Ebenezer Fletcher.

The narrative of Ebenezer Fletcher : a soldier of the revolution online

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T H P]


Ebenezer .Fletcher,

A soldi?:r of the revolution.

Written hj Hhrnelf.





— 1866.—


Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year i866, by


In the Clerk's Office of the District Conrt of tlie United States for tlie
Soutliern District of New York.

U '










BENEZER FLETCHER, the author of the
following narrative, was the son of John
Fletcher, and was born in New Ipswich, in
the State of New Hampshire, on the fifth day of February,
1161. His mother's maiden name was Elizabeth Foster.
She was the daughter of Abijah Foster, a farmer of New
Ipswich, and one of the first settlers of the place.

After receiving the rudiments of a plain, common school
education, our author, when about fourteen years of age,
was placed under the care of Samuel Cummings, of New
Ipswich, who Ijuilt and then owned the mills at Mill
Village. He continued with him until the spring of the
year 17t7, when he enlisted as a fifer in Capt. Carr's
company, in the battalion commanded by Col. Nathan
Hale, of New Hampshire troops, to serve for the period of


three years. The battalion marclied soon after to Ticon-
deroga, and composed for a while a part of the garrison of
that fort ; but on the approach of General Bnrgoyne, the
army evacuated the post, and while on their retreat, were
overtaken by the enemy at Hubbardton, where a sharp
action took place, in which Mr. Fletcher was severely
wounded and taken prisoner. He continued with the
British for a few weeks, when, having partially recovered
from his wounds, he succeeded in effecting his escape, and
after severe trials in the wilderness and among the moun-
tains, without food or company, he at length reached the
house of a friend, wdiere he remained a few days, and then
returned to his home. On recovering his health, he
rejoined his company, and served the remaining part of his
term of enlistment, being, in the fall of 1*179, in the mem-
orable Indian expedition under the command of General
Sulhvan, and receiving his discharge from the army on the
twentieth day of March of the following year.

On his return from the war, he again entered the service
of Mr. Cummings, his former employer, and after remaining
with him a while, he at length purchased from him the
mills at Mill Village, and carried them on successfully for a
number of years. He sul)sequeutly engaged in tlie business
of trunk making, which occupation he pursued until within
a short period of his decease.


Mr. Fletcher was twice married. His first wife was Miss
Polly Cummiiigs, an estimable lady, and the daughter of
Mr. Samuel Cummings, before uamed. She was bora in
New Ipswich, ou the sixteenth of December, 1158, was
married in 1786, and died on the twenty-sixMi day of Feb-
ruary, in the year 1812. By her, Mr. Fletcher had six
sons and six 'daughters. His second wife was Mrs. Mary-
Foster, widow of Nathaniel Foster, of Ashby, Mass., and
daughter of Asa Kendall, whose occupation was that of a
farmer. This lady was born in Dunstable, Mass., on the
twenty-ninth of Deceml)er, 1766, became the wife of Mr.
Fletcher in the month of June, 1812, and died in Winchen-
don, Mass., on the twenty-fifth day of January, 1851. By
this union, there was no issue.

Mr. Fletcher was short in stature, being but about five
feet three inches tall, and proportionaljly slim, but remarka-
bly active in his movements. He had blue eyes and fair
complexion, and his features were small and delicate. He
was amiable in his disposition, modest in his deportment,
and, though a man of few words, he was cheerful, kind
hearted, and a good friend to the poor. Although always
sustaining a moral, Christian character, yet he does not
seem to have made a public profession of religion until the
year 1813. He was then baptised by immersion, and
joined the close communion Baptists of his native place.


He was fond of singing, and, at church, he usually sat with
the choir. He was an exemplary professor of religion, and
was noted for his industry, and his strict integrity.

After a life of activity and usefulness, he died in New
Ipswich, on the eighth day of May, 1831, in the list year
of his age, in the hope of a blessed immortality. The Rev.
Asaph Merriam, then pastor of the Baptist meeting-house,
preached his funeral sermon, taking his text from the 3*Ith
chap. Psalms, 37th verse — " Mark the perfect man, and
behold the upright : for the end of that man is peace." The
remains of the deceased, followed by a large number of rela-
tives and friends, were then conveyed to the burial ground
in Mill Village, being the southerly part of the town of
New Ipswich, where they were committed to their kindred
dust. A plain, but neat tombstone, bearing his name, age
and time of decease, marks the spot of his repose.

