D. Hamilton (Duane Hamilton) Hurd.

History of Plymouth County, Massachusetts : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men (Volume 2) online

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have occupied New England soil, for the red men thus
refreshed, encouraged, and reinforced, would have
swept the pale- faces as with a besom of destruction.

I .

" The whole country," said an official report issued
from Boston, " was filled with Distress and Fear, and
we trembled in this citadel Boston itself, aud that to
the goodness of God ; and this Army we owe our
safty and estates, and if we consider the Difficulties
those Brave Men went through iu storming the Fort
n the depth of Winter, and pinching Wants they
afterwards underwent in pursuing those Indians that
escaped through a hideous Wilderness, famously
known through New England as the hungry March,
and until this Brave tho' small Army thus play J the
Man," etc., " we cannot but think that those In-
struments of our Deliverance aud Safty ought to be
not only Justly, but also gratefully and generously
Rewarded." (See Report made to the Colonial Legis-
lature of Massachusetts iu 1732.)

And as justice more than a century aud a half ago
sought to cancel the debt the colony acknowledged
that it owed these soldiers by providing through
legislative action for the bestowment of land grants,
let us, at this remote period, see to it that we are not
remiss in our duties to their memories by neglecting
to cause to be most gratefully'and thoroughly fulfilled
the poetic prophecy, —

" Long after-years the tale shall tell,
Id words of light revealed,
Who bravely fought, who nobly fell."

Lakeville soil was for about a quarter of a century
the home of Isaac Peirce,^one of those soldiers, and
in what is now Lakeville, when past the age of
" threescore and ten," he died and had his burial ;
aud when about to be gathered with his fathers, in
disposing of his worldly estate among his children',
he practically said, " Moreover, I have given to thee
one portion which I took with my sword and with
my bow."

The orders under which Isaac Peirce marched in
that expedition were as follows, and bore date of
Dec. 6, 1675. (See vol. v. page 183, "Plymouth
Colony Records) :"

" Geut m , — You are hereby requirod to procure yower men
pressed to be in a reddiues to march soe as they uttaine to meet
att Prouideuce on the tenth of December next; and in order
thervnto that tbey rendevous on the scaucnth of the suid mooth
att Plymouth, on the eighth att Taunton, att Uehoboth on the
Dth, and att Providence on the tenth as aforsaid, arid that you
see that they be not onely able and titt men but alsoe well
litted with clothing nessessary for the season and prouided with
knapsackes and amunition according to order, viz., hallo a
pound of powder and 4 pound of bullctts to each in-m.
Faylo not."

The soldiers of Plymouth Colony, together with
those of the Massachusetts Bay, left Providence on
the evening of Dec. 12, 1675, marched to and en-
camped upon the north side of Wickford Hill, in



North Kingston, and the next morning proceeded to
the house of Mr. Smith, where a delay of several days
was suffered waiting the arrival of trocps from Con-
necticut ; and while there the Indians, issuing forth
from their fort in the swamp at South Kingston, came
within a few miles of the English forces of Plymouth
and Massachusetts, attacked and captured the forti-
fied house of Jireh Bull, putting to death about a
dozen soldiers with which it was garrisoned, and
setting the house on fire destroyed all that would
burn. Considering that this house was of stone and
situate about fifteen miles from the Indian fort and
near the English encampment, this was justly re-
garded ;is an audacious menace and open challenge to
combat on the part of the Indians, who seemed to be
actually "spoiling for a fight." But, singularly
enough, the English forces seem to have remained in
blissful ignorance of the circumstance, and if so were
not therefore discouraged thereby until the 18th of
December, which was two days after it transpired ; and
this of itself leads to the conclusion that the English
forces were having little or no communication what-
ever with their allies only a few miles in advance of
their camp, while the Indians were scouring the coun-
try fifteen miles from their base of warlike opera-
tions. 1

Saturday, Dec. 18, 1675, the Connecticut troops
arrived, aud, permitting no longer delay, the combined
forces of Massachusetts, Plymouth, aud Connecticut
Colonies were pushed forward to the site of Bull's
destroyed garrisou-house, where, unsheltered from the
wintry blasts, the allies remained until about half-past
five o'clock the next morning. Their provisions being
exhausted, and the temporary supply anticipated at
Bull's garrison found to have been destroyed or carried
away by the Indians, and added to these discourage-
ments a dangerous mutiny in camp, amounting to an
open rebellion, and a defiant refusal to obey the orders
of the commanding officer, Gen. Josiah Winslow ; the
mutiueers, led by Lieut. Robert Barker, of Duxbury,
declining any further part in the enterprise, aud
breaking in the most disorderly manner away from
the army, turned their faces and quickened their
march homeward.

It is difficult to conceive of a situation more
thoroughly disheartening than that Gen. Winslow
was thus forced to occupy, for he appears to have had
too little confidence in the authority he could put in
successful practice to attempt the trial of Lieut.
Barker by a drum-head court-martial, shoot him on

1 Their ignorance serves fully to show bow little concert of
action was practiced, and at this distant date seems hardly credi-
ble, and yet it was doubtless true.

the spot, and force his belligerent followers back to
discipline and duty. 2

Had Isaac Peirce been cowardly or disloyal, here
was a most excellent opportunity for him to have es-
caped all participation in the terrible battle that soon
followed, for he was a soldier in Barker's particular
company, all of whom that chose were permitted to
leave the army and follow their officer home ; but, to
the everlasting honor of Isaac Peirce, he was among
the few of that company who remained to test the
truth of that line of the old stanza, —

" Through tribulation deep the way to glory is."

The weary march of those hungry, frost-bitten sol-
diers was recommenced before daylight that ever-
memorable Sunday morning, and added to the other
impediments encountered in the almost trackless forest
was the setting in of a heavy fall of snow that con-
tinued nearly all that day.

From half-past five o'clock in the morning till be-
tween one and two o'clock in the afternoon did that
wearied, half-starved column force its difficult way
through the steadily accumulating suow, dragging its
slow length through paths scarcely to the eye discern-
ible, winding, rough, and difficult, thick woods, across
gullies, over hills and through valleys, till it reached
the borders of what Capt. Benjamin Church charac-
terized as a "hideous swamp," in which, upon an
island of five or six acres, the Indian fort was situ-
ated. Anticipating the attack, the Iudian commander
filled his block-house with sharpshooters and lined
his palisades with warriors. There was but one place
where this fortification could be assailed with any
reasonable hope of success, and that was at its main
entrance, and this was fortified with a block-house
and flankers, thus enabling the defenders to sweep
this openiug with both enfilading and cross fires, aud
to reach which opening over a deep ditch the passage
was upon the fallen trunk of a very large tree. No
time could be wasted, for what was to be accomplished
must be done quickly, as delays would not only be
dangerous but prove thoroughly disastrous. Gen.
Winslow's order for assault was quickly given, in-
stantly followed by a " double-quick" movement on
the part of his command, that with unrestrained ardor
struc'led as in a race to pass over the fallen tree, that
to most of them proved a " Bridge of Sighs," groans,
and death, and thus to reach the fiery mouth of the
Indian fort, although to attain which was to enter
the jaws of almost certain death under the red men's
unerrin" aim, that with enfilading and cross fires

2 Lieutenant Barker waB soon after cashiered and heavily



swept that entrance as with a besom of destruction.
The head of that column went down like grass be-
fore a scythe, disappeared like the morning dew, and
melted as snow beneath the heated rays of a noon-
day sun, but the centre and rear of that resistless
force pressed up to the support, and passing over the
dead and dying bodies of their fallen comrades, now
filling the ditch, supplied the frightful gaps death had
made in their front, and thus all were made equally
to share the responsibility, dangers, and honors of
the terrible hour. In short, a passage at the gate
was forced, the fort triumphantly entered and set on
fire, and what had beguu in blood was ended in a
great conflagration, for musket and torch were both
that day remarkably successful in reaping an abundant
harvest iu the fields of desolation and death, the
Indian dead and dying, their old men, women, and
children, being roasted and destroyed in devouring

