Samuel Adams Drake.

Historic fields and mansions of Middlesex online

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hastily swallowed a mouthful of spirits. At six o'clock the
British vanguard began to file across Charlestown Xeck, and
ranged themselves in battle line on the heights of Bunker Hill,
where they remained until the next day. They were then re-
lieved by the marines and the third brigade.

" Says our General we were forced to take to our arms in our own defence ;
(For arms read legs, and it will be both truth and sense.)
Lord Percy (says he) I must say something of him in civility,
And that is I never can enough praise him for liis great agility."

We annex the whole account of this battle as it appeared in
Draper's Boston Gazette of April 20, 1775, which is, we think,
worthy of being numbered among the literary curiosities of its
day: —

Battle of Lexington.

" Last Tuesday Night the Grenadier and Light Companies belong-
uig to the several Regiments in this Town were ferried in Long


boats from the Bottom of the Common over to Phip's Farm in Cam-
bridge, from whence they proceeded on their way to Concord where
they arrived early yesterday. The first Brigade commanded by
Lord Piercy with two pieces of Artillery set oft' from here Yesterday
Morning at Ten o'clock as a Ee-inforcement, which with the Grena-
diers and Light Companies made about Eighteen Hundred men.
Upon the people's having notice of this Movement on Tuesday night
alarm guns were fired through the country and Expresses sent off
to the different Towns so that very early yesterday morning large
numbers were assembled from all parts of the Country. A general
Battle ensued which from what we can learn, was supported with
great Spirit upon both Sides and continued until the King's Troops
retreated to Charlestown, which was after sunset. Numbers are
killed and wounded on both sides. The reports concerning this
unhappy Affair and the Causes that concurred to bring on an En-
gagement are so various that we are not able to collect anything
consistent or regular and cannot therefore with certainty give our
readers any further Account of this shocking Introduction to all
the Miseries of Civil War."

The American accounts appeared in the form of liand-bills.
One, printed in Boston, is embellished with a death's-head, and
contains a list of the American killed and wounded. Another
has at its head tAventy coffins, bearing each the name of one
of the slain. It is entitled,





" Being the PARTICULARS of the VICTORIOUS BATTLE fought at
and near CONCORD, situated Twenty Miles from Boston, in the Province of
the Massachusetts Bay, between Two Thousand Regular Troops, belonging to
His Britanic Majesty, and a few Hundred Provincial Troops, belonging to the
Province of Massachusetts- Bay, which lasted from sunrise until sunset, on the
19th of April, 1775, when it was decided greatly in favor of the latter. These
particulars are published in this cheap form at the request of the friends of the
deceased WORTHIES who died gloriously fighting in the Cause of Liberty
and their Country and it is their sincere desire that every Householder iu
the Country, who are sincere well-wishers to America may be possessed of the
same either to frame and glass, or otherwise to preserve in their houses, not
only as a Token of Gratitude to the memory of the Deceased Forty Persons


but as a perpetual memorial of tliat important event on which perliaps, may
depend tlie future Freedom and Greatness of the Commonwealth of America.
To which is annexed a Funeral Elegy on those who were slain in the Battle."

In the burying-ground at Arlington we found a plain shaft
of granite, nineteen feet high, standing over the remains of the
fallen. The monument is protected by a neat iron fence, and
has a tablet with this inscription : —

" Erected by the

Inhabitants of West Cambridge

A. D. 1848,

Over the common grave of

Jason Russell, Jason Winship,

Jabez Wyman and nine others

Who were slain in this Town by the

British Troops,

on their retreat from the battles of

Lexington and Concord,

April 19th 1775.

Being among the first to lay down

their lives in the struggle for

American Independence."

A plain slate gravestone at the foot of the obelisk has the
following : —

" M' Jason Russell was
barbarously murdered in his own
House by Gage's bloody Troops
on y° 19tli of April 1775 ^tat 59
His body is quietly resting
in this grave with Eleven
of our friends, who in like
manner, with many others were
cruelly slain on that fatal day.
Blessed are y" dead who die in y«

The memorial was erected by the voluntary contributions of
the citizens of West Cambridge ; the remains beneath the old
slab being disinterred and placed within the vault under the
monument, April 22, 1848. Kine of the twelve victims are


At Acton, on the 19th of April, 1851, a monument was dedi-
cated to the gallant spirits belonging to that town who fell on
the day of Lexington and Concord. The tablet bears the names
of Captain Isaac Davis and of privates Abner Hosmer and
James Hayward, provincial minute-men.

