The New Boston Artillery Company and Molly Stark
The famous Molly Stark cannon, captured from the British at the battle of Bennington (Vt.) by New Hampshire troops under the command of General John Stark on August 16, 1777, has for many generations been the proud possession of the citizens of New Boston. She deserves our esteem and careful protection as a symbol of the courage and valor of the men who fought with her. She is two hundred and ten years old, having been cast in Paris, France, in 1743. “Old Molly,” as we affectionately call her, has had a most glorious history, serving under the French flag once, the British twice, and the Americans twice.
The historic events leading up to the battle of Bennington, and the battle itself, have been recorded in history. Of especial interest to us are the details concerning the capture of the gun, Molly Stark.
History records the following details concerning the battle, “the fruits of the victory were four pieces of brass canon, several stand of arms, eight brass drums, a quantity of German broadswords, and about 700 prisoners.” It is also noted that General Stark’s horse was killed in the action.
Our gun, Molly Stark, was one of these four pieces, it being a four pounder. Two were of this size and two were three pounders.
History does not record definite information concerning the date that the New Boston Artillery Company, then attached to the Ninth Regiment, New Hampshire Militia, received possession of the gun. However, since historical records show that this gun was in the War of 1812 and that General Stark died in 1822, it appears correct to presume that the New Boston Company received the gun some time previous to Stark’s death. It is quite accurate to assume that this cherished relic was a personal gift from him to the men of the New Boston Company since many of them fought under him at Bennington.
The original New Boston Artillery Company was active until 1852. It was in that year that the General Court repealed the law requiring military service.
We can imagine that the young men of those days were tired of military service and so the old Company was disbanded. All military accouterments were returned to the state except Molly Stark. Those hardy souls who had preserved and protected her for the many years would not give her up.
During the intervening years until June 21, 1938 no legal authority had claimed the right of ownership. Numerous are tales of rivalry between our neighboring towns for the possession of the gun. Many have been her hidden mysteries. All constitute the hereditary history of our town.
In the spring of 1938, certain incidents developed that caused serious thought among some of our citizens relative to the security of the gun. On June 7th a meeting was called by William O. Dodge for reorganizing the Artillery Company. It was incorporated on August 31, 1938. Th e object for which this corporation was established is to have custody of and responsibility for the cannon, “Molly Stark.”
The constitution provides that all legal male residents of the town of New Boston eighteen years of age or over shall be eligible for membership in the Company upon signing the oath of allegiance.
During the years since the non-military activation of the Company, the tradition of former years has been preserved and the New Boston Artillery Company has served a very useful purpose in the community.
CLEMENT A. LYONS, Clerk New Boston Artillery Company