Major Caleb Stark, Aide de Camp to General Stark
Caleb Stark was born December 3, 1759, at Dunbarton, New Hampshire. He was the eldest son of John and Elizabeth “Molly” (Page) Stark. When the news of the events of April 19, 1775 reached his residence, young Caleb was but sixteen years of age; but the exploits of his fathers filled his mind with a desire for a soldier’s life. He was then living with his grandfather who initially refused to allow him to go and join the growing conflict. In June 1775 his grandfather consented and gave him a horse and he started to travel towards his father’s camp.
Caleb’s father became the first commander of what would become the 1st New Hampshire Regiment, Continental Line. When he reached his father’s camp at Medford, his father told him that he was too young, but Caleb refused to go and wished for his opportunity to serve. He was consigned to the care of Captain George Reid. The next day, the Battle of Bunker Hill was fought in which Caleb participated. Caleb continued under the tutelage of Captain Reid, and occasionally at his father’s headquarters. His father’s headquarters were for a time at the elegant residence of Colonel Isaac Royal, who had fled to safety in the British lines. The house, at 15 George Street in Medford, is National Historic Landmark and is open to the public.
In spring 1776, Caleb received a commission as an Ensign in Captain Reid’s company and proceeded with the 1st New Hampshire to New York and Canada. On the return of the regiment to the vicinity around Ticonderoga, a fatal disease prevailed among the troops, and the adjutant of the regiment fell a victim. This gave an opportunity for a promotion, and Ensign Stark was appointed to fill the position with the rank of 1st Lieutenant.
After the retiring of the enemy to winter quarters, the regiment marched through New Jersey, and joined General Washington on the western banks of the Delaware. Adjutant Stark participated in the brilliant operations at Trenton and Princeton which closed the campaign of 1776. Soon after these events Adjutant Stark, with his father, returned home where they found arrangements had been male to reorganize the regiment, but that he would hold the same position under his father’s command.
Adjutant Stark continued in the 1st New Hampshire after his father resigned his commission and Joseph Cilley was appointed the regiment’s new commander. After the Battle of Bennington, Colonel Joseph Cilley granted Adjutant Stark leave to visit his father and congratulate him on his great martial success. In the action on October 7, 1777 during Saratoga, Adjutant Stark was wounded in the arm. Soon after this, his father had been appointed a Brigadier General in the Continental Army and selected his son to be his aide de camp, but the regimental records of the 1st New Hampshire date his resignation only from June 1, 1778.
Adjutant Stark continued with his father through the rest of the War. He was promoted subsequently to Major in the Continental Army and acted as Brigade Major for his father and as Adjutant General for the Northern Department.
At the close of the war his attention turned to mercantile pursuits in Dunbarton. In 1787, Caleb married Sarah McKinstry. In 1806, he was engaged in the importing business in Boston. In 1811, Caleb Stark started the first cotton mill in Suncook, New Hampshire. Stark practiced law and became a historian, and a member of the New Hampshire State Senate. The term during which he served in the New Hampshire Senate lasted from 1818 to 1819. In 1828, he moved to land in Oxford Township, Ohio that was granted to him for his military service after a long lawsuit against the government. He would later die on August 28, 1838. He was 78 years old.
Frederic Kidder, History of the First New Hampshire Regiment in the War of the Revolution (Albany, 1868), 121-124; Robert P. Richmond, John Stark, Freedom Fighter (Waterbury, 1976); Luther Roby, Reminiscences of the French War; containing Rogers’ Expeditions with the New-England Rangers under his command, as published in London in 1765; with notes and illustrations. : To which is added an account of the life and military services of Maj. Gen. John Stark; with notices and anecdotes of other officers distinguished in the French and Revolutionary wars (Concord, 1831); Selected Wartime Service Records of Major Caleb Stark.