In conclusion, we would state that the narrative, written
by himself, of his adventures during the Revolutionary war,
was originally published in the year 1813. In 1827 a fourth
edition had appeared. This was reproduced on the 30th
day of January, 1863, in the columns of the "Sentinel,"
a newspaper published in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. The
present issue has been taken from one of the original
imprints of 1827, that being the author's last revised and
most improved edition.




Ebenezer Fletcher,


Who was severely wounded and taken prisoner at the battle of
Hubbardston, Vt., in the year ^JJJ, by the British and
Indians, at the age of 1 6 years, after recovering in
part, made his escape from the enemy, and
travelling through a dreary wilderness, fol-
lowed by wolves, and beset by Tories on
his zuay, who threatened to take him
back to the enemy, but made his es-
cape from them all, and arrived
safe home.

Written by himself, and published at the request of his




— 1827.—

N A 11 R A T 1 V E .

into tlic (/ontiiiuntal Army, in Capt.
CaiT\s(i) Company, (■-•) in Col. Nathan
nalc's(3) liegiment, (i) as a fifer, and joined tlie
Army at Ticonderoga, (■) nnder the command of
Gen. St. Clair, (o) in the spring of 1777, at which
place I was stationed till the retreat of the Army
on the Gtli of Jnly folhtwing. (i)

Early on the morning of the same day, orders
came to strike onr tents and swing our packs. It
was generally conjectnred that we were going to
battle ; but orders came immediately to march.


We )ii:irc'lK'(l .^oiiic distance before liglit. By sun-
rise the enemy liad landed from their boats, and
jmrsued ns so closely as to fire on our rear. A
lari;-e l)ody of the enemy followed us all day, but
kept so far behind as not to be wholly discovered.
Their aim Avas to attack us suddenly next morning,
as they did.

Having just recovered from the measles, and not
being able to march with the main body, I fell in
the rear. The morning after our retreat, orders came
very early for the troops to refresli and be ready
for marching. Some were eating, some were cook-
ing, and all in a very unfit posture for battle. Just
as the sun rose, there was a cry, " the enemy are
upon usP Looking round I saw the enemy in line
of battle. Orders came to lay down our packs and
be ready for action. The fire instantly began. («)
We were but few in number compared to the
enemy. At the commencement of the battle, many
of our party retreated back into the woods. Capt.
Carr came up and says, " My lads advance, we
shall beat them yet." A few of us followed him in
view of the enemy. Every man was trying to
secure himself behind girdled trees, which were


standing on the place of action. I made shelter for
myself and discharged my piece. Plaving loaded
again and taken aim, my piece missed fire. I
brought the same a second time to my face ; but
before I had time to discharge it, I received a mus-
ket ball in the small of my back, and I'ell with my
gun cocked. My uncle, Daniel Foster,-' standing
but little distance from me, I made out to crawl to
him and spoke to him. He and another man lifted
me and carried me back some distance and laid me
down behind a large tree, where was another man
crying out most bitterly with a grievous wound.
By this time I had bled so freely, I was very weak
and faint. I observed the enemy were like to gain
the ground. Our men began to retreat and the
enemy to advance. Having no friend to aiFord me
any relief, every one taking care of himself, all
things looked very shocking to nic; to remain
where I was and fall into the hands of the enemy,
especially in the condition 1 was in, expecting to
receive no mercy, it came into my mind to con-
ceal myself from them if possible. I made use of

* All we know of this person is that he came from Concord, in the
county of Merrimac and State of New Hampshire. — Ed.


