it Sometimes, most times he recalls it humorously, just as he does the improvised feasts he rarely enjoyed Nothing in the war seems to have lodged so firmly in his memory as the experience of marching, fighting, freezing, and boiling without enough to eat When the army reorganized after their rout at Germantown, Martin recalls marching and countermarching, starving and freezing, nothing else happened, although that was enough, until they encamped at White Marsh north of Philadelphia, and he went to sleep having had nothing to eat since noon the previous day Soon afterward he wandered into a place where cattle had recently been slaughtered and happened upon an ox spleen, which he took back to camp, roasted, and hastily consumed I had not had it long in my stomach, he recalled, when it began to make strong remonstrances and to manifest a great inclination to be set at liberty again and with eyes overflowing with tears at parting with what I had thought to be a friend, I gave it a discharge Shortly after his brief bout with the ox spleen, his regiment joined a detachment ordered to scatter a British force encampment on the other side of the Schuylkill River They carried few provisions and nothing edible They waded across the freezing river that night before their officers ordered them to halt For the remainder of the night they stayed in place, shivering, forbidden to light fires to warm themselves and dry their clothes Near daybreak they were made to ford the river again and backtrack to a place they had reached the previous day to wait for reinforcements That next night, after reinforcements arrived, they forded the Schuylkill again Wet, cold, and starving, they arrived the next morning where the British were believed to be camped But the British had left They marched back to White Marsh slowly, pausing for an hours rest near a walnut tree, where nuts lay on the ground in abundance Martin grabbed a few handfuls and cracked and ate them They crossed the river again at sunset at a ford where the cold water was deeper On the other side they were met by quartermasters who had brought no nourishment other than barrels of whiskey Their intention was to give the men a small measure to warm them, but the tired and hungry marchers tried to revive themselves by consuming than their allotment, and empty stomachs ensured the effect was immediate and noticeable Resuming the march, the inebriates encountered a fence they had to climb over Here was fun, Martin remembered The men would pile themselves up on each side of the fence, swearing and hallooing, some losing their arms, some their hats, some their shoes, and some themselves Once over they stumbled on and reached camp at midnight I had been nearly 30 hours without a mouthful of anything to eat, excepting the walnuts, having been the whole time on my feet unless I happened to fall over the fence, which I do not remember to have done and wading in and being wet with the water I rolled myself up in my innocency, lay down on the leaves and forgot my misery till morning As winter approached, General Howe increasingly turned his attention to opening secure supply routes from New York to occupied Philadelphia At present the British were landing supplies at Head of Elk, Maryland, and marching them fifty miles to Philadelphia, a route vulnerable to American raids A safer alternative was to bring British supply ships up the Delaware River But the Americans had established a network of forts along the Delaware to make it impassable to British ships Howe resolved to destroy it British forces had captured the southernmost fort on the New Jersey side of the Delaware, and British land and naval batteries had laid siege throughout October to the two most important forts, Fort Mercer in Red Bank and Fort Mifflin, on an island in the Delaware, just below its confluence with the Schuylkill River where Philadelphia International Airport is located today Washington dispatched two Connecticut regiments, including Martins, to reinforce them They marched through the night, as they were often made to, barefoot, poorly clothed, tired, hungry, and cold, until they could proceed no further from sheer hunger and fatigue They crossed the Delaware at Bristol, Pennsylvania At the end of a three days march, having eaten meals of rotten beef one night and a goose wing the next, Martin arrived at the armys encampment in the village of Woodbury, New Jersey From there, in the last week of October, he and the other able bodied soldiers of the two Connecticut regiments deployed to Fort Mifflin, which lay on an island surrounded by a swamp that Martin describes as nothing than a mudflat The fort itself was hardly picturesque In a colorful description of its wretchedness and vulnerability to British artillery, Martin disparaged the pen I was confined in, a fort it could not with propriety be called The historian Thomas McGuire called it a hodgepodge of stone and mud of logs and ships spars and pine rafts set in mud of ramparts and dikes filled with mud The history of the American Revolution often seems to abound in improbable coincidences Built before the revolution by a British Army engineer, Captain John Montresor, Fort Mifflins fate was again in its creators hands, for Montresor had been assigned the duty of destroying it The defense of Fort Mifflin was Martins worst experience in the war He devotes pages of his narrative to his sufferings there than he does to any other battle Fifty years later the memory of it still embittered him In the cold month of November, he begins, without provisions, without clothing, not a scrap of either shoes or stockings to my feet or legs, and in this condition to endure a siege in such a place as that, was appalling in the highest degree The siege had begun on September 26 and didnt end until November 15, two weeks after Martins regiment reinforced its beleaguered defenders, who throughout the siege never numbered than five hundred Martin mistakenly remembered the first attack on Mifflin he experienced beginning on the night of October 22 It was actually an attack on Mercer by a Hessian force of two thousand infantry and an artillery battalion It was repulsed with staggering losses by the forts two hundred American defenders and the entangling, at times impenetrable network of sharpened tree branches they had constructed, called abatis Two British warships, the Augusta and the Merlin, were also lost in the failed attack, caught in the chevaux de frise, a marine abatis of long wooden poles with sharp metal tips, and destroyed in the morning by cannons from both Mercer and Mifflin Martin recalled the fate of the Augusta being the result of a failed attack on Mifflin The attack on Mifflin was an ongoing affair, a daily bombardment of shell and shot, with little shelter available to its defenders Martin describes the barracks at Mifflin being particularly dangerous It was as much as a mans life was worth to enter them, the enemy