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A Narrative of a Revolutionary Soldier Mass Market Paperback – September 1, 2001
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Top Customer Reviews
Martin recalls his experiences in military campaigns from 1776 to 1783. He was an enlisted man who rose to the rank of sergeant, and his memoirs present the war from that perspective, rather than from the viewpoint of generals or political leaders. The suffering of the common troops is vividly detailed. Martin tells of the sleep deprivation, hostile weather conditions, combat death and injury, and lack of clothes. The men suffered from many diseases. But their most constant enemy was probably "the monster Hunger." Martin describes at length the horrible foods the men had to eat: bread "hard enough to break the teeth of a rat," carrion beef, and even tree bark.
From a tactical standpoint, Martin's descriptions of 18th century trench warfare are fascinating. Martin is eventually transferred to the Corps of Miners, and I was especially interested by the descriptions of his corps' duties: blasting rocks, dismantling enemy fortifications with axes, etc. He gives insights into how the miners' corps worked together with the infantry.
Martin's narrative is enlivened by his wit and humor. One of my favorite lines comes after he mentions the village of Maidenhead: "don't stare, dear reader, I did not name it."
Martin ends his narrative with a passionate defense of the rights and dignity of veterans. He notes with anger that Revolutionary soldiers were "turned adrift like old worn out horses" after the war.Read more ›
He enlisted a second time during the spring of 1777 for three years and reenlisted until 1783. He served in a Connecticut Infantry regiment, in the Light Infantry, and then for most of the war as a sergeant in a company of Sappers and Miners (Combat Engineers.) His service took to the defense of Red Bank in the fall of 1777, Valley Forge, Monmouth, and back to the Hudson Highlands (where in 1780 he says he could have easily killed Benedict Arnold, an officer he hated, had he the benefit of hindsight.)
Martin marched to Yorktown, Virginia in 1781 and was one of Alexander Hamilton's storming party that captured a key redoubt.
After leaving the army he made his way up to Maine and wrote this book from memory early in the 19th century. Lucky we are that when it was first published no editor had tried to improve Martin's text. Reading Martin is like listening to an 18th century man speak. He leaves in sex and violence. He is not ashamed. And he tells the truth, which is something hard to do when recording something that happened forty years since.
This book will tell a reader more about the Revolutionary War and the 18th century American world than any other book ever published. I got my first copy of Martin forty years ago and I still read and reread him regularly.
High School and College level history teachers should place this on their recommended reading lists.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The classic first-person narrative of a common American soldier in the Continental Army. He describes in detail the vicissitudes and travails of what it was to be in an underfunded... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Vieux
This is perhaps one of the best-known journals from the American Revolution. Every student of the era should have a copy.Published 5 months ago by J. McFarland
From Diana Gabaldon with fictional history to this personal story was a delight. Living in New Jersey brought new meaning to our part in the Revolution. Thoroughly enjoyed this.Published 7 months ago by Trish
Amazingly readable narrative. Mr. Martin puts the reader into the worn rags and shoeless feet of the private soldier of the continental line of the War for American Independence.Published 7 months ago by Lawrence Michael
fascinating account from the viewpoint of one lived through the war as a private soldier.Published 7 months ago by barry capalbo
Joseph Plumb Martin wrote about his experiences as a revolutionary soldier while demonstrating his sufferings. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Marcelo P. Cabus Masur
Great book depicting the true story of a young man that volunteered to fight for his country. Written with a dose of self humor. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Maureen Davis