J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Thursday, June 23, 2011

General Folsom and Colonel Stark

On 29 May 1775, the New Hampshire Provincial Congress chose Nathaniel Folsom to command all its forces in the war against the Crown—which consisted of two regiments. Folsom arrived on the siege lines outside Boston on 20 June, three days after those regiments had fought in the Battle of Bunker Hill. And immediately he found trouble.

On 23 June, Folsom wrote back to the New Hampshire government from Medford:
In my Letter to you yesterday I acquainted you that on my arrival here I Imediately waited on the Capt. General [Artemas Ward]; he then Order’d me to make return to him of the Two Regiments, viz. Colo. [John] Stark’s & Colo. [James] Reed’s, of their Situation and Circumstances; on my return here I sent orders to the Two Colos. to make return of their respective Regiments to me.

Colo. Reed Imediately obey’d the order but Colo. Stark repeatedly and at last absolutely refused to comply. I am well inform’d by Mr. Stark’s best friends that he does not Intend to be under any subordination to any Person appointed by the Congress of New Hampshire to the general command of the New Hampr Troops. I have tried all conciliatory methods both by Personal Conversation and the mediation of Friends, but without effect.

In consequence whereof I this afternoon again waited on the Capt. General at Head Quarters to take his order on the matter; he requested me to advise with the Committee of Safety of New Hampr on the Business, as Colo. Stark has received no Commission yet from you, he thinks he does not properly come under his cognizance. Gentlemen, it is I trust unnecessary to hint to you that without a Proper subordination it will be absolutely Impossible for me to Execute the Trust you have Reposed in me; in my last conversation with Mr. Stark, he told me he could take his Pack and return home (and meant as I suppose to Lead his men with him.) I represented to him the dishonorable part he would thereby act towards both Colonies.

I have since made Enquiry & find he would not be able to Lead off many more than the supernumerors of his Regiment, it still consisting of 13 Companys. I think a Regiment might be form’d of the men who have been under his command without his being appointed to the Command of ’em.

I must do the Justice to Letn. Col. [Isaac] Wyman to say he has behaved prudently, Courageously and very much like a Gentleman, and I think I could recommend him to the command as soon as any Person I know.
Just as things were looking interesting, two days later Folsom reported:
In my letter of the 23d Instant I informed you that Col. Stark refused subordination to my orders. But yesterday he made such submission as induces me to desire you to pass over said Letter, so far as it relates to him, unnoticed.
Why did Stark change his mind? I have no idea.

TOMORROW: How long did Gen. Folsom stay in command?

1 comment:

Meme said...

Thank you for sharing all of this important information. Our family loves history!