The Story of Moses Trussell.
As best I can determine, my great, great, great, great grandfather was Moses Trussell of Haverhill, MA.I guess that means about 1.6% of my blood comes from him.Pretty distant.Anyhow, Moses and his wife, Jane Mills had several children, but two that are of special interest to me.The first of these was my great, great, great grandfather, James, born in 1745 and the second was his younger brother, Moses, born in 1753.This second Moses is interesting because he fought in the revolutionary war … in fact, in it’s most famous battle, the battle of “Bunker Hill”.My ancestor, James, did two things relative to that War.First he signed the “Sandown Petition”, a petition circulated in Rockingham Co., NH in 1776 and which supported the Declaration of Independence.The second thing he did is that, according to family tradition, he loaned his musket to his younger brother Moses so that the latter could fulfill his patriotic duty.
The younger Moses enlisted on 23 April, 1775, possibly out of zeal generated from hearing about the Concord-Lexington Battle four days earlier.As you may recall that was a battle at the opening of the Revolutionary War when several Colonials were killed by British troops.Moses enlisted as a private and became a member of Captain Isaac Baldwin’s Company in Colonel Stark’s New Hampshire Regiment.
Moses’ enlistment was not long-lived as less than two months after he joined he found himself in the Battle of Bunker Hill on 17 Jun 1775.Under the command of Col. Prescott, the untrained Colonial forces had moved to the summit of Breed’s Hill across the Charles River from Boston.The colonials dug entrenchments and the following morning the British, under the command of General Gage, stormed the hill in three waves, the Redcoats being covered by artillery fire from Boston and from ships in the harbor.It was on this occasion when General Putnam is reputed to have given the famous order to his Colonial troops, “Don’t shoot until you can see the whites of their eyes”.
The first two British assaults were repulsed, but the Colonials ran out of ammuntion after the third attack and made an orderly retreat, using their muskets as clubs.It was the first real battle of the Revolutionary War, and it was the bloodiest.The Colonials lost almost 400 men and the British lost more than twice that many, nearly 40% of the men General Gage ordered into battle.
Moses fared well in the battle until, after successfully retreating, he volunteered to join a small group who went back up the hill to rescue their fallen officer.During that unsuccessful exercise, Moses lost his left arm when he was hit by artillery fire, ending his brief military career.The following is a description which Moses wrote of his experience at the Battle of Bunker Hill ten years later:
“… [I enlisted] … into the Company of Capt. Baldwin, Col. Stark’s regiment in the year of 1775 on the seventeenth of June, being invited to join reinforcements: going to Bunker Hill.Cheerfully went in and after standing the severe fire of the Enemy till ordered to retreat, making the best of my way off escaped over the Neck safely [reference is probably to the Charleston Neck, a severe narrowing of the land between the prominatory of Bunker and Breed’s Hills and the mainland.] when hearing that Capt. Baldwin, was left behind; fearing, that, as he was wounded, he would fall into the hands of the cruel and barbarous enemy, a motion was made for returning to find him, if possible, I, with several others, being zealously affected, toward such a gallant and brave officer (notwithstanding the severity of the enemy’s fire, across the Charleston Neck) and, in my search, had the mistfortune by a shot, from the enemy to lose my left hand; being shot far off; that it having only a little skin and a few tendons left, in this situation I returned to Plowed Hill where a surgeon cut the tendons and skin remaining off.”
Moses Trussell, Application for Veteran’s Pension, 1785.
Moses’ injury ended his participation in the war, but he went on to become a prominent citizen in New Hampshire where he taught school.He also served as a Selectman for Dunbarton, NH for 17 years.In the fall of 1803 Moses purchased 80 acres in the are of what was later to become New London, NH and cleared the land and lived in a small cabin with his family while he put aside the cash to build a new home.In 1807, Moses arranged for his borther-in-law, Robert Knowlton, to build the family a new home.Moses is known as the founder of New London NH and his family home is still preserved as a local historical monument called, “the Trussell House”.Moses died in New London in 1849 at the ripe old age of 96.