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Shelly Angers, N.H. Department of Cultural Resources
(603) 271-3136
Twitter: @NHCulture

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.

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

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 very 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 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

New Hampshire's Division of Historical Resources, the “State Historic Preservation Office,” was established in 1974. The historical, archaeological, architectural, engineering and cultural resources of New Hampshire are among the most important environmental assets of the state. Historic preservation promotes the use, understanding and conservation of such resources for the education, inspiration, pleasure and enrichment of New Hampshire’s citizens. For more information, visit us online at or by calling (603) 271-3483.

New Hampshire’s Department of Cultural Resources includes the State Council on the Arts, the Film and Television Office, the Division of Historical Resources, the State Library and the Commission on Native American Affairs. The Department strives to nurture the cultural well-being of our state. From the covered bridges and traditional music of our past to the avant-garde performances and technological resources of today and tomorrow, New Hampshire’s culture is as varied as its geography and its people. This strong cultural base—which truly has something for everyone—attracts businesses looking for engaged workforces, provides outstanding educational opportunities and creates communities worth living in. Learn more at




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