The Thomas Marshall family lived in the backwoods of the Virginia frontier.
Thomas Marshall of Fauquier County served as a vestryman, High Sheriff, and member of the House of Burgesses. He was a close boyhood friend of George Washington, who helped him become a successful surveyor.
Marshall and his wife, Mary Randolph Keith, raised ten children in "The Hollow," a 16 X 28 foot house with two rooms and a loft, which still stands today near Markham in northern Virginia. Mary was well educated, and together they provided an education for their children that was well beyond their meager means.
Thomas was a leader in organizing the Culpeper Minutemen in 1775. He was appointed major and was second in command of the minutemen force at Great Bridge.
Marshall's oldest son John was a lieutenant of the Culpeper Minutemen at age 19. He was at the Battle of Great Bridge and would later describe the battle in his five volume biography of George Washington, written while serving as Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court.
John Marshall's biographer referred to the impact the battle had on the young lieutenant, writing, "The young soldier in this brief time saw a flash of the great truth that liberty can be made a reality and then possessed only by men who are strong, courageous, unselfish, and wise enough to act unitedly?He began to discern, though vaguely as yet, the supreme need of the organization of democracy."
A young servant of Major Thomas Marshall named William was reported to have deserted and informed Lord Dunmore that "not more than 300 shirt-men were here." Historians debate whether he actually deserted or was "tutored" to mislead Dunmore. In either case, the Virginia Gazette reported that the misinformation was a factor that prompted Dunmore to order the attack on December 9th.