SOLDIERS

IN

KING PHILIP'S WAR

Chapter 6, Part I 

VI.

MAJOR SIMON WILLARD AND HIS MEN

OF all the names that stand upon the pages of New England history, none are more honored than that of Major Simon Willard. His biography has been written in the "Willard Memoir," and therefore only a brief outline will be necessary here. He was born at Horsmonden, County of Kent, England, baptized April 7, 1605. He was the son of Richard and his second wife Margery. Simon married in England Mary Sharpe, of Horsmonden, who bore him before leaving England (probably) three children, and six in New England. He married for a second wife Elizabeth Dunster, who died six months after her marriage; and a third wife, Mary Dunster, who bore him eight children, between the years 1649 and 1669. Simon Willard arrived in Boston in May, 1634, and settled soon after at Cambridge. He was an enterprising merchant, and dealt extensively in furs with the various Indian tribes, and was the "chiefe instrument in settling the towne" of Concord, whither he removed at its first settlement in 1635-6, and remained for many years a principal inhabitant of that town. On the organization of the town he was chosen to the office of clerk, which he held by annual election for nineteen years. It is said upon respectable authority that he had held the rank of captain before leaving England, and in Johnson's "Wonder Working Providences" he is referred to as "Captain Simon Willard being a Kentish Soldier." In 1637 he was commissioned as the Lieutenant-Commandant of the first military company in Concord. At the first election, December, 1636, he was chosen the town's representative to the General Court, and was reČlected and served constantly in that office till 1654, except three years. In that year he was reČlected, but was called to other more pressing duties; and afterwards to his death was Assistant of the Colony. In 1641 he was appointed superintendent of the company formed in the colony for promoting trade in furs with the Indians, and held thereafter many other positions of trust, either by the election of freemen or the appointment of the Court, too many to admit of separate mention here. In 1646 he was chosen Captain of the military company which, as Sergeant and Lieutenant, he had commanded from its organization.

For many years he was a celebrated surveyor, and in 1652 was appointed on the commission sent to establish the northern bound of Massachusetts, at the head of Merrimac River, and the letters S W upon the famous Bound-Rock (discovered many years ago near Lake Winnepesaukee) were doubtless his initials, cut at that time. In 1653 he was chosen Serjeant-Major, the highest military officer of Middlesex County.

In October, 1654, Major Willard was appointed commander-in-chief of the military expedition against Ninigret, Sachem of the Nyanticks, as told heretofore, in the Introductory Chapter, p. 22. In the settlement of the town of Lancaster Major Willard had been of great service to the inhabitants, and their appreciation was shown when, in 1658, the selectmen wrote him an earnest invitation to come and settle among them, offering a generous share in their lands as inducement. This invitation he accepted, sold his large estate in Concord, and removed to Lancaster, probably in 1659, and thence to a large farm he had acquired in Groton, about 1671, at a place called Nonacoicus.

