KING PHILIP'S WAR
Chapter 1, Part I
THE BEGINNING OF HOSTILITIES IN KING
CAPTAIN DANIEL HENCHMAN'S COMPANY
AT the opening of the war, the colonial militia was quite efficiently organized. Each county had its regiment of "trained soldiers." The regiments of Suffolk and Middlesex counties consisted of fifteen companies of Foot and one of Cavalry each. The Essex regiment was of thirteen Foot and one Cavalry; the other counties smaller. There were seventy-three organized companies in the Massachusetts Colony, besides an independent cavalry company called the "Three County Troop," made up in Suffolk, Middlesex and Essex. The highest military officer of the colony was Major General Daniel Denison, of Ipswich. The highest regimental officer at this time was Major, or Sergeant Major. These local companies were not sent on active service out of their towns, but men were impressed from the number and placed under officers appointed for special service by the Council. Each company of Foot had a Captain, Lieutenant, Ensign, Clerk, Sergeants, Corporals, and a Drummer. Cavalry had Cornett instead of Ensign and a Trumpeter and Quartermaster. The regular number of privates in foot companies was seventy, in the cavalry fifty. On special service it was more. The pay of soldiers was 6s. per week, and 5s. was paid for their "dyet." There is no way of determining the rate of pay from Hull's Journal, as all payments are "on acct" and do not specify time of service. Plymouth Colony paid the private soldiers 2s. per day, Drummers 2s. 6d., Sergeant 3s., Ensign 4s., "Lieftenant" 5s., Captain 6s. A "Chyrurgion" or doctor was attached to each expedition. A chaplain also generally served with each expedition. The price paid for horses was 18d. per week. Prices of Clothing, "Wastcoats," 6s., Drawers 5s. 6d., "Stockins" 2s., Shirts 6s., Shoes 4s.
On the Mount Hope expedition the soldiers used the Old Matchlock musket, the "Regulation" weapon of that time; but it was afterwards discarded as not so serviceable as the Flintlock
or "Snaphance." There were no bayonets in use, but each company at first had a number of Pikemen, soon found to be useless in an Indian fight. The "Matchlock" was an exceedingly cumbrous affair, and was too long and heavy to fire at arm's length, so that each soldier was obliged to carry a "rest" (a crotched staff pointed at the foot with iron, and attached to his wrist by a string). No. 7 of the orders in musket drill, "Elton's Tactics," was, "Put the string of your rest about your left wrist." The Indians always used the Flintlock, and used slugs, or heavy shot instead of bullets. The other equipments of a foot soldier were a "Snapsack," six feet of match or fuse, a Bandoleer, which was a leathern belt passing over the right shoulder and under the left arm and containing a dozen or more round boxes each holding one charge of powder; a bag of bullets and a horn of priming-powder was also attached to this belt. These matters will be more fully treated in the Appendix.
BEGINNING OF HOSTILITIES
A brief survey of the state of affairs in Boston on June 24th, 1675, when news of the attack of the Indians on Swansea, and Plymouth Colony's appeal for aid, arrived, may be in place here, especially as in Massachusetts Records there is nothing relating to the matter from the adjournment of the Court on May 12 until it was called together on July 19th. It is to be regretted that the records are lost, as we know many important meetings were held in this time. I insert the following fragments, preserved in Mass. Archives, vol. 67, as testimony of the energy which the Court displayed in answering the appeal of the sister colony.
The following is a portion of a letter from the General Court of Massachusetts Colony to Plymouth Colony, in answer to her appeal for assistance:
June 24. 1675
Honrd Sr According to what I writ you yesterday we are now convened in Council to Consider of your desire of a supply of some men from hence and we have resolved to rayse one hundred foot and 50 horse that shall be speedily upon their march towards Swansey . . . . and for the furtherance and better management &c we have commissionated our faithful friend Major Thomas Savage &c.
[June 24, 1675.] Att a meeting of the General Court on the 24. June 1675. Ordered that the Secretary issue out a warrant to the Constable of Boston to Impress forthwith five Able and Special horses for the service of the country, and that Capt Savage and Capt Oliver have charge of them, and their men each of them one.(Capt Richard is voted to goe forth in this Expedition (who shamefully refused the Employment).1)
(1 This parenthesis is added by another hand. This captain was John Richard, of the 6th Company, and as he was afterwards a trusted officer in the colony, probably the Court did not agree with the remark of the anonymous writer.)Capt Daniel Henchman was chosen and voted to goe forth as Capt of 100 men for the service of this Colony on ye designe to go to Plymouth Coly.
Capt Thomas Prentice is appointed to be Capt of the Horse.
To the Militia of the town of Boston, Cha. Camb. Watertown, Roxbury, Dorchester, Dedham, Brantrey, Weymouth, Hingham, Maulden -- You are hereby required in his Majesty's name to take notice that the Govr & Council have ordered 100 able souldjers forthwith impressed out of the severall Towns according to the proportions hereunder written for the aid and assistance of our confederate Plymouth in the E designe afoote agst the Indians, and accordingly you are to warne afsd proportions to be ready at an hours warning from Capt Daniel Henchman who is appointed Captain and Commander of the Foote Company that each souldjer shal have his armes compleat and Snapsack ready to march and not faile to be at the randevous.
