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foe, being eight or nine feet high, and pre- the ranks of the enemy, but he remained senting an unbroken front of sharpened firm and true to his convictions of right. branches and interwoven limbs. It was a Major Rogers, his old commander in the formidable defense. On the morning of Seven Years' War, adopted the British the 8th the troops moved to the attack, cause. His brother William, who had Stark's division of Rangers leading the been present at the surrender of Ticondervan. Within three hundred yards of the oga and Crown Point—who had assisted intrenchments his advanced guard were at the capture of Louisburg, and had fought fired upon by a party of French; their with Wolfe at Quebec-in a fit of pique comrades came up to their support, and the joined the royal standard. But John never enemy were driven in. The light infantry for a moment wavered. When the comnow moved up to their right, and the ba-mittees of safety were organized in 1774, teaux men to their left. In the mean time he became a member of one of those bodies the main body of the army was forming. for the town in which he lived. The news At ten o'clock the rangers were ordered of the battle of Lexington found him, as it to drive in the advanced guard of the did Putnam, ready for the fight. Ten French, preparatory to a general assault. minutes after he heard of it he had directThe regulars moved up to the breast works ed the volunteers of his neighborhood to and attempted to storm them, but without rendezvous at Medford, near Boston, and success. They persisted for four hours, was on his way thither at full speed. He but finding it impossible to carry the works was speedily followed by about twelve the British general-in-chief ordered a re- hundred men, who concentrated themtreat. Stark and his rangers were emselves at Medford. The Provincial Conployed till late in the evening in bringing gress of Massachusetts organized them up the rear. It was a bloody and disas- into two regiments, one of which was trous day, no less than seventeen hundred placed under the charge of Stark, who regulars, and three hundred and fifty pro- was unanimously elected a colonel. On vincials being killed or wounded. A gen- the glorious 17th of June, his regiment eral retreat was now ordered, and by the formed the left of the American line on evening of the next day the whole army Bunker's Hill. They were posted with had returned to their camp on the southern a detachment of Connecticut troops under shore of Lake George. At the close of Captain Knowlton, behind the rail fences this campaign Captain Stark obtained a and the mound of grass, of which the latter furlough, and shifting his forces from the had formed a temporary breastwork befields of Mars to those of Venus, entered tween Mystic Hill and the road, as deinto an engagement with a dearer foe than scribed in the account of the battle in the "that sweet enemy, France," as Sir Philip life of Putnam. The Americans at this Sydney says in his sonnet. To speak less point were opposed by the British right poetically, he married. His affiancée was wing, which, curious enough to relate, was a Miss Elizabeth Page, the daughter of commanded by Lord Howe, a brother of Captain Page, of Dunbarton. the Lord Howe who was the friend of Stark in his Canadian campaign, and who fell, the reader will remember, on the plains of Ticonderoga. What memories of the past must have rushed through the mind of the old ranger when he saw the brother of his former friend the enemy of his native land! As I have before described the battle I need not dilate on the part which Stark performed in it; suffice it to say, that the British recoiled three times before the terrible fire of his men, who retreated, when retreat was inevitable, in such order that they were not pursued. On no part of the field was the execution greater than where the New Hampshire regiments were stationed. An anecdote is related of Stark, to whom came a re
None but the brave deserve the fair.
We hear nothing of Captain Stark from the close of the Seven Years' War till the breaking out of the Revolution, a period of sixteen or seventeen years. It is to be presumed, however, that he passed his life peacefully and happily on his farm, occasionally fighting over his old campaigns with his neighbors and companions in arms. Unlike many of the latter, when it became evident that a conflict must take place between the colonies and the mother country, he felt no hesitation as to the side he should join. From the first his mind was made up to fight for his native land. One after another his old friends went over to
port in the heat of battle, that his son, a boy of sixteen, had just been killed. "This is not the moment,” he said, turning to the officious tale-bearer, "this is not the moment, sir, to talk of private affairs. Go back to your duty." The rebuke was worthy of a Spartan. It turned out in the end that his son was not killed; he served through the war as a staff officer.
