Copyright
Alfred Sereno Hudson.

Commemorative of Calvin and Luther Blanchard online

. (page 1 of 7)
Online LibraryAlfred Sereno HudsonCommemorative of Calvin and Luther Blanchard → online text (page 1 of 7)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


CD arc



^. TNI
Ul



MINUTB-MEN




Ayer, Mass., Sept. 12, i8gg.

(Please accept the accompanying volume as
the gift of Luke <Blanchard, ofWestAtlon, Mass.,
the publisher, with the kind regards of the author.

(Respectfully,

jiLFfREfD S. HUftSOJI







w
z

c



COMMEMORATIVE



OF



Calvin and Luther Blanchard

ACTON MINUTE-MEN

1775



BY

ALFRED SERENO HUDSON

AUTHOR OF

History of Sudbury," "Annals of Sudbury, Wayland and
Maynard," "Souvenir of the Wayside Inn," Etc.



PUBLISHED BY

LUKE BLANCHARD, WEST ACTON, MASS.
1899



PRESS OF

HUNTLEY S. TURNER
AVER, MASS.



To

THE DESCENDANTS OF THE MlNUTE-MEN,

WHO, TRUE TO THEIR NAME,

MUSTERED AT THE MIDNIGHT ALARM AND

MET THE MINISTERIAL TROOPS ON APRIL IQTH, 1775,

THIS BOOK IS RESPECTFULLY INSCRIBED

BY THE PUBLISHER,
LUKE BLANCHARD, OF ACTON, MASS.,

A GRANDSON OF CALVIN
AND GRAND-NEPHEW OF LUTHER BLANCHARD.



CONTENTS.



PAGE.

DESCRIPTION OF ILLUSTRATIONS, 5

HONOR TO WHOM HONOR is DUE 9

SKETCH OF LUTHER BLANCHARD'S LIFE, 14

DEDICATION OF THE BLANCHARD MEMORIAL STONE, 35
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF MINUTE-MEN MEMORIAL

STONES, 53

THE MINUTE-MAN AND THE NEW ENGLAND

MEETING-HOUSE 59

THE DESIGN OF THE BLANCHARD MEMORIAL

STONE 66

ANCESTRAL ANNALS OF CALVIN AND LUTHER

BLANCHARD, 71

CAUSE OF LUTHER BLANCHARD'S DEATH, 89



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.



THE BLANCHARD MEMORIAL STONE, Frontispiece.

THE WHITE COCKADE 17

THE START OF THE ACTON MINUTE COMPANY,.... 27

THE OLD NORTH BRIDGE 35

THE JONATHAN HOSMER HOUSE 47

STATUE OF THE MINUTE-MAN, 53

PICTURE OF THE FIRST MEETING-HOUSE, ACTON,.. 59

PICTURE OF LUKE BLANCHARD, 67

PICTURE OF SIMON BLANCHARD, 71



DESCRIPTION OF ILLUSTRATIONS.



THE START FOR CONCORD.

The picture of Captain Isaac Davis leading his com-
pany of minute-men from his house, April iQth, 1775, is
reproduced from a painting by Mr. Arthur F. Davis.
The picture is considered natural.



THE OLD NORTH BRIDGE, CONCORD, MASS.

The author of this book, in making a picture of the
Old North Bridge and the Major Buttrick house on the
hill, has followed the suggestions of a picture by Doolittle
and Earle, made about three months after the Con-
cord fight ; while for the adjacent country he has followed
nature as it is at the present time, which is, probably, in its
main features, about as it was in 1775. The ground on the
northerly side of the bridge about the causeway is low, and
at high water the river sometimes overflowed it. The
causeway was short, and turned easterly by the upland, and
entered the highway which led to the neighborhood of
Major Buttrick's house. The point of view from which the
picture was taken is on the southerly side of the river, a
few rods above the bridge.



6 LUTHER BLANCHARD MEMORIAL.

THE JONATHAN HOSMER HOUSE.

The picture of this house was sketched by the author,
from a description given him by Mrs. Emeline Hall of
West Acton, Mass., a granddaughter of Deacon Jonathan
Hosmer. Mrs. Hall was born in the old Hosmer house in
18^8, and lived there till she was eighteen years old. Her
recollection of the house is quite distinct, and when the
drawing was completed, she pronounced it natural. There
formerly stood to the westerly of the house a shed and
chaise-house ; and a barn stood on the opposite side of the
road. The tree on the south-easterly corner was an elm,
and in the rear were several butternut trees. The house
faced southerly. The front yard was large and unfenced.
The present road from West Acton to South Acton was
not in existence in 1775. The old road from Acton center,
so much as is represented in the picture, is the same now,
as formerly, and runs by the memorial stone, joining the
West and South Acton road, nearly opposite the Herman
A. Gould house. Formerly this road turned at a point near
the Hosmer house, and went up the hill northerly of the
present South Acton road ; this latter section can still be
traced by a cart-path. The front room to the south-
westerly, which was entered by the side door, was used for
the kitchen.



PREFACE.



In writing this little volume the author has taken such
liberty as he considered suitable and the nature of the case re-
quired. There has been but little consultation with the pub-
lisher as to what matter it should contain, or the form of its
presentation ; his purpose being to have properly given an ac-
count of the events of the first " Patriots' Day," as they
stand related to the dedication of the " Memorial Stone "
erected by him to the memory of his ancestor, Calvin Blanch-
ard, and his great uncle, Luther; a purpose commendable in
itself, and in the interest of local history. Whatever relates to
the publisher personally has been editorially inserted, and in no
instance has any part of the manuscript been submitted for his
perusal. As the work has been gotten up by the publisher for
private distribution, the subject is more specific, and its scope
more limited than if it were a contribution to literature of a
more public character.

It is, nevertheless, the hope of the author that these few
pages may prove a fresh inspiration to all who are interested in
what " Patriots' Day " is suggestive of, and may tend to in-
crease the admiration of posterity for the work and character
of the Minute-men of '75.

A. s. H.

AVER, MASS., June 8, 1899.



" But, O where can dust to dust

Be consigned so well,
As where heaven its dews shall shed,
On the martyred patriot's bed,
And the rocks shall raise their head,

Of his deeds to tell?"

Picrpont.



HONOR TO WHOM HONOR
IS DUE.



I.

At Acton, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, April
igth, 1895, a memorial stone was dedicated with the fol-
lowing inscription :

"FROM THIS FARM WENT

CALVIN AND LUTHER BLANCHARD

TO CONCORD FIGHT AND BUNKER HILL,

SONS OF SIMON BLANCHARD, WHO WAS

KILLED AT THE BATTLE OF QUEBEC, 1759.

LUTHER WAS THE FIRST MAN HIT BY A

BRITISH BULLET AT THE OLD NORTH BRIDGE

AND DIED IN THE SERVICE OF HIS COUNTRY

A FEW MONTHS LATER."

This memorial was erected by Luke Blanchard of
Acton, a grand-son of Calvin and grand-nephew of Luther,
whose names are thereon inscribed ; and is situated in that



JO LUTHER BLANCH ARD MEMORIAL.

part of the town which is known as West Acton, about one
mile northerly of the Fitchburg railroad station and about
two miles from Acton Center.

The stone stands by the wayside, in a quiet spot, and
at a junction of roads, one of which leads to South Acton,
the other northerly towards the center.

The farm on which the monument stands is now known
as the Hermon A. Gould farm, but more than a century ago
it was a part of the homestead of Jonathan Hosmer. The
dedicatory exercises consisted of patriotic speeches, appro-
priate music and prayer; and to preserve some of these for
the perusal of posterity, as well as to present some additional
facts relative to the notable lives and events thus com-
memorated, is the object of the following compilation. Be-
fore entering upon the task allotted us, it may be appropriate
to remark, that it is a delicate one to undertake, from the
fact that the hero of our sketch had many peers, and space
forbids an extended mention of all of them.

While there went from Acton to the North Bridge at
Concord, Luther Blanchard, the fifer, there went also Isaac
Davis, Abner Hosmer and James Hayward. These, with
their fellow townsmen who went with them, all marched
through a gateway of glory, and each was a willing sacrifice
ready to be offered when the time should come. There
was no difference whatever in the purity of purpose that
moved these young patriots; all had like hopes and like
fears, and of them it could truthfully be said,

"Few were the numbers they could boast

But every freeman was a host,

And felt as if himself were he

On whose sole arm hung victory."



LUTHER BLANCHARD MEMORIAL. II

As of Acton, so it was of other towns. Among these
soldiers was no priority of merit. It was a hero's day for
them all. Never since the days of Leonidas and his Spar-
tan band has the sun shown on a braver company.

The soft rays of the sun, that were thrown back from a
thousand sparkling dewdropson that April morning, were but
the precursor of a gathering glory that was to be reflected
upon them in the far off years. If the external experience
of the actors was different, it was by force of mere circum-
stance ; for had each had his own way perhaps he himself
would have been foremost, and the first front of the Revolu-
tion would have been made by his own company. This equal-
izing of honors has been too much overlooked, and in the
honest attempt to get at the facts in the interest of exact
history, such as the location of dates and the ascription of
personal acts to the right parties, there may have sometimes
existed questionable rivalry. But if such is the case it is
unfortunate. Truth requires no invidious comparisons.
We may magnify facts, but show no partiality. Because
of incidental circumstances, such as time, distance and
population, the parts borne by different towns on April
1 9th, were from the nature of the case dissimilar. Be it
so, and let that dissimilarity be recognized, but let no favor-
itism be based upon it. To Lexington let it be accorded
that her town's common land was made sacred by the
first blood spilled. Let Concord claim the first battle
ground on which George the Third met with organized
resistance. Admit that Sudbury sent the most militia
and minute-men. Place Acton in the van as she was.
And so to all the other towns engaged give the credit that
is their due. Let whatever of especial honor belongs



I a LUTHER BLANCHARD MEMORIAL.

to them be freely accorded, and then there will remain a
residue of renown which will make each one great.

And so of the individual actors in that never to be for-
gotten conflict, whatever of priority belongs to them as
relates to time, place, or rank, let the honor be recognized.
If Captain Isaac Davis was the first to fall on April igth,
let the fact be related and recorded, and let no other be
given his place. If Abner Hosmer was the next to join the
silent procession, which on that memorable morning struck
their tents on earth to spread them " On Fame's eternal
camping ground," let no one deny him the honor. And if
there followed, a little later, James Hayward and Luther
Blan chard, let it be said of them that they also were faith-
ful unto death, and are numbered among "the few the
immortal names that were not born to die." Let us inscribe
on granite or bronze their virtues, nor stint them in the
bestowment of a country's gratitude, because death came not
as to the others, on the battlefield, but by slow, lingering
approaches, and through the torture of painful wounds. To
do this is magnanimous; to do this is just; but to do less
is unjust.

Let us then to each of those, who, on that morning,
which John Hancock said was a glorious one for America,
girded himself for battle, give unstinted praise; remember-
ing, that however much we may extol their valor and admire
their simple virtues, we are in no danger of doing anything
in this direction that will be more than commensurate with
their deserts. For it was a dark, dark morning that had its
dawning on that April iQth dark in its uncertainties and
its doubtful issues. They who entered upon its terrible
experience could not forecast what we see so clearly, that



LUTHER BLANCH ARD MEMORIAL. 13

liberty and light were about to break on a continent. The
future was hidden from their vision. The horizon of their
hope was a narrow one. Their pillar of fire was their faith
in the God of battles. Their cloud was their belief that
His strong arm would prevail.

" Their feet had trodden peaceful ways ;

They loved not strife ; they dreaded pain ;

They saw not, what to us is plain,
That God would make man's wrath his praise.

No seers were they, but simple men ;

Its vast results the future hid ;

The meaning of the work they did
Was strange and dark and doubtful then.

They went where duty seemed to call ;

They scarcely asked the reason why

They only knew they could but die j
And death was not the worst of all."

Whittier.



SKETCH OF



LUTHER BLANCHARD'S LIFE.



II.

The brothers, Luther and Calvin Blanchard, were born
in the town of Boxboro, in that portion of its territory
which was formerly a part of Littleton.

The deed of the farm on which they were born was, if
not the second, at least one of the earliest recorded deeds
from "ye proprietors" in the ancient Nashoba plantation.
The territory of the old homestead, whose soil was for gen-
erations tilled by the Blanchards, is bounded easterly by the
so-called "Powers' farm" and southerly by "Indian land;"
which latter consisted of about five hundred acres in the
southeast corner of Littleton, and was said to be three hun-
dred poles long. It was in the vicinity, if not a part of the
exact spot, where the Christian Indians of the Nashoba mis-
sion, who were fostered by Eliot and Gookin, made their
wigwams and prayed and sang psalms in the deep forest
shade, or in the bright sunny openings of the woodland, and
neighbored, it may be, with their kinspeople on the green
intervales of the Musketahquid river at what is now Concord.



LUTHER BLANCHARD MEMORIAL. 15

Their father, Simon, was descended from Thomas, who
early settled in Charlestown, Massachusetts, in the part
which is now Maiden. Luther and Calvin probably
inherited a martial spirit from their father, for we find his
name given among those brave New Englanders, who fought
in the intercolonial war between England and France in the
period of 1756-1763, and tradition informs us, that he fell
on the plains of Abraham at Quebec, fighting under General
Wolf, Sept. 13, 1759; so that young Luther's family, at least
on his father's side, presumably, was thoroughly imbued
with a martial nature, and hence it is not to be wondered
at that a later generation should give evidence of its trans-
mission. Some time before his soldier life commenced, he
left his home to learn the mason's trade; and we find him at
the age of eighteen with his brother Calvin thus employed,
and living with Jonathan Hosmer on the place in Acton
before described as the site of the memorial stone. As
Jonathan Hosmer had a son who was present at the
Concord fight, and as they lived not far from the home
of Captain Isaac Davis, the gunsmith, it is easy to sup-
pose that the three boys made frequent visits of an even-
ing to his shop, and talked of the probability of war; and
when to meet any emergency a minute company was formed,
it was only natural for them to enlist under the leadership
of neighbor Davis. Luther Blanchard, being a fife player,
probably enlisted as the company's fifer, a position of no
small importance in those times, when other wind instru-
ments were rare, and the stirring strains of a fife and kettle
drum were the usual music on all military occasions. As
minute companies were made up more or less of persons



l6 LUTHER BLANCHARD MEMORIAL.

of nonage, and others not liable to militia enrollment, fre-
quent drill meetings were quite essential for affording mili-
tary instruction, and in the various towns some of these drill
meetings were held at evening. Probably, weeks before
the hostile outbreak, the youthful fifer was present at the
drills, and with his fellow musician, Francis Barker, the
drummer, played while Captain Davis manceuvered his men
in the little lane and practiced them in the manual of arms;
and when the company broke rank and was dismissed,
naturally enough Luther, and the other boys of his neigh-
borhood, as they wended their way homeward, would have
music by themselves, so that doubtless "The White Cock-
ade" was a familiar air to the dwellers in that vicinity.
But that little company was not long to play soldier, and
when on the evening of April i8th the alarm came to
Acton by a mysterious messenger, who at midnight rode
through the villages and the lone hamlets, warning the
inmates to "up, and to arm!" Among the first to respond
was the minute company, which reported in Captain Davis'
dooryard early on the morning of the igth, and received
from the faithful commander the assurance that when
a sufficient number of men arrived he would march.
About seven o'clock, the requisite number had come,
and Davis gave the word to start, after declaring that they
had a right to go to Concord on the king's highway and
that they would do so at all hazards. No sooner had the
order to march been given than Luther Blanchard sent out
on the cool crisp air the notes of "The White Cockade,"
and they were off. Little is related in history of the short,
quick journey to Concord North bridge, but it is quite
probable that when the little band was away they sped



LUTHER BLANCHARD MEMORIAL. 17

with flying feet to the time of their own quickened heart
throbbings; and that it was only now and then as they
slackened their pace at some rising ground that Luther re-
sumed fifing; but when he and his comrades caught a
glimpse in the distance of the North bridge, and of the
companies from the neighboring towns, we may suppose
there was a call for music, and that Luther Blanchard and
Drummer Barker did their best; and that the strains com-
ing from afar were to those waiting Middlesex militia men
already assembled at Concord, like the sound of the High-
landers' slogan at Lucknow, which long before the musicians
were in sight told of the approach of friends. After the
meeting of the Provincials near Major Buttrick's, there was
a hurried consultation of the officers relative to what should
be done and who should do it. While this consultation was
going on, smoke arose in the distance indicating that Con-
cord village was burning, and almost simultaneously, a
small detachment of Regulars commanded by Lieutenant
Gould began taking up the bridge planks to keep the Con-
tinentals from going to the rescue. At this juncture of
affairs came a crisis, and British power in America began
to tremble, for there was one and he the youngest of those
commanders, who did not fear to strike down England's
arrogance there where it was asserting itself, and declared
that "he had not a man who was afraid to follow him."
Then came the order to march, and Captain Davis was
again on the move, and Luther Blanchard again struck the
tune of "The White Cockade," and down they descended
the highway by the meadow margin sternly determined
upon work, but with orders not to fire till they were fired
upon. What a scene was there presented ; the sun shining



l8 LUTHER BLANCHARD MEMORIAL.

with exceptional brightness, nature dressing herself in gay
attire, the birds caroling sweetly in the meadow, and each
with Luther as in one grand matinee" endeavoring to enli-
ven the eventful hour. Yes, all was exceptional, the march,
the music, the men ; but there was to be one thing more
to complete the effect, and that was the firing of "The
shot heard round the world." Soon it came. As the com-
pany drew nearer the river bank, the Regulars, fearing they
would be upon them before the bridge could be dismantled,
fired a volley. As there was at first no visible effect pro-
duced it was supposed that only blank cartridges had been
fired, or that the enemy had aimed their guns into the air.
But to make sure that the shots were harmless, Captain
Davis asked his company if balls were fired, whereupon
Luther Blanchard exclaimed, "Yes, for one has struck me."
This was enough for Davis to know, for the invaders had
shown themselves murderous; and word was immediately
given to fire. As Davis was raising his gun to take aim, the
Regulars fired again and he fell, shot through the heart.
Almost simultaneously there fell near him Abner Hosmer,
who was shot through the head. So opened the action of
that fateful morning.

As the general causes that contributed to the conflict
at Concord are more or less familiar to readers of Ameri-
can history, it is unnecessary for us to consider them in
detail, however interesting they might be as incidentally
related to the crowning act in the life of Luther Blanchard
and his brave compatriots ; but it may be appropriate,
before following further the fortunes of our hero, to briefly
give the outline of some of them.

The conflict at the North bridge was occasioned by



LUTHER BLANCHARD MEMORIAL. 19

the culmination or result of several events, all of which
were incidental to the general plan of Colonel Smith, who
had charge of the English forces, to march to Con-
cord, and destroy what military stores were found there
and perhaps capture Colonel James Barrett As at Lex-
ington, it was probably no part of an original design to
slay any of the inhabitants nor to destroy private property,
unless in furtherance of the general plan. But events con-
spired to convince the English commander that the Con-
tinentals contemplated resistance, and he took precautions
to meet it; which precautions precipitated the encounter
at the bridge. According to the best information from
sources both English and American, the main facts in the
case are as follows :

After the massacre at Lexington, which occurred
about sunrise, the Regulars proceeded to Concord, not
perhaps without some misgivings as to the day's results,
since the assembled militia men and the slaughter of some
of them was doubtless suggestive of an aroused condition
of the country. On the arrival about seven o'clock at
Concord village, Colonel Smith and Major Pitcairn took
their position in the hillside burying ground, where they
could survey operations, disposing of their troops as fol-
lows : Captain Mundy Pole of the tenth regiment with
about one hundred men was sent to the South bridge ;
Captain Lawrence Parsons with six companies of infantry,
consisting of about three hundred men, was sent northerly,
towards the Colonel Barrett neighborhood; the remainder
of the force, consisting of four or five hundred men, was
retained as a reserve or body guard in Concord village.
Of the forces sent northerly, three companies with Captain



20 LUTHER BLANCHARD MEMORIAL.

Parsons proceeded to the residence of Colonel Barrett to
destroy public stores; while three were left, under com-
mand of Captain Lawrie, near the North bridge, perhaps
with the two-fold purpose of keeping open a way of retreat
for Captain Parsons, and of preventing any Provincial
soldiers from destroying the bridge. Of the three com-
panies under Captain Lawrie left in the vicinity of the
bridge, two straggled off, or scattered about, leaving only
one, and that under command of Lieutenant Edward
Thornton, to guard the bridge.

In the meantime, the Americans from neighboring
towns were assembling at Punkatassett hill, northerly of
the river, where were already stationed some of the Con-
cord, Acton, and Lincoln men, who under command of
Captain George Minot, had rendezvoused at that place upon
the near approach of the Regulars to Concord village.
About ten o'clock, while Captain Parsons' men were
engaged in mischievous work at Colonel Barrett's, burning
gun carriages, the Provincials, having been joined by the
Acton minute company, marched from Punkatassett along
the highway to Major Buttrick's, which was about forty
rods from the North bridge. Here the consultation of
officers before referred to took place; the result of which
was the forward movement of the Acton minute company,
followed by all the others, the firing, the wounding of
Luther Blanchard, and the killing of Davis and Hosmer.
The fire was returned by the Americans, and several of the
English soldiers fell, either wounded or killed.

After this firing, there is little or no evidence of hos-
tilities on either side for more than an hour. Lieutenant
Gould and his guard at once betook themselves to the



LUTHER BLANCHARD MEMORIAL. 21

village. Three signal guns were fired by the British at the
village to call in the various detachments, all of which soon
joined the main body, which about twelve o'clock began its
march back to Boston, carrying with them their wounded
in vehicles confiscated for the purpose. Meanwhile, the
Provincials, who had been reinforced by a minute and
militia company from Sudbury, commanded by Captains
Haynes and Nixon, hurried across the fields to the easterly
of Concord village; and upon their arrival at the Lexington
road, awaited the coming of the British regiments, which
soon hove in sight. Then commenced that famous wayside
warfare, which was kept up with such disastrous results to
the English troops until they arrived in Charlestown. The


1 3 4 5 6 7

Online LibraryAlfred Sereno HudsonCommemorative of Calvin and Luther Blanchard → online text (page 1 of 7)