While researching and writing Honor and Valor I found journal and diary entries telling of the first commemorations of the July 4th in 1777. The evening of 5 July, 1777 turned out to be substantially more important. As the sun set that day on the American soldiers at Fort Ticonderoga, outnumbered by 3:1 by General Burgoyne’s army several miles to the north, they loaded what they could carry and left. On boats they carried cannon and baggage south toward Skenesborough (now Whitehall), though most marched east and then turned south toward Hubbardton.
The Americans at Fort Ticonderoga numbered about 3,000 with a majority being Continental Army soldiers and the rest Massachusetts and New Hampshire militia.
Will Burton, barely 15-years-old, a fifer with the 3rd New Hampshire Continental Regiment, and likely full of adrenaline marched with them toward Hubbardton. Will, like my ancestor, Isaac Frye, was from Wilton, New Hampshire. Each of the nine companies in the regiment had a fifer and a drummer. Isaac Frye was at that time a Captain and commanded one of the companies in the 3rd NH, the same one Will had enlisted in three months earlier.
When I wrote the outline of Honor and Valor, I was telling Isaac Frye’s story. I was loosely aware of Will Burton’s service and knew I wanted to include it, but had not worked out how until I began writing the book. After getting stuck trying to introduce Will, I realized he would need to be a major character and a significant part of the story would need to come from his perspective.
I had no idea how important Will’s perspective would prove to be. Isaac Frye was an officer, and any who know the U.S. Army know an officer’s life and experiences are different than those of the privates (the short form of “private soldiers”, the 18th Century term for enlisted men).
Having been a private when I was barely 18-years old in the modern U.S. Army, I had some idea of Will’s role in the Continental Army. Being at the dirty hands end of the chain of command and bound by a sense of duty and a sacred oath builds character. Like Will, I learned it takes more than an oath to become a soldier.
The image features the cannon at Fort Ticonderoga guarding against approaches on Lake Champlain.