often directing their shot at them in particular The men slept little if at all Martin claims he never slept a minute through the entire siege There were those who were so fatigued they went into the barracks to sleep a little, but it seldom happened they all came out again alive The soldiers worked through the night rebuilding the works the British batteries leveled during the day, steeling themselves for the rain of grapeshot from British mortars The only place Martin recalls being safe enough to grab a few moments rest was a ditch between the forts eastern wall and a palisade facing away from the British batteries But the forts engineer, a French officer named Fleury, a very austere man, kept them at their labors When they tried to slip away to their hiding place, Martin sadly recounts, Colonel Fleury would come to the entrance and call us out He had always his cane in his hand, and woe betided him he could get a stroke at Martin counted five British batteries with six heavy guns each on the Jersey shore, as well as three mortar batteries, and another battery of heavy guns higher up the river, all of them hammering away at Mifflin night and day Soldiers can become inured to ceaseless terrors, and some will acquire a sort of shell shocked indifference to their circumstances The Americans had one 32 pound cannon in the fort but no shot for it The British also had a 32 pounder, with an ample supply of solid shot, which they regularly fired at the forts parade ground The forts artillery officers decreed that any soldier who managed somehow to get hold of one of the fired cannonballs would receive a slug of rum I have seen 20 to 50 men standing on the parade waiting with impatience the coming of the shot, which would often be seized before its motion had fully ceased, Martin recalled, and conveyed off to our gun to be sent back to its former owners When the lucky fellow had swallowed his rum, he would return to wait for another At dawn on November 14 the British commenced a final daylong artillery barrage in preparation for storming the fort In addition to their seven land based gun batteries and three mortars, Martin counted nine British ships bringing their guns to bear on Mifflin, including six sixty four gun ships of the line and a thirty six gun frigate If his memory is correct, a total of 480 land and naval guns, as well as the three mortars, fired on Fort Mifflin in a single day Some officers tried to count how many guns were fired every minute, but it was impossible the fire was incessant Mifflin had become a hell that would disturb the sleep of its survivors for the rest of their lives The soldiers manned their posts on the palisades, ordered to defend to the last extremity Martin saw one man, who had climbed a flagstaff to raise a signal flag, cut in half as he descended He saw five men manning one cannon cut down by a single shot Others were split like fish to be broiled The dead and wounded were too numerous to count Our men were cut down like cornstalks, he remembered By that afternoon all the forts guns had been silenced despite a brief decrease in the volume of British fire as their ships battled several American ships that had attempted to come to Mifflins rescue If ever destruction was complete, it was here, Martin wrote The forts grounds were as completely ploughed as a field, all its buildings hanging in broken fragments At sundown the cannonade ceased, and the Americans, having little left to defend and no guns to defend it with, prepared their escape before the British stormed the fort As the survivors made their way to the wharves, Martin looked for his closest friend in the army and found him lying in a long line of dead men After most of the defenders took what supplies could be carried and abandoned the fort, Martin stayed behind as one of a party of soldiers ordered to torch anything left that would burn As he was working, some of the British ships were near enough that he could hear soldiers saying they would give it to the damned rebels in the morning After the last of Mifflins defenders had trooped to the wharves, where flatboats waited to ferry them across the river, the mounting flames consuming the battered fort so illuminated the river that Martin and his comrades could be plainly seen by the British, who immediately fired their guns at them Miraculously they made it across unharmed Five days later Fort Mercer was destroyed, and the Delaware was opened to British supply ships Martin ends his account of as hard and fatiguing job as occurred during the Revolutionary War with an observation that has appeared in many histories of the war It is a lament common to soldiers of every nation in every war and quite likely the inspiration for his book I was at the siege and capture of Lord Cornwallis, and the hardships of that were no to be compared with this than the sting of a bee is to the bite of a rattlesnake But there has been but little notice taken of it the reason of which is there was no Washington, Putnam or Wayne there Had there been, the affair would have been extolled to the skies No, it was only a few officers and soldiers who accomplished it in a remote quarter of the army Such circumstances and such troops generally get but little notice taken of them, do what they will What is it soldiers expect from those whose lives and liberty they defend Not fame and no in the way of material compensation than the modest benefits they are promised Few veterans of the Revolutionary War would receive in their lifetime the acclaim or compensation they deserved But they must have had hopes that their countrymen would make good on that most basic obligation to them a simple understanding of their sacrifice and appreciation of its contribution to the character of their country and the history of their times Yet in that expectation too, as Martins complaint makes clear, they were often disappointed After the loss of the Delaware forts, Martins regiment rejoined the main army as it marched and countermarched to little effect in the weeks before it encamped for the winter As winter came on, the soldiers accumulating miseries left them, in Martins words, as starved and as cross and ill natured as curs He writes of envying a squirrel he watched starve to death He got rid of his misery soon He did not live to starve piecemeal six or seven years He mocks a Thanksgiving meal decreed by Congress that followed two or three days without any rations and amounted to nothing than a small portion of rice and vinegar The army was not only starved but naked, he complains The greatest part were not only shirtless and barefoot but destitute of all other clothing, especially blankets It is in this condition that they entered winter quarters at Valley Forge Martin arrived at Valley Forge on December 18 having had little or nothing to eat for days and perishing with thirst He couldnt find water in the camp, hadnt the strength to build a shelter, and worried that the