CONFLICTS WITH THE INDIANS.
Boundary Disputes — Sartwell's Fort — Bridgman's Fort — Defences at Fort Dummer — Traffic with the Indians — Maintenance of Fort Dummer — Disputes between the Assembly of New Hampshire and the General Court of Massachusetts Bay — Declaration of War between England and France — Establishment of Forts — Indian Depredations — William Phips — Presents to the Indians — Attack on the Fort at the Great Meadow — Capture of Nehemiah How — For fear of the Enemy the Settlers leave their Abodes — Siege of Number Four, afterwards Charlestown — Burning of Bridgman's Fort — Second Attack on Number Four — Fight between Capt. Melvin and the Indians — Capt. Stevens's Expedition — An Ambuscade — Account of the Captives who were taken to Canada — Running the Gauntlet — Capt. Humphrey Hobbs's Encounter with the Indians — Conflict near Fort Dummer — Brave Conduct of the Soldiers — Route pursued by the Indians — Fight at Fitch's Block-house — Propositions for Protection.
THE dispute between Massachusetts and New Hampshire as to the northern boundary of the former province, which had continued since the year 1730, was determined on the 9th of April, 1740. The decision gave to New Hampshire a tract of country fourteen miles in breadth, and above fifty in length — a greater quantity than she had ever claimed — and took from Massachusetts twenty-eight new townships between the Merrimack and Connecticut rivers, besides a large amount of vacant lands. But the settlement of one dispute only gave rise to another. A part of the south boundary of New Hampshire, beginning at a point three miles due north of Patucket falls, was declared in the decision referred to, to be "a straight line, drawn from thence due west, till it meets with his Majesty's other governments;" but the uncertainty which then prevailed as to the legal extent of "his Majesty's other governments," was the cause not only of a controversy in this instance, but of another which at a later period engaged the attention of New Hampshire, New York, and the "New Hampshire Grants" for many years.
26 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT. [1740.
The command of Fort Dummer having been given to Capt. Josiah Willard in 1740, its former commander, Joseph Kellogg, was appointed Indian interpreter for the garrison, which office he held until the year 1749. Great pains were taken to obtain from the Indians then in the service of the fort, as much assistance as was compatible with their indolent dispositions and in order to remove one of the causes which had too long tended to lower their condition, they were deprived of the supplies of liquor which had for a long time composed a part of their rations. As the frontier settlements extended, it became necessary for the inhabitants to increase and strengthen their defences. The forts or, more properly, block-houses of this period were generally built with large squared timbers laid horizontally one above the other, in the shape of an oblong or square, and locked together at the angles in the manner of a log cabin. This structure was roofed, and furnished with loopholes on every side, through which to observe and attack the enemy. The upper story usually projected over the lower, and underneath this projection, other loopholes were cut, to enable those within to fire down on the assailants, in case of a close approach. In this manner did Josiah Sartwell build the fort which was afterwards called by his name. It stood about one hundred rods from Connecticut river, in the north part of what was for along time Hinsdale, now Vernon, Vermont, and four miles south of Brattleborough. To the east of it ran the public road. It was taken down in 1838, after having stood ninety-eight years, and on its site there has since been erected a house which is owned and occupied by the Hon. Ebenezer How Jr., a great-great-grand‑son of Josiah Sartwell, and a great-grandson of Caleb How, who was killed by the Indians. Bridgman's Fort, of similar construction, was probably built the same year by Orlando Bridgman. It was situated one half of a mile south of Sartwell's Fort, on the east side of the road, and with the exception of
1740.] DEFENCES AT FORT DUMMER. 27
Fort Dummer, was the only place picketed and secure in that vicinity. About the same time a settlement was made on the "Great Meadow," in what is now the town of Putney, and a garrison called Fort Hill was built in the centre of the "Meadow;" but by whom it was erected or occupied is not known. On the other side of Connecticut river, Number Four, afterwards Charlestown, which, with a number of other townships, had been granted by Massachusetts in 1736, although but lately settled, had already begun to be a post of some importance. Another station of note was Hinsdell or Hinsdale's Fort. It was situated in the town of Hinsdale, N. H., nearly opposite to Sartwell's Fort, and was built by the Rev. Ebenezer Hinsdell, in 1743.
Fort Dummer being in a defenceless condition, Capt. Josiah Willard, "for himself and those under his command," informed the Governor of Massachusetts on the 24th day of June, 1740, that they were "willing to be at the cost of putting ye garrison into a posture of defence, and erect two sufficient bastions at opposite angles, providing the government will be at the charge of hiring a carpenter and provide nails, iron work and boards." The proposition was acceded to, and the fort was made more defensible than it had ever been before. Within were four province houses, as they were called, two stories in height, comfortable, and for these days even convenient besides which there were two or three smaller houses, containing a room each, which could be occupied when the garrison numbered more than its complement of men. Without, the fort was picketed. Posts twenty feet in height placed perpendicularly in the ground side by side, and sharpened at the upper end, surrounded it on every side. Openings were left in the pickets through which to fire on the enemy, and at opposite angles of the fort, twenty-five feet from the ground and five above the tops of the pickets, square boxes were placed in which the sentinels kept guard. To the patteraroes with which the garrison was originally furnished, several swivels were now added, which enabled the inmates of the fort to receive the enemy with an enfilading fire, thus rendering the place comparatively secure. The "Great Gun" of which mention is so often made in papers relating to Fort Dummer, whose report could be heard for many miles, was never fired except as a signal for assistance, or on the reception of some fortunate or pleasing news.*
* Bound MS. in office Sec. of State Mass. lxxii. 496.
28 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT. [1744.
The declaration of war by Great Britain against France and Spain on the 29th of March, 1744, was followed by its proclamation at Boston in the month of June following. An Indian war was a necessary appendage in the American colonies to a war with France, and during this contest, called by some the first French war, and by others the Cape Breton war, the almost daily cruelties practised by the Indians were witness to their long-fostered determination of vengeance for the misfortunes which they had suffered on account of the whites. The Indian commissioners who had resided at Fort Dummer since the year 1734, and had become used to English ways and customs, would, it was supposed, remain during the war where they had so long lived, and endeavor by their influence to afford some protection to their friends from the ravages of the enemy. But the lust of gain, and the desire of plunder, broke down the nicer barriers which had sprung from friendly communication and social intercourse; and not only was Fort Dummer deserted by the Indians, but also all the stations in the vicinity where they had dwelt, their numbers going to augment the forces of the hostile tribes in Canada. At the same time the truck establishment at Fort Dummer was also discontinued.
The traffic which during the sixteen years previous had been there carried on with the Indians by the government of Massachusetts, had proved of no pecuniary profit to the latter. Deducting the charge of transportation, and a remuneration for the waste incidental thereto, the Indians were supplied with goods at nearly first cost, while for their furs, deer skins, moose skins, and tallow, they were allowed the Boston market-prices. The province had also a transport sloop in pay for the use of this fort, and of Forts Richmond and Georges on the eastern frontiers, which forts were also used as trading houses in time of peace. Had it not been deemed necessary to supply the Indians with goods in order to protect them from the abuses of private traders, and to turn their attention as much as possible from unfriendly and warlike designs, the government would not have continued a trade so disadvantageous and one-sided, so long as they did.
