Joseph Dow's History of Hampton: THE SEABOARD EXPOSED

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The people of Hampton had fifteen months before proclaimed their opposition to British aggression, and their determination to resist it by force of arms, if necessary; and it may well be supposed, that the wanton slaughter of their countrymen at Lexington and Concord would not diminish their opposition, nor cool their resolution. But their situation, and that of a few other towns in this vicinity, was peculiar. These towns lay upon the seaboard, and the enemy might at any time annoy them by landing on the beach with boats; or effect a wider destruction, by sending a naval force into the Piscataqua. Rumors were already afloat, that the British were coming, but at what particular point they would most probably appear, none could tell. Under these circumstances, it might have been thought that patriotism did not require, nor prudence permit the men of these towns to leave the seaboard unguarded, and their own families at the mercy of the foe; but that their first duty was to provide for the defense of the sea-coast by an adequate force. Still, an order was given at Hampton, the next day after the Lexington and Concord fights, for the soldiers to proceed immediately to Boston. They accordingly set out the same day, but at Ipswich, a counter-order was received, and they returned home, where they arrived on the 22nd. They were probably sent back to aid in the defense of the coast.

A new assembly having been summoned by Governor Wentworth, the General Court commenced a session on the 4th of May, about two weeks after the battle of Lexington. The governor, entertaining hopes that the difficulties between England and the colonies might yet be settled, and harmony restored, opened the session with a speech, entreating the members of the court to adopt a pacific policy. At the request of the House, he then adjourned them to the 12th of June, to give them an opportunity to consult their constituents.

A few days afterward, the town of Hampton chose Capt. Josiah Moulton and Josiah Moulton 3d -- who were also members of the assembly -- to represent the town in a convention soon to be holden at Exeter, and voted, that said delegates, when met, should be empowered and authorized to adopt and pursue such measures as might be judged most expedient to preserve and restore the rights of this and the other colonies, and to act in behalf of themselves and their constituents, for six months, if they should judge the same necessary, and to adjourn as occasion might require.

To this convention, which met on the 17th of May, the representatives applied for instructions. The state of the country was such as to demand promptness of action on the part of the convention. They at once resolved to raise two thousand men in the province, to be formed into three regiments, and to be placed under the command of Colonels Stark, Reed and Poor. Those men, who had already gone as volunteers to the theater of war, were to form two of these regiments, and the third was to be enlisted immediately. The whole were to serve till the close of the year, unless sooner discharged.

At this time the fears that the enemy would land on the coast had increased, and about the close of the month, the danger appeared imminent. It became known that the British had sent out from Boston a considerable number of "cutters," having their decks filled with boats, the whole movement indicating some such design as had before been suspected. At this juncture, General Ward sent a letter by express to the different towns along the coast, warning them of their danger, and urging them to be ready for action. He wrote as follows:

  "Head Quarters, Cambridge, 29th May, 1775.
Sr, By Information just receiv'd from Boston, I apprehend the Enemy intend to make an attack somewhere this night; therefore would have your people in readiness to act on the shortest notice, if there should be occasion.
  I am &c.
  Artemas Ward."

This letter was sent to the committee of correspondence of Salem, by whom it was forwarded, with further particulars, to Manchester, and so on from town to town along the coast. It reached Newburyport at half past four o'clock in the afternoon, and was immediately forwarded to Hampton.

A memorial was promptly drawn up, and presented to the convention, rehearsing the advice from General Ward, and setting forth the absolute necessity of guarding the sea-coast and the expediency of employing for this purpose, forces to be raised in this part of the province, rather than that these forces should be sent to Massachusetts, and others called from a distance to defend the sea-board.

The exigency of the case admitting no delay, the memorial was put into the hands of the member from Hampton Falls, without signatures, and he presented it as the next meeting of the convention, accompanied by the following note:

"To the President of the Provincial Congress.
At the request of many persons who represent to me that the general mind of the people in the towns near the coast is as above represented, and that much uneasiness is in their minds until some provision be made for their defense, I subscribe in their behalf, to save the time of collecting great numbers of subscribers.

  Meshech Weare."
The memorial appears to have been referred to the Committee of Safety, for at their meeting the first day of June it was determined that two companies should be mustered and equipped, and sent to guard the seacoast for the present, and that the companies that should first be in readiness, should be thus employed. People of Hampton, according to tradition, performed this service on their own coast; whence it happened that but few, if any of them were present at the Battle of Bunker Hill, which was fought while they were thus engaged.
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