, Derry, New Hampshire


August 1, 2013

Column: Stark brothers took different paths in revolution


During the French and Indian War, the Stark Brothers were part of Rogers’ Rangers — colonial America’s greatest fighting force. The two Starks were both appointed captain and were second in command to the legendary Robert Rogers himself. During the next few years, they fought with bravery in many battles from Fortress Louisbourg in Cape Breton to Fort Ticonderoga in New York. William frequently traveled with his dog Beau de Bien, who drew full soldiers pay because of services as a scout and guard.

While his brother was away, William was assigned to go with Gen. James Wolfe to attack the French-held city of Quebec. The general could find no way to attack the French army, which was secure on top of the impenetrable cliffs looming high above the St. Lawrence River. One historian purports that it was Major William Stark who told Wolfe of the hidden path to the top of the cliff. The English went on to win the battle but Gen. Wolfe was critically wounded. Stark was one of the four officers who were assigned to carry Wolfe away from the fighting. In Benjamin West’s famous painting, “The Death of General Wolfe,” it is believed that it’s William Stark cradling the dying general in a pose reminiscent of Christ in Michelangelo’s “Pieta.” This battle resulted in England taking control of all of Canada. It is considered one of the most important battles in world history.

After Quebec, William returned to his farm high on a ridge in Dunbarton. Here for the next 16 years, the soldier was at peace; here he and his wife raised seven children and took part in small-town politics. During the morning of April 17, 1775, he was startled to hear the distant sounds of cannon fire coming from 70 miles away at Bunker Hill outside of Boston. Immediately, he grabbed his musket, jumped on his horse and rode toward the fighting. By the time he arrived, the battle was over and he joined his brother John in Medford.

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