So sanguinary a battle, and where the losses sus-
tained upon both sides was so large in comparison
with the whole number engaged, was never before or
siuce fought upou New England soil since this country
has had a written history, and it was, iu fact, the turn-
ing-point in King Philip's war, — that which caused
the hopes of the red man to perish, — and furnishes a
key to the subsequent events of that war, being, as it
was, the time and the place, the where and the when
that problem was solved, and irrevocably decided
whether this should be a red or a white man's
country ; and Lakeville has the honor and enviable
privilege to claim a participation in that notable pro-
ceeding, bravely represented as the locality then was
by one of its pioneer settlers, Mr. Isaac Peirce.

French and Indian War. — That conflict between
England and France usually known as the French and
Indian war was officially declared June 9, 1756, but
had been progressing in hostilities for several months.
Abiel Peirce, a great-grandson of Isaac Peirce, the
Narragansett soldier under Gen. Josias Wiuslow,
haviug enlisted under Gen. John Winslow, a grand-
son of Josias, and in the mouth of September, 1755,
participated in the expedition to Acadia for the re-
moval of the ueutral French.

Abiel re-enlisted July 15, 1756, aud this time
served iu a company commanded by Capt. Samuel N.
Nelson, of Plymouth. He was made a corporal in
the early part of 1759, promoted to a lieutenant May
4, 1759, and to captain in 1760.

As a lieutenant he served under Gen. Wolfe, par-
ticipating in the battle of Quebec, fought upon the
Plains of Abraham on the 13th of September, 1759,
where Gen. Wolfe fell, the Frcuch were defeated, aud

the beginning of a speedy and permanent cud of
I French power and dominion on the continent of North
America commenced, for thenceforth throughout the
length and breadth of Canada victory everywhere
perched upon the proud ensign of Old England. The

"Tbat'd braved a thousand years
The battle and the breeze"

was signally triumphant.

As a captain, Abiel Peirce performed military ser-
vice fighting the French and Indians in what is uow
the northerly part of the State of New Yolk, his
company being attached to Col. Willard's regiment,
and his brother, Henry Peirce, of that part of Mid-
dleboro' uow Lakeville, performing duty in the com-
pany as a private soldier, and Henry re-enlisted in
1762, and performed a tour of duty at Nova Scotia
in a company commanded by Capt. Ephraiiu Holmes.
Job Peirce, a brother of Abiel aud Heury Peirce,
performed a short tour of service as a private soldier
in Capt. Joseph Tiukham's company scut out to
reinforce Fort William Henry, but the place was
captured by the French before reiuforcemeuts could
arrive, and so the soldiers returned. This fort was at
the head of Lake George, in what is now the State of
New York, and was taken by the Freuch iu August,
1757. Levi Peirce also served on that occasion in
Capt. Tinkham's company. April 5, 1758, Job
Peirce enlisted into a company commandod by Capt.
Benjamin Pratt, of North Middleboro', and iu which
he served in what is now the State of New York,
taking part in the attempt upon Ticonderoga. The
term of that service was seven months and nineteen
days. Beside Job Peirce, in that company served
from what is now Lakeville Abiel Cole, who was a
sergeant. Their service closed Nov. 2-1, 1758.

April 6, 1759, Job Peirce re-eulisted aud this
time served in a company commanded by Capt.
Lemuel Dunbar, of what was then Btidgewater,
now Brockton. This service was performed at or near
Halifax, iu Nova Scotia.

