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By November 11, 2014 Read More →

Peterborough Veterans

November 11, 2014 marks the 60th observance of Veterans Day, an annual event first proclaimed by President Eisenhower that honors all Americans who have served in the United States Armed Forces.  The tradition was preceded by “Armistice Day”, first proclaimed by President Wilson 95 years ago on November 11th to commemorate the ceasefire on the Western Front of World War I that took effect on the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” of 1918.1  Over the past 275 years, 900 known residents of Peterborough have served our country.  Of those, at least 83 lost their lives as a result.

Beginning with the French and Indian War (1754-1763), Peterborough furnished 32 men, 14 of whom died in battle.2  During the American Revolution (1775-1783), 145 local residents fought for our nation’s independence; 6 of them never returned home.3  Their names appear on the bicentennial Liberty Plaque at the Peterborough Post Office, including John White (1742-1823) whose descendants represented the town with distinction in every military engagement through the Vietnam War.

During the War of 1812 (1812-1815), “The town did not furnish much to aid this war,” states the 1876 town history, “except in the unequalled services of General James Miller, one of her sons, whose bravery and military exploits were more than equal to a regiment of men.”4  Likewise, no one from Peterborough served in the Mexican-American War (1846-1848).  A generation later, 209 men enlisted from Peterborough during the Civil War (1861-1865), 45 of whom died as a result of injuries or disease.5  The Civil War Statue in front of the G.A.R. Hall is a tribute to those soldiers who gave their lives, and to the wives of two officers who perished aboard the steamer West Point when it sunk in the Potomac River.  It also honors Sergeant Osgood Towns Hadley, the Peterborough resident who received the U.S. military’s highest decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his meritorious service with Company E of the 6th New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry.6  Only one Peterborough native is known to have served during the Spanish-American War (1898): Brevet Major General Daniel Mansfield White, 2nd Div. 4th Corps., U.S.V.  He served in the 1st N.H. Cavalry during the Civil War and was the great grandson of John White.

Isaac D. White

Isaac D. White

The Memorial Gates on Grove Street list the names of Peterborough veterans from the last century: 4 out of 113 died during World War I (1917-1918); 13 out of 161 lost their lives during World War II (1941-1946); 1 out of 96 died during the Korean War (1950-1955); and all 143 surviving veterans of the Vietnam War (1961-1975).7  One name appears on three of these four bronze plaques: four-star General Isaac Davis White, son of Daniel, who became the Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Army, Pacific (1957-1961).  U.S. Route 202, from Peterborough to the Massachusetts border, has been designated the “General I.D. White Highway” in his honor.8

History has yet to record the names of the Peterborough sons and daughters who served during the more recent conflicts since: Lebanon/Grenada (1982-1984); Panama (1989-1990); Gulf War/War on Terrorism (1990-Present).9

Beyond the numbers and names are stories, told and untold.  You can learn more about Peterborough’s veterans through the new mobile app walking tour, Explore “Our Town” which can be viewed online free of charge whether you have a smartphone or not: peterborough.tousphere.com.

As of now, there are links to the gravesites for more than 100 Peterborough veterans.  In time, more links to biographies will be added by coordinating with allied organizations and individuals such as the Town, Monadnock Center for History and Culture, American Legion Cheney-Armstrong Post 5, local students, scouts, and Find-a-Grave volunteers.  If you are interested in joining this effort, please contact Tracy Messer at exploreourtown@nullmonadnockcenter.org.

Local Historian Tracy Messer is a board member of the Monadnock Center for History and Culture.

 

BIBLIOGRPHY

1 History of Veterans Day.”  Retrieved 6 November 2014.

2 Smith, Albert. History of the Town of Peterborough. Boston: Press of George H. Ellis, 1876, page 146.

3 Ibid, page 150-158.

4 Ibid., page 159.

5 Ibid., page 159-173.

6Corporal HADLEY, OSGOOD T., U.S. Army”. Congressional Medal of Honor Society. Retrieved 4 November 2014

7 “Eligibility Requirements for American Legion Membership”. Retrieved 6 November 2014.

8 “Isaac D. White”. Retrieved 6 November 2014.

9 “Eligibility Requirements for American Legion Membership”. Retrieved 6 November 2014.