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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

General John Stark by Bruce - Part 5 of 5

Part 1   Part 2   Part 3   Part 4

Yesterday we saw Stark lead his men to a victory at Bennington, but was not well enough to bring his men to Saratoga. Many went home as their enlistments were up. Stark recruited some fresh troops and captured Fort Edwards and got the surrender of Burgoyne's army. He was finally promoted to brigadier general. This is the last part of the essay.

Stark was appointed by Congress in 1778 to manage affairs in the Albany, New York region. General Gates had been appointed head of the Northern Department, but it was understood that Stark would be responsible for the Albany region. Stark spent much of his time handling disputes between the governments of Vermont, New York and New Hampshire. He also had to deal with the constant threats posed by British and Indian raids and the activities of Tories and spies. In a letter to the president of the New Hampshire legislature, Stark described his feelings about his assignment: “Murder and robberies are committed every day in this neighborhood. So you may judge of my situation, with enemy on my front, and the devil in my rear.” Stark continued in a letter to General John Sullivan: “If I could be relieved I should be glad to join you now, this is a cursed place and people…. We have no troops but militia and they turn out like drawing a cat by the tail…”

In November of 1778 Stark joined General Horatio Gates in Rhode Island. In this position Stark guarded the coast from Point Judith to Providence. In October 1779 Stark led American troops into Newport after the evacuation of the British. Stark next participated in the military tribunal that tried John Andre. Citing poor health, Stark asked Washington for a leave of absence. Washington agreed and Stark returned home to New Hampshire. In April of 1781 Washington appointed Stark head of the Northern Department. Starks’ role would be brief with Cornwallis’s surrender at Yorktown in October 1781.

Stark would live out the rest of his life in New Hampshire. He continued to display his independent attitudes throughout his later years. He was very suspicious of the possibility of British influence in American politics. He repeatedly spoke out against pro-British factions that existed in the American government. He believed that these factions might attempt to roll back the gains of the Revolution. He opposed the Society of Cincinnati over its call for half pay for life for military officers, a British army custom and its rule of passing membership from father to oldest son. Stark wanted nothing of conciliation with the British and was a strong supporter of the War of 1812.

Molly Stark died in June 1814 from typhoid fever. During the funeral eulogy the minister began to elaborate on the service of John Stark to the nation. Stark became irritated over the praise and began to tap his cane upon the floor. Looking at the minister Stark said, “ Tut, tut, enough of that if you please. At the graveside, Stark said, “goodbye, Molly, we sup no more together on earth.” Ever the independent Yankee, Stark died on May 8, 1822 at the age of 94. Thomas Sumter of South Carolina and Lafayette were the only American Generals of the Revolution to outlive him.

If you would like to see where Bruce got his information from, here is a list of sources he used for this essay:

Brooks, Victor. The Boston Campaign. Conshohocken, PA: Combined Publishing, 1999.

Ketchum, Richard M.. Saratoga. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1997.

Ketchum, Richard M.. The Winter Soldiers. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1999.

McDowell, Bart. The Revolutionary War. Washington, DC: The National Geographic Society, 1967.

Rose, Ben. John Stark, Maverick General. Waverly, MA: Treeline Press, 2007.

I just want to thank Bruce once again for sharing all this information with us. I really learned a lot, and I hope you found it informative as well!!

Believe me yours faithfully,


Anonymous said...

There is a letter in the Augusta Maine State Library Archives from General Brooks to my husband's ancestor Officer Lemuel Williams . I read that many years ago , details , I believe about retirement request, pay etc.
In the pension application , in D.C. Archives his service states he had been at Valley Forge and at the surrender of Burgoyne, several other battles also.
(E)Lemuel Williams was born in Massachusetts . In Woolwich , Maine he enlisted as Private , became a Major at possibly Valley Forge . He may have become a Colonel in the Maine Militia. Became a Town Clerk in the town of North Anson , Maine and died in 1820, while visiting a brother in Woolwich ,I believe. A relative a Hilton also had been at the surrender of Burgoyne.
The town of Stark is close to Madison / Anson
It would be interesting to learn more about his service duties.
All so interesting to read about the valiant men of that and other wars.

Odile H. Williams

Rachel said...

It truly is fascinating stuff!! Thank you for sharing your information as well. I hope you enjoyed Bruce's article!