Monday, June 7, 2010

Amanuensis Monday: Pension Application of John Martin, Jr. 1762-1840

The Patriot

If you've ever seen the movie "The Patriot" with Mel Gibson, then you've seen a wonderful and exciting portrayal of some of the patriots who served in South Carolina in the Revolutionary War. The movie is special to me because not only do I adore Mel Gibson but his character in this movie is of one of those Generals my ancestor served under and for some reason the writer, instead of calling Gibson by the name of  Francis Marion, calls him by my ancestor's surname "Martin", which I've found a bit puzzling. Brigadier General Francis Marion was also known as the "Swamp Fox" and I remember Walt Disney had a TV series by that name between 1959-1961 which my brothers and I watched faithfully.

NOTE: Upon further research it seems the character of Benjamin Martin (Mel Gibson) in the movie was actually a combination of several South Carolina Patriots including Marion, Thomas Sumter, and Andrew Pickens.

This pension application transcribed below mentions some pretty famous people (but weren't they all?) and makes me proud of my ancestor John Martin, Jr. who, at the age of 17, served as a substitute in place of his father who was drafted at the age of 45.  He entered the service on January 1, 1779 and was last discharged from the service on or about April of 1781 (based on historical accounts of the siege of 96, during which he was discharged).

(For my family: John Martin, Jr. is the maternal great grandfather of Sarah Frances Davis Wallen, wife of Oliver Morton Wallen, my great grandparents.)

Pension Application of John Martin, Jr.

Page 1:

Service: South Carolina, Martin, John
S. 15935 (pension number)

Page 2:

Court the 21st day of October 1833
Teste J.W.S. Morrison D. C.

And the said court do hereby disclose their opinions, after investigation of the matter, and after putting the intense questioning described by the War Department, that the above named applicant was a Revolutionary soldier and served as he states. And the court further certifies that it appears to them that Issac Chrisman who has signed the proceeding certificate is a clergy man resident in the county of Lee and that James Allen who has signed the same, is a resident in the County of Lee and is a credible person and that their testimony is entitled to credit.

Virginia, Lee County Court
I Alexander W. Mills, Clerk of Court of Lee County, do hereby certify that the foregoing contains the original proceedings of the said court in the matter of the application of John Martin for a pension.

In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal of office, this 28th day of October, 1833 in the 58th year of the commonwealth.

Alexander W. Mills
Clerk of County

Address to
Colonel John Ollsaup
Lee C.H.V.

John Martin Virginia 29058

Page 3

At a court begun and held for Lee County at the courthouse thereof on Monday the 21st day of October 1833.
Declarations in order to obtain benefits of the act of Congress proceedings June 7, 1832.

On this 21st day of October 1833 personally appeared in open court, before the court of Lee County, in the state of Virginia, now sitting, John Martin resident of said county, age 71 years, who being first duly sworn, according to law, on his oath, made the following declarations, in order to obtain the benefits of the act of Congress passed June 7, 1832. That he entered the service of the United States in the Revolutionary War, under the following named officers and served as herein stated towit, that he enlisted as a substitute for his father (who was drafted at about 45 years of age) in a company commanded by Capt. Charles Sexton in the Regiment commanded by Col. James Williams in the Militia of South Carolina and was marched by Capt. Sexton to the Savannah River opposite to Augusta in Georgia, where the British troops were stationed and was placed in the Regt. commanded by Lieut. Col. Hayse. General Williamson being the chief in command, after remaining sometime on the Savannah, we were reinforced by the command of Genl. Ashe of the North Carolina troops, with 9 month men, who crossed the river in pursuit of the British when they left Augusta and overtaking them at Briar Creek, they gave him a signal defeat according to the recollection of this applicant this battle was fought on the 5th or 6th of March, 1779 and a few days after the battle, this applicant with his Regiment left Savannah for the post of 96 as a guard given about 242 British, Hessians and Tories arriving with them at the post of 96 about the 12th of March 1779 where they were guarded untill this applicant left the service about the first of April following being discharged before the end of his enlistment, (which was for six months) on account of having the ague and fever. The applicants service commenced on this expedition about the 1st of January 1779 and he was discharged after having served about three months or a little upwards. That in the month of June 1779 this applicant again enlisted for a term of three months as a substitute for one Joel Ratliff in a company commanded by Capt. Greer in the same South Carolina regiment of militia commanded by Col. James Williams and was marched by Capt. Greer from 96 District where the applicant resided, passing by the Eutaw Springs to Bullswamp near Orangeburg where we were stationed about two weeks on our way to Stono but hearing at Bullswamp that the British had returned from Stono to Sullivan Island we were again marched home from Bullswamp and discharged after a service of about six weeks and held as minute men to serve out the term of our enlistment whenever called upon. That in the month of August following the applicant with his company who had been discharged with him as minute men were called upon to go on an expedition against the Cherokee Indians. Capt. Greer still in command of the company. This expedition was commanded by Genl. Williamson and was composed of not more probably than five or six hundred men, among whom were a company of regulars commanded by Capt. Tutt. We marched over the mountains to the Indian towns called the over hill towns, which we destroyed and after destroying also their corn and provisions, again marched home, without encountering any of the Indians in battle. On this expedition this applicant served out the balance of his three months tour of enlistment and received a regular discharge therefore. That in the month of October in the year 1779 as well as this applicant now recollects, he entered the service as a volunteer to go against the British at the siege of Savannah. On this service the applicant started from his residence in the District of 96, in a company commanded by Capt. Davis who marched us to Savannah passing the post of 96, through the Cherokee ponds and crossing the Savannah River passed through Augusta and by Briar Creek where Genl. Ashe had been defeated on the Savannah. When we arrived at Savannah, we joined the main army under the command of Genl. Lincoln and on the day of battle was put under the immediate command of Genl. Francis Marion. The other principal officers of the American army at this place were Col. Parker commanding a regiment of regulars from Va. Count Pulaski, a polander, who was wounded in the Battle and died 4 days afterwards and the French Commander of the fleet, the Count D' Estague. In the battle this applicants Capt. Davis was wounded and died of his wounds in three days after the Battle. Sergeant Jasper of Marion's Corps was also killed in the action, very much regretted by the whole corps. The assault issued in a severe defeat to the Americans who had raise the siege leaving Savannah in the possession of the British Provost, as well as the applicant recollects, being their commander. The applicant was marched home from Savannah by the Lieut. commanding the company, whose name he does not now remember, and was discharged after having served on this expedition a little over two months. That in the month of May or June in the year 1781, this applicant again enlisted as a volunteer in a company of volunteers commanded by Capt. William Harris, Lewis Sexton being one of the subordinate officers of the company and marched to the aid of Genl. Green at the siege of 96. The applicant remained in Genl. Green's army during the siege and the battle of 96 and untill the seige was raised after the defeat of Genl. Green. In this service the applicant was in the regiment commanded by Col. Hayse of the South Carolina Militia and served about six weeks when he was discharged in the siege of 96. Genl. Green was aided by Cols. Lee and Washington of the light horse. For this last service the applicant does not remember that he ever attained a discharge in writing. For the other services enumerated, he has written discharges which being then but a boy, he deposited with his father and knows not what has become of them since, as he left the neighborhood of his father shortly after the close of the war and settled in a distant part of the country, living first about four years in the county of Hawkins in now State of Tennessee, and since about forty two years at his present residence in this county.

