Grace Greylock Niles.

The Hoosac Valley, its legends and its history online

. (page 20 of 41)
Online LibraryGrace Greylock NilesThe Hoosac Valley, its legends and its history → online text (page 20 of 41)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


James Breakenridge and Dr. Josiah Fuller, July 2g, 1771. It was here that the
first armed resistance of the Green Mountain Boys agaitist the Qrown took place.

homes of Col. Seth Warner and Lieut. William Henry, on the
St. Croix and Bennington Centre Road.

At the northern portal of Henry Bridge, Col. Ethan Allen
posted six sentinels, who ordered Sheriff Ten Eyck to halt.
A parley was held with Captain Cuyler and his councillors,
after which it was agreed that they might be conducted
without arms to Lieutenant Breakenridge's house, to hold
a conference with the Bennington Council of Safety. Sheriff
Ten Eyck inquired the cause of the assemblage of the Ben-



First Open Rebellion against the Crown 285

! nington militia to prevent his serving the Crown's Writ of

i

! Ejectment, to which Breakenridge repHed "that the town-
ship had resolved to take his farm under their protection,
and that they intended to keep it."

Mayor Cuyler of Albany exclaiined that "whatever blood
should be spilled in opposing the King's Writ would be
required from his hands." It was finally agreed that Break-
enridge should hold a conference with his friends and that
Mayor Cuyler and his councillors should be escorted to
Henry Bridge and wait half an hour for his decision. Break-
enridge's messenger reported that neither his nor the Fuller
farm would be given up but that they would be kept at any
cost. Captain Cuyler ordered his regiment to march for-
ward, although only thirty of the three hundred and fifty
men proved courageous enough to venture over Henry
Bridge. Sheriff Ten Eyck headed the band up to the barri-
caded door of the Breakenridge house and attorney Robert
Yates used many ingenious arguments, drawn from similar
cases in his knowledge of the legal lore of piracy, in order
to convince the Benningtonians that the Albanians had a
legal right to eject them from their farms and appropriate
their vineyards and onion crops for themselves, unless the
Benningtonians repurchased their lands again of the Dutch
claimants. Col. Ethan Allen used equally convincing ora-
tory in refuting these contentions.

Sheriff Ten Eyck seized an axe and threatened to break
down the barricaded door of Breakenridge's house. The
garrison hoisted the red flag from the chimney-top as a signal
to the soldiers posted thirty rods distant along the edge of
the woods, and a hundred polished rifles were immediately
aimed at Ten Eyck. This sobered the "Bully Boys of
Helderberg" and Ten Eyck retired with his men to Henry
Bridge. Mayor Cuyler formally requested his troops to
march five miles farther southeast and serve the King's



286 The Hoosac Valley

Writ of Ejectment upon Dr. Fuller, but they refused and
returned to Albany before sunrise on July 30, 1771.

After the defeat of the Yorkers, a Grand Committee was
organized in the New Hampshire Grants and a regiment
of three hundred Green Mountain Boys formed. Seth
Warner commanded the Bennington company; EH Noble,
the Pownal company; Remember Baker, the Arlington
company; Robert Cochran, the Rupert company; Gideon
Warren, the Sunderland company, and Dr. Ebenezer Marvin
the Stillwater company of " Minute Men" on the New York
borders. John J. Bleecker, Ignace Kipp, Isaac Clark,
Eleazar Eggerton, and Nathaniel Schipman, ' Jr., were among
the Dutch Hoosac scouts; and Peleg Sunderland, John Smith,
and Sylvanus Brown were the scouts of the Bennington
Council of Safety. A general military organization of the
Green Mountain Boys' militia took place in 1772, and Ethan
Allen was elected colonel of the regiment. Governor Try on
of New York later published a proclamation, offering a
reward of £50 each for Allen and his captains of the
"Bennington Mob."

