SOLDIERS

IN

KING PHILIP'S WAR

Chapter 7, Part I 

VII.

CAPT. RICHARD BEERS, CAPT. THOMAS LATHROP,

AND THEIR COMPANIES

RICHARD BEERS was admitted freeman at Watertown, March 9, 1637, was granted a license to "keep an ordinary" in Watertown in 1654, and continued that business during his life. He was representative to the General court thirteen years, and selectman of Watertown thirty-one years, holding both offices at the time of his marching to Brookfield, August 6th, 1675. Before leaving home on that day he made a nuncupatory will, proved Oct. 5, 1675. He left a widow Elizabeth, and their children were Sarah, 1st, died before Oct. 10, 1639; Sarah, 2d (born probably about 1641); Mary, born March 10, 1643; Eliezur administered jointly with Capt. Richardís widow Elizabeth upon his estate in 1682, married, April 21, 1690, widow Susanna (Harrington) Cutting, and died without issue, Dec. 5, 1701; Judith, born March 26, 1646; Jabez, born August 4, 1651; Elnathan, married about 1681 Sarah Tainter; Elizabeth; Richard, born Oct. 22, 1659; and Abigail, born April, 1662. From Hullís Journal I find that Eliezur served under Capt. Cutler in 1676. Elnathan was sergeant in his fatherís company in the west, and afterwards served under Capt. Sill. Capt. Beersís age was probably about 63.

A little light may be thrown upon the history of Capt. Beers by the following petition in Mass. Archives, vol. 67, page 163:

To the Governour, etc., etc. Humble Petition of Richd Beeres of Watertown. Whereas your petitioner hath bin an Inhabitant of this jurisdiction ever since the first beginning thereof & according to his weake abillities served the same not only in times of peace But allsoe wth his person in pequod warr in two severall designes when the Lord delivered them into our hands as allsoe uppon his returne such a weaknesse fell uppon his boddy that for Eaight years Space he was disinabled to labor for his ffamyly Spending a (grat)? Part of that little hee had uppon Phesitions & having hitherto had not any land of the Country & of the Towne but one Acre and a halfe besides that he hath purchased, Humbly desires this Honoured Court to Grant him Such a parcell of land (where he can find it in this wilderness) as shall seem meet to this Honoured Courte, and the rather Seeing he hath many children to share in the Same which shall further ingage him for the future. As in duty hee is bound to Serve & Honor Yr in the Lord.

October 24, 1665

It will be noted that in the first campaign to Mount Hope the troops were drawn almost wholly from the vicinity of boston, Suffolk and Middlesex counties. In the latter part of July a levy had been made in Essex, and when on August 4th or 5th the news of the disaster at Brookfield came to the Council, the company from Salem and vicinity was summoned and sent up to the relief of the distressed garrison, under the command of Capt. Lathrop, and another company from Watertown under Capt. Beers. According to Capt. Wheeler, these troops arrived at Brookfield on Saturday afternoon, August 7th, and it is probable that the troops sent up from hartford and Springfield arrived later, perhaps the same evening. It is possible that it was on Monday, 9th, or Tuesday, that the troops in force marched out to "Meminimisset, where Capt. Hutchinson and Capt. Wheeler were assaulted," and having found no signs of Indians in the vicinity, the company from Springfield left the others and marched northward and around to Springfield again, while the rest returned to Brookfield. The English were sorely puzzled as to the whereabouts of the Indians, and continued scouting for several days in the vicinity of Brookfield, probably as far as Hadley, knowing that Philip had now joined the Nipmucks, and fearing that the main body of the Indians were at no great distance. Gardinerís bill, given below, indicates Lathropís presence at Hadley, August 12, but within two days he was again at Brookfield. There, being recruited by the large force that came up with Capt. Mosely from Mendon, an advance in force was resolved upon, and on Aug. 15th, Capts. Lathrop and Beers with their companies marched by way of Meminimisset to Springfield. Capt. Mosely with his troops accompanied them as far as the swamp, the scene of Wheelerís fight, where he separated from them and marched away towards Chelmsford and Lancaster, leaving twenty-six of his men to recruit the company of Capt. Beers. The troops under Capts. Lathrop and Beers, joined at Springfield by the forces under Capt. Watts, together with the Connecticut Indians, spent several days exploring the country up along Swift river and the Connecticut, without finding the Indians, and on Aug. 22d, as we learn from Major Pynchonís letter to the Connecticut Council, the Massachusetts troops had returned to Brookfield again, and Capt. Watts with his forces was at Hadley.

