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Joseph Plumb Martin was born in Massachusetts in 1760. His father was a well-educated pastor. At the age of seven, he was sent to live with his grandparents. He received a good education, and in 1776, at the age of 15, he joined Continental Army. He originally was not going to re-enlist after his six-month stint, but later joined the 8th Connecticut division in 1777. He would go on to serve until the end of the war, in 1783.
Martin served in many battles, such as the Battles of Brooklyn, White Plains, and Kip’s bay. While many soldiers were drafted into the war, Martin enlisted voluntarily. His life, and the lives of many other soldiers were very challenging. They were required to stay away from home for long periods of time, they faced supply shortages, including food and water, and their lives were constantly at risk. Despite these challenges, Martin went on to serve for seven years.
Martin served in the Siege of Yorktown. He had been promoted to Sergeant, and was assigned to a group of sappers were tasked with digging Washington’s parallel of entrenchments that placed Charles Cornwallis’s army under siege. They also had to clear the way so that the Continental Army could attack British Redoubt Number 10, forcing the British hand. He was present during the surrender of Cornwallis, which ultimately sealed America’s victory. Two years later, in 1783, Joseph Plumb-Martin was discharged.
After the war, Martin went on to work as a town clerk in the town of Prospect for over twenty years. He married Lucy Clewley in 1794, and ended up having five children. Though it was a struggle, Martin was awarded a pension in 1818, receiving $96 a year, (about $1589.00 today) which he used to support his family. Later in life, at the age of 70, he published his diaries as a book, titled “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.” As was customary at the time, the book was published anonymously, so it did poorly, but garnered attention more than a century later as the most graphic and vivid first-person account of life as a soldier serving the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War.
Joseph Plumb-Martin was a hero during the American Revolution, as was every soldier. Martin was ambitious and strong-willed, and his determination proved advantageous during the war. His story is an important one, full of sacrifice and fortitude. Everyday soldiers such as Martin ought to be respected and celebrated, as without them, war, victory, glory, and freedom would be futile.
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