I think that most military historians would agree that Rogers Rangers were among the best of American elite fighting outfits. The Army Rangers and the Green Berets all claim descent from Robert Rogers’ guerilla-style fighters.
During the French and Indians War (1754-1763), Rogers Rangers were doing much of what the Navy SEALs are bravely doing today, but without modern weapons, helicopters or telecommunications. Go to Google and type in “The Battle on Snowshoes.” No one can read about that 1757 battle without being impressed by the selfless courage of those 18th-century warriors.
Of this small, select and stealth group of frontier fighters were eight soldiers with a connection to Old Nutfield. Robert Rogers himself is believed to have lived in Londonderry as a boy and his parents are buried in East Derry’s Foresthill Cemetery.
Among Rogers’ officers were the four Stark brothers — John, William, Samuel and Archibald. John is, of course, the one who coined our state’s motto “Live free or die.” Other locals were James McNeil and John McDuffy. I don’t know how many enlisted men came from here, but I’m sure there were many.
As in all wars, the officers are usually better remembered then the privates, corporals and sergeants. There is however one non-officer in Rogers Rangers who is remembered today; he is Sergeant Beauboin of Old Nutfield.
His story begins in the 1750s when Capt. William Stark, born in 1724 in Londonderry, was patrolling in the forest-wilderness of the extreme north, near the present day’s New Hampshire/ Quebec boarder. Canada in those days was part of France and frequently send raiding parties to harass the peaceful inhabitants of the British colonies in New England.
While hunting in the trackless backwoods, Will Stark came upon a French army officer who was unmercifully whipping his young dog. Stark stepped in to prevent this abuse and immediately the Frenchman turned and began to use his whip on Stark. The duel between the two men was very short lived. Even though the Frenchman was much larger, he was quickly put on the ground by the Londonderry native. Some reports say Stark killed the Frenchman; others say he just left him as a bloody mess on the ground.