Since its erection by Massachusetts, Fort Dummer had been maintained and garrisoned at the expense of that province ; but by the late determination of the boundary lines between Massachusetts and New Hampshire, the fort was supposed by many to have fallen within the limits of the latter province. Massa‑
1744.] MAINTENANCE OF FORT DUMMER. 29
chusetts, however, continued to support and maintain it until war was declared in 1744, when Governor Shirley opened a communication with the home government on the subject. In his letters to the Lord President of the King's Council and to the Duke of Newcastle, one of his Majesty's principal Secretaries of State, he clearly showed that the great expense which the province was likely to incur in providing for its own defence in many other places, would no longer justify it in continuing the establishment of Fort Dummer. At the same time he declared it to be of the last importance at that time, that this post should be strongly fortified, not only for the defence of the settlers in the immediate neighborhood, but also on account of the position of the fort, it being situated within three or four days' march of the French fort at Crown Point, which latter place was a constant retreat and resort for the French and Indians in all their expeditions against the English settlements. He further stated that the Massachusetts government did not think it their duty to provide for a fort no longer their own, and proposed that the province of New Hampshire, to which it properly belonged, should make provision for its support.
On the receipt of this representation, the King in Council, on the 6th of September, ordered that the fort and its garrison should be maintained, and that the Governor of New Hampshire should move the Assembly of that province in his Majesty's name, to make a proper provision for that service, and at the same time inform them, that in case they should refuse to comply with a proposal so necessary and reasonable, his Majesty would restore the fort, and a "proper district contiguous thereto," to the Massachusetts Bay. In view of the importance of the station, and of the sad results which might follow, should it fall into the hands of the enemy, Governor Shirley was ordered in the same report to represent to the Provincial Assembly of the Massachusetts Bay, the necessity of continuing to provide for Fort Dummer until a final answer should be obtained from New Hampshire, and his Majesty's pleasure in relation to the subject, further signified.
This order, together with a message from Governor Shirley, was presented to the House of Representatives of Massachusetts, and that body, with the concurrence of the Council, in consideration of the great danger there was that the inhabitants from Contoocook,* in New Hampshire, to Connecticut river,
30 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT. [1745.
would be driven from their settlements should the fort be taken, unanimously voted that "the captain-general be desired to cause the same number of officers and men as were in the last establishment at said fort, to be enlisted and there posted; and that the same allowance as before be made for their wages and subsistence, for a term not exceeding three months, provided that this vote or grant shall not be deemed or urged as a precedent for this government's taking into their pay at any time hereafter this fort, or any other fort which may serve as a protection to any inhabitants or estates, the jurisdiction whereof is claimed by any other government." It was also voted that the term of three months should commence with the 20th of January, 1745. For the better security of this garrison, the strongest, and, with the exception of the stockade then building on the Great Meadows, the most northern, two swivel guns and two four-pounders were added to its munitions.
In accordance with his instructions, Governor Shirley informed Governor Wentworth, of New Hampshire, on the 25th of February, of the nature of the order he had received from his Majesty, and of the action of the Massachusetts Assembly thereon. He further requested his Excellency to make provision for the future sustenance of the garrison, or at least to come to a speedy resolution on the subject, in order that an answer might be returned without delay to the King. The subject was brought before the New Hampshire Assembly on the 3d of May, but a majority of the lower house declined making any grant for this purpose, and adduced, in support of this determination, the following reasons :— "That the fort was fifty miles distant from any towns which had been settled by the government or people of New Hampshire; that the people had no right to the lands which, by the dividing line, had fallen within New Hampshire, notwithstanding the plausible arguments which had been used to induce them to bear the expense of the line, viz. that the land would be given to them, or else would be sold to pay that expense; that the charge of maintaining that fort, at so great a distance, and to which there was no communication by roads, would exceed what had been the whole expense of government before the line was established; that the great load of debt contracted on that account, and the yearly support of government, with the unavoidable expenses of the war, were as much as the people could bear; that if they should take upon them to maintain this fort, there was another much better
1745.] DISPUTES WITH MASSACHUSETTS. 31
and more convenient fort at a place called Number Four, besides several other settlements, which they should, also, be obliged to defend; and, finally, that there was no danger that these forts would want support, since it was the interest of Massachusetts, by whom they were erected, to maintain them as a cover to their frontier."*
Upon this declaration, the Governor dissolved the Assembly and called another, to whom, in the most pressing and eloquent terms, he recommended the same measure. In accordance with his wishes, that body resolved, on the 15th of June, that his Excellency the Captain General be desired to enlist or impress twenty good, effective men, to be by him employed in his Majesty's service for six months, as a garrison for Fort Dummer.† This resolution was notified to Governor Shirley by Governor Wentworth, and was accompanied with a request that the fort might be delivered to New Hampshire, and the Massachusetts forces be drawn within the bounds of that province. In answer, Governor Shirley desired Governor Wentworth to take possession, and sent orders to Capt. Willard to deliver the fort to his charge on demand. Previous to this, however, the Assembly of New Hampshire, as has been seen, had refused to support the fort, and Massachusetts had thereupon agreed to maintain it. By consequence, when Governor Shirley acquainted his Majesty's Council of Massachusetts with his action on the last resolve of the Assembly of New Hampshire, they were of opinion that he could not, according to the terms of his Majesty's order, be justified in delivering up the fort until his Majesty's pleasure should be known. A suspicion prevailed that the Assembly of New Hampshire intended to provide for the fort, only until they could obtain full possession of it, and that they would then slight it. It was also well known that the allowance proposed by New Hampshire for the support of the soldiers, was not half as large as that given by Massachusetts, which many deemed too small. Under these considerations, Governor Shirley judged it best to countermand his orders, and the fort was again supported by Massachusetts.
* Belknap's Hist. N. H., ii. 236, 237.
† The wages allowed are thus stated : "One Captain to have 25 shillings per month; one Lieutenant to have 13s. 6d. per month; one Sergeant to have 13s. 6d. per month; one Corporal to have 12s. per month; and sixteen Centinels to have, each, 10s. per month; and each of the said twenty men be allowed 8s. per month for providing themselves with provisions."
32 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT. [1744.
In this condition the subject remained until 1747, when Governor Shirley again wrote to Governor Wentworth, to know whether he would take upon himself the charge of supporting the fort. After a long delay, his Excellency, on the 28th of October, 1748, signified his unwillingness to bear the expense, and the subject was then brought before the Board of Trade in consequence of a letter from Governor Shirley to that body. This communication contained an account of the condition of Fort Dummer, and an offer to forward to the Board of Trade a schedule of the charges incurred for supporting the fort since the commencement of the war. The committee to whom the matter was referred, reported on the 3d of August, 1749, that it was proper for New Hampshire to reimburse Massachusetts for maintaining the fort, and advised that the Governor of New Hampshire should be directed to recommend to the Assembly of his province, a permanent provision for the fort, and that it should be allowed to remain where it was, since, were it removed within the lines, it would be in the midst of garrison houses, and would thus defeat the object of its erection, which was to keep the enemy at a distance.
