History From America's Most Famous Valleys
A MILITARY JOURNAL
During the American Revolutionary War,
From 1775 to 1783.
Describing Interesting Events and Transactions of this period;
with numerous Historical Facts and Anecdotes
From the Original Manuscript
By James Thacher, M. D.
Second Edition, Revised and Corrected.
Boston, Published by Cottons & Barnard, 1827.
MAJOR GENERAL JOHN STARK.
General Stark was a native of Londonderry, in New Hampshire, and was born August 17th, 1728. When at the age of 21 years, he was, while on a hunting excursion, surprised and captured by the Indians, and remained four months a prisoner in their hands. He was captain of a company of rangers in the provincial service during the French war of 1775, (this is the date in the book, probably it should be 1755. ajberry) and was with the British General Lord Howe, when he was killed in a skirmish near Ticonderoga, in July, 1758. At the close of that war he retired with the reputation of a brave, and vigilant officer. When the report of Lexington battle reached him, he was engaged at work in his saw-mill; fired with indignation and a martial spirit, he immediately seized his musket, and with a band of heroes proceeded to Cambridge. The morning after his arrival he received a colonel's commission, and availing himself of his own popularity, and the enthusiasm of the day, in two hours he enlisted eight hundred men! On the memorable 17th of June, at Breed's hill, Colonel Stark, at the head of his back-woodsmen of New Hampshire, poured on the enemy that deadly fire, from a sure aim, which effected such remarkable destruction in their ranks, and compelled them twice to retreat. During the whole of this dreadful conflict, Colonel Stark evinced that consummate bravery and intrepid zeal, which entitle his name to honor and perpetual remembrance in the pages of our history. After the British evacuated Boston, Colonel Stark joined our northern army while retreating from Canada, and he had the command of a party of troops who were employed in fortifying the post of Mount Independence. We next find him at Trenton, in December, 1776, where he shared largely in the honors of that ever memorable battle under Washington, when the Hessians were captured. But Stark reached the climax of his fame, when in one of the darkest and most desponding periods of the American war, he achieved a glorious victory over the enemy at Bennington. General Burgoyne, after possessing himself of Ticonderoga in July, 1776, and while advancing at the head of his victorious army towards Albany, conceived the design of taking by surprise a quantity of stores which our people had deposited at Bennington. For this enterprize he despatched a German officer, Lieutenant Colonel Baum, with one thousand five hundred soldiers and one hundred Indians, with two field pieces. Stark was at this time brigadier general of militia, and was in the vicinity with about one thousand four hundred brave men, from New Hampshire. He advanced towards the enemy and drew up his men in a line of battle. Colonel Baum, deeming it imprudent to engage with his present force, halted his troops and sent an express to Burgoyne for a reenforcement, and in the mean time entrenched and rendered himself as defensible as possible.
General Burgoyne immediately despatched Colonel Breyman, with about one thousand troops, to reenforce Colonel Baum ; but a heavy rain and bad roads prevented his arrival in season. General Stark, on the 16th of August, planned his mode of attack, and a most severe action ensued, which continued about two hours, with an incessant firing of musketry and the enemy's field artillery. Colonel Baum defended himself with great bravery till he received a mortal wound, and his whole party was defeated. It was not long after, that Colonel Breyman appeared with his reenforcement, and another battle ensued, which continued obstinate on both sides till sunset, when the Germans yielded, and the victory on our side was complete, the trophies of which were four brass field pieces, and more than seven hundred prisoners. Congress, on the 4th of October following, passed a resolve of thanks to General Stark, and the officers and troops under his command, for their brave and successful attack and signal victory, and that Brigadier Stark be appointed a brigadier general in the army of the United States. General Stark volunteered his services under General Gates, at Saratoga, and assisted in the council which stipulated the surrender of General Burgoyne, nor did he relinquish his valuable services till he could greet his native country as an Independent Empire. General Stark was of the middle stature, not formed by nature to exhibit an erect soldierly mien. His manners were frank and unassuming, but he manifested a peculiar sort of eccentricity and negligence, which precluded all display of personal dignity, and seemed to place him among those of ordinary rank in life. But as a courageous and heroic soldier, he is entitled to high rank among those who have been crowned with unfading laurels, and to whom a large ,hare of glory is Justly due. His character as a private citizen was unblemished, and lie was ever held in respect. for the last few years of his life, he enjoyed a pecuniary bounty from the government. He lived to the advanced age of ninety-three years, eight months and twenty-four days, and died May 8th, 1822, at his residence in Manchester, on the bank of the Merrimack.
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