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Elizabeth (Marshall) Martin 1725 ~ 1770


Nowhere in the history of the Revolution do we find greater piety and heroism displayed than in the life of Elizabeth Martin. Her maiden name was Elizabeth Marshall, and, a native of Carolina County, Virginia, she was probably one of the family from which descended Chief Justice Marshall, since of the same neighborhood After her marriage to Abram Martin she removed to his settlement bordering on the Indian nation, in what was called District "Ninety-six," in South Carolina. The country at that time was sparsely settled, most of its inhabitants being pioneers from other states. Their proximity to the Indians had caused the adoption of some of the latter's savage habits, and for a time life was very crude indeed. Yet this district was among the foremost in sending to the Revolutionary field its hearty and enterprising troops to oppose the British.

At the commencement of the contest Elizabeth Martin had nine children, seven of whom were sons old enough to bear arms. When the first call for volunteers sounded through the land the mother encouraged patriotic zeal in them. "Go, boys," she said, "fight for your country, fight till death if you must, but never let your country be dishonored. Were I a man I would go with you."

At another time when Colonel Cruger, commanding the British at Augusta, stopped with several British officers at her house for refreshment, and one of them asked how many sons she had, she answered, "Eight." To a question as to their whereabouts she replied promptly, "Seven of them are engaged in the service of their country." "Really, Madame," observed the officer sneeringly, "You have enough of them." "No, sir," retorted the matron, "I wish I had fifty."

At the time of the siege of Charleston the sound of the cannon could be heard clearly in that part of the state and Mrs. Martin knew they must come from the besieged city. As report after report reached her ears she became more and more fearful lest each sound might be the knell of her sons, three of whom were then in Charleston. Their wives were with her and shared the same heart-chilling fears. They stood still for a few minutes, each wrapped in her own painful and silent reflections. At length the mother, lifting her hands and eyes toward heaven, exclaimed fervently "Thank God they are the children of the Republic!" Of the seven patriot brothers six were spared through all the dangers of partisan war-fare in that region of dark and bloody ground. But the eldest, William M. Martin, was killed at the siege of Augusta, just after he had obtained a favorable position for his cannon by elevating it on one of the towers constructed by General Pickens. It is related that not long after his death a British officer, anxious to gratify his hatred of the Whigs by carrying fatal news of these gallant young men, called at the house of Mrs. Martin and asked if she had not a son in the army at Augusta. She replied in the affirmative. 'Then I saw his brains blown out on the field of battle," said this monster, who anticipated triumph in the tight of a parent's agony. The effect of the startling announcement was, however, other than he had expected. Terrible as was the shock and aggrieved by the ruthless cruelty with which her bereavement was made known, no woman's weakness was yet allowed to appear. After listening to the dreadful recital, the only reply made by Elizabeth Martin was, "He could not have died in a nobler cause." The evident chagrin of the officer as he turned and rode away was treasured as a family tradition.

Women of America

Source: The Part Taken by Women in American History, By Mrs. John A. Logan, Published by The Perry-Nalle Publishing Company, Wilmington, Delaware, 1912.


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