Maine Historical Society.

Collections of the Maine historical society (Volume 1) online

. (page 10 of 34)
Online LibraryMaine Historical SocietyCollections of the Maine historical society (Volume 1) → online text (page 10 of 34)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

Capt. Jones; tli;it he was determined to do his duty whilst he
had life ; & that if the people presumed to stop Capt. Jones
vessells he would burn the town."

Upon this a party of our men went directly to strijjping the
sloop that lay at the wharf, and another party went off to take
possesion of the other sloop which lay below & brought her up
nigh a wharf, & anchored in the stream. The Tender did not
fire, but weighed her anchors as privately as possible, and in the
dusk of the evening fell down & came to within musket shot of
the sloop which obliged our people to slip their cable & run the
sloop aground. In the meantime a considerable number of our
people went down in boats & canoes, lined the vshore directly
opposite to the Tender, & having demanded her to SURREN"-
DER TO AMERICA received for answer, " fiie & be damn'd : "
tiiey immediately fired in upon her, which she returned, and a
smart engagement ensued. The Tender, at last, slipped her
cable & fell down to a small sloop, commanded by Capt. Tobey,
& lashed herself to her for the remainder of the night.

In the morning of the 12th she took Capt. Tobey out of his
vessel for a pilot, & made all the sail they could to get off, as the
wind & tide favored ; but having carried away her main boom,
and meeting with a sloop from the Bay of Fundy, they came
to, robbed the sloop of her boom & gaff, took almost all her pro-
visions, together with Mr. Robert Avery of Norwich in Con-
necticuf, and proceeded on their voyage.

Our people, seeing her go off in the morning, determined to
follow her.


About forty men, armed with guns, swords, axes & pitch forks,
went in Capt. Jones's sloop, under the command of Capt. Jere-
miah O'Brien : about twenty armed in the same manner, & under
the command of Capt. Benj. Foster, went in a small schooner.
During the chase our people built them breastworks of pine
boards and anything they could find in the vessels, that would
screen them from the enemy's fire. The Tender, upon the first
appearance of our people, cut her boats from her stern, & made
all the sail she could ; but being a very dull sailor, they soon
came up with her, and a most obstinate engagement ensued, both
sides being <letermined to conqueror die; but the Tender was
obliged to yield, her Capt. was woiinded in the breast with two
balls, of which wounds he died next morning : poor Mr. Avery
was killed and one of the marines, and five wounded.

Only one of our men was killed and six wounded, one of whiclt
is since dead of his wounds.

The battle was fought at the entrance of our harbour, & lasted
for near the space of one hour. We have in our possession four
double Ibrtifyed three pounders, & fourteen swivels, and a num-
ber of small arms, which we took with the Tender, besides a very
small quantity of ammunition &c.

Thus we have given your honors as particular an account of
this affair as possible. We now apply to you <or advice and for
a supply of ammunition & provisions (the latter of which we
petitioned your honors for recently) which if we could be fully
supply'd with we doubt not but with the blessing of Heaven we
should be prepared to defend ourselves. We propose to con-
vey the prisoners to Pownalborough Goal ^ as soon as possible,
there to await your orders.

We are, with deference, your Honors most obedient Humble

By order of the Committee,

Jas. Lyo\, Chairman.
George Stillman, Clerk.

Machias, June 14, 1775.

iGoal, i. e. jail.


This thrilling account was received by the Congress
Saturday afternoon, June 24, nine days after the battle
of Bunker Hill. Promptly on Monday morning, the
twenty-sixth, the committee, to whom it had been re-
ferred, presented the following resolution, which was
at once passed : —

That the thanks of this Congress he, and they are hereby given
to Capt. Jeremiah G'Brien, and Capt. Benjamin Foster, and
the other brave men under their command, for their courage and
good conduct in taking one of tbe tenders belonging to our ene-
mies, and two sloops belonging to Icbabod Jones, and for pre-
venting the ministerial troops being supplit d with lumber ; and
that the said tender, sloops, their cargoes, remain in the hands of
the said captains O'Brien and Foster, and the men under their
command, for them to improve, as they shall think most for their
and the public advantage, until the further action of this, or some
future Congress, or house of representatives; and the committee
of Safety for the Western parish in Pownalhoiough be ordered
to convey the prisoners taken by the said O'Brien and Foster,
from Pownalborough jail to the committee of safety or corres-
pondence for the town of Brunswick ; and the committee of
Brunswick to convey them to some committee in the county of
York, and so to be conveyed from county to county, till they
arrive at this Congress.