Colonel Allen, in daring mockery of Tryon's proclamation,
distributed printed handbills offering a reward of £15 for
the capture of the King's attorney, John Tabor Kemp, and
£10 for James Duane, — "those common disturbers of public
peace," if delivered at Fay's Catamount Tavern at Benning-
ton. The Tory justice, John Munroe of Shaftsbury, super-
intendent of Lieut. Duncan McVicar's Clarendon and
Durham manors, engaged a band of fifteen Yorkers and
captured Capt. Remember Baker of Arlington, March 22,
1772. Baker was routed from bed and seized by a blood-
hound and threatened with instant death if he made an
outcry. They bound Baker without his coat, and his right
thumb was severed during the act. Upon bidding farewell

' Also spelled Chipman.



First Open Rebellion against the Crown 287

to his wife and children, Justice Munroe consoled them
v/ith the promise of Baker's immediate execution as soon as
he was lodged in Albany Jail.

Munroe's men made so much noise that Baker's neigh-
bors, Caleb Henderson and John Winston, arrived armed
with their rifles, Winston was seized and bound with Baker,
but Henderson made his escape to Bennington Centre with
news of Baker's capture. At twelve o'clock the scouts
of the Council of Safety, including the subsequently titled
Gen. Isaac Clark, Col. Joseph Safford, Maj. Wait Hopkins,
Col. David Safford, Timothy Abbott, Stephen Hopkins,
Elanthan Hubbell, Samuel Tubbs, Ezekiel Brewster, and
Nathaniel Holmes mounted their swiftest horses. The
rescuing party, after a thirty-mile ride, arrived at the Hudson
River before three o'clock, and found that Munroe's bandits
had not crossed the ferry. They turned and galloped north-
ward and soon met Munroe and recovered Baker more dead
than alive. Ethan Allen published an account of Baker's
capture in the Connecticut Courant^ at the time.

After Baker's rescue Governor Tryon proposed to hear
the complaints of the Benningtonians. Parson Jedidiah
Dewey, Ethan Allen, Robert Cochran, and Remember
Baker prepared a petition of personal grievances, dated
June 5, 1772, and Capt. Stephen Fay and his son. Dr. Jonas
Fay, conveyed it to Governor Tryon. He suspended all
prosecutions in behalf of the Crown, and the Bennington
settlers assembled at the meeting-house and offered thanks.

At the same time that Governor Tryon made overtures
of peace to the Green Mountain Boys, his surveyor Cock-
burn was locating patents in the Champlain Valley. Capts.
Seth Warner and Remember Baker chased Cockburn to
Lake George and captured him in Bolton. He was brought

' H. W. DePuy, " Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys of '76,"
1853, Vermont Historical Magazine, p. 125.



288 The Hoosac Valley

to Castleton and tried before the Beach-Seal Court, con-
victed, punished with the "Twigs of the Wilderness," and
banished from the Green Mountains upon pain of death if
he returned. Lieut. James Breakenridge of Bennington and
Jehiel Hawley of Arlington were chosen as delegates later
to visit England and petition the King in Council for pro-
tection against the piracy of the Yorkers.

Ira Allen arrived at Bennington Centre in 1771. During
the autumn of 1772 he joined his brothers and cousins
in the Onion or Winooski River Land Company, heading off
the land-claimants. He resided with Remember Baker at
Colchester's Falls in 1773, and discovered Colonel Reid's
Mills near Otter Creek Falls, now the site of the City of
Vergennes, Vt. Col. Ethan Allen called out his militia and
Reid's Scotch settlers were routed. His mill-stones were
broken, and Colonel Reid was threatened with death if he
dared to return.

On March 9, 1774, the Albany Legislature, therefore,
passed an Act of Outlawry. According to Samuel Williams's
History of Vermont in 1794, it was the "most mandatory and
despotic of anything that had ever appeared in the British
Colonies." Col. Ethan Allen and Capts. Warner, Baker,
Cochran, Warren, Noble, Sunderland, Smith, Brown, and
Marvin were convicted of felony without trial. Governor
Tryon offered a reward of £150 for Allen's capture and £50
for the capture of each of his captains.

A sarcastic proclamation was prepared by Colonel Allen,
declaring that:

Printed sentences of death are not very alarming . . .
if the governor sends his executioners, they have only to try
the titles to see who shall prove to be the criminals and die
first; and if the authorities of New York insist upon killing
us to take possession of our vineyards, come on, we are
ready with a game of scalping with them.