my hands and knees, as well as 1 could, and crawled
al)out two rods amon<^ some small l)rusli, and got
under a log. Here I la)' concealed from tlie
enemy, who came instantly to the place I lay
wounded at. What became of my distressed part-
ner I know not. The enemy ])ursucd our men in
great haste. Some of them came over the log
where I lay. Some came so near I could almost
touch them. I was nut discovered l>y the enenn^
till the battle was over. When they were picking
up the dead and M'oundcd among the brush and
logs, I heard them coming towards me. and began
to 1)0 much terrified, lest 1 should be found. I
flattered myself that our men would come back
after the battle was over and take me off; but to
my great surpi'ise, two of the enemy came so nigh,
I heai'd one of them say, "Here is one of the
rebels." I lay flat on my face across my hands,
rolled in my blood. I dared not stij-, being afraid
they meant me, by saying, "here is one of the
rebels." They soon came to me, and pulled ofl* my
shoes, supposing me to l)e dead. I looked up and
spoke, telling them I was their prisoner, and begged
to be used well. " Danm you," siiys one, " yon


deserve to be used well, don't you ? AVliat's such
a young rebel as 3'ou lighting forf' One of these
men was an officer, who appeared to be a pretty
sort of a man. lie spoke to the soldier, who had
taken my shoes, and says, " (tIvc back the shoes
an<l lielp the man into camp." My shoes were
given back by the soldier ac(M3rding to order. The
soldier then raised me u]>on my feet, and conducted
me to the British cam [>. J lore I found a number
of my brother soldiers in the same situation as
myself. I was laid on tlie gronnd and remained in
this posture till the atlernoDn, l)efore my wound
was dressed. Two Doctors came to my assistance.
They raised me up, and examined my back. One
of them said, "My lad, you stood a narrow chance;
had tlie ball gone in or out half its bigness, you
must have been killed instantly." I asked him if
he thought there was any prospect of my getting
well again. He answered, '' There is some pros-
pect." I concluded by his rej)ly, he considered my
case hazardous The Doctors appeared to be very
kind and faithful. They pulled several pieces of my
clothes from my wound, which were forced in by
the ball I received.


Some of the enemy were very kind ; while others
were very spiteful and malicious. One of them
came and took my silver shoe-buckles and left me
an old ])air of brass ones, and said exchange ivas no
rohherij • l)ut I thought it roljbery at a high rate.
Another came and took off my neck handkerchief.
An old negro came and took my fife, which I
considered as the greatest insult I had received
while with the enemy. The Indians often came
and abused me with their lano;uao;e: calli]ig us
Yankees and rebels; l)ut they were not allowed to
injure us. I was stripped of everything valuable
about me.

The enemy soon marched back to Ticonderoga,
and left only a few to take care of the wounded. I
was treated as well as I could expect. Doctor Haze
was the head Doctor, and he took true care that the
prisoners were well treated. Doctor Blocksom, an
under surgeon, appeared to be very kind indeed :
he was the one who had the care of me : he never
gave me any insulting or abusive language ; he
sometimes would say, " Well, my lad, tliink you'll
be willing to list in the King's service, if you should
get well f ' My answer was always no. The


officers would iiatter me to list in their service ;
telling me they were very sure to conquer tlic
country, since they had got our strongest post. I
told them I should not list.

But amoug all the troul)les I met with, 1 received
particular favors from Iwo of the British. This
conduct appeared to me veiy remarkable ; why
or wherefore it should be [ knew not; but He who
hath the hearts of all mi'u in his hands, gave me
favor in their sight. They would often visit nie,
and asked me if I wanted anything to eat or drink.
If I did, I had it. The first time one of these
friends came to me, was soon after I was bi'ought to
the camp.

As I lay on the ground, lie asked me if I did
not want a bed to lie on : I told him I did : he
went and got a large hendock bark, and tiuding
many old coats and overalls, taken from the dead
and wounded, he put them in the bark, made me a
bed, and laid me int(^ it. lie built a shelter over
me with barks, to keep the rain from me, which was
a great kindness, as it rained exceeding hard the
next night. lie went to a spring, and brought me
water as often as I wanted, which was very often.


being very Jry : my loss of blood oecasioiiiiii:' iiiucb
thirst. He asked ine, also, it' I wanted to eat. 1
answered yes : for liavinii; eat but little thai day, I
was very faint and hungry, lie told nie he did not
kiU)W as it was in his power to procure anything
for nie, but would go and try. After an absence of
considerable tinie (certainly the time seemed long)
he returned with a piece of broiled pork and
broiled liver, telling nie this was all the food he
could get : I thanked him, and told him it was very

The next day he came and told me he had orders
to march, and must therefore leave me: was very
sorry he could stay no longer with me, but hoped
somebody would take care of me; taking me by
the hand he wished me well and left me.

