John Goodwin Martin

Company K, 122nd Illinois Volunteer Infantry

John Goodwin Martin was born in Trigg County, Kentucky, on April 15, 1822. In 1831, his family left Trigg County and settled in Alhambra, Madison County, Illinois later that year. He married Martha Jane Randle on March 26, 1846, at Alhambra. John was described as a sober man with no "vicious habits". On February 28, 1848, John received fifty acres from his parents because his father was too sick to take care of his farm. Although John lived in Alhambra for most of his life, he and his family did move to Palmyra, Macoupin County, Illinois, just before the Civil War, and resided there until the 1870's. On August 9, 1862, John enlisted in Company K of the 122nd Regiment of Illinois Volunteers at Carlinville, Macoupin County, Illinois. At the time, he was described as being forty years old, five feet seven and three quarters inches tall, with a fair complexion and auburn hair. He was mustered in on September 4, 1862. On January 10, 1863, at the Obine River near Crocket's Station, Tennessee, John was moving camp equipment across the river along with the rest of the regiment, and he became exhausted from overexertion. He then suffered from exposure to the rain and cold, and became chilled because he had no fire. After this exposure, he contracted what seemed like a bad cold, but persisted for three months, and was later diagnosed as chronic bronchitis. John was so sick that he was unfit for duty, and remained at Corinth, Tennessee during this time. He continued to suffer from this bronchitis for the remainder of his service. On February 25, 1863, he was promoted to Corporal by order of Lieutenant Colonel Drish. The 122nd Illinois Infantry fought in the battles at Blakely, Alabama; Tupelo, Mississippi; Nashville, Tennessee; and Mobile, Alabama. During the Battle of Tupelo, Mississippi, on July 14, 1864, John was slightly wounded in the face and breast. He was reported sick at Jefferson Barracks during October, 1864. He was mustered out at Mobile, Alabama after the close of the war on July 15, 1865.

On August 11, 1865, Dr. John Binney (John's brother-in-law) was called to John's house. John was experiencing a smothering sensation. Dr. Binney administered the following treatment sedatives, expectorants, tonics, and bismuth, together with counter irritation to the chest, and occasional inhalation of creosote or turpentine, and a nourishing diet. He also prepared a cough syrup that John could take whenever necessary. John spent many nights sleeping upright in a chair so that he could breathe.

With this illness, John was not able to do the manual labor of a healthy man, so a pension of four dollars per month was issued to him beginning July 16, 1865. Since he could not support his family on this pension, he was put on a pauper's list, and given financial aid by Macoupin County. On February 5, 1878, the pension was increased to eight dollars per month, allowing him to support his family without county aid. It was further increased as follows to twelve dollars per month on April 25, 1888, to seventeen dollars per month on June 16, 1897, and finally to twenty four dollars per month on September 7, 1898. Additional requests for raises were denied.

Later in life, the bronchitis was so bad that John would cough until he passed out. Since his doctors could not effectively treat his condition, he treated it by smoking mullen leaves (a local plant) which he picked, dried, and smoked in his pipe. He could not have known that smoke actually worsens bronchitis. Bronchitis caused the exhaustion which finally killed him, but he lived a very long life even by today's standards. He died on June 12, 1907 at the age of 85. He is buried in a small, secluded cemetery in Alhambra, called the Harris Cemetery.

John's entire family contributed to the Madison County History book written in 1882. John provided information about his father, and several family members contributed by buying copies of the book. John was a good family man, and loved his grandchildren dearly. In 1895, he took his grandson, Floyd, on a train trip to New Douglas, where he bought him his first winter coat. John and his wife, Martha, also raised their grandson, George Martin, who was born to their daughter Matilda out of wedlock.

The following is an affidavit dictated by John Martin and written down by a notary public. It shows his manner of speaking.

"I have know claimant (Jackson Taylor) for the past ten years, and the last seven years I have been with him very frequently, scarcely ever missing a week, and have heard him complain very often with his back and head, and he has often told me that if he did not have to work to support his family that he certainly would quit and go to bed, but he was compelled to go as long as he could work at all. But in reality, I don't believe he is able to do more than one half of an ordinary man's labor if his living did not depend entirely upon it.
I am 69 years old, have always been a farmer until lately retired from business on account of my age and poor health, have lived within three miles of claimant for the past seven years, and in the year of 1888 he lived in the same town with me, then removed to the country again about three miles out of town. Then in 1890, he came back to same place, and still resides near me where I see him almost every day, and have reasons to know of his disability."

Submitted by Eric LaVelle

Return to our Civil War Photo Album  * * * Return to The Illinois Civil War Project