The Famous Brattleboro Light Artillery.
Different Organizations from 1820 to '40 --
Familiar Brattleboro Names --
Some of the Old Musters and Battles With
the Conquering Enemy, Whiskey --
The Cannon Captured from Burgoyne --
The Revolutionary Ancestry of One of the Captains.
Fifty-six years ago last June, Francis E. Phelps, Green Blackmer and E. B. Chase, the board of officers "to organize the militia of the state into divisions, brigades, regiments, battalions and companies," defined the limits of the artillery company of the 27th regiment as comprising the whole town of Brattleboro. Solomon Standelift of Halifax was the colonel of the regiment and Capt. Jonathan Davis was appointed to command the new company.
On the 11th day of August, 1838, the members of the company assembled at George W. Emerson's tavern, which stood on the spot now occupied by the town hall, and elected Alvin Flint 2d lieutenant, Elijah Jacquith 3d lieutenant, Jonas Putnam 2d sergeant, Thos. G. Crosby 3d sergeant and George Bennett 4th sergeant. Samuel Bullock and Edwin Putnam were chosen corporals. The company had no uniforms at that time, save a cap and sword with yellow mountings and black sword belt. The following summer there were 48 men in the company, Lewis Putnam being the first lieutenant. The musicians were Stephen Burnett, George B. Sargent, Franklin Fowler and Ezra Gleason.
Probably there are but four survivors of this organization,---George Esterbrooks, Luther Bardwell, Asa Sherwin and Lewis Putnam, all of whom are residents of Brattleboro. June, 1840, the company was warned to meet for inspection and drill at the North meeting-house, which stood on the common. A year later the company met at T. C. Lord's tavern, formerly the Emerson, and elected Landlord Lord to the captaincy, and then and there voted to uniform themselves during the year. E. S. Rice of Wilmington was at that time adjutant of the regiment, he being succeeded by E. S. Riddle one year later. T. S. Taft of Green River succeeded Solomon Standelift as colonel of the regiment, and Horace Hastings of Wilmington was the colonel commanding the 3d regiment.
The uniform adopted by Capt. Lord's company consisted of a blue coat, trimmed with gold lace, the red-faced skirts turned up, a high cap with white plume, tipped with red, while the pantaloons were white, with a white strap of the same material buttoned under the boot, with cross-belts and white gloves. The officers before the reorganization of Capt. Lord's company, August 23, 1845, and when the name of the company was changed to Lafayette light infantry, were distinguished by their yellow epaulets, red sashes and buff gloves. The regiment often mustered near Capt. Ira Adams' West Marlboro inn, and several times on the large plain adjoining the Clark farm, on Ames hill. Capt. Lord's company was subsequently attached to the 3d regiment.
"The roll and return" of this company appears in its record book which is still preserved, and the names, many of them familiar in Brattleboro annals, are as follows: Captain Jonathan Davis; 1st lieutenant, Lewis Putnam; 2d lieutenant, Alvan Flint; 3d lieutenant, Elijah Jaquith; sergeants, Edwin Putnam, Jonas Putnam, Samuel Bullock, Warren Hall; corporals, George R. Snow, Charles A. Pullen, Asa Sherwin, George E. Fuller; musicians, Rual Fraisure, Stephen Burnett, Samuel French, Thomas O. Amesden, George B. Sargeant; privates, Alexander Capin, Silas Atwood, George H. Butterfield, Luther Bardwell, Emery Miller, Emery Stearns, Ebenezer Bardwell, John Bruce, Asa G. Pratt, Smith Starkey, George H. Wilicutt, William Robertson, Leroy Stoddard, William Ellis, Palmer Carpenter, Benjamin Pierce, Merrick Newton, George W. Brown, George Ellis, Henry Miller, Roswell Loveman, Isaiah Stearns, James Streeter, Nelson D. Evings, Rufus Cooke, Alphonso Hildreth, Roswell Parker, William S. White, Nathaniel Bangs, James Estey, Richard Billings, Umphia Harris, Samuel Pike, Manasseth Dutton, Proctor Amsden, George Bills, Jacob March, Harris Stockwell, Cromwell Carpenter, Marvin Hall and Austin Holden.
There must have been a good deal of politics in the company, for the next year we find an overthrow in the officers, T. C. Lord being captain, Jona. Davis first lieutenant, Nelson D. Evans, second lieutenant, and Lewis Putnam third lieutenant. Capt. Lord continued at the head of the company as long as it existed, but in '43 Lewis Putnam was elected first lieutenant, Wm. S. Chase second lieutenant and Edwin Putnam, third, while Davis had become the orderly sergeant. Later the lieutenants included Chester G. Herrick, Riley Burdette and Francis Goodhue. In 1845 S. M. Waite---"S. M. Wait," as he then signed the name---became clerk of the company and from that time the records are all in his handwriting which was very different from that of later years.
The Militia meetings were mostly held at the old Wantastiquet. There were at one time two competitive battalions here. The Brattleboro Light Infantry in 1823-4-5, under Capts. Eli Sargent and Samuel Whitney was called the best disciplined company in the state. From a historical article read in the congregational church by a well known citizen back in the fifties we glean th following interesting particulars: This company, so our witness avouches, never assembled for drill or parade without someone being wounded by the enemy---whiskey. Soon after the first temperance society, the "Sons of Cold Water," was organized here, he remembers Capt. Brooks drawing up the men in line one muster day and with the pails of whiskey ready, ordering "All cold water men three paces to the front." Not a man moved.
During Capt. Sargent's command there was held the greatest general muster ever seen in town. The musicians of all the companies formed into one monster band, and it included 50 drums and any quanitity of bass viols and violins. Col. Jones Blake, who had been an officer in the United States service, commanded that day.
Col. Nathan Miller did much in his time to sustain the military reputation of this section and probably was one of the most efficient officers for active service among us. At any rate, says this writer, England would have done better if she had sent no poorer officers to the Crimea.
At a sham fight at the West Village Captain Goodenough of the artillery lost an arm and Lieut. Warren was severely wounded in the head in an attack on the Brattleboro Light Infantry. Warren was in a critical condition for several days and carried the marks of his injury to his dying day. At another time a Mr. Thompson was killed by being run over. At another time when the infantry was full of rum and gunpowder they made an assault on the artillery. Two members of the infantry, Joseph Steen and James Capen (father of J. H. Capen), were blown off their feet, their faces blackened and peppered with powder from the cannon, and they were carried from the field.
The day the old brass cannon which was taken from Burgoyne was presented to our citizens, it was successfully used for the important duty of breaking the windows in the buildings through the whole length of Main Street.
These, concludes the witness, were the good old times when the prosperity of the village depended on the manufacture of Bibles, rye gin and Webster's spelling-books.
On no occasions is the influence of the temperance reformation more strikingly apparent than upon our gala days, musters, elections, 4th of July, &c. The quiet and orderly behavior of all classes at these times is not indeed the chief good which temperance has effected; in the habits of daily life the blessings of the reform are, and should be principally found---but they do not arrest the careless eye, as the contrast between the old celebrations of public days and the present method does.
Twelve years ago June Trainin' was enacted on a field whence many were borne to their homes in a state of "glory," too intensely felt to permit them to guide their conduct by the formal rules of conventional decency.---Broken heads were not unusual, black eyes frequent, overturned wagons numerous, delapidated vestments innumerable. Ruin was every where visible, but the most universal, and the most energetic was of the "blue" sort.---
Nothing of the kind was seen at the last assembling of our citizen soldiers upon this solemn occasion. Of martial spirit indeed there was little displayed. There was a merry twinkle in the eyes of the gallant band who sauntered through our street, and a comic gravity upon their faces intimating clear enough that they thought themselves engaged in a practical joke, rather than the performance of a serious duty.
The palmy days of the militia are certainly passed for the present. It seems to us, that it must needs be so, after a time of profound peace; an interest in the mimicry of war cannot be kept up among a people who have no cause to dread the approach of a real contest; but the martial spirit is not extinguished; let there be reason to expect foreign aggression, and the mere skeleton of a milita which we now possess will instantly become instinct with bold and vigorous life.
Mr. Editor---Sir: An Ex-Member seems very anxious to know the causes of the sudden falling off of our once efficient corps, which he says was in good standing about a year ago---granted, and would have remained so had he and some twelve or fifteen more kept their places in the ranks.---But this was not enough.---after one year's duty they were fit for officers, and consequently some took offices in the "Stub Toe," so called, where they could use their stentorian voices to their heart's content, or until nature said, be still, by stopping their mouths with blood---not the blood of the enemies of our country---but of their own stomachs. By the way, had he not better look and see how his own company stands. But the fact is our militia law is rotten to the bottom. I dont believe a fine can be collected against any member of any company in this state; and I hope and believe the time is not far off when there shall be no such thing as military duty. What follows a military training but drunkenness and fighting? Our best generals say that they had rather have men who never have done duty in any company except it be a company of U. States' troops; therefore I think no man ought to be censured for refusing to pay 50 or 75 dollars to keep up any thing that is of no use. If he has disposed of property which is not his to dispose of, (which I am inclined to believe is the fact) let the rightful owners take what course they see fit.
About 3 o'clock the Lafayette Light Infantry of Brattleboro, Vt., under the command of Capt. T. C. Lord, were escorted into the village by the Greenfield Artillery, commonded by Capt. Keith.
In the evening the Brattleboro company appeared in Main street, and went through with a variety of evolutions with a celerity and precision seldom excelled, affording us a fine specimen of the "art militarie" of the "Green Mountain Boys," and exciting the admiration of all who beheld them.---Capt. Lord is evidently "at home" when at the head of a company, and infuses into his men a spirit and animation rarely surpassed. Their ranks were full, numbering about 70 guns.
The great events of the day were closed about 9 o'clock by the departure of the Brattlebor company for their homes. Just as they started they gave three cheers for Greenfield, which were heartily responded to by the crowd of bystanders with three for Brattleboro.
Reprinted from the Greenfield Democrat.
Was organized before the present century. The date of organization is not ascertained, but we have learned that the gentlemen whose names we give, have, at different periods, commanded the company:
Capt. Benjamin Smead, in 1797, when he was publishing "The Federal Galaxy," which was the first newspaper published in this town; Capt. Ebenezer Wells, in 1804, (Capt. Wells came from England with his father, Rev. Wm. Wells, D. D.); Capt. Howard Wells, in 1810, who was also a son of Rev. William Wells; Capt. Ebenezer Sabin, Capt. Daniel Bliss; Capt. Samuel Whitney, 1816 to '21, son of Hon. Lemuel Whitney; Capt. Nathaniel Chandler, 1822; Capt. Eli Sargent, 1823 '24, grandson of Col. John Sargent, who was born at Fort Dummer; Adolphus Stebbins, elected captain in 1824; Capt. Willard Frost, 1825 and '26; Capt. Chester Sargent, 1827, '29; William Brooks, captain in 1830; Capt. John King, in 1831, '32.
From 1816 to 1830, this company maintained full numbers, excellent discipline, and elegant uniforms; but their bright array, on a June morning, ofttimes became dim before night from dust, heat, and powder smoke. When making a bayonet charge upon the artillery, in 1820, a brass field-piece was discharged upon the advancing ranks of the infantry, by which two members of said company were laid prostrate on the ground, and for a time rendered insensible. Their faces were blackened and disfigured, and one of them carried the marks of that day's work to his grave.
The inevitable tubs and pails of whiskey-punch, immoderately used at these annual sham-fights, may have had something to do in making these exercises appear sometimes like real fights. It was needful, as. our elders informed us, that Geo. Sargent, Hollan Pettis and Martin Sartwell should keep up an unceasing din with their drum sticks, on these occasions, to drown the groans of the wounded soldiers.
Among the causes which contributed to give a consequence to our citizen-soldiery of 1820 and '26, was a sprinkling in their ranks of veterans, who had seen service in the last war with Britain.
There was J. Wilson Landers and J. Freeman, who had stood on the deck with Com. Decatur when he captured the proud Macedonian. In the Brattleboro infantry were John Burnham, from Connecticut, and John Fowler, both soldiers in the war of 1812, and also Ebenezer Howe, grandson of Caleb Howe of Fort Bridgeman; in the artillery was Capt. Lewis Henry, who, in the same war, had served in a company commanded by Capt. James Elliot, and there were probably others, in the several companies, deserving of honorable mention, but their names have passed from our memory. But we can never forget the name, nor the dying words, of Col. Charles Cummings, who, during the late war, went out from among us to his death in the wilderness. With a defiant wave of his sword, came forth his last words, "Boys, save the flag!" By this closing scene of his brief career, we are reminded of Scott's poetic heroes, of whom it has been said, "How grandly they die, when die they must."
And fired his glazing eye;
With dying hand above his head,
He shook the fragments of his blade,
And shouted, 'Victory!'
came into existence shortly after the organization of the Infantry, and their first commander was Capt. Jacob Stoddard. Capt. Jonathan Hunt in 1811. He was afterward appointed Brig Gen'l, and died while a member of Congress in 1832. Capt. Atherton, from 1812 to '15, Capt. Samuel Root, afterward last president of the old Brattleboro Bank, Capt. Simpson Goodenough, Capt. Osearl Stoddard, Capt. Lewis Henry, in 1827, Capt. Willard Cobleigh, Capt. Roswell Goodenough, Capt. Albert Bennett, Capt. Argillas Streeter, Capt. Arnold J. Hines, afterward colonel of the regiment, Capt. Franklin Cobleigh, Capt. Jonathan Davis, in 1836 and '37.
Gen. Jonathan Hunt, when captain of this company in 1811, gave several hundred dollars for the purchase of arms and equipments. His promotion was followed by the election of J. Atherton as captain. During his command the National Capitol buildings were laid in ashes, and the air was filled with startling rumors of the defeat of our arms by British troops. Capt. Atherton made the following appeal to his company: "Every man who will do his duty and act as government may require him to act in this war, please to step forward three paces." The whole company moved the required distance, and that was as far as they ever did move in this war; but how much may have been the moral effect of this manifestation upon the common enemy, or how much credit is due the Brattleboro Artillery for taking those three brave steps toward the British lion, we may never know.
This much is certain: rumors of a directly opposite character followed this event. The joyful news from Plattsburg, followed by a blaze of glory from New Orleans, made every Yankee believe he could whip his weight in wildcats, and unitedly clean out the rest of creation. New uniforms were procured, regardless of expense, and "Yankee Doodle" and Fourth of July
One of the captains on our list, now past 90 years of age, lately informed us he paid $57 for his coat and $9 for 3 dozen buttons, at the time oats would bring but 17 cents per bushel, and all agricultural products were proportionately low.
During some months, or years, after their organization, the artillery company used, in their military exercises, simply indifferent swords. This was too much like playing Hamlet, with the part of Hamlet left out. After they came in possession of two field-pieces, one of them, it has been said, was taken from Burgoyne at Bennington, there was a noisy demonstration, accompanied by the breaking of window-glass in the East village, quite extensively; much powder was burned, and a lively market created for old West India rum and "black-strap." If the actors in this scene were not drunk or sick before the close of the exercises, some of them, at least, appeared as if very much discouraged.
With other juveniles of that day, now past life's meridian, we shared in the fear, awe and reverence inspired by the black artillery. Dressed in long, black, swallowtail coats -- profusely covered with brass buttons of the size and shape of a large musket-ball -- tall, bell-shaped, black leather caps, mounted by long, waving, black plumes, gave this company such a solemn, funeral air when on parade, they might be taken as undertakers of the regiment.
Not even the lively rattle of Sartwell's drum, the piercing notes of Greenleaf 's fife, nor the cheering strains of Joy's bugle, could divert our melancholy, gloomy forebodings, when the Artillery company seized their drag-ropes to move their mighty, loud-sounding instruments of death to bear upon the gaily-dressed Light Infantry.
At a sham fight in 1821, Lieut. Emerson Goodenough, of the Artillery, was so severely wounded he was compelled to suffer the amputation of his arm at the shoulder. The accident was caused by some neglect of the usual custom in managing the field-piece. This sad event occasioned a sudden stop to the exercises of that day; but on the next appointed time for the display of Brattleboro chivalry, all thoughts of danger seemed forgotten, and the inspiring sounds from Greenleaf, Sartwell, Joy, Pettes, &c:, aroused a martial spirit that could be satiated alone by the explosion of gunpowder in the faces of ideal enemies.
In the excitement and hurry of action there has been, we learn, a neglect to withdraw the ramrod from the gun before the charge was fired. This, with many other liabilities of accident, makes it surprising that there were so few casualties, so few really sad occasions to record.
The artillery has ever been considered an indispensable element in celebrations of the Fourth of July. With memories of our youth and joyful anticipations, there come, like remembered music, recollections of the heavy echoes of the guns of this company -- mellowed and softened by distance -- when fired in the early morning of our national anniversary. These venerable brass pieces, when not in use,were stored under the old church, on the Common, Under the same building, waiting for sad, needful occasions, was
keeping company with these instruments of death, under the house of God. These objects separately had each a deep significance, but in their association they gave additional importance to each other, and brave was that boy who would venture alone into their awful presence.
In 1837, Capt. Jonathan Davis revived the expiring embers of military enthusiasm in this company. A new uniform was procured and the wood-work of the guns was repaired and newly painted. This proved to be the last revival, before the final dissolution, of the organization. The wheels and other wood-work of the guns rotted away or disappeared, and for years nothing was seen to remind us of the old glory but two heavy, lonesome old brass cannon, lying under Capt. Lord's horse shed. Unreverenced and unappreciated as they were, they could not die or decay, as had all else with whom they had been associated in the early days of their advent here.
A demagogue or politician would sometimes drag them from obscurity to announce party success; but rarely were they called upon, as in days gone by, to proclaim the glory of the nation, in the dim, misty light of early morning. The sensitive temperament of one of this long-united couple could bear this indignity no longer, and has left us, we have reason to believe, forever. When last heard from, it was nearly 100 miles away, "marching to the sea."
The military gatherings in this town, called musters, in which appeared companies from other towns, and sometimes attended by invited companies from out of the State, excited the universal attention of the public, and crowds of both sexes attended these meetings or reviews. A resident of Augusta, Ga., but a native of Connecticut, gave us the following information:--
"From 1815 to '23, I lived in Brattleboro, and during this period I attended a military muster in that town. Col. Henry Jones Blake was in command, and he well understood his duty. When marching through Main street, the military bands of the several companies united. I know not how many wind instruments were in operation, but I counted 50 drums, and ten of them were large bass drums. The noise made by this band exceeded anything of the kind I have ever heard since; but the most pleasing impression left upon my mind was the address, action and elegant appearance of Col. Blake." [Son of J. W. Blake, Esq., first postmaster, 1790.]
Col. Blake was, if we are rightly informed, in the war of 1812, and had a military education.
Of other regimental commanders who have made this their place of residence, were: Gen. Mann; Gen. Jonathan Hunt; Col. Paul Chase; Col. Joseph Goodhue; Gen. Jonathan Smith; Col. Lewis Henry; Gen. F. H. Fessenden; Col. Nathan Miller; Col. Albert Bennett; Col. Arnold J Hines, and there were probably others whose names do not occur to us. They have mostly or all disappeared, and now it is more difficult to find the holiday soldier of the halcyon days of 1825, than it then was to find a living relic of the Revolutionary war.
Before daylight, one muster-day morning, in 1826, the "Guilford Light Infantry," with loud music, awakened the slumbering citizens of this place. Capt. Phillip Martin -- the oldest captain in the regiment -- then commanded this company, and only about a dozen years had passed since he had marched through this place with 16 Guilford soldiers, on their way to Plattsburgh. These facts, with the commendable virtue of early rising, and being the first company on duty, seemed to entitle this company to such consideration as to offer them position upon the right wing of the regiment.
But the "Brattleboro Light Infantry" had just got a "Royal Kent Bugle," new tents and new uniforms; therefore they made a fine show. "Clothes make the man," had long been an adage; why not clothes make the soldier? Carlyle said, the gown and wig had so much to do in making an English judge, that, if he was deprived of them, and a wood-sawer's garb substituted, no one would call him a judge, or respect his authority as such. The Brattleboro Infantry took the right wing, and old Guilford, once the independent republic and empire town, was ordered upon the left wing.
Capt. Martin refused to obey the Colonel of the regiment, and did not appear with his company on the field, but marched his soldiers in by ways and all ways about the village, where they kept up a constant firing of muskets, and, by their independent action, attracted much observation. The Guilford troops unitedly sustained their Commander, it, was said, on the following ground: "By military law, or precedent, the company having the senior captain could claim position on the right
After a conflict of arms came a conflict of opinions and some unpleasantness from the action of Capt. Martin in showing disrespect to his superior officer and giving so flagrant an example of insubordination. But the most serious affair of the day was the death, by Accident, of an old soldier of the Revolution, known as Grandpa Thompson.
Was a native of Connecticut and came to Brattleboro in 1816, and lived with his son, Isaac Thompson, the remainder of his days. He never held rank or position, but was a private in the army of Washington, in 1777. He was truthful, honest, and far from being pretentious, vain or boastful of his service in the cause of liberty.
Respecting his career in the army, he related to us the following incident, which we give as nearly as possible in his own language.
"The commanding officer ordered us all into a ditch. Every man was told to keep there until further orders. We stayed there several days and got so dry and hungry life didn't seem worth having. One fellow vowed he wouldn't stand it any longer, and jumped out of the ditch, but he didn't more than get out when he fell down dead, his body completely riddled with bullets. I then thought it was best to stand it a little longer."
After Grandpa Thompson told this story he seated himself with us at our dinner table and partook of his last dinner, and then with hands crossed behind him, he slowly moved towards the muster ground, where is now Forest Square. On his return, near the close of the day, the highway crowded with people, many of them from other towns in a hurry to get home, there was a test of speed in horses by the efforts of drivers to pass by teams ahead of them. During this rush of wheels, animals and men, poor old Grandpa Thompson was run over on High street. A violent blow upon his head, from the foot of a horse, destroyed all consciousness immediately and forever.
Not a long time elapsed after this eventful day, when a tribunal assembled at the old Stage house, in Main street, before which Capt. Martin appeared on a charge of playing "Grouchy."
"Not a drum was heard," nor a drum stick seen, but the tap, tap, tap, of the toddy stick kept time to the movements of gay uniforms, as they passed in and out of the house. There was a thorough trial of the spirits in the house, however it may have been with the veteran captain. Military laws and precedents were expatiated or commented upon, by opposing advocates, and it was finally decided that Capt. Martin had done nothing worthy of death or any other punishment.
The regiment at this time was under the command of Col. Nathan Miller, of Dummerston, in this county. His commanding appearance when on duty, good taste and decided military proclivities, made his appointment to this office seem to us eminently proper.
With generous, noble impulses, he had great veneration for the old soldiers of the Revolution.
Whenever he served as a marshal, or on a committee of arrangements for any celebration, or public gathering, his first and greatest solicitude was for the honor and comfort of these old men. There was to him a peculiar charm in the number 76. He lived to that age, passing the last 40 years of his life in Brattleboro. When he could find no more living veterans of '76, his work on earth was ended and he followed on after them.
In this place, by legal authority, we think occurred in 1837, and was considered by all a feeble affair. It was on grounds now known as Forest Square, on Western Avenue.
A volunteer muster came off in a short time thereafter, attended by invited companies from New Hampshire. The Ashuelot Guards, from Hinsdale, and the Chesterfield Rifles, from Chesterfield, helped greatly to improve the military aspect. The Vernon troops gave a poetical touch to the occasion as they moved past our dwellings before daylight in the morning, keeping step to that grand old tune or march, "The Banks of Ayr." Making some complimentary remarks respecting this company, to a venerable citizen of Vernon: "By zounds," replied uncle Bob, "I marched after that tune 40 years ago."
This military gathering was called Chapin's muster, as that gentleman was the highest officer on parade. How much he had to do in bringing about this event, we are not informed, but he was very active in the movement, and much interested in this military revival, as was evident from the address he delivered near the close of the day, to the assembled troops. He was sorry to see a decline in the military spirit of our people, as was manifested by late events, for the following reasons: "The rapid increase of our population from people unfitted for the duties of freemen. Our institutions and privileges for self-government have been obtained by the bayonet and by the bayonet they must be maintained.
The law is force. The last argument to which kings resort, is the only effectual one we can use, when tyranny or ignorance shall obstinately try to impede or defeat our progress. The time is not far off when there will be needful occasion to use this argument."
In 24 years the events of 1861, proved that the volunteer general was not a false prophet.
The good order, harmonious action, very appropriate speech and a fine day, made this a pleasant affair; but in permanent benefits to this institution, this military revival did but little.
In the summer of 1840, an attempt was made to enforce the military laws. Some 40 or 50 delinquents were summoned to appear before a court martial in the hall of the old Vermont house, which was burned down in February, 1852. Col. Taft in bright military attire presided at this court. Other regimental officers in official costume appeared upon the scene, and dignified, learned mouthpieces of the law came to expound ponderous russet-colored volumes of statutes. Shivering culprits stood before this imposing array of Mars and Minerva awaiting impending doom.
After the day was nearly spent in hearing cases and imposing fines, it was ascertained by J. Dorr Bradley, Esq., that all the citations had been served upon the defendants before the 12 days grace had expired, which was by law granted the soldier, in which to make his excuse for nonappearance on military duty. In consequence of this revelation not a fine was collected, but there were loud cheers for J. D. Bradley.
The result was quite unsatisfactory to some military officials who, it was said, had declared it their intention to devote a portion of the cash obtained from defendants, to some festive purpose.
In some towns where the Col. held his court, he met with unpleasant receptions and suffered some personal indignities, while in the discharge of his duty. His clothing was, in some towns, spattered with objectionable matter, and other things were done to show disrespect to military law.
Though the mission of Col. Taft was unwelcome to the delinquents in this place, he suffered no violence or illegal interruption in the discharge of his duty.
People respected military law about the same as they do temperance laws, and very little training, from fear of the law, was done here after this trial hi 1840.
The veterans of the old flint lock and log cabin days, had departed, and with them went the inspiration of grand marches, martial music and powder explosions against imaginary enemies.
During 20 years after the war of 1812, the universal cry was, "In peace prepare for war." The cost of uniforms, equipments, gunpowder, rum punch and time spent in these preparations, made an expense or tax upon the people great enough to carry on quite extensive hostilities. There was, however, this difference, blank charges exploded from their guns, and the deadly charges came from their canteens. Finally it was generally believed we were preparing for what would never come again, and the work of heroism, at least on the battle-field, was considered done forever.
The people of this community, as over all sections of the North, were "gazing on the armour suits of buried giants as if no brave acts could now be done," until aroused to action by the guns of the rebellion, in 1861.
Henry Burnham, "Brattleboro, Windham County, Vermont. Early History, With Biographical Sketches of some of its Citizens. (Brattleboro: Published by D. Leonard, 1880).