July 13, 1775, the Congress ordered that "Lieut.
Ely Styles be paid six pounds twelve shillings in full
discharge of the money he has expended in bringing
a number of prisoners from Machias to Watertown."
These prisoners were then disposed of thus : —

It is ordered that Thomas Skinner, a seaman, William Nurse,
a marine, John Burrows, a seaman, Nicholas Durham, a m.-irine,
Peter Larcher, a sailor, Thomas Crispo, Joseph Temple, sailers,
William Bishop, a sailor, and John Pardra, a marine, all taken
on board the armed schooner, called the Margaretta, commanded


by Matthew Moor, near Machias, be all sent under proper guard
to the common jail in the county of Worcester, and the jail
keej^er is hereby directed to receive them therein and i:)rovide for
them and detain them there till further order of this Congress or
House of Representatives of this colony.

Thus, on the eastern border of the colony of Mas-
sachusetts, an effective stand was made against foreign
oppression. How daring were the men who went to
work " stripping the sloops " at the wharf while the
gunship was only a few rods away ; and what abandon
was displayed by those who swarmed like bees about
the "tender," compelling her to shelter behind a
vessel owned in the vicinity and to slip off under
cover of night! Then see the energy of the sixty
heroes who, in their lumber crafts, chase the enemy
down stream, out to the mouth of the bay, and grapple,
board and capture one ol' the king's ow^n navy, repre-
sentative of the discipline and the arts of war !

The motives for the action, it must be conceded,
were not unmixed with personal feeling. When the
citizens in the mass meeting of June 6, " considering
themselves nearly as prisoners of war," voted by a
bare majority to allow Capt. Jones to " proceed in his
business as usual without molestation, that they would
purchase the provisions he brought into the place, and
pay him according to contract," the more patriotic felt
that they were obliged to yield for the time. If Capt.
Jones had then been gracious, it is not unlikely that
he might have succeeded in overawing them, until he
could discharge his vessels, load them with what Gage
needed, and sail off triumphantly. But his spirit was
revengeful ; and he would let no food go to those who


had voted against him, although they were the better
portion of the commimit}'. This circumstance was
fresh argument for the leaders of the party of Revolu-
tion, as showing the determination of the loyalist party
to ruin those they could not rule ; and they deter-
mined to buckle their waistbands tighter, and resist
tyranny at the risk of starvation.

Now the little settlements not far to the west were
notified " secretly," and trusty freemen came to the
rallying point. Tradition loves to linger among the
woods on "Dublin side," the home of the O'Briens,
where the intrepid company met on Sunday, June 11,
1775 ; and search for the particular brook across which
that veteran of Louisberg, Capt. Benjamin Foster,
sprang, in a motion for instant attack, followed swiftly
by the whole troop. Tradition has grouped the set-
tlers in the place of worship, with Parson Lyons' negro
servant by the window, where his inpulsive ejaculation
at sight of the great body of men coming up toward the
church alarmed the British officers in season for them
to jump, and run, and escape in their boats. Tradition
also represents the East Machias schooner which Capt.
Foster commanded as grounding afar from the place
of conflict, and leaving all the close fighting, and
the glory of the capture, to John O'Brien and Joseph
Getchell and those who followed them on to the Mar-
garetta's deck. Nor has tradition stopped short of
attributing to the citizens a romantic motive, a nebula
to envelop all charitably, and lead the minds of stu-
dents entirely away from a loyalist plot to an excite-
ment over a liberty pole. Ambitious descendants have


constructed lists of the -warriors who overpowered the
"tender" altogether too large for the capacitj^ of the
vessels which carried them, and so on ; all problems of
great interest for the historian of Machias.

But the student of the Revolution in its national
aspects is content with the official report already
quoted, and the few additional particulars of which
there is documentary or other good evidence. Wil-
liam Bartlett Smith, Esq., in the Centennial Memorial
of Machias, records the names of those he had been
led to believe took part in the capture of the Marga-
retta, as follows : —

Capt. Jeremiah O'Brien and Capt. Benjamin Foster; Edmund
Stevens of Addison, Lieut. ; Gideon, John and William O'Brien
and Ricliard Earle, a iiegTO servant ; Samuel Watts, Jonathan

Knight, Steele of Pleasant iiiver; Josiah Weston, John

Merrit, John Berry, Isaac Taft, James Cole, .James Coolbroth,

■McNeil, Nathaniel Crediforth, John Hall, .lohn [Joseph?]