entire army would freeze to death He feared that were the British to attack then, the revolution would be finished But a kind and holy Providence took notice and better care of us than did the country in whose service we were wearing away our lives He had been there for two nights with nothing to eat than half a small pumpkin, when he was warned that in the morning he would be ordered to march again I never heard a summons to duty with so much disgust before or since as I did that But the summons proved to be fortuitous He was ordered to join a foraging party that scoured the Pennsylvania countryside for the armys provisions that terrible winter The duty wasnt onerous They were headquartered in a little village and were comfortably sheltered and fed well When Martin wasnt hunting and collecting provisions, he was at liberty to come and go as he pleased I had had enough to eat and been under no restraint, he recalled I had picked up a few articles of comfortable summer clothing Our lieutenant had never concerned himself about us He remained in these comparatively pleasant circumstances until late April 1778, when he rejoined his regiment at Valley Forge Nearly a quarter of the eleven thousand soldiers encamped there had perished during the worst suffering that winter Martin returned in time to join the Continentals as they learned the drills, tactics, and exacting discipline of the Prussian military system under the tutelage of Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, who was turning the ragtag, wasted remnant of a fighting force into a professional army In May Martin marched across the Schuylkill River to within twelve miles of Philadelphia with three thousand soldiers under the command of the Marquis de Lafayette The British, having got wind of the advance, marched out to meet them and nearly trapped the Americans But Lafayette recognized their vulnerability and skillfully got his force safely away, earning the praise of Martin, who wasnt normally given to complimenting the officers he served under The young general knew what he was about, Martin wrote He was not deficient in either courage or conduct That years summer would be remembered as especially warm In late June, as Martin marched through New Jersey to Monmouth Courthouse where the town of Freehold is located today , oppressive heat with temperatures reaching 100 degrees was added to the usual miseries of hunger and fatigue General Howe had asked to be relieved of command that winter and had been replaced by Sir Henry Clinton The new British commander in chief was ordered to evacuate Philadelphia His troops started to move in the third week of June, as fatigued by the miserable heat as were the Americans Washington determined to strike them as they slowly progressed to New York Martin marched with an advance guard of Continentals, ordered to harass General Clintons retreating columns while Washington and his generals decided where and whether to force a major engagement The officer who argued most insistently against bringing the British to battle was General Charles Lee, a surly, eccentric though experienced officer Lee had served as a soldier of fortune for several European monarchs and was notorious for his wanton lifestyle and his temper He was convinced there was not another officer of his caliber in the Continental Army, including Washington He argued that it was foolhardy to confront the British in New Jersey He thought it foolhardy ever to risk a major engagement with the British, believing Americans were incapable of winning a set battle despite their recently acquired, well drilled professionalism at the hands of von Steuben Despite Lees reservations and arrogance, Washington gave him command of a force of five thousand men, including Martins detachment, and ordered him to attack the rear of the British force and keep it engaged until Washington could bring up the rest of the army Dipping again into the meager supply of praise he reserved for officers, Martin recalled having been inspired on the eve of battle by the officer who commanded his platoon, a captain in a Rhode Island regiment, who told them they had been wanting to fight Now you shall have fighting enough before the night Even the sick and injured were stirred by their captains call to arms and refused to remain behind Remembering with pride the excitement he felt in that moment, Martin called the captain a fine brave man He feared nobody nor nothing The attack began on June 28, and it would soon be clear that General Lee feared somebody The morning broke hotter and humid than the previous day Men on foot and horseback stripped to the waist for relief from the roasting sun Before the day ended many men and horses, British and American, who had survived musket ball and bayonet would perish from heatstroke Martins company was working its way through a dense wood late in the morning toward the sound of cannon and musket fire They came into the clear onto a field that was a trifle hotter than a heated oven and fell back to the woods because it was almost impossible to breathe A moment later they were ordered to retreat They hadnt gone far when Washington himself rode by and demanded to know who had ordered them to retreat General Lee, he was informed Damn him, Washington exclaimed It was certainly very unlike him, Martin writes, but he seemed in the instant to be in a very great passion That he was Lee had given his officers hardly any orders, much less a battle plan, before Americans struck the British in an uncoordinated attack, with some units fighting and others unengaged General Clinton had anticipated the attack and detached forces from his column to reinforce his rearguard, commanded by General Charles Cornwallis Confusion overtook the American ranks Not knowing whether to advance or retreat, they prudently chose the latter Lee did nothing to impose order on his soldiers, and their retreat turned into a rout The scene Washington surveyed as he rode up beside his diffident subordinate shocked him Seeing his ranks completely broken, he demanded of Lee, What is the meaning of this, sir I desire to know the meaning of this disorder and confusion The troops, Lee replied, would not stand the British bayonets You damn poltroon, Washington countered, you never tried them Washington did as much violence to Lee as words could do According to an eyewitness, he swore on that day until the leaves shook on the trees The situation was desperate, however, and he couldnt give any attention to the insufferable Lee, whom he ordered to leave the field He spurred his white charger into the thick of retreating soldiers, shouting at them, Stand fast and receive your enemy The army is advancing to support you While British cannonballs tore up the earth all around him, he was everywhere at once, ordering, frightening, and inspiring his soldiers to turn and fight His horse collapsed from exhaustion, but he quickly mounted another, impervious to