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[p. 16]

New Hampshire soldiers in Medford.


A plain boulder of New Hampshire granite, suitably inscribed, marks the resting place of the New Hampshire soldiers who fell in the Battle of Bunker Hill, June 17, 1775, or died of wounds or disease after the battle.

The monument stands in the old Salem street burying ground, and was unveiled there with appropriate ceremonies, October 29, 1904. It was selected by Hon. Alvin Burleigh of Plymouth, New Hampshire, and sent to the Sarah Bradlee Fulton Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution of this city, under whose direction it was lettered, placed in position, and dedicated.

The stone is inscribed as follows:—

in memory of
New Hampshire soldiers
who fell at Bunker Hill.
buried in this town
and interred in this spot.

The boulder was the gift of the Sons of the American Revolution of New Hamshir,, and came from Plymouth, N. H., near the celebrated Indian battle ground of Baker's River.

Short dedicatory exercises were held at the burial ground, and later the company adjourned to the Royall House, Stark's headquarters in 1775, where Mayor Charles S. Baxter greeted the assembly in the name of the city, and informal addresses were made by guests.

Miss Eliza M. Gill, through whose efforts the site of the burial place was identified, read the historical address which is given below.


Scarcely had the skirmish between the provincials and the British soldiers taken place on Lexington Green, April 19th, 1775, before relays of messengers had carried the news throughout New England, and from every quarter far and near, from farm and village, valley and hillside, men were hurrying toward Boston; the minutemen who had pledged themselves to be ready to start at a moment's warning should any such act as had just occurred make it necessary for them to defend their rights and liberties, even to the shedding of the last drop of their blood [p. 17]

From his home to the south came the impetuous Israel Putnam. Hearing the news the next morning, as in leather frock and apron he was at work in his field, he stopped only to arouse the militia, and mounting his horse in hot haste he travelled one hundred miles in eighteen hours without changing his horse, and reached Cambridge the next morning before sunrise.

From his home to the north came John Stark in the same heroic, picturesque way, leaving his sawmill as Putnam had left the building of a stone wall. As he hurried along he told his followers to meet him in Medford on the banks of the Mystic. Soon after these men came thronging in, until nearly two thousand had gathered here. Some returned home, others came back after arranging their affairs, and some of these joined Massachusetts regiments, while men of this province joined regiments of the New Hampshire line, among the latter being a few from this town.

By three ways these men may have entered Medford; by the road from Maiden, or the Salem highway as it was called, this one directly in front of us, or by the Stoneham or Woburn roads. The former meeting the Salem road a little to the east of us and the Woburn road meeting High street to our west, High street and the Salem road converging at the market place; and just across the river the tide of travel from these passed over the road to Charlestown, the present Main street, and thence to Boston.

Over the Woburn road, probably, came the Exeter men, who we know came by way of Haverhill and Andover. Medford thus became a part of the stage whereon was enacted the military drama by the Continental Army, the grand finale of which was the evacuation of Boston by the British. A portion of the left wing was upon Winter Hill in the southern part of the town. Men from other provinces than New Hampshire were here either permanently or for a short time; a company under Captain Sawyer from Wells in the district of Maine, [p. 18] being stationed here eight months. Young Henry Dearborn of your state stopped here with his men on the night of June 16th, and early the next morning marched to Winter Hill. Benedict Arnold, of less pleasant memory, from Connecticut, on September 13th, 1775, encamped here for the night with a detachment of men from Cambridge. In Arnold's famous expedition through the wilderness Dearborn accompanied him.

What an exciting time there must have been in this little town until after the evacuation of Boston and the withdrawal of the army from Cambridge! It was on the direct route to Cambridge, and scores of men and soldiers were constantly passing through back and forth.

Over these New Hampshire men John Stark was made colonel by a hand vote (ardent partisans, it is said, holding up both hands) in a tavern hall called afterwards New Hampshire hall. This was probably in the Admiral Vernon Tavern, a few rods over the bridge on the east as you go toward Charlestown, the site of which will later be pointed out to you.

In this tavern, the Admiral Vernon, Colonel Stark for awhile had his headquarters, and later removed to the elegant and roomy mansion of Colonel Isaac Royall, who precipitately left his fine estate three days before the battle of Lexington. Charles Lee called this mansion Hobgoblin Hall and found it so luxurious that Washington ordered him to remove from it.