To the Committee of (???)
The Council is adjourned till tomorrow at 8 of the clock at Roxbury.. R. Sec'y. (i.e. Edward Rawson, Secretary.)
The special commission of Capt. Henchman for this service is also in the Archives, vol. 67.
To D. H. Capt. with the Consent of the Councill for the Colony of
Whereas you are apoynted Capt of a foote Company to Serve in this Expedition for the assistance of our neighbors of Plimouth against the insolences and outrages of the natives, these are to wil and require you to take charge of the said Company of foote, mounted as dragoons, & you are to command and instruct your inferior officers and souldjers according to military rules for the service and saftey of the Country, and you to attend such orders from tyme to tyme as you shal receyve from your superior Commanders or the Council of this Colony.
Past 25 June 1675
Daniel Henchman appears in Boston as early as March, 1666, when he was employed at a salary of ś40 per annum "to assist Mr Woodmancy in the Grammar Schoole and teach the childere to wright;" was on a committee with Capts. Gookin, Prentice and Beers, to lay out "the new Plantation at Quansigamond Ponds" (now Worcester), and settle its affairs, in 1667. He was thereafter the chief manager in that settlement, and received the largest number of acres in the first division. He was admitted freeman in 1672; was appointed captain of 5th Boston Company, Colonial Militia, May 12, 1675, and commissioned for the special expedition, as above noted. He is seen to have been one of the most trusted officers of the Court.
Capt. Daniel Henchman m. (probably in England) Sarah, dau. of Hezekiah Woodward, Gentleman, of Uxbridge, Middlesex, England, who, in his will of the 22: Feb'y 1674, gives "to the five children of my daughter, Sarah Henchman deceased, by Daniel Henchman of Boston in New England," the sum of "twenty pounds apiece, to be paid at their respective ages of twenty-one years." Then he gives all his lands and tenements in Ireland, to the said Daniel Henchman, in trust for the said children. Their five children whose names are known to us were Richard, Hezekiah, Nathaniel, Susanna b. 7: June: 1667, and William, b. 28: July: 1669, and died sometime before March 29: 1673. Sarah, the wife, died; and Capt. Henchman married, 26: April, 1762, Mary, dau. of William Poole of Dorchester, by whom he had William (2), b. 29; March, 1673; Jane, b. 25: May: 1674; Daniel, b. 16: June, 1677; and Mary, b. 1: June, 1682. He died at Worcester, 15: Oct. 1685. His Widow Mary, and his sons Richard and Hezekiah administered upon his estate, which by inventory of 29: Apr. 1686, was rated ś1381: 13: 09. The surname appears in various forms, as Hinchman, Hincksman, Hinksman, etc. Two of his descendants, through his son Nathaniel, have graduated at Harvard.
CAPT. HENCHMAN MARCHES FROM BOSTON TO MOUNT HOPE
Pursuant to his commission, Capt. Henchman marshalled his company, and, on the afternoon of June 26: 1675, marched out from Boston in company with the "troop of horse," under the command of Capt. Thomas Prentice, of Cambridge. At Dedham they halted for an hour, during an eclipse of the moon, which occurred on that evening. Then they marched on as far as "Woodcock's Garrison" (Attleboro'), where they arrived in the morning, and waited until the afternoon, when Capt. Mosely with his company of "Volunteers" overtook them, and the three companies then marched on together to Swansey. They arrived at the house of Rev. John Miles, the minister of Swansey, where they quartered for the night. This was on June 28.
On the 29th, Major Thomas Savage, commander-in-chief of the Massachusetts forces, arrived with his company and the Troop of Capt. Nicholas Paige. Capt. Henchman's men were engaged in the movements through Mount Hope, and scouting about the country until July 4th, when they marched back to headquarters at Swansey. At a council of war, July 5th, in consequence of orders received from Boston by hand of Capt. Hutchinson, it was determined to march all the Massachusetts forces into the Narraganset country. Accordingly the next ten days were spent in the march thither, and the treaty with the Sachems. During this time the Plymouth forces under Major James Cudworth, Capt. Matthew Fuller, and Benjamin Church were pursuing Philip into Pocasset; and Mr. Church "hasted over and 'borrowed' three files of Henchman's men and his lieutenant," to assist in the enterprise. On July 15th, all the Massachusetts forces marched to Rehoboth, on the 16th to Mattapoisett, on the 17th to Taunton, and on the 18th to Pocasset Swamp, where they immediately attacked the Indians, and five English were killed and seven wounded. Owing to the darkness the forces withdrew. It was decided to withdraw all the Massachusetts troops except Capt. Henchman's company, which remained with the Plymouth forces at Pocasset. Maj. Savage, Capts.