First Open Rebellion against the Crown 289

Tom Rowley, the Green Mountain poet laureate, added the
following Satire to the famous historic document.

When Caesar reigned King of Rome,
St. Paul was sent to hear his doom,
But Roman laws, in a criminal case
Must have the accuser face to face.
Or Caesar gives flat denial.
But, here 's a law made now of late
Which destines men to awful fate;
And hangs and damns without a trial.
Which made me view all nature through
To find a law where men were ti'd,
By legal act which doth exact
Men's lives before they 're tried.
Then down I took the sacred book
And turned the pages o'er
But could not find one of this kind
By God or Man before. . . .

Ethan Allen's Remonstrance followed the Satire. In it he
and his captains declared :

We now proclaim to the public, not only for ourselves

but the New Hampshire grantees and occupants in general,

that the spring and moving cause of our opposition to the

government of New York was self-preservation; namely,

first, the preservation and maintenance of our property;

and, secondly, since that government is so incensed against

us, therefore it stands us in hand to defend our lives. For

it appears, by a late set of laws passed by the legislature

thereof, that the lives and property of the New Hampshire

settlers are manifestly struck at. But, that the public may

rightly understand the essence of the controversy, we now

proclaim to these law-givers, and to the World, that if the

New York Patentees will remove their patents, that have

been subsequently lapped and laid on the New Hampshire
19



290 The Hoosac Valley

Charters, and quiet us in our possessions, agreeably to hi :
Majesty's directions, and suspend those criminal prosecu- n
tions against us for being rioters, as we are unjustly
denominated, then will our settlers be orderly and sub-
missive subjects of Government. But be it known to that
despotic fraternity of law-makers and law-breakers, that
we will not be fooled nor frightened out of our property.

The Colonial Government of Massachusetts Bay came
to an end on August i6, 1774, when the Berkshire militia
drove the judges of the Crown from the court-house in Old
Stockbridge. Later, on September 25, 1776, it proved
necessary to build a jail to secure the Tories on the east
side of the Green Moimtains.

Several Tories resided in Pownal, Shaftsbury, and Arling-
ton, on the borders of New York, The venerable Dr.
Samuel Adams of Arlington advised the settlers to repur-
chase their farms of the New^ York claimants. He was tied
in an arm-chair and hoisted twenty-five feet to the top of
the Catamount Tavern sign-post for his council, to the
merriment of a large crowed. After tW'O hours disgrace he
was low^ered and advised to "go and sin no more." Elder
Benjamin Hough, the first minister of the Baptist Church
of Durham Manor, now Shaftsbury, accepted a commission
as a New York justice, January 22, 1775. In consequence,
he was tied to a sour-apple tree in Sunderland four days later,
and received tw^o hundred stripes of the "Twigs of the
Wilderness" on his back. He w^as banished from the regioi
forever, but later preached at Mapleton Baptist Church ir
Hoosac, N. Y.

Samuel Adams of Boston, Father of the Revolution, wai
a kinsman of Dr. Samuel Adams of Arlington. He, however
inspired the spirit of independence and unity among th<
colonists, and eight months before the Battle of Lexington
the first Continental Congress met at Philadelphia ii



First Open Rebellion against the Crown 291

September, 1774. 0^ March 14, 1775, the Albany Council
attempted to rule the Westminster Court on the east side
of the Green Mountains, although the settlers had passed
resolutions in sympathy with the American patriots and
desired to suspend Court sessions.

The Sheriff of Albany County headed his militia and,
after demanding entrance to the Westminster Court House
a second time without gaining admittance, ordered his men
to fire upon the settlers. Ten were wounded, William French
and another man dying from their wounds.

Over five hundred armed settlers from the Green Moun-
tains, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts arrived at West-
minster the following morning. This massacre was followed
on April 19, 1775, by the firing of Major Pitcairn's pistols,
opening the Battle of Lexington. Pitcairn's pistols were
presented to Gen. Israel Putnam after the battle, and de-
scended to his son, Peter Schuyler Putnam of Williamstown,
and later to his grandson, John Pope Putnam, a resident
of Cambridge, N. Y., until his death in 1868.

