A gentleman that I reenact with, Bruce, recently sent me an essay that he researched and wrote about General John Stark. General John Stark was the first commander of the First New Hampshire regiment, so he is of particular interest to us. I will be posting Bruce's essay here on the blog, but I am going to post it in sections, since it is a bit long. But trust me, it is expertly written, and an enthralling read, so be sure not to miss any of the pieces. As I have clearly stated, I knew not too much about this time period when I started with the regiment, and I knew next to nothing about General John Stark. I even went to John Stark High School in Weare, and still knew nothing about the man. So I found this essay completely fascinating and I want to thank Bruce for not only taking the time to write it, but also for his willingness to share it with me, and all of you. Please do enjoy and leave a comment to let Bruce know what you think!
John Stark, New Hampshire’s Soldier Hero
Written by: Bruce Batten
John Stark was New Hampshire’s most famous soldier. He was known for his independent, ornery, Yankee personality. He gave much to the American Revolution and is remembered most for his words, “Live Free or Die” which became the motto of the State of New Hampshire. However, there is more to the story of John Stark.
John Stark was of Scotch-Irish stock. His father was a native of Glasgow, Scotland. In 1720 his father sailed to America, but his ship was denied entry to Boston over fears it carried smallpox. Stark’s ship was forced to winter in present day Wiscasset. Maine. In 1721 the Stark family moved to Nutfield, New Hampshire, later renamed Londonderry, in 1722. Londonderry became a settlement for Scotch-Irish potato farmers and weavers. John Stark was born there on August 28, 1728. Eight years later the Stark family moved to Derryfield, New Hampshire, now part of Manchester.
John Stark spent his early years working on the Stark farm and in the family’s lumber business. He also spent a great deal of time exploring and hunting on the New Hampshire frontier. In 1752, Stark and his brother William traveled with neighbors David Stinson and Amos Eastman on a hunting trip to the Baker River area near present day Rumney, New Hampshire. This area was still under Indian control and the group encountered an Indian War party. Stinson was killed, but with the help of John, his brother William was able to escape. For his part in William’s escape, John Stark was made to run an Indian gauntlet during his captivity. Some six weeks later he and Eastman were rescued by a group from the Fort at Number 4 at Charlestown, New Hampshire.
John Stark gained his military experience fighting with Robert Rogers. In 1756 he was commissioned a first lieutenant in Rogers’ Rangers. In 1757 Stark was part of a Ranger expedition sent during the winter to capture French sleds traveling between Crown Point and Fort Carillon. Some sleds were captured while others escaped. Soon after, additional French and Canadians attacked the Rangers. Stark and another man traveled more than forty miles through deep snow to get help.
In March 1757 Stark saved Fort William Henry from the French by his refusal to supply his Irish Rangers with liquor to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day. When the French attacked the Fort, the drunken Irish Troops of the regular army were unable to meet the challenge. Stark’s sober Rangers fought off the French and saved the fort. As a result of Montcalm’s later attack, Fort William Henry was eventually forced to surrender to the French in August 1757.
Continue to Part 2.
Believe me yours faithfully,
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