Albert G. Martin papers  1863-1884
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Martin, Albert G., b. ca.1845

Rank : Private

Regiment : 16th New York Cavalry Regiment. Co. B (1863-1865)

Service : 1863 May-?

When the Martin family moved from Ontario, Canada, in 1863, it seemed unlikely that their 18-year old son, Albert, would enlist in the army. In May, however, Albert rashly ran off to Plattsburg, N.Y., and enlisted in Company B of the 16th New York Cavalry. Despite feeling considerable remorse at abandoning his parents, and despite desperately regretting his decision to enlist, Albert accompanied his regiment to the seat of war in Virginia, where his unit found itself in a hostile countryside largely controlled by Mosby's Partisan Rangers.

The 16th N.Y. Cavalry did not become one of the more illustrious units in the Union army. At one point, two months after the regiment was mustered in, Company B had been reduced from 100 effectives to only 48, losing most of these men through desertion. Many deserters, Martin noted, were men who had a habit of enlisting in order to claim bounty money, and then simply skipping out on their obligations. In a different vein, the war with Mosby seems particularly to have affected the men of the regiment, with Martin and his comrades becoming as brutal and callous as the guerrillas. In one incident with Mosby's rangers, Martin coolly recorded of his company: "after a short Fight they licked them taking eight Prisoners and they finished there breakfast and then they took the Prisoners and tied them to the trees and shot them on the spot they dont allway shoot the Prisoners but do some times for they deserve it they aint Fighting for the South only for Plunder" (1863 August 12).

Martin's service with the 16th continued through the summer of 1863, but on October 1st, in a small skirmish at Lewinsville, Va., Martin and nine others were recorded as missing in action. In November, Martin finally wrote to his mother to inform her of his capture and his good treatment at Belle Isle Prison in Richmond, but from this point onward, Martin disappears from the record. In a letter written in 1884, probably in relation to a pension application, Martin's mother seems to imply that Albert died in the service. However, she is not listed in the state records as a pension recipient for that year.