Yorktown effectively sealed the Continental victory in the American Revolution, though the war did not formally end until 1783. After being discharged, Joseph Martin settled in Maine, near the mouth of the Penobscot River, on land that would become the town of Prospect. He served as a selectman and justice of the peace and as Prospect’s town clerk for more than two decades. In 1818, Martin applied for and was granted a pension for needy veterans offered by the federal government, declaring that “by reason of age and infirmity” he was unable to work and support his wife and five children.
In 1830, at the age of 70, Martin published his diaries, under the title “A Narrative of Some of the Adventures, Dangers and Sufferings of a Revolutionary Soldier, Interspersed with Anecdotes of Incidents that Occurred Within His Own Observation.” Published anonymously, as was customary at the time, the book sold poorly, and was largely forgotten by the time Martin died in 1850. More than a century later, however, the work was rediscovered and republished as “Private Yankee Doodle.” Though Martin’s account was often exaggerated and embellished (at times he recounted events he could not possibly have witnessed firsthand or improved the outcomes of incidents), it stands as the most graphic, vivid and detailed first-person account of the life of a Continental soldier during the American Revolution.