The New Hampshire National Guard Heritage Project: The Story of Our Citizen Soldiers

By Jeff Baker, posted on December 18, 2019

Since boyhood, I’ve been a Revolutionary War re-enactor and military enthusiast. That’s why I’m thrilled to share with you one of the most fulfilling projects we’ve ever undertaken at Image 4: The New Hampshire National Guard Heritage Project.

This project brings to life the history of our state’s National Guard through the stories of the Citizen Soldiers. It will be housed at the Edward Cross Training Complex (ECTC) in Pembroke, NH. The exhibition space was completed on December 19, 2019 after nine months of intense work.

The Story

In 2018, Image 4 designed and built a history wall as part of an upgrade to a historic Guard armory in Littleton, NH. With the success of that project, the Guard commissioned us to design and build an exhibition space in the brand new ECTC.

We knew that this engagement would demand more of our expertise than a typical history wall project—and we were right. This project ended up drawing on all of our expertise, touching every department of our company and utilizing almost every service we offer. Beginning with the overall theme and storyline development, feeding into the physical design of the space and visual elements, and finally building the components in the shop, our team carefully considered every aspect to bring this compelling narrative to life. The full 20-person team for this project included writers, artists, archivists, craftspeople, and an experienced historian.

The Process

The first step was a deep dive into the story before us. The Image 4 team spent weeks in the NH National Guard archives, searching through artifacts, poring over historical documents, and finding unexpected treasures. As part of the process, we interviewed dozens of current and retired Guardsmen and women who were able to share their personal stories, which we present both visually and as part of a rich digital-based interactive project.

Hidden among the vast collection of artifacts, dating to the 1600’s, our team found a Nazi flag that was signed by members of C Battery/172nd Field Artillery, who had been deployed to Europe in WWII. We also found uniforms from various eras, dating as far back as the Civil War, ration books from WWI and WWII, and much more. We set these and other artifacts aside to be photographed, scanned or preserved and prepared for display. The artifacts provide a physical representation of the stories, allowing readers to connect on a deeper level.

Through extensive research, we discovered profound and long-forgotten stories of individual Citizen Soldiers. One of those soldiers was Sampson (Moore) Battis, a slave who was given his freedom for his service in the Revolutionary War, and who continued to serve, even being awarded the rank of Major, where he would have commanded both white and black soldiers – an incredible achievement in that time. Each story we found remarkable, illustrating the commitment and sacrifice of New Hampshire’s Citizen Soldiers.

The Results

From concept to execution, we produced a meticulously fabricated, museum-grade exhibit. The space features the stories of over fifteen Citizen Soldiers from 1623 to today. Many other stories are told through the use of eight interactive iPad kiosks. The stories honor Guardsmen and women, from Captain Timothy Bedel, of the original NH Provincial Regiment, to Brigadier General Carolyn Protzmann, who, in 2011, became the first female Commander of the NH Air National Guard.

From the Army Guard’s missions in infantry, field artillery, and cyber warfare, to the Air Guard’s refueling mission, today’s New Hampshire National Guard fills critical roles in the defense of our country. At home, the Guard is indispensable to the citizens of New Hampshire, responding to natural disasters and running rescue missions.

It’s About the Experience

All in all, working on this project was a life-changing experience. Without exception, everyone on our team feels deeply privileged to have contributed to this project, and we are proud to share these stories. Image 4 would like to thank the New Hampshire National Guard members and staff for their invaluable assistance in accessing archives, researching records, and more. Without their insight, this project would not have been possible.