A Civil War Biography

Gilman Marston

Marston was born 20 August 1811 in Oxford, New Hampshire. He was brought up on his father's farm and educated in the local schools. He taught school in order to put himself through college, graduating from Dartmouth in 1837 then Harvard law in 1840. He was admitted to the bar in 1841 and established a law practice in Exeter, New Hampshire.

Marston entered politics in 1845 serving four one-year terms in the state legislature. He was a delegate to the New Hampshire constitutional convention in 1850. In 1858 he was elected as a member of the Republican party to the US House of Representatives from New Hampshire's 1st District. He served two terms from 4 March 1859 until 3 March 1863. His service in Congress was, however, interrupted by military service.

Marston helped recruit the 2nd New Hampshire Volunteers and was named the regiment's colonel. The 2nd NH was mustered into service on 4 June 1861 and saw its first action less than three weeks later at Bull Run on 21 June where Marston's arm was shattered. He would recover to lead the 2nd NH as part of the 1st Brigade of the 2nd Division of the III Corps during the peninsula campaign, at Second Bull Run, and Fredericksburg. Marston was promoted to brigadier general of volunteers on 29 November 1862, the appointment being approved the following April.

With military operations suspended following Fredericksburg Marston returned to his duties in Congress. On 26 July 1863, his term in Congress having expired, he was assigned to establish a prison camp at Point Lookout, Maryland with the 12th New Hampshire regiment and the remnants of his old 2nd NH which took 60% casualties at Gettysburg. The duty at Point Lookout ended on 18 April 1864 and Marston and his command took part in the assault on Drury's Bluff. Marston was given command of the 1st Brigade of the 1st Division of the XVIII Corps which he commanded at Cold Harbor, in the trenches at Petersburg, and in the campaign north of the James River where Marston became ill. He left the army on sick leave.

Reelected to the US Congress from New Hampshire's 1st District Marston took his seat on 4 March 1865. He officially resigned his military commission on 20 April 1865. Failing in his reelection bid in November 1866, Marston left his seat in Congress on 3 March 1867 and returned to the practice of law. He declined an appointment as the first territorial governor of the Idaho Territory in 1870. He again served annual terms in the state legislature from 1872 through 1877 also serving as a delegate to the state constitutional convention of 1876. He served 5 biennial terms in the state legislature from 1879 until 1888. He was appointed to the US Senate by Governor Charles H. Sawyer to fill a vacancy until a successor could be elected. Marston's career as a US Senator lasted from 4 March 1889 until 18 June of that same year. He died in Exeter on 3 July 1890.

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