Monday, November 7, 2011

The Civil War's M. MARTIN c.1863 , research and the wood model/ Rex Stewart

                  M. MARTIN backing around in Rondout Creek for her run north on the
                Hudson River to Albany, New York c.1880.

Built at Jersey City, New Jersey in 1863, M. MARTIN was constructed at the outbreak of the Civil War. She was initially built for the Romer and Tremper Frim of Rondout to run as a freight and passenger steamer to Catskill and Albany.

She was pressed into service under General Ulysess S. Grant, and during the latter part of the war she operated as the General's personal dispatch boat on the Chesapeake Bay -carrying messages and troops across the bay and river.

The M. MARTIN was known as the Union Army's "greyhound" that served  the federal government during the war. After the fall of Richmond, President Abraham Lincoln and General Grant made a visit to the Confederate Capital aboard the M. MARTIN.

The above painting shows President Lincoln aboard steamboat RIVER QUEEN confering with his Commanders. During the war M. MARTIN was lashed to RIVER QUEEN to protect the President on February 3, 1865 at the Hampton Roads Conference which was an unsuccessful attempt to end the Civil War.

At the close of the war the steamboat was brought north to New York where she serviced the Newburgh and Albany route, running in line with the swift steamer EAGLE. These boats ran together until August 2, 1884 when EAGLE caught fire and was replaced by the new JACOB H. TREMPER.

In 1899 the MARTIN was sold to the Central Hudson Steamboat Company of Newburgh, serving the company for many years. On Thursday morning June 16, 1910, laden with freight and 20 passengers M. MARTIN steamed southbound from Albany to Newburgh and caught fire. She was immediately beached on the east side of the river near Esopus Island where all passengers were taken off in small boats. For ten minutes, on the sky deck, Captain George Hadley fought and distinquished the flames. And with only a scorched pilothouse, the steamboat proceeded on to Newburgh.

After repairs M. MARTIN returned to operate on the Hudson River until the fall of 1918. Two years later in the summer of 1920 she was scrapped -the hull purchased by Patrick Doherty for dock use at Eavesport, a small landing near Malden on the Hudson.

                    M. MARTIN docked at Rondout Creek, Kingston, New York c.1880

The M. MARTIN was considered one of the most handsome boats of her type to appear on the river. A wooden hull vessel, she was 191 feet on the keel with a beam of 28 feet. Her depth of hull was 9 feet with a waterline draft of 6 feet. After viewing several photos from  Herman Boyle's Collection in Kingston,I was now in a position to build the steamboat that was void of any known models made of her.

        Painting of steamboat MILTON MARTIN by American artist James Bard (1815-1897)

My plans for her build began in the fall of 1987 when a surgeon from Albany Medical Center Hospital proposed the model. At that time there was a steamboat frenzy developing with my models and artwork which I pushed throughout the Capital Dustrict through articles and news interviews. It was then that art supporters, businessmen and collectors surfaced to purchase my line of work relative to the steamboat. M. MARTIN would become part of the growing list.

Like prior drawings and blueprints, I studied James Bard' painting and paired it with Mr. Boyle's photos to get the right configuartions. A third party, curator Roderic H. Blackburn from the Albany Institute of History and Art also provided materials which assisted the research. And within the course of two weeks, a set of detailed plans came into vogue on this famous steamboat.

        M. MARTIN in the early stages of construction on the table of maritime artist and
       craftsman Rex Stewart.

                                      Port Stern View of M. MARTIN's work-in-progress

The overall time to complete the project had been a month and two weeks.  Because of the many alterations these vessels encountered during their service, I had to explore a period which best presented this particular steamer. Her early appearance was rather scanty in what photos I researched; but after studying those which shown her on the Hudson in her latter years, I concluded that her 1880 appearance was first-rate for the build. Below she's shown as she was viewed by the general public at that time.

          Hudson River Steamboat M. MARTIN c.1880, Scale 1/8" = 1', Wood, scratchbuilt

                                         A detailed view of M. MARTIN from port stern

For more information about commissioning a fine quality Hudson River or Northeast steamboat model email: or call 1-774-757-7137. You may also visit

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