There are no records telling where these soldiers camped, but tradition has it, to which we loyally hold, that the place of their encampment was in this immediate vicinity. Medford, the ‘peculiar town’ of the early days of the plantation was at this period but a small town, its inhabitants being not many over nine hundred.

The lands, in truly English fashion, as even to still later times, were in large holdings controlled by few, and at this time without doubt, here in front of us the land stretched out far away in green pastures. Here they could have pitched their tents or built barracks which [p. 19] may have been like those described by Rev. William Emerson, an army chaplain, grandfather of Ralph Waldo Emerson. He says of the camps about Prospect Hill, ‘They are as different in their form as the owners are in their dress, and every tent is a portraiture of the temper and taste of the persons who encamp in it. Some are made of boards and some of sailcloth; some partially of one and partly of the other. Again, others are made of stone, or turf, brick and brush. Some are thrown up in a hurry; others are enviously wrought with doors and windows, done with wreathes and withes, in the manner of a basket.’

They may have been quartered upon the people of the town, and found here as on the way hither, as we are told, ‘hospitable doors opened to them and all things in common.’ Later, there may have been vacant houses in which they could take shelter, for Abigail Adams, writing under date of ‘25 June, 1775,’ concerning the excitement attending the battle of Bunker Hill, says, ‘Medford people are all removed. Every seaport seems in motion.’

The British had ships and floating batteries in the Mystic river, which flows through the centre of our city, and the following from Mr. Nowell's diary, as given by Rev. Charles Brooks in his History of Medford, shows the excitement and perturbation the inhabitants were subject to and serves to explain the reason why many found it preferable to remove from their homes rather than remain under conditions so trying, unsafe and disturbing: ‘Aug. 6, 1775: Skirmishing up Mistick River. Several Soldiers brought over here wounded. The house at Penny Ferry, Maldenside burnt.’ ‘August 13.— Several gondaloes sailed up Mistick River, upon which the Provincials and they had a skirmish; many shots exchanged but nothing decisive.’ One historian speaking of Charlestown at this period says, ‘So great were the alarm and distress in that thriving suburban village of Boston that it was almost deserted. Its population of [p. 20] two thousand seven hundred was reduced to about two hundred.’

Within a very short distance of each other several taverns opened hospitable doors to all. The reason of so small a town being so liberally supplied with hostelries was that for more than a century all the travel and teaming from New Hampshire and northeastern Massachusetts passed through here on the way to Boston, and quite likely here was the last stop before entering the great town. On the Salem road was the Fountain Tavern, the site of which is but a short distance from here, with its inviting sign of punch pouring from a fountain into a great bowl. In the market place near by was the Royal Oak, and just over the bridge on the east was the Admiral Vernon previously mentioned, while at the West End another was favorably located for travelers over the Woburn road.

Young David Osgood, only a few months before installed as minister of this town, became chaplain to your New Hampshire men.

Of the Battle of Bunker Hill and the work done by the stalwart sons from the province of New Hampshire at the rail fence it is not my place to speak. It is your history, and of it perhaps you will tell us later today. It is generally conceded that we lost possession of the Hill, but a soldier of your state whose letter I have had the pleasure of reading, wrote home, ‘Yesterday we took Buncher Hill,’ and modern Miss Boston, when the visiting Englishman boasted of his countrymen's victory, replied, ‘But we've got the Hill!’

Of our own purely local history, though it has much to interest the stranger, I shall only tell how the woman of heroic character whose name our chapter proudly bears, helped to dress the wounds and minister to those soldiers who were brought here after the battle to an open field nearby her home; and further let me call your attention to the single monument in this ancient God's Acre, whose inscription gives a brief outline of the life of John Brooks, [p. 21] the Medford boy who was friend of Lafayette and Washington and governor of this Commonwealth. We are justly proud of him for the dignity of his character and his three-fold able service along military, civic and medical lines. You may see his face portrayed in Trumbull's picture of the surrender of Burgoyne in the rotunda of the Capitol at Washington.

Colonel Stark in a letter to Matthew Thornton, who was president of a Provincial Convention at Exeter, New Hampshire, addressed a letter to him there, two days after the battle stating that ‘Major McClary was killed by a cannon-ball and Captain Baldwin and Lieutenant Scott by small arms.’ He further furnished the following:—

The whole number, including officers,

killed and missing,15

He also transmitted the account of Reed's losses, at the desire of the latter.

