This is the third and last part of the Joseph Plumb Martin story – the Continental Army Private who recorded his experiences in a diary. He first titled it, “A Narrative of Some of the Adventures, Danger and Suffering of a Revolutionary Soldier, Interspersed with Anecdotes of Incidents that Occurred Within His Own Observation.” It didn’t sell well and fell from public attention. It was uncovered again in the 1960’s when it was renamed, “Private Yankee Doodle.”
It is unclear whether Plumb wrote his diary during or after his service in the War. He may have taken notes and filled them in later. What is certain is that he retired to Hallowell, Maine and had it published in 1830. By that time, he was 70 years old.
It is also certain from independent sources that Plumb was stationed at Valley Forge and served on the supply detachment that foraged the countryside. He also served at Fort Mifflin and at the Battle of Monmouth. In fact, he served right through to the end, commanding a fortifications platoon during the Battle and Siege of Yorktown.
Under any circumstances, Plumb provided us with a detailed and valuable account of the War as seen through the eyes of an everyday soldier, and we are indebted to him for that, as well as for his service.
Plumb and Pitcher
In June, 1777 Plumb found himself in the Battle of Monmouth. The fighting was fierce for the entire day. Observing the cannon fire being delivered by the Continentals, Plumb was eye-witness to an event that is now the stuff of Revolutionary War legend. He saw Molly Pitcher working a cannon and wrote his account of it:
“One little incident happened during the heat of the cannonade, which I was eye-witness to, and which I think would be unpardonable not to mention. A woman whose husband belonged to the artillery and who was then attached to a piece in the engagement, attended with her husband at the piece the whole time. While in the act of reaching a cartridge and having one of her feet as far before the other as she could step, a cannon shot from the enemy passed directly between her legs without doing any other damage than carrying away all the lower part of her petticoat…”
Plumb quotes her as having uttered a very salty remark at seeing the cannonball pass through with no damage, but I will leave that statement to your imagination.
If you wish to read more about Molly, click on the Sneak Preview tab above. Her story is the first chapter of my new book, Pilgrims To Patriots, A Grandfather Tells The Story.