During that rebellion over 1,000 Canadians were rounded up, some for just attending rallies or signing petitions for a change in government. To fink on your neighbours at that time, you could get a portion of their wealth seized by the authorities. Being on the wrong side left you in jail for weeks... or years in some cases. Twenty nine were less lucky and apparently hanged. Fifty eight were deported to Australia. The McMahons had to get out of town and so off to Pennsylvannia they fled. They took Martin with them of course. History books tell us he was only 3 weeks old. But a careful search by a Victoria Genealogist has found christening documents that show he was at least one year old when the above was going on and before all fled to the US.
The family would later relocate to New York and soon two more boys would be born. All would get a great education in Fordham and would enjoy excellent carreers in the military when the Civil War broke out. Thomas would become a lawyer in New York and would also serve as the Private Secretary to the Postmaster General. At the same time he would take some legal training then head off to Buffalo to take even more before finally being appointed to the bar as a lawyer. A promotion at the PO would result in Martin's relocation to PO to San Fancisco. But then The Civil War started. Martin, like his father and a brother would each raise army units, Martin's of course being in California but a brother and his father raise units in NY. Both brothers would serve in one of the units.. .and both ultimately commanded it.
Martin's unit was the first Cavalry unit raised in the war anywhere along the Pacific Coast. His popularity resulted in his election to the rank of Captain. But he would be soon upset that his unit would not be alowed to travel east to the front lines and had to stay in California as a state unit, so that other Regular Force soldiers could be shipped off. Matin was not happy with this and so he resigned his commission and headed off to DC were he pretty soon joined another volunteer force, was immediately given his rank back and also got appointed as the Aide-de-Camp for none other than General George McClelland head of the Army of the Potomac. By war's end this Private to Captain would end up working directly for three different generals, have four brevet promotions due to bravery and have several Mentions in Dispatch for his heroism before the war ended and at that time he would be wearing the rank of a Major General. By then he also particpated in every battle the Army of the Potomac fought in.
This picture shows a pontoon bridge which could be set up in fairly quick order to allow passage over the river of creek or valley etc. A "train" consists of many wagons that would be pulled by oxen, as pictured in bottom left, with each carrying a small wooden boat. These were 5" wide and 21" long and could be lashed together or separated as above, with materials fasten on top to build a temporary roadway that could be lifted after they cross, or just left in place.
They were obviously close friends throughout the war and after, and in 1885, when McClelland died, one of the five generals acting as a pall bearer was McMahon.
After the war McMahon wrote at least two books about his war experiences. He would also be oft quoted remarking on the death of another general that he served under.. John Sedgwick.
At one point when snipper fire was quite heavy he turned to his general and asked that Segwick not expose himself so much to enemy fire and to take cover more often. As he was saying this one of the soldiers nearby said that the eneny could not hit an elephant from that distance. The next thing heard was a whistling, then a thug, and then the general fell into McMahon's arms... quite dead and pulled McMahon to the ground with him. On another occassion he would later note that with regards to the battle at Cold Harbour... it was the worst eight minutes of the war. Total losses for both sides amounted to over 7,000 soldiers.
Martin Thomas McMahon had as colourful and rich a career after his military service. In 1866 he would start a 2 year term as the corporate council for the city of New York. During this time he would become one of the 12 founders of the third oldest society in the US today..the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the Unites States.
There are possibly as many as 2 million stamp collectors in Canada. I'd bet just a few dozen know that this man was a Canadian.
In the mid 1880's McMahon was earning about $6,000 a year as a US Marshall in New York City. In 1891 he would be finally awarded his Medal of Honor for actions almost 30 years earlier. In the mid 1890's he was serving as a Judge of the General Sessions Courts. This saw him presiding over a murder trial in 1896.
McMahon would also serve four terms in the US Congress and also as a state senator.
General McMahon died in April of 1906 and is buried at Arlington. He was born back in 1837, on 21 March, and that was 176 years ago tomorrow.