South of the border charm
Werethey channelling the band lead by Sergent Pepper, last Thursday in Newport, as they played a medley of Beatle songs as we imagined the mystic band would have played for real, a missed note here and there, maybe Sgt. Pepper reminding all that there was still room for a couple more musicians. Anyhow, it’s been years since we heard Eleanor Rigby as John, Paul, George and Ringo may have remembered hearing it in the streets of Liverpool from a local band in the 50’s.
Every Thursday evening, at eight, there is a band concert at the Grandstand in Newport, one of, we guess, thousands of such events all across the Republic. We also have some here, in North Hatley for example, but ours always have more polish, all notes played at the same rhythm, almost semi-professional. Not always so in the USA. They’re there to have fun and the audience too; not only do you applaud, but you honk your horn in appreciation!
It’s a bit corny, but this is when America is at its best. We tend to forget, but the Republic to the South was not formed in an organized way. It was a ragtag bunch of volunteers, with various when not highly limited military skills who took the most formidable military organisation of its time, the British Army, and lost and lost and lost again, some never giving up hope of having their own country. Finally, exhausted, they crossed the Potomac and modern nationhood was born.
It is when Americans are natural that they are so likable. It is when a bunch of them decided, decades ago, that playing in a band together during the summer would be fun, for them and the audience. No need to apply for a grant, wait for some government sponsored employment scheme; a couple of phone calls and the band was started. If Sgt. Pepper’s band was twenty some years old when the Beatles reincarnated it, the one in Newport is a bit older. As we said, it is less than professional, the Boston Pop it isn’t, yet they play the same selections heard across the USA during the summer, John Philip Sousa at the forefront.
We in the newspaper business have a special place in our heart for the composer, his most famous composition is ‘The Washington Post’. The newspaper actually commissioned the piece to Sousa.
And when they played it last Thursday evening, as the sun was setting, we could imagine that all across the United States, in maybe hundreds of smaller and bigger towns, the bands would strike ‘The Washington Post’ in unison and it would be heard across the globe.
So on Friday, as the United States of America celebrates its Independence Day, you could drop by across the border and celebrate with them during the day. And mark a Thursday night on your calendar for a concert with the Newport Band for a most enjoyable evening.
LewisRose Belknap was the youngest son of Mitchell Belknap Sr. and his first wife, Elsea Charlotte Mosher. Born at Barnston East, he was just over one year old when his mother died at the age of 37 on January 11, 1843. There are no surviving records that tell anything of Lewis Belknap’s life from the time of his birth until he joined the Union forces in Chelsea, Vermont, on August 13, 1861, at the age of 19 years, and was mustered in at Brattleboro, Vermont, on September 21, 1861. A private in Company B, 4th Regiment, Vermont Infantry, he and his fellow infantrymen left Brattleboro by train for the nation’s capital and the war zone of Virginia, arriving at Camp Griffin, Virginia, in late September. But camp life was sometimes more deadly than battle and it was at its worst in the damp fall and winter of 1861-62, brought about partly by too few tents and blankets. Mumps, whooping cough, chicken pox, diarrhea and typhoid fever ran rampant. It was reported that the Fourth Regiment was 1,047 strong and 244 sick in November 1861. In the fall of 1861, the Vermont Brigade was born, composed of the Second, Third, Forth, Fifth and Sixth Vermont regiments. As Spring approached, most of the men had recovered from sickness and went on to write one of the proudest records of the war. The story of Lewis Belknap is a very strange one, indeed. The family legend was that Lewis Rose Belknap had been killed on April 6, 1862, (not in 1861 as Hubbard’s History of Stanstead states) in the Battle of Shiloh at Pittsburgh Landing, Tennessee. But it seems to be just that, a family story that had been perpetuated for over one hundred and thirty years. Victoria Nan Busk, now deceased, of Hayward, California, was a direct descendant of the family and went to the National Archives to get Lewis’ military records. It seems strange now that he told some stories that simply were not quite true. For example, it appears he did not want anyone to know that he was an alien in the U.S. and therefore claimed he was born in Vermont at the time he joined the Union forces. It also seems that he may have forgotten just where in Vermont he was born because his military records show several different places. Not killed at Shiloh But what is true is this: Lewis Belknap was not killed in the Battle of Shiloh in 1862. He re-enlisted at Brandy Station, Culpepper Country, Virginia, on December 15, 1863, and remained in the Vermont Volunteers, serving with distinction throughout the war. He was discharged at the same place on July 13, 1865. He then disappears from the records as Lewis Belknap. It seems that his estrangement from his family was planned because it also appears that members of his family and the townspeople of Stanstead County never heard from him again. We will probably never know what led Lewis Belknap to leave his family and, most importantly, why he never told
Lewis Rose Belknap, 1841 – 1904