KING PHILIP'S WAR
Chapter 7, Part II
Hadley was thirty miles from Northfield, and, unaware of this assault, Capt.
Beers, on the next morning, Friday, Sept. 3d, set forth with thirty-six mounted
men and one ox team, on his march to bring off the garrison and people. The
march was slow and toilsome, and darkness came upon them when still three or
four miles from Northfield, and they were obliged to encamp for the night. It is
supposed that the camping was near the small stream called "Four-mile
brook." Early on the morning of Saturday the 4th, Capt. Beers
with most of his force started on foot, and leaving the horses at the camp with
a small guard, and taking the team with stores and ammunition, advanced towards
the town, still ignorant of the previous day’s assault, and, it seems,
entirely unsuspicious of an enemy in the vicinity. The best authority for the
scene and circumstances of the engagement is probably the history of Northfield
above mentioned, which I follow. "He appears to have kept up on the high
plain till he came in sight of the little brook, now known as Saw-mill brook.
The ravine was now covered with a rank growth of grass and ferns, and the leaves
were thick on the young trees." It was at this place that the Indians had
placed their ambuscade. He advanced across the brook by the accustomed fording
place, and just at the passage, and when his company was most exposed, was
furiously attacked in front and flank, and all were thrown into great confusion,
but soon rallied and fought bravely for their lives, but were forced back by
superior numbers some three-quarters of a mile to a narrow ravine on the south
of a hill now known as "Beers’s Hill." Here a stand was made, and
here the little band fought about their leader, with the courage of desperation,
till their ammunition was exhausted and the captain with nearly every man had
fallen; only a few escaped, joined the guard left behind with the horses, and
made their way back to Hadley, thirteen in all. An undoubted tradition points
out the grave of Capt. Beers in the ravine where he fell. Hoyt, in his history,
published in 1824, says that the bones of the slain were still occasionally
found protruding from the sandy knoll where the battle began. Mr. Hubbard
relates that twenty men were killed with their leader. Mr. Russell, in his list,
says sixteen, and gives the names of eleven. His list is as follows:
Killed with Capt. Beeres.
It will be noticed that James Egleston, who was killed at Deerfield, is set down here. Robert Pepper of Roxbury was not killed, but taken captive and returned home afterwards. Besides the thirteen that escaped to Hadley that same night, three more came in next day. It is said that several others counted as killed were taken prisoners and afterwards tortured to death. One, whose name is unknown, was reserved for torture, but was freed by a friendly Natick Indian and made his escape. John Parke, son of Thomas of Cambridge Village, was wounded in the fight "in the elbow joint and the bone broken," etc. His petition says it was "in the fight in which Capt. Beers was killed." He remained at Hadley till Major Appleton’s march home, Nov. 24. (See Mass. Archives, vol. 69, p. 198.) Probably the Indians engaged in the assault were less than one hundred and fifty in number, composed of the Squakeags, and parties of Nashaways, and Quaboags, led by Monoco, alias "One-eyed John," and Sagamore Sam. The number of Indians slain was said to be twenty-five, which is probably too large an estimate.
On the next day, Sept. 5th, Major Treat, who had come from Hartford to Hadley on the 3d with a company of Connecticut men, one hundred strong, marched up to Northfield. At night (Sunday, 5th) he camped, probably near the camp of Beers, and on the 6th went forward to the scene of the battle, finding a ghastly sight, for many of the heads of the slain had been cut off and set upon poles by the wayside. Pausing only long enough to perform hasty funeral rites, he passed on to the garrison and found all safe. Hurriedly collecting the people and all their effects possible, but obliged to leave the cattle, he marched for Hadley the same evening. Mr. Stoddard, in his letter, says "they left the bodies unburied," which probably has reference to the eight killed at Northfield in the attack on the 2d. Small bodies of the enemy were still lurking in the vicinity of the village, and a party of the English that ventured into the fields were attacked; they were probably engaged in burying the dead, and Major Treat was slightly wounded in the thigh. It is said that many of the cattle followed in the retreat of the English, and afterwards came into Hadley. The following are the names in Hull’s Journal:
The probable reason that so few are credited under Capt. Beers is the fact of his brief command, and also that the twenty-six men delivered to him at Brookfield by Capt. Mosely would probably be returned to Mosely and be credited under him; and I am inclined to think that those who survived and continued in the service would look to Capt. Joseph Sill, Beers's lieutenant, to sign their vouchers, and would receive credit under him or the officer that appeared afterwards in command. Shattuck escaped only to be drowned shortly after, crossing Charlestown Ferry.
John Harrington of Watertown was badly wounded, but escaped and lived to old age.
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