He hereby relinquishes every claim whatever to a pension or annuity, except the present, and declares that his name is not on the pension roll of the agency of any state.

Sworn to and subscribed this day and year aforesaid.

Teste J. W. S. Morison D. C.      John Martin (X - His signature)

We Issac Chrisman, a clergyman, residing in the county of Lee, and James Allen resident in the same, hereby certify that we are well acquainted with John Martin who has subscribed and sworn to the above declaration, that we believe him to be seventy one years of age, that he is reputed and believed in the neighborhood where he resides to have been a soldier of the revolution and we concur in that opinion.

Sworn to and subscribed in open court: Issac Chrisman
James Allen
  General Nathaniel Greene

Charles Sexton (Saxon) and his son Lewis were both officers in the American Revolution serving from 96 District.  Charles later became a justice of the peace and is referred to as Charles Saxon Esquire in the census of 1790.  Their place of residence was near the village of Laurens in present day Laurens County.  Charles Saxon was a brother-in-law of Daniel Martin of Laurens County according to Christine South Gee in her book "Some of the Descendants of Daniel Martin of Laurens County, South Carolina".

James Williams was a native of Virginia who settled on Little River. James helped keep the Loyalist cause in check by his actions in the early part of the war.  He was killed at the battle of Kings Mountain, under suspicious circumstances after falling into disfavor with his troops and those of the over-the-mountain men.  It has been suggested that he was shot by patriots angry at his actions shortly before the battle.  Joseph Hays served as second in command to Williams in most engagements and succeeded him  after Kings Mountain.

Andrew Williamson was a major at the post of 96 until September 26, 1778 when he was promoted to Brigadier General.  He later took protection from the crown and sat out the remainder of the war.

In his two volume work  "The History of  South Carolina in the American Revolution"  , Edward McGrady list Laurens, Newberry and Union  counties as part of the "Forks of the Saluda District" but 96 District is widely regarded as containing those counties.  The district was named for the post of Ninety - Six, which was thought to be ninety six miles from the trading post at the Cherokee Village of Keowee.  Before the formation of counties in South Carolina, these were military and civil districts. In McGradys' account of this battle in vol. #1 of his book, General Benjamin Lincoln of Massachusetts had taken command of the southern Department on September 16, 1778, after Gates' defeat at Camden Court House. General Ashe had come to his assistance from North Carolina and becoming separated from the main body of troops by the Savannah River he was defeated by General Prevost with the loss of 150 men killed in battle, 227 captured and an unaccounted number drowned in the river during the rout.  Of the 1500 men in his command only 450 remained after the battle to regroup.

Sergeant Jasper was killed while storming the redoubt at Savannah, while carrying the colors of the Second Regiment of the South Carolina Militia.

About Amanuensis Monday: John Newmark, who writes the TransylvanianDutch blog started a Monday Blog Theme called "Amanuensis Monday". John defines "amanuensis" as "a person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another."



  1. Hi,

    I'm also related to John Martin of Lee County Va through his son Anson Cook Martin b.1810 -> John Martin b.1833 -> Alexander E. Martin b.1864 -> Margaret Martin b. 1888 -> Clifford Estep b.1908 -> my dad Ron Estep b.1939.

    I was wondering what your thoughts were on John's parents. I see you have a junior after his name in some places. How did you come up with this? I also have a Martin y dna profile on FTDNA. I got it from my grandfathers 1st cousin who is a Martin of the same line as me. I'd love to here if you have more info. feel free to contact me at


    Steven Estep

    1. Hi Steven! In his will, our ancestor calls himself "John Martin, Jr." You can see the transcription here: