South of the bor­der charm

Stanstead Journal - - FORUM -

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

Photo Mer­rick Belk­nap's collection

Lewis Rose Belk­nap, 1841 – 1904

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