Wheaton, William Fenlason, Joseph Libbee, Ezekiel Foster,
Simon Brown, Joseph Clifford, Beriah Rice, Jonathan Brown,
Samuel Whitney, Josiah Libbee, Eiias Hoit, Joseph Getchell.

He adds that McNeil was killed in the battle, and
that James Coolbroth died the next day of wounds
tliere received ; that John Berry was wounded by a
ball which " entered his mouth and came out behind
his ear," but that he long survived the shock. Isaac
Taft and James Cole were also wounded, he adds, and
were under surgeon's care for a long time.

Only one man's name, of six heroes wounded, comes
to us through the archives, and that is "Ebenezer
Beal." for whom Benjamin Foster, James Noble Shan-
non and James Lord petitioned in the autumn follow-
ing that he might be placed in some hospital


But meantime the capture of the Margaretta had
been reported far and wide, and before poor Beal's
wounds had done aching, the people of the thirteen
colonies had been cheered by the news in their strug-
gle for liberty, and the tyrant of England and the
officers of his navy as well as those of his army had
received a profound impression of the bravery and
prowess of the men who were hurling defiance in the
teeth of the proudest sovereignty on earth. If unor-
ganized citizens could so defend their homes and
cripple their invaders, what might be expected from
regular soldiers, properly officered and equipped ?
Machias had responded to Lexington, and the Revolu-
tion was well begun.

Immediately after the capture of the Margaretta
the Committee of Safety with the approval of the
Congress fitted the Unity, one of Jones' confiscated
sloops, armed her with the equipment taken from the
Margaretta, placed Jeremiah O'Brien in command, and
sent her on a cruise along the coast. Capt. Stephen
Smith was placed in charge of a force of guard boats,
which kept watch among the islands about the mouth
of the river. July 14, he was able to capture the
Diligence, an English schooner of eighty tons burthen,
armed with four four-pound guns, and her tender, the
Tatmagouch, of fifteen tons burthen, as they came to
investigate the rumor of the Margaretta's capture !

O'Brien and Smith and their daring comrades went
up the Bay of Fundy also, and captured and destroyed
so much property of the enemy about St. John that
the Halifax government, in great trepidation, ordered
special guards set " against Machias pirates."


These movements and the correspondence of Rev.
Mr. Ljon led to the organization of an attack upon
Fort Cumberhmd, near the head of the Bay of Fund v,
at the close of 1776, and stimulated the new republic
to authorize Col. John Allan to win the Indians of
Eastern Maine and Nova Scotia to our side ; ;i move
of inestimable value to the colonists and a decided
help to the interests of the country at large.

But this series of events, enacted in or closely
linked with Machias, gave the Nova Scotians and the
commanding officers of the British forces in America
profound respect for the little town. In consequence
of this feeling Sir Georo-e Collier came with the frig-
ates Rainbow and Blonde, forty-four gun ships, the
Mermaid (28) and the Hope (18), and anchored in the
lower harbor of Machias, August 13, 1777. He ex-
pected to capture ammunition, provisions, clothing
and other stores, which w^ere said to be collected at
Machias for the invasion of Nova Scotia. In the little
Hope the selected bravery of the fleet led by Capt.
Dawson, set out for "The Falls," confident of an easy

But the watchful citizens had stretched a loo; boom
across the river at the " Rim," and awaited the Hope
in rude earthworks there under command of Capt.
Benjamin Foster. The invaders dislodged this force,
cut the boom, burned a couple of houses and a guard
house and swept up the stream with the tide. But at
White's Point, just above the mouth of Middle River,
Capt. Stephen Smith with a larger force withstood
their advance. A bold shot from the musket of Francis


Joseph Neptune, a Passamaquoddy chief, was the sig-
nal for general firing ; and the invaders fled in a panic.

Major George Stillman led a third band of patriots
on the south side of the river, who increased the con-
sternation of the Hope's despairing crew until dark-
ness shielded them, just as they were left aground by
the ebbing tide. After an uneasy night they ran the
gauntlet of Capt. Foster's force and rejoined the fleet.
They reported ofiicially that they had three killed and
eighteen wounded. Of the Machias people James
Foster, a young man, was killed and Jonas Farnsworth
was wounded.

Sir George Collier soon after issued a proclamation
to the people of the coast, referring to the " lenity
and moderation" he had shown ! But Machias received
no subsequent visit from the foe.

From 1779 to 1781 the Penobscot region was held
by the royal troops. But never did they venture to
approach Machias ! At length came the triumph of
the young republic ; and the Treaty of Paris set its
eastern boundary line at the St. Croix, whereas the
limit — if one had been gained — must have been
within sight of the White Mountains, had not tyranny
met such manly, dauntless resistance from the patri-
otic citizens of Machias.



