Joseph Dow's History of Hampton: The War of 1812

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The War of 1812

During the second war with Great Britain, declared by our government on the 18th of June, 1812, New Hampshire was called to double duty, as often before, in the general service, and the protection of her own frontiers. In preparation for the war, Congress had passed an act in April, under which, President Madison made requisition upon New Hampshire for its quota of militia; and Governor Langdon issued orders on the 29th of May, for detaching three thousand five hundred men from the militia of the state, and organizing them, ready for instant action. The draft was made, and companies, battalions and regiments duly organized; but the completion of the work was left to Governor Plumer, who succeeded to the office only two weeks before the declaration of war.

How far this first act affected Hampton, we do not know; but a town meeting was held on the 13th of July, "to see if the town will vote to make any and what addition to the wages of the soldiers, lately drafted for the service of the United States." A committee of ten was chosen, to consider the matter, and report at an adjournment, a week later. The result renders it probable that, in Hampton, as elsewhere in New England, public sentiment, if not opposed to the war, was, at most, lukewarm; for the town voted, "that the selectmen be authorized to pay, in behalf of the town, to the drafted militia, such sum as shall make up their pay to ten dollars a month each, providing that no substitute shall receive such compensation, and that no money be paid to any one until his time of service be expired." In fact, we do not find that Hampton men were called to the front during the first two years of the war. Meanwhile, Gen. Henry Dearborn, of North Hampton, within the old town limits -- of the fourth generation from Godfrey Dearborn, an early settler of Hampton -- who had been raised to the chief command of the land forces of the United States, as senior major-general of the army, had taken York (now Toronto), in Canada, and Fort George, at the mouth of the Niagara river; but subsequent disasters to our arms in the north, had influenced President Madison to remove him -- "an act which was generally looked upon as one of the great mistakes of Mr. Madison's administration."

As might be expected, the Navy Yard and the forts in Portsmouth harbor were early threatened by the enemy; and indeed, the whole New Hampshire seaboard was exposed. British vessels were cruising off the coast, and had even entered the bay of the Piscataqua; but the defense were found so strong, no attack was made. None felt secure, however, and rumors of the landing of the enemy and of violent deeds, often struck terror into the hearts of the people. Still, affairs in Hampton went on much as usual. The town built up their new academy, created school districts, improved the meeting-house, built roads and tilled the farms, as in time of peace. On "training-day," early in September, 1813, while crowds were gathered near Maj. John Dearborn's (the old Neal house), ominous sounds from the northeast, betokening battle, raised a fever of excitement and alarm. Had they know that the gallant brig, Enterprise, was sustaining the brilliant naval record of the war, in the capture of the Boxer, what a shout would have rent the air!

All through the war, and for several years later, Lieut. Col. Thomas Lovering, of North Hampton, was in command of the Third Regiment, in which Major Dearborn was at the head of the First Battalion; but only in detached companies was this regiment called to active duty. In April, 1814, under a proclamation of the British admiral, declaring the whole United States coast in a state of blockade, many of our coasting vessels were destroyed by the enemy, in Massachusetts Bay. Portsmouth became alarmed, and asked Governor Gilman for more men., Commodore Hull also sent an urgent appeal. On the 20th of May, the governor issued orders for marching eight companies of the militia to Portsmouth, within five days. Among these, the Hampton men found service, in the company of Major Dearborn's brother, Jacob, as follows, enlisted on the 24th and 25th of May and discharged July 6th:

Jacob Dearborn, Captain Jesse Knowles
Samuel Dow, Lieutenant Daniel Lamprey
Shubael Leavitt, Sergeant{1} John Lamprey
Jonathan Marston, 3d, Sergeant Jacob Marston, Jr.
Jeremiah T. Marston, Musician John Moulton, Jr.
James Blake Abraham Marston, 3d
Levi Blake Josiah Nudd
Perley Bartlett James Perkins
Samuel Cutts Benjamin Perkins
William Godfrey Moses Perkins
Samuel Harden Zachariah Roberts
J. James{2} Willard Shaw
[{1} Drowned at Portsmouth, June 22; {2} Prob. Joshua, son of Joshua (5).]

During this interval, a panic occurred, when, on the night of the 21st of June, the alarm was raised, that the British were landing forces at Rye, to attack Portsmouth from that quarter. But it proved to be a false report, occasioned by the appearance of suspicious boats in the offing; and, as hitherto, the strong defenses saved Portsmouth from bloodshed. The people, however, were now thoroughly aroused, and, on the 7th of September, the entire militia of the state were ordered to be ready to march, at a moment's warning; while detachments from several regiments were sent with all speed to Portsmouth. Among these, Capt. Jacob Dearborn was gain found at the head of a company, enlisted September 26th, for sixty days; among whom, were the following men from Hampton:

Jacob Dearborn, Captain James Godfrey
Jonathan Marston, 3d, Sergeant James Nudd
John Towle, Corporal Joseph Palmer, Jr.
David Marston, Corporal Nathaniel Cotton
Jeremiah T. Marston, Principal Musician Nathan Godfrey
Jonathan Philbrick John M. Blake
James Johnson David Blake
David Philbrick Samuel Barker
Thomas Leavitt, Jr. Simeon Lane
John Lamprey, Jr. Jonathan Redman. Jr.{1}
[{1} Levit Redman, who died in the army, a brother of Jonathan, Jr.,
was probably in this company,
though his name does not appear in the Adj. Gen.'s Report.]

In Colonel Lovering's regiment (stationed at the South Ropewalk in Portsmouth, David Towle, Adj. and William Carroll, Quarter-Master) was Capt. Philip Towle's company, nearly all of whom were Hampton men, enlisting from the 11th to the 15th of September, and discharged on the 29th. It is said that, in less than two hours after the order was received, the company was on its march. The roll is as follows:

Philip Towle, Captain Dearborn Lane
Samuel Dow, Lieutenant Jonathan Blake, Jr.
Richard Greenleaf, Ensign James Blake
Willard Emery, Sergeant Jethro Blake, Jr.
Simon Towle, Jr., Sergeant Josiah Blake
Philip Towle, Jr., Sergeant Levi Blake
Samuel Cutts, Sergeant Nathan Blake, Jr.
John Moulton, Jr., Corporal Moses Brown
Amos Towle, 3d, Corporal Oliver Cilley
Jonathan Leavitt, Corporal Moses Dow
Abraham Fogg, Corporal John Cotton
J.T. Marston, Musician Jonathan Daniels
Philip Towle, 3d, Musician Nathaniel Drake
John Batchelder, Jr. Abraham Drake
Ebenezer T. Drake Jacob Marston, Jr.
Daniel Drake Jonathan Marston, 3d
Anthony Emery Caleb Mason
John Moulton Abner F. Mace
Samuel Garland Joseph Moulton
Nathan Garland Jacob Moulton
Jonathan Garland Charles Moulton
Simeon Godfrey Josiah Nudd
Simeon Godfrey, Jr. John Perkins
William Godfrey Benjamin Perkins
Samuel Harden Moses Perkins, Jr.
Asahel Johnson Samuel S. Page
Zaccheus Roberts Jeremiah Philbrick
James Lamprey John D. Shaw
Jeremiah Lamprey Samuel Shaw
Josiah Lane, Jr. John Garland
Jacob Marston Willard Shaw
Meshech Lane Henry Shaw
Ebenezer Leavitt Josiah Shaw, Jr.
Daniel Lane Moody Stockman
Thomas Lane, Jr. Joseph Towle, 3d
William Lane, Jr. William Tuck
Jonathan Perkins Daniel Towle
Samuel Marston Jonathan M. Locke
Abraham Marston, 3d Daniel Towle, Jr.

Capt. Samuel James also commanded a small company, in which were a few men from this town, namely:

Samuel James, Captain Taylor Weare
Amos Knowles, Corporal Jesse Knowles
Samuel Locke Joseph Philbrick, Jr.
Reuben Lane  
Of the troops thus brought into Portsmouth from all points, some manned the forts; others were placed at the "South Ropewalk," to repulse any of the enemy who might succeed in pushing past the battery, towards the town; while a third detachment was posted on "The Plains," commanding the country roads, to guard against an attack from forces landing at Hampton or Rye, whence danger was apprehended. The British, learning through one of their officers, who rowed up the Piscataqua, disguised as a fisherman, that "the town was swarming with soldiers, and well defended," gave up their plan of destroying it, and withdrew toward the south.

Governor Gilman's orders of September 9, requiring the militia to arm for instant service, contained the following paragraph: "And whereas, there are a large number of men, able to bear arms, who are, by our militia laws, exempted from ordinary military duties, they are hereby invited and requested, in the present alarming date of the country, to assemble in their respective towns, organize themselves into companies, and prepare for defense, in case it should become necessary." In compliance with this request, a company of Minute Men was at once formed in Hampton. Though they were never called into service, they deserve grateful mention, as volunteers. The original muster roll, signed by Edmund Toppan, Clerk, is now in possession of Mr. Christopher G. Toppan, who kindly furnishes the names, as follows:

Jonathan Marston, Captain
Willard Emery, Lieutenant
Nathaniel Locke, Ensign
John Batchelder
Sanborn Batchelder
John Blake
Jonathan S. Blake
Simon Blake
Zechariah Blake
Samuel Brown, Jr.
Amos Cilley
Stephen Coffin
Theodore A. Coffin
Reuben Dow
Henry Elkins
John Green
Nathaniel Johnson
Daniel Lamprey
David Lamprey
Jeremiah Lane
Simon Lane
Thomas Lane
James Leavitt
Asa Marston
Isaac Marston
John Marston
John Marston, Jr.
James Moulton
Joseph M. Moulton
David Nudd
John Philbrick
Thomas J. Rand
Joseph Redman
Josiah Robie
Benjamin Shaw
Josiah Shaw
Amos Towle, Jr.
James Towle
Samuel Towle
Thomas Ward
No further duty was required of Hampton soldiers, for the war was drawing to a close. News of the Treaty of Ghent, though too late to prevent the battle of New Orleans, arrived the following winter, and peace once more returned, to bless the nation.
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