At its close, it being about the commeucemcut of
the mouth of December, 1759, he with other Mas-
sachusetts men whose term of enlistment had just
expired were put on board a government transport
vessel bound lor Boston, but had uot been out long
ere they encountered a severe storm that reduced the
vessel to an unmanageable wreck that, with the relief
of almost constant pumping, was yet scarcely able to

When the storm had abated they found themselves
to have been driven far out of their course and were
becoming short of provisions.



At the mercy of currents aud the sport of the
wiuds, thus they drifted until nearly all hope had
vanished, their water about exhausted, and nearly ;
the last biscuit served out, when to their great joy j
they discovered land and were successful iu getting j
ashore on one of the West India Islands.

Here they were forced to remaiu to take passage in
some homeward-bound vessel.

Meanwhile news of the departure of the transport j
vessel from Halifax, together with the names of the \
ill-faced passengers, was received in Old Colony homes ]
of these returning soldiers, and, after anxious watch- '
ing and waitiug for intelligence of those who sur-
vived the storm, the parents of Job Peirce felt com-
pelled to relinquish all hope of ever again seeing
their son.

The weary months of a cheerless winter at length
were passed, and as no news had been received of
him who was loved and supposed to be lost, a proper
respect for his memory was thought to demand the
public demonstration of a funeral service and the
erection of a monumental stone.

The warm sun that brings seed-time and harvest
had returned, and Job Peirce, the brave soldier and
tempest-tossed sailor, at last succeeded iu securing a
passage on board a vessel bound for New England,
where he was safely lauded.

Allowing uo delay, he out-traveled the news of his
arrival and soon stood upon his native hills agaiu.

Scenes familiar, orchards and beechen forests met
his eye, but, save the lowing of cattle and the siuging
of birds, a deathlike silence prevailed, for it was Suu-
day, — a New England Sabbath, kept after the manner
of the Puritau fathers. No alarm was therefore occa-
sioned iu his miud when he found his home unten-
anted, the entire family having repaired to the country
church to attend public worship, and where he lost no
time in following.

Arriving at the sanctuary during the " loug
prayer," he at its close walked reverently up the aisle
to the family pew, there takiug his seat, but creating
no small stir among the members of that worshiping
assembly, for the superstition of that day invested the
sight with little more uovelty than terror.

It is indeed quite uncertain how that grave assem-
bly would have regained its equilibrium but for the
practical good sense and remarkable presence of mind
exhibited by the preacher, who was about to open the
sacred volume to speak from a contemplated text; but
this unexpected sight quite upset all his former plans,
and therefore, without finding the text or so much
as opening the book, he gave out for his text that
passage of the Scripture that saith, " For this my

son was dead and is alive again ; he was lost and is

Job Peirce for a third time enlisted March 24,
1762, and served in a company of which Ephraim
Holmes was captain. Here he served until March
14, 1703, when news of a treaty of peace between
France and England, concluded and signed Feb. 10,
1703, having been received, his further service be-
came unnecessary, and he was accordingly honorably
mustered out of the military service, and for the next
twelve years suffered to dwell iu peace at home.

Henry Peirce, a brother of Job, was also a soldier
in Capt. Holmes' company, upon the expedition last

Levi Peirce, in the expedition to Crown Point,
served as a soldier from April 26 to December 16,
1759, and Hilkiah Peirce served as a sergeant in the
French and Indian war.

Revolutionary War. — Anticipating the outbreak
that soon after occurred, the Massachusetts Legisla-
ture advised Thomas Hutchinson, then Governor of
the province, to cause a general settlement of the mi-
litia throughout his government, which, in his history,
he informs us that he accomplished, being careful to
confer commissions upon such persons only as were
known or generally considered to be friendly to the
home government in England, as then exercised over
the English provinces in America.

To accomplish this required the dismission from
commissiou of any and all who openly avowed sym-
pathy with the Whig cause, and in their places to
substitute Loyalists or Tories who, by their influence
aud acts, might be expected to sustain Parliament and
uphold the king.