July 1 Sayled to Sandy bay.
2 Stayed at Sandy bay.

4 Sayled to Old York.

5 Sayled to Casco Bay.
7 Sayled to New Casco.

9 iSayled to Mouth of Kennebec.

10 Sayled to Townsend.

11 Sayled to IJound Pond.

12 Sayled to St. Georges River.

13 Stayed in the River four days.

17 Sayled to Owlshead.

18 Sayled to Fox Islands. Saw two Vessels.

19 Sayled to Deer Island and saw a fishing schooner by

the Way in Eggmoggin Reach.

20 Sayled to Cranby Island and there cooked dinner.

Saw a ship at Nasgig point. In the afternoon
sayled as far as Scoduck.

21 Sayled as far as Mrs Peck Reach there cooked dinner

and then sayled to Machias,

22 Stayed at Machias and there two of the men left the


23 Sayled to Pasmequoddy.

24 Sayled round to Head harbor,

25 Sayled to Musquosh Cove and there cooked supper

and then sot sale and it was sun down then sayled
as far as Crives harbor,

26 Sayled to Quawcohead,

27 Stayed to Quawcohead was rainy,

28 Sayled to Cape Seconector and there cooked supper

and then sayled to Ramshorn Creek.


July 29 Sayled to Partridge Island and on the way came
acrost the Antelanter and she gave us 10 shots.
Sot sale after Sundown and sayled to a crick that
is at the mouth Winsor River.

30 Stayed at the Crick.

31 Stayed in the Crick and at night set out for Winsor

and went within two miles of the town and there
was a guard and then Capt Harts men would not
go any further and then all returned back to mouth
of the River.
Aug. 1 Returned to Partridge Island and there cooked dinner
and at Sundown went to Fox bay.
2 The Vollentier Boat left us.

8 Nothing remarkable.

6 After it was night roed to Black head.

7 Roed to appleriver and there cooked dinner and then

sayled Grinstone Island, that night went into a

9 Two men entred abord the Boat that desarted from

halifax at eleven o'clock roed to Black head at Se-
conector met 7 Deserters from halifax.

10 Roed to Fox bay and stayed that day and that night

roed to West Bay at Partridge Island, Rainy night.

11 Killed a fat ox and after it was night roed up to the

five Islands.

12 Roed to M"" Mosher and stayed that day. Took a

pilot at night.

13 In the morning against the Village Hid the boats and

stayed, in the woods that day.

14 In the morning Lieut. Hindly took the Command of

14 men and went and disarmed the inhabitants and
pressed a pilot and marched through the woods 4
or 5 miles and took a trunk of goods out of a store
and took some sugar and butter and then went
aboard of the boats and roed as far as the Cove
that is before they Come to M"" Mosher.

15 In the morning roed to M*' Marshes and Cooked hreck-


fust and diner and then roed to the Cove that is
before they come to Partridge IsLand and there
stayed that night.
Aug. 16 In the morni}]g left the bason and sawaschoner against
Partridge Island & against Fox bay Saw the An-
telanter tender and under Spencer's Island saw the
Antelanter and then we roed to the east shore and
st<iped that day.

17 In the morning saw tlie Antelanter after the boats

which made us hurry away and roed along the
shore a peas and then bawled the boats into the
brush. The Antelanter went down the bay, this
day gave the boats a tailor bottom. In the after-
noon roed along the shore.

18 In the morning saw the Antelanter and then we roed

along the shore by Noplas and stayed at Potect
passage that night.

19 Roed to the grand passage. Saw a number of fishing

Vessels and stayed there that night and was foggy.

20 Stayed at the grand passage.

21 Very foggy and roed to the Cape St. Mary Bay by

twelve and roed 3 Leigs further that day.

22 Roed to Cape Persue and saw a schoner in the har-

bour that belonged to Salem.

23 Sot out from Cape persue with a fair wind Saw two

private tiers standing eastward. Stayed 4 miles
witliin Shag harbour and their killed a jjig.

24 At daylight saw a shalop from Liverpool which took

and let go after taking some English out of her.
Saw two private tiers in Shag harbour. Stayed in
East passage.

25 VV ent into Portleton and took 2 sheep and Presd a

Piljite and then went to the ragged Islands and
went fi-om there to Jones harbour.

26 Saw a Privatetier a going east. Six men went by

land to Port Bare and there was 2 Private tiers in
the harbour. Took some fish and potatoes.


