Private Ephraim Marshall


We honor you Private 39 Ephraim Marshall of Co G 22nd Regiment of the United States Colored Infantry, who at age 23 enlisted in December 1863 in Northampton, N.J. and then joined for duty in Philadelphia and was honorably discharged in October 1865 in Texas.

Free born near Mount Holly around 1840, Ephraim Marshall most probably was first contracted as an indentured apprentice in the farming business as was his brother. Indentured apprenticeships were used to provide poor children with lodging, clothing, food, and sometimes education 40 in exchange for their labor. Parents could also benefit by receiving some income from such “bound-out” liaisons. My research of pension files indicate that these apprenticeships were practiced in the area. It is not clear if Ephraim’s parents were dead or alive or if only his mother was alive, but circumstances may have made it impossible for his family to support him.

Unfortunately the master as parent substitute notion seldom worked out as well as the master as employer. These relationships often left young boys unsupervised in their moral and intellectual development, and sometimes subjected them to a slavery condition, especially if the master was abusive. Such sad neglectful conditions led many youthful apprentices to “congregate upon the corners of streets, and [to spend time] in brawling, swearing, [committing] every species of crime.” Tim_18aHowever, society admonished apprentices to stick it out faithfully no matter what the situation and to avoid any vagrant and wandering habits by changing masters. By persevering to the end, boy apprentices would in the long run reap the reward of stability, “consistency and fidelity to the obligations of their boyhood”. 41 In fact a Charles, who was probably Ephraim’s brother, ran away from his farm and had a one cent bounty offered for his return. 42 Before and after the war, Ephraim also worked as a waiter and a laborer and went by the nickname of Eph.

During the war he was assigned to the Ambulance Corps and would have been in the same division as was Lewis B. Armstrong. Sometime in the fall of 1865, Private Ephraim Marshall became very ill. He was hospitalized in New Orleans with an unknown diagnosis. He never collected a bounty or back pay owed him from his military service. He married Charlotte Cole shortly after returning from the war. He fathered a son, Ephraim Marshall Jr., and a daughter who died early in life. He never saw his son grow up because he died, most probably around 1870 or in early 1870’s. Eph had at least one sister.

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