James Green Martin

Contributed by: Diane Siniard

Name: James Green Martin 
State Served: North Carolina  
Highest Rank: Brig-Gen  
Birth Date: 1819 
Death Date: 1878 
Birth Place: Elizabeth City, North Carolina 
Army: Confederacy  
Promotions: Promoted to Full Brig-Gen  
Biography: 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.

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

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

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

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