Standing in the middle of the town common surround by a black iron fence is a monument we see every day. It is Soldiers Monument erected in 1884, and it lists the names of those who served from Londonderry during the Civil War.
The Monument strikingly resembles many other Civil War memorials you see throughout the State and the Country. The company that produced the monument wanted to keep costs down so communities could afford to purchase a memorial. Making an easy to manufacture monument would accomplish that. The monuments were all manufactured exactly the same. Only difference was depending where you were from. Your town could purchase one with a union solider or one with a confederate solider.
The Civil War started in 1861 and ended in 1865. During the four years this war was fought; an estimated 620,000 soldiers died from combat, accident, starvation, and disease.
This week one hundred and fifty years ago a horrific battle took place in the small town of Gettysburg, PA. The fighting lasted for 3 days from July 1, through July 3rd. Between 46,000 and 51,00o soldiers from both armies were casualties. The retreat of the South took place on July 4th and the wagon train, heading to Virgina, carrying the wounded was 17 miles long.
New Hampshire sons played a vital role in the Civil War and many of our young men’s lives were lost. The State of New Hampshire sent over 33,000 men to the Union Army. Over 900 fought at Gettysburg, suffering 368 casualties. There are five monuments found on the soil of Gettysburg honoring New Hampshire units who fought in the battle. Three infantry regiments, an artillery battery, and three companies of sharpshooters.
The Units that served were the 5th New Hampshire under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Charles E. Hapgood of Amherst. The 5th New Hampshire Infantry Regiment suffered the most battle deaths of any Union regiment in the Civil War, with 295 men killed in action. The 12th New Hampshire was commanded at the Battle of Gettysburg by Captain John F. Langley, a machinist from Manchester. The regiment had lost all its field officers in heavy fighting at Chancellorsville in May. The New Hampshire Mountaineers fought for nearly three years in the Armies of the Potomac and the James. Of its original number over 50 per cent had been lost in Chancellorsville and Cold Harbor. The Unit marched to Gettysburg on the night of the July 1st, fought on the 2nd, and supported the center against Pickett’s Charge on the 3rd. Company E, 1st U.S. Sharpshooters and Companies F & G, 2nd U.S. Sharpshooters also were part of the battle in Gettysburg. The 1st brought 371 men to the field and the 2nd brought 204. During the fighting both units lost a total of 11 killed, 60 wounded and 21 missing. The final Unit was the First New Hampshire Battery Light Artillery. Captain Frederick M. Edgell of Manchester was in command and it entered the battle with 111 men.
This battle change the tide of the Civil War and brought and end to this bloody war when Robert E. Lee surrendered the last major Confederate army to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse on April 9, 1985. Word of the surrender took time to reach all of the fighting units, and the last battle was fought at Palmito Ranch, Texas, on May 13, 1865.
Later President Lincoln would honor those that had fallen at Gettysburg.
The Gettysburg Address – Abraham Lincoln
November 19, 1863
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
When the Civil War ended many soldiers returned to New Hampshire looking for jobs; most headed west. The Grange, a fraternal organization which encourages families to band together to promote the economic and political well-being of the community and agriculture was founded after the Civil War in 1867. The oldest American agricultural advocacy group, Grange 44 stands across the road from the common today.
Londonderry has a proud and rich history of serving this great country in a time of War. If you get a chance today, stop by the Town Common and read the names on all the monuments representing all those that served.
Read about Colonel William Pillsbury. Who severed with honor representing the State of New Hampshire and Londonderry.