Veterans All

From earlier Gazette editions:

During the War of 1812, H.M. sloop Nimrod operated in American waters. In January, 1814, she was in Vineyard Sound and on the 26th of that month her pilot boat captured the American sloop Vineyard Ferry at Tarpaulin Cove. The following named were taken prisoner: Owen Hillman, John Nichols, Nathaniel North, John Luce, Erastus Beecher, Henry Hicox, Elias Smith. Altogether the Nimrod took 245 prisoners, “who were actually victualled at two thirds allowance to all species, and no Rum,” according to the record in the log. It is to be presumed that this latter condition, depriving the unfortunates of their allowance of toddy, will have the approval of that section of the community which now favors this same doctrine to the other sections of the community.

In 1814 Capt. James Lawrence in the sloop of war Hornet dropped anchor in Vineyard Haven harbor. The intrepid captain was returning from victory over the British Peacock. It is narrated that he became a guest at the Ebenezer Smith house at Eastville on the day when a son was born to Ebenezer and his wife, Mary Hulsart Smith. This son was named James Lawrence Smith, in honor of the famous guest who, in token of his appreciation, cut off some gold buttons from his uniform and presented them to the mother.

At least one Edgartown man participated in the Mexican War and under circumstances which were, to say the least, unusual. Capt. Philander Smith of Martha’s Vineyard was second mate of the whaleship Edward, which cleared from New Bedford, July 14, 1845, for a voyage in the Pacific. In the course of the voyage the Edward touched the shores of Mexico at a place called San Joseph, where they were spoken by a trading sloop to go to the rescue of the garrison of the place, which was in possession of a force of twenty-eight American troops, but was surrounded by several hundred Mexicans. Augmented by the crew of the whaleship Magnolia, which dropped anchor nearby, the men of the Edward landed, drove the enemy back and remained there until the United States ship Relief saved them.

Leonard F. Vanderhoop was born to Edwin D. Vanderhoop, a Civil War veteran and later a representative in the state legislature. Throughout the Civil War, Edwin D. Vanderhoop blocked shipments of British goods to the South.

Mr. Vanderhoop remembers: “Fighting for the North — absolutely. Gay Head was a district and they weren’t supposed to be Americans. So he and a friend of his said they were from Nova Scotia and enlisted in the Civil War.”

As a soldier in World War I, Mr. Vanderhoop fought in the 72-hour barrage battle that broke up the Hindenburg Line. He was decorated with the purple heart for an injury he received in battle near the Argonne Forest in France.

“The only time I felt fear in the war was after I was wounded,” he says. He remembers “the sound of fire when they took me off the battleground to the camp.”

Mr. Vanderhoop says he was proud to fight as an American in the war. “We went as two Indians from Gay Head. We were native Americans, George Belain and I.” Mr. Vanderhoop was a student at Oak Grove Seminary in Maine when he was inducted to serve in the U.S. Army.

“They needed men at the front of the 306th field artillery. They took all the men trained in the artillery and put them in the infantry. We were marched up a long hill, miles long, with sacks and coats and rifles and everything else you could carry, in the blazing sun.

“It seemed the longest hill we ever climbed. I was 23, one of the youngest of the bunch, the leader of Battery B. They told the rolling kitchens not to make any fire that morning because it was calm and smoke went straight up in the air and that was all the Germans needed. They were a mile or so over the hill from us.

“That was when I got it. You could hear the shells come closer and closer every minute. The next thing I knew — whoosh — my leg was stretched out a mile. I hobbled up the hill to the battery. They were still shelling. They wound something around my leg to stop the bleeding and carried me over to the pup tent that was supposed to be the field hospital.”

Mr. Vandehoop’s four sons also went off to do military service for their country. “Leonard F. Jr. served in the Battle of the Bulge as a medic. He was captured and became a prisoner of war. He was later released. Edwin D. served in the air force. William D. Sr. was a corporal in the army. Major John O. spent one year in Viet Nam and 20 years in the air force.

“All my sons served. We served our country. We served our family and friends. Nobody likes war. When it comes to defending your home, you have to act.”

Compiled by Cynthia Meisner