Joseph Dow's History of Hampton: KING GEORGE'S WAR, 1744-1749

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KING GEORGE'S WAR, 1744-1749

The Treaty of Utrecht was a military necessity, not a cordial return to friendly relations between England and France. Each nation was jealous of the other, and both labored to predominate at home and to strengthen and extend their possessions in America. In 1739, England made war on Spain. In the general convulsion that followed, France arrayed herself, inevitably, against England. In 1744, the war burst upon New England, plunging the colonies again into distress and disaster. It "took the frontiers by surprise," although it had been feared. Professor Ridpath writes: "Of all the New England colonies, New Hampshire suffered most from the French and Indian wars. Her settlements were feeble and her territory most exposed to savage invasion. In the last year of King Philip's war, the suffering along the frontier of the province was very great. Again, in the wars of William, Anne and George, the villages of the northern colony were visited with devastation and ruin. But in the intervals of peace, the spirits of the people revived, and the hardy settlers returned to their wasted farms, to begin anew the struggle of life." And Mr. Drake says: "The small belt along the Atlantic shore of English settlers was situated, as sit were, between two fires. The enemy on their back had every advantage. They could always approach the English undiscovered, and when they had committed murders and depredations, could bury themselves in the wilderness; and pursuit oftentimes only aggravated the mischief already done, as the pursuers often fell into ambushes and were cut off."

All this is true of Hampton. For more than twenty years, comparative safety had been enjoyed; though, while the treacherous savages still roamed the wilds, none knew how soon peace might be broken, nor where the deadly tomahawk might strike. And so long as wily French Jesuits controlled Indian tribes, our English ancestors had no certain security. We cannot know the bitterness of the hour when tidings of war again reached these homes. It meant separation of families; danger, perhaps captivity, or torture and death for the soldiers; anxious watching and suspense and almost equal danger for those who remained.

England and France declared war against each other in March, 1744, and the war soon extended to the colonies of the two countries in America, where the chief event was the capture of Louisburg on the island of Cape Breton. The French then held this stronghold, which afforded them great advantages for annoying the English in their fisheries on the Grand Bank, and their trade with the colonies. The commander at Louisburg, soon after the declaration of war, despatched an armed force against two forts of the English in Nova Scotia, one of which was captured, and the other would have met with a like fate, but for the timely aid furnished by Governor Shirley of Massachusetts. The Indians of Nova Scotia joined the French in these attacks, and this led to an immediate declaration of war by the English, against them and all the tribes near them. The danger of the English colonies imminent, for it was well understood that the French were making formidable preparations for the vigorous prosecution of the war.

At this juncture, the bold plan was conceived, of wresting Louisburg from the hands of the French. It was thought feasible to take the city by surprise, early in the following spring. To whom belongs the merit of suggesting this daring enterprise is not fully settled. It is claimed for Governor Shirley and for Mr. William Vaughn of Portsmouth. The plan was laid before the General Court of Massachusetts, by the governor, and the expedition was decided upon by a bare majority, on the 26 th of January, 1745. That colony voted to furnish 3250 troops; Rhode Island and New Hampshire voted 300 each, and Connecticut, 500, but New Hampshire actually sent 350 at first, and afterward, 120 more. Col. William Pepperrell, of Kittery, in the Province of Maine, was appointed commander-in-chief of the expedition.

We cannot enter into any details of the siege and surrender of Louisburg, any further than may be needful to show the humble part taken in the enterprise by individuals from this town. We have not been able to ascertain how many soldiers the town furnished, but have reason to believe that it was a full quota. During the siege, the New Hampshire troops were employed in some very laborious and hazardous undertakings, and uniformly showed themselves energetic and brave. One of the most dangerous attempts of the besiegers was to capture or destroy the Island Battery. In this unfortunate attempt by 400 volunteers from several regiments, the New Hampshire troops were very active. Some of the Hampton soldiers were of this number. Several of them, in a petition of a later date say: "When it was thought needful to make an attacks on the Island Battery, we readily ventured our lives in that dangerous enterprise, where, tho' we escaped with our lives [we] were in the utmost danger of losing them, and after the greatest trial of this sort, were obliged to submit to the mercies of our enemies."

Jeremiah Marston, who enlisted in Captain Sherburne's company, "was killed a fighting with the French and Indians, in the woods, at some distance from the walls of the city."

Dr. Nathaniel Sargent, Jr., eldest son of Dr. Nathaniel Sargent, who had, for more than thirty years, resided in Hampton, accompanied the expedition to Louisburg, "as a physician and chirurgeon, in the regiment that went out of this province. He was in the service five months and twenty days, and had the sole care and charge of said regiment as physician and chirurgeon for some time. He was obliged to remain out of the city, in the camps, ten days after the surrender, to look after and take care of upwards of thirty sick and wounded persons, having no person or persons to aid and assist him therein." Dr. Anthony Emery also went as a surgeon.

Other men from Hampton are known to have been at the siege, but we have no knowledge of their personal services or sufferings. The few names, with residences, that may be gleaned from official reports now available, are of men accredited indiscriminately to Hampton, whether from the old town, the Falls or North Hampton. Thus we find Shubael Dearborn, Joseph Redman, John Sleeper, Moses Leavitt (who died), Josiah Shaw, Nathaniel Moulton. Benjamin Thomas was allowed twenty pounds instead of a pension, for his arms being wounded. Capt. Edward Williams took a company down from Hampton Falls, and he died there. Ebenezer Gove, of Capt. Jonathan Prescott's company died; so did Abner Sanborn, of Colonel Moore's company.

In the same war, though in a different quarter, Capt. Nathaniel Drake of Hampton, with his troop of fourteen mounted men, scouted in and about the woods of Nottingham, where some Indians had been lately seen; but after ten days' diligent search, none were discovered. H:is men were: Daniel Marston, Reuben Dearborn, David Marston, Samuel Garland, John Taylor, Samuel Batchelder, Daniel Sanborn, Jethro Locke, Samuel Libbey, Samuel Fogg, Joseph Brown, Jonathan Hobbs, Obadiah Marston, Thomas Brown.

Many other familiar names occur in the list of the Adjutant General's Report and in Provincial Papers, but as their residences are not given, we cannot say with authority, that they were Hampton men.

"A patched-up peace" was effected by the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, October 7, 1748, news of which, however, did not reach the colonies for six months or more, so that hostilities continued into the following year. A full year elapsed ere a new treaty with the Indians, concluded at Falmouth, Maine, gave promise of tranquillity.

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