It was Davis's company which marched in the van to force
the passage of the Xorth Bridge, A halt and parley had
occurred among tlie provincial soldiers. IS'one, apparently,
were desirous of occupying the post of honor and of facing the
British muzzles. Davis, resolute, and ashamed of this ignoble
conduct before the enemy, exclaimed, " I have n't a man that is
afraid to go " ; immediately suiting the action to the word by
marshalling his men in the front. He appeared depressed, and
had rebuked the gayety of some of his comrades who break-
fasted with him on that, to him, fateful morning.

" 'T is the sunset of life gives us mystical lore,
And coming events cast their shadows before."

Davis was a tall, athletic man, famed for courage and cool-
ness. He was a gunsmith, and an excellent marksman. At the
hrst volley he was shot through the heart. He leaped convul-
sively in the air, and fell, still grasping his musket, over the
causeway on the low ground. Hosmer was killed by the same
fire. Hayward's more tragic death we have briefly alluded to.
He was killed, during the pursuit, at the red house on the right
as you descend Fiske's Hill, in Lexington, going towards Bos-
ton. His adversary's ball perforated his powder-horn, which is
still preserved ; but before he fired his last shot he had nearly
expended the forty bullets with which he had set out.

The remains of these brave men were exhumed from the
burial-ground, where they had lain for seventy odd years, Snd
placed in the tomb at the base of the monument. The graves
were then filled up, — the gravestones being left standing to
tell the future visitor where they had first been interred. The
bones were found remarkably well preserved. The orifice in
Hosmer's skull through which the ball passed while he was in
the act of taking aim was still distinctly visible. These relics


were carefully placed in a coffin of three compartments and laid
away beneath the monument, while the booming of cannon
sounded a soldier's requiem.

Two mementos of the battles of Lexington and Concord
may be seen in the Massachusetts Senate Chamber ; oiae is a
Tower musket captured from a soldier of the 43d, the other
the gun used by Captain John Parker on that day. These
weapons were a legacy to the State from Theodore Parker, and
were received by both branches of the Legislature assembled in
joint convention. Governor Andrew made the address of pres-
entation, during the delivery of which he exhibited much emo-
tion, and as he concluded he pressed the barrel of the Revo-
lutionary firearm to his lips " with effusion." This occurred in
1861, when the opening events of the Rebellion presented a
certain analogy in the Governor's mind to the teacliings of 1776.
Many applauded, while not a few were disposed to ridicule his
patriotic fervor.

An internecine war has raged ever since the event of 1775
between Lexington and Concord, as to which town might claim
the greater honor of the day. As if there were not enough and
to spare for both ! To Lexhigton belongs the glory of having
assembled the first force to oppose the march of the king's
troops, and of the first bloody sacrifice to liberty. At Concord
the Americans first attacked the troops, and with numbers
which rendered such a measure justifiable. Concord, too, was
the object of the British expedition. The conflict raged during
the day within the limits of six towns, each of which might
fairly claim a portion of the credit due the whole. The his-
torian will, however, treat the occurrences of the 19th of April
as a single event, leaving to local chroniclers the care of sepa-
rating the golden sands which make their peculiar portion of
fame from the fused ingot. All will agree that no similar
quantity of powder ever made so great a noise in the world as
that burned on the Green at Lexington, and all along the old
colonial highway.





" Ah ! who could deem that foot of Indian crew
Was near ? — yet there, with lust of murderous deeds,
Gleamed like a basilisk from woods in view,
The ambushed foeman's eye."

