Joseph Dow's History of Hampton: The Third Regiment

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The Third Regiment

At the session of the Legislature, December 27, 1792, an Act passed, "arranging the militia into regiments, Brigades & division & describing their limits," provided "that the companie in the towns of North Hampton, Hampton & Hampton Falls shall form a first battalion; the companies in the town of Seabrook Kensington & South Hampton shall form a second battalion -- which shall constitute the third regiment." [1Adj. Gen's Rept. 1866, II:375.] At this time, the law required that all free, able-bodied, white, male citizens, from eighteen to forty years of age, should be enrolled. Each company was to be called out for inspection and drill, at least twice a year; each battalion, once a year. In 1795, the limit of age was made from sixteen to forty. In 1805, company inspection was established for the last Wednesday in June, annually (changed afterwards to May), also, annually, in the month of August or September. Regimental musters were but once a year.

In 1808, the Third regiment was commanded by Lieut. Col. Benjamin Shaw, and the next year, by Lieut. Colonel (afterwards Colonel) Thomas Lovering, of North Hampton, who continued in command during the second war with England, and later, resigning in 1819.

The war passed, but the militia service continued effective, for along series of ;years. Regimental musters were gala days. Old and young looked forward to them, and joined with zest ;in the festivities. The must field, with its eating-booths, show-tents, auction-carts, candy-stands and plenty of New England rum at three cents a glass, presented a gay appearance, marred, too often, by the spectacle of men, with muddled brains and unsteady feet. In early times, little attention was paid to uniforms and equipments, a pitchfork or an ox-goad serving for drill, as well as a gun but later, much pride was taken in the personal appearance of the companies. Each town had, indeed, besides its uniformed company, a company of infantry, liable to do military duty, but not uniformed, no two men alike in dress, accoutrements or arms, -- a comical array, nicknamed the "Old Salt Hay."

In 1827, A Rifle company was formed ion Hampton, organized at the residence of Josiah Dow, on the 21st of May. "Col. John Dearborn [now commanding the Third Regiment] being also present, was chosen Moderator of the meeting." Josiah Dow, Jr., was elected Captain; Williard E. Nudd, Lieutenant; and Frederic Towle, Ensign. In August following, Captain Dow received his commission; and a few days later, he went to Boston, "in John Johnson's schooner," to purchase rifles for the company. It is recorded of them, "They are very handsome ones, and cost eleven dollars each." The first drill of the company was September 6; and from this time on, for many years, the Hampton Rifles were the choice company of the regiment. Of its early members, only Edward Shaw, Isaac Emery and Oliver Godfrey survive. The young captain subsequently became Colonel Josiah Dow, in command of the regiment. Mr. Shaw became Lieutenant of the Rifles, in 1832.

Besides the Hampton Rifles, there were, in the regiment, the South Hampton Rifles,s the Light Infantry of Hampton, a company of Artillery, mostly from Hampton and North Hampton, and a company of Cavalry from the different towns. Rev. Josiah Webster was, at one time, chaplain; and, on muster days, a detachment of cavalry escorted him, a fine rider, superbly mounted, from his house to the muster field. The first cannon of the Artillery company was only a three-pounder; but later they had a superior brass six-pounder, furnished by the State. This was kept in a gun-house, that stood on land, now a part of the Center school yard, and was in charge of Robert Philbrook, for many years. This gun was taken by the State, early in the late war, and put to active service. Ebenezer Lane, Moses A. Dow, George W. Philbrick and others, were at different times, captains of the Artillery; -- David A. Philbrick, and many others, captains of Infantry.

A member of the Rifle company, in its later years, says: "I well remember attending a muster, near the Lafayette tavern, in North Hampton; also one in Hampton, in the Toppan field, back of the town-house; I remember them in Hampton Falls, in the Brimmer field; in a field, where the Scotch settlement now is; once, near the house of the late James D. Dodge; once, near the house of General Nason; and in the Toppan field, near the late Moses Marshall's; also once, near Lamprey's Corner, in Kensington; and in some of these places, several times." Mr. Shaw remembers farther back, when the annual muster was in "Dodge's pasture" at Hampton Falls, year after year.

But the glory of those old musters passed away. Men grew weary of "training" and "great training." Many lamented the free flow of liquor, and other demoralizing features of the parade; some grudged the expense. At length, the question was made a political issue, and in 1846, musters and trainings were abolished by law. The next year, however, a martial feeling prevailed, that law was repealed and the old law, reestablished, with amendments. This was in the midst of the Mexican War, when the Ninth (or New England) regiment, U. S. Infantry, commanded by Brig. Gen. (afterwards President) Franklin Pierce, and containing two companies recruited mainly in New Hampshire, was in active and gallant service in that far-off field. But that war, though sharp, was short; -- and still the military spirit declined, till in 1851, the Legislature enacted that, in time of peace, the militia of the State should be subject to no active duty. At that time, the Third regiment was officered by John M. Weare, Col.; David Cotton Marston, Lieut. Col.; Benjamin F. Hill, Maj.; George A. Chase, Adj.; Stephen A. Brown, Q.M.

Five years later, the "Amoskeag Veterans," of Manchester, awoke the enthusiasm of the State, by their visit to Washington and Mount Vernon, and the continual ovation they received en route. This led to the adoption of a new system, whereby it was hoped that active military duty would be performed by volunteers. "The Governor's Horse-Guards," a battalion of volunteer cavalry, organized in 1860, was an outcome of this new system. Col. Stebbins H. Dumas, present proprietor of the Boar's Head hotel, but then resident in Concord, was commissary of that organization.

Gen. Charles A. Nason, of Hampton Falls, was now Major General of the First Division, New Hampshire militia; but the Third regiment, whose fortunes we have followed, had become defunct. In fact, our forty-two regiments had dwindled to one, and twelve independent companies -- and a stupendous civil war, close upon us!

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