Few men contributed as much to the American victory in the Revolutionary War—but have been as little recognized—as a New Hampshire farmer and lumberman by the name of John Stark. Although his life is not well known, a few words he wrote live on: “Live Free or Die.”
Stark was the quintessential citizen soldier—proud, resourceful, independent. He was unschooled and rough around the edges, a New Hampshire frontiersman. Captured by Indians in 1752, he earned their respect by fighting his way out of their gauntlet. Congress and commanding officers didn’t always like him, but they relied on him.
He served as a captain of rangers with Robert Rogers in the French and Indian War, and as a colonel and general in the Revolution at Bunker Hill, Trenton, Princeton, Westchester, Springfield, Saratoga, Ticonderoga and West Point. But his greatest achievement was at Hoosick, N.Y., in what became known as the “Battle of Bennington.”
The authors of this book give a proper spotlight to this largely unheralded figure, except maybe in New Hampshire, where he is best known for some words he penned in a letter in response to an invitation to celebrate the anniversary of the Battle of Bennington. He regretted that he could not attend, but he offered them this toast: “Live free or die—death is not the worst of evils.”
Paperback, 2014, 6” x 9”, 400 pages, 23 illustrations (maps, drawings, photos, paintings), $21.95.