AN hour's ride from the city by the railway brings you to
the village of South Sudbury. After you have alighted
at the little station, and the carriages have ceased to rumble in
the distance, a stillness, almost painful by its contrast with the
roar and rush of your fiery steed, settles uj^on hill and vale.
If it be a warm summer's day, not a sound breaks in upon the
silence. Your own or another's voice startles you. It is likely
that you will not even hear the lowing of cattle, for they have
sought some friendly shade by the margin of the brook. A
little ripple of light follows the lightest zephyr that plays across
the fields of bearded grain. The pastures are crisp and dry
beneath your feet ; the air you breathe is laden with the heated
vapors you see playing to and fro in waves before you. Even
chanticleer is mute, and the accustomed sounds from the barn-
yard are seldom heard. The scene is one of nature's tranquil

" Peace to the husbandman and a' liis tribe."

The A'illage of South Sudbury lies embosomed in a little
valley formed by considerable hills. A few houses mount the
slope of the easternmost eminence, which is called Green Hill,
while to the southwest of the meadows through which trickles
the Mill or Hop Brook, rises what we call a mountain in ]\Ias-
sachusetts, — a well-wooded height lying partly in Framing-
ham and still holding to its Indian name of Nobscot. The
brook once turned the water-wheel of an ancient saw and grist


mill at the foot of Green Hill, where it now performs the same
office for a paper-mill. Following the railway straight on to
tjie north, a mile away the steeple of Sudbury meeting-house
rises exactly at the point where the converging iron bands seem
to meet in the distance. South Framingham, Wayland, Con-
cord, and Marlborough are about equally distant.

As for the village it is, like other country towns, fast asleep,
except when roused by the scream of the steam-whistle, or
brought into spasmodic activity by the recurrence of some
national or State holiday. Pass through it at any other time,
and you see indeed shops open and people walking about with
their eyes wide open ; but the former are cold and still,
Avhile the latter appear to be somnambulists. Why they are
out of doors they could not tell any more than where they
are going, • — they are impelled to movement without object or
seeming necessity. The shops are empty. The shopman either
stands in the doorway with his hands thrust into the lowest
depths of his breeches-pockets, or is seen squatted on the
threshold of his bazaar with a jack-knife in one hand and a
pine chip, which he is listlessly whittling, in the other. On
one side the door are arranged a group of agricultural tools, a
board on Avhich is chalked the market value of white beans, a
keg of nails, and a few articles of wooden-ware. On the other
side, suspended like a malefactor from a gibbet, is a checked
woollen shirt above a pair of trousers having a pattern not un-
like those worn in our public prisons. In the windows are all
manner of things, Avhich seem as if they had been stranded
there by the flood ; for so old-fashioned are they that they will
carry you back any distance your imagination is capable of.
The shopkeeper is not looking out for customers, — that were
indeed a hopeless employment, — but is merely killing time,
while he of the hour-glass and scythe is slowly but surely re-
taliating in kind.

"When this was the old post-route to Hartford and !N"e"w
York, in that ever-famous year 1775, and mine host Baker
kept the public inn in Sudbury, the arrival of coach, post-
chaise, or army express was the great event. If coach or


post-rider happened to change horses, the scene assembled all
the loose, idle, gaping, surplus population of the town, who
came to stare at the horses, the coach, and the passengers.
With what interest did they not watch the process of un-
hitching one set of horses and the putting in of another.
The passengers who dismount for a visit to the bar of the tav-
ern, or a taste of mine host's viands, must run the gauntlet of
eyes determined not to lose their slightest movement. The
very horses, raising their dripping muzzles from the drinking-
trough, seem to wonder what the people can be staring at. Or
imagine the same group assembled round the postman. Not
one in ten ever received a letter in his lifetime, but it is indis-
pensable that the same question should be asked, with the
same unvarying answer. The coach gone, the rumble of wheels
dies away, and so quiet is the place become that you can hear
the ring of the village smith's anvil, or the squeak of some old
well-sweep, from one end of the town to the other.

It is but lately that Sudbury has been discovered by a rail-
way. How much of a luxury it is considered by the inhabi-
tants along the line may be gathered from the circumstance
that during our journey thither Ave Avere, with only another
wayfarer, the sole occupants of a train of four carriages.

The years 1675-76 Avere fateful ones for New England.
The old chronicler, Hubbard, says, " It Avas ebbing water with
New England at this time, and awhile after ; but God shall
turn the stream before it be long, and bring down their ene-
mies to lick the dust before them." Phihp, the great chieftain
of the Wampanoags, had begun hostilities with the Avhites, and
for a time it looked as if he might destroy all their frontier set-
tlements. Had he been able to effect his object of bringing aU
the savage nations into alliance, the Avar might have ended with
the extermination of the pale-faces.