To meet this emergency companies of Whigs banded
together, thus forming military organizations that soon
came to be known as " Minute-men." These mili-
tary bauds selected their leaders, armed aud equipped
themselves, and commenced to drill aud discipline,
promising to stand by each other in defense of patri-
otic principles, and to respond to the calls of their
country by day or night at a moment's warning.

Several of these companies were raised aud organ-
ized in Middleboro' in time promptly to respond
at their country's first cry of distress sent forth on the
19th of April, 1775, and now familiarly known as
the " Lexington Alarm." Middleboro', then em-
bracing what is now the town of Lakeville, was at the
commencement of the Americau Revolution organized
as it had been for several years before, viz., as four
companies, officially known as First, Second, Third,
and Fourth Foot Companies of Militia iu Middleboro'.
Many of the soldiers of each and every of these



companies had doubtless eulisted into the bands
known as " Minute-inen," but there still remained
in each some who, from their toryisni, and others from
their comparatively advanced years, had not so en-
listed, as the latter believed that young men are for
war, and " old men for council."

A large aud probably much the larger part of the
Second Foot Company in Middleboro', was com-
posed of persons whose homes were within what is
now Lakeville, and the commissioned officers of this
company at that time consisted of Nathaniel Smith
as captain, Nehemiah Allen as lieutenant, and Sam-
uel Barrows as ensign, neither of whom under the
then existing circumstances could be expected to at-
tempt to bring out this company save to tight for the
cause of Parliament aud the king ; and there were
those upon its roll beside the " Minute-men," who, if
brought to the field at all, were of such patriotic
principles as to battle for the Whig cause aud fight
against Parliament and the king, to improve which
force this second company in the local militia was
hastily aud temporarily reorganized to meet the press-
ing demands made upon the patriot cause at that
trying hour.

The names of those of the Second Company who
thus responded, served with, and practically became
" Miuute-ineu" in the trying scenes of April 10,
1775, were as follows:

CttmiuiuJiiuntd Ojjivcrn.
Abiel Peirce, capt.; Joseph Macouiber, 1st lieut. ; Benjamin
Darling, 2d lieut.

XoH-Coiaiiitmtioiied Ojjicer*.
Josiah Smith, Richard Peirce, Elias Miller, Jr., and Job Ma-
comber, sergts. ; Bachellor Bennett, Jedediah Lyon, Sam-
uel Eddy, and John Illy, corps.


Caleb Simmons, drummer; Nathaniel Foster, lifer.


Job Peirce.
Samuel Hoar.
David Thomas (2d).
Michael Mosher.
Jesse Pratt.
Jacob Heyford.
Job Hunt.
Henry Bishop.
Consider llowlaud.
Noah Clark.
Cornelius Husking.
John Rogers.
Lebbeus Simmons.
Caleb Wood.
John Boothe.
I ili .unci Haskiua.
John Reynolds.
Nathaniel Macouiber.

Levi Jones.
Josiah Smith, Jr.
Maluchi Ilowland, Jr.
Zachariah Paddock, Jr.
Rufus Ilowland.
Sylvanus Purrington.
John Fry, Jr.
John Duuglus, Jr.
Ebonezer L. Bennett.
Samuel Miller.
Isaac Canedy.
Daniel Reynolds.
Rufus Weston.
Ziba Eaton.
Isuac Miller.
Nehemiah Peirce.
Samuel Beunett.
Joshua Thomas.

Calvin Johnson.
Joshua Read.
Cryspus Sbaw.
James Willis.
Sylvanua Churchill.
Samuol Macouiber.

Richard Omey.
Israel Thomas.
Ichabod Read.
Samuel Ransom.
Daniel Jucket.

Besides these there were other residents in what is
now Lakeville who respouded at the Lexington alarm,
and performed duty iu the ranks of one or more of
the companies that had been previously organized and
known as " Minute-men," and among whom, iu Capt.
Isaac Wood's company, were fouud performing duty
in the following capacities:

Corp., Abncr Nelson.
l J rivuten.

