Concord’s WWI Monument to Company M New Hampshire State Guard

WWI Honor monument in White Park, Concord NH to Co M of the New Hampshire State Guard. Courtesy of Douglas Phinney, used with permission.

When you hear of the New Hampshire State Guard you probably think this is the same as the New Hampshire Army National Guard. If so, you would be wrong–they were two completely different organizations, though connected in a historical way.

In White Park sits a World War I honor monument, composed of a small boulder and a brass plaque, dedicated to Company M of the New Hampshire State Guard.  The monument languishes, surrounded by a rickety picket fence, though someone has taken a bit of care to include greenery and flowers.  This monument is mostly forgotten except for Douglas Finney and a few others who might stop for a quick glance or to take a photograph as they walk by. Landmarks near this honor monument (as shown in the photographs) “is White Park’s new skate house that was just completed and dedicated a few months ago,” and White Park’s community swimming pool.

WWI Honor monument in White Park, Concord NH. Showing community pool nearby. Courtesy of Douglas Phinney, used with permission.

In April of 1917 the United States formally declared war on Germany, officially taking part in the military action of the World War (now called World War One). At that time the United States government needed trained men and state national guard units, including those of New Hampshire were transitioned into U.S. national army to serve. Part of New Hampshire’s war legislation at this time included the reorganization of the National Guard.

Governor Henry W. Keyes, under authority of both national and New Hampshire law, created a volunteer militia called the New Hampshire State Guard, “to defend the state of New Hampshire from invasion, riot, or reasonable apprehension thereof.” This organization was composed of “commissioned officers and such able-bodied male citizens of the state as shall volunteer for service….such military force [was] distinct from the New Hampshire national guard…”

 

Close up of WWI Honor monument in White Park, Concord NH. Courtesy of Douglas Phinney, used with permission.

The US Home Defense Force Study” of 2015 states that by January 1919 the New Hampshire State Guard consisted of one infantry regiment with a strength of 57 officers and 938 enlisted men. This regiment had several companies organized in and around the larger cities in New Hampshire (namely Manchester, Nashua, Portsmouth, Franklin, Keene, Dover, Laconia, Bristol, Littleton, Concord, Charlestown, and Claremont).  The Granite State Monthly states:  “Governor Keyes and the state were very fortunate in securing for the Military Emergency Board three retired officers of the United States Army, General Winfield Scott Edgerly, General Elbert Wheeler and Major Frank W. Russell, whose ability and devotions were of the highest type. Under their direction a New Hampshire State Guard was formed which has been, and is today an efficient organization ready for any emergency and filling what might become at any moment a very pressing need.” The present roster of the State Guard was as follows:
– Colonel Paul F. Babbidge, Keene.
– Lieutenant Colonel Arthur G. Shattuck, Nashua
– Majors Treffle Raiche, Manchester, Frank E. Rollins, Dover, Otis G. Hammond, Concord, battalion commanders.
– Major William H. Nute, Exeter, surgeon
– Captain Fred E. Howe, Keene, regimental adjutant
– Captain John P. Flanagan, Keene, Regimental supply officer.
– Captain Alonzo L. McKinley, Nashua, inspector of small arms practice
– Captains Alpha H. Harriman, Harry M. Morse, Nashua; Walter A. Bartlett, Manchester, assistant surgeons.
– Captain Edward M. Parker, Concord, chaplain.
– First Lieutenants Mederique R. Maynard, Manchester; Sherwood Rollins, Dover; Alfred J. McClure, Concord, battalion adjutants.
– Headquarter Company, Manchester, First Lieutenant, William B. McKay.
[Also see list of additional officers

Company M was organized in June, 1917 and was called on for guard service several times during WWI.  It was called out for strike duty “when trouble was brewing at Berlin and Franklin as the result of the paper workers’ strike, but their services were not needed, although they were kept in readiness at the armory for several days.” The officers of the company were: James J. Quinn, captain; Roscoe G. Gay, first lieutenant; Fred L. Richardson, second-lieutenant [Note: the 1919 list of New Hampshire Guard shows Michael Mulligan as 2d Lieutenant]

Another view of WWI Honor monument in White Park, Concord NH to Co M of the New Hampshire State Guard. Courtesy of Douglas Phinney, used with permission.

It would probably be impossible to compile a list of the men who served during WWI in Company M, however I do know of one. Nelson Morrill Knowlton, son of John and Susie A. (Morrill) Knowlton was born 30 July 1889 in Penacook NH. Apparently a physical disability prevented him from serving in the military, and so he volunteered for Co. M., 1st Infantry New Hampshire State Guard. He later was a successful insurance man in Holyoke MA.

In March of 1921 the New Hampshire Senate and House of Representatives in General Court passed a resolutionthat whereas, the members of the New Hampshire State Guard, having served efficiently and faithfully during the years when the state was without the protection of a national guard organization, and who stood ready at all times to preserve law and order within the boundary lines of the state, some recognition of that service should be made….” They resolved that those members of the NH State guard in service when the organized was disbanded would be allowed to “retain their clothing and such equipment as the governor and council, with the advice of the military board, may direct,” and that the “adjutant-general furnish from the appropriation for the maintenance of the state guard a badge or button indicative of service in the state guard (who was honorable discharged)…”

View of pond in White Park from the WWI honor monument to Co M of the NH State Guard. Photograph by Douglas Phinney, used with permission.

According to the Boston Herald newspaper of 18 January 1922: “CO. M. OF CONCORD, N.H., PASSES INTO HISTORY. Gov. Brown is Present at Mustering Out Exercises. CONCORD, N.H. Jan 17–Company M, state guard passed into history tonight, the organization being mustered out of service at the Memorial parish house. Adjt.-Gen. Charles W. Howard was the mustering officer and he expressed the state’s appreciation for the company’s services. Gov. Albert O. Brown was present and also commended the men.

So the next time you take a walk in Concord New Hampshire’s White Park, pause for a moment at monument and consider your local militia–men who volunteered their service to protect the citizens of their state during a dangerous time.  [Editor’s Note: My deepest thanks to Douglas Finney for not only pointing out this monument, but others too, and providing the photographs as a basis for my research. If my readers know of others who served in this unit, please leave a comment.]

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