the enveloping danger He was as magnificent on that day as on any day of the long war for independence Never have I beheld such a superb man, Lafayette remembered He rode back to where Martin and the New England troops had stopped their retreat and ordered them to make a stand behind a fence and keep the advancing British busy until the artillery formed a line This they did, retreating only after what seemed to Martin to be the entire British force had charged them Martin claimed they had been ordered by their officers to withdraw The British brought their cannon to bear on the American artillery, but the Americans won the duel, leaving the British guns mostly disabled and forcing the British to fall back During the cannonade Martin saw Mary McCauley, the famous Molly Pitcher, help man one of the guns, and admired her pluck when, after a British cannonball passed between her legs and tore away her petticoat, she appeared unconcerned by the near miss Martin remembered her remarking only that it was a good thing it did not pass a little higher, for in that case it might have carried away something else Some of the outgunned British sought shelter from the heat in an orchard Martin and his fellow New Englanders were ordered to charge their position You are the boys I want to assist in driving those rascals from yon orchard, a New Hampshire colonel informed them The British began retreating before the Americans could reach them The same New Hampshire colonel ordered some of the troops, including Martin, to chase after them and keep them engaged until the rest of the New Englanders could catch them We overtook the enemy just as they were entering a meadow, Martin recalled They were retreating in line, though in some disorder Martin singled out a British soldier and took my aim directly between his shoulders It is the only time in his narrative that he mentions trying to kill someone, and fifty years later he seemed to regret it He was a good mark being a broad shouldered fellow What became of him I know not the fire and smoke hid him from my sight One thing I know I took as deliberate aim at him as ever I did any game in my life But after all I hope I did not kill him, although I intended to at the time When the retreating British reached a defensible position they turned and began exchanging fire with the pursuing New Englanders Martin watched as a British cannonball cleaved an American officers leg at the thigh Soon, though, the British were forced to resume their retreat The Americans fired a final volley, and the engagement ended We then laid ourselves down under the fences and bushes to take a breath, Martin wrote, for we had need of it I presume everyone has heard of the heat that day, but none can realize it that did not experience it Martin helped carry the captain who had lost his leg to the field surgeon His part in the battle of Monmouth Courthouse ended there, although the battle continued throughout the day and the troops remained on the field all night with the Commander in Chief Darkness ended the fighting with both sides still on the field But the British withdrew during the night, while the Americans remained with the man who had prevented their defeat and inspired them to fight the British to a standstill Both sides had suffered heavy casualties, but the British had lost men Evidence of the Continental Armys newly acquired discipline, ability, and resolve was plain for both sides to see Monmouth Courthouse was the last major battle of the war in the north The British concentrated their efforts thereafter on conquering the south But in that last major engagement, Joseph Martin and his Continentals, malnourished and exhausted though they were, had fought to a draw the best the British Empire could field The next morning each of them received a drink of rum as a reward, though nothing to eat Washington followed the British and moved the main army back to New York The Americans crossed the Hudson River at Kings Ferry and marched on to White Plains, where Martins regiment had fought two years earlier Revisiting the battlefield, Martin was surprised to discover the skeletal remains of Hessians who had fallen at White Plains littering the ground, having been dug up, he assumed, by rooting dogs and wild hogs The sad sight prompted him to offer a succinct and especially affecting definition of the cause for which he fought There are elaborate explanations of what liberty meant to the men who fought in the revolution, but never one that conveyed its essence sensitively than the one Martin provides as he contemplates the inglorious fate of his fallen foes Poor fellows They were left unburied in a foreign land they had, perhaps, as near and dear friends to lament their sad destiny as the Americans who lay buried near them But they should have kept home we should then never have gone after them to kill them in their own country But, the reader will say, they were forced to come and be killed here forced by their rulers who have absolute power and death over their subjects Well then, reader, bless a kind Providence that has made such a distinction between your condition and theirs And be careful too that you do not allow yourself ever to be brought to such an abject, servile and debased condition MARTIN WAS NOT YET eighteen years old He suffered a worse fate in the winter of 1779 than he had the previous winter, when he was excused from the agonies of Valley Forge The winter at Morristown was the worst of the war, with the coldest temperatures of the century and heavy snowfalls food, adequate clothing, and warm shelter extremely scarce and the men, as usual, denied the pay they were promised We were absolutely, literally starved, he recalled He was reduced to eating birch bark, and others to roasting their shoes, if they had any By the spring of 1780, before the fighting season resumed, they began to mutiny They had been pushed beyond endurance With Congress insensible to their situation and a lack of support from too many of their countrymen whose hearts were hardened to their plight, they saw no other alternative, in Martins words, but to starve to death or break up the army We had borne as long as human nature could endure There were only three major mutinies in the Continental Army during eight years of war The Connecticut line mutiny of May 25, 1780, in which Martin participated, was the first During an evening roll call, grumbling in Martins regiment swelled to insubordination and then to open revolt when an officer traded abuse with one of the men The men refused to leave the parade ground and, with their arms shouldered, formed into lines Another regiment joined them Though they had no clear plan of how they would proceed, they marched to where two other regiments were camped a couple hundred yards away to enlist them in their demonstration The officers of the two Connecticut regiments that were now mustering on their parade grounds tried to prevent their