John Henry Martindale

John Henry Martindale, the son of a five-term Whig Congressman, was born, March 20, 1815, in Sandy Hill (now Hudson Falls), New York. He was appointed to West Point in 1831 and was graduated in the class of 1835, ranking third. Disappointed at not being posted to the Corps of Engineers, he resigned his commission early in 1836 without ever having served with troops. He then studied law and, after admission to the bar in 1838, commenced practice in Batavia, New York, where he served two terms as district attorney; after 1851, he practiced in Rochester. A decade later he was one of the advocates of the use of Regular Army officers as drill instructors and the immediate graduation of the first and second classes at West Pointóboth recommendations were adopted by the War Department. On August 9, 1861, he was commissioned brigadier general of volunteers and the following spring served throughout the Peninsular campaign as commander of a brigade in Porter's division of Heintzelman's III Corps. Martindale was investigated by a court of inquiry after Porter charged that he had declared that he would surrender rather than desert his wounded after Malvern Hill. After acquittal and restoration to duty, he acted as military governor of Washington, D. C, until the spring of 1864 when he led a division of "Baldy" Smith's XVIII Corps at Cold Harbor, Bermuda Hundred, and Petersburg. He subsequently commanded the XVIII Corps for a time, but was forced to resign because of his health as of September 13, 1864. At the end of the war Martindale was brevetted major general of volunteers to rank from March 13, 1865, paradoxically enough, "for gallant and distinguished service at the battle of Malvern Hill, Virginia."  Upon his retirement General Martindale returned to his law practice in Rochester, and for years thereafter he was prominent in handling personal injury cases against the New York Central Railroad. He was elected attorney general of New York, serving from 1867 until 1869, and was vice-president of the National Asylum for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers for eleven years. In the course of a trip abroad for his health, he died in Nice, France, December 13, 1881, and was buried in Batavia.

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Reference: Generals in Blue. Lives of the Union Commanders by Ezra J. Warner. Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge.