The War has Begun is the first of four books I am writing about Major Isaac Frye in the Duty in the Cause of Liberty series. These books are the product of fourteen years of research about a my ancestor, who served longer than any other as an officer in the Continental Army. A few people in or near Wilton, New Hampshire may have heard of Isaac Frye, for living near or driving on Major Isaac Frye Highway. Wilton named the road in the 1920s among several others to honor the town’s preeminent war veterans.
As a child I learned Isaac Frye had been plowing one of his farm’s fields when Paul Revere’s and William Dawes’ alarm arrived early on the morning of April 19, 1775. He told his wife, Elizabeth, “The war has begun, I must be going.” My family has maintained he fought at the battle of Bunker (Breeds) Hill, and as the road sign says, he ranked as a major.
After becoming interested in genealogy, I learned some about Isaac’s family, including leaving three young sons and a pregnant wife when he responded to that alarm. Around that time, my oldest son was in 5th grade, and needed to do a history project, and we had the idea to see if we could figure out where Isaac Frye was on the Bunker Hill battlefield. We did not quite figure it out in the three weeks my son had to finish his project, but we learned Isaac was not a major at the time. He was a 2nd lieutenant and quartermaster for his regiment. We also got some hints that he may have continued on in the Continental Army beyond 1775.
I traced Isaac’s whereabouts on a map as a sort of geographic timeline. I realized I had enough material for a book, and after spending a few months getting organized, it turned out there was enough for four books, and I’ll be writing for the next several years. Yes, it’s a passion project.
Initially my intent to document Isaac’s story for family. I did not seriously consider what it would mean to write a book, much less four, until recently. Confronted by the problem of having a great deal of detailed research and the notion that anyone would want to read through a mountain of details about Isaac seemed unlikely. I wanted to write something others would want to read. I knew Isaac’s story was good, and I wanted to tell it as I was imagining it. In April of 2015, I was presented with the idea of writing Isaac’s story as a screenplay. Fictionalized, as in, I would need to supply the dialog. I figured why not.
Now that I’m done with the first book, I think it was a great idea. The level of detail and relevance of the events I was able to include feels right. I feel like I was there with him, and I hope you do as well.