This wonderful poem is about the military leaders and the men of all the towns of New Hampshire that gathered at Charlestown to fight at Bennington during the Revolution. And the author ponders our indebtedness to those men. THEN AND NOW By Rev. H. H. Saunderson From his book, History of Charlestown, NH The Old Fort No. 4
Today upon old Breakneck
As I stood and looked below,
And beheld the pleasant landscape
And the river in its flow,
And many a home of beauty
'Mid sweet embowering trees,
I said to my companion,
"What blessed times are these;
Just look upon those meadows,
And yonder mountains green:
Could there be a sight more lovely,
Or more peaceful and serene?
And look northward and look southward,
O'er all the vale afar,
And there is not a sight or sound
Its peacefulness to mar.
In all that meets our vision,
There is not a lurking foe;
But the fathers oft have told us
That it was not always so.
But that where now peace seems brooding
There once were wild alarms,
And hot haste among the people
As they heard the cry "To arms!".
For there was no delaying
When our fathers heard the shout
Of the wildly riding courier, -
"Turn out, my boys, turn out!
The enemy are on us!"
But,. leaving every tie,
They hastened to the rescue,
To conquer or to die.
For our fathers loved their country,
And were noble-souled and brave;
And the hate they had for tyrants
Was relentless as the grave.
So, when summoned to the conflict,
They did not even wait
To kiss their wives and daughters
Lest their help might come too late.
But, seizing their old flint-locks
And powder-horns, they sped,
To come home among the victors,
Or to lie among the dead.
And yonder street, so peaceful,
I have heard the fathers say,
Has been the path of thousands
As they rushed to battle fray.
And it may have oft been told you
By brave old Lemuel Royce,
While his frame shook with emotion
Which trembled in his voice.
What a stir there was in Charlestown
As a Courier once dashed by,
Crying "Arm, for all the Britons
Are marching upon the Ti -".
And how the boys were ready,
And at the signal gun,
Without waiting further warning
Came in upon the run;
And how that noble
Captain Abel Walker would not stay
For the coming of his Colonel
Who lived ten miles away.
And how the gallant Colonel
As he rode to town that night,
Praised the promptness of the Captain
And then hastened for the fight.
And perchance you may have heard too,
How all the towns below,
Soon swift couriers reached them
Were in readiness to go;
And how Litchfield and old Dunstable and Nottingham, the
West And Merrimac and Amherst
And New Ipswich sent their best;
And Bedford and old Derryfield
And Hollis were on hand,
As they always were, whene'er a foe
Came threatening the land;
And there wer men from Wilton
And from Plymouth and from Weare
And from the Peterborough hills,
And almost everywhere;
From Walpole and from Westmoreland;
From Chesterfield and Keene
And from Concord and from Francestown
And all the towns between;
And Meredith and Henniker
And Goffstown heard the shout
Of the flying couriers as they passed
And turned their noblest out;
And from Lempster, Newport, Claremont
And all the country o'er,
Came the bravest of New Hampshire
Dashing into "NUMBER FOUR".
But this was merely nothing.
Good old Lemuel would say,
To what took place in Charlestown
When John Stark came up this way.
O, there were wild huzzaings,
When old John came riding in,
And I ne'er again expect to hear
Another such a din!
And when we would have fired salute
The General, riding nigh,
Cried, "Hold boys" save your powder;
We may need it by and by.
Let us save it for the Red-coats,
For it would work us ill If it should chance to be with us
As it was at Bunker Hill."
And then there was another shout,
And the drums they wildly beat,
While every moment fresh recruits
Came thronging up the street;
For all New Hampshire was awake
And from hillside and from glen
Came answereing to the call of Stark
As had ne'er been seen till then.
And Nichols' men and Stickney's men,
And gallant Hobart's, too
(Hobart and Stickney were the same
Who fought the Tory crew.)
On double quick came marching up,
And into Charlestown, came;
Brave men were they upon a hunt
In search of Hessian game!
And Heywood, Hobart's Major,
Rode out to meet each band, -
(A truer or a braver man
There was not in the land) -
And led them up the ancient street
To where Elijah Grout
With his fair daughters stood to deal
Their balls and powder out!
And Colonel Hunt seemed everywhere
To see that all were fed;
And every girl made cartridges
Who was not making bread!
And O, to see that gathering,
It was a goodly sight,
And to see them start for Bennington
To fight the glorious fight!
Those days have long been over,
And thank God that it is so,
And we would not have our land again
Invaded by a foe.
Yet would we still recall the deeds
Which by our sires were done;
Their readiness to meet the foe,
The fields their valor won.
So would we let our thoughts go back
O'er all the years that lie
Between us and those stirring days,
When they marched to fight at Ti -
And we would, as a sacred trust,
Keep ever bright their fame;
And we would not let a laurel fade
That twines around their name;
But as we stand on Breakneck,
And look on scenes below,
And behold the pleasant landscape,
And the river in its flow,
And our homes of love and beauty
'Mid sweet embowering trees,
We would feel within our heart of hearts
Our fathers gave us these;
And we would not forget the days
Till life itself is done,
When they marched to meet the foe at Ti -
And fought at Bennington!
Author, Rev. Saunderson's notes: Lemuel Royce was the last surviving Revolutionary soldier, originally belonging to Charlestown, NH. Capt. Abel Walker, afterwards, Colonel Walker, was a prompt and energetic officer. He marched to Quebec in l776 in command of a company from Charlestown. He marched four times to the defence of Ticonderoga and was with his company in Colonel Hobart's regiment at the battle of Bennington. All the towns here mentioned turned out companies of volunteers to go to Ticond- eroga. Nottingham West is now Hudson. Hollis sent a company of 58 under Capt. Daniel Emerson. A portion of the companies of most of these towns were citizens of neighboring or adjoining towns which were too small to send full companies and there fore added their volunteers to those of the larger towns. Col Moses Nichols was from Amherst. Col. Thomas Stickney was of Concord. Col David Hobart was orig. from Hollis but at this time from Plymouth Hobart and Stickney were detached by Stark with their regiments to force the Tory breastwork at the battle of Bennington, which they did in gallant style. Capt. Abel Walker was in Hobart's Regiment as was also Major William Heywood. Elijah Grout was the old commissary at Charlestown during the war of the Revolution. Col Samuel Hunt was custodian of the military stores at Charlestown and was Lieut. Colonel of Col. Benjamin Bellow's regiment at the battles of Saratoga and Stillwater. "Ti" was the abbreviation universally given by the old soldiers to Ticonderoga. ______________________________________________
Submitted by Janice Farnsworth 4/29/98 - email firstname.lastname@example.org