The loss of so goi)d a friend grieved me exceed-
ingly ; but I soon heai'd that my other friend was
ordered to stay behind to lielp take care of the
wounded. My spirits, which before were very
much depressed, when I heard of this, were much
exhilarated ; and once more I felt tolerably happy.
The ditierence in mankind never struck me more
sensibly than while a prisoner. Some would do


everything in llieir power to nialre me comfortable
and cheerfnl ; while others abused me with the
vilest of language ; telling me that the prisoners
would all be hanged ; tliat they would drive all the
damned rebels into the sea, and tliat their next
winter quarters would 1)0 in Boston. They cer-
tainly wintered in Boston ; but to their great
disappointment and chagrin, as ■p/'lso?iers of loar.

But to return. My wound being noAV a little
better, I began to think of escaping from the
enemy. Two of my fellow- prisoners agreed to
accompany me ; one of them being well acquainted
with the way to Otter Creek. (;-) This plan, how-
ever, failed ; for before we h;id an opportunity for
making our escape, Doctor Haze called upon my
companions to be ready to march for Ticonderoga :
telling them that the next morning they must leave
this place. Thus I found, that as soon as the
prisoners were able to ride, they were ordered
to Ticonderoga. Being thus disappointed I begged
of the Doctor to let me go with them. Says he,
" You are very dangerously wounded, and it is
improper for you to ride so far yet ; but as soon as
you are able you shall go." Being thus defeated I


again resolved to run away, even if I went alone,
and it w^as not long before 1 had an opportunity.
As all the prisoners were sent oif except such
as were badly wonnded, they thonght it unneces-
sary to guard us very closely. I soon was able to
go to the spring, which was at a little distance
from the camp. Thither I often went for water for
myself and the Hessiaus, (i") who, by the way,
appeared to be pleased with me. I often waited
upon them, brought them watei", made their beds,
&c., and found my fare the better for it. I often
walked out into the woods where the battle was
fought; w^ent to the tree where I was shot down,
observed the trees which were very much marked
with the balls. Looking around one day, I found
some leaves of a Bible ; these I carried into the
camp, and diverted myself by reading them ; for I
felt much more contented when I had something
to read. My friend, whom I have before men-
tioned, one day brought me a very good book,
which he told me to keep as a present from him.
This I heartily thanked him for, and whenever
I was tired by walking woukl lay down and


On the 22d of July, a number of men came down
from Ticonderoga, with horses and litters sufficient
to carry off the remainder of the wounded. Doctor
Haze came to us and told us, that to-morrow we
should all be carried where we should have better
care taken of us. Says he, " I will send the
orderly sei'geant, wdio will see that your bloody
clothes are well washed." This he thought would
be very agreeable news to us. I pretended to be
very much pleased, though I was determined never
to go. I told tlie j^erson who lay next to me that I
intended to run away; desired him to make them
believe I had taken the north road, if they inclined
to pursue me, for I should take the south. Says
he, " I will do all in my power to assist you, and
wish it was possible for me to go with you."

I made it my business that day to procure pro-
visions sufficient for my journey. I had spared a
little bread from my daily allowance, and although
dry and mouldy, yet it was the best to be had. I
had a large jack-knife left of which the enemy had
not robbed me ; I sold this for a pint of wine, think-
ing it would do me more good on my march than
the knife, as the event proved. The wine I put in


a bottle, and carefully stowed it in my pocket. I
was hard put to it to get my sliirt waslied and dried
before evenino;. However, ai»;reeinir Avith some to
make their beds if they would dry my shirt, it was
ready to pnt on by dark. I then went to my tent,
took off my coat and jacket, and put on my clean
shirt over my dirty one, and having filled my
pockets with the little provision I had saved, I
began to march homeward shoeless ; reflecting what
I should do for so material a part of my clothing.
It came into my mind that one Jonathan Lambart
had died of his wonnds a day or two before and left
a good pair of shoes. Supposing my right to them
equal to any other person, I took them and pnt
them on.

It being dark, I went out undiscovered, and
steered into the woods. After going a little way, I
turned into the road and made a halt. Now was
the trying scene ! The night being very dark,
everything before me appeared gloomy and dis-
couraging ; my wound was far from being healed ;
my strengtli much reduced by tlie loss of blood,
pain and poor living ; thus situated, to travel alone,
I knew not where, having no knowledge of tlie way.


