A wide-eyed teenager during most of the Revolutionary War, Joseph Plumb Martin left his grandfather's farm in Connecticut in 1775 and spent much of the next eight years with the Continental Army, crisscrossing the mid-Atlantic states and returning north after the British surrender at Yorktown. His notes, penned when he was seventy, recount in grim detail his harrowing experiences during the conflict—the staggering losses in human life, the agony of long marches, constant gnawing hunger, bitter cold, and the fear of battle, as well as a warts-and-all view of military leaders. Balancing these brutal wartime experiences are lively accounts of hunting, fishing, and other diversions--including an occasional encounter with a "saucy miss."
The fullest existing description of the Revolutionary War by an enlisted man, and a rediscovered gem of American history, Martin's recollections brim with telling anecdotes that reveal a great deal about American life during this era. An invaluable memoir from an ordinary man in extraordinary times, the narrative is "one of the best firsthand accounts of war as seen by a private soldier."—St. Louis (Mo.) Post-Dispatch
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
In 1775, Joseph Plumb Martin (November 21, 1760 – May 2, 1850) was a wide-eyed fifteen-year-old boy who decided to leave his grandfather’s Connecticut farm and join the Continental Army, first as a private then a sergeant, to fight the English during the American War for Independence. During the next eight years, he participated in some early battles, such as White Plains, Kipp’s Bay, and Redbank; spent the famous winter of 1777-1778 near Valley Forge, though not in the camp itself but at Milltown between Philadelphia and Lancaster; and was at Cornwallis’s 1781 surrender in Yorktown. His term of duty actually lasted a couple of years past the end of hostilities, and he retired from service in 1783 at the ripe old age of 23. However, this narrative, written from memory when Martin was seventy, is basically an account of gnawing hunger, bitter cold, and the fear of battle that accompanied Martin and his fellows as they criss-crossed the mid-Atlantic states, went south to Virginia, and then returned north after the British surrender at Yorktown. He records in grim detail his harrowing experiences with staggering losses of human life and the agony of long marches, balancing them with humorous stories about excursions for hunting, fishing, and other diversions. He also mentions his connections to “the Commander-in-chief,” the infamous General Charles Lee, the traitor Benedict Arnold, and even the spy Major Andre. Being the fullest existing description of the Revolutionary War by an enlisted man, the book is an excellent first-hand source material for the American Revolution and will help students understand what it must have been like to have fought in that war. The St. Louis (MO) Post-Dispatch said that it is "one of the best firsthand accounts of war as seen by a private soldier.” There are several references to drinking alcohol—wine, whiskey, brandy, ale, and especially rum. Forms of the “d” word are found a few times, but they are written “d---d” or “d---n,” though I don’t know whether this was done by Martin or by an editor. In one such instance “the Commander-in-chief” said it with reference to General Lee, who undoubtedly deserved it, but Martin wrote that “it was certainly very unlike him.” Also the “h” word and the term “son of a b---h” (written that way) are each used once. Some of the descriptions of battle are blunt but not overly graphic. Martin must have been well-versed in the Scriptures because there are numerous Bible quotations and references throughout. I picked this book up in the gift shop while visiting Valley Forge National Historical Park. Though there is really nothing in the book that is inappropriate for anyone, the style of writing would make it more suitable and of interest to older teens and adults. A version for children and younger readers down to age nine entitled Yankee Doodle Boy: A Young Soldier's Adventures in the American Revolution has been adapted and published in 1995 by Holiday House.
Joseph martin left us w/ a great piec of history.although I was disapointed that he did not wtite about battles,feelings or his opinion of his leaders.Most of the book regards him recalling foreging in the country side.Despite being one of the first solders over British fortafications he does not really emote what this hugely historic moment meant to him.He simply starts his journey back home.
Vivid imagery from the storytelling of a man who was there from start to finish. Joe Martin was a simple man who joined the fight for freedom. Worth the read for a first-hand account of the American Revolution.
Anyone who needs to be reminded of the sacrifices for freedom and liberty should read this book, A true American Patriot and Hero!