Robert Sproat. Abiul Chase.

Gershoiu Foster. l'clcg Hathaway.

John Barrows. l'eter Hoar.

John Townsend, Jr. Andrew Cole.

Gideon Southworth. John Hollowway.

Abram Parris. Samuel Parris.

Ellsba Peirce. Ebenezor Hinds.

Samuel Barrows. Philip Hatlniwuy.

Ebcuezcr Howland. Isaac Hathaway.

Abram Shaw. John Towuscud.

James Peirce. Henry Peirce.
Levi Peiree.

The companies of minute-men did their duty well,
but served only a temporary purpose, for when the
war of the American Revolution was fouud to have
actually begun, the enlistment of men into the army,
who engaged for specified terms of service, was fouud
to be imperatively required, and Capt. Abiel Peirce
soon set himself about the raising of a company for
the patriot army, which company was made to con-
stitute a part of Col. Nicholas Dikes' regiment.

This company was enlisted from the towns of Abing-
ton, Bridgewater, Middleboro', Rochester, and Ware-
ham, and consisted of the following :

CommiHm'oneU Ojfivera.
Abiel Peirce, of Middleboro' (now Lakeville), capt. ; Jona-
than Willis, of Bridgewater, lieut.; William llassett, of
Bridgewater, ensign.

Nun- Cummisit ianed Ojjicei'n.
Nathan Alden, of Bridgewater, Josiah Harlow, of Middle-
boro', Hannibal Hammond, of Rochester, and Barnabas
Bump, of Waroham, sergts. ; James Peirce, of Middle-
boro' (now Lakeville), Jephtha Pool, of Abington, James
Alger, of Bridgewater, and William Wilt-hire, uf Roches-
ter, corps.


Samuel Allen, of Bridgewater, drummer; Joseph Whitman, of
Bridgewater, fifer.


John Cobb, Mathew Noycs, Joshua Puol, mid Ephraim Whit-
man, of Abington.



Jail Edson, Rudiel Edson, BarzilH Field, Joseph Muxum,

Stephen PettengUI, Jeremiah Pratt, Simeon Pratt, J

Packard, James Shaw, Philip Warren, Abiezer Washburn,
Benjamin Washburn, Isaac Washburn, Ephraiin Wjshbuin,
Ebenezer Whitman, Oliver Harris, Samuel Lothrop, and
Ama.-a Packard, of Bridgcwater.

Jo.-epb li«mtb, William Bryant, Ebenezer Borden, James Bump,
Isaac Billingtun. Ichabod Cushman, John Fry, Nathan
ItasUins, Jouathau Leonard, Timothy Leonard, John liar-
low, Nathan Peirce, John Redding, Joseph Richmond,
Beujamin Reynolds, Samuel Snow, Jacob Sherman, Ichabod
Wood, Andrew Warren, Abner Washburn, Solomon Thomas,
and Jiiphet Le Baron, of Middleboro'.

Job Chadwick, Allen Sears, Joseph D , Thomas Swift, Scth

Pope, Benjamin Hammond, Barzilla Hammond, and Jo-
siah Hackett, of Rochester.

Roland Sturtevant, David Sanders, and Stephen Swift, of
Ware ham.

Capt. Nathaniel Wood, of Middleboro', raised a
company for the patriot army that was made to con-
stitute a part of a regiment of which Simeon Cary,
of Bridgewater, was colonel. Of that company, Job
Peirce, of Middleboro', that part now Lakeville, was
commissioned as a second lieutenant.

Capt. Wood's company, like that of Capt. Abiel
Pierce, was raised at large, although probably none
of the officers or soldiers resided without the original
bounds of the town of Middleboro', and many of

Online LibraryD. Hamilton (Duane Hamilton) HurdHistory of Plymouth County, Massachusetts : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men (Volume 2) → online text (page 70 of 118)