Although this report was favorable to Massachusetts, yet when Parliament granted to New Hampshire a reimbursement for the Canada expedition, the petition of the government of Massachusetts praying that a deduction might be made in their favor from this fund, was denied. This denial was owing to the vigilance and address of Capt. John Thomlinson, formerly a sea captain, but at that time the agent at London for New Hampshire.
As soon as the declaration of war between England and France was proclaimed at Boston in June, 1744, orders were issued by Governor Shirley for the building of a line of forts, more effectually to protect the western frontiers of Massachusetts from the ravages of the Indians. Of the routes which had been pursued by the enemy in the former wars in approaching the frontiers from Canada, the most northern was by the river St. Francis, through Lake Memphramagog, thence by portage to the Passumsic, down that river to the Connecticut, and thence to the settlements bordering the banks of the latter stream. Sometimes the enemy, having sailed down Lake Champlain as far as Whitehall, would proceed up Pawlet river to its sources, thence across the mountains to West river and down that stream to the Connecticut. At other times they would approach that river by following up Otter creek to its sources.
1744.] ESTABLISHMENT OF FORTS. 33
Nor were the rivers Lamoille, Winooski, and White, unknown to them in their journeys to Connecticut river. But the most common road from Canada, and that most frequently traversed, was, by the way of Otter creek and Black river. This has been previously described under the name of the Indian road, and was so called at the time of the earliest English settlements.*
Fort Dummer was a serious obstruction to the Indian enemy, who having approached by the way of West river, were descending into Massachusetts. After the building of Number Four, that station occupied the same position for those who had reached Connecticut river by the way of the more northern streams. The forts which were ordered to be built by government, extended from Fort Dummer to Hoosac, now Adams, and Williamstown. They were situated in the following towns. Fort Massachusetts or Hoosac was in Adams, Fort Pelham in Rowe, Fort Shirley in Heath, Coghran's and Rice's forts in Colrain, and Sheldon's fort in Bernardston. In the latter place, as well as at Colrain, several houses were stockaded, and at Northfield and Greenfield the old defences were repaired. Besides those already mentioned on Connecticut river, there were forts on the New Hampshire side at Upper and Lower Ashuelot. The western cordon of forts was placed under the immediate command of Capt., afterwards Col. Ephraim Williams, who established his head-quarters at Fort Massachusetts. Col. John Stoddard, of Northampton, commander of the militia regiment in the county of Hampshire, Massachusetts, was charged with the general superintendence of the defence of the same quarter. Major Israel Williams of Hatfield, was appointed commissary of the department, and Col. Josiah Willard, commander of Fort Dummer, and the Rev. Ebenezer Hinsdell, the owner of Hinsdell's garrison, were his under commissaries. Two hundred men were raised for the defence of this portion of the province, and ninety-six barrels of gunpowder were sent to the towns lying within an allotted space, to be sold to the inhabitants at the first cost.
The rations allowed to the garrison forces on the frontiers were, for each man, one pound of bread and a half pint of peas or beans per diem; two pounds of pork for three days, and one gallon of molasses for forty-two days. Marching forces were allowed a pound of bread for each man; the same of pork, and
* See ante, p. 21.
34 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT. [1745.
a gill of rum per diem. Parties were kept continually ranging from fort to fort on the line between Forts Dummer and Massachusetts, and thence to Pittsfield, for the purpose of ferreting out the Indians, and companies of large dogs were trained to scent their trails. Scouts from the militia were also employed to scour the wilderness towards the head of Wood and Otter creeks. To induce the soldiers to engage in this kind of warfare, a bounty of thirty pounds each was offered on Indian scalps. The officer who commanded a "scalping expedition," was required to keep a fair and correct journal of his marches and operations, and return it to the government of the province.*
During the year 1744, no depredations were committed on the western frontiers, and this exemption from disturbance afforded ample opportunity for constructing forts and preparing for future emergencies, which opportunity, as has been shown, was in no wise neglected. The first incursion in the next year was made on the 5th of July, by a party of the Oorondax Indians from Canada. William Phips, as he was hoeing corn, near the south-west corner of the Great Meadow, was captured by two of these Indians, and carried into the woods. They had proceeded with him about half a mile, and were ascending a steep hill, when one of them remembering that he had left something, went back to get it, leaving the prisoner in the charge of his comrade. Watching his opportunity, Phips struck down his Indian keeper with a hoe which he had brought with him, and seizing the gun of the prostrate savage, shot the other as he was ascending the hill. Unfortunately, meeting with three others of the same party, as he was returning to the fort, he was seized, killed, and scalped. The Indian whom he had stunned, afterwards died of his wound. On the 10th of the same month, the Indians appeared at tipper Ashuelot, now Keene, and killed and scalped Josiah Fisher. News of these events having reached Massachusetts, Governor Shirley, on the 17th, ordered "two companies of snow-shoe men to scout between Connecticut and Merrimack rivers for the protection of the inhabitants, and discovery and annoyance of the enemy."
The Assembly of New York, previous to these occurrences, had voted an allowance of four hundred pounds for presents to the Indians. Various letters having been presented to them
* Hoyt's Indian Wars, pp. 230-232.
1745.] ATTACK AT THE GREAT MEADOW. 35
containing accounts of the circumstances above narrated, and of others similar, Col. Schuyler, one of the members, stated that the fears and jealousies of the Six Nations of Indians had been aroused and were sustained by the designs of the French, but that the destruction of the border settlements might be prevented by the use of a single argument, the strongest which could be presented to the Indians, "a suitable present." The Assembly accordingly voted, on the 21st of August, that six hundred pounds should be added to what had already been given them. Of the wisdom of this course, those who proposed and supported it were the best judges; but the effect on the Indians seems to have been far different from what was expected. If their fears and jealousies had been excited by the French, their love of plunder and their hope of gain appeared to receive new life by the favors of the English; and thus virtually receiving rewards of both nations, they renewed their depredations, which only differed from their previous acts by the greater display of skill and cunning which characterized them. Another reason of the little effect of the presents of New York may be found in the fact that on the 23d of August, only two days after the passage of the above vote, Lieutenant-Governor Spencer Phips, of Massachusetts, in consideration of the breach of the treaty of neutrality between that province and the Six Nations, formally declared war against the Eastern and Canada Indians.
To conclude the events of the year by a bold stroke, a body of French and Indians, the latter being twelve in number, attacked the garrison at the Great Meadow, on the 12th of October at noon-day. A brisk fight was carried on for an hour and a half, and one Indian was killed by a shot from the ramparts, but the fort was defended with so much coolness and courage, that the enemy were not able to take it, or even essentially injure it. In lieu of victory they killed or drove, off the greater part of the cattle in the neighborhood, a method of taking revenge by no means uncommon. Nehemiah How who was cutting wood about eighty rods from the fort when the enemy appeared, was taken by them, and no attempt was made to rescue him, as it would have endangered the lives of all in the garrison. As they were leading him away, by the side of the river, they perceived a canoe approaching with two men. Firing, they killed one of them, David Rugg, but the other, Robert Baker, made for the opposite shore and escaped.
36 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT. [1746.
