General James Green Martin

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General James Green Martin

Biography:
Brigadier-General James Green Martin

Brigadier-General James Green Martin was born at Elizabeth
City, N.C., February 14, 1819. He was graduated at the
United States Military Academy in 1840, number fourteen in the
class of which Richard S. Ewell was thirteenth, and George H.
Thomas twelfth.

With promotion to a lieutenancy in the artillery, he served
mainly on the northern coast, on the Maine frontier, and in
the coast survey, until he went into the war with Mexico,
where he participated in the battles of Monterey, Vera Cruz,
Cerro Gordo, Contreras and Churubusco, in the latter losing
his right arm.

He had previously been promoted captain of staff, and was
brevetted major. At the outbreak of the war of 1861, he was
on staff duty at Fort Riley.

Resigning June 14, 1861, he offered his services to North
Carolina, was commissioned captain of cavalry, C.S.A., and
appointed adjutant-general of the State, a position in which
he rendered valuable service in the organization and equipment
of troops. At his suggestion, blockade-running ships were
first employed to bring supplies from Europe.

On September 28, 1861, he was appointed commander-in-chief of
the State forces, with the rank of major-general of militia.
With due appreciation of the gravity of the struggle, he
raised 12,000 more men than his State's quota, which were
found of great service when hastily called into the field in
Virginia when McClellan made his advance from Yorktown.

Civil War and James Green Martin
James Green Martin.jpg
General James Green Martin. Library of Congress.

After General Martin had completed this work, he applied for
duty in the field, and in May 1862, was promoted brigadier-
general in the provisional army, Confederate States. In
August 1862, he was given command of the district of North
Carolina, with headquarters at Kinston.

In the fall of 1863, he was directed to organize a brigade from
the troops at his disposal and take the field. With this
brigade, composed of the Seventeenth, Forty-second, Fiftieth
and Sixty-sixth regiments, he went into camp near Wilmington
and soon had as well-drilled and equipped a command as the
Confederate army possessed.

When Pickett made his demonstration against New Bern in
February 1864, Martin successfully attacked and drove the
Federals from Newport. When the campaign of 1864 opened in
Virginia, he was called to Petersburg, and reaching there May
14th, was first in the field under Whiting. D. H. Hill was in
command of the division May 20th, and Martin and his brigade
won distinction by their gallant charge, driving the enemy
from the works in their front.

After this battle of Howlett's House, his men carried him
around on their shoulders, shouting: "Three cheers for Old One
Wing," much to the surprise of the gallant officer, whose
stern discipline had not been calculated to inspire affection.
After this, Martin was the object of the warm admiration of his
men.

The brigade now was assigned to Hoke's division, and
reinforced Lee at Turkey ridge, where they gallantly repulsed
the enemy's assaults on June 3rd, and for about ten days
afterward were engaged in a sharpshooting fight along the
line.

Lee, believing Grant would make another attack, informed
Martin that he held the key to the Confederate position, and
asked if his troops, comparatively new, could be relied upon.
Martin promptly responded that his men were as good as
veterans, but that he thought he should be transferred to the
south of the James, as he believed Grant would attack Richmond
from the rear.

This opinion was soon verified, and Martin's brigade being
hastily transferred to Petersburg, marched out where there was
not a Confederate line between that city and the enemy. In
the famous battles of June before Petersburg, Martin and his
brigade displayed courage, discipline and fortitude
unsurpassed by any.

During the siege which followed, General Martin's health gave
way under the strain and exposure, and he was transferred to
the command of the district of Western North Carolina, with
headquarters at Asheville, his field of service at the close
of the war.

After he had left the Army of Northern Virginia, General Lee
one day highly complimented his old brigade for faithful
obedience to orders, and when reminded by General Kirkland
that the praise was largely due to his predecessor, replied:
"General Martin is one to whom North Carolina owes a debt she
can never repay."

The gallant brigade was almost continuously under fire, was
never driven from a position, and never failed in an attack.

After the close of hostilities, General Martin found himself
bereft of the considerable property he had previously held,
and manfully took up the study of law, a profession in which
he met with success, practicing at Asheville during the
remainder of his life. He died October 4, 1878.

