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Alexander Scammell

Death of Scammell / SeacoastNH


A NH lawyer born in Massachusetts, Scammell died at the Battle of Yorktown towards the end of the Revolution. His distinguished military career began at the Seige of William and Mary in 1774 and brought him to Quebec, Trenton, Saratoga, Princeton, Monmouth and Valley Forge.



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In April, 1779, the main army of the American forces was enjoying a lull in the fightin. Soldiers could now take a moment to think of matters other than survival on the battlefield. "I fear," wrote Adjutant-General Alexander Scammell in a letter to Col. Nathaniel Peabody, one of New Hampshire’s representatives to the Continental Congress, "that the war will doom me to old bachelorism—however, content myself with this consideration, that there is enough of the breed already, though this consideration don’t (sic) fully correspond with my feelings on the opening of Spring."

Col. Alexander ScammellThe 35-year old commander of the First New Hampshire Battalion was one fo the youngest, most dashing officers in Washington’s army, and his temperament matched his good looks. He had a likable sense of humor and moved with ease in social gatherings. It is said he could approach George Washington with a familiarity no other officer could get away with.

Scammell also had a sincere concern for his men. When Congress seemed to be abandoning its duty in providing the necessitites of food and clothing for the troops, Scammell sent searing letters to Congress condemning it for reducing the fighting men to "slavery" and "beggary." He blamed the large number of desertions not on the men but on the hunger that drove them to it.

Alexander Scammell was born in 1744 in Milford Mass. After his graduation from Harvard in 1769, he taught school in Massachusetts and Maine and worked as an explorer and surveyor of the territory in southern Maine.

In 1774, Scammell went to Durham to study law under John Sullivan. But Scammell found it difficult to concentrate on law books. Instead, he spent much of his time studying wars of the past. Durham was buzzing with rumors that British troops were being sent to occupy Portsmouth, and Scammell was able to participate in the growing struggle sooner than he expected.

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