Both of these men, together with How, belonged to the garrison at the Great Meadow. Proceeding further they passed three other men, who, by skulking under the bank, reached the fort in safety. One of them was Caleb How, the prisoner's son. Arriving opposite to Number Four the Indians compelled their captive to write his name on a piece of bark, and there left it. After travelling seven days westward, they came to a lake, where they found five canoes, with corn, pork, and tobacco. They embarked in the canoes, and having stuck the scalp of David Rugg on a pole, proceeded to the fort at Crown Point, where How received humane treatment from the French. Thence he was taken to Quebec, where he died. "He was," said Belknap, "a useful man, greatly lamented by his friends and fellow-captives." Not long after these occurrences the fort at the Great Meadow being evacuated, was destroyed or went to decay.*
On the 28th of March, 1746, the enemy made their appearance in the neighborhood of Fort Shirley, and until late in the autumn were scattered in small parties on all the frontiers. Several attempts were made by them to take the fort at Number Four and some of the other garrisons in the vicinity by surprise, but in none were they successful. On the 24th of June, a party of twenty Indians killed William Robbins and James Baker,† while working in a meadow near Bridgman's Fort, wounded Michael Gilson and Patrick Ray, and took John Beeman‡ and Daniel How prisoners, but not until the latter had killed one of his captors. So unsafe was travelling of every kind, that the settlers were obliged to go to the mills with a guard, whenever they wanted meal. On one occasion a party of twenty men who went from the west side of Connecticut river to Hinsdell's mill in New Hampshire, with Col. Willard at their head, in searching round the mill discovered a party of Indians in ambush. A skirmish ensued, but the enemy were received with so much resolution, that they made a precipitate retreat, leaving their packs in the hands of Willard and his party.
The defence of the western frontier of New Hampshire being not only hazardous but ineffectual, the government of that province, instead of increasing the number of their forces,
* Belknap's Hist. N. H., ii. 241.
† Parker, in Hoyt's Indian Wars, p. 236.
‡ Beamont, in Hoyt's Indian Wars, p. 236.
1746-1747.] MEASURES FOR DEFENCE. 37
refused to furnish their regular quota. At the same time some persons in the north-western part of Massachusetts, deeming it inexpedient to be at the charge of defending a territory which was without their jurisdiction, petitioned the Assembly to withdraw their troops from that quarter. Governor Shirley endeavored to prevail on the Assembly to keep garrisons in all these forts during the winter, but his efforts were without success. The inhabitants, being without protection, were obliged to quit their abodes. Many of them deposited in the earth such of their effects as they were unable to carry, took with them such as were portable, and moved down the river, leaving their buildings a prey to the enemy, who destroyed them, or carried away from them what they pleased. Some of the block-houses on the river, which were thus left exposed, were burned, and for several months Fort Dummer was the most northern post on that frontier provided with a garrison.*
More effectual measures for the defence of the country were taken at the beginning of the year 1747, than had been adopted for some time previous. On. the 17th of March, Governor Shirley presented to the General Court a message relative to the state of Fort Dummer, and the importance of its position, and advised that it should be garrisoned with a larger force than was ordinarily stationed there. That body having voted in accordance with this recommendation, Brigadier-Gen. Joseph Dwight, by order of the governor, requested Lieut. Dudley Bradstreet to take the command of forty men, and with them garrison Fort Dummer, in place of the guard then stationed there. The request was obeyed, and the fort with its stores was, on the 15th of April, delivered by Col. Josiah Willard into the hands of his successor. Bradstreet retained the charge of the fort for five months, at the end of which time it was again placed in the care of its former commander.†
* In a letter from Col. Josiah Willard, of Fort Dummer, written probably in the year 1746, is a recommendation that a General Commander of the forces stationed north of Massachusetts be appointed. "I am willing," said he, "to take the office under the Hon. Col. Stoddard, and run the risque of obtaining pay from the government for my trouble." It does not appear that his advice was taken. — MSS. in office Sec. State Mass. liii. 193.
† Whether Bradstreet was incompetent to command the fort does not appear. Gen. Dwight, when informing him of his appointment, wrote, "You must take the most effectual care to avoid any surprise from the enemy, for should that fort or any of your men be lost by any misconduct in you, it will be vastly dishonourable." He was the son of the Rev. Dudley Bradstreet, who was "minister of the
38 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT. [1747.
In the latter part of March of the same year, Governor Shirley ordered Capt. Phineas Stevens with thirty men, being a portion of the levies which had been raised for an expedition against Canada, to take possession of Number Four, which had been without protection for more than two months, fears being entertained that it would either be burned or taken by the enemy. This movement was most fortunate. Hardly was the fort garrisoned, when on the 4th of April it was attacked by a very large party of French and Indians, under the command of Monsieur Debeline. The siege continued during three days, and in that time thousands of balls were poured upon the fort, yet not one belonging to the garrison was killed, and two only were wounded. Debeline giving up all hopes of carrying the fortification, reluctantly withdrew. His forces, however, continued to hover about the frontiers in small parties, annoying all whom they chanced to fall in with. In admiration of the skill displayed by Stevens in this defence, Sir Charles Knowles, who happened at that time to be in Boston, sent him an elegant sword, and Number Four, when incorporated as a town in 1753, was called in honor of the commodore, Charlestown. During the remainder of the war, the garrison at Number Four was supported at the expense of Massachusetts.*
An alarm having been given in the month of July, that the enemy had taken and were fortifying a position upon or near Black river, Col. William Williams, in pursuance of Governor Shirley's order, sent out a scouting party under the charge of Matthew Clesson, pilot, which went as far as Otter creek, but discovering no very significant signs of Indians, returned after an absence of twenty-one days. On the 24th of August following, as twelve men were passing down Connecticut river from Number Four, they were surprised and attacked by the Indians. Nathan Gould and Thomas Goodall were killed and scalped, Oliver Avery was wounded, and John Henderson captured. The rest escaped. A few days before
Church of Christ" in Groton, Massachusetts, from 1706-1712, and was born in that town, March 12, 1707/8. — Butler's Hist. Groton, pp. 170, 390, 391.
The stores which were left in the fort by Col. Willard, comprised the following articles :— "2 Carriage guns and furniture; 5 Patteraroes, one, exclusive of ye five being burst, all which belonged to the Province stores of ye Truck Trade; 12 Small fire arms; ½ barrel cannon powder; 20 lbs. of other powder; 140 lbs. of lead; A quantity of Flints; One large iron pot."
* For a more detailed account of the "Siege of Number Four," see Belknap's Hist. N. H., ii. 248-251, and Hoyt's Indian Wars, pp. 242-245.
1747-1748.] MEASURES FOR DEFENCE. 39
this occurrence, Jonathan Sartwell was captured at Hinsdale. Several others in the vicinity were killed by the Indians, who, lurking in small parties, when least expected would fall upon their victims, and usually with mournful success. In the fall of the year, they burned Bridgman's fort, killed several persons, and took others prisoners. In consequence of this last act, Col. John Stoddard, on the 22d of October, sent Capt. Seth Dwight with a force of thirty-six men in quest of the enemy; but the search was unsuccessful, it being usual with the Indians to depart carefully, and with the greatest secresy and speed, when they had accomplished their object. In place of this fort, which was in more proper terms a fortified house, a similar building was soon after constructed.
