Fitzwilliam was a small town in the years leading up to the Revolutionary War, its population was only 250 in 1774, but those 250 residents were committed to supporting the rebel cause. When news of the battles at Lexington and Concord reached Fitzwilliam in April 1775, the town was ready to mobilize its militia and join the fight. In May 1775, the New Hampshire Provincial Congress voted to raise a 2,000 man army and help their fellow patriots in the war for freedom.The 2,000 man army was split in to three regiments with the 2nd Regiment being commanded by Fitzwilliam's own Colonel James Reed.
James Reed was the second person, and the only one of the original proprietors to settle in Monadnock No. 4. In 1755, during the French and Indian War, he was an officer in the army and received the commission of Lieutenant Colonel. Then, at fifty, he served in the army during the Revolutionary war. After he heard about the battles at Lexington and Concord, Reed raised a Company of volunteers and marched them to Medford. He continued to enlist more volunteers, many from Cheshire County, and soon had four companies under his command. The New Hampshire Provisional Assembly even appointed Reed Colonel of a regiment in 1775. He became known as General Reed later in the War when he was appointed a brigadier- general. However, during the war he was sick much of the time and end up almost blind, forcing him to retire from active duty before the end of the Revolution. He later died in Fitchburg.
As the War dragged on and on it brought hardships to the residents of Fitzwilliam. Many of the young men of the Town were campaigning with the Continental Army fighting no only the British but the diseases that decimated their ranks. Those at home had to contend with stressful economic times. The fortitude these residents showed is well illustrated in a letter written by a grandfather to his two grandsons in the Army.
To My Grand Children Eleazer* and Ebenezer Blake in the army. These Lines are to Let you know we are all well at the present and all your Relations hoping these Lines will find you. So I am also Glad to hear of your good behavior by soldiers that come along and by one that came along and went into Mr. Reeds Shop that your Brother at Reeds. See he had got on one of your shirts for he say your name on it. Now it is good to be in favour with man but greater to be in favour with the almighty therefore Seek Rather the Love and favour of god that so come Life or come Death you may be happy.
I shall give a short account of the difficulties we labour under not that I would complaine of the dealing of providence. No, god forbid, he is just and we are sinners but we have right to complaine or talk of our troubles to our fellow men. Here is a great scarcety of bread so that we are forced to flee from city to city to get food. I have been as far as Novidge to buy corn. So that all the money we can get goes that way then our taxes comes. So that the constable takes our cattle and sells them at an out. ?? and it keeps growing worse and worse so that I am afraid the poorer sort of people will sufer and die as its whare with contemned poverty. Your father has got near upon or quite corn enuf. So that now I must conclude my letter in giving of my farewell to you both praying that god would keep you all in the hollow of his hand and in his own due time return you both to you friends and aquaintance again ladend with the experiences of his goodness in that regard Amen
*Eleazer Blake was the Grandfather of Amos J. Blake, the well known Fitzwilliam Lawyer.