Grace Greylock Niles.

The Hoosac Valley, its legends and its history online

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house, a mile west of the fort, burned by Rigaud's army,
during the summer of 1746. He failed to receive compen-
sation for his losses, however, and later moved to Vermont
and aided in building Fort Putney, which was modelled
after Fort Massachusetts. He is believed to have married
an Indian squaw, and descendants of his still reside in Hoosac
Pass of Pownal,Vt.

Benjamin Simonds was left ill in the Quebec Hospital at the
time the Fort Massachusetts captives returned to Boston.
He returned later and was the only surviving captive to
settle in English Hoosac. Among the first captives to die
in prison may be named: Nathaniel Fames on Nov. 17,
1746; Miriam, wife of Moses Scott, Dec. nth; Rebecca,
wife of John Perry, Dec. 23d; Moses Scott, Jr., son of Moses
Scott, Sr., Feb. 11, 1747; Mary, wife of John Smead, March

' Perry, Origins in Williamsiown, pp. 189-190.



144 The Hoosac Valley

29th; and "Captivity," infant daughter of the Smeads,
three weeks after her mother.

The record of the deaths of the Fort Massachusetts
garrison soldiers and the return of the surviving redeemed
captives is found in Rev. John Norton's Journal'' and in
Sergt. John Hawks's Report^ to the General Court of Mas-
sachusetts in 1749. At the time Fort Massachusetts was
burned on August 20, 1746, Capt. Ephraim Williams, Jr., was
recruiting garrison soldiers. His muster-roll-' contains the
names of the first men who served in the second Fort Massa-
chusetts, rebuilt on the Hoosac Meadow, ten months later,
on June i, 1747.

' Perry, Origins in Williamstown , pp. 179-185.

* See Note 4, at end o' volume.
3 See Note 5, at end of volume.



CHAPTER VII

EPHRAIM WILLIAMS AND THE BATTLE OF LAKE GEORGE

I 747-1 755

The deeds he did, the fields he won.
The freedom he restored.

Sir Edward Shepherd Creasy, Victory of
Arminius over Varus's Roman Legions, a.d. p.

jFort Massachusetts Rebuilt — Col. Ephraim Williams's Will — Battle of Lake
George — Death of Colonel Williams — Tomb and Monuments — General
Dieskau's St. Francis Legions.

THE Williams family of Old Berkshire were of Welsh
origin and were descended from Robert Williams of
Norwich, England, who settled at Roxbury, Mass., in 1638,
He was "the common ancestor of the divines, civilians, and
warriors of this name, who have honored the country of
their birth."'

Ephraim Williams, Jr., and his brother, Thomas Wil-
liams, were sons of Ephraim Williams, St., and his second
wife, Elizabeth Jackson Williams, and were born at Newton,
March 7, 17 14, and April i, 171 8, respectively. The former,
during early life, visited England, Spain, and Holland, and
the latter graduated from Yale in 1742 and became a sur-
geon in Old Deerfield. Ephraim Williams, Jr., was a large
and commanding person, and he acquired a general know-
ledge of the world. President Fitch of Williams College in

'Perry, Origins in Williamstown, pp. 215-371.
" 145



146 The Hoosac Valley

1802 wrote:' that "he often lamented his want of a Hberal
education." His obliging deportment and generosity en
deared him to all classes of men, and his address procured
him a greater influence at the General Court of Boston,
during his command of the cordon of the border forts, than
any other man perhaps enjoyed during Shirley's War in
New England. He won the esteem of Governor Shirley
and met at several military councils with George Washing-
ton, Benjamin Franklin and William Johnson.

It was vaguely hinted that Ephraim Williams, Jr., contem-
plated marriage with his cousin, Elizabeth, daughter of Maj.
Israel Williams of Hatfield; although for unknown reasons
he changed his plans before making his Will^ in Albany
previous to his march to Lake George in 1755.

Ephraim Williams, Jr., was thirty-three years of age at the
time Fort Massachusetts was rebuilt in 1747. Governor
Shirley, April 10, 1747, directed that a more commodious
blockhouse be erected on the Hoosac Meadow for a garrison
of thirty soldiers and extra reinforcements. Three 4-pounder
guns were shipped by way of Hudson River to Van Der
Heyden ferry, on the site of Troy, and mounted later upon
the watch-towers of the fort.

Col. William Williams of Pittsfield, in company with Maj.
Ephraim Williams, Sr., of Stockbridge, was placed in
command of the carpenters, and Maj. Israel Williams, com-
missary-general of the cordon of border forts. Maj. Israel
Williams and Col. William Williams were nephews of Col.
John Stoddard, then commander of the Hampshire (Berk-
shire) County militia. Colonel Stoddard advised Governor
Shirley to station one hundred soldiers at Fort Massachu-
setts. Part of the men patrolled the trails northward to

'President Fitch's " Sketch of Life of Col. Ephraim Williams," Mass. Hist.
Soc, via.

' Perry, Origins in Williamstown, pp. 479-483.



The Battle of Lake George 147

Lake Champlain, southward to Pontoosac, and eastward
to Fort Dummer on the Connecticut.

During May, 1747, Capt. Ephraim WilHams, Jr., joined
by Maj. Israel WilHams and one hundred soldiers, guarded
the passage of the artillery from Van Der Hcyden ferry and
the supplies sent from Albany in huge Dutch vans up the
Hoosac Road, All went merrily until May 25th, when the
vanguards arrived at John Perry's meadow, a mile below
Fort Massachusetts. Here they were attacked by a party of
French and St, Francis warriors; part of the enemy engaged
the fort carpenters and the guards, while the rest blocked
the road in order to prevent the arrival of the Dutch vans
of provision and cannon. The hot fire of the fort guards on
the enemy's rear and the repulsing fire of the vanguards
on the enemy's front soon drove them to the Indian Ledge,
and the stores arrived safely with the loss of only one Stock-
bridge Indian.

The exterior of the blockhouse' was finished June i, 1747,
and according to historian Perry was about one hundred and
twenty-five feet square. The barracks were seventy feet
in length by thirty feet in width, with a seven-foot post and
low roof. The house was divided into two departments,
sub-divided into two rooms each with a fireplace.

Two years later, on July 23, 1748, the patrolling scout
from Fort Schaghticoke was followed up to Fort Massa-
chusetts by savages. At four o'clock on the morning of
August 2d, Lieutenants Severance and Hawley ^ and forty
I soldiers laden with provisions from Fort Deerfield noted
ii another band of warriors skulking along behind them.
■ Sharpshooters were later posted in the watch-towers and
about six o'clock the bloodhounds located an ambuscade

'See illustration of first Fort Massachusetts, Chapter VI., p. 129.
'Capt. Ephraim Williams's Letter to Maj. Israel Williams, Aug. 2, 1748;
Perry, Origins in Williamstown, pp. 208-209.



148 The Hoosac Valley

of Indians near the Hoosac ford. Captain Williams was
preparing to send forth fift}^ men to rout the enemy, when
a savage fired upon one of the dogs.

A party of undisciplined lads rushed outside the gate to
see the sport and immediately fifteen guns were turned upon
them, and Captain Williams was forced to advance with only
thirty-five men in order to prevent their being scalped.
A hot skirmish ensued for ten minutes and the savages
retreated, only to allow an ambush of fifty warriors to rise
ten rods from the fort gate. The English quickly entered
the fort gate and turned the cannon and small arms upon the
enemy. For an hour and three quarters by the hour-glass
there were loud war-whoops, after which the Indians sullenly
retreated down the valley. Two English soldiers were mor-
tally wounded and died later. One of the cannon-balls
fired upon that eventful morning was found by Capt. Clem-
ent Harrison over a century later imbedded in the roots of an
upturned oak on St. Francis Ledge. It now reposes among
the relics in the museum of the Fort Massachusetts Historical
Society in the North Adams Public Library.

The signing of the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle on October
18, 1748, closed King George's War between England and
France and Fort Massachusetts garrison decreased in num-
bers. The muster-roll' between December, 1747, and March,
1748, contains forty-two names under Lieutenant Hawle}-,
and the subsequent autumn muster-roll contains the names
of eighty -four soldiers, thirty of whom were dismissed later.
The closing muster-rolP for December 11, 1749, contains
fifty -four names under command of Capt. Ephraim Williams,
Jr. ; and the opening muster-roll ■' of 1750 for the three border
forts, Massachusetts, Pelham, and Shirley enrolled only
twenty-one names, proving that temporary peace reigned
on the frontier.

'See note 6, at end of volume. ^ Ibid., note 7. ^Ibid., note 8.







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Online LibraryGrace Greylock NilesThe Hoosac Valley, its legends and its history → online text (page 11 of 41)