The men and families of Dunstable, New Hampshire were present from the very first days of the Revolutionary War. When news of the Battle of Lexington reached Dunstable by the afternoon of April 19, 1775, many men rushed to arms and hurried to Concord, MA to participate in driving the English back to Boston. Within a week of the Lexington-Concord battles, a company of 66 men was organized at Cambridge under Capt. William Walker of Dunstable, New Hampshire. As Nashua historian Charles Fox wrote, "The whole man population of the town at this time between the ages of 16 and 50 was only 128, so that nearly one-half the able-bodied inhabitants must have been in the army at the first call of liberty, a month before the Battle of Bunker Hill. From no other town in New Hampshire was there so large a number in the army … " The soldiers’ names included, Lovewell, Whitney, Blanchard, Lovejoy, Roby, Clogstone, Harris, Lund, Greeley, Butterfield, and Harwood, to name a few.
In 1800, the population of Dunstable, New Hampshire was 862. The main business was the keeping of taverns for the teamsters traveling the Great Boston Road. At this time there were three village centers in Dunstable; the Centre Village (today’s Rivier University), the Harbour Village (at Salmon Brook), and Indian Head Village (today’s Library Hill). There were some small family-run mills on Salmon Brook and the Nashua River for sawing timber, carding wool, tanning hides, and many small family farms and orchards.
Within a few short years, the relative isolation of Dunstable would change dramatically. A system of locks and canals was built around the Pawtucket Falls, which allowed boats to travel to Newburyport. The opening of the Middlesex Canal in 1804 provided the infrastructure, predictability, and affordability to open the region to commerce with Boston and the entire world. The Second New Hampshire Turnpike connected Nashua to the west while the Middlesex Turnpike further strengthened trade with Boston.
Fox’s history of Nashua describes, "In the spring of 1803 a canal boat was built in the village, by Robert Fletcher Esq …. and was looked upon as a wonder. It was the first ever built in this vicinity for regular transportation of goods … lt was launched on the 4th of July … The boat was christened "The Nashua" with much parade, and the village which had until then been called "Indian Head" received the name of Nashua Village. That may be considered the birth-day of Nashua."