At the opening of "Philip's War," Major Willard, as chief military officer of Middlesex County, was in a station of great responsibility, and was very active in the organization of the colonial forces. His first actual participation in that war was in the defence of Brookfield, the particulars of which have been noted. We must admire this grand old man of seventy, mounting to the saddle at the call of the Court, and riding forth at the head of a frontier force for the protection of their towns. On August 4th he marched out from Lancaster with Capt. Parker and his company of forty-six men, "to look after some Indians to the westward of Lancaster and Groton," having five friendly Indians along as scouts, and, receiving the message of the distressed garrison at Brookfield, promptly hastened thither to their relief, which he accomplished, as we have seen in a former chapter. Upon the alarm of the disaster at Brookfield, a considerable force soon gathered there from various quarters. Two companies were sent up by the Council at Boston, under Captains Thomas Lathrop of Beverly and Richard Beers of Watertown, and arrived at Brookfield on the 7th. Capt. Mosely, also, who was at Mendon with sixty dragoons, marched with that force, and most of Capt. Henchman's company, and arrived at Brookfield probably about August. From Springfield came a Connecticut company of forty dragoons under Capt. Thomas Watts, of Hartford, with twenty-seven dragoons and ten Springfield Indians under Lieut. Thomas Cooper, of Springfield. These forces for several weeks scouted the surrounding country under Major Willard; the details of which service belong properly to the accounts of the several Captains. In addition to these were forty "River Indians" from the vicinity of Hartford, and thirty of Uncas's Indians under his son Joshua, who scouted with the other forces. The Nipmucks could not be found, and it was afterward learned from the Indian guide, George Memecho, captured by the Nipmucks in Wheeler's fight, that on their retreat from Brookfield on August 5th, Philip, with about forty warriors and many more women and children, had met them in a swamp six miles beyond the battle ground, and by presents to their Sachems and otherwise had engaged them further in his interest; and all, probably, hastened away towards Northfield and joined the Pocomptucks, and thence began to threaten the plantations on the Connecticut River. After several days diligent searching, on August 16th, Captain Lathrop's and Beers's companies, the latter reinforced by twenty-six men from Capt. Mosely, together with most of the Connecticut, Springfield and Indian forces, marched towards Hadley and the neighboring towns, while Mosely went towards Lancaster and Chelmsford. Major Willard remained for several weeks at the garrison. Mr. Hubbard and Capt. Wheeler make this statement, and further relate that he soon after went up to Hadley on the service of the country. I think the visit to Hadley was after August 24th, as on that date I find a letter from Secretary Rawson to him, enclosing one to Major Pynchon, and advising him to ride up to Springfield and visit Major Pynchon "for the encouragement of him and his people." The writer of the "Willard Memoir" states that he was in command of the forces about Hadley for some time in the absence of Major Pynchon, but I have been unable to find any confirmation of this, unless it may be the inference drawn from Hubbard, who states that when Major Willard "returned back to his own place to order the affairs of his own regiment, much needing his Presence," he left "the Forces about Hadley under the Command of the Major of that Regiment." The letter above contained directions about the disposal of his forces, etc., which would naturally take several weeks to accomplish, and although the precise date of Major Willard's return from Brookfield is not given, some inference may be drawn from circumstances noted further on. Following is the list of those credited with service under Major Willard, from August 7th to January 25th, 1675:

August 7th, 1675

Richard Keatts.

01

02

00

Sept 17

     

Thomas Hincher.

04

00

00

Sept 21st

     

Jonathan Prescott.

00

14

00

John Divall.

00

11

00

Sept 28th

James Parker, Capt.

01

02

00

James Knap, Sergt.

03

00

00

James Fisk.

00

16

09

Matthias Farnsworth.

00

12

06

John Tarball.

02

03

00

Lot Johnson.

02

04

06

Onesiphorus Stanley.

02

04

06

Josiah Parker.

00

11

00

Samuel Davis.

00

11

00

James Nutting.

00

11

00

October 5th

Paul Fletcher.

02

10

00

Edward Foster.

02

10

00

John Barrett.

02

10

00

Gershom Procter.

02

10

00

Ephraim Hildred.

02

07

00

Jonathan Chrisp.

01

04

06

John Heale.

04

15

06

John Hawes.

04

00

00

James Smedly.

04

00

00

Thomas Tally.

04

00

00

Josiah Wheeler.

02

17

00

October 19th 1675

Thomas Rogers.

02

07

04

John Shead.

02

02

04

Benjamin Simmons.

03

06

08

Simon Willard, Major.

30

00

00

Humphrey Jones alias Johnson.

01

18

06

Josiah White.

00

12

00

Daniel Gaines.

00

12

00

Ephraim Sawyer.

00

12

00

Daniel Adams.

00

08

00

Thomas Beamon.

00

08

00

Simon Willard.1

03

00

00

Samuel Cleaveland.

03

06

04

John Bateman.

03

15

00

John Jefts (or Jeffers).

02

03

04

Anthony Hancock.

01

01

06

Nov. 20th

John Brookes.

02

04

06

Simon Willard, Major.

10

00

00

John Bateman.

03

00

00

Paul Fletcher.

02

01

00

John Coddington.

03

00

00

John Gleason.

02

03

00

Daniel Lincolne.

01

05

08

William Wade.

02

03

00

William Kerby.

00

12

00

Consider Atherton.

00

15

00

Nov. 30th

John Brookes.

00

11

04

Edward Wright.

00

10

00

Abraham Cousens.

01

05

02

Dec. 20

John Severy.

00

10

02

January 25. 1675-6

Philip Read, Doctor.

09

07

04

John Smith.

02

06

04

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