Later in the autumn several persons at Number Four were taken captive, but it was impossible to pursue the captors, as the garrison was not provided with snow-shoes, though many hundreds had been paid for by government. For the protection of the frontiers during the winter, a garrison of twenty men was continued at Fort Dummer, and another at Number Four. The block-houses were also better defended than they had been previously at this season of the year, and for these reasons those who remained were in greater security, and enjoyed a longer respite from the ravages of their foes, than they had done since the war was declared.
In the month of February, 1748, the Massachusetts General Court directed the number of men at Forts Massachusetts and Number Four to be increased to one hundred at each place. Of these, a suitable force was to be constantly employed "to intercept the French and Indian enemy in their marches from Wood creek and Otter creek" to the frontiers: and was to be continued in the service until the first day of October following. The commanding officers were ordered to keep "fair journals" of their marches, and in order to excite the soldiers to vigilance and activity, the sum of one hundred pounds was ordered to be divided in equal parts among the officers and soldiers of any scouting party that might capture an Indian, or produce the scalp of one they had killed. Capt. Stevens was again appointed commander of Number Four, and Capt. Hobbs was ordered to the same post as second in office.*
* The number of officers allowed at this period to a company of fifty men, and the wages they received per month, were as follows: one captain, £4 ; one lieu‑
40 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT. [1748.
A report which was presented to the General Court in February by Col. Willard of Fort Dummer, showed that he had again made such repairs as were necessary to the comfort of his quarters, and had added two more swivels to its munitions. During this year the post of Chaplain at the fort was held by the Rev. Andrew Gardner. * In order to afford the greatest protection possible, larger garrisons were stationed at Forts Shirley and Pelham, at Upper and Lower Ashuelot and Colrain, and at all the stations or out-garrisons where it was deemed necessary. The complement of men for Fort Dummer was fixed at twenty, but by the solicitations of Col. Willard was increased to thirty. The first attack by the Indians this year was made at Number Four, on the 15th of March. Twenty of them surprised eight of the garrison at a short distance from the fort. "Stevens sallied and engaged the enemy, and a sharp skirmish ensued." Charles Stevens was killed, Eleazer Priest captured, and Nathaniel Andross wounded. A post was immediately sent to carry the news to Fort Dummer, and warn the garrison of the danger to which they were exposed. Nothing was seen of the enemy during the next two weeks, but on the 29th of March a party of them attacked several of the men belonging to Fort Dummer, as they were working in an adjoining field. Lieut. John Serjeants, Corporal Joshua Wells, and Private Moses Cooper were slain, and Daniel Serjeants, son of the Lieut., was captured and taken to Canada. A company, under the command of Lieut. Ebenezer Alexander, were soon after dispatched to the place of action, who buried the dead they there found, but could discover no further traces of the enemy.
Much advantage having resulted on former occasions from watching the motions of the enemy, an expedition for this purpose was projected during the spring by some of the ranging officers, and was soon after accomplished. Preparations having been consummated, a scout of nineteen men, under the command of Capt. Eleazer Melvin, marched on the 13th of May from Fort Dummer. Proceeding up Connecticut river as far as Number Four, they were there joined by Capts. Stevens and Hobbs, with a force of sixty men, and the whole party, on Sun‑
tenant, £3 0s. 9d.; one clerk, £2 12s. 9d.; three sergeants, £2 12s. 9d.; three corporals, £2 12s. 3d.
* A very interesting account of all that is known concerning this quaint and eccentric clergyman, may be found in that valuable ecclesiastical monograph, entitled The Worcester Pulpit, by the Rev. Elam Smalley, DD., pp. 31-42.
1748.] ATTACK ON CAPT. MELVIN'S PARTY. 41
day the 15th, at sunset, set out from Number Four on their hazardous enterprise. They followed the "Indian road" along the banks of Black river, but sometimes would lose it in fording streams and in traversing the forests where the ground was covered with a thick growth of underbrush. On reaching the main branch of Otter creek, Capt. Melvin and his men, according to previous agreement, left the party, crossed the stream, and set out for Crown Point. Capt. Stevens and his men pursued their way down the east side of Otter creek.
Capt. Melvin's party having met during the two following days with many indubitable signs of the enemy, came on the 23d to a large camp inclosed by a thick fence, where they found about twelve pounds of good French bread, and a keg, which from appearances had lately contained wine. Having arrived opposite to Crown Point on the 25th, they perceived two canoes with Indians on the lake, and imprudently fired upon them. The garrison at Crown Point, taking the alarm, fired several guns, and sent out a party to intercept them. Melvin and his party immediately started on their return, marching for three or four miles through a deep morass. On the 26th, they saw the tracks of a hundred and fifty or two hundred of the enemy, who had evidently left that morning, having taken the course by which Melvin's party had reached Lake Champlain. Upon this they took a south direction, marched up the south branch of Otter creek, and on the 30th came upon a branch of West river. Provisions being very short, they began their march before sunrise on the 31st, and travelled until about half after nine o'clock in the morning. On the banks of West river, several of the company being faint and weary, desired to stop and refresh themselves. Having halted, they took off their packs and began shooting the salmon, then passing up the shoals of the river. While thus engaged, the Indians, who, unknown to Melvin, were then in pursuit of him and his party, directed probably by the report of the guns, pressed forward, and suddenly opened a fire upon the incautious scout from behind the logs and trees, about thirty feet distant. Melvin endeavored to rally his men, who had been thrown into the greatest confusion by this unexpected attack, but was unsuccessful, for after firing one volley, they retreated, some running up, some down the river, others crossing to the opposite side, and two or three escaping to a neighboring thicket. Deserted by his men, Capt. Melvin was left alone to defend himself. Several of the Indians attempted to
42 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT. [1748.
strike him with their hatchets, others threw them at him, and one of them, or a shot, carried away his belt, and with it his bullets. He then ran down the river, and was followed by two Indians, who as they approached, called to him, "Come Captain," "Now Captain." On pointing his musket at them, they fell back a little, upon which he ascended the bank of the river, when they again fired at him. Gaining a side hill, commanding a view of the place where the skirmish had taken place, he there sat down to watch for his men, and wait for the shout of the Indians, usually given when they have obtained a victory; but not seeing the former, nor hearing the. latter, he started for Fort Dummer, where he arrived on the 1st of June, about noon time. One of his men had come in a little before him, and eleven more arrived, though in several companies, in the course of a few hours.
In this fight, five of Melvin's party, viz. Sergt. John Heywood, Sergt. Isaac Taylor, Privates John Dodd, Daniel Mann and Samuel Severance were killed outright. Joseph Petty was wounded, and his comrades being unable to take him with them in their flight, left him in a hut made with boughs, situated near a spring. Before departing, they placed beside him a pint cup filled with water, and told him "to live if he could" until they should return with assistance. On the 2d, Capt. Melvin, with forty-six men, left Fort Dummer for the place where the fight had occurred. Great search was made for Petty, but he was nowhere to be found. After having buried the dead above named, with the exception of Samuel Severance, whose body was not discovered until some time after, the party returned to Fort Dummer, having been absent about three days. On the 6th, Lients. Alexander and Hunt, with a large force, went again to search for Petty. In one report it is stated that he was found dead; in another, that his body was never discovered. From the secresy used in concealing the bodies of their companions, it was impossible to determine the loss of the enemy. The fight is supposed by some to have taken place within the limits of the present township of New Fane, but it is more probable that the scene of the conflict was within the bounds of either Jamaica or Londonderry, the latter being the most likely, as the situation corresponds best with that given by Capt. Stevens, viz. "thirty-three miles from Dummer, up West river."*
* N. H. Hist. Soc. Coll., v. 208-211.
1748.] AN AMBUSCADE. 43
Capt. Stevens's party, who separated from Capt. Melvin's, as has been previously mentioned, passed down Otter creek a short distance, and then struck eastward in the hope of reaching White river. After travelling five days along one stream, which they crossed in one day thirty-five times, they reached its mouth and found it to be the "Quarterqueeche.” Proceeding down the Connecticut on rafts and in canoes, they reached Number Four on the 30th of May after an absence of two weeks. Having remained there a few days Capt. Stevens, with a force of sixty men, started on the 2d of June for Fort Dummer. Setting out about sunset they arrived there the next morning about three o'clock. A number of the inhabitants of Northampton, Hadley, Hatfield, Deerfield, Northfield, and Fall Town, had already assembled to render such assistance as they could to Capt. Melvin, but on the appearance of Capt. Stevens with his men they returned to their homes. Stevens remained at Fort Dummer nearly two weeks, at the end of which time he returned in safety to Number Four with his men and a stock of provisions.
On the 16th, the day after his return, a party of fourteen men, while on their way from Hinsdale in New Hampshire to Fort Dummer, fell into an ambuscade of Indians, and Jonathan French, Joseph Richardson, and John Frost were killed. Henry Stevens, Benjamin Osgood, William Blanchard, Joel Johnson, Matthew Wyman, Moses Perkins, and William Bickford were made prisoners, of whom the latter died of a wound received in the encounter. Of the remaining four, one was wounded in the thigh and three escaped unhurt. On the following day Capt. Ebenezer Alexander, who, with a party of sixteen, had been sent from Northfield to bring in the dead and wounded, discovered signs which led him to conclude that a great number of the enemy were scattered in small parties throughout that region of country.
The prisoners, six in number, were taken to Canada, whence they all returned in the course of time. The stories of five of them, which have been preserved, may not be wholly uninteresting. Henry Stevens Jr., of Chelmsford, at the time he was taken captive, was under the command of Col. Josiah Willard at Fort Dummer. After being plundered by the Indians of everything he had of value, he was carried to Quebec, where lie arrived on the 1st of July after a journey of two weeks. There he lay in prison until the 27th of August, when he was
44 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT. [1748.
put on board a French man-of-war about to sail as a flag of truce to Cape Breton. On the passage from Quebec to Cape Breton, where he arrived about the middle of September, he was very sick of a fever, and, continuing so on landing, he was placed in the hospital, where he remained until the 14th of October, when he took passage for New England, and reached his home on the 12th of November, after an absence of five months, having endured in that time many and severe hardships.
Benjamin Osgood of Billerica, and William Blanchard of Dunstable, both belonging to the garrison at Ashuelot, under the command of Capt. Josiah Willard Jr., were taken as captives to Canada, and after remaining there several months were permitted to return under a flag of truce. They reached their homes on the 15th of October, but the former died soon after, from causes superinduced by the trials he had undergone. Joel Johnson, of Woburn, who in the month of March previous bad been impressed as a soldier, also belonged to the garrison at Ashuelot. When captured he was stripped of most of his apparel, deprived of his gun, and when he arrived in Canada "suffered great abuse by the Indians there in running the gauntlet.* He was released in September, and reached his home in the beginning of the following month, feeble, emaciated, and unfit for active labor. Matthew Wyman, of the
* An incident in the life of General Stark furnishes an explanation of the term used in the text. It will be necessary to premise that John Stark and Amos Eastman had, on the 28th of April, 1752, been taken prisoners by a party of St. Francis Indians, while hunting along the banks of Baker's river in Rumney, New Hampshire. The narrative then proceeds "On the 9th of June, the party returned to St. Francis, where Stark rejoined his companion Eastman. They were compelled to undergo what is called the ceremony of running the gauntlet; a use of that term which modern effeminacy would hardly admit. It was the universal practice of the North American Indians to compel their captives to pass through the young warriors of the tribe, ranged in two lines, each furnished with a rod, and when highly exasperated with deadly weapons — and to strike the prisoners as they passed. In the latter case, the captive was frequently killed before he could reach the council house, at which the two lines of Indians terminated. On the present occasion, Eastman was severely whipped as he passed through the lines; Stark, more athletic and adroit, and better comprehending the Indian character, snatched a club from the nearest Indian, laid about him to the right and left, scattering the Indians before him, and escaped with scarcely a blow; greatly to the delight of the old men of the tribe, who sat at some distance witnessing the scene, and enjoying the confusion of their young warriors." — Everett's Life of Stark, in Sparks's Library of American Biography, i. 9, 10; Memoir of General Stark, by his Son, pp. 174, 175.
1748.] FIGHT BETWEEN HOBBS AND SACKETT. 45
same garrison, after being relieved of his gun and hat, was treated in the same manner as his companions in affliction. Being exchanged he sailed for Boston, which port he reached in October, in company with Capt. Britt of Newbury, and more than forty other prisoners of war.
While the condition of the frontiers was very unsafe, owing to the virulence of Indian enmity, and at a time when wise counsel and discretionate zeal were most needed, Col. John Stoddard, of Northampton, who had been intrusted with the general superintendence of the defence of this portion of the country, and who for many years, by the faithful discharge of his various duties in public life, had well merited the praises he received, died while attending the General Court at Boston.
Col. Israel Williams of Hatfield, who had acted as Commissary under him, was chosen his successor; and Major Elijah Williams of Deerfield, was appointed Commissary under John Wheelwright, the Commissary-General.*
Soon after Col. Williams had entered upon the duties of his arduous office, Capt. Humphrey Hobbs, with forty men, was ordered from Number Four to Fort Shirley, in Heath, one of the forts of the Massachusetts cordon. Their route lay through the woods, and the march was made for two days without any interruptions save those occasioned by natural obstructions. On Sunday, the 26th of June, having travelled six miles, they halted at a place about twelve miles north-west of Fort Dummer, in the precincts of what is now the town of Marlborough. A large body of Indians who had discovered Hobbs's trail had made a rapid march, in order to cut him off. They were commanded by a resolute chief named Sackett, said to have been a half-blood, a descendant of a captive taken at Westfield, Massachusetts. Although Hobbs was not aware of the pursuit of the enemy, he had circumspectly posted a guard on his trail, and his men having spread themselves over a low piece of ground, covered with alders intermixed with large trees, and watered by a rivulet, had prepared their dinner, and were regaling themselves at their packs. While in this situation, the rear guards were driven in from their posts, which was the first intimation given of the nearness of the enemy. Without knowing the strength of his adversaries, Capt. Hobbs
* Hoyt's Indian Wars, p. 249.
46 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT. [1748.
instantly formed his men for action, each one, by his advice, selecting a tree as a cover.
Trusting in the superiority of their numbers and confident of success, the enemy rushed forward with shouts, but Hobbs's well directed fire, by which several were killed, checked their impetuosity and caused them to retreat for shelter behind the trees and brush. The action now became warm, and a severe conflict followed between sharpshooters. The two commanders had been known to each other in time of peace, and both bore the character of intrepidity. Sackett, who could speak English, frequently called upon Hobbs in the tones of a Stentor, to surrender, and threatened, in case of refusal, to destroy his men with the tomahawk. Hobbs, with a voice equally sonorous, returned the defiance as often as given, and urged his antagonist to put his threat into execution. The action continued for four hours, Hobbs's party displaying throughout the most consummate skill and prudence, and neither side withdrawing an inch from its original situation. The Indians not unfrequently approached the line of their adversaries, but were as often driven back to their first position by the well directed fire of the sharp-sighted marksmen. Finding Hobbs determined on resistance, and that his own men had suffered severely in the struggle, Sackett finally ordered a retreat, and left his opponent master of a well fought field.
Hobbs's men were so well protected, that only three, Ebenezer Mitchel, Eli Scott, and Samuel Gunn, were killed in the conflict. Of the remainder, Daniel McKinney of Wrentham, Massachusetts, had his thigh broken by a ball from the enemy, and was thereby disabled for life. Samuel Graves Jr. of Sunderland, Massachusetts, a lad seventeen years of age, "behaved with good resolution and courage, and well acquitted himself in his place, and stood his ground till he was unfortunately shot by a ball from the Indian enemy, which struck him near the middle of his forehead, went through part of his head and came out of the left side, almost over his ear, bringing with it almost two spoonfuls of his brains, by which unhappy accident his life was in very great danger and almost despaired of." "But through divine undeserved goodness," in the words of his memorial, "his life is continued, but under great difficulty, by reason of fits of the falling sickness, which render him incapable of business." Nathan Walker, of Sudbury,
1748.] FIGHT BETWEEN HOBBS AND SACKETT. 47
Massachusetts, received a wound in the arm during the engagement, and Ralph Rice was also injured.
Many of the enemy were seen to fall, particularly when they advanced and exposed themselves, and although their loss was undoubtedly great, yet so effectually did they conceal it, that it was impossible to determine its extent. After the Indians had disappeared, Capt. Hobbs and his men remained concealed until night, fearing another attack; but there being no signs of the enemy, favored by the darkness they gathered their packs, took up the dead and wounded, and after burying the former under some old logs about half a mile from the scene of action, and conducting the latter — two of whom, Graves and Kinney, they were obliged to carry — to a more convenient place, about two miles distant, they encamped for the night. They arrived at Fort Dummer on the 27th, at four o'clock in the afternoon, and sent the wounded to Northfield, where they could receive proper medical attention. Two days after, having received no answer to the expresses which had been sent to Hadley and Hatfield for assistance, Capt. Hobbs and Lieut. Sheldon, with forty-nine men, set out from Fort Dummer, about three o'clock in the afternoon, for the place where the fight had occurred. About sunset hearing a gun fired in the rear, and at night a report in advance, then another in the rear, and the same repeated several times, they concluded they were discovered, and fearing an ambush, set out for the fort, where they arrived the next morning in safety a little after sunrise, and immediately fired the "Great Gun," the signal for aid.
In the fight between Hobbs and Sackett, according to the long established custom, whenever an Indian fell, his nearest comrade stealthily approaching the body under cover of the trees and underbrush, would attach to it a tamp line and cautiously drag it to the rear. Although the Indians sometimes exposed themselves in this manner more than in regular combat, yet so skilfully was the action performed that the dead bodies seemed to Hobbs's men to slide along the ground as if by enchantment.*
The number of Sackett's force, though not known, has been estimated at the least as four times that of the English; and it is probable that, had he known his numerical superiority, he
* In his Dictionary of Americanisms, p. 366, Bartlett defines the Indian verb tump, "to draw a deer or other animal home through the woods, after he has been killed." According to the same authority a tumpline is "a strap placed across the forehead to assist a man in carrying a pack on his back."
48 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT. [1748.
would have adopted a different method of warfare. This battle was regarded by the people in the vicinity as a masterpiece of persevering bravery, and served, to a certain extent, to remove the unfavorable impression produced by the defeat of Melvin's scout. "If Hobbs's men had been Romans," observes one writer, "they would have been crowned with laurel, and their names would have been transmitted with perpetual honor to succeeding generations."*
The enemy still continued their depredations on the frontiers, and, in the early part of July, killed at Ashuelot ten or eleven head of cattle, and drove off all the rest they could find in the neighborhood. On the 14th of the same month, as ten men were travelling from Northfield to Ashuelot, by the way of Fort Dummer, in order to supply the place of the ten who had been killed or captured the month before, they being in company with some other soldiers who belonged to Fort Dummer and to Capts. Stevens and Hobbs's companies, the whole party, seventeen in number, were fired upon by a body of French and Indians, who had ambushed their path, about half a mile from Fort Dummer, within a few rods of the spot where the former conflict had taken place. Although they had taken the, precaution to keep out an advanced guard on each side of the path, while on their march, yet so suddenly were they waylaid, and by a force numerically so much their superior, that more than a hundred bullets were discharged at them, before they had time to reload after the first fire. They immediately fled for shelter to the bank of the river, but were pursued and overcome after a short skirmish.
The interposition of Connecticut river, the small number of the men at Fort Dummer, sixteen only, half of whom were by sickness unfit for duty, rendered it impossible for the garrison there to relieve their friends, or pursue the enemy. Some of them, however, ran down the river, and discovering on the other side a wounded man, and another endeavoring to escape to the fort, they guarded them up and over the river to their place of destination. Two others turned back and reached Col. Hinsdell's fort in safety. The "Great Gun" at Fort Dummer was fired, but only three persons that night responded by their presence to this signal for assistance.
* MS. papers in office Sec. State, Mass. Hoyt's Indian Wars, pp. 249-251. Dwight's Travels, ii. 81.
1748.] SCOUTING EXPEDITIONS. 49
The news of the conflict having reached Number Four on the 15th, Capt. Stevens with thirteen men, Lieut. Hoit with thirty, and Lieut. Bills with more than twenty, immediately set out for Northfield. On the next day, Capt. Leeds and Lieuts. Stratton and Sheldon joined Capt. Stevens, and the whole force, amounting to one hundred and twenty-nine men, including officers, marched to the spot where the conflict had taken place. They found there the dead bodies of Asahel Graves of Hatfield, and Henry Chandler of Westford, entirely stripped of arms and clothing. Having performed the rites of burial, and being joined by Col. Willard, of Fort Dummer, for whom they had sent, they followed the enemy's track a mile further, and discovered the bodies of Joseph Rose of Northfield, and James Billings of Concord. It was supposed that these men had been wounded in the fight, and being too much exhausted to proceed further with their captors, had been summarily dispatched. They. also found the body of a soldier who had been slain in the former encounter. Returning to Fort Dummer, they were soon after joined by several of the inhabitants of Northampton, Hadley, Hatfield, and Sunderland, who had received orders from Col. Porter and Major Williams to "scour the woods." On the 17th, a consultation was held at Hinsdell's Fort, where Capt. Leeds was then stationed. It was determined that Capt. Stevens, who had the command of the whole party, should examine the woods in the neighborhood, and discover, if possible, the intentions of the enemy. Returning in the afternoon to Fort Dummer, it being Sunday, Mr. Gardner, the chaplain, in view of the disastrous events which had lately occurred, and the surprises with which these occurrences had invariably commenced, preached from the Revelation of St. John, the third chapter and third verse, "If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee."
