Delftware of Historic Deerfield

The Little Brown House on The Albany Road

where his cannon disturbed the "burial of Sir John Moore;" across the Rhine to the fields of Ulna and Austerlitz and Jena and Eylau and Wagram, as he raged to and fro like a demon of destruction, ignoring or tearing into tatters, all the established rules which had hitherto been the guide for the movements of European arms on the march or in manoeuvres on the field of battle. Here was a rare chance to study the art of war on a grand scale from a new master. Hoyt, like an enthusiastic patriot, gave himself up to it with ardor and success. Can we not see him with the poker drawing plans in the ashes on this great hearth, plans of recent battles to illustrate his theme, showing his friends how Napoleon had beaten the Italians, the Austrians or the Russians, by this or that movement, at this or that critical moment? The point once demonstrated, Aunt Spiddy with a few whisks of her birchen broom sent the offending ashes under the fore stick, sweeping aside these plans no more effectually than some new burst of genius in the Corsican did those of the crowned heads of Europe.

One result of these studies was a treatise on "The Military Art," issued in 1798, for the use of the United States army. This work attracted the attention of the first President, and it was doubtless by the light of our east window that General Hoyt read the letter from Washington offering him a command in the United States army, which was then being organized for a conflict with France. Hoyt's work passed through several editions, and was followed by more elaborate works, largely prepared under this roof. All were illustrated by plates, showing the formation and evolutions of companies, regiments and armies, on parade and in active service on the field. Imagine sketches of these plans pinned up on the red wainscoting of the kitchen, and note the trouble they gave Aunt Spiddy, when the frolicsome wind from the open window sent them scurrying over her nicely sanded floor, with the possibility that some might be caught in the draft and whisked with the flame and smoke up the wide-throated chimney. Hoyt's reason for declining the commission from Washington we do not know. We do know that it was not a lack of patriotism or waning love of the military art. Probably he felt the call for home duties more urgent. He was Inspector-General of the state troops. Trouble was brewing with Great Britain as well as with France, and many feared that the great Corsican himself would turn his arms across the waters to our shores. The hand of General Hoyt may be seen in the action of the Board of Trustees of Deerfield Academy, when in 1806 a new professorship was established. It was for teaching the "Theoretical and Practical Art of War viz: —tactics according to Stuben and Dundas ... Practical Geometry on the Ground; Elements of Fortifications, and the Construction of small works in the Field; Elements of Gunnery; Topography; Military History; Partisan War, or War of Posts; . . . These subjects will be under the direction of Major Hoyt, Brigade Inspector. . . . It is believed that the Present Critical Situation of our Country will induce young men to qualify themselves for an honorable defence against every hostile attack on their native land and lay a foundation for military Glory."

But our genius sacrificed not alone upon the shrine of Mars. Gradually, as the years went on, the little cottage on the Albany road became the undoubted center of mental activity for Northern Hampshire. Around its hearthstone the young men gathered and listened to discussions of the most abstruse problems, not only of war, but of philosophy and pure science. Here space was measured with a line, the trackless star was traced to its hiding place by day, the sun after his going down at night, and a path was predicted for the erratic comet. Some of the results of these hearthstone

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This page was last updated on 11 Feb 2006