Indians Avere everyAvhere. There had been no formal decla-
ration of war, — nothing of that poetic exchange of rattlesnake-
skin filled with arrows for the Avhite man's poAvder and lead.
There was nothing chivalric about it. The war Avas planned in
secret and in treachery ; the onset Avas sudden and wellnigh


irresistible. The first intimation the Enghsh had that Philip
had dug up the hatchet was in the fatal shot from an ambus-
cade, or the war-whoop sounded in the midst of the hamlets.
At this time the Colony could muster about four thousand foot
and four hundred horse, without reckoning the aged or infirm.

On their part, the whites were not more blameless than they
now are, nearly two hundred years since, when the work of
extinguishing the remnant of the red race is approaching the
end. Two centuries ago the Indians were powerful enough on
the Atlantic shore to render it doubtful for a time whether the
English might retain a precarious foothold in the seaports. To-
day they are hunted down among the rocky fastnesses of the

In 1675 there were, as now, Indian traders without souls,
and Englishmen who thought as little of shooting a savage as
of outraging a squaw. There was also the fire-water, under the
influence of Avhich the savage parted with his birthright, or
made his mark at the bottom of a so-called treaty, of which he
knew not the meaning. The English fought then for self-pres-
ervation, Avhich Ave know is nature's first law, so that we can
well pardon them for dealing blow for blow, — and even their
reverend teachers for preaching a crusade against the savages,
as Dr. Matlier and the clergy generally did. The Indians —
did they not suspect it, and did not their wise men foretell it 1
— were also fighting for self-preservation. The law was as in-
exorable to them as to the pale-face. Philip was living in a
sort of vassalage Avhicli his proud spirit rebelled against. Did
an Englishman complain of an injury from an Indian, his
sachem was instantly cited to appear before the stranger's coun-
cil. Did an Indian complain of the wrong of a Avhite man,
justice was oftentimes both bHnd and deaf. The Indians
warred after a cruel fashion, certainly. They tortured the
living and mutilated the dead. r>ut then, after all, they were
but saA^ages, and it AA^as the manner in Avhich they had been ac-
customed to Avage AA'ar among themselves ; until we had civilized
them AA-e had little right to murmur if they did not adopt our
stvle of Avarfare. But AA'hat did the English do ? With the


Holy Scriptures in one hand, they ordered the beheading and
scalping of their red enemies. The Quakers who refused to en-
list were compelled to run the gauntlet in Boston streets, and
attempts were made to break open the jails and put to death
the Indian prisoners. There was a strong dash of heroism in
Philip of Pokanoket, and we cannot blame him for making
one grand effort for freedom.

When the news came to the Massachusetts capital that the
frontier towns were being harried, drums beat to arms, and
stout John Leverett summoned his council together. Hench-
man, Hutchinson, Paige, Willard, and the other captains put
on their buff coats and belted their heavy broadswords or ra-
piers about them. The bands were mustered. In each com-
pany was an ensign, who bore aloft a color of red sarsenet, a

yard square, with the
number of the company
in white thereon. An-
other had a white blaze
in the centre. Volun-
teers were demanded, and
even the profane seafar-
ing men — "privateers,"
as they were called —
were enrolled. A guard
of musketeers was set at
the entrance of the town.
A busy man Avas John
Fayerweather, the com-
missary, in proA^ding for
the levies. With drums
beating, trumpets bray-
ing, and standards dis-
played, the troops de-
filed through the town-
gates. A few encoun-
and this bravery of regular war was laid aside. This was
years ago, and yet we have lately seen



almost two hundred


our brave men led into an Indian ambush as unwarily as they
were in the year 1675.

Some of the evils which a solemn session of the General
Court, convened at Boston at this time, held to lie at the foun-
dation of their misfortunes, were the proud excesses in apparel
and hau' of which many — " yea, and of the poorer sorte as well
as others " — were guilty. The Quakers came in for a liberal
share of invective. Excess in drinking, and the toleration of
so many taverns, especially in Boston, which the townspeople
were too much inclined to frequent, were glaring offences. It
was urged that profane swearing had frequently been heard,
and steps were taken to .suppress and punish it. The fourth
and fifth commandments were ordered to be better observed
than formerly, and it was decreed that there should be no
more such oppression by merchants or laborers as had been.
Truly, Philip was working a social revolution among his
enemies of Massachusetts Bay !

