In the days of the old state militia Gorham was full of the martial spirit of the times that grew out of the "War of 1812". The town had three companies that constituted a regiment which was officered by some of the best known and most imposing looking military men in the state and who took great pride in their commands. The adjacent town of Standish was also famous for its military spirit and also maintained three companies of which the town took great pride. There had long been a local jealousy between the two regiments which culminated at Gorham corner about seventy years ago at one of the general musters which came nearer being war than anything that ever occurred in the usually peaceful town. In those days the militia frequently met for the May and October trainings, at Gorham village, where they would assemble on the Portland road below the square and march up to the square and then swing into South street and march down a quarter of a mile and turn into a field to the right of the road. When the two regiments came together in the morning there was a dispute over which was entitled to head the march to the muster field and return which precedence was determined by the priority of their colonel's commission. The Gorham regiment which was commanded by the late Colonel Hugh D. McLellan were given the coveted honor after a lively controversy and the regiment swung into line and to the soul stirring music of fife and drum began their march in high spirit, while the Standish troops could do no better than fall in behind their rivals, which they did with no good grace, while their audible mutterings and threatening bodied mischief before the day was done. A muster field in those days was a lively place and our present country fairs are not to be compared to a general muster for all sorts of "goings on" of the most stirring kind. Rude booths and tents were pitched all about the training field and a certain sort of gingerbread rolls, of which we have no counterpart today, was sold in great numbers, and about every country boy would be marching about like Ben Franklin on an earlier occasion munching one roll, and with one in reserve tucked under his arm, and every country boy was there, who could get together a few pennies and reach the muster field by getting up at 4 o'clock in the morning and walking there. Rum was sold as openly and freely as lemonade is today and by the time the liquor had time to get in its work all sorts of mixups and fights were going on so much so that the first question that was always asked of the men when they got home was "who fit?" Everything passed off smoothly on the field that day as far as the evolutions of the militia were concerned, but when the order came for the return march the Standish companies immediately filed into the road and their colonel gave the command to march without waiting for the Gorham companies to precede them. Colonel Hugh was quick to see that the Standish boys were determined to steal a march on his regiment and he gave the command to the Gorham boys to "get to the corner as soon as they could" and over the fences they went and "cut across lots" in a wild rush to get into the main road ahead of their up country rivals. Then occurred a scene of the wildest excitement, for now both regiments broke into a wild rush with the spectators at their heels all shouting and yelling while the hoarse commands of the officers urging the men forward added to the din. The Gorham troops by cutting across lots had less distance to travel and most of them reached the main road in advance of the Standish men and on they came up to the village in a mad rush to the greatest amazement of the villagers who were at a loss to account for such unseemly conduct on the part of the militia that marched out of the square but a few house since with such measured and dignified steps. The village was thronged with people through which the enraged militia rushed without any regard to whom they trampled down and to add to the confusion and terror of the spectators some of the Standish troops began firing their muskets at the Gorham men who returned the fire and soon a general fusillade was going on, though of course the pieces were only loaded with blank cartridges, yet it was charged by both factions that their rivals shoved their ramrods into their guns and discharged them with little regard to where their guns were pointed. The old settlers in after years told wonderful stories of the way the ramrods flew about and many holes were said to have been pointed out in the old buildings that they claimed were made by the ramrods of the enraged militiamen from Standish. The Gorham Troops on reaching the square swung into the Portland road and formed where they did in the morning but the Standish men kept straight up the hill formed in front of the old Robie store and nothing but the persistence of the officers of both regiments prevented another clash. A semblance of discipline was finally restored and the final act in the drama took place which consisted in paying off the men who in those days received the munificent sum of fifty cents for their day's work, which was usually handed them in bright shining half dollars which were generally obtained fresh from the mint for these occasions and were looked upon in those times as little short of princely remuneration. Of all the multitude that assembled at Gorham village on that May morning, over seventy years ago, probably but a single one remains to tell the story of that noisy but bloodless contention between the militia of these proud and rival towns. Ex-Governor Robie was then a boy just old enough to be trusted by his mother to follow the "sogers" and on that morning his maternal parent probably slipped a few pennies into his pocket after buttoning up his jacket and tying on his cap and cautioning him to "look out and not get run over." However the boy followed the troops to the training field and no doubt exchanged his pennies for the toothsome and satisfying gingerbread rolls and when the break was made for the "corner" if he didn't get there as soon as the "sogers" it was only because he couldn't run quite as fast. But the boy was there in time to witness the frantic efforts of the officers to quell the incipient war in the usually peaceful streets of Gorham village which for many months furnished a fruitful and animated topic of conversation about the firesides of Gorham and Standish.
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