A most interesting record book came to light a short time ago in the Connecticut River Valley town of Chesterfield, N. H., a few miles south of here, throwing light upon the practices and make-up of the military arm of that state nearly a century ago. It was the “Orderly Book of the 5th Company of the 6th Regiment, New Hampshire Militia,” the title page indicating that it was the “Property of the State,” although it had never been placed among the archives, as probably should have been done. It was found in the attic of the Stone House Tavern in that town, of which the proprietor, Paschal Converse, was the company clerk during a large part of the years covered by the records, viz., 1841 to 1849. The book is well preserved and contains, among the officers, and men the names of a large part of the citizenship of those days in that town. The building in which it was found is one of the oldest in the town, now used as a summer hotel, and the owner in the ’40s was the clerk who kept the records of the company a part of the time, Paschal Converse. The company was in the 5th Brigade and 3rd Division of the New Hampshire militia.
The first entry in the book is: ” This Certifies that I, Paschal Converse, was appointed clerk of said company on Friday the 17th day of September, 1841, and took the oath of allegiance and of office Sept. 17th, 1841.
Paschal Converse, Clerk.
A True copy, Attest.”
“State of New Hampshire, -To Capt. Willard C. Black, -Sir your here by notified and warned to appear with your subalterns at the inn of Celatin Farr in Chesterfield on Thursday, the 16 day of September next at 9 O’clock A. M. in uniform and with Musket Bayonet Sword and Belt as the law requires for to Drill and there wait further orders. Your are also here by notified and warned to appear with your company on the Common near the Baptist Meetinghouse in Swansey on Wednesday, the 29th day of September next at 6 O’clock A. M. completely armed and Equipped as the law requires for military inspection and Review and there wait further orders.
Dated at Chesterfield Aug. the 30th 1841
By order of Col. E. P. Pierce, Jr., of the 6 Reg. M. H. Day adgeotent of the 6 Reg Attest Paschal Converse Clerk.”
“New Hampshire Militia
“To Burnam Royce, Private in the 5th Co. 6th Reg. you are hereby ordered and directed to notify and warn as the law requires all non commissioned officers and privates whose names are here to annexed in the company under my command to appear on parade near P Convers Inn in Chesterfield on Tuesday, the 24th day of September at one O’clock in the P. M. noon also at the Baptist Meetinghouse in Swansey the 29th day of September at six O’clock A. M. noon with arms and equipments required by law for military duty Thereof fail not and make due return of your doings herein on or before the day of appearance,-Dated at Chesterfield this 17th day of September Anno Domini 1841
“W. C. Black, Captain or Commanding officer of said Company. Paschal Converse-Russel Farr Jr.-Celatin Farr-Preston Sterns-George L. Fullam-Squire Smith-John B. Fisk-Norman Smith-George
Darling-Thomas Dunham-Elijah Hubbard-Charles Davis-Isiah Higgins-Bradley Prentiss-Newell Colburn-Daniel Presho-Mark Cook-Alanson Chamberlin-Chandler A. Cressey-George Chamberlin-George Wheeler-Samuel Chamberlin Jr.-Seth Willington-John L. Pierce-Broughton Davis-Wm. Smith-Asa Smith-Horace Harvey-Warren Hildreth-Croyden Sargent-Arad H. Fletcher-Ephriam Amadon-John Davis-Lyman Royce-George Norcross-Gilman Darling-Samuel Norcross-Holsey Fletcher.”
The above probably includes a large proportion of the able-bodied men of the town at that time, and the names are familiar ones of present-day families there.
The inspection return of this “training” shows they had present “1 Captain-1 Lieutenant-1 Ensign-1 Segants-2 Musicians-56 Privates-Present 24-Absent 32-Total including Officers 62-Muskets 23-Bayonets 23-Iron ramrods 24-Scabbards & Belts 24 Cartridge Boxes 24-Priming Wires & Brushes 24-Spare Flints 72-Knapsacks 24-Canteens 24-Drums 1-Fifes 1.”
The surgeon of the company was C. C. Wheaton, and his certificates of the causes for exemption from military duty, of which there are many, are somewhat amusing, as shown by the following examples:
“New Hampshire Militia
“This may certify that George Fletcher complains of weakness across his kidneys of some three years standing if so he should be exempt from performing military duty for one year.
C. C. Wheaton, Surg Recorded March 21st, 1842.”
“This certifies to all whom it may concern that James F. Robertson is incapable of performing military duty from an affection of the heart and liver as well as other troubles about the system which will probably be of long continuance. Therefore, I consider him legally excused from the further performance of said duty for one year from date.
John O. French, M. D.
Moses Dudley Selectmen of Arad Fletcher Chesterfield April 16th, 1849.”
The orders issued for training, warning of members, amount of the equipment inventory, exemptions from duty, of which the above are samples, are all carefully recorded in detail as shown above and grew to be a sizable book of over 150 pages during the nine years they cover.
Based on: The Connecticut River Valley in southern Vermont and New Hampshire: historical sketches, Rutland, Vt.: Tuttle Co., Marble City Press, 1929.