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Martin participated in the war from his enlistment in the spring of 1776, through the bitter struggle for survival at Valley Forge, and on to the decisive victory at Yorktown in 1783. His account includes harrowing accounts of a number of battles, but is most notable for the great variety of incidents that mark a soldier's life in wartime: bouts of dysentery and yellow fever; inoculation for smallpox; marching and hauling equipment; tracking down deserters; outbreaks of mischief; and above all the constantly recurring fight to ward off hunger, which at one point brought his company to the verge of mutiny. Martin expresses, with equal eloquence, both his pride in serving his country and his indignation at the neglect from which his fellows suffered.
The account was published anonymously in 1830, and although its content has been republished in many forms since then, the original was thought lost to history. In the mid-1950s, a first edition copy of the narrative was found and donated to Morristown National Historical Park, and the original text is now available again in print.
… I found most of the male kind of the people together; soldiers for Boston were in requisition. A dollar deposited upon the drum head was taken up by some one as soon as placed there, and the holder's name taken, and he enrolled, with orders to equip himself as quick as possible. My spirits began to revive at the sight of the money offered; the seeds of courage began to sprout; for, contrary to my knowledge, there was a scattering of them sowed, but they had not as yet germinated; I felt a strong inclination, when I found I had them, to cultivate them. O, thought I, if I were but old enough to put myself forward, I would be the possessor of one dollar, the dangers of war to the contrary notwithstanding; but I durst not put myself up for a soldier for fear of being refused, and that would have quite upset all the courage I had drawn forth.
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