New Hampshire’s Lafayette Artillery Company, 1804-2004
By Stephanie Abbot Roper
and Scott C. Roper
In 1804, James Wilson of Peterborough organized that town's first known artillery company, the Artillery Company of the Twenty-Second Regiment. Two hundred years later, the organization still exists as the Lafayette Artillery Company, an institution that has been based in Lyndeborough since 1833 and is now New Hampshire's oldest remaining local-militia group.
Through the years, the citizen soldiers of the Lafayette Artillery have served their state and their nation with honor. They were present at the defense of Portsmouth during the War of 1812, and served again at Newcastle's Fort Constitution in 1864. They were called upon to suppress a riot during the infamous Amherst Muster of 1850, but were denied their request to serve the United States during hostilities with Spain in 1898. Along the way, the artillery has sponsored its own baseball team, prompted the construction of Lyndeborough's Citizens' Hall in 1888 and its renovation in the late 1990s, organized Memorial Day observances and other patriotic celebrations, and hosted the most anticipated social event in Lynde-borough—the annual Washington's Birthday ball.
Today, the Lafayette Artillery—which is dedicated primarily to education and community service—participates in Civil War reenactments with its 1844 six-pounder brass cannon, originally issued to the group in 1845.
Researched from state and local documents, town histories, newspapers, interviews, and the Lafayette Artillery Company's own archives, this study traces the evolution of the organization from a local militia unit to a social group, and finally to a Civil War reenactment/social-service organization.
About the Authors
Stephanie Abbot Roper is a U.S. historian with degrees from Smith College (A.B.), the University of North Dakota (M.A.), and the University of Kansas (Ph.D.). Currently, she teaches history at West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas. A life-long resident of Lyndeborough and a former member of the town’s budget committee, she met her husband, Scott, while playing for her high-school hockey team in 1983. Scott Roper is a cultural geographer with degrees from Clark University (B.A.), the University of North Dakota (M.A.), and the University of Kansas (Ph.D.). The former Lyndeborough selectman currently serves as an assistant professor of geography at West Texas A&M University.
Although Stephanie grew up believing that every town had its own militia—her father was an artillery member—she and Scott did not become acquainted with the activities of the Lafayette Artillery Company until the renovation of Lyndeborough's Citizens' Hall, a project on which they helped from 1998 to 2000.
ISBN: 1-931807-24-8, 168 pages.
Stephanie and Scott Roper
157 Pettinghill Hill Rd.
Lyndeborough, NH 03082
Phone: (603) 654-9663