John Donelson Martin

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John Donelson Martin was born in Davidson County, Tennessee, on August 18, 1830, the son of James Glasgow and Catherine (Donelson) Martin. His father was a wealthy Nashville merchant, nephew and intimate of President Andrew Jackson; various other Donelson relatives held distinguished positions in society and government. At the age of sixteen the younger Martin fought in the Mexican War as a private in Company D of the 3rd Tennessee Volunteers. Returning home, Martin attended the University of Pennsylvania, graduating in 1852 with a degree in medicine. He settled in Memphis and became a wealthy and prominent physician, surgeon at Memphis Hospital,

and professor at Memphis Medical College. In 1858 Martin was appointed president of the Memphis Board of Health. In 1857 he married into a prominent north Mississippi family and two years later retired from medicine to manage his Mississippi plantations.

Doctor Martin entered the war as the captain of the "Hickory Rifles," Company E of the 154th Tennessee. In May, 1861, Martin was elected major of the 154th. In July, 1861, President Davis, who had received reports praising Martin's abilities and was knowledgeable of the influence of Martin's family, authorized him to raise a regiment of infantry. Within a month the 25th Mississippi Infantry (also known as the 1st Mississippi ValleyŚlater renamed the 2nd ConfederateŚa unit with companies from Tennessee and Mississippi) was organized. Martin was commissioned colonel of the 25th on January 28, 1862, to rank from August 10, 1861. He commanded a two-regiment brigade at Columbus, Kentucky, in 1861 and led his regiment at the Battle of Belmont. At Shiloh Martin took command of Brigadier General John S. Bowen's brigade upon the latter's wounding; his leadership of that brigade was so outstanding that he was recommended for promotion. The 25th/2nd was disbanded on May 8, 1862, upon the expiration of the soldiers' terms of enlistment. Martin, now without a regiment, was assigned to command the post of Meridian, Mississippi. That August President Davis placed Martin, "who possessed rare talents and untiring energy," in command of the 4th Brigade of the 1st Division, Army of the West. Martin's four regiments of Mississippi and Alabama troops were heavily engaged at the Battle of Iuka, supporting the Confederate attack. On the first day of the Battle of Corinth on October 3, 1862, Colonel Martin, whose "gallant bearing. .. had won for him a place in the heart of every Mississippian," was mortally wounded leading a charge against the outer line of the Union works. Originally buried in Mississippi, his remains were reintened in 1874 in Elmwood Cemetery, Memphis.

CV has Martin appointed brigadier general from Mississippi in 1865, three years after his death. He is also called a general in SHSP, perhaps based on Union officers' reports of the Battle of Corinth that, quoting newspapers and prisoners, call him general. On April 29, 1862, Major General William J. Hardee promoted Martin to the rank of acting brigadier general. Major General Sterling Price's report of the battle, however, makes it clear that he died a colonel.

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Reference:  More Generals in Gray.  Bruce S. Allardice.  A companion volume to Generals in Gray.  Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge. LA.