July 4th is typically a day of great celebration in New Hampshire. July 4th, 1861 was a day of great tension in the town of Fremont, NH (named after John C. Fremont, a devout abolitionist). It was traditional for towns to built large flagpoles called “liberty poles.” The folks of Fremont built one 150 feet high! The event of the 4th was well attended and also included several soldiers getting ready to depart for the war. As the ceremony commenced and the flag was raised on the “liberty pole,” a southern sympathizer attempted to take a shot at the flag. A riot broke out and many citizens in attendance tried to attack the sympathizer. Ultimately the soldiers broke up the quarrel. The significance of this riot is that it was the first Civil War riot to take place in New England and was the fourth to take place in the nation.
This event is marked by the New Hampshire Highway Historical Markers. They are a set of over 200 signs that document historical people, places, or events in the state of New Hampshire. This event is marker #170.
The marker reads: In 1928, the Exeter News-Letter printed an eye-witness account of Fremont’s July 4, 1861 Civil War riot, written by 77-year-old Alden F. Sanborn. After Fremont’s loyal citizens raised a 150-foot “liberty-pole” at nearby Liberty Square and had run up the Union flag, “a southern sympathizer moved to put a bullet through it. Someone immediately moved to put a bullet through that man. [A small riot ensued] which was soon squelched with the aid of the brave boys in Blue, one of whom remark[ed ‘If] we were going to fight the rebels…we had as soon commence here as anywhere.”
The location for this event is: NH Rt 107 in front of #272, Opposite Sandown Rd, Fremont, NH