On August 23d Lathrop and Beers had again joined Watts at Hadley, and at a council of war held on that day it was resolved to disarm the Hadley Indians who had gathered at their fort on the west side of the river, about half-way between Hatfield and Northampton. Preparations were made for carrying out this design on the 24th. Messengers were despatched to Northampton to secure the co"peration of the force there, which was to move as near to the Indian fort as possible, unperceived, while Capts. Lathrop and Beers crossed the river to Hatfield, to approach the fort from that side. In the meantime peaceful demands had been made upon the Indians to deliver up their arms, and one of their sachems had come before the council to present their objections; and it is probable that many of their old men and others of their tribe were in favor of submission, but were overruled, and before the English had completed their preparations it was found that the Indians had all escaped, having killed one old sachem, who, it is said, opposed the flight and refused to join it.

The Indians fled on the night of the 24th, and on the morning of the 25th, Capts. Lathrop and Beers, with one hundred men, pursued them, coming upon them unexpectedly "at a place called Sugar-Loaf Hill," "about ten miles above Hatfield," according to Mr. Hubbard; "at a swamp beyond Hatfield," says Mr. Russell of Hadley, writing soon after. "The place is now unknown," says the late eminent historian of Hadley, Mr. Judd; while Messrs. Temple and Sheldon, the careful historians of Northfield, locate the scene "in a swamp just south of Mt. Wequamps, in the present town of Whately." Here an engagement ensued, which is most reliably described perhaps by the following extract from a letter written by Rev. Solomon Stoddard of Northampton, on Sept. 15th, 1675, to Rev. Increase Mather of Boston:

They (the English) intended to parley with the Indians, but on a sudden the Indians let fly about forty guns at them, and were soon answered with a volley from our men; about forty ran down into the swamp after them, poured in shot among them, made them throw down much of their baggage, and after a while our men, after the Indian manner, got behind trees and watched their opportunities to make shots at them. The fight continued about three hours; we lost six men upon the ground, though one was shot in the back by our own men; a seventh died of his wound coming home, and two died the next night, nine in all, of nine several towns, every one of these towns lost a man. Of the Indians, as we hear since by a squaw that was taken, and by three children that came to our town from them the day after, there were slain twenty-six. . . .

From Mr. Russellís "List of the men slain in the County of Hampshire," Mass. Archives, vol. 68, p. 33, from another list in vol. 67, p. 254, and from various other sources, it is judged that the following is a correct account of the killed at this fight of August 25th:

Samuel Mason of Northampton.
James Levins of Roxbury?
Azariah Dickinson of Hadley.
Richard Fellows of Hatfield.
*John Plumer of Newbury.
*Mark Pitman of Marblehead.
*Joseph Person of Lynn.
*Matthew Scales of Rowley.
William Cluffe of Charlestown.
Edward Jackson of Cambridge
(perhaps).

[* Were of Capt. Lathropís company.]

After this skirmish the Indians made good their escape and probably joined the Pocomtuck tribe then living near Deerfield river. The English marched back to Hatfield, and thence crossed to Hadley, where other troops from Connecticut and from the East were gathering, expecting a general attack from the main body of the Indians, now believed to be concentrated at Paquoag (Athol). Nothing, however, was done by the Indians until Sept. 1st, when the Pocomtucks, now joined by the Norwottucks (or Hadley Indians), fell upon Deerfield, where but a small garrison was stationed, burned most of the houses, and killed one of the garrison, James Eggleston, of Windsor, Conn., of Capt. Wattsís Company. In Mr. Russellís list the name of Nathaniel Cornberry is given also as slain at Deerfield, but it was probably later, perhaps on the 12th, when Mr. Stoddard relates another assault upon some of the people going to meeting, of whom one was taken alive by the Indians.

Hadley was at this time the headquarters of the English, and probably Capts. Lathrop and Beers, with their companies, were there on September 1st. It is certain that they were there on the 2d, and were organizing a force to bring off the garrison at Northfield. But on that day (Thursday, Sept. 2d), while this expedition was in preparation, and the Northfield people and the garrison soldiers were abroad in the fields at work, a large body of Indians suddenly fell upon that town, killed many of the people as they fled from their homes and fields towards the garrison, burned all their exposed houses and destroyed cattle and crops. There were sixteen families in the town. The English killed at this time, according to Russellís list, were eight:

Sergt. Samuel Write. (Wright)
Jonathan Jeans. (Janes)
Ebenezer Parsons.
Benjamin Dinwick. (Dunwich)
Ebenezer Jeans. (Janes)
Nathaniel Curtis.
Thomas Scott.
John Peck.

In the history of Northfield (by Temple and Sheldon) is additional information. Sergt. Wright, aged 45, the Janeses, sons of Elder William Janes, aged respectively 16 and 14, were all of Northfield; Parsons, aged 20, and Curtis, were of Northampton; Peck was of Hadley; Scott, Ipswich? And Dunwich, residence unknown, perhaps identical with Benjamin Dunnage, credited at Brookfield. But one Indian was known to have been killed.

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