After the battle Stark's regiment was stationed on Winter's Hill, where it remained till March, 1776, when the British evacuated Boston. He was then transferred to New York, and shortly after he joined the American army in Canada. He was now on the old battle-grounds of his youth, in the neighborhood of Crown | Point and Ticonderoga. It was while the troops were at the latter place that the news of the Declaration of Independence was proclaimed to them. The failure of the Canadian campaign and the disastrous occurrences at New York drew Stark and his regiment from the Northern army to the banks of the Delaware. They led the vanguard in the attack upon Trenton, and fought gallantly at Princeton. The term for which his men had enlisted expiring about this time, he proceeded to New Hampshire to raise new recruits. His popularity soon filled his regiment, and he communicated the intelligence to the council of the state, and to Washington. Repairing to Exeter to receive instructions from the authorities, he was informed that a new list of promotions had just been made, in which his name was omitted, while those of other officers, who were this juniors, were found. He conceived himself deeply wronged in the matter, as according to military usages he undoubtedly was, and refused to submit to the slight which Congress had put upon him. He declared that the officer who would not maintain his rank, and assert his own rights, was not fit to be trusted to vindicate those of his country. The proposition was too sweeping to be entirely true, but there was a show of good sense in it, which was enough for the irate colonel. He waited upon the council, and upon Generals Sullivan and Poor, stated the grounds of his dissatisfaction, and his determination to quit the army. He then surrendered his commission, and returned home; not to join the British, as his brother William had done on a somewhat similar occasion; nor to betray his country, like Benedict Arnold.
He took a nobler revenge; he fitted out for the army all the members of his own family who were old enough to join it! He gave everything to the good cause but his services; those he reserved till he should have justice done him. He threw up his commission in the spring of 1777; in the summer of that year the Eastern States were invaded by a formidable army from Canada. This force was commanded by Burgoyne, and consisted in part of German troops, veterans of the Seven Years' War. They were amply supplied with the necessaries of war, arms, ammunition, and military stores; they had a considerable force of Canadian and American loyalists for spies, scouts, and rangers, besides several bands of savages, whose hearts were as sanguinary as their war dresses were grim. Altogether the army numbered ten thousand strong.
The New England States, especially Massachusetts and New Hampshire, were alarmed. They felt that their frontier was uncovered, and that they must make a great effort to protect the country. The New Hampshire committee of safety met and formed the whole militia of the state into two brigades; the command of one was tendered to Stark. He refused at first to accept it, but at length consented, on condition that he should not be obliged to join the main army, but be allowed to hang on the wings of the enemy in what was then called the New Hampshire Grants, but is now the State of Vermont. He was to exercise his own discretion as to his movements, accountable to no one but the authorities of New Hampshire. His conditions were complied with, and the militia took the field without hesitation. Stark's name, like that of the king, in Shakspeare, was 66 a tower of strength."
Stark and the New Hampshire militia were encamped in the neighborhood of Bennington, on the 13th of August, where intelligence reached them that a party of Indians, attached to the forces of Baum, the Hessian commander, were within twelve miles of that place. LieutenantColonel Gregg and two hundred men were detached to stop their march. Late at night General Stark was advised that these Indians, and a large body of the enemy, with a train of artillery, were on the way to Bennington. He moved for
'ward in the morning with all his men to the support of Colonel Gregg, whom he met in full retreat four or five miles out of town, flying before their foes, who were then within a mile of him. He halted at once, and drew up his men in battle order. The Hessians halted also, and immediately intrenched themselves. Not being able to draw them from their position, which was an advantageous one, he fell back for a mile, leaving his skirmishers to deal with them. They were lucky enough to kill thirty, without any loss on their own side. The next day nothing was done except by the skirmishers, whose prowess alarmed the Indians, and made them desert their allies. The position of the combatants on the 16th, the day of the battle, was as follows. On the northern bank of the Wollamsac, (a tributary of the Hoosic,) were the German troops. Nearly in front of their battery, on the other side of the river, was a band of Tories. The river was shallow enough to be fordable anywhere, but its course was so serpentine that Stark, who was on the same side as the Germans, had to cross it twice on his march to their position.
The thunder, how
ued clap of thunder."
The battle was won. But it was nearly lost again, through the cupidity of the militia, who immediately dispersed to gather the plunder. While they were engaged in this (to them) very natural and laudable occupation, intelligence was brought to Stark that a large re-enforcement of the British army-a re-enforcement which would have arrived the day before, but for the badness of the roads, was in full march within two miles of him. The retreating Hessians took courage, and wheeled about to a renewed attack. The British came up, and the militia being once more in order, the battle raged again. It was contested with great obstinacy on both sides, but the result was rather unfavorable to the Americans, who were driven from post to post till they were just on the verge of flight. It was no wonder, for they were already worn out, while the British were fresh and active. this moment a regiment of Berkshire militia, who, like the British detachment, had been detained by the weather, came up and decided the fate of the day. The enemy fled at sunset, and were pursued till dark, when Stark drew off his men, to prevent them from firing upon each other by mistake. "One hour more of day," he said, "and I would have captured the The rest of the detachments performed whole body." The fruits of the victory their work, while Stark, who had wound were four pieces of brass cannon, several his way along the meandering river, heark-hundred stand of arms, a quantity of Gerening the while for the sound of the guns, man broadswords, and about seven hunrushed upon the Tories. Their cannon dred prisoners. Two hundred and seven opened upon him, but to no purpose; the of the Hessians were killed; the number brave New Hampshire militia charged to of the wounded was not known. The the very mouths of the guns, and finally Americans had forty wounded, and thirty drove the Tories across the river, pell- killed. Stark's horse was shot under him. mell into the ranks of the Hessians, who Baum, the Hessian commander, was morwere driven from their breastworks. tally wounded. As Southey says, in his "The action," said Stark, in his official famous little poem on the Battle of Blenreport,"lasted two hours, and was the hot- heim, test I ever saw. It was like one contin
His plan of the battle consisted of a series of simultaneous attacks. Two hundred men, commanded by Colonel Nichols, were to attack the rear of the enemy's left. Colonel Herrick, with three hundred men, was to fall upon the rear of their right; while Colonels Hubbard and Stickney were to advance with two hundred on their right and one hundred in front. The latter detachments were to divert their attention from the real point of attack. At three o'clock in the afternoon the action commenced, by the party of Colonel Nichols, who, gaining the position assigned to them, fell upon the enemy furiously.
