Way Back When
by Margaret Morabito, Church Historian
A Call to War
United Church of Christ
It was three days after Christmas in 1774. Despite the joy of the season surrounding the birth of Christ, frustration and a sense of hostility towards Great Britain was growing. While the people hoped to keep the peace with the mother country, they knew that it might not happen and they needed to prepare for a worst case scenario. A convention was held in Keene to discuss the impending situation and to make recommendations for precautionary measures. It was determined that several towns in the area should start preparations, just in case war broke out.
Rindge was one of those towns. The census in early 1775 counted the population of Rindge at 542, and just about every family who lived in Rindge belonged to our Church. Able-bodied men between the ages of 16 and 60 would be considered of fighting age, should the need arise. History shows us that many members of the Rindge Congregational Church served admirably in the preliminaries leading to, and during, the Revolutionary War.
In January, 1775, a town meeting was held and men from the Congregational Church were selected to take leadership positions for the needed preparations. Francis Towne, Daniel Rand, and Page Norcross comprised a committee that would manage the efforts. A by-law was approved by the town, in which additional church members were selected to execute the tasks that would be laid out. These men were Enoch Hale, Francis Towne, Daniel Rand, Nathaniel Russell, Jonathan Sherwin, Nathan Hale, and Edward Jewett. You might recognize some of these names if you have been following this Way Back When series. Two of our earliest deacons, Towne and Jewett, are in this list. Of these men, Enoch Hale was chosen to be a delegate in the second and fourth sessions of the Provincial Congress, which met in Exeter, NH to plan for regional preparations; and he also represented Rindge at the County Congress held in Walpole, NH that same year.
In March, 1775, a town vote was taken to see if, and how many of, its residents would serve as Minutemen and be on call for sudden war action, if needed. The now famous Minutemen served a specific function, as opposed to the general militia. “Militia were men in arms formed to protect their towns from foreign invasion and ravages of war. Minutemen were a small hand-picked elite force which were required to be highly mobile and able to assemble quickly. Minutemen were selected from militia muster rolls by their commanding officers. Typically 25 years of age or younger, they were chosen for their enthusiasm, reliability, and physical strength. Usually about one quarter of the militia served as Minutemen, performing additional duties as such. The Minutemen were the first armed militia to arrive or await a battle” (http:/www.ushistory.org/people/minutemen.htm). Now, you know more about Minutemen than you expected.
Back to Rindge…
On Wednesday, April 19, that sudden need arose and the Rindge Minutemen were called into action. Paul Revere had made his famous ride from Boston during the night of the 18th and into the 19th. A subsequent messenger delivered the news to Rindge late in the day of battle in Lexington and Concord on the 19th. Throughout that night, the alarm was spread from house to house in Rindge that the enemy British army was advancing into Massachusetts.
6 PAYSON HILL ROAD
RINDGE, NH 03461
First Congregational Church