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Friday, July 4, 2008

General John Stark by Bruce - Part 2 of 5

Part 1

Upon hearing of his father’s death in 1758, Stark returned home from Ranger service to settle the estate. Stark was a frequent visitor to the home of Elizabeth Page of Dunbarton, New Hampshire. On August 20, 1758 Stark married Elizabeth. From then on she was known as Molly Stark. Once hostilities had ceased between the British and French, Stark purchased the land his brothers and sisters had inherited from their father. He and Molly then settled on that land in Derryfield, New Hampshire.

On April 19, 1775, news of the events of Lexington and Concord spread across New England. Stark, like so many other veterans of earlier colonial wars, rushed to join the new military units that were being formed. Leaving word for his neighbors to join him, Stark made his way to Medford, Massachusetts. Some twelve hundred men from New Hampshire had mustered in Medford. Under the authority of the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts two regiments were formed from these New Hampshire men. By unanimous vote Stark was made colonel of the first regiment. Soon after, the Provincial Congress of New Hampshire voted to enlist two thousand men for eight months into three regiments. Colonel Stark commanded the first regiment, while James Read and Enoch Poor were to command the second and third regiments.

On the morning of June 17, 1775 Colonel William Prescott had seen almost half of his detachment fade away from the defenses of Breed’s Hill. Israel Putnam was sent to persuade American commander Artemus Ward to release desperately needed reinforcements. Ward complied and sent John Stark’s New Hampshire regiment and several other New Hampshire companies along with Colonel James Reed’s Connecticut regiment to reinforce Prescott. As Stark’s men made their way to the front lines, another officer approached Stark suggesting that they quicken their pace. Stark stubbornly looked at the man and replied, “Dearborn, one fresh man in action is worth ten fatigued ones”. Stark continued walking, unconcerned with the slow and deliberate pace he had settled upon.

Once he arrived on Charlestown Peninsula, Stark surveyed the scene. He became convinced that the Americans were most vulnerable along the Mystic River beach. Stark ordered his men to fortify this narrow shoreline by hauling stones from the nearby cliffs and building a stone wall to the water. Stark positioned his best sharpshooters behind this wall. With the wall completed, Stark climbed over the wall and drove a stake into the sand some 40 yards in front. He then gave the order, “not a man is to fire til the first Regular crossed that stake; watch their gaiters. When you can see their gaiters clear, that’s when to shoot.” This was Stark’s way of ordering his men to shoot low so that the recoil of their muskets would send the balls into the chests of the Redcoats.

Next up, find out how Stark's men do fighting on the front lines.

Continue to Part 3.

Believe me yours faithfully,

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