Site No. 13: G.A.R. stands for the Grand Army of the Republic—an organization of Civil War veterans. Not until sixty years after the Civil War did Newmarket erect this monument. By then, the Great War was a more recent and vivid memory, and the G.A.R. joined several town organizations in fundraising to commemorate veterans of both conflicts. Taxpayer funds helped too, contributing nearly $7,000 in support of the two memorials.
Over the course of the conflict, New Hampshire formed 17 regiments of infantry volunteers. The 176 names on this monument were compiled from state records of its various regiments. More recent research indicates that the number is closer to 300 soldiers from town serving in the war. Each town had to pay each of its volunteers the bounty offered by the state. These bounties were not reimbursed until years later. By the end of the war, our town was nearly bankrupt, relying on personal loans to keep it afloat.
Newmarket lost 43 soldiers in total—23 were Killed in Action, ten died as Prisoners of War, and ten succumbed to disease. Another 48 were severely wounded, and 60 were disabled. The dead were given battlefield or camp-side burial. If families wished to bring their loved ones home for burial, they were responsible for the cost.
During the war, the Soldiers’ Aid Society held letter-writing sessions and furnished troops with clothing and other items. Letters from home were highly prized by the soldiers, and new boots were always welcome. Sadly, most food sent was usually rotten by the time it arrived at the camps.
In a letter written by 19-year-old Alanson Haines, he recalled his first meal, enroute to New Orleans: At the cook’s quarters, not having eaten anything from 4 in the morning to 2 pm, I had one of the best dinners I had ever eaten— fried salt pork, one potato with the jacket on and a slice of bread all dumped into the fat together…and a cup of coffee.
Early in the war Newmarket’s Charles Edgerly trained troops in Boston. He and his buddies became known as the “singing drill sergeants, and they made up a foolish song about a fellow sergeant named John Brown. It was a catchy tune, and before long troops were bellowing “John Brown’s Body” as they marched down Broadway. President Lincoln heard troops singing it as they marched in the capital. It inspired him to ask Julia Ward Howe to write an anthem. In the next issue of the Atlantic Monthly her “Battle Hymn of the Republic” appeared. It was set to the same tune as “John Brown’s Body.”
Both Mr. Haines and Mr. Edgerly survived the conflict. Others did not. There were three employees at Bennett Hardware—all named George—who marched off to war, and two did not return. Lieutenant George Gay was credited with saving his company from ambush during the battle of Antietam. It was the bloodiest one-day battle in American history, and Lieutenant Gay was Killed in Action. Newmarket’s chapter of the G.A.R. was named in his honor.
Site 14 across the street is where the three Georges worked. If you don’t want to cross the street, there’s a little park with seating on this side of the street.
END OF AUDIO TEXT. See below for photos and more information.
This monument was built and installed into the granite ledge in 1922, at the same time the WW I Memorial Bandstand was built.
It was formerly dedicated on July 4, 1923 after several town organizations joined in the effort to commemorate veterans of both conflicts. The town also appropriated taxpayer funds, and by 1924, $6,685 was paid in support of the two memorials.
Town records were destroyed by the Great Fire in 1866, so the 176 names recorded here were compiled after the fact from families and some state records of men who enlisted from town.
The Newmarket Veterans Memorial Trust Committee has done extensive research since then, and there are over 290 men from town who served in the Civil War. Many enlisted from other towns, or volunteered as substitutes, or went to Portsmouth, Portland or Boston to enlisted in the Navy.
By the end of the war, the town had lost 33 men: 23 Killed in Action and ten who died from disease. Another 48 were severely wounded, which drastically shortened their livespan once they returned home; and another 60 men were disabled; and there were 10 POWs; and 4 MIAs.
These statistics don’t tell the full story of Newmarket’s citizens during the Civil War. The Stone School Museum continues to acquire artifacts and research is on-going which unveils the stories of the men who served and the families left struggling behind.
The Historical Society website: http://www.newmarketnhhistoricalsociety.org/military/civil-war/
has published 75 biographies on these men and their families—such as:
1) the Davis family (where five men enlisted, and only one returned) and 2) a young Charles Edgerly, the singing drill sergeant who (with his Boston buddies - all drill sergeants in the same camp) made up a song called “John Brown’s Body.” They used it for drill and their troops would later bellow the song as they marched down Broadway. New York papers called it the “Hallelujah Regiment” and “John Brown’s Body” became a Union anthem and an international hit!
In 1919 while a Town Committee was fundraising and working on plans to build a new Memorial Bandstand for those who served during the Great War, there was growing pressure to
build a memorial for those who served during the Civil War as well. The vocal support from the few Civil War veterans who were still alive, the families of those veterans who had passed, the Sons of the G.A.R., the Womens Relief Corps, the members of the Chateux Thierry as well as Boy and Sea Scouts was loud enough to insure that a Civil War memorial was included in those plans, and that the monument would be visible somewhere along the parade route in town. For more detailed information on the plans and fundrasing activities visit Walking Tour (Site # 31 - The Bandstand).
Once built, not much had changed for decades. Although countless townspeople had their photo taken in front of the landmark as did Ida Langlois in this undated photo, it remained a thumbnail pressed into a rather massive bleak and gray mass. That changed in 2012.
It wasn’t until the Town’s newly formed Veterans Memorial Trust Committee gathered enough funds to update the Memorial’s apron, and added steps and a railing to make the Memorial more approachable. By re-gilding the monument, the names became legible once more. These changes were done to ready the memorial for a 2012 rededication ceremony commenorating the 150th Anniversary of the start of the Civil War.
A smaller memorial inscription was set in place on the cemented apron that is visible to anyone who climbs the newly added stone steps. Since that inscription was made, the Veterans Committee and the Historical Society has determined that there were additional deaths of Newmarket men which were not captured in the inscription, nor were they embossed on the bronze tablet.
Among the many men not captured were:
1) some of the men who enlisted from town, with no family here and did not return after their discharge such as: Franklin Valley, age 20, Company H, 6th Infantry. He mustered in 7 Dec 1861, was wounded in battle on 29 Aug 1862; he received a Disablity Discharge on 11 Nov 1863 at Louisville, KY. Born in Ireland, he resided and worked in Newmarket at the time of his enlistment, and it appears he moved to Dover after his discharge where he died in 1888. His name is not on the monument which was erected 59 years after this battle.
2) or those with a questionable MIA status - Charles C. Saunders, enlisted at age 20 in Company D, 2nd Infantry — wounded 29 Aug 1862 at the 2nd Battle of Bull Run. He was born in Northwood and resided and worked in Newmarket at the time of his enlistment in May 1861 for a three-year term. He was reported missing during the battle; however, due to the carnage on the battlefield, his remains were never located. His heirs were paid his salary to Aug 29, 1862.
3) or those wounded or who received a disability, returned to town and died shortly thereafter such as: George W. Clay who enlisted as a Private Aug 1861 at age 19 in Company D, 3rd NH Infantry. He received a disability discharge in May 1863. Born in Barrington, he worked and resided in Newmarket when he enlisted. On 15 Jun 1863 he filed for a disability pension, but died when he was only 23 years old before 10 Feb 1865 when his mother filed for his benefit as surviving family member.
Newmarket landscaper Garret Blair (left) did the new stone work for the facade aand approach.
A railing was installed for easier access to read the Memorial.