News of the Battle of Lexington reached Albany, May i,
I775> whereupon the Committee of Safety met at John
Lansing's Inn. Lucas Cassidy was sent forth to beat a
drum and John Ostrander to ring a bell to summon the
inhabitants to the market-house. The Albanians wrote
the Boston Committee of War that: "They desired to pro-
mote the weal of the American Cause," and since they were
born free, they proclaimed that, "they would live and die so,
and transmit that inestimable blessing to posterity."^

On May 4, 1775, the Albany Committee organized a regu-
lar militia. Directly after the Battle of Bunker Hill in June,
both Boston and New York harbors were fortified, although
William Tryon arrived from England and took the Great
Seal as the last Royal Governor of New York.
'Cuyler Reynolds, Albany Chronicles, pp. 274-275.



292 The Hoosac Valley

Maj.-Gen. Philip Schuyler, Maj. Joseph Hawley, Talbot
Francis, Oliver Wolcott, and Volckert Douw, on August 15th,
held a conference with the Mahican and Mohawk sachems
at the Old Dutch Church, in Albany, in order to tell them
the cause of the Revolution against King George. They
said:

Many of his councillors are proud and wicked men. . . .
They tell us now that they will slip their hands into our
pockets, without asking, as if they were their own pockets,
and will take at their pleasure from us our charters . . .
our plantations, our houses and goods, whenever they please,
without asking our permission. . . . This is a family quarrel
between us and Old England! You Indians are not con-
cerned in it. We do not want you to take up the hatchet
against the king's troops. We desire that you remain at
home and join neither party, but keep the hatchet deeply
buried. '

'Cuyler Reynolds, Albany Chronicles, pp. 277-278.



CHAPTER XV

THE HEROES OF FORT TICONDEROGA/ MAY lO

1775

But for you, there is no middle fortune between death and victory. Let this be
hut well fixed in your minds, and once again I say you are conquerors! — Hanni-
bal's Address to the Carthaginians, before their March against the Roman
Capitol.

Samuel Adams — John Brown — James Easton of Massachusetts — Samuel
Parsons — Edward Mott — Noah Phelps of Connecticut — Ethan Allen — -
Seth Warner — -Samuel Herrick of Vermont — ^Rallying Salisbury, Berk-
shire, and Bennington Boys— Benedict Arnold and Colonial Rivalry —
Surrender of Ticonderoga to Ethan x\llen — ^Capture of Ethan Allen
by the British at Montreal, September 25, 1775 — The Hero of Fort
Ticonderoga.

THE inhabitants of the Hoosac and Walloomsac valleys
proved the first to take definite action against the
oppressors of the Crown. The first Revolutionary Councils
of Safety met between Salisbury, Pittsfield, Williamstown,
and Bennington Centre.

Dr. Samuel Adams, the "Father of the Revolution,"
assembled with Joseph Warren and others of Massachusetts,
February 15, 1775, to consider diplomatic correspondence
with the Canadian officials before the formal Declaration
of American Independence. John Brown of Pittsfield, a
spirited young lawyer lately graduated from Yale, was

' Rev. Zadoc Thompson, Lecture at Unveiling of Kinney's Statue of Ethan
Allen at Burhngton, Vermont, March i6, 1852; Gov. Hiland Hall, "The Hero
of Ticonderoga in 1775," Vt. Hist. Soc. October 18, 1869; Hon. L. E. Chit-
tenden, " Who Took Ticonderoga?" Vt. Hist. Soc, Oct. 8, 1872; Prof. A. L.
Perry, Williamstown and Williams College, pp. 32, 33, 60, 1899.

293



294 The Hoosac Valley

appointed to convey the letters of the Boston Committee
of War to Canada during the latter part of February. He
was also advised to make observations of the strength of the
British fortress on Lake Champlain.

