Franklin Martindale, the Burning of Bedford, and the Lee Family, pt. 3

This post is part of a three-part series. See part one and part two here.

Following the burning of Bedford, Henrietta Lee and her family refugeed in Clarke County, Virginia, to the south to stay with their cousins. The family bounced around the county looking for a more permanent place to rent.

Netta Lee (right) and her friend “Pink” Boteler.

The war did not escape them, though. Young Netta Lee recorded in her diary on August 10, 1864, “We thought this place was entirely out of the path of either army, but they [Federals] are pouring down upon us like locusts from every quarter…” Netta lived “with my way pockets on,” she wrote, which included two pistols and stores of medicine. She declared herself “ready for any man who puts his hand on me. I can’t run or walk very far, but I can shoot.”

As the weeks passed, Netta’s “trials” continued, but those of September 5, 1864, “have surpassed them all…” That day, a Federal staff officer arrived at Netta’s temporary residence, Mansfield, to ask Netta’s cousin if the front yard could be used for the headquarters of General Alfred Torbert. The officers engaged the Lees in pleasant conversation on the front porch. Her family called for Netta to come down. When she walked onto the porch, she “met face to face that creature, Martindale.”

Unaware of the familiarity between the two, Netta’s cousin introduced the young girl to the seated Federal officers: “Miss Lee, Captains Martindale and Prentiss.” Netta remembered, “I bowed low to Captain Prentiss; then I stood erect and faced Martindale, my hands clenched, head high and lips parted, though out of them not a word came. I held Martindale’s eye, looking steadily into his face, which at first turned crimson, then deadly pale, as he quailed before my gaze. All eyes were upon us. The craven moved uneasily, then dropped his eyes to the floor. Without uttering a word, I turned my back on him and stepped into the hall. Then my power of speech returned to me; I felt an irresistible desire to make him recognize me before all the company. So I faced him a second time. His eyes could not look me in the face; his color changed from crimson to a livid white… Quivering with pent-up emotion and outraged feeling, I could only curl my lips with scorn and again turn my back on the man.”

Martindale had received verbal abuse from Henrietta Bedinger Lee in her letter of July 20. Now, Netta stared with all that stifled hatred straight at Martindale.

When Torbert learned of Martindale’s actions at Fountain Rock and Bedford, he said, “Captain Martindale does not belong to my staff; he was ordered to my service as a guide through this country, to which I am a stranger.”

This meeting on the porch of Mansfield was the last time the Lee family came eye to eye with Captain Franklin Martindale. Netta Lee and her family eventually returned to Shepherdstown. “Surrounded by the scenes of her childhood,” she lived at Leeland with her husband (whom she married in 1865) and children. While the loss of Bedford was a great one, she and her family were able to recover.

Martindale’s story is difficult to piece together. He ended up in California. By 1896, he was “an inmate of the Soldiers’ Home” in Santa Monica, California, from February to October 1896. He was described as being “in hard luck…” At 9:30 on the morning of October 3, 1896, he fell from “the cars of the electric road at Ocean Park” and landed on the station platform. Martindale died 90 minutes later. An empty bottle of strychnine (a kind of pesticide) “was found on him, and the verdict was one of suicide.” Franklin Gray Martindale was 61-62 years old. His remains rest in Los Angeles National Cemetery. He left behind a widow and three children.

The grave of Franklin G. Martindale in Los Angeles National Cemetery (findagrave,com).

The different paths that Martindale and Netta Lee, the recorder of much of the Bedford drama in July 1864, were divergent after their fateful meetings that summer. Lee’s life ended peacefully, while Martindale’s ended in tragedy.

2 Responses to Franklin Martindale, the Burning of Bedford, and the Lee Family, pt. 3

  1. In my war, the Iraq war, it was also tempting for some soldiers to disregard the rules of war. But, there were many officers and NCO’s urging the soldiers to go home with honor. Every war has its temptations.

  2. Pingback: Emerging Civil War

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