I thought Avoukl be highly presumptuous. How
far I shoukl have to travel before I could reach any
inhabitants, I could not tell : Indians, I supposed,
were lurking about, and probably I might be beset
by them and murdered or carried back : and if I
avoided them, perhaps I might perish in the

Reflecting upon these things, my resolution
began to flag, and I thought it most prudent to
return and take my fate. I turned about and went
back a few rods, when the following words struck
me as if whispered in my ear : Put not your hands
to the plough and look hack. I immediately turned
al)out again, fully resolved to pursue my journey
through the woods ; but before morning, had I
been possessed of millions of gold, I would freely
have giv^en the whole to have been once more with
the enemy. The road which I had to travel, was
newly opened, leading from Ilubbardston(n) to
Otter-Creek. The night being dark and the road
very crooked, I found it very difiicult to keep it;
often running against trees and rocks, before I
knew I was out of it ; and then it was with much
trouble that I found it again, which sometimes I


was obliged to do upon my hands and knees, and
often np to my knees in mire.

About 12 o'clock I licard something coming
towards me; what it could be I knew not. I halted
and looked back ; it was so dark I was at a loss to
determine what it was : but thought it looked like
a dog. That a dog should be so far from inhab-
itants, I thought very strange. I at once concluded
that he belonged to the Indians, and that they
were not far off. I however ventured to speak to
him, and he immediately came to me; I gave him
a piece of mouldy bread, which he eat and soon
appeared fond of me. At first I was afraid he
would betray me to the Indians ; but soon found
him of service ; for I had not gone far before I
heard the noise of some wild beast. I had just set
down to rest me, with my back against a tree,
my wound being very painful. As the beast
approached, my dog appeared very much frighted ;
laid close down l)y me and trembled, as if he
expected to be torn in pieces. I now began to be
much terrified ; I however set very still, knowing it
would do no good to run. He came within two
rods of me, and stopped. 1 was unable to deter-


mine what it was, but supposed it w^as a wolf. I
soon found I was not mistaken. After looking at
me some time, he turned about and went oiF; but
before long returned witli a large reinforcement.
In his absence I exerted myself to the utmost to
get forward, fearing he w^ould be after me again.
After travelling about half an hour, I was alarmed
with the most horrible ho^\•]ing, which I supposed
to be near tlie tree which 1 rested l)y. Judge what
my feelings were, when I found these beasts of prey
were pursuing me, and expected every minute to
be devoured by them. But in tlie midst of this
trouble, to my intinite joy, 1 discovered tires but a
little way liefore me, whicli, from several circum-
stances, I was sure were not built by Indians ; 1
therefore at once concluded they were fires of some
scouting party of Americans, and I made great
haste to get to them, lest I should be overtaken by
the wolves, which were now but a little l)ehind. I
approached so near the hres as to hear men talk,
w!ien I immediately discovered them to be enemies.
Tlius disappointed I knew not what course to take;
if I continued in the woods, I sliould be devoured
by wald beasts ; for having eat of the bodies which


were loft on tlie field of battle, tliej continued
lurking' i'or more. If I gave myself up to the
enemy, I should eertaiidy be carried l)ack to Ticcn-
deroga, and to Canada, and probably fare no better
for attempting to run away. Which way to esca])e
I knew not; 1 turned a little out of the path and
lay down on the ground to hear what was said Ity
the enemy, expecting every moment they would
discover me : the darkness of the night, however,
prevented. These howling beasts approached as
near the fires as they dared, when they halted and
continued their Jiorrid yell for some time, being
afraid to come so nigh as I was. After the howling
had ceaseii, I began to think of getting round the
enemy's camp ; being pretty certain that, as yet, I
was not discovered. I arose from the ground and
took a course, which I thought would cany me
round the enemy's camp. After travelling a little
Avay, I came to the foot of a high mountain ; to go
round it I thouglit would carry me too much out of
my course; I resolved therefore to ascend it; with
much difticulty I arrived at the top, then took a tack

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Online LibraryEbenezer FletcherThe narrative of Ebenezer Fletcher : a soldier of the revolution → online text (page 1 of 5)