men from taking their arms with them In an ensuing scuffle the officer in command of the 6th Connecticut, Colonel Return Jonathan Meigs, was stabbed with a bayonet and severely wounded Martin, who admired Meigs, believed the wound was an accident Accidental or not, the colonels misfortune may have served to cool somewhat the passions of the rebellious regiments Martins regiment started to return to their camp when one of the men shouted for them to stop Some officers dragged the hothead out of the ranks, but before they could abuse him further they were forced at bayonet point to release him When the men reached camp they reformed lines An officer tried to plead and coax them into dispersing, falsely promising them at one point that the army had just that day received a large herd of cattle A lieutenant colonel in the 4th Connecticut gave the order for his ranks to shoulder arms He was ignored, which caused him, in Martins description, to fall into a violent passion before storming back to his quarters Eventually the officers gave up and returned to their huts Most of the men remained on the parade ground They were approached by a colonel from the Pennsylvania line whom they all admired and who mollified them a little by reminding them that their officers shared their privations He had not a sixpence, he told them, to purchase a partridge that was offered me the other day Eventually the mutiny, if it could fairly be called that since the Connecticut troops never formed a clear plan to do anything than demonstrate their anger and desperation, subsided Martin summed up their plight with the dark humor at which he was so adept We therefore still kept upon the parade in groups, venting our spleen at our country and government, then at our officers, and then at ourselves for our imbecility in staying there and starving in detail for an ungrateful people who did not care what became of us, so they could enjoy themselves while we were keeping a cruel enemy from them But as ill used and aggrieved as they were, they remained unwilling to desert the cause of our country This hard pressed loyalty, than battles won or lost or individual heroics, was the proof of their patriotism, a durable and honest patriotism than most possess It cannot be diminished by their complaints and resentment, not even by insubordination and near mutiny It is a patriotism supported by the rarest of resolves they would not betray their countrys cause even when they believed their country had betrayed them MARTINS SERVICE WOULD CONTINUE until the war officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1783 The hardships and dangers he endured did not abate until after the Battle of Yorktown He fought in other battles He survived various illnesses, including frequent bouts of dysentery caused by rotten meat he consumed He starved year after year He froze in the winters and boiled in the summers He watched close friends die He never saw his grandparents again when he returned home for a short leave early in 1781, he found his grandmother had died and his grandfather had moved away to live with one of his sons He was nearly killed while exchanging insults across the Harlem River with some British cavalry, when an enemy soldier in a nearby house fired a shot at him He saw the musket flash and instinctively dropped to the ground, and the ball passed just over him The British thought they had killed him, but he jumped to his feet, slapped his backside at the enemy, and took off Had he not moved when he did, the ball would have gone directly through my body, he recalled But a miss is as good as a mile as the proverb says That same afternoon he was talking with a few other soldiers when a British sniper took a shot at them The ball passed between our noses which were not than a foot apart Not many days later he received his first and only wound of the war when a dozen Continentals were surprised by a larger party of loyalist troops The two sides traded fire until the patriots ran off with the loyalists on their heels They came to a fence made of fallen trees Martin was the last to climb over it and caught his foot in one of the trees He was still struggling to free himself when the enemy reached him The loyalist commander drew his sword and slashed him below the knee, which laid the bone bare Martin gave his foot one last desperate tug and managed to get free, leaving behind his shoe He heard the loyalist who had cut him call him by name and urge him to surrender He was a childhood friend who had served in Martins first regiment and had deserted early in the war None of the loyalists fired their muskets at him as he ran, though he was within their range Martin was never sure if their forbearance was an act of mercy from his former friend or if they just didnt have time to reload their muskets before he ran out of range Martin left his Connecticut regiment in 1780, when he was selected to join a newly formed corps of miners and sappers and promoted to the rank of sergeant, an assignment that reflected the high regard his officers had for him It was in this capacity that he found himself in Philadelphia in early September 1781, where he received his wages for the first time since 1776, with gold borrowed from the French after some soldiers refused to leave the rebel capital until they had been paid He boarded a schooner there and sailed down the Delaware River, past the remnants of Fort Mifflin, where he had suffered two terrifying weeks in 1777, to Wilmington, Delaware From there he marched overland to the north end of the Chesapeake Bay During a brief halt in their march, he and his sergeant major sat on a fence that stood atop a steep bank Their companys captain, whom Martin disliked, sat on the other end Noticing the fences flimsy construction, the sergeant major winked at Martin and both men began to wiggle the fence until it collapsed, tumbling the officer down the bank When they reached the Chesapeake they boarded another ship and sailed to the James River and then on to Williamsburg, Virginia There they joined a corps under the command of Lafayette and marched for Yorktown, a tobacco port named for the river that ran beneath its bluffs General Clinton had ordered Lord Cornwallis to construct defensible fortifications for his nearly eight thousand British and Hessian troops along the deep water port, from where, if need be, the British fleet could evacuate them But on September 5 that fleet was defeated and chased back to New York by a French fleet commanded by the Comte de Grasse, recently arrived from the West Indies By the last week of the month the British were surrounded on water by de Grasses fleet and on land by eight thousand Continentals, an equal number of French troops commanded by the Comte de Rochambeau, and over three thousand militia Rather than suffer heavy casualties by storming the British fortifications, Washington resolved to bombard the British into submission and ordered a