Paige and Mosely marched back to Boston, and Capt. Prentice with his troop scouted towards Mendon. It was determined to build a fort at Pocasset and "starve Philip out." But near the end of July Philip escaped by water, either wading at low tide, or "wafting" on rafts, and passed into the Nipmuck country, abandoning about one hundred of their women and children in the swamp. Capt. Henchman appears not to have known of Philip's escape until news was brought him from the mainland on July 29th, 30th, etc. Letters to him from Rev. Noah Newman and Peter Hunt, of Rehoboth, were enclosed by him in one of his own to the Governor (which I have copied here), and are preserved in the Mass. Archives, vol. 67. In itself it is the best explanation of this time at hand. Fort Leverett was at Pocasset, built by Capt. Henchman's company and named for the governor.
Letter of Capt. Daniel Henchman to the Governor
Hond Sr. Fort Leverett, July 31, 1675.
Since my last (of the 28th) the Generall the 29th day landed here one hundred men, his designe to releeve Dartmouth being as reported in some distress; Past nine of the clock last night Lt Thomas brought me the two first enclosed letters from Rehoboth and Mr James Brown with him to press my going thither, which with what strength I could was yeelded to, (I having just finished the South East flanker of the fort so farr as to be a good defence for my men) drew my company together by a false alarm in the night, some being at a distance getting stockadoes; and provided for our March before day taking six files with me and the 17 Indians (all now left) and leaving five files behind to be going on with the work, and the Brigandine; About 11 of the clock a second post came to acquaint me with the third enclosed letter.
Mr Brown and the Lt being gon to endeavour the giving of notice to the Genll to Warwick and the Narragansett Indians to head Philip, At break I shipped my men in a sloope for Seaconk and while under sail Mr Almie brought word that one Dan. Stanton of the Island at his returne yesterday from Dartmouth affirmes that severall parties of Indians with their armes to the number of about 80 surrendered themselves to that garrison for mercie, who have secured them in an Island by them. After my Company was landed within two miles of Seaconk before all were on shore an other letter came to me from Lt Thomas Advising to land at Providence being nearer to the enemy, I strait remanded my men on bord, gave each one 3 biscakes, a fish and a few raisons with ammunission which may last two or three days, I make bould to encloss to coppies of the letters sent least anything in my whurry might be omitted; The Lord preserve and spirite you still for this his worke; my humble service to all those worthies with you; I would gladly know of yr Honrs welfare; and begg the prayers of all to God to qualifie me for my present imploy; being the unfittest of many yet pardon my confused lines being begun at my Quarters and patched vp in several places
The above letter was written evidently on the passage to Seakonk and Providence. He landed at Providence next morning, and marched twenty miles in pursuit of the Indians before he came up with the Plymouth forces and the Mohegans, who had been sent to him from Boston, but had been met by the Rehoboth men and persuaded to join them in the pursuit of Philip; these had come up with Philip's rear, and had a sharp fight before Capt. Henchman arrived.
The Mohegans were now passed to his command, and the troops being wearied with the long march bivouacked till morning, and the Plymouth forces returned to Rehoboth, leaving to Capt. Henchman the further pursuit of Philip, which was renewed next morning. With his six files (consisting of sixty-eight men), the fifty Mohegans and the seventeen Naticks, Capt. Henchman marched into the Nipmuck country as far as the "second fort," to a place called Wapososhequish, August 3, but without finding Philip; and having continued the pursuit until provisions were exhausted and all were tired out to no purpose, the Mohegans returned to their home, and Capt. Henchman marched his force to Mendon, meeting Capt. Mosely with sixty dragoons on the way with supplies.
August 8, Capt. Henchman went down to Boston to get orders from the Governor and Council, and left most if not all his men at Mendon. (August 16, a part of them were in charge of Capt. Mosely, twelve of whom were detailed to Chelmsford garrison by him.) Capt. Henchman received his instructions for future proceedings in a letter from Gen. Daniel Denison, commander-in-chief of Massachusetts Forces, given August 9th, 1675.
This letter commanded him in brief to return to his men left at Pocasset, to fetch them and the "provisions and ammunision" off. He was to advertise the Plymouth commander of this design, and if said commander wished him to remain there, to await further orders from the Council; otherwise to turn over the fort to the care of the Plymouth forces, and march his men to Boston and disband them until again called out by the Council. In his march to Pocasset he was given authority to press horses and guides, or require them of the various constables of the towns passed, and on his return likewise. On his return he was to draw off the Massachusetts "souldjers" at Woodcock's garrison, and also at Mr. Hudson's house, unless he should deem it unsafe, Hudson ' being of our colony whom we are to take care of." Plymouth Colony preferred to take charge of the fort, and Capt. Henchman brought his soldiers home to Boston as commanded.
HTML by Debbie
Special thanks to Fred for his wonderful graphics.
You are the 13570th Visitor to this USGenNet Safe-Site™ Since April, 2001.
[King Philip's War Index Index][NY][VT]