This letter of Stark may have been written at the Admiral Vernon Tavern or at the Royall House.

Major Andrew McClary of Epsom was killed by a cannon-ball from a vessel after he had come to Medford to procure bandages for the wounded and was returning over Charlestown Neck. He was of Colonel Stark's regiment and was brought here and ‘interred with the honors of war.’ Our local historian, Rev. Charles Brooks, says, ‘He lies about fifty or sixty rods north of the old burying ground,’ also that ‘twenty-five of the general's men who had been killed were brought here and buried in the field about fifty or sixty rods north of Gravelly Bridge.’

The late John Russell found bones there, in 1849, when engaged in digging for a cellar and fence at a point almost directly in front of us. That the finding was a matter of interest is indicated by the fact that instead of tossing them aside he took them to his home, where [p. 22] many people went to see them. What disposition was made of them is told by this record from the report of the selectmen, 1848-49: ‘Cash paid Jacob Brooks for burying box of bones from land of N. H. Bishop, supposed to be the bones of Revolutionary soldiers, $2.50.’ Further evidence of the interest in this matter is found in the fact that Jacob Brooks, the town sexton, a few years later, when his grandson was assisting him in mowing the grass here, told the boy the story, and pointed out the spot with the admonition, ‘Remember what I tell you. Some time some one will want to know.’

If the story of the finding of these bones remained in people's memory the place where they were re-interred seems to have been forgotten. When the committee was jointly appointed by the Medford Historical Society and Sarah Bradlee-Fulton Chapter, D. A. R., to locate the graves of Medford's Revolutionary patriots, soldiers and civilians, in order to place S. A.R. markers upon them, it was suggested that a marker be placed for these New Hampshire men, but the spot could not be identified at first. The place was at last happily located by the grandson of Mr. Brooks before mentioned, Mr. J. W. Vining of this city, who came to this burying ground and pointed out the spot, repeating the words his grandfather had said to him years before, ‘Remember what I tell you. Some time some one will want to know.’ Strangely enough the question had never before been asked him, and he had never before repeated the story.

April 19, 1898, the Medford Historical Society placed thirty S. A. R. markers upon graves in this city, most of them here, and each succeeding Memorial Day since it has been the pleasant privilege of this chapter to add to each marker an American flag and a laurel wreath.

In 1900 the stone opposite, which was formerly the doorstone of her home on Fulton street (a name given in her honor to what had been the Stoneham road), was erected and dedicated to Mrs. Fulton.

How closely woven have been the interest and history [p. 23] of New Hampshire and Massachusetts from the time they were British provinces to the time of independent statehood! The Rev. Samuel McClintock, Colonels James Reed and Enoch Poor were all Massachusetts born, adopted citizens of your state. The former was born in this very town, an army chaplain, present at the battle of Bunker Hill, whose face may be seen in another of Trumbull's pictures, that magnificent one that so stirs you with its power, ‘The Battle of Bunker Hill.’ He appears there as the ‘clergyman in bands.’ The military service of Reed and Poor you know too well for us to tell you. To the latter the S. A. R. of New Jersey have this present month dedicated a memorial.

Captain Isaac Baldwin, one of Stark's men who fell in the great battle, was spoken of as an officer of merit, and we are pleased to have in our chapter membership one of his descendants.

Colonel Dearborn, Daniel Webster and Henry Wilson reversed the conditions of birthplace and citizenship, being New Hampshire born and honored citizens in our Commonwealth.

Now, today we join in a common cause with a common interest, and gratefully dedicate this boulder, the gift of the S. A. R. of New Hampshire to the memory of those men who gave up their lives for the sake of a noble cause on that never-to-be-forgotten day, on yonder hill, June 17th, 1775; and how fitting that Sarah Bradlee-Fulton should lie in death opposite those to whom she ministered in life, while nearby to both sleeps David Osgood who ministered to her spiritual wants and theirs.

Note.—It is probable that more men were buried in Medford than the twenty-five who are interred near the memorial boulder. In order to include all such, the names of the twenty-five with one exception being unknown, the stone was dedicated to the memory of forty-one New Hampshire soldiers who fell at Bunker Hill, or died a few days later as the result of wounds received there. The names read were taken from the list prepared by Mr. George C. Gilmore of Manchester, New Hampshire, and with the addition of few more are the same as those inscribed on the Bunker Hill Memorial Tablets, Winthrop Square, Charlestown.—E. M. G.

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