Posted by Literary Titan
Author Ben Z. Rose brings to life the legendary hero of the New England Militia during America’s War of Independence. Born in Colonial New Hampshire to Scotch Irish immigrants, John Stark survived Indian captivity, and later fought alongside the British in the French and Indian War as part of Rogers Rangers, the legendary militia company which pioneered the tactics of today’s U.S. Army Special Forces. Stark’s first-hand exposure to second class citizenship in the British army fueled his desire to enlist in the Continental army and prevent a humiliating defeat at the Battle of Bunker Hill. Later, his surprise attack against British hired mercenaries at the Battle of Bennington turned the tide in favor of the young American army.
Ben Z. Rose focuses on a handful of people in John Stark’s life in an effort to gain insight into his motivation and character. These include his wife, Elizabeth “Molly” Stark, who hailed from a prominent Puritan family; his oldest son, Caleb, who enlisted in the Continental Army at the age of 15; Robert Rogers, founder of the colonial ranger force that bears his name; Seth Warner, captain of the Green Mountain Boys who fought for Vermont’s independence; fellow New Hampshire General John Sullivan, and General Horatio Gates, who rivaled George Washington for leadership of the Continental Army.
John Stark inspired the phrase “Live Free or Die—Death is not the greatest of evils” in a letter to the citizens of Vermont. Stark’s sentiment at the time was clearly intended to warn against another British invasion, which occurred a short time later when the British burned down the US Congress during the War of 1812. As we live in an age when the pendulum swings between concerns over government intrusion into our lives and the necessity to confront our overseas enemies, Stark speaks to us today with the same relevance as he did more than two-hundred years ago.