On his march northward, Brown consulted with the Coun-
cils of Safety at Williamstown and at Bennington. Col.
Ethan Allen of the latter place appointed Peter Sunderland,
one of his trusted messengers, to accompany Brown to
Canada. Allen assured Brown that if the sum of £300 were
advanced to equip an expedition against Fort Ticonderoga,
he would lead his Green Mountain Boys' militia against
the formidable fortress. Brown despatched a letter to
Adams and Warren of the Boston Council and advised
a speedy reduction of Fort Ticonderoga, before colonial
hostilities began.

The messages of the Councils of Safety during the Revo-
lution were executed with speed and secrecy. Col. Samuel
H. Parsons, an assemblyman of Connecticut, while returning
from Massachusetts to Hartford, April 26, 1775, met Bene-
dict Arnold, a flour merchant of New Haven, marching with
a band of volunteers to Cambridge, Mass. Arnold reported
the weakened condition of Fort Ticonderoga to Assembly-
man Parsons, and remarked that the cannon would be useful
for the Continental Army. He made no allusion, however,
to his own secret dreams of capturing the Fort.

In a letter addressed to Joseph Trumbull in June, Assem-
blyman Parsons affirms that he arrived at Hartford, Thurs-
day morning, April 27th, after meeting Arnold. He held
a council with his friends. Col. Sam Wyllys and Mr. Dean,
and stated that: "They first undertook and projected the
taking of Ticonderoga." He consulted Thomas Mumford,
Christopher Leffingwell, and Adam Babcock later, and they
obtained the required sum of £300 to finance the expedition
on their personal notes from the Connecticut Treasury.



The Heroes of Fort Ticonderoga 295

The sum of money was entrusted to Adam Babcock, Noah
Phelps, and Bernard Romans on Friday, April 28th, and
they marched to Col. Ethan Allen at Bennington as advance
messengers from Capt, Edward Mott of the Hartford Coun-
cil of Safety. Salisbury, Conn., was at that time the home
of Heman and Levi Allen. Heman Allen joined Adam
Babcock and his party the next day and pushed on to locate
Ethan Allen and his captains.

Heman Allen, on his march to Bennington, enlisted young
Josiah Dunning, a member of Capt. Eli Noble's Pownal
company of militia. He organized a volunteer company and
chose Samuel Wright, eldest son of Landlord Charles Wright,
as their captain, and marched direct to Castle ton, twenty-
five miles east of Fort Ticonderoga. Josiah Dunning, then
twenty years of age, was a son of Michael Dunning from
Newton, Conn,, who settled on a farm at the foot of North-
west Hill, opposite the "Weeping Rocks" in Pownal, Vt.,
during 1762.

Captain Mott arrived at Salisbury and was joined by Levi
Allen and fifteen other volunteers before he reached Pitts-
field, where he held a council of war with John Brown and
Col. James Easton. Colonel Easton rallied sixty Berkshire
Boys in Lanesboro, Cheshire, Adams, New Ashford, Han-
cock, and Williamstown.

Capt. William Douglass and his Hancock company,
together with Capt. Israel Harris's Williamstown volunteers,
included several soldiers who subsequently fought in the
Battle of Bennington. Captain Harris in 1775 was twenty-
eight years of age and hailed from Cornwall, Conn., the
home of the Allen brothers. He was a brother-in-law of
Clark Morse, the hatter, who settled in Williamstown, on
Northwest Hill, two miles south of Michael Dunning's Pownal
farm.

Captain Mott and Colonel Easton, with their seventy-six



296 The Hoosac Valley

Salisbury and Berkshire volunteers, assembled on the
Square in Williamstown before they marched to Bennington
Centre. Noah Phelps, Adam Babcock, Bernard Romans, and
Heman Allen had meanwhile marched forward to act their
part. Heman Allen located his brother, Ethan Allen, in
Arlington; Noah Phelps and Bernard Romans were sent to
reconnoitre Fort Ticonderoga, and Adam Babcock awaited
the arrival of Ethan Allen at the Catamount Tavern at
Bennington Centre. Bernard Romans, one of the first
American map-makers, was a friend of Benedict Arnold.
He was in an envious mood and deserted Noah Phelps on
his march to the Fort. Arnold reports that he sent him
later to Albany.' Captain Mott recorded that his men
were "all glad" when Romans deserted the expedition,
since he had caused much trouble on the march. Romans
was falsely reported by Arnold's admirers as "the emi-
nent engineer and leading spirit" of the Ticonderoga ex-
pedition.

