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Joseph plumb martin has authored the auto bibliography Ordinary Courage: the revolutionary war adventures which give the reader a clear portrait of revolutionary war from a normal soldier's perspectives. Martin was raised by his maternal grandparents from an age of six on their Milford, Connecticut farm. During this period martin was able to get a well rounded education and at the age of fifteen Martin wanted to join the military after the battles of Lexington and concord. However his grandfather was opposed to martin joining the military at the age of sixteen. In the year 1776 plumb martin's grandfather granted him permission to join the military. Martin joined the continental army at the age of sixteen as a volunteer for a period of six months. This was the period before the British long island campaign. During his time as a volunteer he was assigned duty at the New York city area. However, his tour of duty was terminated just before the battles of Trenton and Princeton and he returned home as a sixteen year old veteran. However, martin was not content with his short duration of service as an army member therefore in the 1777 he reenlisted into the continental army where he served in the 8th Connecticut regiment under the command of General James Varnum.
The narrative offers the reader a first perspective view of a normal soldier who narrates his experience as a soldier. During his first task during the brief period of six months that he served in the 5th Connecticut regiment. Martin narrates how the soldiers without experience were ordered to defend the city of New York just before the British invasion. Plumb Martin explains that their group of soldiers who were referred to as raw soldiers could not defend the area efficiently. He explains that in the morning of fifteenth September, the British war ships attacked the American position. Plumb martin and his 500 comrades could not oppose the 4000 hessian troops and had to retreat. The fifth regiment did however engage in other successful battles such as the Harlem heights during the six months period.
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Plumb Martin joined the 8th Connecticut in 1777, which was a long term regiment. This was the first time that Washington had preferred the use of long term regiments as opposed to the short term units. Plumb Martin notes that the discipline of the continental veterans had enabled them to be successful in their endeavours. Of particular concern is the Monmouth and Yorktown campaign where the actual value of the role of the continental veterans is seen. After fighting the battles of German town and Fort Mifflin, martin enrolled for his first training as a soldier. Although he liked the training he recalls that he had to multi-task. Plump Martin notes "I was kept constantly, when off other duty, engaged in learning the Baron de Steuben's new Prussian exercise; it was a continual drill" (Martin 2008, 78).
The training Plumb Martin obtained during the Monmouth campaign enabled him to be transferred to the light infantry which generally allowed him to maintain contact with the British in order to reconniter them.
On one account in 1778 the British general Henry Clinton had to move his army to New York when the French declared war after the American victory of Saratoga. The British were after maintaining security in the home Island and securing their Caribbean possession. At this juncture general Charles lee organised the continental regiments including plumb Martins in a fight against the British.
These troops maintained their ground, till the whole force of the enemy that could be brought to bear had charged upon them through the fence; and after being overpowered by numbers and the platoon officers had given orders for their several platoons toleavethe fence, they had to force them to retreat, so eager were they to be revenged on the invaders of their country and rights. (p. 86).
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It was not an easy task working in the army because they were many times where they served their country without some of the basic needs such as food and shelter. However, the army still went on and fought because they were patriotic and aimed at achieving success even at the least likely situations. Martin states that
They [the mutineers] were truly patriotic; they loved their country, and they had already suffered everything short of death in its cause; and now, after such extreme hardships to give up all was too much, but to starve to death was too much also. ( pg 122)
Plumb martin notes that if the army had disintegrated then the revolutionary war would have been lost but they chose to remain together and fought throughout the course of the war.
The book is well organised and is able to give the reader a firsthand information of the revolutionary war. The progress of America and the progress in life of Plumb martin go hand in hand. In this book the history of the revolutionary war is captured in a raw form without much editing. The book has enabled me to learn the history of the revolutionary war and has helped me appreciate the role played by the dedicated American forces.
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