At the annual town meeting, on the 9th of March (1775), it was voted to make and finish the North Road through town, and that the people at Avery Town, so called, now Iron Works Village, have their part of school kept among them. Also, it was agreed to leave out the Minister tax all persons who shall produce a certificate from the Wardens of the Baptist Church, that they have attended that meeting three-forth's of the time, and have paid their tax to that society.
At the opening of this season, the Revolutionary War commenced, in which struggle Gilmanton bore an honorable part. The New Hampshire Assembly in 1774, had chosen a Committee of Correspondence with the other Colonies on their common dangers, and the means of averting them. The result was determination to assume a United Government, and to convene a General Congress of the American Colonies. For this purpose, the several Colonies were called upon to send Representatives to meet in Philadelphia on the 5th of September. The New Hampshire Assembly, which had been prorogued by Gov. Wentworth, on account of its Revolutionary spirit, came together at the call of the Committee of Correspondence, and though commanded by the Governor to disperse, nevertheless proceeded to write to every town, inviting them to send deputies to meet in Convention at Exeter, to choose Representatives to the First Congress. They also appointed a day of fasting and prayer, on account of the gloomy aspect of the times, which was observed with religious solemnity in most of the towns.
At the appointed time, a Convention of 85 delegates was convened, and Nathaniel Folsom and John Sullivan were chosen to represent New Hampshire in the First American Congress. A second Convention of delegates met at Exeter, in Jan., 1775, and elected John Sullivan and John Langdon to the Second Continental Congress. The also appointed a Committee of Correspondence to watch over the public safety. At the request of this Committee, a third Convention was convened at Exeter, in May, only a few weeks, after hostilities had commenced at Lexington. To this Convention, which consisted of delegates from 102 towns, Col. Antipas Gilman was appointed by the town of Gilmanton. The Convention took a bold stand, and adopted energetic measures for the support of the American cause. They resolved to assume the Government of the Colony, voted to raise 2000 men for the Army, appointed a new Secretary and Treasurer of the Province, and chose a Committee of Supplies for the Army, and a Committee of Safety, which served as the Executive of the Province, and possessed, in the recess of the Convention, very extensive powers.
But the hardy and independent sons of these forests did not feel contented in those Revolutionary times, with merely deliberating in the councils of their country. They were ready to meet the enemy in the field. Accordingly, soon after the news of the battle at Lexington reached town, 12 of the inhabitants of Gilmanton, Lieut. Ebenezer Eastman at their head, volunteered and marched forth to the rescue. This officer, in the absence of the captain, commanded a company in the battle of Bunker Hill, on the 17th of June. The following interesting incident connected with this event, was published in one of the newspapers in 1832. "While the battle was raging on the heights of Charlestown, as it was afterwards ascertained, the anxious wife of Lieut. Eastman, together with the people of the town, was attending public worship at the usual place.
While they were there assembled, it was announced that a battle had been fought, and that her husband was slain. Frantic with grief at the news she had heard, and yet not willing to believe it, for it seemed to be only a vague report, she retired from meeting to her home, made some hasty arrangements, and with no friend to accompany her, with no mode of conveyance but on horse-back, with no road to travel even, but a track to be followed in some places by spots on the trees of the forest; she left home with her only child, an infant , in her arms, to wind her way as she might to her father's house in Brentwood, a distance of not less than 40 miles. When she arrived at her father's, the news of the battle was confirmed, but the fate of her husband was not yet known. Leaving her infant with a friend, she proceeded to Charlestown, and found her husband alive, and in good health. An explanation of the report of the battle's reaching Gilmanton, a distance, as they then traveled, of a least 90 miles, on the very day on which it was fought, is to be found in the fact, that the roaring of the cannon was heard at a surprising distance; and in the feverish state of the public mind, by which every movement of the enemy was magnified, by the time the news had traveled 50 or 100 miles, into a battle. And that individuals should be mentioned as having been slain, was just as natural as that the human mind is prone to exaggerate." Lieut. Eastman and his men were enrolled in Capt. Kinsman's company on the 23d of April, and were discharged on the 1st day of August, having been in the service 3 months and 16 days.
The following is a list of their names. Ebenezer Eastman, Lieutenant: Joshua Danforth, 2d Sergeant; John Mudgett, Corporal: Privates, Thomas Flanders, Stephen Dudley Jr., John Folsom, Joses Moulton, Edward Sinkler, Thomas Frohock, Dudley and Levi Hutchinson, Benjamin, son of John Cotton, Jonathan, son of Thomas Currier, and Nathaniel, son of John Fox.
Lieut. Eastman and his company were a part of the detachment, who were, the night preceding the battle, sent upon Breed's Hill to throw up an entrenchment. The men entered upon the work with great energy. The rule adopted in labor was that there should be a relief every two hours. But some of them, among whom was Thomas Frohock from Gilmanton, refused to take relief, and continued digging from 12 o'clock until the dawn of day, when they had completed a redoubt 8 rods square. Lieut. Eastman's company, however, did not occupy any part of the entrenchment, being posted with the rest of the N.H. troops under Col. Stark, on the left wing of the Army, behind a fence, whence " they sorely galled the British as they advanced to the attack, and cut them down by whole ranks at one."
After the retreat was accomplished, Major Andrew McClary of Epsom, having occasion to return across Charlestown Neck took Lieut. Eastman as his attendant. To the suggestion of Eastman that he was exposed to be cut down by the enemy's cannon, still continuing to play upon their course, he had but just replied, that " the ball was not yet cast, which was to kill him," when there was a flash from a floating vessel, and Major McClary fell by Eastman's side. The ball had passed through the abdomen, tearing him to pieces, and leaving scarcely a sign of life. After tying around his mangled body the only handkerchief he had in his possession, he left him gasping in death, and immediately returned to the main body of the Army.
A Committee of five were on the 17th of July, chosen for the purpose of preserving the peace and good order of society, according to an act of the Provincial Congress, and Ebenezer Page, Samuel Fifield, Jonathan Clark, Orlando Weed, and Dr. William Smith, composed this Committee.
On the 1st of December, the town was divided by the Selectmen and Committee of Safety into two Militia Companies.
Among the settlers of this year, were Benjamin Gilman, Simon Clough, Paul Bickford, Daniel Folsom, Robert Glidden, Stephen and David Bean, Edward Gilman, Jr., Eliphalet Gilman, and Jonathan Ross.
A second census was taken by order of the Provincial Congress, Sept. 25, 1775, of which the following is the result. Males under 16 of age 238; males from 16 to 50, 151; males above 50, 16; persons gone into the Army, 12; the whole number of females, 357; Negroes and slaves, 4.