Revolutionary Veterans IV: The Tragic Fate of James Marle

James Marle, a young man who enlisted as a fifer but was instead given a musket, shows the other reality that many veterans faced when they left Maryland. Originally from Baltimore County, Marle joined the military to be a musician when he was about fourteen years old. However, his height made him stand out from his peers, and his superiors gave him a rifle instead of a fife. His stepfather likely did not approve of this, and the man hired a replacement for Marle within two years of his enlistment.

Even so, Marle was not done in the service; he joined the Anne Arundel County militia and remained a member of their ranks for the rest of the conflict. He stayed in Maryland for several years after the war ended, but he eventually relocated to Loudoun County, Virginia. Unlike many of the other veterans, Marle did not find success in his new home. After struggling to find financial means, he was homeless and lived in a poor house for several years. Tragically, he was denied a pension because he had no documentary evidence of his service.

James Marle is the only example in this study of a veteran who completely failed to find economic and social success in the post-war world, though there were likely many others like him. He came from a similar background to the other five veterans, and his family problems compounded the matter. Marle’s enlistment may have been an attempt at escaping his situation, but it was unsuccessful as he was removed from the army. His migration may have been another attempt at escape, but he ended up in a worse position than he had been in at any time before. Though many veterans were able to succeed in the post-Revolution world, Marle did not.

Read more about Marle here.


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