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[93] That "certain officer" marched his men back to the garrison house and fort they had commenced to build - the scene of their inglorious delay and unreasonable inaction, where, for the present, let us leave them, while we contemplate stirring events in the neighboring colony of Massachusetts.

July 14, 1675, the Indians made an attack on the people of Mendon, a township incorporated May 15, 1667, and which lies within the limits of the territory incorporated April 2, 1731, as the County of Worcester. Such was the destruction dealt by the Indians at Mendon, that the place was deserted by its English inhabitants, who did not return to rebuild the waste places until 1680, or five years after it was burned by the Indians and four or five of the inhabitants slain. The name of one of the slain was Richard Post. His residence was on what has since been called "Post's Lane," and it is claimed that he was the first man killed in King Philip's war within the bounds of the colony of Massachusetts. *(III-42)

The Indian name of Mendon was Quinshepauge, and was also denominated the plantation of "Nipmug." It was originally 8 miles square. The Indian deed bore date of April 22, 1662, and was signed by Anawassanauk alias John Quashaamait alias William of Blew Hills, Great John, Namsconont alias Peter, and Upannbohqueen alias Jacob of Natick. Portions of Mendon were set off to Bellingham, Milford, Northbridge, Upton and Uxbridge. On the 12th of May, 1670, Mendon was attached to the County of Middlesex, and 61 years later to the County of Worcester.

But to return to the consideration of Swansea, and [94] what was going on there, for since that "certain officer" marched his men up a hill and then marched them down again, reinforcements have been sent to swell the numbers assembled at what Church quaintly calls the "loosing fort," and a sloop has been obtained to transport soldiers, on board of which a detachment was placed, and sent to the Falls River, or Quequechan (now the city of Fall River), where they disembarked and commenced their march into Weetamoo's country, Church and a man named Baxter and an Indian called Hunter acting as shirmishers in front of the main body. They had proceeded about a quarter of a mile *(III-43) when they discovered three Indians, on whom Hunter fired, wounding one in the knee, which enabled them to overtake him, when Hunter despatched him with his hatchet. *(III-44)

Proceeding on, they were discovered by the Indians just before reaching Weetamoo's camp on the edge of a cedar swamp, into which the Indians betook themselves, and the English soldiers as swiftly pursued till they came within hearing of the cries of the Indian women and children, when the officer in command of the English ordered them to cease the effort to overtake the fugitives, and retrace their steps toward the Falls River, when these just pursued in turn became pursuers, and chased the English back to the sloop, wounding two of their men. The next day those of this ill-starred expedition got back to the Mount Hope garrison. Soon after, another force was sent out, but [95] this time after Philip, who, with his warriors, like Weetamoo and her followers, retired to the dark recesses of a dismal swamp. But now instead of retiring as before, the English fortified themselves on the edge of the swamp, there to remain and starve King Philip out. But he, being supplied with provisions, remained there till he had constructed a sufficient number of canoes to carry his command over the water, when under cover of night, he and they, undiscovered by the English soldiers, came out of the swamp, took to the water, crossed over unharmed, and passed on to the Nipmuck country, sustaining no loss from the soldiers stationed on either side of Taunton river, and none at all save that inflicted upon him by the home guard of Rehoboth, headed by the Rev. Noah Newman, *(III-45) their minister, and aided by a few friendly Indians.

The Rev. William Hubbard, of Ipswich, an early historian, remarked that "Mr. Newman, the minister of Rehoboth, deserved not a little commendation for exciting his neighbors and friends to pursue thus after Philip, animating of them by his own example and presence." King Philip, after leaving Mount Hope, and with his forces going over to Pocasset (now Tiverton), and for some time being unpursued, as we have already shown, by the English, had ample time and opportunity to lay completely waste all Dartmouth (now Dartmouth, New Bedford, Westport, Fairhaven and Acushnet), as he did, and slew many of the inhabitants. (We shall have occasion to refer to this again.)

He had now gone to the Nipmuck country to form a junction with the Nipmuck Indians. That country then embraced what is now the southerly part of Worcester [96] county and a part of Connecticut, and we shall now see what speedily occurred as a result of his going there.

The Governor and council of Massachusetts had sent Capt. Edward Hutchinson of Boston, to Brookfield to treat with the Nipmuck Indians in the hope of securing a peace with them. Capt. Thomas Wheeler, of Concord, with about 20 mounted men as an escort, accompanied Capt. Hutchinson on his mission, and arrived at Brookfield on Sunday, August 1, 1675. A meeting with the Indians was agreed upon to take place at 8 o'clock Monday morning, Aug. 2, 1675, upon a plain at the head of Wickaboag pond, two or three miles west of the principal settlement in Brookfield. Captains Hutchinson and Wheeler, and their men, together with John Ayers, John Coye and Joseph Prichard, of Brookfield, repaired to the spot designated, at the time appointed, but no Indians were there, and so they rode on four or five miles toward the chief settlement of the Nipmucks, and were in a narrow passage between a steep hill and a thick swamp, where they were attacked by a large number of Indians (some authorities say three hundred), when John Ayers, John Coye and Joseph Prichard of Brookfield, Zachariah Philips of Boston, Timothy Farley of Billerica, Edward Colburn of Chelmsford, Samuel Smedley of Concord, and Sydrach Hapgood of Sudbury, were slain; and Captain Edward Hutchinson, of Boston, mortally wounded. Capt. Wheeler and the rest of his men, taking a by-path, escaped to Brookfield followed by the Indians. This alarmed the inhabitants of Brookfield, who took refuge in a house on an eminence, from whence they watched the Indians as they burned almost every barn and out-house, and nearly every dwelling house save that in which the English were assembled; which was then attacked, and for two days the Indians were occupied in vain attempts to set it on fire. At length, on the evening [97] of August 4th, the Indians filled a cart with hemp and other combustible matter, set it on fire, and endeavored to push it against the house, but were defeated in their design, partly by a sudden shower of rain, and partly by the arrival of a party of English soldiers led by Maj. Willard and Capt. Parker. The Indians were thus foiled in the attempt to burn that house and slaughter the inmates, but they destroyed all the horses and cattle they could find, and then withdrew unpursued by the English. (Whitney's History of Worcester County.)

Rev. Dr. Fisk, of Brookfield, in a historic sermon *(III-46) delivered Dec. 31, 1775, thus particularizes: - "When the Indians pursued the party into the town, they set fire to all the buildings except a few in the neighborhood of the house in which the inhabitants had taken shelter; that they endeavored to intercept five or six men who had gone to a neighboring house to secure some things there, but they all got safe to the place of refuge, except a young man, Samuel Prichard, who was stopped short by a fatal bullet; that the house in which they were besieged was unfortified except by a few logs hastily tumbled up on the outside after the alarm, and by a few feather beds hung up on the inside. ... And though the siege continued from Monday in the forenoon, until early on Thursday morning, August 5th, in which time innumerable balls entered the house, only one man, Henry Young, who was in the chamber, was killed.

"The Indians shot many fire arrows to burn the house, but without effect. When the troop which relieved [98] Brookfield got into the town, which was late at night, they were joined by great numbers of cattle, which had collected together in their fright at the conflagration of the buildings, and the firing and warwhoops of the Indians; and for protection these poor animals followed the troop till they arrived at the besieged house. The Indians deceived thereby, and thinking there was a much larger number of horsemen than there really was, immediately set fire to the barn belonging to the besieged house, and to Joseph Prichard's house and barn, and the meeting-house, which were the only buildings left unburnt, and went off. A garrison was maintained at this house till winter, when the court ordered the people away, soon after which the Indians came and burnt this house also."

The writer of this book visited Brookfield August 27, 1871, when the plain where the proposed conference was to have been held with the Indians was pointed out to him, as also the Wickaboag Pond; but the scene was almost entirely changed from that of one hundred and ninety-six years before. True, the pond occupied the site it did then, and the soil of the plain was yet there, but all else, how completely changed! I suppose that I passed over the identical ground on which it was proposed to meet and make a new treaty with the Indians, and regret that I was not privileged to have pointed out to me, with equal exactness, that where the ambuscade occurred.

On the ninety-fifth page of this book allusion was made to the fact that, while King Philip and his warriors were at Pocasset and unpursued by the English, just after the former had abandoned Mount Hope and the country called Pokanoket, ample time and opportunity were afforded these Indians to lay waste all Dartmouth, [99] which then embraced what is now Dartmouth, New Bedford, Fairhaven, Westport and Acushnet. I also expressed a determination to make another and more extended reference to that matter.

 

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