James Green Martin
James Green Martin (February 14, 1819–October 4, 1878) was a brigadier
general in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War.
Martin was born in Elizabeth City, NC, the son of Dr. William Martin and Sophia
Dange Martin. He attended the United States Military Academy at West Point
and graduated in 1840, fourteenth in the class, directly behind future Confederate
general Richard S. Ewell. On July 12, 1844, Martin married Mary Ann Murray
Read, great granddaughter of Declaration of Independence signer George Read
and General William Thompson.
Martin was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the First Regiment of the
United States Artillery and he served mainly on the northern coast, on the frontier
of Maine, in the Aroostock War, and in the coastal survey. He served in the
Mexican War and took part in the battles of Monterey, Vera Cruz, Cerro Gordo,
Contreras and Churubusco where he lost his right arm after it was shattered by
grapeshot. After the wounding, Martin left the field with his sleeve clenched
between his teeth and relinquished command of the battery to Stonewall Jackson.
Due to the loss of his arm, Martin was known by the nickname "Old One Wing."
Martin was brevetted as a major for his performance at Churubusco and Contreras.
After the Mexican War, Martin transferred to staff and was appointed assistant
quartermaster and was stationed at Fortress Monroe, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,
and Governor's Island. Martin then went to Fort Snelling in Minnesota. While
there, his wife Mary Ann died. On February 8, 1858 he married Hetty King,
sister of General Rufus King. Martin next took part in the Utah War under Albert
Sidney Johnston and at the outbreak of the Civil War, he was on staff duty at Fort
Resigning his commission on June 14, 1861, Martin offered his services to North
Carolina, and was commissioned as a captain in the Cavalry. Martin was later
appointed adjutant general of North Carolina. At his suggestion, blockade running
ships were first employed to bring supplies to the Confederacy from Europe.
On September 28, 1861, he was appointed commander-in-chief of the State
forces, with the rank of major general of militia. Martin was able to raise 12,000
more men than the state quota. After Martin had completed this work he applied
for duty in the field, and in May 1862, he was promoted to brigadier general in the
provisional army. In August 1862, he was given command of the district of North
Carolina, with headquarters at Kinston, North Carolina. 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, he went into camp near Wilmington, North Carolina.
When Major General George E. Pickett made his demonstration against New Bern
in February 1864, Martin successfully attacked and drove the Union troops from
Newport. When the Overland Campaign opened Martin was called to Petersburg.
Martin was the first in the field under Major General William Henry Chase Whiting.
Major General Daniel Harvey Hill took command of the division on May 20th, and
Martin's brigade won distinction for their charge, driving the enemy from the works
in their front. Afterwards his men carried him around on their shoulders, shouting:
"Three cheers for Old One Wing." The brigade was then assigned to Robert
Hoke's division, and reinforced Robert E. Lee at at Turkey Hill during the Battle
of Cold Harbor, where they repulsed the Union assaults on June 3rd, and afterward
were engaged in a sharpshooting fight along the line. Lee, believing Ulysses S.
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 River, as he believed
Grant would attack Richmond from the rear. Lee then sent Martin's brigade to
Petersburg. During the siege, 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. After he had left the Army of Northern
Virginia, Lee stated that "General Martin is one to whom North Carolina owes a
debt she can never repay." Martin surrendered the Army of Western North Carolina
in Waynesville, North Carolina on May 6, 1865. This was the last organized
Confederate force remaining in the state.
Post War life
After the War ended Martin was financially ruined, and studied law, and practiced it
professionally in Asheville for the remainder of his life. Martin died on October 4, 1878
and is buried in Asheville's Riverside Cemetery.
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