"It was a famous victory."
A good anecdote is told of a clergyman in the Berkshire militia, who, on the morning of the battle, waited on Stark, and addressed him as follows: 66 'We, the people of Berkshire, have been frequently called upon to fight, but have never been led against the enemy. We have now resolved, if you will not let us fight, never to turn out again." "But," said Stark, "do you wish to march now, when it is dark and rainy?" "No," said the clergyman. "Then wait until the Lord gives us sunshine, and if I do not give you fighting enough I will never ask you to come again." The weather cleared up in a few hours, and the men of Berkshire followed their pastor into the battle.
The reader has, no doubt, missed in this account that famous embellishment of the battle, Stark's speech to his soldiers. "See there, men," he is said to have exclaimed, "there are the red coats. Before night they are ours, or Molly Stark's a widow!" It is possible that Stark might have said this, but as his wife's name was Elizabeth, and not Mary, the only proper name from which the nick-name "Molly" could be derived, I have my doubts about
The famous battle words of famous commanders have generally been manufactured long after the battles were fought. Wellington always denied the laconic "Up, guards, and at them!" Taylor denied "A little more grape, Captain Bragg" and those who were with Lawrence in his last moments deny his stubborn "Don't give up the ship." Taking these facts into consideration, and not seeing how Elizabeth can be Molly-fied, I beg to remain skeptical as to that lady's predicted chances of widowhood. I shall omit the part of Hamlet.
The defeat of the Hessians at Bennington deranged the whole plan of Burgoyne's campaign; he was compelled to halt to procure stores, which he had expected to find at Bennington, and his projected march to Albany was retarded a month, during which time the militia flocked to the standard of Gates, and put him in a condition to compel the surrender of the British army. Three days after the battle Stark communicated the intelligence of it to Gates, but left Congress to find it out the best way they could. Two days after the battle they passed a resolution censuring him for assuming a separate command.
His conduct was considered destructive of military subordination, and highly prejudicial to the common cause. On the 4th of October, however, they thought better of the matter, and voted "That the thanks of Congress be presented to General Stark, of the New Hampshire militia, and the officers and troops under his command, for their brave and successful attack upon and victory over the enemy in their lines at Bennington, and that Brigadier Stark be appointed a brigadier-general in the armies of the United States." His victory had vindicated him in their eyes for what they were at first disposed to consider rebellion. In addition to the communication which he sent Gates, he transmitted an official account of the battle to the state authorities of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Vermont; and sent to each of these states some drums, muskets, and swords, trophies taken from the field. The rest of Stark's military career may be briefly summed up. He took the field again after the battle of Bennington, and, placing his army in the rear of the enemy, wholly cut off their communication with Lake George and Canada. In the spring of 1778 he took command of the northern department; shortly afterward he received an order to join Gates in Rhode Island. The British decamped from Rhode Island in November, 1779, and he took possession of their former stronghold-Newport. In May, 1780, he joined Washington, who was at Morristown, New Jersey. He was present at the battle of Springfield, and shortly before the defection of Arnold he supplied that officer with a detachment of New England militia which he had recruited for his use. He also acted on the court martial which condemned Major André. He commanded the Northern department again in the summer of 1781, his head-quarters being at Saratoga. His health was now seriously impaired by the hardships he had undergone, and for a time he was forced to give up active service. When peace was declared he retired to his farm at Manchester, on the Merrimac, where he remained till his death, in 1822. He died at the ripe old age of ninety-four. His family raised a monument over his remains on the 4th of July, 1829. It is a block of granite in the form of an obelisk, with the simple inscription: