1638 - HAMPTON TERCENTENARY - 1938
At the time of the settlement of Hampton, all New England was enjoying a respite from hostility with the Indians. However, boys from 10 to 16 years were trained in the use of all weapons and every man was obliged by law to have one pound of powder in his house at all times. Provision was also made for calling out companies in case of alarms.
There was comparative safety until the outbreak of King Philip's War in 1675 and even then, Hampton suffered less than other towns, although sometimes the enemy was known to be lurking in the vicinity. A considerable number of Hampton men saw military service in this war.
Troubles with the Indians continued. In 1677, four men were killed in North Hill, now North Hampton, and in 1689, the town voted to allow those desiring, to build a fortification around the meeting house for security, and although no onslaught occurred, attacks were made on the towns of Exeter and Rye. A town committee was formed with the power to call out the soldiers whenever necessary and to see that they were properly equipped. This was during the King William War and eighty Hampton men were known to have served. Attacks by the Indians were intermittent but troublesome, and five inhabitants were slaughtered in 1703 and two more in 1706. In 1705 during the period of Queen Ann's War, the coast being infested by French privateers, and nightly patrol was established along the sea shore. Hampton men served in this war as they did also in Lovewell's War of 1722-1725.
It is said that of all the New England Colonies, New Hampshire suffered most from the French and Indian Wars. Her settlements were feeble, her territory most exposed to savage invasion, and no one knew when the Indians would strike.
England and France declared war against each other in March 1744, in what is known as King George's War. The chief event as concerned this section of the country was the capture of Louisburg from the French. New Hampshire sent four hundred and seventy men on this expedition including several from Hampton. In the same war, a Hampton troop of fifteen mounted men scouted the woods of Nottingham where some Indians had been seen.
In the greatest of all the early wars, the French and Indian War of 1754-1763, New Hampshire furnished many men. Hampton men took part in the Crown Point expedition and the second siege and capture of Louisburg. Soldiers from here were at Ticonderoga, Montreal and other places.
The first recorded action of the Town of Hampton concerning the War of the Revolution was under the date of January 17, 1774 when a series of resolutions were passed called the "Tea Act Resolves." They stigmatized the tea tax as "unreasonable and unconstitutional" and further that "It must be evident to every one that is not lost to virtue, nor devoid of common sense, that if these usurpations are submitted to, they will be totally destructive to our natural and constitutional rights and liberties, and have a direct tendency to reduce the Americans to a state of actual slavery." Virtuous and steady opposition to measures enforcing the Tea Act was recommended.
Orders were received in Hampton, the day after the Lexington and Concord fights, for the soldiers of the town to proceed to Boston. At Ipswich, a counter order was received and they returned home, probably to aid in the defense of the coast.
On August 7, 1775, it was voted to set a guard of four men each night upon the Beach until the Fall of the year.
In 1776, Test Papers were circulated in order to ascertain the names of those people friendly to the American cause. The Test Paper from Hampton contains the names of one hundred and seventy-four men, only two persons refusing to sign.
It is known that twenty Hampton men served as commissioned officers in the War of the Revolution. Hampton sent men to Portsmouth, Ticonderoga, New York, Rhode Island, Cambridge, Saratoga and other places.
It was probably in the first year of the War that the stampede of the Hampton children occurred. The cry of "The Regulars are coming" was given just as the children were dismissed from school. Panic stricken, they fled inland as far as three or four miles until overtaken by friends and brought back. It was not the "Regulars" but the return of some fishermen that had caused the alarm.
One of the main sources of trouble during the War was the disordered state of the currency. The value of Continental money, paper currency, depreciated, and the cost of labor and merchandise increased. Town meeting attempted to regulate prices. In 1777, £100 paper currency was equal to £100 silver, but in August 1779, £1,630 paper currency equaled £100 silver, and in September of the same year £1,800 paper currency equaled £100 silver.
The second war with Great Britain was declared on the 18th of June 1812 and this section of the country remained lukewarm, in fact no Hampton men served during the first two years. The coast was exposed and threatened, and British vessels even entered the Piscataqua but found defenses so strong no attack was made. In 1814, a blockade was declared along the whole coast and many coasting vessels were destroyed. Portsmouth was again in danger and more than one hundred Hampton men enlisted for service and were sent there to defend the town. 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 sailed away to the south.
For years after the close of the War of 1812, militia service continued effective, with muster days great events looked forward to by both young and old. In 1827, A rifle Company was formed in Hampton and was part of the Third Regiment. The glory of the old musters finally passed away; men grew tired of training; many did not like the free flow of liquor; others objected to the expense and eventually by the time of the Civil War, the forty-two regiments in the state had decreased to one, and twelve independent companies.
During the Civil War, eighteen regiments were created in New Hampshire, and in fifteen of these, in nineteen from other states and in the navy, Hampton men found service.
In 1860, thirty-six young men of Hampton met and formed a military company known as the Winnicunnet Guards. Arms and equipment were secured from the state and the town furnished a room in the town house as an armory. On April 17, 1861, after the firing on Fort Sumter, the Guards offered their services to the state. The offer was accepted and a majority enlisted for three years and were mustered into service on August 23, 1861.
During the war, Hampton contributed one hundred eleven men to army and navy, of whom seventy-eight enlisted for three years; thirty-one were in the service three years or more; twenty-six were killed or died in service. Hampton men performed heroic deeds on the battlefield and others suffered in Confederate prisons. Hampton men in the navy participated in engagements on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts and on the Mississippi River.
On November 7, 1861, the town voted to furnish aid to the dependents of soldiers. The first bounty for enlistments was voted on August 25, 1862. In March of 1863, the town voted to raise money for the benefit of returned, disabled soldiers. The war cost the town $41,094. Drafted men paid $4,893. for substitutes.
The Spanish-American War between the United States and Spain began on April 21, 1898 and was only of one hundred and fourteen days duration. Hampton's part in this war appears to be small as only two men served, enlisting in the navy.
In the last war, or the greatest of all wars, known as the "World War" which was fought for "Civilization" both Hampton men and women saw service. At least fifty-four men and two women enlisted in defense of their country. These United States declared war on April 6th, 1917 and fighting was continued until the signing of the Armistice on November 11, 1918. On French soil, Hampton was represented in those great battles of Chateau-Thierry, St. Mihiel and the greatest of battles, which turned the tide of war, and took place on the Front between the Argonne Forest and the Meuse River, known as the Meuse-Argonne drive. Hampton men served on the transports Mongolia, Mount Vernon and Henderson, on the convoy ships U.S.S. Nebraska, U.S.S. Bridgeport, and on sub-chasers. Several were also assigned to submarine duty and saw service in the North Sea.
November 11th became known as Armistice Day, and in 1919, a celebration was held in honor of the soldiers who had returned. A dinner was given at the Congregational Church, one hundred thirty in all being present, soldiers, sailors, G.A.R., speakers and invited guests. A parade marched through the town terminating at the Lane Memorial Library where bronze tablets were unveiled, upon which were inscribed names of those from Hampton who saw service in the war. Addresses were given in the Town Hall in the afternoon followed by a concert and dance in the evening.
It is to be hoped this "War to end wars" will be the last, but our fate is in our own hands, and to be determined by those whom we choose to guide our destinies.