Martin Davis Hardin


Martin Davis Hardin was born in Jacksonville, Illinois, June 26, 1837.  He was the grandson of U. S. Senator Martin Davis Hardin of Kentucky and the son of Major General John J. Hardin, Illinois Militia, who was killed at the battle of Buena Vista in the Mexican War while commanding the 1st Illinois Volunteer Infantry. Young Hardin was graduated from West Point in 1859 in a class which included the Confederate cavalry leader "Fightin'" Joe Wheeler. After some routine service as a lieutenant of artillery in Oregon, Hardin embarked upon a combat career in the Civil War which has few parallels in the annals of the army for gallantry, wounds sustained, and the obscurity into which he had lapsed a generation before his death. In the Peninsular campaign he acted as aide to Henry J. Hunt, chief of George B. McClellan's reserve artillery; was wounded twice at Second Manassas; commanded the 12th Pennsylvania Reserve Volunteers as colonel; was disabled by his wounds for various intervals from August, 1862, until June, 1863; commanded his regiment with distinction in the battle of Gettysburg and a brigade of the V Corps during the ensuing operations of Bristoe Station and Mine Run. That December, while inspecting his picket line near Catlett's Station on the Orange and Alexandria Railroad, he was bushwhacked by Rebel guerrillas and lost his left arm. He returned to duty and in the spring of 1864 sustained another wound at the crossing of the North Anna during U. S. Grant's push toward Richmond. While convalescing he commanded the Washington defenses during Jubal Early's raid in July and continued in this command until the end of the war. Hardin received the regular rank of brigadier general of volunteers to rank from July 2, 1864, and at various stages all of the brevets through brigadier general in the Regular Army. In 1866 he was made major of the 43rd Infantry but four years later was retired as a brigadier general "for disability from wounds and loss of an arm in battle." Only thirty-three at this time, he studied law and practiced his profession in Chicago for a number of years. In later life he devoted much time to the affairs of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion and to writing, finally lapsing into total obscurity. He died in Saint Augustine, Florida, on December 12, 1923, one of the last survivors of the general officers on either side, and was buried in the National Cemetery there.

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