Source: Confederate Military History, vol. V, p. 332

Recommended ReadingConfederate Military History Of North Carolina: North Carolina In The Civil War, 1861-1865. Description: The author, Prof. D. H. Hill, Jr., was the son of Lieutenant General Daniel Harvey Hill (North Carolina produced only two lieutenant generals and it was the second highest rank in the army) and his mother was the sister to General “Stonewall” Jackson’s wife. In Confederate Military History Of North Carolina, Hill discusses North Carolina’s massive task of preparing and mobilizing for the conflict; the many regiments and battalions recruited from the Old North State; as well as the state's numerous contributions during the war. Continued below.

During Hill's Tar Heel State study, the reader begins with interesting and thought-provoking statistical data regarding the 125,000 "Old North State" soldiers that fought during the course of the war and the 40,000 that perished. Hill advances with the Tar Heels to the first battle at Bethel, through numerous bloody campaigns and battles--including North Carolina’s contributions at the "High Watermark" at Gettysburg--and concludes with Lee's surrender at Appomattox.

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Recommended Reading: Lee's Lieutenants: A Study in Command (912 pages). Description: Hailed as one of the greatest Civil War books, this exhaustive study is an abridgement of the original three-volume version. It is a history of the Army of Northern Virginia from the first shot fired to the surrender at Appomattox - but what makes this book unique is that it incorporates a series of biographies of more than 150 Confederate officers. The book discusses in depth all the tradeoffs that were being made politically and militarily by the South. Continued below.

The book does an excellent job describing the battles, then at a critical decision point in the battle, the book focuses on an officer - the book stops and tells the biography of that person, and then goes back to the battle and tells what information the officer had at that point and the decision he made. At the end of the battle, the officers decisions are critiqued based on what he "could have known and what he should have known" given his experience, and that is compared with 20/20 hindsight. "It is an incredibly well written book!"

 

Recommended ReadingThe Civil War in North Carolina. Description: Numerous battles and skirmishes were fought in North Carolina during the Civil War, and the campaigns and battles themselves were crucial in the grand strategy of the conflict and involved some of the most famous generals of the war. John Barrett presents the complete story of military engagements across the state, including the classical pitched battle of Bentonville--involving Generals Joe Johnston and William Sherman--the siege of Fort Fisher, the amphibious campaigns on the coast, and cavalry sweeps such as General George Stoneman's Raid.

 
Recommended Reading: Generals in Gray Lives of the Confederate Commanders. Description: When Generals in Gray was published in 1959, scholars and critics immediately hailed it as one of the few indispensable books on the American Civil War. Historian Stanley Horn, for example, wrote, "It is difficult for a reviewer to restrain his enthusiasm in recommending a monumental book of this high quality and value." Here at last is the paperback edition of Ezra J. Warner’s magnum opus with its concise, detailed biographical sketches and—in an amazing feat of research—photographs of all 425 Confederate generals. Continued below.
The only exhaustive guide to the South’s command, Generals in Gray belongs on the shelf of anyone interested in the Civil War. RATED 5 STARS!
 
Recommended Viewing: The Civil War - A Film by Ken Burns. Review: The Civil War - A Film by Ken Burns is the most successful public-television miniseries in American history. The 11-hour Civil War didn't just captivate a nation, reteaching to us our history in narrative terms; it actually also invented a new film language taken from its creator. When people describe documentaries using the "Ken Burns approach," its style is understood: voice-over narrators reading letters and documents dramatically and stating the writer's name at their conclusion, fresh live footage of places juxtaposed with still images (photographs, paintings, maps, prints), anecdotal interviews, and romantic musical scores taken from the era he depicts. Continued below.
The Civil War uses all of these devices to evoke atmosphere and resurrect an event that many knew only from stale history books. While Burns is a historian, a researcher, and a documentarian, he's above all a gifted storyteller, and it's his narrative powers that give this chronicle its beauty, overwhelming emotion, and devastating horror. Using the words of old letters, eloquently read by a variety of celebrities, the stories of historians like Shelby Foote and rare, stained photos, Burns allows us not only to relearn and finally understand our history, but also to feel and experience it. "Hailed as a film masterpiece and landmark in historical storytelling." "[S]hould be a requirement for every student."

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