Aug. 27 Saw in the morning 5 sales and with a fair wind we
sailed to ye Eastward. In the afternoon we saw
one boat and 2 sholops in portemetune that night
sailed to the Eastward, In tlie morning saw 3
boats which we drove ashore and they fired upon
us we ransomd one Boat for 36 Dollars. Cooked
on the Island that morning and then roed to Iron-
bound Island and there stayed that night.

29 Took a Prize that was bound to Halifax from Chester

and went into a house and the stores was out and
their was a Larm fired soon.

30 Took a schoner and let her go again Stayed at Iron

bound Island.

31 Saw two sales. Stayed at Ironbound Island that

Sept. 1 Sailed East. Drove a boat into Prospect harbour,
then sailed to Penant Point and as we was a cook-
ing three Sambra men fired upon us and killed
Joseph Printis and wounded Ebenezer Robbins
and Samuel Thompson and Capt Thompson and
Capt. Perry with 5 men took one of the men pris-
oner after picking up all the tools and went and
buried Prentis on an Island in Pennant bay then
roed westward as far as Dover harbour.

2 Saw in the morning the observer Brig and in the Mat-
tagash fleet in the latter part of the day. Left
Dover and roed to Malegash Island.

8 Saw the Brig and a shallop on this day, very windy.

4 In tlie morning windy and a boat with three men

came on the Island In the afternoon took a shal-
lop which took some goods and let her go and then
roed to the westward and there was a Larm fired
and there was a Brig and a schoner hove in sight
and then roed back to the Island that is called
Croo Island there cooked supper and at night sot
out west and that night roed past Cape Lehance.

5 Sot out to go a shore but was stoped by the inhabi-


tants firing tlien roed to Port Metway and stayed
Sept. 6 Sot sale in the morning airly Spied three sales going
to Liver Pole took two of them and came as far as
Cape Negro Spied a schoner which we took and
poot three men abord and there orders was to come
under Cape Negro.

7 Sailed to port Letore and Uft the Pylate and then sot

sale and nothing to be heard of the Schoner that
we took the night before. Came acrost the Schoner
at the west passage there was three private teers
we disraised one shallup and then sailed as far as

8 Sot sail the wind was scant we came too under an

Island. Some foggy in the morning. In the after-
noon there was a schoner went in to Argile.

9 The wind ahead two boats came to us as they went by.

10 Set sail with a fair wind and sailed to the grand j)as-

sage and on our way met a private tier from Cape
Ann and arrived to the grand passageway and
then heard that Simon was castaway.

11 The weather foggy and the prisner ran away.

12 Robbin bled at his wound in the afternoon sot sale

and crossd the bay of funday to Grand menan.

13 Sot sail from Grand Menan after twelve and arrived

at liead harbour after darck.

14 Roed from head harbour round to Quoddy harbour in

the morning Saw Fitch in the mouth of head har-
bour. Took in some fish and we had a rainy night.

15 Sailed over to Chases other side.

16 Took in fish and then sailed over to Woodwards took

in Ebenezer i'obbins and sailed to Mrs. Peckes
Reach, this day windy and Copper Run aground.
At night poot Robbins aboard fitch. This day
heard that Captain Savage was drowned.

17 Sot out with oars Took a Vessel that was agoing

into Chandler River that was laded with Rhum,


sugar and grane and other articles ;ind sailed as
far as Beales ami their was Captain Perry.
Sept. 18 At 12 oclock sot sail and in the morning was against
Mount Desart. Sailed as far as Nosegay Point
and there was lost in the fog the great parte of the
day. Arived at the outered part of Dear Island
that night.

19 That day very foggy.

20 Sayled to Fox Island. Took in our provision at

M'" Coppers this night stayed Wosters.

21 Sailed to Ash Point and there got Breckforst, saw two

sail of at sea. Sayled to Whitehead and there
saw Capt. York then roed to Capt. Thomas Thomp-
sons. Arrived to Georgis after a cruce of 83 Days.
John Fairbanks of Starlinton Plantation in tlie County
of Lincoln of the State of Commonwealth of the



Read before the Maine Historical Society, December 12, 1894.

History offers us few enterprises of higher personal
motive or more fruitful in examples of heroic per-
sonal sacrifices, than the Indian missions, Catholic and
Protestant, in North America. These missions have
shared the fate of the savage tribes, whose welfare
they sought. They have passed away with them.
Even the men engaged as missionaries have their me-

Online LibraryMaine Historical SocietyCollections of the Maine historical society (Volume 1) → online text (page 10 of 34)