series of parallel trenches dug where he could bring up his artillery and lay siege Martin and his fellow miners and sappers were given the assignment We had holed him, Martin wrote, referring to the British, and now nothing remained but to dig him out As they were about their work one dark, rainy night, they were approached by a tall man in a long overcoat, who talked familiarly with us a few minutes Before he left, he warned the men that were they captured by the enemy, not to tell them who they were The British would treat them like spies and refuse them quarter The stranger returned a short time later with a company of engineers, who addressed him as Your Excellency, and Martin and his comrades discovered they had just been amiably chatting with their commander in chief Their work was undiscovered until the first line of trenches was nearly finished too late the British began firing at them The batteries were brought up at noon the following day, and the guns all fired at once It was a warm day for the British, as Martin described it The bombardment lasted several days, until the enemys forward guns were destroyed, after which Martin and his fellow sappers began work on a second, parallel line of trenches Under fire from British redoubts one night, the Americans decided to storm them, and four hundred soldiers commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Hamilton made the assault Martins company was supplied with hatchets to cut away the abatis that lay in their way A brief but bloody battle ensued, and Martin was exposed to a fierce barrage of British shells and grenades, his friends falling dead or seriously wounded at his side Having cleared the abatis, he joined the assault on one of the redoubts armed with his hatchet By the time Martin and his sappers finished the second line of trenches, Cornwallis asked for a cease fire to negotiate the terms of his surrender A day later the American army stood at attention and watched as the British army marched out of their fortifications and stacked their arms After the surrender the French force remained at Yorktown, and the Continental Army returned to New York Martins corps remained behind for a few weeks as winter approached and cold rains fell Lacking tents or any shelter they slept in the elements Eventually they boarded schooners and sailed north, disembarked in Maryland, and marched overland from there They stayed two weeks in Philadelphia before marching to Burlington, New Jersey, where they quartered for the winter in a large, elegant house With the war for independence effectively won, Martin looked forward to a comfortable winter than he had spent since the war began NEARLY TWO YEARS WOULD pass before the Treaty of Paris was signed and the war officially ended Martin had adventures before him, and hardships too He was ordered to leave winter headquarters and take two men with him to find and bring back a deserter He took his time and never did manage to locate the fugitive, but he spent a number of nights enjoying the hospitality of families residing in the various towns he passed through, marveling at the change in civilian attitudes now that the countrys independence was in sight During previous encounters the Continentals had often been treated with disdain, suspicion, and sometimes outright hostility by people whose rights they were fighting to secure They were begrudged food and other provisions, and often had to take it by force They were given shelter reluctantly, usually only when demanded, accompanied by meager if any hospitality to underscore how greatly private citizens resented the armys demands and how broadly they distrusted standing armies, be they British or American Now Martin and his friends were plied with food and drink, regaled with stories, and comfortably bedded in one household after another They were conquering heroes However, this benefaction too would prove temporary as the old prejudice against a standing army returned to the new republic in the years of peace ahead He contracted yellow fever that winter, and it nearly killed him He was placed in a hospital with a number of sick and dying men, and he lost all his hair There were no army physicians available to attend them, and the apothecarys stores in the Revolutionary army were as ill furnished as any others A local doctor treated him, and Martin credited his care and compassion with saving his life He recovered in the spring, and after walking ninety miles in two days without provisions he caught up with his corps as it was about to cross the Hudson River Shortly after he arrived, he and nine other men were ordered to hunt down two deserters They traveled another ninety miles in twenty four hours without finding the fugitives, who, as it turned out, had been hiding only a few miles from camp He spent the summer on an island in the Hudson quarrying rock to use in repairing the armys fortifications at West Point The officious captain he had tumbled into a ditch the previous fall was still in command and still hated by his men Martin discovered that some soldiers were planning to make a bomb in a canteen, filling it with gunpowder and attaching a fuse They said they intended only to frighten the officer Martin believed it would have killed him and was barely able to persuade the men to drop their plan He spent another hard winter in New York waiting anxiously for peace to be declared Sent on a detail one day to cut wood for the barracks, he walked downriver five miles, where he was caught in a sudden blizzard and had to return by a circuitous route of ten miles in a bitterly cold wind and snow eighteen inches deep His right ear was frostbitten and he was sick for several days Accustomed to suffering, he dismissed the incident, explaining, Afflictions always attended the poor soldiers A friend of his, of the same age, was showing off with his musket one day to amuse Martin, tossing it overhead and catching it, when he lost control and his bayonet stabbed him in the leg An ignoramus boy of a surgeon dressed the wound A few days later his friend complained that his neck and back hurt Martin informed the captain, who had the boy taken to a hospital in Newburgh, where he was seized with lockjaw and died When spring came the men watched to see if the great chain the Americans stretched across the Hudson in navigable months to impede British ships would be laid down again If it were not, they reasoned, then peace must be at hand It wasnt On April 19, 1783, they learned that Congress had preliminarily approved the terms of the Treaty of Paris, which wouldnt be formally concluded until September Martin described the men as exultant when they heard the news, but worried about the condition in which they would return to their homes They were starved, ragged, and meager, he wrote, with not a cent to help themselves with On June 11 their captain entered their barracks and informed them that, though they were not formally discharged