Colonel Allen and Captains Warner and Herrick were
on hand at the Catamount Tavern to welcome Captain
Mott, Colonel Easton, John Brown, and Captains Douglass
and Harris. It was one of the most famous councils of
war in the history of the Revolution. Colonel Allen later
sent Gershorm Beach of Rutland, a fleet-footed messenger, \
to rally the Green Mountain Boys' militia. Within twenty- j
four hours he covered a circuit of sixty miles between '
Castleton, Rutland, Pittsford, Brandon, Middlebury, and
Whiting to Hand's Cove in Shoreham, on the east shore of
Lake Champlain, opposite Fort Ticonderoga.

Beach was an intimate friend of the Tory, Maj. Philip
Skene, and visited Skenesboro Manor now Whitehall, Sat-
urday, May 6th. Major Skene was not at home, but his
son informed Beach that he was momentarily expected,

» See Note 18 at end of volume.



J




Col. Ethan Allen, the Hero of Fort Ticonderoga, in the act of demanding
the surrender of Captain Be Laplace and his British Garrison and Flag at
Fort Ticonderoga, May lo, 1775-

To-morrmu eve must the voice he still, In Ticonderoga s towers,

And the step must fall unheard. And ere the sun rise twice again,

The Briton lies by the blue Champlain, Must they and their lake he ours.

Bryant: The Green Mountain Boys, at the Castleton Council held
Monday evening, May 8, 1775.

297



298 The Hoosac Valley I

adding that his father was to be appointed Governor of New
York, and that it was proposed to rebuild the fortresses at
Ticonderoga and at Crown Point.

Within seventy-five hours after Beach completed his
circuit the Green Mountain Boys rallied, Sunday evening,
May 7th, at Castleton, sixty miles north of Bennington,
and less than twenty-five miles east of Fort Ticonderoga.
A council of war was held, Monday evening, May 8th.
Capt. Edward Mott of the Connecticut Committee of War
was chosen chairman.

It was formally voted that Colonel Allen should be first
in command of the expedition ; Colonel Easton, second ; and
Captain Warner, third, — ranking according to the number
of their volunteers enlisted. Each company was assigned
a special part in the expedition. Capt. Samuel Herrick of
Bennington was sent with thirty men to seize Major Skene
and his boats about East Bay, which were to be rowed down
Lake Champlain to Shoreham before dawn, May loth, in
order to convey Allen's militia over the lake to surprise
the garrison of Fort Ticonderoga. Captain Douglass of the
Hancock company was appointed to visit his brother-in-law,
Smith, residing at Brideport, twelve miles down Lake
Champlain, and endeavor by some stratagem to get pos-
session of the King's boats at Crown Point and row them
up to Shoreham before light on May loth.

Capt. Noah Phelps, in the habit of a Yankee farmer, visited
Fort Ticonderoga meanwhile and observed the garrison's
strength. He engaged the lad, Nathan Beeman, to meet
Col. Ethan Allen and his militia before sunrise on May loth
and conduct them through the wicket gate to the British
stronghold. Phelps affected a most awkward appearance
and inquired for a barber, under the pretence of desiring to
be shaved. He amused the gallants of Old England with his
simple questions and meanwhile observed the position of



The Heroes of Fort Ticonderoga 299

the artillery. He certainly returned to Colonel Allen's
camp a type of those Yankee varlets of Connecticut de-
scribed by Washington Irving as belonging to the Dutch
period of "Fort Good Hope."

After the close of the Castleton Council, May 8th, a gust
of confusion arose with the arrival of Benedict Arnold. He
w as clad in a colonel's epauletted uniform, accompanied by



Online LibraryGrace Greylock NilesThe Hoosac Valley, its legends and its history → online text (page 20 of 41)