Joseph Plumb Martin was born in western Massachusetts in 1760. His father was a pastor who often got in trouble for speaking his mind too freely. At the age of seven, Joseph was sent to live with his affluent grandfather.
When the war started in 1775 Martin chafed to enlist but he was too young. Many of Martin's friends had enlisted and Martin was quite susceptible to their peer pressure.
In June of 1776, at the age of 15, Martin, though wary of a long enlistment, decided "to take a priming before I took upon me the whole coat of paint for a soldier." Thus, much to the chagrin of his grandparents, Martin enlisted in for six months as a private in the Connecticut state troops.
After serving at the Battles of Brooklyn and White Plains on the side of the Patriots, the farm boy decided not to reenlist in December 1776. But a long winter at home proved too dull for the teenage veteran. He enlisted again in 1777, this time in Washington's Continental army, and served for the duration of the war, seeing action at a number of major battles
"The British had erected five batteries with six heavy guns in each and a bomb battery with three long mortars in it on the opposite side of the water, which separated the island from the main on the west, and which was but a short distance across. [Martin is referring to Carpenter's Island where the British employed six 24-pounders, an 8 in. Howitzer, and an 8 inch mortar included in the battery.] They had also a battery of six guns a little higher up the river, at a place called the Hospital Point. [usually referred to as Webb Point, it was near the confluence of the Schuylkill and Delaware Rivers.]
This is a short description of the place which I was destined, with a few others, to defend against whatever force, land or marine, the enemy might see fit to bring against it.
...Here I endured hardships sufficient to kill half a dozen horses. Let the reader only consider for a moment and he will still be satisfied if not sickened. In the cold month of November, without provisions, without clothing, not a scrap of either shoes or stockings to my feet or legs, and in this condition to endure a siege in such a place as that was appalling in the highest degree."
Selections from the Diary of Private Joseph Plumb Martin
Freedom comes at a cost...
Happy Fourth of July AMERICA!