from service, they could all return home and would be recalled if circumstances required it If they werent recalled, their furloughs would be considered honorable discharges when the wars end was officially declared The joy they had expected to feel when the end arrived was little in evidence sorrow was the common emotion They had lived so long together, shared so much suffering together, bearing each others burdens and concealing each others faults, it was hard to part Ah, it was a serious time, Martin remembered They were allowed to keep their muskets and take some ammunition with them That and the clothes on their backs were all they possessed They were to receive certificates for the years of back wages owed them and were told their discharges could later be used to claim the hundred acres of land in the Ohio country they had been promised when they enlisted Many of the men set off immediately for home Martin and others stayed at West Point, waiting for their settlement certificates for back pay It wasnt clear when the certificates would be provided, so Martin volunteered to serve the final few months of a friends enlistment while he waited for his money He was honorably discharged less than two months later and received his certificates, some of which he sold for a little money to buy some clothes He never went home He stayed in New York for the year and taught school for a time In the summer of 1784 he left New York for what is now the state of Maine, where he had heard rumors of free land being granted to veterans He settled in a little town on Penobscot Bay where the water narrows into a river He never received his hundred acres of Ohio land Instead he worked a hundred acres of Maine farmland, to which he did not possess title as many veterans did, he simply claimed a parcel of unused land and tried to make a life for himself He married Lucy Clewley, and they had a daughter and a son, who was mentally disabled The famous Henry Knox, who had been Washingtons general of artillery, had acquired something called the Waldo Patent, a land grant giving him title to a vast swath of Maine, which encompassed many veterans farms, including Martins He demanded payment for them and evicted the veterans who couldnt pay Martin could not pay I throw myself and my family wholly at the feet of your Honors mercy, he wrote Knox, earnestly hoping that your Honor will think of some way, in your wisdom, that may be beneficial to your Honor and save a poor family from distress Knox never replied, and Martin lost his farm He is believed to be one of a party of veterans who fired their muskets one day at some of Knoxs surveyors He served as his towns clerk and a selectman and was a captain of the Maine militia He managed somehow to obtain another, smaller holding and farmed it He wrote poetry and hymns, and he painted He was well liked by his neighbors And he was always poor and often nearly destitute IN THE FIRST DECADE of the new century, a national debate began over the question of providing pensions to Revolutionary War veterans The idea was not universally popular far from it Most Americans, and many of their elected representatives, were still suspicious of standing armies Reflecting that suspicion was the popular belief that it had never really been necessary to create the Continental Army, that militias could have won independence with regard for the nations republican character Nevertheless a federal law was enacted in 1818 granting a 96 annual pension, approximately 1,800 in todays dollars, to any male who had served for than nine months A year later the law was amended to restrict pensions to those veterans who could prove they were living in poverty The law didnt make any provision for women who had served or for the thousands of African Americans who had fought for the countrys independence In the end only a little than three thousand veterans actually received compensation Martin was one of them, and in a petition he filed to claim his pension he claimed his net worth to be negligible He had no real nor personal estate, nor any income whatever, my necessary bedding and wearing apparel excepted, except two cows, six sheep, one pig A generous law was adopted in 1832 that included many veterans who had been denied a pension previously At the time Martin wrote his narrative, the debate over what the Continentals deserved from their country still continued, and many Americans resented even the modest compensation veterans received under the terms of the 1818 law Martin saved the last few pages of his narrative to address the controversy, not bothering to conceal his contempt for those who questioned the honor and worth of the men who had liberated the nation and done so without demanding anything from the ungrateful people who now dismissed their sacrifices He began by cataloguing everything they were promised when they enlisted and the very little they actually received, even basic commitments of food and clothing He recalled their terrible suffering Almost every one had heard of the soldiers of the Revolution being tracked by the blood of their feet on the frozen ground This is literally true and the thousandth part of their sufferings has not, nor ever will be told They had fought exhausted, naked, and starved, he reminded his readers, and were kept in that condition in winter quarters, when marching, and on the battlefield He allowed that many militia had served bravely and well, a fact he could testify to personally as he had served alongside them But he argued that militia had not and could not have won the war That had been accomplished by a standing army, well trained and serving for the duration of the war because, he explained, militia would not have endured the sufferings the army did they would have considered themselves as in reality they were and are free citizens, not bound by any cords that were not of their own manufacturing To those who resented veterans for receiving pensions, he wrote, The only wish I would bestow upon such hardhearted wretches is, that they might be compelled to go through just such suffering and privations as that army did He closes his tirade by assuring any readers for whom the old veterans were an eyesore, a grief of mind, that they need only wait a little while to be relieved from their offense A few years longer will put the veterans all beyond the power of troubling them, for they will soon be where the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest Joseph Plumb Martin would take a little longer to go to his rest, likely showing a spirited obstinacy to the end He died twenty years later, in 1850, at age ninety His narrative deserves an honored place in the archives of the revolution among our most famous founding documents Martin would be the last person to begrudge the appellation the father of his country to the great man he served under and esteemed But a nation doesnt have a single parent our history identifies a