N.H. and the Civil War: When Johnny came marching home

As part of New Hampshire’s “May is Preservation Month” observation, the New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources is publishing a series of articles exploring the Granite State’s involvement in the Civil War.

This week, the focus is on the changing cultural and demographic landscapes of New Hampshire after the war.

In addition to the thousands of New Hampshire soldiers killed during the Civil War, many others moved to other parts of the country after the war was over.

These population losses, combined with people relocating to New Hampshire’s cities to work in the mills, depleted the state’s rural population, resulting in abandoned farms, shrinking villages and the reforestation of previously cleared fields and pastures.

The stereo view (above) from the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs depicts a logging operation near Concord, N.H.

New Hampshire’s timber industry began to boom in the years following the Civil War because of this increase in newly generated forests, as well as an 1867 state mandate for the sale of New Hampshire’s public lands, new developments in paper processing and expanded access to rail transportation.

The railroads also turned New Hampshire into a seasonal tourism destination; tourists could choose from a variety of places to stay, including hunting and fishing camps, small boarding houses and grand resort hotels.

As the 1800s came to a close, the state launched two campaigns designed to raise New Hampshire’s profile as a top choice for relocation.

The publication New Hampshire Farms for Summer Homes encouraged wealthy buyers to convert or consolidate the state’s abandoned farm properties into summer residences.

One example is the John Milton Hay’s summer estate and gardens in Newbury, known as The Fells.

Images: Historic photo (above) of  The Fells with sheep on the lawn and a current view of rose garden terrace, looking toward Mt. Sunapee, were provided by the Division of Historical Resources.

The Fells is open to the public for tours and exhibits and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Old Home Week

Founded in 1899 by Governor Frank Rollins, “Old Home Week” invited “all absent sons and daughters of the State and all who have some time lived within its borders, to return during that week and assist us in kindling the fires of State patriotism.”

The event was a success from the beginning and is still celebrated in communities throughout New Hampshire as well as across the United States and internationally.

>> To see images and learn more about how New Hampshire changed after the Civil War, visit www.nh.gov/nhdhr and click on the “May is Preservation Month” link in the “Quick Links” box on the right.

>> Databases related to New Hampshire regiments during the Civil War, including calendars listing regiment activity, are available at http://www.nh.gov/nhculture/nh_civilwar.htm.

New Hampshire’s Department of Cultural Resources includes the State Council on the Arts, the Film and Television Office, the State Library and the Commission on Native American Affairs, and the Division of Historical Resources.

Learn more at www.nh.gov/nhculture. For more info about the Division of Historical Resources, visit visit www.nh.gov/nhdhr or call (603) 271-3483.

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