1st Lt. Thomas Blake (1737-1825), 1st Regiment, N.H. Continental Line
Thomas Blake was born February 2, 1737 in Hampton Falls, New Hampshire. He was the son of Samuel and Anne (Cilley) Blake.
On November 8, 1776, he was commissioned as Ensign in Captain Ebenezer Frye’s Company of the 1st Regiment of the New Hampshire Continental Line. The 1st New Hampshire would see some of New Hampshire’s finest men lead it into battle through the Revolution: Stark, Cilley, Scammel, and Dearborn. Ensign Blake’s first orders were to recruit men from the Grafton County area bordering on the Connecticut River.
He participated in the Northern Campaign, the Trenton-Princeton Campaign, Saratoga, and the Philadelphia-Monmouth Campaign, and entered Valley Forge with the 1st New Hampshire.
On May 11, 1778 he was promoted to Second Lieutenant and was afterwards promoted to First Lieutenant with duties as Paymaster and Regimental Clothier. Probably no other man in the regiment was so well fitted for these offices as Thomas Blake. He presents this through his returns, abstracts, etc. that he kept. He was again promoted to First Lieutenant on March 24, 1780. By the end of the war he was the Paymaster for the New Hampshire Continental Line.
His journal of the marches and campaigns of the Regiment for about five years was published in the History of the First New Hampshire Regiment in the War of the Revolution by Frederick Kidder in 1868. His journal provides intimate details of the activity of the regiment during this period. One entry from July 5, 1779 details that:
Gen. Poor made an entertainment for the officers of the brigade in commemoration of American independence, and after dinner the following toasts were drank: 1. United States. 2. July 4, 1776, the memorable. 3. The grand council of America. 4. Gen. Washington and the army. 5. The king and queen of France. 6. Gen. Sullivan and the Western expedition. 7. May the councillors of America be wise and her soldiers invincible. 8. A successful and decisive campaign. 9. Civilization or death to all savages. 10. To the immortal memory of those heroes that have fallen in defense of American liberty. 11. May the husbandman’s cottage be blessed with peace, and his fields with plenty. 12. Vigor and virtue to all the sons and daughters of America. 13. May the New World be the last asylum of freedom and the arts.
In addition to his own accounts, 1st Lt Blake included the various Acts of Congress that were passed during the conflict that related to the Army and present an interesting look at the laws and customs of the period.
In researching, Kidder found not only Blake’s journal, but also his paymaster’s ledger that he deposited with the State after the war. Through his meticulous efforts as Paymaster, the names, ranks, and other particulars of every man who served in the 1st New Hampshire from January 1, 1777 to January 1, 1782 were preserved for posterity.
In total, 1st Lt Thomas Blake served in the Continental Army continuously from November 8, 1776 until its dissolution in January, 1784.
Sources: Francis Heitman, Historical Register of Officers of the Continental Army (Washington DC, 1893), 88; Frederic Kidder, History of the First New Hampshire Regiment in the War of the Revolution (Albany, 1868); Selected Wartime Service Records of 1st Lt Thomas Blake.
Compiled by Matthew Mitchell Breen who has represented Thomas Blake in the New Hampshire Society since 2018.