whole class of founding fathers The men who fought, suffered, and died to achieve the independence the founders declared surely deserve a share of the distinction, though for their part, they thought it honor enough to be described as just who they were Joseph Martins final resting place is in a small cemetery in Stockton Springs just a few paces from U.S 1, which in summer is often choked with traffic as throngs of vacationers make their way to the pretty harbor towns of the Maine coast If any of them happen to spot the small marble monument that decorates his grave, not one in ten thousand will know who it memorializes or read the simple inscription it bears PRIVATE JOSEPH PLUMB MARTIN SOLDIER OF THE REVOLUTIONInspirational accounts of 13 Americans who fought in various wars.McCain and Salter aptly reveal humanizing moments in such theaters of cruelty Publishers Weekly Messrs McCain and Salter have chosen a thoughtful array of subjects.the authors have drawn a diverse group portrait of ordinary Americans.Following ancient and medieval precedent, their hope is simply to use each soldier s deeds to represent a particular aspect of war fear, duty, honor, comradeship, sacrifice and so on.We can all agreeto admire Messrs McCain and Salter s ordinary people doing extraordinary things The Wall Street Journal Discerning and praiseworthy U.S Naval Institute Proceedings The wide variety of characters involved makes for many fascinating accounts.The bulk of each section contains the history of the featured individual s engagements, pleasantly interwoven with their personal experiences The text as a whole offers insights into life during battle.Casual readers interested in a wide sampling of U.S military history should enjoy this book Library Journal Written with thrilling immediacy, insight, and reverence for the men and women who have risked and sacrificed their lives for their country Much than a military history, Thirteen Soldiers brings famous battles and campaigns down to the individual scale, enhances our understanding of the costs and consequences of battle, and introduces a human dimension to the history of armed conflict NationalMemo.com Deeply personal stories that track real soldiers through conditions of trying morale A patriotic though unsentimental look at the major wars fought by the United States as told through the difficult experiences of ordinary soldiers Arizona Sen McCain and his longtime staffer and co author Salter again sound the themes of courage and honor represented by the regular Americans of all branches of the military Kirkus Reviews These are great and powerful stories that deserve to be retold, and McCain and Salter do an admirable job of showing us why Stars An intriguing read covering a wide swath of military history, much of it probably little known to many Americans It takes a microscopic, individualized look at famous battles, describing them from the point of view of the soldiers who fought them 13 Soldiers whets the appetite for history lovers, blending lesser known facts into well known battles But it s approachable for novices, too McCain and Salter, a long time storytelling duo, have crafted a worthwhile read that abstains from romanticizing war yet instills a sense of pride that will touch any reader Fayetteville Observer Highly enlightening The VVA Veteran This instructive book is crammed with battlefield details, struggles, and strategies, along with an intriguing cast of characters and their untold stories The Daily Beast Thirteen Factories Wikipedia The Thirteen Factories, also known as the Canton was a neighbourhood along Pearl River in southwestern Guangzhou Qing Empire from c Colonies Colonies, British or American were group of colonies on Atlantic coast North US Army Units Explained From Squads to It s easier to grasp human scale war when you understand how many soldiers make up units Days Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus offers compelling look at Cuban Missile Crisis, and its talented cast deftly portrays real life people who involved Three Soldiers Vestal Review Three by Bruce Holland Rogers Hardest Question My marines bring me questions When do we get shower Sergeant, say Good afternoon Ishmael Beah Online Shopping for Ishmael came United States he seventeen graduated Oberlin College He is member Human Rights Watch Children Artificial intelligence helps learn many New technology allows US times faster than conventional methods researchers said this may help save lives Originals Founding American Charter Sir Walter Raleigh Everybody remembers Jamestown, Capt John Smith, Pocahontas all rest But remember Roanoke Soldiers Sailors Monument Boston Common Common, tribute those served during Civil War BUFFALO SOLDIERS INDIAN WARS January Camp Supply Captain Pratt twenty troopers traveled below zero weather bust ranches whose purpose sell liquor, guns, ammo History Cavalry Infantry Indian Wars, Old West Spanish Span AmJohn McCain Sidney III Coco Solo, Panamakanaalzone, augustus Cornville, Arizona, een Amerikaans politicus van de Republikeinse Partij Senator Arizona In office , August Preceded Barry Goldwater Succeeded Jon Kyl Chairman United McCain Washington, DC released following statement today died pm Wikipdia III, n le aot sur la base militaire amricaine Solo zone du canal Panama et mort Cornville est un agosto stato politico statunitense, senatore repubblicano per lo dell USS S DDG USS an Arleigh Burke class destroyer currently service Navy She part Destroyer Squadron within Biography senator and story A POW Vietnam for five years, has since twice ran president elokuuta Solon laivastotukikohta, Panaman kanavavyhyke oli yhdysvaltalainen poliitikko Ballotpedia voted HR No Budget, Pay Act bill passed Senate with vote Will Return Washington Next Sen will return next week Congress comes back work after recess remarkable record leadership embodies his unwavering lifetime commitment son grandson four star admirals, McCain, oorlogsheld en luis pels Trump NU Amerikaanse senator, presidentskandidaat oorlogsheld, zaterdag op jarige leeftijd overleden juli werd hersentumor bij begraven Annapolis NOS staat Maryland acht dagen na zijn dood Hij bijgezet begraafplaats SenJohnMcCain Twitter latest Tweets R AZ Armed Services Committee Phoenix, Tot vaderlandslievende De thuis politicus, die geregeld stevige k senjohnmccain Instagram Followers, Following, Posts See Instagram photos videos Sr Early life, education, family born Carroll County, Mississippi, plantation owner wife Elizabeth Ann Amerikaanse aan gevolgen hersenkanker Eerder deze besloot zich niet Senator Dat bevestigt kantoor verklaring overleed time condemned President remarks meeting Vladimir Putin, calling it disgraceful performance Story His Own Words tells People Magazine that survived over years through Faith God, my fellow prisoners, country Thirteen Soldiers: A Personal History of Americans at War

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *