Digging into Derry: Forest Hill Cemetery

More than Just a Name; the Untold Stories of Derry’s Monument Men

forest hill

The Derry Public Library Adult Summer Reading Program series “Digging into Derry” fe

atures programs about Derry history.  On Monday, July 29, at 6:30 pm, join TJ Cullinane of the Friends of Forest Hill Cemetery, to hear the highly compelling stories of three Civil War soldiers whose names are inscribed on the Town’s Civil War Monument.

These men are 1st Lieutenant George Upton, 6th New Hampshire Volunteers, Captain J. Charles Currier, 11th New Hampshire Volunteers and Lieutenant Colonel George Thom, United States Army.

Upton was a Pinkerton graduate who was promoted from the ranks for his valor and ability. A man of deep Christian faith,

but not in the least bit concerned with Abolition, he had a premonition of his death the night before he was killed in action at the Battle of the Crater. His home in Derry, perpetually kept in mourning trim by his bereaved widow, would later inspire Robert Frost to pen the “The Black Cottage”. The Grand Army of the Republic Post in Derry was named in his honor. The GAR flag is preserved a

nd on display in the history room of 1st Parish Church.

Currier was also a Pinkerton Graduate. He was shot in the face twice, both times on a Friday, but he survived the war and took a regular commission. He symbolically drove in the “golden spike” uniting the transcontinental railroad with the hilt of his sword (Promontory Heights, Utah, 1867). President of the California Sons of the American Revolution and Adjutant General of the California National Guard, he was also owner of a 900 acre cattle farm in San Luis Obispo.  Currier was a mourner of note at the funeral of conservationist John Muir but would die in greatly reduced circumstances in Brookline, Mass in 1924.

Thom graduated from Pinkerton and West Point, to become a regular soldier, who served as the aide-de-camp to Franklin Pierce in the Mexican-American War. As a cartographer in the Civil War, his depiction of the Battle of Shiloh set the standard for all other to follow. It is referred to simply as “Thom’s Map”. Thom would substitute a sword for a pen at the Battle of Cedar Creek where he was mentioned in Sheridan’s dispatches for rallying broken troops.

He received brevet promotion to Brigadier General. Sadly, three of his five children would perish while he away in the war. Ultimately, he would outlive his entire family. After the war, he would remain in the Army and survey every hazard to navigation in all of the harbors in New England. He left the town the gates to Forest Hill Cemetery and a stained glass window in 1st Parish Church.

Cullinane will discuss these men (with photos) and briefly explain the work of the Friends of Forest Hill Cemetery, including the database project which the Library is developing.

This program is free and is part of the Derry Public Library Summer Reading Program for Adults “Dig into Reading”. Registration is suggested, bur not required. Visit our calendar to sign up.

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