From these measures we may see that our forefathers were
not so well satisfied with themselves as to feel sure of providen-
tial aid in their work of killing savages ; but it is set down in
the chronicles that on the very day when these new civil regu-
lations were established, the English forces achieved a victory
at Hatfield.

During the summer and autumn of 1675 the Indians had
almost uninterrupted success. They had ravaged the country
from the Connecticut to the shores of Boston Bay, and a stray
warrior had appeared within a few miles of Boston Towii -House.
In November the commissioners of Massachusetts, Plymouth,
and Connecticut met at Boston, and agreed to raise an army of
a thousand men, of which the Bay Colony furnished more than
half. At the head of this force "Winslow assaulted the strong-
hold of the Xarragansetts in December, inflicting a terrible de-
feat upon that nation, and entirely breaking its power.

The Indians resumed hostilities in the early spring of 1676.
The English had become more circumspect ; still their losses
were heavy, and the path of Philip's warriors could be marked
by desolation and ruin. The whites, too, learned at length to


make use of the Christian or Praying Indians, to act as runners
and scouts, — a measure which we have lately seen imitated
with advantage in the employment of the Warm Springs In-
dians against the Modocs.

One Sabbath, late in March, the Indians attacked Marl-
borough, while the inhabitants were at divine worship in their
meeting-house. The people sought the shelter of their garrison-
houses, which were found in every settlement, leaving the
enemy to burn the greater part of the town. Lancaster had
j^reviously suffered, and the tale of the captivity and redemp-
tion of Mrs. Rowlandson furnishes a graphic chapter of these
terrible years.

In April Philip had assembled about four hundred of his
followers in the neighborhood of Marlborough, and after burn-
ing the few deserted houses they fell with fury upon Sudbury.
A small party from Concord, coming to the assistance of their
neighbors, were ambushed and slain. The news of the descent
on Marlborough having reached Boston, Captain Samuel Wads-
worth was despatched with a company of soldiers to its relief.
Reaching Marlborough after a weary march of twenty-five miles,
Wadsworth learned that his enemy had gone in the direction
of Sudbury, and, after giving his men some rest and refresh-
ment, and being joined by Captain Brocklebank, who com-
manded the garrison at Marlborough, he returned on his own
footsteps in pursuit, following, tradition says, the old trail,
afterwards the Lancaster road, now closed.

When within Avhat is now South Sudbury, Wadsworth saw
about a hundred of the enemy's war-party, with whom, believ-
ing them the main body, he endeavored to close. The Indians
retired slowly through the woods, until Wadsworth's men were
wholly encompassed by enemies lying in concealment, when
the terrific war-whoop rang through the forest, and every tree
around the devoted band blazed with a death-shot. The Eng-
lish, perceiving theirs to be a desperate case, fought with obsti-
nate bravery, but were at length forced to the top of Green
Hill, the circle of enemies all the while drawing closer around
them. On this hill they defended themselves .valiantly until


nightfall, when some of the party, attempting to escape, were
followed by others, until a precipitate retreat was the result.
The Indians pursued, slaying all but thirteen or fourteen, who
sought safety at ^o yes's mill, — the same referred to in another
place. This mill was fortified after the usual fashion of the
garrisons, but had been abandoned by the Sudbury people.
Believing it to be still occupied by them, the Indians did not
venture to the assault, but withdrew to complete and celebrate
their victory. The survivors at the mill were afterwards re-
lieved by Captain Hugh Mason's company from Watertown,
who approached the battle-ground by way of Mount Xobscot,
where they left the carts containing their baggage and pro-
visions. The Indians were still in the vicinity, but Mason did
not feel sufficiently strong to attack them.

The English lost in this battle their captain, "Wadsworth ;
Sharp, their lieutenant ; and twenty-six others, besides Captain

Online LibrarySamuel Adams DrakeHistoric fields and mansions of Middlesex → online text (page 36 of 39)