William Bruce Martin

(Pasquotank County)

Featured Character – 1864 Confederate Decline

Charge of the VMI Cadets at the Battle of New Market

Courtesy of Benjamin West Clinedinst, 1880, Virginia Military Institute Museum

Not long after his graduation from West Point in 1840, Elizabeth City native James Green Martin met and later married Mary Ann Murray Read of Delaware.  Since her husband spent long tours of duty at isolated army posts, Mary Ann Martin continued to live with her family in New Castle County, Delaware.  William Bruce Martin was born on September 18, 1846.  Once the army assigned Martin to long-term service on the Kansas frontier, his wife and children joined him at Fort Riley.  However, after North Carolina left the Union, Martin resigned his commission and returned to his home state.  He moved his family into a temporary home in Raleigh.  On January 6, 1862, William Bruce Martin enrolled at the Virginia Military Institute.  Although appointed a sergeant in the Corps of Cadets, Martin missed the Battle of New Market due to sickness.  Promoted to second lieutenant, he graduated ninth in the class of 1865.  He farmed, clerked in a store, and taught school for a time before studying law.  After earning his license, Martin moved to Norfolk and set up a practice.  He quickly inculcated himself with the port’s Democratic courthouse clique, serving as a councilman and city attorney.  In 1895, the Democratic legislature rewarded Martin by appointing him judge of the newly created Court of Law and Chancery.  William Bruce Martin served as a judge until his death on May 13, 1921.