On Monday, the 18th, Capt. Stevens, with one hundred and twenty men, set out on the scouting expedition which had been planned the day previous. After visiting the spot where Hobbs's fight had occurred, burying the dead they there found, and following the enemy some distance, whom, however, they were not able to overtake, they returned on the 20th, reaching Fort Dummer at noon.
What the loss of the French and Indians was on this occasion, as on all former occasions, it was impossible to determine.
50 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT. [1748.
That two Indians were slain was certain, and it was probable that more were killed or wounded, as the soldiers faced and fought them at the first onset, and the scouts afterwards discovered the places where four biers or litters had been cut and prepared.
Robert Cooper, one of the men who escaped to Fort Dummer, was wounded in his left side in two places, and his arm and one of his ribs were severely fractured. He remained at the fort under the care of Andrew Gardner, who was "chyrurgeon" as well as chaplain, until February of the next year, by which time he had recovered sufficiently to warrant his removal to a more comfortable place.
Although nine were taken prisoners, yet that they did not submit very readily, will be seen from the following incident: John Henry, of Concord, after being wounded and having received seven bullets in his clothing, succeeded in escaping to a neighboring thicket, where he might have remained in safety, being entirely concealed. But happening to see an Indian seize one of his fellow-soldiers at a little distance from his place of retreat, he ran up within a few feet of the Indian and shot him through the body, whereupon a number of the enemy surrounded him, whom he engaged with his gun clubbed until it was broken in pieces, upon which he was obliged to surrender. During his captivity, he was barbarously used by the Indians, probably on account of the spirited resistance with which he had opposed them. Ephraim Powers of Littleton, and John Edgehill of Lexington, the latter an apprentice to Jacob Pike of Framingham, were, both of them, stripped of their clothing, arms, and ammunition, and the former also received a wound in the head. After their return from Canada, they were for a long time incapable of any labor on account of the hardships and sufferings they had undergone.
The other captives were Sergt. Thomas Taylor of Northfield, Jonathan Lawrence Jr. of Littleton, Reuben Walker of Chelmsford, Daniel Farmer of Granton, Daniel How of Cambridge, and Thomas Crisson of Rutland. Most of them were young men, and some of them had been impressed into the service, as was the custom of the times, when a sufficiency of soldiers could not be obtained by regular enlistment. They lost everything of value which they had with them, and were, with the others before mentioned, taken to Canada, where they were sold to the French, who retained them until the 1st of October when they were released and allowed to return home.
1748.] ROUTE OF THE INDIANS TO CANADA. 51
The route pursued by the Indians in reaching Crown Point on their way to Canada, is thus described by Sergt. Taylor, one of the captives: "They crossed the Connecticut at a place then called Catts-bane, two or three miles above the mouth of West River, which they fell in with at the lower fork; thence proceeded up that river, part of the way on the flats, over the ground where Capt. Melvin's affair happened, three or four miles below the upper fork; thence to the source of the river, and over the high lands to Otter Creek; thence down this creek several miles, and crossing, proceeded to Lake Champlain about twelve miles south of Crown Point, whence they proceeded in canoes to that post. The enemy carried several of their wounded, and were joined on the route by another body with a prisoner, Mrs. Fitch, taken at Lunenburgh. The Indians halted in the middle of the forenoon, at noon, and the middle of the afternoon — their march, twenty miles per day."*
The General Court of Massachusetts, in view of the services rendered, gave especial rewards to Sergt. Taylor, to the three of his companions who were the greatest sufferers, and to the representatives of those who were slain.
This calamity, and the others which had preceded it, aroused the attention of Massachusetts to the necessity of a more efficient defence of the frontier settlements. Brig.-Gen. Joseph Dwight wrote to Secretary Willard, of Massachusetts, on the
* Hoyt's Indian Wars, p. 251. In the year 1739, John Fitch purchased one hundred and twenty acres of land, situated about seven and a half miles above the meeting-house in Lunenburgh, Massachusetts, where he built a house and cultivated a farm. For a defence against the enemy, he afterwards erected a blockhouse, at which scouting parties were accustomed to rendezvous. On the 5th of July, 1748, there being but two soldiers with him, the enemy appeared, shot one of them, and drove Fitch and the other into the garrison. After besieging the garrison about an hour and a half, the other was shot through the porthole in the flanker. Fitch being left alone and unable longer to resist, was taken prisoner with his wife and five children. The Indians, after possessing themselves of such things as they wished, burned the house and garrison, and set out with their captives for Canada. It is probable that the party separated before reaching Crown Point, since Sergt. Taylor, in mentioning the arrival of Mrs. Fitch, makes no reference to her husband, who was probably in another company. The youngest of the children was not weaned, and two of the others, from want of provisions, became nurslings on the way. After a wearisome march, they reached their place of destination, but were not obliged to remain long in captivity, being allowed to return home early in the following fall. Having reached New York, they set out for Massachusetts by the way of Rhode Island but Mrs. Fitch, wearied by the long journey she had just accomplished, and overcome by her sufferings, died at Providence.
52 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT. [1748.
16th of July, praying for a "thousand men to drive the woods and pursue the enemy to Crown Point ;" also, for several troops of horse. He also proposed, that other means than those which had been heretofore used, should be tried to enlist soldiers, and that £1000 should be paid for every Indian killed, the scalp to be a sufficient order for the reward. Col. Israel Williams of Hatfield also wrote to Governor Shirley, on the 16th, advising that twenty or thirty of the Six nations of Indians should reside at Number Four and at Fort Massachusetts. Their presence, it was urged, would ward off the attacks of the enemy. Col. Josiah Willard, of Fort Dummer, in a letter written on the 19th, said: "Ever since Number Four above us has been so mantled,* they (the Indians) press exceeding hard upon Fort Dummer and Mr. Hinsdell's garrison, both which are very weak-handed. My business of procuring stores obliges us to go out, and having but sixteen men in ye fort, we are exceedingly exposed." His son, Major Josiah Willard, of Ashuelot, in a letter dated a few days previous, complained of the scarceness of provisions at Number Four.
In answer to these various communications, Governor Shirley ordered Col. Willard to detain twenty men of the garrison of Number Four at Fort Dummer, for a short time while the enemy were near; and it appears that Capt. Thomas Buckminster, with forty-seven men, was stationed there from the 6th to the 20th of August.
The incursions of the Indians during the remainder of the year, were neither numerous nor extended. On the morning of the 23d of July, a little before sunrise, six Indians having attacked Aaron Belding, killed and scalped him on the main street in Northfield. The inhabitants were generally in bed, but on hearing the alarm arose as fast as possible, and hurried to the spot. The Indians had, however, made good their escape, and though they were hotly pursued, yet it was to no purpose.
An attack on Fort Massachusetts was the last hostile act of the enemy for the year. Suitable provision was made for maintaining the principal forts during the coming winter and by the special advice of Governor Shirley, fifteen men were stationed at Fort Dummer, and five at Hinsdell's Fort, there to remain for seven months from the 20th of November.
* Covered, guarded or protected.